Five day Twixtmas work out

Over at GREEN we are celebrating Twixtmas. You can transform your personal happiness by doing a five-day work out during the Twixtmas break - the period between Christmas and New Year.
By following some easy-to-do ‘happiness workout’ tips you can make yourself happier, ready to step into 2011 with more optimism and energy.
The binge happiness five-day programme consists of completing what is called a ‘happy diary’ for each of the five days of Twixtmas, December 27-December 31, which focus on the happy, positives in your life.
Writing down positive thoughts and feelings has been proven to beat just talking about them. Scientists believe that writing encourages the creation of a structure and storyline which can help people make sense of what has happened in their past and also guide and direct them towards finding solutions. Just talking about problems can often be unstructured, disorganised, and even chaotic. As a result, it can add a sense of confusion to your emotional state.
Twixtmas campaigner and GREEN director Andy Green said: "Arm yourself with pen and paper and make some time during the Twixtmas break to give yourself a five-day happiness work-out. Expressing your appreciation and thinking about the positive aspects of your future, or even writing affectionate things, have been scientifically proven to work and make you feel better in yourself.”
The 5 day ‘binge happiness work-out’ consists of:
Day 1 Write down four things from the past week which have made you feel grateful. Then think about and write down how one of the best experiences in your life made you feel.
Day 2 Write about something good you have done for someone else.
Day 3 Write a short email or letter to someone who you like or care for. Why not tell them how good they are and why they are important to you?
Day 4 Make a list of your favourite places visited or places you would like to go. Think about why you liked them so much or what attracts you to want to go there.
Day 5 write about your future, where everything has gone as well as you have hoped. Also, think about the present and make a note of four things that went really well for you during the five days of Twixtmas.
"The five days of Twixtmas, between December 27 and December 31, are an ideal time to do your very own binge happiness work-out. Most people put things off or don’t get round to doing them because they say they don’t have time. There is no excuse for most of us over the Twixtmas break to enjoy some ‘binge happiness’," said Andy.
The Twixtmas campaign is a new idea to change what is seen as a dull, fallow holiday period into a massive opportunity to get people to do small acts of goodness to create significant social good for themselves and others.
Instead of binge shopping or binge drinking, the not-for-profit campaign is trying to encourage binge doing, thinking and ‘binge happiness’ to overcome the problem of ‘time poverty’ – where people perceive they do not have enough time to do things for themselves or others, or the planet.
The campaign was originally conceived by social enterprise the Flexible Thinking Forum.
The website offers practical advice and inspiration to encourage everyone to make the most of this under-used opportunity. The site also provides a free facility for sending a Twixtmas e-greeting card, and you can also download a Twixtmas pledge form.
If just 0.1% of the UK population did five good things this would create 250,000 acts of goodness.


UK's Top Ten PR Blogs

According to Cision’s latest list of the UK’s top 10 public relations blogs my modest little blog here has made the top ten:

2. Drew B’s take on tech PR
3. Wadds’ PR and Media blog
4. A PR Guy’s Musings – Stuart Bruce
6. PR Media Blog
7. The Red Rocket
8. Mediations
9. SimonWakeman

Not sure whether this blog merits the mention but it’s interesting to read their methodology and how Cision have chosen They have also created a great resource of the top ten blogs on a wide range of topics from tech to fashion.
Like Stuart Bruce it’s interesting to note that I have engaged with all the other bloggers listed here either through social media and eventually face to face.
The other interesting point to note is that Cision still regards blogs as having a key purpose in the media mix. About eight moths ago there was a big discussion about whether blogs were past their sell by date with the rise of Facebook and Twitter.
However, some blogs have such a devoted audience that many PR companies are pitching product and stories to them as they appreciate the influence they have.
The other aspect of course now corporates are now seeing the sense of have a dedicated blog alongside their “traditional” website and news feed. This is all great but I suspect the real reason is that corporates and other have finally realised how potent social media is as a means of enhancing a website’s search engine optimisation.
And I need to hold my hadn up here because at GREEN Communications we are advocating this approach for that very reason – especially when some SEO specialists are charging the less-media savvy clients over £5,000 a month to manage their SEO.


How to start a mass movement

There is a brilliant presentation on how to start a mass movement in three minutes’ by Derek Sivers, an inspirational entrepreneur speaking at the TED conference
It features a crazy guy dancing by himself at a rock festival. Within three minutes his reality - and world - is transformed by a mass stampede of festival go-ers wanting to part of the new next must-do thing. Sivers brilliantly deconstructs and analyses the process:

  • First you need to lone nut.
  • The lone nut needs to a dance (or equivalent) that’s distinctive but easily copy-able.
  • Crucially, you need a #2 fan who is willing by themselves to join the lone nut.
  • With the support and encouragement of the lone nut, the #2 fan is nurtured into being able to do the dance.
  • #3 nut joins in. This is also crucial; there is no longer a lone nut, but a discernable group emerging.
  • Quickly, other early adopters join-in.
  • Next thing you know there is now a panic as people rush to join, anxious not to be left out.

Well, we at GREEN know how it feels to be a lone nut. We have put our head above the parapet and urged others to join in the crusade for Twixtmas.
You cannot underestimate how good it feels when you get a positive response. It is even more gratifying when people start to take massive action.
David Taylor, the famous motivational writer and author of the Naked Leader did not just smile, and politely think Twixtmas was a nice idea. He could have become the example of a #2 fan as he then circulated the Twixtmas message to the entire readership of his newsletter.
Thank you David for your courage, and positive action.
Could you now pluck up the courage to be a#3 or #4 or #5 or #6-fan?
Can you take action beyond acknowledgement? Can you make the world different through doing something now for Twixtmas?


Hope for Bhopal

President Obama was elected on a mandate for HOPE.
He, quite rightly, held BP accountable for the recent oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and their liability is already estimated at $40billion.
The 1984 Bhopal disaster has NEVER been cleaned up. Toxic waste, from the factory that caused the disaster, has contaminated the drinking water of many tens of thousands of people. They are being poisoned TODAY.
An American company, Dow Chemical, are legally responsible for this contamination. President Obama has elected the CEO of Dow Chemical, Mr.Andrew Liveris, to his 'India-US CEO forum'. On Monday Obama will address the Indian Parliament and the people of Bhopal still HOPE for justice. Please circulate this image...


Happy Apple Day


Recruiting again at GREEN

GREEN Communications is recruiting again. This time we are looking for a talented Account Manager and Account Executive with a sound knowledge of the consumer and business sectors to join our highly motivated team.
You will need to hit the ground running and have a passion for creative media relations, a desire to deliver outstanding coverage for your clients, the ability to think on your feet and work as part of a large team.
The ideal candidate will need a broad spread of media contacts across consumer, lifestyle and business within the broadcast, national press, consumer press, online as well as freelancers. An interest in social media is also desired.
The work you will be required to undertake will have a broad business and consumer focus and will include working on high profile campaign activity.
Further information call Ian Green on 0845 4503210. Send CVs with covering letter to Ian at Green Communications, Wakefield Media Centre, 19 King Street, Wakefield, WF1 2SQ or email:


PR still doesn't get social media

Nearly 60% of PR agencies and departments that monitor social media spend no more than two hours a week doing so, despite its perceived importance.
These findings form part of a research project carried out by Daryl Willcox Publishing into the social media habits of the PR industry. The publication of the research coincides with the launch of a new whitepaper examining tools to monitor social media.
Of 376 PR departments and agencies surveyed, 85% said they monitored social media, including blogs and forums, for coverage and conversations.
Thirty one per cent of these said they dedicated an hour or less each week monitoring social media, while 26% spent between one and two hours. More than a third (36%) spent between three and six hours monitoring with 7% putting aside at least a day each week.
Ninety per cent of departments and agencies monitoring social media said they did so because it was an important element of their media monitoring.
Sixty eight per cent of respondents said they used free online tools and search engines to monitor, while 42% said they visited each social platform individually.
“The consensus now in the PR industry is that social media is of real importance and our survey findings support that,” said Daryl Willcox, chairman and founder of Daryl Willcox Publishing. “Our research also suggests there could be room for greater emphasis on monitoring social media despite the many online tools, free and paid-for, now available to help PR professionals pick up online conversation.”
The research also discovered reluctance among PR professionals to join in with online conversations. Almost half (49%) of departments and agencies only joined in when people were getting things factually wrong while 17% did not get involved at all.
Twenty six per cent of respondents said they did engage and declared their PR role while 8% hid who they were representing in online conversations.
Of the 15% which did not monitor social media, 51% cited a lack of resource, 29% said a lack of knowledge stopped them and 11% felt there was no value in it.

Well all of this is from a DWP press release. But bloody hell! It’s not that difficult to monitor social media 24/7 given all the tools available to PR professionals.
At GREEN, I would hope that we know exactly what is being said about our clients all the time and that we engage with those people who are talking about the brands that matter to us most. The point is with social media it’s not just about listening and monitoring. It’s about getting involved and sharing views – whether they are good, bad or indifferent.


Good Dads and Truthiness

From Andy: Just seen a great new film, The World’s Greatest Dad starring Robin Williams. I will not spoil your treat by giving away the plot, but just to say there is a twist half way through which turns the world upside down of the lead character played by Robin Willliams. (There is also a comic moment of great genius - you know these when the well behaved cinema audience responds with totally raucous laughter.)
The film’s other remarkable quality was its parody of how we choose to create our own reality of events, or own interpretation – and re-interpretation in the case of the film, of what we believe to be true – our ‘truthiness’.
Truthiness is an important concept for anyone being creative, generating creative ideas, and also in brand communications in getting your ideas accepted.
Sometimes you can get insight from someone outside the field of study, a non-expert in the domain.
A major philosophical concept, well at least a label, was not created by a philosopher - but by a comedian. During an episode of the political satire show The Colbert Report comedian Stephen Colbert coined the word ‘truthiness’. It means in essence: ‘the quality of stating concepts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than the facts.’
Our reality is that we all see the world through ‘truthiness glasses’. Perceptions, are just as valid as facts in our mental landscapes,
People erect barriers in their mental landscape preventing the recognition of ‘the truth’ of any new information with which they might feel uncomfortable.
They did not want the dissonance, the anxiety to upset their existing world view, which acts as a magnet for any negative information about things you dislike, and precludes contradictory data; otherwise your definition of truth would need to be re-evaluated.
So, it does not matter if a fact exists or not, in terms of being validated by data. You can have your own facts.
On the one hand truthiness is what some people want to exist.
On the other hand it is what some people don’t want to exist.
And that’s the truthiness of it. My truthiness is that The World’s Greatest Dad is a great film.


What the F**k is Social Media NOW?

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:


Echo & the Bunnymen - Cutter

Bibliophile's delight in Addingham

Just spent a delightful day in Addingham, in Wharfedale, West Yorkshire. Addingham is quiet near to us and we often go to The Fleece Inn for lunch during a walk to Bolton Abbey.
However, we have never really explored the village so after lunch we took a walk up the main street and discovered a real retail gem at the TP Children’s Bookshop where we met the delightful Lou Harrison.
The bookshop is a delight for bibliophiles – especially those who retain a fondness for the books they read as a children – and Lou is a fund of knowledge on the authors and the books themselves. She’s not just a collector, she’s a reader too.
And we spent a happy half hour in conversation whilst browsing the shelves collectible copies of Enid Blyton, Rosemary Sutcliff, BB, Captain WE Johns, Richmal Crompton... the list goes on.
My wife, Annie, was particularly charmed with the girls literature - of which I know nothing - and she and Lou had a long conversation about books I’ve never encountered. These included The Abbey Girls series, The Susan Books by Jane Shaw and Rosemary Sutcliff’s Queen Elizabeth.
I was particularly pleased to find a copy of BB’s Little Grey Men – a book which charmed me as a child - and which I bought on the spot. Suffering from mild dyslexia as a child I didn’t learn to read or write until was about nine and I think it was BB that got me started.
BB was a prolific and successful writer and illustrator of children's books, his crowning achievement being The Little Grey Men, the story of the adventures of the last four gnomes in England, which won the prestigious Carnegie Medal in 1942.
The seeds of the idea for The Little Grey Men were sown when, as a small child, BB saw 'a diminutive being. It had a round, very red, bearded face about the size of a small crab apple. It wasn't a dream I can still see the little red astonished face.'
In later years, as a child alone (he was sickly and educated at home) BB explored the countryside around his home and created a mind set of the adventures of the gnomes, Dodder, Baldmoney, Cloudberry and Sneezewort and their life along the Folly Brook.
In 1944, Brendon Chase, a stirring tale of three runaway schoolboys living in a forest, like Robin Hood and his merry men, confirmed BB as an established writer of children's fiction.
In 1946, Down the Bright Stream, the follow-up to The Little Grey Men appeared, and in the same year, BB's Fairy Book: Meeting Hill. This book relates the magical experiences of two children, Peter and Johanna, and contains extracts from classic fairy stories, It also includes 15 exquisite colour plates by BB's alter ego Denys Watkins-Pitchford.
Anyway, if you’re ever in Addingham check out the TP Children’s Bookshop and give our regards to Lou.


Daily Mail caught red handed nicking internet content

This is a guest posting from former colleague Simon Collister:
A few weeks ago the Daily Mail caused a bit of a brouhaha by accusing brands that monitored social media to help identify and solve customer’s problems of “snooping” and “spying”.
I really can’t get anywhere near the level of hysteria generated by the article not even if I attempted a Brasseye-style spoof. Basically you should go and read it, although you actually shouldn’t as it’ll increase their site traffic.
Anyway, while there’s been enough discussion of this particular incident online I wanted to follow-up with another story of the Mail’s disgusting audacity and hypocrisy that happened to a friend.
Now, just imagine if a company was to trawl through the Internet – not unlike those companies that snoop on customers. But imagine if instead of helping people, this company used the Internet to steal things that belong to Members of the Great British Public.
Then imagine that when an aforementioned law-abiding citizen tells the company that it has broken the law and stolen something the company (or a representative of said company) was to deny it and attempt to cover up the crime by offering desultory sums of money to buy the victim off.
Just imagine if that company was none other than the Daily Mail itself!
Yes. That’s right. The sanctimonious Daily Mail was trawling the web on election night for pictures of voters across the UK reacting to polling stations being closed without all voters being able to cast their vote.
Friend and film-maker, Emily James, just happened to be in one of those polling stations and snapped away on her phone, uploading the images to Twitpic.
While other media outlets saw the images, requested permission to use, credited and paid Emily for her work the Mail simply lifted the images then claimed they were in the public domain which meant they could use them with impunity.
Emily, knowing her rights, asserted that Twitpic’s T&Cs copyright remained with the photographer and invoiced the Mail for a reasonable amount.
What followed was a series of exchanges with the Mail’s Pictures Online Picture Editor, Elliot Wagland, and the Mail’s Group Managing Director, Alex Bannister.
I’d urge you to go and read the full saga over at the Just Do It blog as it unfolds and savour in the sheer hypocrisy of the Daily Mail that on the one hand criticises companies for using the Internet to help its customers while on the other hand is happy to steal content from people. Part 1 is here and Part 2 here
Aside from the audacity of the Mail it’s also slightly worrying that its Online Pictures Editor fails to grasp the basics of copyright in relation to key social media platforms.
However, as Martyne Drake observes on his blog about this particular story, although the Mail’s Group Managing Editor claims this was a one-off
“given the number of times I’ve seen them [Daily Mail] attribute copyright wrongly and use pictures from Twitpic and other services (which retain the original copyright of the photographer), it’s not so much an incident that’s happened by accident or carelessness, but downright arrogance.”


EDL, Bradford and Social Media

Just spent a few hours reviewing the events in Bradford with the English Defence League. Obviously I wasn't with them I was just looking at what was going on with them in West Yorkshire's second city.
That the the EDL were allowed to protest in one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country – Bradford has a huge Asian population - was travesty. However, reviewing the conversation on the web it’s heartening to see that the bulk of the social media platforms are being manned by people who clearly deplore what’s going on and are resorting to Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, blogs, podcasts etc to register their disgust.
A few EDL members are also using the same tools. I saw one Tweet by a bigot boasting how he had punched a paki! However, the bulk of the conversation appears to be lead by people who deplore the EDL.
What has been heartening for me is that the EDL-meme has been captured by social media. I say this because I have just pulled together a presentation entitled What Is Social Media Now? Which I hope to use for new business pitches but also at a few conferences and BarCamps I will be attending shortly.
My main point is that social media IS THE MEDIA. Today there has been little coverage of the events in Bradford on mainstream media – either on the nearest radio stations at BBC Leeds, Real Radio or others.
Most of the first-hand accounts I have picked up have been on Twitter (Twitterfall is particularly good for this), blogs, flickr and YouTube.
Social media works – and the EDL can f**k off.


Star Wars in the silent era

Uploaded by LesSingesHurlants. - Arts and animation videos.


Feel the HEAT

Just back from my holidays and having cleared out the emails and other new business propositions we are working on I have finally alighted on this month’s edition of Insider which has devoted a whole feature to public relations companies in Yorkshire.
Of course a lot of the feature was given over to social media. However, the most sensible quote on this issue was: “No-one is an expert in social media… we’re all still learning as we go along. If anyone tells you they are a real expert don’t believe them.”
I broadly agree with that although there are some genuine experts out there and I can think of three operating in Yorkshire.
However, what heartened us most at GREEN was that we were among the top three PR agencies ranked by “heat”. HEAT was calculated by votes submitted by agencies for other agencies.
GREEN was ranked third behind Finn and Wolfstar _ two agencies which we genuinely like because of the work they have done and their innovative approach to the total communications mix. So it’s good to be in such exalted company.
It’s also encouraging that in such a competitive sector other agencies are willing to cast aside any gripes and vote for their peers - which must say something good about the regional business community.


Halewood Village Memories

Some fascinating pictures from the town I grew up in - just outside of Liverpool - found at the Halewood Parish History Website.
My parents moved here in 1964 when Liverpool city council was shifting the white working class communities out of the city centre into the brave new world of New Towns like Huyton, Halewood and Kirkby with their sprawling council estates. We moved from Netherfield Road, just north of Liverpool city centre - a sprawling landscape of back-to-backs and Georgian and Victorian town houses which have now all been swept away.
In spite of perjortive associations of "council estate" we still regarded it as a village - we all knew each other, went to the same schools, worked in the same factories(14,500 of them in the Ford car plant) and drank in the same clubs and pubs. And, while the population of Halewood bulged from a couple of thousand to 20,309 in the Sixties - a village (the posh part) remained at it's heart. Here are some pictures from the "old" village much of it recognisable from my childhood still, much of it gone but lot's remaining.
Bailey's Lane - these cottages remain in place.

The Barracks - still there and still in disrepair.

Bridgefield - I used to play on the rubble, year's before it was demolished in the woods behind Bridgefield School. It was obviously surrounded by grand gardens with rhodedendrons, Japanese maple and azallias.

Brewery Lane, adjacent to the Eagle and Child Pub and, eventually the road down to the local comprehensive school.

The Eagle and Child Pub - when we first arrived my Dad remembers them serving beer from a jug from the cellar.

Leathers Cottage - presumably why the street on which we lived was called Leathers Lane.

Interesting that the map also shows the River Mersey to the west.


Ghost Tube Stations

The Ghost Tube Stations of London - courtesy of via How To Be A Retronaut


BarCamp returns to Barnsley

In October GREEN is supporting BarCamp Barnsley which is being sponsored by Bmedia and is being supported by Enterprising Barnsley and the town’s Digital Media Centre.
The Barnsley gig is seeking to build on the success of the BarCamp we did in May in Bradford and other barcamps in Yorkshire which have been a great success in Leeds, Bradford and Sheffield.
If you have never been to a BarCamp - you’ve been missing out. BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.
If you’re a creative, digital freak, geek or entrepreneur you’ll love it.
Attendees arrive on the day armed with talks and decide which ones they want to go along to! The talks can be on anything, from android application development to learning the British Sign Language to new trends in Drupal.
We’d love for you to come - if you’re a creative, an artist, a writer, blogger, technologist, or a developer, geek, entrepreneur, academic researcher, gamer or investor please join us. If you were just curious and interested in digital culture - we’d love to meet you too. Come and demo, talk, share or just hang out! Follow us on @BarCampBarnsley for further updates.
If you want to come make sure you register here. To find out more visit BarCampBarnsley.



Blogging for Business Workshop

Over at GREEN we are running a series of informal training event. It starts with an all-day workshop on Blogging for Business. At the end of this training session you will have a fully-functioning blog live on the web.

Date: Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Time: 9.30am - 4.30pm
Where:The Art House, Drury Lane, Wakefield, WF1 2TE
Cost: £199.00 + VAT - Get a 20% Discount if you book before June 24


The power of a good blog should never be underestimated - they're flexible and powerful. Get it right and they can open doors to new clients and recruits, grow your organisation and improve your Google search results. A blog should be at the centre of your social media strategy even if you do have a website.
The day will be led by men and colleague Thomas Atcheson. Between us we have many years experience in digital media having worked in the past with,, Annanova, Insider and others.
We have also worked on strategies for the likes of the Children’s Workforce Development Council, Greens Health & Fitness, Soppa e Sotra, LINPAC, Blue Monday, Wensleydale and the Alchemist’s Foundation.
Includes lunch and refreshments!

Course Programme

What are blogs?
Different types of blogs and platforms
Typical features and functionality of blogging platforms
How can they be used?


The role of blogs in communications and business
Introducing the link economy and the role of
Blogs in search engine optimisation
How your blog can become the key element in your social media strategy
What else can blogs be used for - campaigns, websites, microsites, live events and more.

Developing a content strategy
Segmentation - identifying your readers and who you are communicating with
What to write? Identifying relevant topics and subject matter.
Considering blog post length
Resourcing and identifying writers
Case studies and examples

Blogging basics - Where you do the work
Setting up your blog
An introduction to templates and simple ways to make it look good
Blogger, Wordpress, Typepad - what suits you?
Adding authors
Comment moderation
Understanding posts and pages
Setting up a blog roll
Creating content

How to write a post
Tips on writing posts and how to optimise for best results
Adding links and images

Following this training course, you will be able to:
Recognise the importance of blogs and their role
Create business objectives and manage expectations from your blog
Use a blog to connect with your audiences
Increase visitor numbers to your website and influence sales
Encourage interaction with your prospects as well as loyal customers
Manage your blog effectively
Create a strategy for your company blog

For further information email or call us on 0845 4503210.


World Cup: No-go zone for social media

News just in from Mashable which I re-report here: During this year’s FIFA World Cup games in South Africa, players on several competing teams will be unable to tweet, poke, buzz, checkin, like or in any other way make their presence known on the social web.
It’s not uncommon for coaches to ban sex or alcohol during the World Cup, but increasingly, they’re also instituting ad hoc bans on social media sites, including Twitter.
So far, players on the teams from Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Holland, Germany, Argentina and England are forbidden to use social services such as Twitter. One coach, Marcelo Bielsa of Chile, banned all social networking and even put a curfew on regular or non-social Internet use during the evening.
In the U.S., similar bans have been enacted over the past year during the American football season and basketball season. Players in the NFL, for example, are prohibited from using social media during all games and for a 90-minute period prior to and following a game. Moreover, players are not allowed to have someone else post an update or tweet on their behalf.
As the World Cup-related hashtags trend on Twitter and millions of people around the world use the web to tune into and talk about these matches, do you think it’s a bit unfair that the players themselves aren’t allowed to participate in this conversation? Or are these strict coaches doing us all a favor by keeping their players focused? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Social Media Social Club

We've set up the Social Media Social Club - North of England Chapter. Come a join us on Linkedin here.
The Social Media Social Club is open to anyone exploring new developments in social media and how it can impact on your business.
We are also interested in hearing from anyone using social media to improve their business performance, drive sales, recruit new staff - any fact anything.
RSS, virtual worlds, Typepad, Blogger, podcasts, wikis, Facebook, YouTube, Technorati, BlogLines, BuzzMetrics, BlogPulse,Twitter, Digg and The flow of information across the huge array of new platforms and services that make up the social media sphere can seem uncontrollable.
As a result, social networks represent the biggest change facing the media in 50 years but how are they impacting on PR? How do you own a part of a conversation that is happening without you, where the consumers have begun to take an active role in changing public opinion about your brand?
Join the Social Media Social Club to keep up to date on new developments and get access to our special training and networking events.


I wish we could row like this...

PC or Mac?

I have a had a trusty Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop for more than five years now but it's starting to show it's age now - possibly because of the number of people using it.
My daughter has her iTunes on it and is constantly downloading video and other applications and for some reasons shuts down when it gets bored or just freaks out. I've always shied away from Macs until we started using one in the office a couple of years ago when we bought two of them for the designer - desktop and laptop.
Now I am considering replacing the old Inspiron either with a new one or a Mac.
Now I know Mac as a brand has some real evangelists who really get into everything that is Mac - from laptops, to iPhones (I have a Blackberry) and iPads. And up until recently, I have resisted joining the Mac cohort but may now join them.
Any thoughts people - should I abandon Dell for Mac?


Boys from the black stuff pub scene


Two Ronnies - Four Candles


Retrosocial media


Barnsley did a Bar Camp

We did a BarCamp. Today people from a wide range of professions and industries attended BarCampBarnsley which took place at the town’s Digital Media Centre.
A big thank you to everyone who attended and who presented and many thanks for our sponsors Northern Net, Bmedia, GREEN Communications (my company), and Screen Yorkshire and for the support of hosts the Digital Media Centre Barnsley and Enterprising Barnsley.
The NorthernNet project has been developed to benefit creative and digital industries across the North, helping to create a Northern hub of digital and creative companies which can compete at an international level.
People travelled to Bradford from across the north with delegates arriving from Lancaster, Scarborough, Leeds, Huddersfield, Sheffield and Halifax. There were many presentation throughout the day ranging from Social Media for SMEs, to coding for JQuery, to Java and iPhone apps.


Twitter for business - Do and Don't

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:



Come along to BarCamp Barnsley

In May GREEN is supporting BarCamp Barnsley which is being sponsored by Northern Net, Bmedia and is being supported by Enterprising Barnsley and the town’s Digital Media Centre.
The Barnsley gig is seeking to build on the success of BarCampBradford and other barcamps in Yorkshire which have been a great success in Leeds and Sheffield.
If you have never been to a BarCamp - you’ve been missing out. BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees.
If you’re a creative, digital freak, geek or entrepreneur you’ll love it.
Attendees arrive on the day armed with talks and decide which ones they want to go along to! The talks can be on anything, from android application development to learning the British Sign Language to new trends in Drupal.
We’d love for you to come - if you’re a creative, an artist, a writer, blogger, technologist, or a developer, geek, entrepreneur, academic researcher, gamer or investor please join us. If you were just curious and interested in digital culture - we’d love to meet you too. Come and demo, talk, share or just hang out! Follow us on @BarCampBarnsley for further updates.
If you want to come make sure you register here. To find out more visit BarCampBradford.
The main sponsor is NorthernNet project has been developed to benefit creative and digital industries across the North, helping to create a Northern hub of digital and creative companies which can compete at an international level.
The project includes a secure, high-speed digital network connecting Northwest, Yorkshire and North East digital and creative companies, offering transfer speeds of up to 1GB across its secure next generation fibre optic cables. SMEs and freelancers will particularly realise the benefits of the project, with a number of Media Access Bureaux (MABs) providing companies with flexible, Pay As You Go (PAYG) access to state-of-the-art editing suites and the superfast digital network.


Apparently this is how I will vote

How influential is Twitter in an election?

We love social media at GREEN and encourage our clients to use it as a means of engaging with customers and joining in the conversation about their brands.
So with more than 2.5 million UK users currently using Twitter and millions of daily Tweets, it’s hard to ignore the influence of social media site Twitter on conversation around Election 2010.
Already several social media websites including TweetMinster and Tweetlection built by Leeds-based digital agency Sense Internet are giving the odds on who might win the election based on the number of Tweets being made by and about each party.
This seems a bit presumptuous and begs the questions what influence will Twitter have on the election campaign?
The bods at Edelman have created TweetLevel. They say: "This tool is still in beta. Even though we believe that it goes a great way to understand and quantify the varying importance of different people's usage of Twitter, by no means whatsoever do we believe we have fully solved the 'influence' problem.
So while some candidates who we have been following have clearly embraced Twitter others have done so to a lesser degree. Take Shipley where the Tories Philip Davies - @PhilipDavies422 - is holding on to a tiny majority. His Tweets are all one-sided, old-style broadcasts nor is he particularly engaged. He has 165 followers but has only chosen to follow 21 - you would think he would want all the friends. He has done 49 updates.
By contrast the Labour candidate Susan Hinchcliffe - @SHinchcliffe - has 428 followers, is following 339 and has updates 2009. So she’s engaged and engaging and is dealing with the trolls too.
Now based on this one might be forgiven for thinking that on Tweets alone Hinchcliffe has got it in the bag. But the reality is that most of her Tweets are about her pounding the streets and knocking on doors. In one she complains of being bitten by a dog.
She clearly understands that social media will not swing this election it will be won on hard, traditional campaigning. However, Twitter just might influence the conversation and highlight what the electorate are really concerned about. Either way it’s a great tool for coordinating a campaign and brining people together.


Audi has gone awry

I drive an Audi. I’ve been driving an Audi for years. My first Audi was an A3 – very good. With a young family I then moved on to the Audi A4 and later and Audi A4 Avanti estate which I loved but realising I didn’t need all the space went back to an Audi A4.
Big mistake – it now appears.
When I got the car it didn’t seem as responsive as the Avanti. It was sluggish, didn’t react the way the old car did and was basically pants. Eventually, I was told by a nice man from the Automobile Association, after it broke down, that the throttle flap was knackered after one year. Audi replaced it.
But hey – it’s just a car and I am not a petrol head.
However, a week ago the in-car computer told me it needed to go in for a service. And it was sounding a bit ropey. So in it went to the nice people at Audi Wakefield in Yorkshire.
So far so good. When you have an Audi serviced they are very good at updating you on progress and Audi Wakefield have excellent. Here is what followed:

Audi Wakefield: You need new front tyres. Me: Yes. I thought I would. Go ahead with the new tyres.
Audi Wakefield: The fly wheel isn’t working. We need to put a new one in. Me: Yes go ahead and sort it out. I need my car.
Audi Wakefield: We’ve replaced the flywheel but it still not sounding good. We need to look into it further. Me: So when will I get the car back?
Audi Wakefield: We don’t know. We need to look further. Me: Well can I have a courtesy car?
Audi Wakefield: No – we have nothing available for two weeks. Me: Right.

I should point out at this stage that Audi Wakefield have been brilliant throughout. Then…

Me: So what’s happening? Audi Wakefield: We’re stripping down the engine to see what the problem is.

This sound bad to me.

Me: So I won’t get the car back. Audi Wakefield: No. It’s a big job.

Tired of using public transport I am now using a hire car as I have to go to my parents to take my dad into respite care – those of you who follow me know what I am talking about. Anyway the conversation resumes today.

Me: So where are we? Audi Wakefield: [Long silence while service operative goes off to talk to engineer and returns to call three minutes later after me listening to tedious corporate messages from Audi]: The mechanic has found a sheered off bolt and a few other things wrong.
Me: Bloody Hell! What does that mean? Audi Wakefield: We need to look into it further but you might need a new engine.
Me: What? And how much is that going to cost – it’s still under warranty! Audi Wakefield: We don’t know. We’ll be in touch..

I don’t normally blog about personal stuff but this is just too much after being an Audi driver for 10 years. I’m told there is a manufacturing fault but in the meantime I have no car, am paying out for a hire car and have lots of travel to do.
Should I dump Audi in the future? Get a Toyota perhaps? What do you think?


Meet your rugby heroes in Dublin

Welsh rugby fans visiting Dublin to watch Wales battle it out at Croke Park can meet with Jonathan Davies who is heading up a list of rugby legends at a free event at the Arlington Hotel, Dublin, ahead the game on March 13.
Welsh fans will get the chance to question Johathan Davies, Mick Galway and former Ireland captain Ciaran Fitzgerald about their experiences and predictions for the game at a free event held in the heart of Dublin before the RBS Six Nations fixture.
The Arlington Hotel on O’Connell Bridge will turn into the Welsh fans headquarters during the build up to the game at the event which will also include Irish and British Lions legends Mick Galway and Ciaran Fitzgerald.
As well as serious questions, the legends will join in with the banter and discuss some of their other memorable moments on the pitch.
The forum kick’s off from 11:00am on match day, allowing fans enough time to take part in the event well in advance of the kick off time.

The Panel
Jonathan Davies was an inspirational fly-half for Wales in an international career that spanned eleven years either side of his switch to rugby league. Now a BBC commentator, Davies is respected for his technical knowledge of both rugby codes.
Mick Galway was capped 41 times at lock for Ireland and featured amongst the British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand – memorably scoring the winning try in Ireland’s 1993 victory over England.
Hooker Ciaran Fitzgerald captained Ireland to the Five Nations in 1983 and to two other triple crowns as well as featuring for the British Lions.

The Venue The Arlington Hotel is centrally located; a minute’s walk from the famous Temple Bar district where many Irish fans without tickets to the match will be watching the game.
The three star hotel offers traditional Irish hospitality to its guests and visitors to its bar and restaurant.

Full Disclosure: Arlington Hotel is a client of GREENs



Vodafone beavers away to get Twitter right

Never under-estimate social media and its power to raise and, crucially, diminish a brand’s reputation.
Vodafone is the latest to suffer – at the hands of one of its own employees. I noticed it yesterday when Vodafone suddenly started to trend on Twitter. Vodafone has been forced to issue a apology to its thousands of followers on Twitter after one of its customer service staff broadcast an obscene message on the micro-blogging service.
He/she sent out the tweet - "is fed up with dirty homo's and is going after beaver"
The message appeared on Vodafone's official Twitter account, which is used by the company to deal with customer complaints. Instead of the usual helpful hints on how to make the most of its range of handsets or direct responses to individual customer service queries, VodafoneUK's 8,824 followers were treated this afternoon to the message that fell well outside the remit of the micro-blog.
Within minutes of the message appearing hundreds of Vodafone customers had contacted the company through Twitter to ask whether its account had been hacked. Despite Vodafone deleting the message from its Twitterfeed, hawk-eyed users of the service saved a copy and were quickly sending it across the internet.
Vodafone was forced to release a stream of apologies, replying to each user individually to say "we weren't hacked. A severe breach of rules by staff in our building, dealing with that internally. We're very sorry". Throughout the day Vodafone sent out a stream of apologies to hundreds of followers.
Some commentators might conclude that Vodafone’s social media presence had been severally damaged by the homophobic remark. However, I think they managed the whole thing remarkably well:

  1. The recognized they had a problem.
  2. Followers clearly like the brand as they were advising VodafoneUK that they thought their account had been hacked.
  3. Vodafone was honest enough to admit that it wasn’t a hack but a miscreant employee – they could have easily hidden behind the smokescreen of hack but they rightly chose not to.
  4. The apologized immediately and gave a frank explanation.
  5. Throughout the day they continued to engage directly with followers throughout the day.
So well done to the Vodafone comms team. What the incident does underscore is that organizations do need an enforceable social media policy in place.


Good social media doesn't come cheap

We’ve worked on a number of social media campaigns now – many of them very successful. You might remember some of them – Beat Blue Monday is now an annual news feature and Wensleydale Creamery is doing very well too.
But whenever we mention social media to some prospective clients their faces light up as they think social media is free. Social media saves time they think. Social media will save our business thousands, if not millions.
And yes you can save on the equivalent costs from a traditional deadwood media marketing or advertising campaign and better still you can get instant results and measurement. But that level of service does not come cheap – it can if you do it yourself and chuck up a blog, set up a Facebook page, a Twitter account and maybe do something with YouTube.
But what’s your strategy? Do you know what people are saying about you – have you done an audit? What are your objectives? Which social media tools are you going to use?
Just answering those questions demands a lot of expensive time and your costs are already rising.
So let's do the maths on hours and the development costs of creating blog/microsite, mobile apps, online video, podcasts and then the crucial stuff of social media monitoring and assessment.
So for our hypothetical 12-month campaign for ACME Company we would need: account director for 15 hours a week at £150 an hour, account manager for 30 hours at £85 an hour, account executive on say £65 for 30 hours. Then we chuck in a blog/microsite and some mobile apps and maybe a few widgets – lets say the lot for £20,000. Then there’s the ongoing monitoring, engagement and evaluation for a conservative £30,000. That adds up to £400,000 for the year.
Maybe that’s a bit ambitious but even if you scaled it back to something more palatable – lets cut it in half to £200,000. Still the client is looking a bit green around the gills. But this is probably the same client who thinks nothing of booking a £70,000 page advertisement in the Daily Mail.
We would love to hear about other people’s experiences.


Andy's advice on brainstorming at The Times

Offering valuable tips for successful brainstorming is GREEN Communications’ Andy Green, who provided expert advice on How to Brainstorm in a news article on Times Online. Here’s Andy's full advice

How to Brainstorm

1. Always define your question as tightly as possible. I define creativity as ‘flexible thinking around beautiful questions to add value’. Outstanding creativity is not coming up with 1001 different alternatives; it’s actually about asking the right question, the beautiful question. You can tell when you have a beautiful question your ideas ooze out. Conversely, if you are stuck, you can’t think of any ideas, go back to redefining your question.

2. Creative thinking uses an incremental dynamic once you have posed your question – like making a snowball. Treat every idea as a potential stepping stone. It’s best to work from small, asking yourself what little ideas can we think of, and equally accept crazy ideas, asking what ways can these be incrementally adapted to add value.

3. Brainstorming is a great consultation tool and can be a great tactic to overcome political opposition to new ideas. By involving someone who typically says ‘No’ to your new ideas, and get them become a member of the brainstorm group, by engaging with them with the process, they get ownership of the ideas created. It’s easier to get someone to say ‘Yes’ when you tell them ‘Isn’t this a great idea we came up with!’ Also, if you are doing a consultation exercise, rather than ask people, ‘What do you think?’, instead ask them, ‘What new future can we create?’

4. Brainstorming’s chief quality is actually outside the arena of creativity; it’s great for team building, staff development – where junior and senior people can work alongside each other – and for signalling the importance of an issue. Remember however, there are many more different creativity techniques, which can be better at generating ideas, particularly the most simplest of all, incubation, sleeping on a well defined problem.

How not to brainstorm
1. I created a word called ‘Ideapoo’ – you need to accept that most of your ideas will be rubbish, ‘poo’, but at the outset you have no idea of what are the good, or the not-so-good ideas. The danger is you can throw away potentially good seeds, or stepping stones, only seeing the poo and not the potential. Premature evaluation, being judgmental too soon is a major killer of potential brilliance.

2. Creative thinking uses what I call our Red Light Thinking, to analyse, follow logical lines of thought, and our Green Light Thinking, harnessing our imaginative, emotional, and lateral thoughts. You need to Red Light Thinking at the outset, to define the need for any added value, and crucially, define your questions. You can then engage your Green Light Thinking for new insights, and lastly re-engage your Red Light Thinking to evaluate ideas, and identify plans of action. Far too often, people engage in what can be called creative masturbation, generating ideas with no proper setting or follow through. Most people equate brainstorming with idea generating and expect a result at this stage, and often give up. It’s like leaving a football match or an opera at half time and complaining afterwards that there wasn’t an end result.

3. Always establish at the outset criteria for your ideas. When you come to evaluate any ideas generated, rather than responding with ‘I like this one’ instead, with a criteria in place you can judge ideas on more formal, objective grounds.

4. Check the attitude state of yourself and the participants. You can suffer from a victim mentality – where everything is seen in the negative, or hubris, where you can be too arrogant and not listen, or be alert to potentially good ideas (such as Ideapoo). I created a word, ‘hibris’ where you need to have an arrogant self belief about your ability to come up with ideas, tempered with a humility that you are willing to listen and pick up ideas from the unlikeliest of sources. Many a potentially good brainstorm session has been wrecked by an unsupportive, underlying attitude state.

Remember, the word ‘brainstorming’ is politically correct; there’s an urban myth going around that the word is not politically correct and it upsets people with epilepsy and you should instead, use ‘brain showering’. It’s absolute nonsense. No epilepsy group has any policy on the issue.

Also, note the word ‘brainstorm’ can either mean a specific creativity tool, or shorthand for doing, what I call ‘Green Light Thinking’ – using lateral leaps of imagination to arrive at new ideas, different ways of doing. Read the complete article here