Posted: November 18, 2016 Filed under: communications | Tags: communications, post truth, stephen waddington
Reading through the post-Trump and post-Brexit assessment of where we are one passage stood out.
It’s from David Simas, Barack Obama’s political director, in a lengthy New Yorker piece you can read here.
It’s touches upon Facebook fake news and echo chambers:
“Until recently, religious institutions, academia, and media set out the parameters of acceptable discourse, and it ranged from the unthinkable to the radical to the acceptable to policy,” Simas said.
“The continuum has changed. Had Donald Trump said the things he said during the campaign eight years ago—about banning Muslims, about Mexicans, about the disabled, about women—his Republican opponents, faith leaders, academia would have denounced him and there would be no way around those voices. Now, through Facebook and Twitter, you can get around them. There is social permission for this kind of discourse. Plus, through the same social media, you can find people who agree with you, who validate these thoughts and opinions. This creates a whole new permission structure, a sense of social affirmation for what was once thought unthinkable. This is a foundational change.”
And I read this in former CIPR President Stephen Waddington’s Facebook timeline.
It’s public so I’m not betraying confidences. You can see it here.
I don’t have immediate answers to what post-truth comms needs to look like. But it feels like UK diplomat Tom Fletcher’s words about communicating like an insurgent form part of it. I’m heartened there are people looking for the answers. But I’d say that that’s not enough. You can’t outsource it. It cuts straight to trust, audience and effectiveness. If you are working in the field of communications in the public sector this is something you need to tackle too.
Picture credit: Duncan Parkes / Flickr
Posted: November 14, 2016 Filed under: communications | Tags: comms, communications, record shops, steve jenkins
A few years ago I did the PR for the most famous man in Walsall you’ver never heard of.
Sure, the borough is not over-stocked with famous people. Three Men in a Boat author Jerome K. Jerome came from the place and so did Noddy Holder, swimmer Ellie Simmonds and drum and bass pioneer Goldie. All good within their own field, sure.
So, in that list most people wouldn’t add Steve Jenkins.
You will have bought, listen to or hummed any of the more than 150 top 40 hits he was connected with. Think Billy Ocean, Steps, The Stone Roses, Backstreet Boys, N*Sync, Steps, Kylie Minogue. They wouldn’t be where they are without Steve Jenkin’s role in the machinery behind them.
Steve started his career in the music industry in the 1970s with The Beatles’ management company before moving through the industry to become MD of Jive Records. He did the promo for Stock Aiken and Waterman. He was part of a team who signed an unknown Britney Spears. In the industry he was one of the most powerful men for a very long time.
How did I get to know him?
He’s proud of Walsall so we staged an exhibition of his gold discs, fan memorabelia and the social history of pop music. It was great. He brought Pete Waterman along and a load of others.
I was reminded of him by this YouTube interview he gave where he talked about the slightly dark art of targeting record shops that featured in the chart returns. His team would go from store-to-store, offer free records for display and then quietly move them to the front of the rack. So, people browsing through ‘K’ would be met with Kylie Minogue straight away, for example. As Steve says, this was all above board and would only have a marginal impact. But if persued energetically it maybe the difference between a new chart entry at 29 and 35.
Here he is talking about it:
So why is that on a comms blog?
Simple. During the months of working on the exhibition one thing above all struck me. He was a geek. In the best sense of the word. He was a geek about the pop charts in the 70s, 80s, and 90s especially. He knew everything about it. How it worked. How it didn’t work. Because he knew it backwards he knew where the difference could be made. So, he knew when to release a record and which Woolworth stores to promote it in. Him and Pete Waterman would plan the promo campaign for bands while on the way to Walsall games.
He was a joy to do press with. Five journalists would spend 20 minutes with him one after another and all leave with a brilliant different anecdote, He has an autobiography you may like.
If only the social web was around when we ran the exhibition. We could have by-passed everyone and gone straight to the fan sites.
Take this lesson from him… know your stuff backwards. Kick the tyres. Learn. See what others do. See where you can get better. Experiment. Be bold.
Above all, pick a subject. Love it. Be a geek on it. Know it backwards.
Picture credit: Marco Verch / Flickr
Posted: September 7, 2016 Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: #futureproofed, communications, edition two, future of communications, future of pr, sarah hall
When I worked in the public sector there was a bunch of people a decade ago who would bang the table not being satisfied with business as usual.
They would experiment and try different things. If there was no rule book they would write their own with a spirit of JFDI – just flipping do it. Sometimes they’d put their career on the line just to try something out.
So, I’d learn more from bloggers, coders and engineers as to how to use the social web than I did from the PR establishment. Bold experiments of yesterday quickly became today’s routine.
It’s an approach that has shaped my approach and for many others in the public sector.
I’m happy to say, there is a movement centred on private sector PR just as happy to write new rule books where there are none. Through challenge, experiment and boldness there’s a feeling that there is a better way.
Stephen Waddington in his introduction to the first Future Proof: The Go To Guide For Managers of Agencies and Communications Teams talks of there never being a more exciting time to be in the industry. I’d agree with that. You can download that here for free.
Now, Future Proof: Edition Two has been published. I’m hugely excited to have written a chapter on the role of video in communications in this book. But I’m far more excited to know that there are more than 30 chapters from fellow travellers who aren’t satisfied with business as usual too.
Hats off to those who wrote chapters and to Sarah Hall for pulling this together.
You can buy the book here in print and kindle here.
A chapter a day handily is set to be released here if you can’t afford the book.
Future Proof: Edition Two chapters
COMMANDING THE RESPECT OF THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY AND THE PITCH TO EMPLOYERS by Francis Ingham
STRONG TOGETHER: WORKING TOWARDS A COMMUNITY OF THEORY AND PRACTICE IN PUBLIC
RELATIONS by Stephen Waddington
WHAT BREXIT TAUGHT US ABOUT THE OPPORTUNITY FOR PR Rob Brown
ECONOMICS SOCIAL DIALOGUE AND PUBLIC RELATIONS Ezri Carlebach
SERVING THE MEMBERSHIP: IS IT TIME FOR THE CIPR AND PRCA TO MERGE? Richard Houghton
MAXIMISING THE TRUE VALUE OF MEANINGFUL CONVERSATIONS TO DRIVE IMPROVEMENT
FROM PURPOSE TO PERFORMANCE: A RADICAL APPROACH TO STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
CHARTING THE COURSE OR JUST KEEPING YOU AFLOAT: IS HUMAN RESOURCES TAKING YOUR
BUSINESS WHERE IT NEEDS TO GO? Elizabeth Baines
SOCIAL MOBILITY IN PR: A CAREER OPEN TO ALL Sarah Stimson
STITCHING TOGETHER GOOD CORPORATE BEHAVIOUR Karan Chadd
STORIES VERSUS FACTS: DO COMMUNICATORS HAVE A PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE THE
PUBLIC ISN’T MISLED? Stuart Bruce
CONTINUOUS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (CPD): CAN IT HELP YOU IN A CHANGING WORLD?
THE JOURNEY OF THE ENGAGED EMPLOYEE Bea Aar
PREPARING FOR THE SKILLS GAP IN THE WORKPLACE OF THE FUTURE Tim Hudson
DELIVERING A 24/7 SERVICE; INTRODUCING AN AGILE MODEL IN PR Dualta Redmond
MANAGING THE INTEGRATION OF BUSINESSES: MERGING COMPANIES, DISCIPLINES, AND
CULTURES Ella Minty
EMBRACING AGILE STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT Betteke van Ruler and Frank Körver
HOW TO AVOID #SOCIALMEDIAMELTDOWN Nathaniel Cassidy
A LISTENING AND INSIGHTFUL FUTURE: CHANGING PR PRACTICE TO DELIVER AUDIENCE LED
COMMUNICATIONS Sarah Clark and Professor Jim Macnamara
SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE OF PROCUREMENT Tina Fegent
STRENGTHENING CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS AND MANAGING RISK Farzana Baduel
MANAGING CLIENT EXPECTATIONS Andrew Reeves
STAFF SALARIES: HANDLING WAGE INFLATION AND SALARY BANDINGS Steve Earl
GROWING PAINS: MOVING FROM AN ENTREPRENEURIAL TO A PROFESSIONAL STRUCTURE
COMPANY CULTURE: MANAGING STRESS, PRESENTEEISM AND MENTAL HEALTH Paul Sutton
WHY GREAT LEADERS ARE GREAT COMMUNICATORS Lucia Dore
INTERNAL COMMS: LEARNING FROM THE PAST AND EMERGING TRENDS Rachel Miller
SEIZING INFLUENCER RELATIONS’ OPPORTUNITIES Scott Guthrie
HOW TO USE THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY TO ACHIEVE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT Ciara O’Keeffe
VIDEO AS A COMMUNICATIONS CHANNEL Dan Slee
LIVE STREAMING TOOLS: A BEST PRACTICE GUIDE Leonardo Stavale
OVERHAULING PUBLIC AFFAIRS: MUCH NEEDED MODERNISATION Iain Anderson
PUBLIC CONSULTATIONS: ENGAGING WITH YOUR AUDIENCE Emily Osborne
HOW THE #FUTUREPROOF PR CAN EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES OF SEO Darryl Sparey
CROWDFUNDING: UNDERSTANDING, INFLUENCING AND MANAGING GROUP BEHAVIOUR
HORIZON SCANNING Stephen Davies
CREATIVITY IN PR – ARE PRACTITIONERS SUCCESSFULLY HARNESSING THE POWER OF
STORYTELLING AND NARRATION? Andy Green
#FUTUREPROOFING COMMUNICATIONS EVALUATION Richard Bagnall
THE IMPORTANCE AND ART OF ARTICULATING THANKS: LESSONS FROM NON-GOVERNMENTAL
ORGANISATIONS (NGOS) Dr Nicky Garsten, Dr Ed de Quincey and Professor Ian Bruce
Posted: July 1, 2016 Filed under: communications, Uncategorized | Tags: #wearehere, communications, First World War, history, somme
I’m writing this on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.
Just a week before the UK voted to leave the European Union. Northern Ireland and Scotland voted to stay. A majority in England and Wales wanted to go.
Division, spite and rancour is in the air.
Yet, for all sides, the First World casts a long across Britain. It helped make the country we live in. Never such innocence, as Siegfried Sassoon wrote, as when we marched to war in 1914. Never such shattered innocence as the first day of the Battle of the Somme. If there was a day when modern Britain was born it was this.
I’m writing this to capture the #wearehere project. At key railway stations across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland volunteers dressed in First World War battledress appeared. Talk to them and they quietly give you a card with the name of a soldier who was killed on this day a hundred years ago.
It’s a gentle reminder that those who were lost were people too. Just like you. It’s beautiful. I’ve blogged about my own family’s First World War story and the pain it caused.
As a child, a teacher taught us how much the First World War had changed Britain not with numbers. He pulled three empty chairs to the front of the classroom.
“Those chairs,” he said, “are empty. But they would have had three children just like you sat on them. But they weren’t born because their grandfathers were killed in the First World War.”
I seem to spend a lot of time telling people in training that the key to good communication is to be human. It’s why #wearehere works. It’s a real thing with real people. And the real people who saw it and were moved shared images and thoughts online.
I don’t know who is behind the project, but thank you for a chance to say ‘thank you’ to the 704,803 who died like cattle to show us that modern war was something to avoid.
But thank you too for a reminder that we are all human.
Posted: February 15, 2016 Filed under: communications, Uncategorized | Tags: communications, future, independent, newspaper, newspapers, PR, print, Public Relations, skills
You know the good old days of newspapers have gone, don’t you?
You know that the press release is at best dying too?
If you don’t, here are three more nails for the coffin.
Firstly, the digital first Manchester Evening News have been telling PR people, apparently, they won’t look at what you send unless there is an image or a video attached.
Secondly, when Birmingham New Street re-opened central government comms people by-passed the Birmingham Mail and the BBC and went straight to the Birmingham Updates hyperlocal site with a video for their 200,000 Facebook page.
Thirdly, the Independent newspaper is to scrap its print edition and concentrate on the web. ‘There are not enough people,’ Independent editor Amol Rajan wrote ‘who are prepared to pay for printed news, especially during the week.’
A downward spiral for print
But it’s not just one national title that’s fading from print. More than 300 have closed completely in the UK in the last 10 years.
Brian Cathcart, a journalist professor and Hacked Off co-founder on the day the Independent announcement was made wrote in The Guardian mapped the decline:
“Trace the downward curves of print sales over the past couple of decades and then extend those lines into the future: you will find they all hit zero at some point in the next 25 years or so – and of course they will have to cease publication long before that zero moment comes.
“Indeed for most people under about 25 it is already extinct – a couple of years ago I stopped talking to my students about newspapers because even budding journalists don’t see the point of buying a wad of newsprint every morning.
“The grand tradition of newspapers, sometimes noble sometimes shameful, is coming to an end. Connections that go all the way back to Gutenberg are fraying and we will soon be left with little more than old people’s memories.”
But let’s not be sad
I love newspapers. I worked on them for 12 years and started my career on a Staffordshire weekly carrying pages of type on a hot metal newspaper that used 1880s technology. I’ve had printers ink under my finger nails. It’s sad to see an industry in decline. But watching this trend for communications and PR people is a red herring.
People aren’t consuming the media through newspapers in print or web in the numbers they were.
The future of news debate, I once heard it said, is the most boring debate imaginable. The only people having it are hacks and ex-journalists. Everyone else was already hearing Osama bin Laden was dead on Facebook.
Stats confirm it. Ofcom say the average UK adult spends 15 minutes a day reading newspapers in their hand or online. That’s just over half the amount of time they spend scrolling through their Facebook streams and on their other social media sites. Newspapers are also the least popular way of getting news.
Yet there is an unhealthy fixation with the newspaper industry in some parts of public sector communications. The tyranny of the local newspaper frontpage is a thing.
Print may go but journalism evolves. This is the death of a redundant medium and not the message, Brian Cathcart in The Guardian says. He’s right.
The lesson remains the same
But communications people shouldn’t smugly ignore the lesson here. You may not have to live or die by newspaper sales. Your .gov website may be well placed for SEO. But nobody is queueing up outside their town hall, head office or headquarters for their press release. They’re too busy reading the BBC website, watching a 20-second Facebook video or finding out the football score on Twitter.
Newspapers have woken with a jolt to realise that shorter, sharable, engaging content is what people want. Communications people should pay heed.
The lesson remains the same. Change and get new skills or be irrelevant.
Credit to Albert Freeman for spotting the Independent editor’s comments.
Picture credit: Peter Burka / Flickr / https://flic.kr/p/uUcuRJ