We are delighted to have been appointed by two Yorkshire companies to manage their public relations and social media marketing.
GREEN will work alongside Premier Mist, which has pioneered innovative low-pressure water mist technology for the suppression of fires, to manage all of the company’s content both online and offline.
The company has also been appointed by Wakefield-based Compliance365 which has developed a cloud-based energy audit and certification services aimed at helping organisations and businesses save money on energy bills and reducing the carbon impact on the environment.
For both companies GREEN is responsible for developing each their profiles across all media with a special emphasis on social media and engaging new partners and customers.
GREEN director Ian Green said: “Every company and organisation has a story to tell and it is our job to manage that narrative on behalf of both Premier Mist and Compliance365. Both companies have an exceptional service offering in widely different fields and are already enjoying significant growth.”
Premier Mist aims to be the leader in the development and manufacture of water mist fire suppression systems in the UK helping to save lives and protect properties. The company’s DualMIST low-pressure water mist system has surpassed the most exacting standards set by the British Standards Institute to deliver a fire suppression solution for all commercial, residential, industrial and public buildings.
Premier Mist managing directror Peter Duval said: “Property owners now recognise that water mist systems are more effective than traditional sprinkler systems and we believe that the DualMIST system which we have delivered and which is patented is the most effective. Independent tests by authentication authorities have shown the DualMIST system to be 100 per cent effective in a number of fire scenarios and we are currently installing systems in a number of care and nursing homes.”
Compliance365, which has created 25 jobs in Wakefield over the past 12 months since he launched, has also developed a cloud based-service C365 Online, a compliance management system to help organisations and businesses manage their Statutory Compliance, Health & Safety and PPM legislative obligations.
Since its launch, the company has won significant business from companies with large property estates seeking a cost-efficient solution to managing their energy bills and ensuring all their compliance and regulatory documentation is up to date.
Compliance365 managing director Malcolm Wallis said: “Since we launched Compliance365 we have seen significant new business growth in all sectors. In the pubs sector we work with most of the major companies providing energy saving and certification services and in the retail sector our C365 Online system manages the Statutory and Periodic Compliance for over 7000 outlets including supermarkets, convenience stores, distribution centers and banks.”
Absolutely delighted to be nominated for the Outstanding Public Relations Professional of the Year – People’s Choice Award
The award, run by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), aims to pay tribute to an outstanding professional performance made by an individual who has demonstrated exceptional skill, knowledge and initiative.
Also, in the running for the award are Lis Lewis-Jones FCIPR, and Rachel Miller MCIPR.
The winner of this category will be decided by a vote of members of the CIPR. Voting will commence at midday on Tuesday 28 May 2013. Further details here.
Hope as many colleagues in the Institute vote as possible, and if they feel I’m worthy of the award then I would be a greatly honour.
The winner will be announced on the evening of the Excellence Awards on June 3 where I will also keeping my fingers crossed for recognition for the work done as part of the Bully-Banks campaign team in the award’s Best Low Budget Campaign category.
Will the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death lead to a ‘Jo Moore Fest’?
Jo Moore was an adviser to the then UK Transport Minister Stephen Byers. She advised Labour MP’s during the height of the events of September 11th to immediately issue any bad news which would be buried in the fall out from the day’s tragic events.
To be honest, here are not many seasoned public practitioners who, hand on heart, would not admit to the validity of the advice. Unfortunately for Ms. Moore, the tone, language and timing of the email fell into the wrong hands proving disastrous for the careers’ of her and her boss.
Whenever discussing the ethical dimension of public relations’ work it is never long before the pejorative description of public relations activity as ‘spin’ is used. Using the word ‘spin’ implies that If only the world did not have these nasty public relations people, who introduce ‘spin’ in an otherwise innocent, pure communication, then the world would be a better place.
Call a PR person a ‘spin doctor’ (or ‘masters of rotational medicine’ as Welsh politician Rhodri Morgan once put it) and you get practitioners apologizing and attempt to distance themselves by saying, “I don’t do spin”.
Everyone spins. It is in inherent in communications.
Let us deconstruct what ‘spin’ is. It actually consists of three strategies.
Imagine your were the Head of Comms for the White Star shipping Line in 1912.
You can overstate the significance of something in its context: ‘700 people survived Titanic’s maiden voyage’.
You can emphasise the bigger context: ‘The sinking of ‘Titanic’ was a tragedy, but we must learn from this tragic episode and improve shipping safety for the future.’
You can cover your activity with something else: ‘What about the growing number of tragic accidents and deaths caused by new fangled modes of transport, such as the motor car and airplanes….’
In my creativity classes I do an exercise where someone in the group identifies a word that ‘everyone will know’.
I then get the group individually to write down the first five words they associate with that word.
Inevitably, in groups of more than three people, you never get people writing down the same five words. In fact, you never get one word the same.
The reason: we all view the world within a unique paradigm, a psychological frame, rather like a picture frame that boxes our world view. It is where the phrase ‘outside the box thinking’ comes from.
So, even in every day words, some people will see the same thing in either a bigger or smaller context. There is an inherent mis-match between two people’s perception of the same thing.
Here is an example to demonstrate how all of us ‘spin’ in every day life.
When my eldest daughter was just two years old and while out walking with her grandfather she asked to be carried. Feeling that she could walk a bit further, he encouraged to walk on.
A few steps further, my daughter then changed her request for ‘a cuddle’. And achieved her objective! (She could have also minimized the significance of the request with a “Can you just carry me for 5 yards?”)
If a two year old uses ‘spin’ – then we all do. It is an inherent part of communications. To say ‘you don’t do spin’ is patent nonsense.
A far healthier, constructive and practical response for our profession would be to be transparent and work to promote greater sophistication – so that we can create better, more discerning consumers of communications, to minimize the potential for their being vulnerable to any manipulation or exploitation.
By having sustainable integrity and being transparent at the heart of your thinking and doing provides an effective policing against the abuses of ‘spin’. Maintaining a false premise of spin denial will just perpetuate the debate – and continue to damage our profession.
Over the next few days as the news of Margaret Thatcher’s death, the tributes to her pour in, the story of her funeral arrangements, then a backlash story about what she stood for, then a backlash against the backlash story, and then the funeral, will dominate the media headlines.
It will provide public relations communicators to opportunity do a ‘Jo Moore’ and issue news stories that will subsumed, drowned by the torrent of Thatcher stories, while others will vehemently deny they do spin, with just a tiny minority acknowledging that spin is inherent in communications and we need to become better consumers of messages to avoid, or minimise being manipulated and exploited.
Are you off to a Jo Moore Fest’? Or going into spin denial? Or doing something practical to help our society be healthier viz by understanding the reality of spin?
On the day that Britain went decimal in 1971 the country is invited to celebrate its nostalgia – on National Nostalgia Day on February 15.
It aims to both encourage enjoyable, positive reminisces and also identify if our world of today would be better from bringing, or restoring anything no longer around.
The campaign is being promoted by a leading creative think tank, the Flexible Thinking Forum which promotes innovation in the community.
Campaigners are inviting everyone to identify the five things they miss most in bygone age and share with friends and family.
“Nostalgia is not what it used to be!” said Andy Green of the Flexible Thinking Forum. “The idea of National Nostalgia Day is to make people appreciate things past, but also consider if they can be restored, reused, adapted in some way to make the world of today better.”
“Also, we want to encourage people to better understand the impact of change. Decimalisation for example, made using our money easier, but we suspect, the old system of 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings to the pound helped people’s arithmetic skills.”
“For any new development there are positives and negatives where people need to adopt a flexible attitude in dealing with change.”
The Flexible Thinking Forum is a not-for-profit social enterprise which works to promote creative thinking skills in the community.
Further details at www.flexiblethinkingforum.org.uk
There is a delicious irony that one of the initiatives I had planned to do – I failed to deliver.
But then again it was ‘National Failure Week’ – planned for the first full week of February.
The idea was inspired by the efforts last year of a top girls’ school, Wimbledon High School, in holding a “failure week” to teach pupils to embrace risk, build resilience and learn from their mistakes. The emphasis was on the value of having a go, rather than playing it safe and perhaps achieving less.
The headmistress, Heather Hanbury, said she had placed a great emphasis on developing resilience and robustness among the girls and wanted to show “it is completely acceptable and completely normal not to succeed at times in life.”
Ms Hanbury’s pupils achieve some of the highest exam scores – but during last year’s Failure Week they were invited to focus on failure with workshops, assemblies, and activities for the girls, with parents and tutors joining in with tales of their own failures.
“The girls need to learn how to fail well – and how to get over it and cope with it. Fear of failing can be really crippling and stop the girls doing things they really want to do. We want them to be brave – to have courage in the classroom,” she added.
Following up on this wonderful initiative I identified the 5 key F words to encourage ‘Failure’ in whatever you are doing.
1. Feedback – there is no such thing as failure. Only feedback. By encouraging a passion for feedback, where every step is a positive step forward in gaining greater understanding and learning is the way to success rather than being stuck in a rut.
2. Foolhardiness – well non-foolhardiness. Take risks so long as not if it jeopardises the very survival of the business. (I love the quote from John Lanchester on the behaviour of the banks and their use of credit default swaps used which led to the financial crash: “It’s as if people used the invention of seat belts as an opportunity to take up drunk driving.”)
3. Freedom - give others room to explore, discover the new, even to grow and be a bigger person than you
4. Fellowship – a lovely quaint word, but it’s about sharing, recognising a community of interest. It is a more powerful team that looks after its weak – as well as its strong, particularly if a team member is low after an episode of ‘failure’.
5. Forgiveness – yes, if it didn’t go to plan, learn to forgive and forget, not hold grudges. ‘Where there’s blame, there is a claim’ should be extended to – it’s also very lame.
By applying these ‘F’ words to your team or organization you can fully realise the potential of ‘Failure Week’ which should have been this week.
Only, I had so much else on: I am about to launch my new book ‘Tubespiration – how to get your next brilliant idea by using the London Underground as a creativity tool’ plus my pro bono work for the small business campaign Bully-Banks against Bank mis-selling has taken priority.
Failure Week was supposed to be promoted by the Flexible Thinking Forum, a not-for-profit social enterprise which works to develop creative thinking skills in the community. Check out www.flexiblethinkingforum.org.uk
Oh well, there is always next year – along with valuable lessons learnt from this year.
Listen up. I know the shit you’ve been saying behind my back. You think I’m stupid. You think I’m immature. You think I’m a malformed, pathetic excuse for a font. Well think again, nerdhole, because I’m Comic Sans, and I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.
You don’t like that your coworker used me on that note about stealing her yogurt from the break room fridge? You don’t like that I’m all over your sister-in-law’s blog? You don’t like that I’m on the sign for that new Thai place? You think I’m pedestrian and tacky? Guess the fuck what, Picasso. We don’t all have seventy-three weights of stick-up-my-ass Helvetica sitting on our seventeen-inch MacBook Pros. Sorry the entire world can’t all be done in stark Eurotrash Swiss type. Sorry some people like to have fun. Sorry I’m standing in the way of your minimalist Bauhaus-esque fascist snoozefest. Maybe sometime you should take off your black turtleneck, stop compulsively adjusting your Tumblr theme, and lighten the fuck up for once.
People love me. Why? Because I’m fun. I’m the life of the party. I bring levity to any situation. Need to soften the blow of a harsh message about restroom etiquette? SLAM. There I am. Need to spice up the directions to your graduation party? WHAM. There again. Need to convey your fun-loving, approachable nature on your business’ website? SMACK. Like daffodils in motherfucking spring.
When people need to kick back, have fun, and party, I will be there, unlike your pathetic fonts. While Gotham is at the science fair, I’m banging the prom queen behind the woodshop. While Avenir is practicing the clarinet, I’m shredding “Reign In Blood” on my double-necked Stratocaster. While Univers is refilling his allergy prescriptions, I’m racing my tricked-out, nitrous-laden Honda Civic against Tokyo gangsters who’ll kill me if I don’t cross the finish line first. I am a sans serif Superman and my only kryptonite is pretentious buzzkills like you.
It doesn’t even matter what you think. You know why, jagoff? Cause I’m famous. I am on every major operating system since Microsoft fucking Bob. I’m in your signs. I’m in your browsers. I’m in your instant messengers. I’m not just a font. I am a force of motherfucking nature and I will not rest until every uptight armchair typographer cock-hat like you is surrounded by my lovable, comic-book inspired, sans-serif badassery.
Enough of this bullshit. I’m gonna go get hammered with Papyrus.
This is courtesy of Timonthy McSweeney
Could you help people overcome what is labelled ‘the most depressing day of the year’ – Blue Monday on Monday January 21st – with activities to turn it into a day of ‘binge happiness’ – and also raise funds for mental health charities?
A special campaign web site, www.beatbluemonday.org.uk is offering practical advice to tackle the effects of Blue Monday, the symbolic date for the low point in the year, along with a special ‘five stage Binge Happiness Work-Out’ programme to help people to make themselves happier.
The Five Step ‘Binge Happiness Work Out’ consists of:
Step 1 – write down four things over the last week which make you feel grateful. Then write and recapture how you felt about one of the best experiences or thing to happen to you in your life.
Step 2 – write about something good you have done for someone else.
Step 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?
Step 4 – make a list of your favourite places you have visited, or places you would like to go. Really imagine you are there.
Step 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 last week.
In a psychological study by Laura King of Southern Methodist University it demonstrated the positive benefits of writing about their positive future. (L.A.King (2001) ‘The health benefits of writing about life goals’ Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (p798-807))
Check out the Beat Blue Monday website managed by GREEN.
Support is being offered to help people overcome what is labelled ‘the most depressing day of the year’ – Blue Monday on Monday January 21st – with activities to turn it into a day of ‘binge happiness’ – and also raise funds for mental health charities.
The combination of general economic doom and gloom coupled with the domestic grief of unpaid bills, broken resolutions, and bad weather make this potentially one of the worst Blue Mondays ever.
A special campaign web site, www.beatbluemonday.org.uk is offering practical advice to tackle the effects of Blue Monday, the symbolic date for the low point in the year, along with a special ‘5 stage Binge Happiness Work-Out’ programme to help people to make themselves happier.
Campaigners are aiming to reduce stigma associated with depression by talking about it and using the day as a springboard to improve quality of life by promoting and encouraging more happiness.
Blue Monday has evolved from an idea originally conceived by Cliff Arnall, formerly of Cardiff University, who created a mathematical formula to identify a number of the elements contributing to a general feeling of mid winter blues.
Advice for making you feel better during Blue Monday includes keep active, eat well, keep in touch with friends and family, care for others, do something you are good at, ask for help, accept who you are, talk about your feelings, take a break and drink sensibly.
Further help is also available from organizations such as the Mental Health Foundation who have produced a guide ‘How we can help ourselves’ available from www.mentalhealth.org.uk
The ‘Beat Blue Monday’ campaign is a completely non-commercial campaign developed by the Flexible Thinking Forum, a not-for-profit organisation promoting flexible and creative thinking skills in business and the community with the support of GREEN communications.
Commenting on the Blue Monday campaign Andy Green of the Flexible Thinking Forum said: “Blue Monday may symbolically be the year’s most depressing day, but it doesn’t have to be. By making the most of potential opportunities around us we can transform it into a springboard for a positive happy day – even a time for binge happiness. Blue Monday is also a time to think about mental well-being issues and doing positive things to help.”
Live blogs are more transparent, trusted and ‘factual’ than conventional online news, according to research by City University London.
Researchers from City University London have found that live blogs are getting 300% more views and 233% more visitors than conventional online news articles on the same subject. They also outperform online picture galleries, getting 219% more visitors.
Live blogs relay commentary and analysis as news is unfolding rather than summarising an event after it has finished. The transparent nature of the format means that readers feel the information they receive is more objective, and less ‘opinion based’.
Dr Neil Thurman and Anna Walters, from the University’s Journalism School, studied live blogs at Guardian.co.uk. Theirs is the first major study to look at live blogging, which is becoming the default format for covering major breaking news stories, sports events, and scheduled news – like the Sandy Hook massacre – on the web.
Dr Thurman said “We believe live blogs are so popular because they meet readers’ changing news consumption preferences. More and more news is being consumed at work, in the office. Live blogs provide this ‘news-at-work’ audience with what they’re looking for: regular follow-up information on breaking news in ‘bite-sized nuggets’ which they can read, as several readers told us, while they are supposed to be working”.
The authors found that readers liked the convenience of live blogs because they could follow a story from a single page rather than having to drill down into a website.
Thurman and Walters also looked at how live blogs were produced. They found that because live Blogging journalists work so fast – publishing updates every 20 minutes for six hours straight – there is little time for fact-checking. Despite this, readers feel that live blogs are “less opinion based and more factual” than traditional articles.
Dr Thurman said “readers see live blogs as a more objective news format. The looser culture of corroboration is offset by live blogs’ use of a relatively large number of sources, and transparent citation and correction practices”.
The authors also found that readers are twice as likely to participate with live blogs than other article types, although Dr Thurman advises users who want their opinions published to use Twitter or to target Sport live blogs. “live blogs that cover cricket and football are more than 20 times more likely to integrate readers’ opinions than live blogs on other news topics. What’s more live blogging journalists are three times more likely to include readers’ Tweets than any remarks they add to the comment sections of live blogs”, he said.
All good communications – and public relations especially – is all about having a good story to tell and telling that story in a compelling manner. With that in mind here are our thoughts on the power of storytelling.
Public relations is a form of classical storytelling (think of all the great mythology) but in this case is delivered as a corporate narrative. Crucially, however, it is a non-fiction. It is the truth told in the exact same context as any other story form. Essentially, storytelling, and that includes PR, is having a point of view or theme, focusing on one person or thing (the hero) and taking your audience on that hero’s journey through trials and tribulations to arrive at some new point, but now changed. It doesn’t matter if you’re promoting a company, product, person or cause; if you tell the story with the same structure, elements, archetypes and path of all great stories, your message will be heard and acted on. And, in business, whoever tells the best story wins.
First, you need a strong beginning, which is always the hero’s ordinary, believable world. Then you take the hero on a journey into some extraordinary world. And the end is the hero’s return to his ordinary world, but changed, very changed. Other components of an effective story are a compelling point of view or theme, such as “nothing takes the place of persistence,” or “true love never dies,” or “it’s all in the delivery.”
Every business has a story. In classic storytelling for business, I immediately think of Virgin: A young man who grows who leaves school with very little education drops out in the Sixties and becomes a hippy and sets up a record company. In 1977, a desperate Richard Branson signed a controversial band called The Sex Pistols to help revive his struggling record company, Virgin Records.
Later he launches the Virgin Record Stores. When he sells the record and stores business he moves in to air travel, financial services, media and broadband becomes a multi-billionaire and is still telling his story.
You need to think and write like a journalist. Visit your local newspaper and have a walk around the news room and have a look at the press releases they receive. When I visit old colleagues at newspapers I am amazed at the poor grammar, spelling errors and complete lack of any apparent writing skills in the press releases they show me. There is a huge disconnect between journalists and public relations practitioners because of the lack of writing skills and storytelling ability.
Stop trying to sell. Learn how to engage your audience, not manipulate it. Read some books on writing non-fiction and journalism. Try Harry Evans’ Newman’s English and Keith Waterhouse’s Daily Mirror Style. And read newspapers – I am stunned at how many PR professionals are not interested in the news. Read newspapers and you will learn how to write a story.