Seems the media is "on message"!


Coffee, cakes and communication

As an antidote (or compliment) to BarCamp Imran Ali is organising an OpenCoffee Leeds some time in June.These have been a big hit in London and the US.
has had one and a second one is due in the North-West shortly, so it’s great that Imran has taken the lead in this.
I’ve pledged to help out on the support of the event and hopefully we can get a lot of movers and shakers there and some of the professional organizations in Leeds who are still standing on the sidelines of Web2.0.
So far Imran has Ed French from Enterprise Ventures, Carl Rahn Griffith of and a handful of others in the group. Imran is hoping to rope in old friends and colleagues from Orange, Kingston Interactive, the Universities, Zythe and Inteleme...geeks, coders, bloggers, investors, entrepreneurs, designers, developers and anyone with a passing interest.
Dates will be confirmed here asap.

Overwhelmed by tech talk at Bar Camp

I am ashamed to say that I only spent three hours at the BarCamp in Sheffield this weekend.This is no reflection on the organization by Plusnet and the volunteers who organized it – they were very impressive. However, I had attended as a non-techie and was slightly alarmed by all the talk of PHP, mashup, web apps etc.
I was looking for big picture stuff and how the technology could help my clients rather than the nitty-gritty detail which seemed to excite the Uber-Geeks (no disrespect intended).The North of England is full of enterprising and innovative individuals and businesses but we have to travel to London to talk to kindred spirits – so fair play to the organizers of BarCampSheffield for at least doing something about it.

As they say:

We want BarCampSheffield to showcase the best that the UK has to offer. We want to share knowledge, experience and techniques. If you have a great idea, have developed a great Web App / Mashup or are simply interested in finding out what everyone else in the market is doing then come along.

I did make contact with some interesting people but given that I could actually make little contribution to the tech debate I made my excuses and left.


Fuelmyblog Television


Firebug is brilliant

I've just downloaded the Firebug extension for Firefox. It was always a really useful development tool now it’s just got 100 per cent better. No web developer should do without not that I am a developer but useful just the same.
Firebug lets you view and edit the HTML and CSS of any page.
It tells you exactly which CSS rules affect the styling of the element you select in the style inspector - not only which rules affect it directly but also which rules it inherits properties from. It lets you edit anything and toggle CSS declarations on and off, with the results immediately showing on the page.
Firebug also has a layout inspector that displays a nice graphic of the currently selected element’s box model properties, and a DOM inspector that lists all DOM properties and their values.
There’s even a JavaScript debugger and the Net inspector. A brilliant piece of kit.


I like Banksy - we all think it but never express it

Top Ten PR Tips

Here's my latest Top Ten Tips (first posted on Fuelmyblog – you really should join). Perhaps I was foolish to accept Kevin's invitation to do a regular "column" for the FMBblog but I will persevere.
Anyway, here's my top ten tips for mounting a PR campaign whether you are running a small business, charity or a blog – in fact I am doing a talk on this next week for charities. Enjoy.

1. Don’t hide your company/charity/organisation/blog’s light under a bushel. If you’ve got some good news, collaborate with the media and let your customers, suppliers and everyone else know how wonderful you are. Do you have an event planned, a new service to launch or an interesting story with a regional angle to tell? If so, let the local (or even national) media know about it through a press release.

2. Always date the release and include a contact name and number. Phone ahead and find out the name of the editor or the local business reporter, and their preferred method of delivery (email, fax or post). Importantly, find out their deadline, particularly if your story is time sensitive.

3. Newspapers receive hundreds of press releases every week, and only the ones that stand out will ever make it into print. Step into the shoes of the particular publication and its readers and ask the question ‘What is interesting and newsworthy about this announcement?’. The answer should form the angle for your press release.

4. The most important elements of a successful press release are its title and opening paragraph. If these fail to grab an editor’s attention, the chances of the release being used drop significantly. These should sum up the most important points of your message. If the release is to inform about a forthcoming event or launch, then the date, place and time should be included in the first paragraph.

5. Press releases should not read like a promotional brochure or be overloaded with information. Too much image building is not necessary, and will weigh down the message. Sentences should be short and snappy and the whole thing should be no longer than two sides of A4. Extra information, including company background, can be included in a section called ‘Notes for editors’.”

6. If you can create a picture opportunity to tempt local photographers from your chosen media, your story will be more attractive. A photocall is a managed event which might be a one-off or a part of a bigger event, such as a presentation or exhibition. An unusual location or the presence of a celebrity can help if it is relevant to the story. Plan ahead and have contingencies in place in case of adverse weather conditions or other eventualities. Issue a photocall notice to relevant media.

7. Build good relationships with journalists you speak to. Having good contacts in the media is key to a successful PR strategy. When you have a story printed, call or email to thank the writer and you’ll know who to contact next time you have an event that you want to publicise. They get a good story, your business gets good exposure. Always be polite to journalists as they have the power to decide what your customers read or hear about you - if anything at all.

8. Prepare a press pack (electronically or on paper) containing a company history, facts and figures, key contacts, pictures and examples of work. You probably already include this in your marketing literature and on your website, but it can be useful to send or give out to journalists to back up photocalls or other events. It’s also useful reference material if you are asked to answer questions on the spot.

9. Be prepared for follow-up calls and comments. Designate a spokesperson in your company to have a few paragraphs ready for journalists who call to follow up any kind of PR activity. You could also issue a statement or comment whenever there are any developments in your region or industry. Journalists are always on the lookout for a local perspective.

10. Keep press cuttings. This is not just a vanity exercise, but a good way to track your PR activities. Consider which stories attracted a lot of interest, and which did not, so you can better target your campaign in the future. Cuttings are useful to refer back to if you receive any further enquiries on the story or event.

What do you think? Have you learned anything?

A present from my son Frank - a DVD of Cool Hand Luke

Did Google get bigger or better?

Google claims to be re-launching its search engines according to The Guardian.
It’s refinement brings together all internet content from text to video and has required the effort of more than 100 engineers and involved a major revamp of the company's software platform.
The Guardian claims that there will be an "experimental" pilot services allowing users to see a timeline on a subject or a map flagging important locations in an individual's life.
Up to now, Google has been building separate search engines in individual "silos" for different types of media - videos, books, blogs, news, maps and pictures. Combining them all means writing code that can measure the relevance of a picture against a piece of text.
I love Google – hell, I blog on a Google platform - but I am frequently frustrated by the search results – especially when I know they are out there. So I hope I will pleased with the new Uber Google.
My worry is that Google is now the new Microsoft (I have nothing against MS but flinch at big institutions) and, in future, I worry what I will get from them will be pushed on me rather than pulled by me.


Courtesy of Gaping Void


Want a job in PR?

At GREEN we are hiring. As one of the north's leading PR and communications agencies, GREEN Communications is seeking highly motivated professionals to play leading roles in delivering media relations programme to a range of clients in the B2C and B2B sectors.
We need people with solid client handling skills, who can demonstrate the ability to deliver clear and concise copy and adopt creative approaches to the brief. An interest in Web2.0 and social media would help. What we want are:

Account Manager: You will already have at least three years' experience of managing a range of accounts and can demonstrate media coverage across a portfolio of demanding clients. An organised and methodical approach is essential. Some experience of writing proposals and competitively pitching for business is preferred. An interest in emerging social media platforms is also welcome.

Account Executive: You will have ambitions to build a career in PR and will have already proven that you can write and work with a variety of clients. You will have an excellent eye for a 'news' story and the ability to prioritise activity and work to deadlines in a busy, fluid environment.

Graduate Trainee Account Executive: Just starting out? You will have to be committed to build a career in PR. Experience helps but we can teach you a lot and help you build the foundations of a career. You will have an excellent eye for a 'news' story and the ability to prioritise activity and work to deadlines in a busy, fluid environment. You will also provide administrative support to the team and should be well organized and well-versed in key office software packages.

In return, you can expect and rewarding career at a well established company. If you think you fit the bill and you're ready for a real challenge - email your CV to Ian, Emma or Andy at, or


Lastminute with Fuelmyblog

Over at Fuelmyblog we have launched a new blogging competition with Lastminute to reward the best writing by a blogger about travel (disclosure: I have an interest in FMB).
We've teamed up with our mates at Lastminute and Austrian Airlines to offer one lucky winner two business class flights and a fabulous hotel stay in Vienna - city of romance, history and medieval charm.
So how do you enter? Just make a blog entry of up to 300 words on your best ever weekend or holiday, and send us the URL. Register with to make sure everyone knows about it and hey presto, you could be winging your way to Vienna and writing for Lastminute’s brand-new travel newsletter, Triptease.
Good luck everyone.


News Joost in

News just in from Absoluteblog and my son, a friend of Absolute, is that Joost, the world's first broadcast-quality internet television service, has launched.
According to the press release: “Campaigns from the 32 companies announced as advertising partners last week will begin airing on the platform this month. Additionally, as a part of this launch, all existing Joost beta testers now have an unlimited number of invitations that they can send to their friends, family and colleagues.
“Last week, Joost announced that it had signed more than 30 blue-chip brands, including The Coca-Cola Company, HP, Intel and Nike, as advertising launch partners. Beginning today, advertisements from some of the ad launch partners will begin to play on the platform. Advertisements from all ad launch partners will be on Joost later this month.”
I love Syke, who developed Joost, so it will be interesting to see how this develops. Previously available in an expanded beta, Joost now is available to an unlimited number of friends, family and colleagues of existing beta testers. Starting today, when beta testers visit the "Invite Friends" widget in the "My Joost" area of Joost, they will be able to invite anyone they know to the Joost community. Both new and existing users can download a new version of Joost today.
Previously known as The Venice Project, Joost features more than 150 channels with programming across all genres, including: cartoons and animation; entertainment and film; sports; comedy; lifestyle and documentaries; and sci-fi. Channels and programs available on Joost vary by geographic region, based on copyright ownership. While the most programming currently is available to viewers in the US, Joost is enhancing its worldwide offering with the addition of international, regional and local partners on a continual basis.
Any Joost fans out there?