Posts Tagged ‘PR’

My latest work projects

macbook pro

A brief update on the latest projects on which I’ve been working.

I continue to run lots of training workshops on social media and online pr, I’ve been doing this for four years now and have worked with all sorts of different organisations. Training is bespoke, either full day sessions (on all aspects of social media), platform specific, or more presentation style events.  Here are just a few of those I’ve worked with over the last six months: Econsultancy, Arts Marketing Association, Museums and Galleries Scotland, Mediacontact, University of Bristol Students’ Union, Cornerhouse Manchester (public sessions) plus many PR and digital agencies.

In October I was lucky enough to be asked to work on one of my favourite projects, the Creative Tourist Manchester Weekender, I was tasked with using social media to help promote the many events that were taking place and to measure the results of our online activity.  Over the weekend itself I was also on the ground, helping to document everything by taking photos and capturing audioboo interviews with participants and attendees.  You can see a Storify of the weekend here.  For anyone in the tourism business, you might be interested to know that Creative Tourist now has a consultancy arm, Creative Tourist Consults, which specialises in cultural tourism strategy and digital communications.

I continue to write the monthly social media ‘Web Pro’ page for the brilliant .net magazine and am hoping to report from sxsw for them again.  Other writing commissions have included a, soon to be launched, ebook for My Newsdesk, aimed at small businesses and SMEs, it’s for anyone new to PR and wanting to understand how you can use it to promote your business.

I’m also coming to the end of a significant piece of work developing a social media strategy for a large organisation, this involved conducting a thorough audit of their current activity, producing a detailed recommended strategy and providing follow up training for staff.

And finally, around 60% of my time is taken up working as a director of Pyjama Drama, a franchise business that provides drama & creative play classes for toddlers and children.  We have 27 franchises across the UK and are growing fast.

If you have a social media or writing project with which you need a hand, or a training need, please do get in touch.  You can view some testimonials on my LinkedIn page.

Number 10′s social media story

Storify is one of my favourite online tools

Every time I’ve ever demoed it to someone unfamiliar with it, they always love it and it’s not hard to see why; it has a great UI, is simple to use and has a ton of different potential applications; from curating a news story, a conference or event, to pulling together a discussion taking place on twitter or other places on the web, used in the right way it gives a story depth and resonance.

It was with interest then, that yesterday I saw that Downing Street has started using Storify. The irony of course was this was just as the news broke about the fact that Olympic volunteers have been tightly restricted from using social media while at events.   Storify makes perfect sense as a PR tool, you can carefully craft exactly the story you want your audience to see, with no messy bits that haven’t been approved.  But what number 10 need to understand is that, like any good story, it’s only going to be interesting with colour and variety; if you create a corporate, vanilla version of an event, no one is going to give it a second glance.  The ‘Olympic Cabinet meeting – 200 days to go’ Story from Number 10 is little more than a glossy press release with no commentary or content from third parties (which is of course, the beauty of Storify).

So Number10gov you may find that Storify doesn’t work for you, because if you insist on having complete control over every element of your social media ‘story’, you’ll find that no-one will give it a second glance.


I’ve always had an ambivalent relationships with Maths.  It’s not a subject that comes easily to me, I have clear memories of battling my way through it at school, occasionally glimpsing a small chink of light but mostly swimming in a fog of frustration.  Figures became slightly more comprehensible at Economics A-level, somehow applying sums to the real world made it seem clearer, but essentially I’ve always felt maths is a door that remains firmly closed to me and even worse, that if I could somehow prise it open, I’d love what was behind it.

Clearly PR isn’t a profession where its practitioners are renowned for their statistical skills, being able to calculate AVE was about as far as it went.  But increasingly I think data analysis will become a vital skill in PR.  Whether it’s understanding web analytics or mining monitoring data or figuring out how you can game the search algorithm to get your clients to the top (not your area of responsibility? watch out because those SEO guys are closing in on PR territory). Business owners love figures and you need to be able to demonstrate your value in cold hard stats.

Yesterday this article, From Fish to Infinity definitely struck a cord with me and I will be keeping my eye on his regular column.  But for now, I’m about at Humphrey’s level.

image courtesy of

Could you just?

Yesterday I came across this fantastic post 'Please Design a Logo for me. With Pie Charts'.  Do read it, it's genius. 

Also very timely.  A bit of a rant coming up but I'm getting an increasing number of requests to provide information/advice for free, along the lines of "could you just send me that list of blogger details you mentioned?" or "what's the best way for us to measure xyz and could you just let me see how that works?"

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy to provide advice, input, suggestions for existing clients and indeed with peers, potential clients, others in my network.  But there comes a point where knowledge sharing turns into getting stuff for free.

I'm a freelance consultant, that means my knowledge and skills are how I earn a living. The proliferation of content for free on the web, especially around social media and PR, seems to be resulting in people thinking that these kinds of requests are OK.  But really it's like asking your lawyer or accountant to give you some free advice.  And I can imagine the response you'd get to that.


Image by mezzoblue

Are we any nearer to the Tipping Point?


Econsultancy launched their Social Media and Online PR report yesterday, providing a comprehensive insight into how businesses are currently approaching social media (or not) in the UK. The headline to fall out of the report is that the overwhelming majority of companies (86%) plan to spend more money on social media in 2010, and a further 13% are planning tokeep the same level of budget.

But I think of equal interest is whether we’ve moved on in the last 12 months: are businesses really embracing social media or is there still more talk about it than actual action.

In my recent experience the only larger business that are really embedding social media into their business are either a) those with someone at board level who understands it or b) younger businesses without a pre-existing company culture to stifle it. The report bears this out citing lack of knowledge (50%), lack of senior buy-in (33%), lack of resource (32%) and company culture (28%) as the main barriers preventing clients from engaging in social media activity.

It’s also interesting that smaller organisations (turnover less than £1m) are significantly more likely to be heavily involved in social media.Makes perfect sense, it’s much easier to change direction if you’re a nippy speed boat than a lumbering cruise liner.

I was genuinely surprised that when asked what people viewed as the main benefits of social media, “increased direct traffic to website” was only viewed as a “major benefit” by 56% of respondents. I mean what? Brand awareness, customer engagement, reputation management are all vital but perhapsnot understanding how being able to demonstrate ROI by measuring the effect of activity on brand owned spaces, is why we’re not, as an industry, winning the battle of trying to convince clients why they should bother in the first place.
The first three are lovely and what we know to be valuable but on which we can’t as yet put a price tag, the last one can make it easier to open the door to the sceptic at the top table.

Overall it seems thereis still along way to go before social media engagement (is it just me or isn’t digital engagement starting to sound like a better term?) is anywhere nearbeing an accepted part of business operations. As an industry, education and best practice not quick wins, will be the only way to move this on.

That Tipping Point is a way off yet.

Image by Nicora

Are Maclaren losing the online reputation battle?

Pushchair manufacturer Maclaren announced yesterday that it was recalling some of its models in the US over fears of little fingers getting trapped and injured in the hinges.  Potentially hugely damaging to its reputation: it's one of the most important purchases a parent makes, as of this morning, it's looking like Maclaren are struggling to win the PR battle.  Firstly they're only recalling products in the US which has led to comments like this one popping up all over the internet:



It may well be that there is a valid reason for it (they vaguely try to answer it in the guardian piece) but if so, they're not getting the message across.

Secondly their PR response appears to be woefully inadequate. There is an overlay on the home page of the site explaining the recall and a 'click here for more information' but you are then taken to a general news page (below) rather than straight to the information, meaning you have to click again to see details.  That page does have a FAQ but again it's a bit woolly about why they are recalling in the US and not the UK.


Thirdly it's hard to see them doing much proactive outreach.  The twitterverse is full of chatter about the recall and yet their own twitter feed appears to be broken? Oh dear Maclaren, come on.  You've got to move now, not in 2 hours or 12 hours or 24 hours.  The clock is ticking…..

Twitter fail