My first podcast interview

Back in November I was interviewed by Anna Farmery of the Podcast Sisters following a presentation I did at BarCamp Leeds on Whisky, Web2.0 and the C0-Creation Company.
I had forgotten all about it until I came across a note from Kevin at FuelMyBlog that the interview was now on the web as a podcast - you can listen to it here.


Some food for thought

Some food for thought:

  • More than 12 million American adults currently maintain a blog.
  • More than 16 million European adults maintain a blog.
  • More than 147 million Americans use the Internet.
  • More than 150 million Europeans use the Internet.
  • More than 57 million Americans read blogs.
  • More than 60 million Europeans read blogs.
  • 1.7 million American adults list making money as one of the reasons they blog.
  • 89% of companies surveyed say they think blogs will be more important in the next five years.
  • 12% of internet users say they have created blogs .
  • Technorati is currently tracking over 70 million blogs
  • More than 120 thousand blogs are created every day.
  • There are over 1.4 million new blog posts every day.
  • 22 of the 100 most popular websites in the world are blogs.
  • 120,000 new blogs are created every day.
  • 37% of blog readers began reading blogs in 2005 or 2006.
  • 51% of blog readers shop online.
  • Blog readers average 23 hours online each week.

Meanwhile, the top ten most popular online activities across Europe are:
  • Search - 87% (note search is bigger than email, not second)
  • Email - 81%
  • Communicating via social networking sites - 42%
  • Instant messaging - 37%
  • Music downloads - 31%
  • Listening to radio - 31%
  • Watching TV, film or video clips - 30%
  • Rating and reviews - 27%
  • Sharing thoughts on forums - 26%
  • Downloading a film, TV or video clip - 20%


Resolutions for the New Year

Resolutions for the New Year. Well I don’t really do resolutions as my liver will testify but there are more things I need to concentrate in 2008. These fall into two camps – professional and personal.
So here they are:

Concentrate on the bottom line. GREEN is a great agency doing some fantastic things for clients but like most creative agencies we don’t pay enough attention to profit. That will change this year and we will be counting the pennies and measuring ROI.
Encourage colleagues to take leadership. Too often I take on too much in spite of the fact that I am surrounded by talented people who would do a better job than me.
Engage with clients more. If everything is going well we take no calls. When there is a crisis we are in the thick of it sorting things out. I need to talk more to clients during the down time.
Do More Social Media Gigs. Pat on the back to me but I do know what I am talking about and can be very entertaining – certainly that’s the feedback I get. So this year I plan to do one speaking gig a month. Social Media & Web2.0 anyone?
Think strategically. I think 2008 is going to be a period of turmoil and unless you have a plan of action any business is going to sink deeper than whale shit.

Shut up and listen.
I’ve learned that when I take the time to shut up I learn a lot more from other people.
Spend more time with my wife. Need I say any more!
Spend more time on the river. I’m not a passionate man but I am passionate about rowing. That’s why I plan to go sculling the day after Boxing Day.
Travel more. So many places and so little time.
Do some journalism. I’ve always been uncomfortable working in PR and writing as a journalist at the same time. But it is one of the few talents I possess so I might indulge in some freelance work.

Happy Christmas Everyone and here’s to an interesting New Year. Cheers!


Blogs are ten years old

The blog is now ten years old! Not this one you understand but the weblog itself as an online journal, with the first one created on December 17, 1997 by Jorn Barger through his Robot Wisdom web page.
A decade on and Technorati reports it is tracking more than 70 million web logs – which is one of the reasons why we started Fuelmyblog, the social network for bloggers. While many people maintained regular journals or diaries before the word was coined, 1997 marked the point when they started to become a particular online pursuit.
In 1999 the phenomenon took off as easy to use tools – like Wordpress and Blogger - started to appear which made it much easier to write and maintain these sorts of websites. Also in 1999 the word “blog” was coined as a shortened form of the original term.
Nowadays, blogs almost look old hat. Especially with the rise and rise of social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. However, as a means for individuals to talk to the world they remain a very potent tool. Not least in the world of public relations, our main job, and we are increasingly seeing clients adopt the blog as an adjunct to their corporate websites.
But will they ever become part of the mainstream communications mix for organizations? I am not sure.



What is a blog?

One of the most common questions I am asked is: what is a blog? I do presentations on it and have lectured on issues of social media but have not yet been able to come up with a succinct definition and demonstration. So I am indebted to Common Craft for this neat video.

I will also put up some further videos on social media when I get the time.


Facebook goes offline

The new and old worlds will always collide. And so it has come to pass - Facebook has its own dedicated magazine.
Dennis Publishing has launched a "bookazine" according to The Guardian. It is a magazine/book hybrid - about the networking website.
The Guardian says the 148-page publication, produced without the cooperation of the social networking website, includes articles "Famous on Facebook" and "Create a real life Facebook event".
Bruce Sandell, the managing director of Dennis' lifestyle division, said: "The Facebook Bookazine started quite simply. Like many media companies we have a huge amount of Facebook fans at Dennis - we thought we could channel that enthusiasm with our expert knowledge of 'how to' bookazines to make a really compelling product that taps into a massive consumer interest at exactly the right time.
"The bookazine will be bought by Facebook experts and novices alike, as it covers everything from a step by step guide to getting started through to smart security tips."
Note to self: What is a Facebook expert?
Dennis has printed 20,000 copies of the Facebook bookazine, fewer than a normal magazine, but the bookazine costs £5.99 and has a longer shelf life than magazines, staying on shelves for up to six months. Dennis will monitor sales before deciding if it will produce a sequel.
Well should they produce a sequel?


The Blog Council or Magesterium?

Came across this via Twitter - The Blog Council, is a professional community of top global brands dedicated to promoting best practices in corporate blogging.
I came acrross this today (and some of this content is direct from their press release). Founding members include the leading companies from a diverse range of business sectors: AccuQuote, Cisco Systems, The Coca-Cola Company, Dell, Gemstar-TV Guide, General Motors, Kaiser Permanente, Microsoft, Nokia, SAP, and Wells Fargo.
The blurb says: "The Blog Council exists as a forum for executives to meet one another in a private, vendor-free environment and share tactics, offer advice based on past experience, and develop standards-based best practices as a model for other corporate blogs."
What's this? "Vendor-free environment" (what's that mean?). "And share tactics" (What's that? A means of getting what you want through sneaky tactics?). "Offer advice based on past experience (Read for that: The last time we fucked up - we did this and it seemed to work!) ...And develop standards-based best practices (ie How we plan to paddle our way out of a shit creak!)
Blog Council CEO Andy Sernovitz says: "Major corporations use blogs differently while abiding by the same rules and etiquette. Individual and small-business bloggers don't face the same issues. For example, we still need to deliver a responsible and effective corporate message, but we need to do it in the complicated environment of the blogosphere. We have to speak for a corporation, but never sound 'corporate.' And we have to learn to do it live, and in real-time."
All very good. Then the Blog Council (sounds a bit strange to me, a bit like the Magisterium)
representing "thought leaders" (WTF?) from corporate departments, the Blog Council's advocacy role functions as a collective voice in support of responsible, ethics-based corporate blogs (more marketing bullshit?). Other issues the Council will address include:

  • How do global brands manage blogs in more than one language?
  • What do you do when 2000 employees have personal blogs?
  • What is the role of the corporate brand in a media landscape increasingly geared toward consumer-generated media?
  • What is the correct way to engage and respond to bloggers who write about your company?
I do not know (says me) it is too early to say. Throw me a bone here!

"Every major corporation is struggling with the question of how to use blogs and engage the blogosphere the right way," said Sean O'Driscoll, General Manager, Community Support Services for Microsoft.

Microsoft? What have you guys been doing for the last three years? What doesn't Vista work - haven't you seen the comments? There are hundreds of them.
"The Blog Council brings together precisely the people who need to explore these issues together, in a productive and private networking environment," says O'Driscoll. "We can work together to develop model policies that set the standard for corporate blogging excellence."

Hold on a minute - read this again: "Precisely the people who need to explore these issues."

Says who? Who are these people precisely? Appointed by whom? This all about brand management - fair enough I have no problem with that. But at least state your case and business strategy. In PR terms you need to be transparent and The Blog Council is spin and Dell for one should be very, very careful.
By the way Simon Collister and Stephen Davies have been having conversation about this on Twitter all day. All I would say to the Blog Council is join in the conversation - doon't set the parameters for the debate - just pose the question.


England's football and PR disaster

England's economy is likely to suffer losses of around £2bn after the football team failed to qualify for the finals of Euro 2008 and I am grateful to David Brain who snapped the above replica shirt in Piccadilly, London, the day after the dreadful result.
It is also a PR disaster which the FA obviously saw coming (surely?! Even if they didn't they should have planned for it) but failed to do anything about - the ramifications could run on for more than three years unless the appoint some top notch manager - God perhaps?
According to the British Retail Consortium, the retail figures for beer, flat-screen TVs and fast food during the tournament would typically be around £600m but that figure has been dismissed by experts who said a more realistic number would be £2bn.
Simon Chadwick, Professor of Sport Business Strategy and Marketing at Coventry Business School, told the Daily Mail that the probable loss is more than three times that figure: "Evidence from previous tournaments shows that worker productivity normally increases as the England national team progresses through major tournaments and the 'feel good factor' takes hold. A successful run to the 2008 finals would have led to a £2bn bonanza for the economy," he said.
Not one single country from the British Isles will be playing in next year's Euro football tournament and this is likely to have a knock-on effect on the rest of the economy.
My advice to the FA and all the other UK teams as well as the Republic of Ireland is to resurrect the Home Championships - my only worry is that England will probably lose that to. My money would be on Northern Ireland or Scotland.


Great day at BarCampLeeds

I could write at length about BarCampLeeds. It was brilliant! Not too techie. Not too preachie. And attended by really good people. GREEN was pleased to be associated with the event and will be involved in the next Northern BarCamp. Well done to Imran Ali.
Check out the pictures here.

Good luck to Parky and TheBusinessDesk

Well then - good luck to David Parkin, former Business Editor of the Yorkshire Post on the launch of his new venture

We have known David for more years than he cares to remember. He is a talented journalist and commentator with a canny knack of understanding what the Yorkshire region and its business community is interested in. TheBusinessDesk is still very much a Alpha business, given that it is all produced online but if David can get the right handle on the business he will do well.

It will be interesting to see how he adopts new social media tools into the site. At present there is nothing for Digg, Technorati or to excite the hardened social media junkie but I am sure that will come.

So good luck to Parky - he launches TheBusinessDesk on 19.11.07.


...and so to BarCamp Leeds

BarCamp Leeds is the city’s first ‘unconference’, a event where the folks that attend create the programme of sessions themselves. And it takes place tomorrow at 9.30 at the BBC’s old regional HQ, now owned by Leeds Met.
GREEN is one of several sponsors involved in the event which is an open, participatory, democratic series of ‘workshop’ at which the organisers and sponsors simply provide wireless broadband, a venue, beverages and food! The attendees provide the content - and the buzz :-). But due respect to Imran Ali for pulling it together.
We’re anticipating sessions on social media, blogging, 3D printing, Augmented Reality interfaces, mobile technology trends, Drupal, games design, co-creation, PR in the digital age, an SEO clinic as well as talks from the founders of BT Bizbox, Plusnet and eDocr.
There’ll also be a great opportunity to network - we’re hoping our Nintendo Wiis will break the ice and Leeds Met’s Old Broadcasting House will provide a fun and inspiring venue.
Come and demo, talk, share or just hang out! Topics that might be tackled tomorrow include:

  • Intelligent human-computer interfaces and their possibilities - Reinhold Behringer
  • rom start-up to £67m in 10 years - passing on the wisdom and hopefully not the pain) - Lee Strafford
  • From startup to £45m in 8 years (Learn from my mistakes) or Launching BT BizBox a small business CRM solution in 5 weeks - Dean Sadler
  • SEO Site Clinic - - Dominic Hodgson and Others
  • Ladybank Company of Distillers - building a real co-creation business through the internet - Ian Green
  • Unleashing social media and technology for the good of local communities - Stuart Bruce
  • From Zero to Game in 30 Minutes - Tom Scott
  • From a Mobile Telephone to a Computer - a Reality Dysfunction Ian Hay
  • Why Wikis suck for post production environment? Capturing the essence of document interactivity - a paradigm shift Manoj Ranaweera - reference
  • Drupal - Isriya Paireepairit
  • Conquering Time and Space - A survivors guide to distributed dev team management - Ian Pringle
  • ePaper? ShmePaper! - (how almost buying an ebook reader made me realise how cool the technology of books is) - 5m40s micropresentation, Guy Dickinson
  • LiveCoding: Introduction to Ruby & TextMate - Caius Durling
  • How technology can drive regeneration in Northern Cities - Inventya, Valerie De Leonibus
  • One of three talks that you can choose from now, Paul Robinson
  • Dude! Where’s my hash? - a frank look at OS X after jumping from Windows and my experiences of the past 6 months - Dan Hardiker
  • Mind over Matter - How to take control of your state of mind, and of others - Dan Hardiker
  • Feed Mailer - (A little demo of Feed Mailer and a round up of the upcoming features) - John Slater & Chris Richardson (This is not 100% confirmed)


Las Vegas and BlogWorldExpo

Sigh! Las Vegas is a very strange place. I am home (in the UK, Yorkshire, Ilkley) by the way after 18 hours via Atlanta. It is cold and raining now but just one day away I was at BlogWorldExpo. By the way the picture shows (left to right) Drew the US Ambassador for FuelMyBlog (FMB) Kevin, me and Marcus.
But Las Vegas is weird. After a couple of days in a conference discussing the development of Facebook and which way Google is going to go. After discussing how best to use social media to help big corps get into the zeitgest that is Web2.0 and talking about mobile blogging, Java programming and how to "join in the conversation" - it was always refreshing to walk out of the LV Convention Centre to be confronted with a buy-one get-one free offer for hookers.
I mean this is a weird town!
Meanwhile, I look like a Cicada beetle - everywhere is air conditioned, which dries you out and when you go outside - in the desert - it dries you out. Taking my clothes off at night I felt like a snake slothing its skin.
Anyway - back to BlogWorldExpo. It was very good but I didn't blog about it when we were there because we had Drew covering this area. Drew is a top man and hopefully caught what was going on.
Myself and Kevin were too busy joining in the conversation on behalf of FMB and spreading the word of European blogging to do much else.
For myself I will write about the following great people I met over during my time in Las Vegas. They are:
Matt Colebourne
Ann Manby
Jim Kukral
Michael Bayer
Aaron Zaviles

Also check out Kevin Dixie and "BenSpark" for a bit of balance on our time in Nevada.
Anyway, keep an eye here and see what I have to say.

GREEN win gold hatrick in awards

Congratulations to the GREEN team for their recent success in the annual public relations awards run by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.
Unfortunately I was abroad in the US at BlogWorldExpo doing some networking and research on social media and missed the event at the Queens Hotel in Leeds. I understand the team had a great time and that perhaps some wine was taken. You can make your own decision based on the picture (left to right) Kathy, Leander, Emma, Simon and Liz. Joe is hiding but I think you can see one eye. Anyway, here are the scores on the doors.

Category 1 - Corporate Communications
Gold - Green Communications, Wensleydale Creamery.

Category 2 - Not-for-Profit
Gold – Green, Beat Blue Monday

Category 8 - Low Budget
Gold – Green, Beat Blue Monday

Category 10 - Best Use of Media Relations
Finalist - Green Communications, Beat Blue Monday.

Category 13 - Best Use of New Media
Finalist - Green Communications, Wensleydaleblog.
Finalist - Green Communications, Beat Blue Monday.

Category 14 - Best Use of Photography or Design
Finalist - Green Communications, Wakefield Cultural Partnership.

Category 18 - Best Website
Finalist - Green Communications, Thinking, Doing, Sharing -

Category 22 - Outstanding Public Relations Consultancy
Finalist - Green Communications, Green Communications


To Las Vegas and BlogWorldExpo

I am off to Las Vegas in November to attend the first and only industry-wide tradeshow, conference, and media event dedicated to promoting the dynamic industry of blogging and new media.
In addition to the only industry-wide exhibition, BlogWorld will feature the largest blogging conference in the world including more than 50 seminars, panel discussions and keynotes from iconic personalities on the leading-edge of online technology and internet-savvy business.
I am going with Kevin Dixie from FuelMyBlog and Marcus Dyson from eleventeenth.
At GREEN We have already delivered several compelling social media campaigns wrapped up with our usual expertise in PR. However, I am a firm believer that you can always learn new tricks and I am hopeful that I will return with a few more ideas that we can deploy on behalf of our clients.
The conference will be broken down into tracks designed to address specific needs and feature scores of well renowned blogging and new media experts. Topics will include blogging basics, monetizing your blog, podcasting, corporate opportunities in the blogosphere, building readership, RSS, Search Engine Optimization, blogging in the political arena, and other topics vital to serious bloggers who want to solidify their own space, and build their brand in the blogosphere.
If you're planning to be there and would like to meet a few Brits drop me a line


Global PR Blog Week

Constantin Basturea is planning another Global PR Blog Week - with the intriguing suffix Web3.0 - no, I don't know what he means either.
He says it is an event that will present the best articles, interviews, debates, case studies, and essays on how social media continues to change the Public Relations and Communications theory and practice, its relationships with other disciplines, and our roles as practitioners, students, and teachers.
Sounds good.
No dates yet but you can check out his plans here.
I, GREEN and other colleagues will get involved.


Twittering on twitter

I seem to spend a lot of time on Twitter nowadays – hence, the dearth of recent posts on this blog. I like Twitter as the word count for each tweet means that anyone posting on it has to keep things succinct and, as a result, there are some quite profound comments on there.
However, a lot of people just use it to pimp themselves – you know who you are.
What is intriguing thought is how quickly these new social network apps are being acquired by large corporations. First it was News Corp acquiring MySpace, now Microsoft is looking for a piece of the action with a stake in Facebook. Blogger was acquired by Google and Yahoo bought YouTube.
Now it has emerged that Google has acquired Jaiku, a Finnish company that pretty much does what Twitter does only with a few more bells and whistles – I used Jaiku for a while but it simply did not rock my boat.
Google product manager Tony Hsieh says: "Technology has made staying in touch with your friends and family both easier and harder: living a fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyle is easier (and a lot of fun), but it's more difficult to keep track of everyone when they're running around at warp speed.
“That's why we're excited to announce that we've acquired Jaiku, a company that's been hard at work developing useful and innovative applications for staying in touch with the people you care about most - regardless of whether you're at a computer or on a mobile phone.”
Google is not commenting on its plans for the service but Jaiku is now closed to new users.
So what is the betting that Yahoo! Will now launch a bid for Twitter with the usual proviso that you need a Yahoo! account?


Dylan and the power of social media

To promote his Dylan Greatest Songs album that’s coming out in October, Bob Dylan has created a Facebook application that lets you enter 10 lines of words or phrases. A video of Bob Dylan holding sheets of paper will read out your message. The last few sheets are a promotion for his album, but who cares? It’s a cool app. Create as many as you’d like and send them to friends...
There’s a website for the promotion of the album too, which also lets you create the video mashup and send it out to friends. The Facebook app works best though, because it’s the closest you’ll get to being able to embed the clip anywhere online.

That's the plug for Bob - God Bless Him. But in terms of viral marketing and the best use of social media this is one of the best I have seen. Bob fans will get it straight away but as one of the most iconic music videos to offer this up to the blogosphere is sheer genuis... we might even see if we can co-opt this for a prostate health campaign we are considering at GREEN. See the app below


Alisher Usmanov: A big, fat bully

Alisher Usmanov is a big, fat bloke with an interest in Arsenal Football Club. I’ve never met him – but I’ve just seen his picture on SimonSays. And I think “big, fat bloke” is an accurate description – and is also an honestly held opinion so there are no worries about any claims for libel.
He’s also an Uzbekh oligarch – a person whose political influence effectively rests on his wealth. I would have liked to read more about him on the blogs of Craig Murray – the former British ambassador to Uzbekistan - and political blogger, Tim Ireland, who wrote about their experience and views of Mr Usmanov.
Unfortunately, both their blogs have been closed down following threats from our fat friends’ lawyers. SimonSays points to Ellee Seymour who notes that:

"lawyers letters followed which led to the webhost pulling the plug… Newspapers are not shut down if they face libel allegations, (not in the UK anyway) there is a legal process that is followed. Surely that process applies to bloggers too. If the offending comments were not libellous - and only a court can decide this - then Mr Usmanov’s actions could be deemed illegal. He would have to pay damages. There are all sorts of legal ramifications involved with this story."

Yes, indeed.
Murray is the author of Murder in Samarkand - A British Ambassador's Controversial Defiance of Tyranny in the War on Terror – an account of the post-USSR Uzbekistan - relaying the problems of living in a brutal dictatorship but also because it shows to what depths the Blair sunk in its attempts to spin the truth and cover up torture (including boiling people alive).
Schillings, the lawyers acting on behalf of Usmanov, was allegedly successful in getting Murray's host to alter some of his posts to present Usmanov in a different light before taking down the site completely.
They also appear to have sent threatening emails to owners of Arsenal Football Club fan sites (Usmanov is an Arsenal shareholder), threatening libel action if any of Murray's statements appear on their sites.
The Google cache of Murray's blog makes for some interesting reading.
I think the answer to this censorship – as pointed out by Simon – is to get as many bloggers writing about the episode. This is my contribution to the big, fat bloke’s story.


Looking for a teacher who seduced her pupils - WTF?

Further to my earlier post, here's another selection of lazy journalist requests – most of them from women’s publications. I make no comment but would like to hear what you think about them. All the quotes are genuine – but I have left off the names of magazine and newspaper titles.

Woman’s Glossy
I'm looking to speak to a teacher who seduced one of her pupils. She must be willing to be named and photographed, as well as telling her story.

Woman’s Glossy
Ever said 'no' to sex?: The boys at [magazine] want to debunk stereo-types that men are all sex monsters, and tell the ladies a thing or two. So we're looking for some MEN to come forward and tell us if they've ever said 'no' to sex, for an upcoming feature. The more unusual the reason the better. We're looking for male candidates to be interviewed, and maybe have their photograph featured for the light-hearted article.

Women’s Weekly
I'm organising a press trip to New York for two people and looking for help with:
Two flights to New York
Places to visit
Places to eat and drink
Shopping Guides
We're looking to travel in October (dates are flexible) and hoping to stay three or four nights to incoperate (sic) a weekend (again flexible)
We're hoping to use this in our Christmas Special so it will get a lot of coverage

National Newspaper
£350 payment - I'm searching for a lady ideally in her 20s or at the very oldest early 30s who's planning to be sterilised in the near future because she's so certain she doesn't ever want to have children. I'd want her to keep a diary of the process for a feature in a national newspaper. I'd want to know all about how she made the decision, how she told friends and family, how she found a clinic, + the operation itself and her recovery afterwards. I'd also need her to be photographed. £350 upon publication of the piece and I'm happy to offer her sight of the copy too.

Woman Freelance
Do you - or any of your clients - have an amazing true life story?
Do you want to see it on the pages of a magazine - and get paid?
Newspapers like [pick anyone at random]and magazines such as [too many to shake a stick at] and other women's magazines feature true life stories on a range of subjects including:

  • Health troubles
  • Betrayals
  • Love stories
  • Acts of kindness
  • Tragic events
  • Love triangles
  • Overcoming diseases
  • Failed operations
The list is endless really - if you feel your story is newsworthy and of interest to readers then I want to hear from you.

Glossy Magazine
I'm searching for a woman in her twenties who is either currently a sex addict or is a reformed sex addict. I'd require a phone interview and for her to be photographed.
I am also searching for a woman who was a convicted cocaine dealer and is now repentant (sic). Please get in touch urgently if you can help with either.

Glossy Magazine
I'm on the lookout for truly astonishing stories about women aged between 18-50. Do you know a woman that has shed more than 15 stones in weight(yes, the mags are looking for HUGE weightlosses!? Or what about a woman who has survived an illness so rare it doesnt have a name? Or does a woman want to get revenge on a love rat husband?
As an agency, anything goes so please do send me all your ideas and suggestions (but please no stories about women setting up businesses unless there is a truly amazing twist!)

Fry on phones - bizarre

Bizarre – hundreds, nay thousands, of bloggers are writing about the fact that Stephen Fry, the UK’s talented writer and actors, has started a blog.
The picture is undoubtedly him. But it remains to be seen whether Mr Fry is the actual author – if it is him, he has emerged as an Uber-Geek with an impressive knowledge of mobile technology as his first post is about his love affair with all thing Apple and the iPhone in particular – all 6,450 words of it.
The style too is very much reminiscent of Mr Fry’s writing style too:

I accept that price is an issue here; if budget is a consideration then you’ll have to forgive me, I’m writing from the privileged position of being able to indulge my taste for these objects. But who can deny that design really matters? Or that good design need not be more expensive? We spend our lives inside the virtual environment of digital platforms - why should a faceless, graceless, styleless nerd or a greedy hog of a corporate twat deny us simplicity, beauty, grace, fun, sexiness, delight, imagination and creative energy in our digital lives? And why should Apple be the only company that sees that? Why don’t the other bastards GET IT??

I expect the truth will emerge in due course once the deadwood media discover the blog. If it is Mr Fry – it was an excellent piece. And is that a Renaissance artist displayed on the iPhone in his hand?


The Boss: Radio Nowhere

I totally love this. And am just waiting for the UK tour. I am also working out the chord sequence on my gi'tar - E, C, G, D?. Am I sad or what?


Mash and men in Fezs

Rumours of Yahoo!'s social media pretensions were vindicated today when they announced the launch of Mash.
The service includes features common to Facebook, MySpace, and My Yahoo. According to TechCrunch you can load a set of modules onto your profile page and move them around drag-and-drop style. The modules include Flickr RSS, Ego Boost, Common Friends, MyMoshLog2, Blog Module (RSS 2.0), Asteroids, Astrology, PimpMyPet, Hover, Kaleidescope, Guestbook, and My Stuff.
Users are encouraged to edit each other’s pages. Each time you visit a profile page, you see new modules that others have loaded for you. TechCrunch says: "This capability certainly adds to the 'mashing' aspect of the social network. It is also appears as though Yahoo intends for users to mash their information together from across the company’s various properties, perhaps making Mash the main hub for Yahoo users."
I wonder if it is all a bit too late given the success of Facebook but given all those Yahoo! user accounts out there I suspect not - I await the email inviting me to join.
Meanwhile, things get more bizarre at Facebook as my son has just set up a new group there called: Top Hats and Fezs: Man's Greatest Invention - that explains the picture anyway.


GREEN in the awards... again

Over at GREEN we are in very good mood - as you can see from the team picture.
We have been short listed for no less than nine Pride Awards – these are the public relations industry’s versions of the Oscars.
We submitted work we have carried out for a wide range of clients including The Wensleydale Creamery, The Samaritans, Beat Blue Monday, Wakefield Council, Urbans Mines and the Cultural Partnership.
What has been particularly interesting for us is that, for the first time, we have entered some campaigns which had a major social media dimension – particularly on Beat Blue Monday and Wenselydaleblog.
Anyway, we will know if we have won at a big dinner in November.


Well done Colin on award

Congratulations to Colin Glass on being named as Business Adviser of the Year in the Institute of Directors Business Awards in Yorkshire this week.
As well as being a top bloke, Marathon runner and being the best networker in the north of England Colin is also chairman of Fuelmyblog and GREEN Communications.
Colin is also a senior partner with Winburn Glass Norfolk Chartered Accountants which he founded in 1975. Since then he has helped many companies develop and grow, raised funds and floated several of them on the London Stock Exchange.
Well done Colin!!

Win One Red Paper Clip

I would like to win this book. Fuelmyblog is currently running a competition to win One Red Paper Clip - to enter just visit here!


Facebook forces HSBC climb down

For a while now we have been advising clients about the power of Facebook and need to engage in conversations where their company is directly or even directly involved. Be Open, Be Honest is our motto.
So it was interesting to see that banking giant HSBC has been forced to back down on student overdraft fees after a campaign on Facebook orchestrated by the National Union of Students. More than 5,000 students got the bank to reverse its decision to stop free overdrafts for graduates after joining Facebook's Stop the Great HSBC Rip-Off!!! group.
The U-turn comes at a time of year when HSBC is trying to sign up potentially lucrative students. The bank said yesterday that it was not "too big" to listen to its customers – good on them.
According to a report in today’s Telegraphy Andy Ripley, HSBC's head of product development, said: "Like any service-orientated business we are not too big to listen to our customers. Following the feedback from our graduate account holders, both directly and via the National Union of Students [NUS], we have taken the decision to freeze interest charging on 2007 graduates' overdrafts up to £1,500 and refund any interest charged in August."
The NUS set up the protest site because it felt HSBC had reneged on the banking deal offered to students. It gave them accounts on the basis that they could have an interest-free overdraft of up to £1,500 for three years, reducing the facility by £500 a year.
But last month it informed customers that it would be charging this year's graduates for those overdrafts unless they paid a £9.95 monthly fee.
The move would have cost a graduate who had the maximum overdraft of £1,500 nearly £12 a month, or more than £142 a year.
Now according to a NUS statement on Facebook: “HSBC have contacted NUS to discuss this campaign. Following our discussions and negotiations, HSBC have decided to freeze interest on 2007 graduate overdrafts up to £1,500, with future policy subject to review. All those recent graduates who have been subject to additional interest charges this August will be eligible for a refund.
"Following this development, we will suspend the planned action on 4 September at HSBC HQ. We will send out a further communication later today."
The joint NUS/HSBC press release here.
"NUS would like to thank you all for your involvement in this campaign. The commitment, time and energy shown by the members of this group has precipitated real change. Despite all those who suggested that our concerns would not be listened to, our voice has been heard. HSBC have agreed to continue a dialogue with NUS, and we remain committed to expressing the concerns of students and graduates in our future correspondence.
“We recommend that all those HSBC customers who are affected get in touch with their local branches to discuss this matter in further detail.”
Who says social media doesn’t work? And who would still argue that companies should ignore it? Answers please.

Make Stupidity History

A one man effort to stem what he sees as the growing tide of stupid thinking in the world is being launched by our creativity expert Andy Green, in an ambitious week-long 14 venue tour across the UK from September 3.
Called Challenge Your thinking - 5½ ways to overcome stupidity by thinking more flexibly and creatively, the tour features a 35 minute, fun yet practical lecture sharing key techniques and tools to highlight how you are never more than 12ft from an opportunity.
The tour will visit Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Nottingham, Cambridge, Norwich, London, Reading, Southampton, Bristol and Cardiff and will also seek to raise funds for leading children’s and young people’s charity Barnardo's. Ticket prices will be just £25.
Andy says: “Every day we see examples of stupid thinking as individuals respond to the increasing complexity of the world around them coupled with the faster pace of life by doing the first thing that comes to mind, or what might appear superficially easy. As a result they often fall into a trap of producing stupid decisions.”
Andy is a world-leading expert on the subject of flexible thinking, creativity and opportunity spotting. Andy is author of Creativity in Public Relations the world’s first book on the subject, Effective Personal Communications Skills and A Minute with Tony Blair after a chance encounter with the former Prime Minister.
He is a partner at my company GREEN Communications and specialist flexible thinking skills consultancy creativity@work, and is also the driving force behind the Wakefield Media Centre which is Britain’s only moo-ing building and home to a community of creative businesses.
He works with blue chip organisations around the world to facilitate creativity and brainstorm sessions, and deliver training to enable his clients to achieve more with less.


Bloggers of the world unite

News just in about an international initiative of bloggers known as "Blog Action Day", with the aim of uniting thousands of blogging voices, talking about one issue for one day.
This year on Blog Action Day, October 15, 2007, bloggers will be discussing the environment. Major blogs have signed up to participate, including Lifehacker, Dumb Little Man,, Get Rich Slowly, Web Worker Daily, GigaOm, The Simple Dollar, Zen Habits, Freelance Switch, LifeClever, Unclutterer, Pronet Advertising, Wise Bread and many more. I’ve just added mine.
According to Collis Ta'eed, an Australian blogger from, and a co-founder of Blog Action Day: "For just one day, we'd like to unite as many of the millions of bloggers around the world and speak about one issue - the environment."
"We want to display the potential and the power of the blogging community, which is a disparate community but one with an amazing size, breadth and diversity. By bringing everyone together for one day, we can see just how much can be achieved, and how much we can be heard."
Blog Action Day is a non-profit initiative, and will be an annual event. As an alternative to blogging about the environment on Blog Action Day, bloggers can opt to participate by donating their blog's proceeds from October 15 to one of several environmental organizations chosen for this purpose: Greenpeace International, The Nature Conservancy, and the National Wildlife Federation (NWF).


Making money from blogging

There was a conversation on Twitter recently, started, I think, by Mike Butcher. He asked the question: Who is making money from blogging in the UK?
It’s an interesting question, as the implicit assumption is that bloggers are making money by blogging, ie being paid to write, whether it by sponsors, advertisers etc. Or are they making money through their blog.
Well I certainly don’t make a bean from mine – I don’t even have AdScense on this blog – but I know plenty who do. The obvious ones are Mike Arrington’s TechCrunch in the US, but Sam Sethi is now carrying ads on Blog Nation.
Even The World’s Leading is hosting adverts on his(?) dedicated Tech PR blog – a good niche player who should be able to make a bob or two.
But the real money is to be made using blogs to boost your business. For instance English Cut and Des Merrion both earn a healthy living as bespoke tailors by offering their services via their blogs.
Meanwhile, companies like Innocent are making a mint by using their blogs to get close to the customers. At Wensleydaleblog, which we developed at GREEN Communications, we receive requests for product from across the globe and we are increasingly talking to clients how they can best generate a conversation about their business and, by extension, create some extra income.
A lot of small niche players are also benefiting from blogging too. I went to Otley Farmers Market recently and many of the stalls manned by local farmers, bakers, butchers, cheese makers etc – where using blogs to pimp their business and good luck to them.
Like the long tail – blogging levels the playing field and can, if done properly, let the little man or woman make a living.

TFG PowerPR List 2007

GREENblog has been named in The Friendly Ghost PowerPR Index for August 2007 – which is nice.
The Friendly Ghost has been compiling the PowerPR list for some time now and while I am dubious about the rankings – based as they are, by necessity, on the usual metrics thrown up by Technorati et al – I think it is pretty bang on as most of the PR bloggers I read are here.
The list is generated by Easy Bee Software and TFG will continue refine the list over time. TFG offers many interesting points but its best if you check him(?) out here.
It has always been my contention, however, that the blog ranks – while they are good fun (we all love list journalism) – perhaps don’t capture the quality of the bloggers, their intellectual rigor, journalistic nouse and good sense.
And I suspect that will only be achieved by some sort of qualitative poll. Meanwhile, social media has been so skewed by new tools like Twitter, Facebook, Pownce et al that it is getting harder to discover where real influence comes from. For instance Hugh MacLeod and Steven Rubel seem to spend most of their time on Twitter and others have all but given up on their blogs.
Interestingly GreenGathering doesn’t feature at all – in spite of the fact that I do shamelessly re-cycle some content from GREENblog. Perhaps that’s why! What is encouraging is that the ranking is not based on the shameless pimping of blogs by getting as many people as possible to link to a particular blog regardless of the content.
Anyway good luck to TFG and thanks for taking the time to create The Friendly Ghost PowerPR Index.


Where do the over-50s go to network?

Over at GREEN on behalf of a client we are looking at how we can use social networks to bring together men in the over-50s demographic and to be honest we are struggling.
The obvious starting place was Facebook and I’ve even asked the question on my Facebook account on where to find the over-50 users. But the answers so far have been of little help.
Clearly there are Baby Boomers on Facebook – thank you Neville for your observations – but they are very difficult to access as you can’t search Facebook by age, at least not so far as I can see.
There are some dedicated Boomer social networks like Eons – but they are largely US-centric. Saga has a social network in the UK but it is a bit clunky and when you look into it appears to be a dating agency for wrinklies.
I can’t find anywhere where there is a serious debate addressing the issues surrounding men’s health – possibly because men don’t like discussing their health. However, it does seem to me there is a gap in the market here – particularly in the UK.
Any thoughts and advice are welcome.


Coffee, cake and conversation

The OpenCoffee gig returns to Leeds next week – anyone is invited (just turn up) to talk about emerging technologies, social media, marketing – you name it and all over a nice cup of coffee too.
Imran Ali has done sterling work to organize this and the third event is on Tuesday, August 7 at 10.00am at Justin Whiston's Loftart gallery space just off Vicar Lane.
Everyone at OpenCoffee would love to share some interesting developments on co-working spaces for Leeds, the progress of BarCamp, participation in Seedcamp and the exciting new dot.north community. Ali and his mates (they are legion) want to make the North of England an essential hub for the web industry and we want you all to help make it happen.
Please come along and join us for free wifi, coffee and cakes...geeks, coders, bloggers, investors, entrepreneurs, designers, developers and anyone with a passing interest in digital.
Head on over to the event listing at Upcoming and let us know you're coming...see you on Tuesday, August 7.

Is SMNR the new PR?

For a while now over at GREEN we have been experimenting with out own social media news releases (SMNR) – which have been refined over a period of time to take in comments, Flickr, Digg, Technorati,, You Tube and other rich content. It’s a rather laborious process but very compelling once we get them out there.
Most recently we have been using the services of the excellent Stephen Davies and his new company webitpr to pump out some SMNR on behalf of a techie client and the team have been pleasantly surprised by the results.

Stephen has now issued five SMNRs and has some views on the latest shtick. Here they are in precise:

Not everyone links, not everyone references
I guess, in hindsight, I’m stating the obvious but just because you think you’ve got an uber cool, bleeding edge news release it doesn’t mean bloggers do too.

People are comment shy

Well, they are on the SMNR that’s for sure. As of yet, no one’s left a comment on any of the five we’ve done.

A SMNR is not for all news
Again, stating the obvious but it is interesting to see which SMNRs pick up more traction than others.

PR people get the concept
I really don’t want to sound like we’ve been trying to teach our granny to suck eggs but the people we’ve spoke with get the SMNR concept straight away. (Yes we did – Ian)

The provision of multimedia is an issue
A few people we have spoke with say that collecting multimedia (mainly audio and video) is a problem.

For Stephen’s more considered view check out his thought here.


This blog is now a year old

I've been away for the past week. Ostensibly I was on holiday but spent most of the time in Sussex with the in-laws nursing a soar throat and runny nose - all with little or no access to t'ternet!
Anyway, during that period my blog - it transpires - is now one year old! How did that happen?
I accept this is not my most profound post on the issue of social media but it is one worth observing. More profound stuff to come later but I just added this as a milestone.
Will there be a two year celebration? You know, I am just not sure as things seem to be moving so quickly now. We will see.
What do you think?


Further to my earlier post...

Further to my earlier post I've just come across this on Facebook's Wensleydale Appreciation Society.

See? This stuff does really work.

We take PRide in our work

I’ve just spent the past week co-ordinating GREEN’s entries for the annual PRide Awards and for the first time we have entered two campaigns in the social media slot.
They are Wensleydaleblog and Beat Blue Monday. It’s interesting to revisit campaigns for awards – as we seldom have the time to look back and pat ourselves on the back but even I was surprised how bloody good they were.
Beat Blue Monday was conceived and driven on virtually no budget at all and co-ordinated by the excellent Simon Collister – who is sadly no longer with us. The campaign – to raise the issues surrounding depression on the saddest day of the year – revolved around a blog, with other social media tools like Flickr and a forum.
What was most exciting looking at it again was just how much buzz we created online with thousands of people around the world blogging about it. Most intriguing, however, was the amount of cuttings we generated in the deadwood media.
Meanwhile, with The Wenselydale Creamery (the site is having problems at the moment so you might not be able to access it) we had the first client who whole heartedly embraced the idea of blogging and social media. This campaign used the blog, podcasts, Facebook, Flickr, online competitions etc – and generated oodles of deadwood media coverage.
One thing we did not envisage was the creation of online communities who love Real Yorkshire Wenselydale Cheese – there are two on Facebook (neither of them created by us).
Meanwhile, we have visitors to the blog from Canada, US, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Far East. Bizarre! All for an English territorial cheese.
From past experience our best campaigns never win an award – we usually pick up a couple but they are usually on behalf of a client who has dumped us. No one has dumped us this year – so who knows.
Meanwhile, given the debate about the decline in blogging at TWL and Simon Says it's good to see that a blog can still stir up an interesting conversation.


Measuring social media

Hats off to David Brain at Sixty Second View and Edleman’s attempt to create a Social Media Index that goes beyond the simple measurement of blogs.
David and his team have attempted to take in the spaces that really make social media rock – like Facebook, Twitter, Digg and Del.iciu.os. They are making some pretty broad assumptions but given that measuring the influence of social media is a bit like trying to eat soup with a fork – they have done a pretty good job.
Read more here.


Talking to some nice people about social media

I’m with the Yorkshire arm of Chartered Management Institute at the Community Learning Centre at Kettlethorpe High School, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, doing a presentation on social media. So this is a live blogging session and people around me in the audience can challenge anything I say. Bring it on! I might add something on Twitter too!
Writing this is seems a bit old school – but yes, a lot of people still don’t use all the social media tools we have been using since blogs were created more than five years ago. Therefore, I am in evangelist today – again!

As usual I am amazed at the ignorance about social media and its possibilities in business – but these are a great bunch of people and are currently setting up their own blogs using Blogger as a platform as I write. Do you remember your first time?
By the end of the session, hopefully I will have explained the issues surrounding Web2.0, blogs and stuff like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc and convinced some marketing professionals that social media is something they cannot ignore.
I will post and update in a few days time…


Cut out the bad words

When I was a journalist there were certain words I hated in a press release and I’ve been thinking about this all week – following a recent comment about the fact that you cannot “polish a turd”.
Good writers should avoid the following words at all times – especially those operating in PR where any press release should deal in facts and facts alone and stay away from PR bullshit. So here’s the Greenie Guide to Bad Words. If you have any of these in your press releases delete them now:
No product or service is ever the First; Biggest; Best; Latest; Ground-breaking; Cutting-edge; Leading-edge; Unique… add more as you please
No CEO is ever “delighted”; “over-joyed”; “over the moon”; “pleased to announce”; “pleased to be associated with…” … add more as you please.
Other bad words, for me at least, also include “utilise” – what’s wrong with “use”?
This might sound a bit smug – but I think people who are uncomfortable about their writing try to pad it out with jargon, or self-inflating verbiage which is just a waste of time.
My advice is stick to the facts and tell it like it is.

I love this

Click on the image to read in full...

Five lessons learned

Five things I discovered this week:

  • Some people will never change – even when you explain the blindingly obvious to them, they will never concede a point. Stay away from them.
  • Most people mean well, even when they make mistakes. So I now try to congratulate people on their failures.
  • Tax bills can come down as well as go up. This week mine came down. Result
  • The things that you think are important don’t mean a damn to other people. So get over your self.
  • Gordon Brown will probably be a very good Prime Minister. I now feel confident in the Labour Party again.
What did you learn this week?


My site is now X-rated!

My site is X-rated according to the Cinema Test I have just taken. It rates your blog content just as if it were a movie."

Well, having put my 'URL' to the test, it seems that, like Mr Blunt, I am not deemed suitable for children, unless accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.
Why you may ask - I don't particularly suffer from Potty Mouth. The errant words were:
Death (x6)
Sex (x5)
Punch (x3) - this in a post about boxing
Abortion (x2)
Crap (x1)

How do you rate?

Eight Things You Don't Know About Me

Kevin at fuelmyblog has tagged me in a game of Eight Things You Don't Know About Me started by Bill Blunt. So here's my list:

1. My secret super human power is that I can talk to animals and they seem to understand what I am saying – however, this only works with cats, dogs and meerkats.
2. I have never successfully played Flight Of The Bumble Bee all the way through on a Tuba. I usually pass out half way through.
3. My wife and I often have conversations styled on those between Dr Watson and Sherlock Holmes. Example: Mrs G: “Forsooth! The chocolate biscuits have disappeared.” Me: “Great Scott! Mrs Green I suspect villany!”
4. I have never voluntarily been fired from a canon.
5. Despite the rumours I have never worn a truss.
6. My favourite song is When The Banana Trees Are Ripening I’ll Come Sliding Back To You.
7. I have platform ticket for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.
8. I book I wrote was presented to the Queen when she visited Leeds during her recent Jubilee Year.

So, now I have to tag eight people to do much of the same. I have gone back to fuelmyblog and chosen eight lucky victims. They are:

Simon Says - an old pal
Baker Street Blog - with Dr Watson I presume
One Red Paper Clip - The paper clip guy
Lionheart's Den
Weird Girl - I think she's Canadian
All Other Crap
Sacha - He's German
La Belle Saison

Do your stuff guys.

A reminder of the Tag Rules, for the blogs listed above...

One: Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves. Two: People who are tagged need to write their own blog entry about their eight things and post these rules. Three: at the end of your entry, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names/pseudonyms/blogs. Four: Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.


New Grub Street revisited

We’re based in Wakefield. Home of George Gissing.
He’s been dead now for 150 years now (born November 22, 1857), but brilliantly captured the anxiety of modern British journalism with New Grub Street – even though he was writing in the late 19th Century.
I know that Paul Routledge, Wakefield-born, and currently Political Correspondent of the Daily Mirror is a big fan too - curiously his home city is doing nothing to celebrate his memory - bizarre given that Wakefield needs all the help it can get.
Anyway from Wikipedia we get this:

New Grub Street opens with Jasper Milvain, an “alarmingly modern young man” driven by pure financial ambition in navigating his literary career. He accepts that he will “always despise the people [he] write[s] for,” networks within the appropriate social circle to manufacture opportunity, and authors articles for popular periodicals. Gissing provides a foil to Milvain with protagonist Edwin Reardon, who prefers to author novels of a more literary bent and refuses to pander to contemporary tastes until, as a last-gasp measure against financial ruin, he quickly attempts a popular novel. Even in this venture, Reardon fails, precipitating a separation from his wife, Amy Reardon née Yule, who cannot accept her husband’s fallen status.
The Yule family includes Amy’s two uncles—John, a wealthy invalid, and Alfred, another author—and Alfred’s daughter, Marian. The friendship that develops between Marian and Milvain’s sisters, who move to London following their mother’s death, provides opportunity for the former to meet and fall in love with Milvain. However much Milvain respects Marian’s intellectual capabilities and strength of personality, the crucial element (according to Milvain) for marriage is missing: money. Marrying a rich woman, after all, is the most convenient way to speed his career advancement. Indeed, Milvain slights romantic love as a key to marriage:
‘As a rule, marriage is the result of a mild preference, encouraged by circumstances, and deliberately heightened into strong sexual feeling. You, of all men, know well enough that the same kind of feeling could be produced for almost any woman who wasn’t repulsive.’ Eventually, reason enough for an engagement is provided by a legacy of £5000 left to Marian by John Yule.
Life (and death) eventually end the possibility of this union. Milvain’s initial career advancement is a position on The Current, a paper edited by Clement Fadge. Twenty years earlier, Alfred Yule (Marian’s father) was slighted by Fadge in a newspaper article, and the resulting acerbic resentment extends even to Milvain (an employee of Fadge’s). Alfred Yule refuses to countenance Marian’s marriage; but his objection proves to be an obstacle only after Yule’s eyesight fails and Marian’s legacy is reduced to a mere £1500. As a result, Marian must work to provide for her parents, and her inheritance is no longer available to Milvain.
By this time, Milvain already has detected a more desirable target for marriage: Amy Reardon. Reardon’s poverty and natural disposition toward ill-health culminate in his death following a brief reconciliation with his wife. Amy, besides the receipt of £10,000 upon John Yule’s death, has the natural beauty and grace to benefit her husband (by reflection) in the social events beneficial to his career. Eventually Amy and Milvain marry; however, as the narrator reveals, this marriage motivated by circumstances is not lacking in more profound areas. Milvain has married the woman he loves.

Sounds dull doesn’t it? But no! I think it is one of the single most interesting books about hacks and newspapers. I feel we should celebrate this forgotten author and was wondering about doing an exhibition in GREEN’s Art of Propaganda gallery in Wakefield. Any thought?


Pros and cons of working with real people

I work in the world of public relations advising clients on how to get the reputation they deserve. They are a demanding lot – both good and bad. Happily most are good. I came across this excellent post on TWL with the following comment from an anonymous writer. He defined client as follows – it’s a bit like Shakespeare's Seven Ages of Man but hits the spot - here it is:

Those you go the extra mile for:
The 'good lad/lass'. You work hard for them as they are just that.
The 'aww bless' who is completely useless but knows it and appreciates the fact you have saved their ass on many occasions.
The 'NKOTB' (New Kid on the Block). Stumbled into a senior position and spends the whole time thinking how the hell did this happen and what the hell is PR anyway? Confesses to you as much and is grateful of the help you give them.
Those you do you level best but no more:
The 'grabber'. Takes all the credit and never thanks the agency.
The 'scary git'. Highly demanding but sadly knows his/her stuff. Treats agency staff poorly and knows when the wool is being pulled over the proverbial. Usually from an agency background.
Those you deliberately sabotage. The 'ignoramus'. Has inherited the PR role as part of a larger marcoms brief and doesn't understand the value in it. Sees you as an unfortunate irritant that they have to deal with but would sack you in a second if they had the opportunity and would use your budget on daft advertisements or even worse, direct mail!
The 'c*@t'. Need I say more...
The 'idiot'. Perhaps the most dangerous. Thinks they understand PR as they did some work experience in a small agency 10 years ago. Has ridiculous expectations and will not take counsel. Thrives on a master/slave relationship and will blame the agency for what they perceive as terrible results but in actual fact is their own inadequacies.

I have my own take on this and it begins with the Five Clients I Love:

  1. Pays my company on time, when due and according to the contract. I love my job, I love the client, I love their product. But I have mouths to feed.
  2. Clients who tell it straight. Tell me what your business/marketing/strategy plan is and then we can deliver. You cannot polish a turd but we can make it float.
  3. Clients who don’t understand what a brief is… we can lead them to the promised land.
  4. Clients who like a chinwag. We like people, people are interesting, they have stories and tell them. I would rather have an argumentative chat with a client than a … dialogue.
  5. Clients tell me how I am doing. We all like praise but if we are not delivering to expectation we need to know otherwise how can we fix it?

These are the nice clients. Who are the baddies? Clients I dislike. Here’s five of them:
  1. Clients who pay late. Why? We’ve done the work, got the coverage and are proud of what we have done. Pay up for God’s sake.
  2. Clients who think they know what they want ie "we would like some PR because the CEO said it would be good". Why?
  3. Clients who lie. Client: “Yes, the website we are paying you to promote will be ready next week we just need you to populate it with content.” Us: “Content is done – we worked over the weekend to make sure it was ready.” Client: “We need to work on the website for the next month - why have we had no coverage in the press.” Us (inwardly): “Bugger – we’re not going to get paid for this and I missed my son’s birthday too.”
  4. Clients who don’t know what a budget is. A press release costs this much, a campaign costs this much, a retained fee is this. What don’t they understand?
  5. Clients who think I will lie on their behalf – No, no, no! That is not an option. We have a reputation too!

Or is it just me? Answers please


News just in from Yorkshire

A friend phoned me today to tell me that the Editor's job at the Craven Herald is up for grabs.
Not sure why except back in the day when I was a full-time journalist I had expressed an opinion that being editor of the Herald must be a fantastic way to see out your retirement in journalism - working on a small provincial, weekly newspaper dedicated to serving the community.
Here's the genuine advertisement from Newsquest:

Description: Heard the phrase "dyed in the wool"? Well the Craven Herald IS the wool: it's been an integral part of the life of the Yorkshire Dales - and the bustling market towns of Skipton and Settle - since 1853.
It is one of only two paid-for weekly newspapers in Britain that still runs classified advertising on its front page and it has an enviable record of growing sales.
It covers a vast area that's steeped in rural tradition but this is no cosy backwater. Craven Herald readers demand to know about everything that moves and they rely on their local paper to provide the information in an honest, straightforward, timely and, above all, accurate manner.
But, to coin a phrase, times they are a-changin'. The Craven Herald has its own busy and popular website, which is part of its armoury in recording and reporting the evolution of modern life in the Dales, and the newspaper needs to constantly develop to meet those challenges.
The new editor will inherit a tough task in marrying the traditions and history of this beautiful but sometimes harsh landscape with the demands of the modern Dales community.
The successful candidate will be a diplomat, capable of understanding and communicating with all members of the Herald's diverse readership on all levels and meeting the needs of farmers, businessmen, villagers and town dwellers alike.
You will be a skilled design sub-editor who will lead from the front heading up the production team at its Bradford base but also getting out and about in the Craven and Dales community.
You will need to demonstrate a proven track record in local newspaper journalism as well as experience of managing a team at at least deputy editor level.
This is a rare opportunity and we're seeking an individual with rare qualities to fill this important post.

You can bet that was written by a Yorkshireman. But would I want the job? Not sure now. I've been out of mainstream journalism now for more than five years plus I am running my own business(es) with many mouths to feed - staff as well as family.
In many ways running a communications agency is not that far removed from running a newspaper - "you do that, you do this, you go and get a picture of him, you write the story, you sub the copy, you write the headlines - ya da da da da."
But I am not sure I could go back - can you ever go back? Anyway I am only in my early 40s - maybe when I am a bit more avuncular I might consider it.
Great newspaper though and I have never received a Response Source from anyone at the Craven Herald.


This is a punch... it hurts

It is seldom I write off topic but, as an ex-boxer, I must comment on Ricky Hatton's recent triumph.
Yes, I know it is hard to believe, but back in Liverpool in my working class youth I was a student pugilist. That's unfair even to me because I fought several fights as a lightweight until I was knocked out – literally… knocked out. Horrible. It was then I took up knitting.
Indeed, I was once beaten up by John Conteh’s sister. Which I think is as good as it gets.
I’m still a pugilist in outlook, so was delighted with Ricky Hatton’s achievement in stopping one of the most efficient body punchers of the modern era yesterday.
He did it quickly, efficiently, and with a perfect sickener to the liver of Jose Luis Castillo. This punch takes all the air out of you body for about 30 seconds – in fact you think you’ve forgotten the trick of breathing.
According to reports you could almost feel the crunch of ribs from row 10. Anything less than wholehearted recognition, and justice to a great British sportsman will not given, even here in the UK.
The US always looks down on UK boxers but Hatton is the real deal… as good as Naseem in his pomp but with the humility of a fighter who knows every battle will be hard won.
There is talk of a contest with Floyd Mayweather, who continues to show a lack of interest. I suspect that Mayweather has decided Hatton is best avoided.


Can I have a car too?

Further to my earlier post, here's another one from Response Source - came in today about lunchtime. I wonder if I could blag a car too? I would even accept a Chevrolet. Anyway this is what our correspondent posted:

i am not one to moan, certainly not one to name and shame when things don't go according to plan, but it seems, i may be in a bit of bovver this weekend. and as i really do not have the time to chase this, i would be extremely grateful if those of you who contacted me early in the week, could get in touch again.
so with a red face (more annoyance than embarrassement actually! ), i am once more calling you en masse to see if you are able to secure me a motor vehicle for the weekend. i would prefferably like to have the car in my hands this afternoon!
My sincere apologies for such a late notice, but it could have been worse. if i hadn't woken up around 4 or
5 am this morning in a cold sweat, i would have been issuing this tomorrow!
Chevrolet need not respond to this r/s.
Thank you

Thank you indeed. Please note the perfect grammar and spelling too! Take note: he/she requires a motor vehicle - not a car, that won't do, it must be a motor vehicle - I wonder if this rules out a Chevrolet. Thank God for journalists like Alan Johnson - God bless him.


Urgently looking for a holiday for x2 journalists

PR Bunnies are getting a stuffing at the moment from various journalist blogs about bad pitches on stories – Charles Arthur obviously has some genuine grievances as he works in such a specialist area at The Guardian and its tech section. But Getting Ink has a similar shtick.
But I do wonder if they do protest too much. For those of you who subscribe to the various news feeds and online journalist query services you might wonder what the journalists actually think we do. And remember I was a journalist for many years – back in the day when all we had was notebook and shorthand, and actually went out to talk to people about their dead son, or decrepit council house dwellers about dog shit on the pavement, and do court and council.
They certainly don’t appear to think that PR is a profession aimed at managing the reputation of clients and their products and services. Indeed, judging by the requests below they seem to think that we have access to the sort of people the Red Tops usually have on their front page. And I don’t wish to point the finger at the Red Tops because we get similar requests from the broadsheets, women’s magazines and others.
Here are just a few of the genuine requests we have had from journalists currently on deadline:

Hi, we're looking for genuine members of the Mile High Club for a feature. They need to be in their 20s or early 30s and quite photogenic. We need a 15 minute phone interview with them about their experience - why did they do it, how was it, and would they do it again?
We also need a pic of them. We pay £100 on publication and £25 tip off fee.

Fantastic – If I was PRO at BA, EastyJet or RyanAir I would clearly think we have a solid media proposition here – NOT.

I would like to speak to women who have had at least two abortions. They can be photographed in silhouette and their identity can be protected. I need three women - one in her 20's, 30's and 40's. The case studies would be used along side a report of government figures that state an abortion is carried out in the UK every three minutes. I am interested in why the women had the abortion in the first place, how they feel about it now and their reaction to the figures mentioned earlier. There would be a payment of £100 to each study and I would endeavour to mention any organisation that has helped.

Fantastic – what a great opportunity for my client AbortionsRUs! I must get on the phone to this thrusting investigative journalist. What other seedy clients can I peddle - um?

Possible magazine feature on drugs and the physical harm.
Are you a woman of 25-35 who does or has taken coke? Has doing so damaged your nose causing septum erosion? How has this changed your life and are you still using despite this? Tell us your story by contacting…

For God’s sake we are a PR company … we’re still using by the way though, Shoot up anyone?

I'm looking for women in their 20s and 30s who've made a conscious decision to give up sex for a year or so because they are fed up of ending up with the wrong men, choosing blokes who only want sex but nothing more, or even having one night stands which they've later regretted. The idea is that these women are taking a breather from dating and sex to work out what they really want from a man and how best to get it. I'd require a telephone interview and studio photoshoot.

Give me strength.

Urgently looking for a holiday for x2 journalists for feature to be written later in the year. Full credits given

Presumably earlier holiday plans had gone awry. I don't know.

And yes they are all real. What happened to old-fashioned, get-up-and-go-find-a-story-for-you- self-school-of-journalism? I wonder what some editors and news desks would think if they knew their staff were doing this? Perhaps they do? Oh, and by the way we never, never, get these requests from regional newspapers.
Or perhaps this is just one of the inevitable by-products of the internet. Any views? I did a version of this post last year and the requests we are getting still continue to scrape the barrel. The Daily Mail is the worst by the way – I think I should make this a regular feature. Watch this space.
I suggest Worst News Trawl Of the Day. Should I include names?