Still feeling tender

Yes I am. Just did a presentation today - through the tender process - for a local authority project. Took four people out of the office for four hours to present to a committee of council employees. That's a total of 16 man hours.
Result? We didn't win the account, in spite of a sterling and creative presentation by the team showing examples of past work in the same area and years of expertise in the arts and regeneration.
So who won the account? The incumbent because they had the edge over us because of local knowledge. Well duh?
This is not sour grapes - just feeling a bit stupid for entering into the whole process from the beginning. Maybe we should just stick to the private sector - where they call a spade a bloody shovel and can put a value on the creative.


Tender after another tender

Doing business sucks some times. I love working with a wide range of people - clients in the public, private and charitable sector. Exciting lively people - for instance we did a brand workshop with a firm of lawyers recently.
Sounds awful doesn't it? Twenty people crammed in to a conference room. But they were wonderful, honest and open in defining what they were. And we have come up with a killer strategy for them which will include a Web2.0 gig too!
And then there are tender documents - usually public service - which I hate. For anyone who has not tendered for business in the public sector the bulk of the documentation involves your policies on the environment, health & safety, equal opportunities, public liability insurance, professional liability insurance, risk assessment report etc. These take two days to get together. All wasted time.
Lowest on the list of their priorities are creativity, strategy and implementation. Who reads these things anyway? Usually a checklist ticking committee who have no understanding of PR or communications.
So will we complete another tender? Probably - because that's business.
The last one we lost out on was because our H&S policy was not strong enough. We are a communications agency and have had no serious accidents or deaths in our history. Sigh!


Save Pandora - get out of the box

It's all going a bit pear-shaped with online radio as the Luddites in the real world start to kick against the new regime. Which means one of my favourite sites could face closure and let's face it Pandora rocks! Check it out.
This is what Pandora are saying:

A huge thank you to everyone who has been so supportive over the past week as we've been hit by the stunning ruling on webcast rates. It's very heartening for us to see how much people care about this, and how willing listeners are to pitch in. And how many of you there are!!

There has been an enormous groundswell of opposition to this decision, and we've been hard at work on how to best channel the energy in the right direction. Because the webcasting community does not have an entrenched and powerful lobbying presence in DC, grassroots legislative pressure - constituents contacting their representatives - is clearly our biggest ally.

Internet radio is hostage to a blatantly discriminatory double standard that was written into the federal statute governing webcasting several years ago, following an intensive lobbying effort by the RIAA. We need to redress this, and create a more level playing field - one that of course rewards musicians for their work (I spent years in a band van myself and have always been driven by a desire to lift up musicians), and one that also understands the business realities, and benefits of online radio.

My view is that old world law is still trying to control new world reality. I listen to Pandora all the time and have bought dozens of CDs from artists I would never have come across before without the benefits of Pandora - so why squeeze it out of the market? On that matter get rid of MySpace too and fuck the Arctic Monkeys - great band though they are. In fact I am listening to Pandora now (Ry Cooder's version of Smack Dab in the Middle).
Visit Pandora and sign the petition - unfortunately it only counts for US citizens and that's another nonsense like the shit they are doing with UK-based betting websites and their directors. See this at the Wall Street Journal. That's thought guys - relocate to the UK. We have a spare office at the Wakefield Media Centre - cheap rates too!
Maybe we can do something on this with Fuelmyblog. Let me know what you think.

PS: Pandora has just started playing Star of Bethlehem by Neil Young as I write this. Life is good.

Damned United at the Art of Propaganda

Through sister company, Art Of Propaganda, GREEN is hosting a special exhibition based on the Damned United by local author David Peace - a fictional account based on the 44 day reign of mercurial football manager Brian Clough at Leeds United, back in 1974.
The exhibition is richly illustrated with the photo archive of local freelance press photographer David Hickes who chronicled the period for leading newspapers.
The event was timed to commemorate the anniversary of Brian Clough's birthday, on March 21 and runs until the end of the football season. The display also marks a personal interest for local MP, Ed Balls, a keen football fan, who gave an introduction to the show.
David Pearce is already recognised as one of the UK’s top creative writing talents - he is the author of The Red Riding Quartet and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for his novel GB84 in 2004. David Peace currently lives in Tokyo, Japan, with his wife and two children.
His latest work, The Damned United is an extraordinarily inventive novel shifting between and across twelve years and 44 days in the life of Brian Clough, telling the story of a world characterized by a fear of failure and a hunger for success.
The book is a portrait of one of the most idiosyncratic Englishmen of the last century and is a story about power and paranoia coming together to shape a people and their times.


What's all this Twittering?

Everyone seems to have gone Twitter mad at the moment. I could write about it at length but better people have been there before me.
If I can count one benefit it is that Kevin Dixie and myself have been having ad hoc board meetings through Twitter about Fuelmyblog. This is good because Kevin is based in La Rochelle, France and I am in Ilkley, UK.
I can best sum up Twitter as blog-lite but everyone joins the conversation at the same time. For more stuff on Twitter visit:

Simon Collister – Twittering Point
Drew B – On Brit Twits
Hitwise – Twit Stats
Ian Delaney – Twitter Debate
Steve Rubel – From Blog to Twit

So what do you think? Are you a Twit.


Blown away...

The government has won Commons support for plans to renew the UK's nuclear submarine system, despite a large rebellion by Labour MPs. I'm not sure how I feel about this as an Old Leftie.
Tony Blair had said it was "essential" the UK began the £20bn plan to renew Trident as soon as possible. After six hours of debate, 409 MPs supported the proposals, and 161 were against - a majority of 248 and 413 MPs had rejected a bid to delay the decision, with 95 Labour rebels among 167 MPs wanting a delay.
As a child of the Sixties I grew up with the Bomb at the back of my mind all the time - and like many born then used to have nightmares about it. I joined CND, got the T-shirt and the badges, did the marches, even went to Greenham Common. And then the Berlin Wall fell... So we can all relax. Yes? No.
Does the UK need Trident? I don't think so but the world is so f*cked up you do wonder whether we need a reply to North Korea (given up on WMDs) and Iran (trying to develop an industrial Uranium refinery)or any other nutty nation (the US?) but it all seems like a bit of Mexican Standoff - and that's f*cked too.
According to the BBC between £15bn and £20bn would be spent on new submarines to carry the Trident missiles and the fleet would take 17 years to develop and build, and would then last until about 2050 by which time my son will have to figure it out.
In fact I think the current generation is more conservative than mine - despite all the media hype about teenager degenerates - and might welcome the UK Government's stance. Shit! I've not spoken to my son Frank about this yet... so who knows?
Defence minister Adam Ingram, speaking after the vote, said he had heard some "disgraceful" speeches from Labour rebels, but it had been a "strong and healthy" debate.
Thank God for rebels I say. Altogether now:

And it's one, two, three
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Birmingham.
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Bet that takes you back - I sang this in a band back in the late 70s.


We are recruiting

Over at GREEN we have witnessed some significant new business wins - will tell you more later - and as a result we are now looking for a graduate trainee and talented account managers and executives.
We've had a great start to the year and will be looking to recruit some new people over the next three months.
We're looking for self-starters with ambitions to join a fast-growing agency offering a wide range of communications services. Check out our blog and our Little Book of Values - and if you think we are the kind of company you would like to work for drop us a line to ian [at] greencomms [dot] com


Iraq sucks but a bow helps

Books and stuff

Further to my earlier post about Amazing Grace we have just got back from a shopping trip in Leeds - ostensibly to buy some new clothes and shoes for the kids.
We also had lunch at the excellent Lucky Dragon Chinese restaurant which is so good it doesn't even bother with a website - it's on Templar Lane if you're interested and, if you go, ask to order off the Chinese menu.
The worst thing I can do on a family shopping trip is to say I'm off to Borders while the rest of them go fashion hunting in the mean streets of Leeds, West Yorkshire. Although to be fair, my son Frank hung out with me reading Manga and other teenage stuff in Borders while I went foraging.
Why "the worst thing I can do?", because I always end up spending too much. I went with the intention of buying one book on William Pitt The Younger. I now have seven plus a CD.
I am 50 quid bloke! This is a phenomenon that you guys in the US may not be familiar with so check the link.
So what did I buy?
For me:
CD: My Name Is Buddy - Ry Cooder (brilliant - listened to it on the way back in the car. And no complaints from the kids, perhaps because Buddy is a cat.)
Book1: William Pitt, The Younger by William Hague
Book 2: Agincourt by Juliet Barker
Book 3: Unimagined by Imran Ahmad
Book 4: Small is Beautiful by EF Shumacher
Book 5: Imperium by Robert Harris

For my sister, whose birthday is imminent:
Book 1: POSH by Michael Quinion
Book 2: Troublesome Words by Bill Bryson

Confession - this is the one retail thing I do really well and never feel guilty about: buying and reading books and listening to good music. Clothes and stuff is just a bore but books and music - bring it on. And my wife has just reminded me we have to do a grocery shop for tomorrow... sigh!
What books are you reading at the moment? - let me know.

How do you define your self?

After a day buying some books I've been meaning to get for ages - one a novel, one a memoir, two on history and one on economics (Small is Beautiful by Shumacher) I've been looking at Fuelmyblog and the various categories we have.
They are Entertainment, Arts/Literature, News/Politics, Business/Technology, Personal/Lifestyle and Sports/Leisure.
After some very unscientific analysis - and I suppose that Kevin can give a proper breakdown - this is what the FMB community is blogging about:

1. Personal - 50%
2. Business/Technology - 25%
3. Entertainment - 10%
4. News/Politics - 5%
4. Arts/Literature - 5%
4. Sports/Leisure - 5%

Are we being too narrow in our definitions? Should we have a section on Peruvian Nose Flutes for example? I don't know what do you think?

Amazing Grace - UK Premiere

For some reason I can't fathom we received an invitation to see the UK premiere of Amazing Grace at the National Media Museum in Bradford.
It was a black tie event and a bit swanky for Bradford. Also in attendance was the director Michael Apted and actor Ben Cumberbatch who took some questions from the Bradford International Film Festival's Artistic Director Tony Earnshaw, an old colleague of mine from the Yorkshire Post.
It was a good film but not a great one. The story of William Wilberforce's fight for the abolition of the slave trade begins inEngland, 1797. Exhausted by his crusading campaign to bring an end to the British Empire’s tradition of slavery, the young MP William Wilberforce retreats to his friends’ home to recuperate from an annual defeat to have his bill adopted into the constitution.
History shows that Wilberforce returned to the fray and, with a combination of obsession and evangelical zeal, raised sufficient support to eventually win the day. That he was unorthodox cannot be denied: he was a God-fearing radical, an idealist and a humanitarian in a world of state sanctioned cruelty.
That alone made him a figure of ridicule; his pursuit of an end to the trade of human beings as commerce made him a pariah... and a hero.
What intrigued me most was Cumberbatch's performance as Prime Minister William Pitt - the consumate politician who was capable of bending his principles to the direction of prevailing political wind but always winning out in the end. Remember this was the man who beat Napoleon.
Given the current state of affairs in the UK and the world - it was easy to draw parallels with Tony Blair, but I am not sure this is what the writers intended.
Any way that impressed me enough to go out later today and buy William Hague's book on Pitt.


Fuelmyblog rocks!!

We've just re-launched fuelmyblog and I think it rocks! But I would say that given my interest in the venture. What do you think? Add your own blog to see how it fairs in the voting system.
Fuelmyblog was established by Kevin Dixie as a labour of love, which has slowly evolved into a compelling Web2.0 proposition and we are planning to add lots of social media tools over the next couple of months. So keep coming back.
While I have played my part in the development of FMB all the credit for the new website goes to Marcus Dyson and his company eleventeenth which worked on the platform supporting the new site as well as the design. Well done Marcus!
New feature include being able to vote blogs up and down the rankings - votes based on quality rather than tags or links.
Other features will include blogradio interviews with FMB members, vidoes, forums and much much more - all will be on stream in the next couple of months.
What really freaks me out is that we only started talking seriously about this in January and look where we are now. All comments welcome.