Posted: November 27, 2017 Filed under: communications | Tags: bath and north east somerset council, comms, dan cattanach, example of environmental health food standards comms and pr, PR, video for pr
There was a curry house when I worked as a reporter who used to ring up every week to try and get into the paper.
This ranged from the actually newsy, like fundraising for Children in Need, to the not quite so, like we have a food hygiene certificate. Back then everyone used to have them. But then came the one to five start ratings for hygiene. They became something to shout about.
One council in the South West has thought-up a new way to shout about these certificates. Send out the environmental health officer to sing a Christmas carol with them.
So, on the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me a certificate with five stars on it.
A daft but effective way of celebrating a top score on what can be an important yet routine piece of legislation. Good work Dan Cattanach.
Posted: November 26, 2017 Filed under: communications | Tags: PR, what present buy for pr, what to but christmas pr, what to buy christmas comms, what to buy for comms, what to buy for pr people
We’ve all been there… what do you by the PR and comms person for Christmas? Or birthday? Or as a leaving present?
Here are a few ideas that could help solve your present buying dilemma. Secret Santa? Something substantial? There are a pile of ideas that could help you. A big shout to the members of the Public Sector Comms Headspace Facebook group for their input. Full credits at the bottom of the post.
Less than £5
STATIONERY: This meeting should have been an email pen. Buy it here.
BOOK: Tubesperation. Using the London Underground to come up with creative idea.
TECH GEAR: A handy tool to help you film or take pictures with your smartphone.
SOFT FURNISHINGS: Typewriter cushion. For helping you bang your head against in safety.
BOOK: Fucking Apostrophes book. For the grammar geek in your life.
Google cardboard. Have a look at what the future looks like.
HEALTH: Stress Paul. Your handy person to squash if you need to vent spleen.
BOOK: Anarchists in the Boadroom by Liam Barrington-Bush. For when you want to think creatively on how to connect and how to understand networks.
STATIONERY: Moleskine ruled notebook. For those creative ideas.
BOOK: Potty, Fartwell & Knob. True names that will take your mind off that comms plan or logo competition for children request.
STATIONERY: Creative post-it notes.
MUG: Grammar grumbles mugs. For the grammar nazi in your life. Buy it here.
CREATIVE: Artefact cards. Cards to help you comms plan and think creatively. Buy them here.
BOOK: Inside the Nudge Unit. An account of life in the unit that has changed how organisations look to engage with people.
TEA: Calm the fukc down tea. Herbal tea. Buy them here.
MUG: : First I drink the coffee then I do things. Buy it here.
BOOK: Think Small. A book to help you achieve goals.
BOOK: PR is Dead by Robert Phillips
OFFICE: Icon cable ties. Tidy up all those leads and cables.
Between £10 and £20
BOOK: SEO for Dummies. Understand an often overlooked skill.
More than £20
CARD GAME: Cards Against Humanity.
CALENDAR: Comms cartoon calendar by Helen Reynolds. Buy it here.
T-SHIRT: Being a Communications Manager is Easy. It’s like riding a bike. Only the bike is on fire and you’re in hell. Buy it here.
GAME: Shit Happens card game. Buy it here.
TECH GADGET: A smartphone projector. For when you want to watch the youtube clip with a bigger audience.
DRINK: Bombay Saphire Gin gift pack. Because people from the South Coast seem to quite like gin.
CAFFEINE: Stove-top espresso maker. Start your day with a jolt.
Big shout for ideas and inspiration to Eddie Coates-Madden, Sally Northeast, Vanessa Andrews, Penny Allison, Phil Hodgson, Hayley Douglas, Paul Compton, Jane Slavin, Sara Hamilton, Rachel King, Lisa Potter, Shevaughan Tolbutt, James Allen, Clare Parker, Nicole Crosby-McKenna, Louise Powney, Sian Williams, Emma Wild, Ruth Fry, Paul Coxon, Heather Heaton-Gallagher, Georgia Turner, Ian Mountford, David Bell, Vanessa Andrews, Jude Tidder and members of the Public Sector Headspace Facebook group.
Picture credit: David Mulder / Flickr
Posted: November 23, 2016 Filed under: communications | Tags: examples, local government, PR, virtual reality, VR
For the last 18-months or so I’ve been helping deliver video skills workshops with one of the brightest people I’ve come across in a long time.
Steven Davies is a freelance cameraman, University lecturer and throughly good chap. A while back I asked about how he saw the future of video.
Virtual reality, was part of the answer.
Virtual reality is footage shot that allows someone with a headset to be immersed in a different world. Google cardboard can be bought for a few quid and is a way to view the content.
For young people
I’ll paraphrase him, but the problem with talking about virtual reality is that it’s like dancing about architecture. It doesn’t really work. So seeing this Google clip at #firepro on what virtual reality – or VR – can do in classrooms is inspiring. If you are not sure what it is take a look at this for 90 seconds and see the reaction of schoolchildren. It’s amazing.
And it’s older people too
Don’t think it’s just for young people, too. There is this example where VR works with old people. It puts them in a safe recognised environment and works well with dementia sufferers. You can take a look here. The older person is immersed in an environment.
The opportunites for PR people are immense. It is entirely a new exciting blank piece of paper. The ability is to place the VR headset wearer in an environment. I’ve blogged about this before.
Shout if I can help email@example.com and @danslee.
Picture credit: Maurizio Pesce / Flickr
Posted: November 9, 2016 Filed under: Journalism, Public Relations, Uncategorized | Tags: advice, Journalism, PR
So, what is the difference was between journalism and PR? I’ve stopped and asked myself the question this week. I’ve been thinking of how to explain the difference.
For 12-years I was a journalist and rose to become assistant chief reporter of a daily regional newspaper. Back then I would have told you that the difference was news was everything they don’t want you to know. The rest is PR, I’d have said.
Eight years on and director of my own company I know the difference is more to it than that just a lack of shouting news editors and no double murders.
The truth is that if there was a Venn diagram, there would be surprising little between the two. At best, it’s a common use of the English language and the knowledge that news is people. And people like to read about people.
Here are 15 differences
A yardstick of success. As a journalist, your measure is if you’ve got the front page. Failing that, it’s a healthy number of pageleads. As a comms person, it’s a number of things. Chiefly, being able to show the material difference your content has made. The number of foster carers recruited, for example.
Criticism. I say this with love, knowing journalists will take umbrage. There is nobody so thin skinned as a journalist. I knew this when I was one. I know it now too. As a comms person you are like a sniper in no man’s land. Under fire from all sides. Your organisation and those outside will throw things at you.
Professional regard. Journalists are special. Not trusted, especially. But special. They have a Press bench and a Press pass. Doors open. Comms people have a daily battle to have their opinion listened to. Solicitors? Planning inspectors? Doctors? Their word is law. But anyone with spell check and clipart thinks they are a comms person.
Audience. A journalist, in the words of a former colleague only half in jest ‘tries to make old people scared to leave their homes.’ They used to have one main channel. Like the printed newspaper or radio bulletin. Now they have to use more. A comms person needs to know as many of the 40 different skills as possible.
Skills. While the reporter needs more skills now than ever the PR or comms person needs to draw either individually or across a team up to 40 skills.
Diplomacy. A journalist can smile politely and ask why the chief executive has failed to build 100 homes on time. A comms person needs the tact to talk through the implications of how that failure will play out and suggest a course of action.
There are no jacks under it. As a journalist, I’d be encouraged to make a story a bit more exciting by ‘putting the jacks under it.’ Outrage, slam, row. As a comms person you play it straight. You stick to the facts which are always sacred.
Accuracy. Now, here’s a thing. I was more accurate as a PR person than a journalist. There. I’ve said it. The news desk request to write a story to fit a pre-determined idea is a thing. I’ve done it. In comms and PR you need to be certain of your ground or you become the story.
A difference. A journalist can try and make a difference by holding power to account. A comms person can make a difference by drawing up the right content in the right place at the right time.
Planning. Long term planning on newspapers was often tomorrow. The concept of a comms plan to work out the business priority, the audience and the channel is alien.
Obsolescence. The journalist suffers from being in an industry whose business model is being re-invented and as a result there are casualties. Comms as an area is developing.
Hours. Long hours to make sure the paper is filled are common on newspapers – who are often renamed media companies. Hours in comms and PR are long. But it’s rare to be stood outside a burning factory in Smethwick, I find.
Writing. Just because you can write for a newspaper doesn’t mean you can write for the web. Or Facebook or Snapchat.
Your employer and your ethics. You bat for your employer as a PR person. But you bat for your ethics first. At times you have to know your ground and say a firm ‘no.’
Innovation. There can’t be a more exciting time to be a comms person than now. The internet has tipped up old certainties. The tools we can use are evolving and the guidebook on how to use them you can write yourself. How good is that?
Like many former journalists, I admire good journalism. But don’t anyone think that being a reporter and being a press officer or a PR person are remotely the same.
Picture credit: Mattiece David / Flickr
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