Category: communications

A great start to 2014

dryathleteIt’s hard to believe that we’re at the end of January already, and I look at my blog in despair for the little progress that I’ve made changing it! And my New Year’s Resolution to not over-serve clients and to make more time for myself has long since fallen alongside those promises to visit the gym more regularly.

I did, however, succeed in staying ‘Dry’ for January, and not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips, as I undertook the Dryathlon for Cancer Research. It was received with great humour, with people I work with suggesting that an investment in keeping me dry might save on the bar bill. I’m somewhat partial to champagne so they may have a point! Anyway, Cancer Research is a great cause, one that’s close to my heart, and if you haven’t already, it would be great if you could consider dropping a few pennies in the hat: http://www.justgiving.com/Claire-Thompson-dryathlete2015

In other fields there is lots of progress too.

Wendy Hall

I was  lucky to have worked for Wendy Hall in then computing department at Southampton University. She was one of my unsung heroes for Ada Lovelace Day in recent times. Her work has had huge significance for the semantic web, digital libraries, and more, and she has now been nominated as an inspiring leader for education. Her work lead to my first encounter with technology, and subsequently to my first big break in PR with technology PR consultancy Arrow (now Kaizo). She inspired me, and has done the same for countless others, and if you have a moment to vote, here’s where to do it:  http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/competition/2014/jan/14/higher-education-inspiring-leader-vote.

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Age. It’s a funny old thing

Quora ageLast week, on BBC Breakfast, Charlie Stayt asked the departing Blue Peter presenter, Helen Shelton, whether she was leaving because she was too old for the adrenalin driven lifestyle required of Blue Peter presenters. I can’t get strung up about him asking- there is, after all, a limit to how long you want to go on putting yourself in danger (although I rather suspect that Charlie is lucky to have got away with a question like that).

Shelton’s response was sensible. Having been there for five years, she didn’t want to be the one saying “this is how we usually do it” – she didn’t want to stand in the way of innovation or change and has a million other ambitions to achieve. The drive she shows leaves us in no doubt that she will succeed.

A few years ago, someone I knew from my PR agency days during the dot com boom asked me to come in for a chat about leading their social media division. We had never met in person, but knew of each other –  she could see the results of the work I was doing online and asked me to come and see her. As I walked through the door, her chin fell. She was, she declared before I’d sat down, looking for someone younger. Someone who really gets social media.

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SASCon 2013 – after the storm

Sascon logoI loved this years SAScon. It’s not just a bunch of SEOs together – it’s search, analytics and social media under the same roof and I really don’t ‘get’ why more PR people don’t go.

I guess being based in Manchester is a double edged sword – it’s a long way from the south (I’m based in Reading, and the direct trains take just over three hours, the ones with a changeover slightly longer) but the payback is a city that has every bit as much to offer as London in a really friendly environment. To offer just one example, I couldn’t eat the lunch because of the ingredients. No rolled eyes or ‘cats bottom’ pursed lips. Not only were the staff at MMU (Manchester Metropolitan University) more than happy to go and check the contents, but offered immediately to make me a sandwich. There was plenty of salad, which they could just as easily have pointed me to, but they really went the extra mile. I like Manchester and the people there.

I digress. I was there on a discussion panel on ZMOT (Zero moment of truth), and to blog for State of Search (with colleague Jackie Hole and another couple of other State of Search bloggers). We were asked to blog  the five main points of each session. Sometimes we achieved it, sometimes we didn’t. The stand out one for me that I attended but didn’t blog was ‘Social Media meets PR meets SEO’, moderated by Judith Lewis, which was incredibly interactive and very well moderated, and being at the end of the day was hard to blog but easy to follow.  (For me the art of a good moderator is someone who’s done their homework, and these guys genuinely had.)

Here are the two roundups on SAScon at State of Search:

Day one: http://www.stateofsearch.com/day-1-of-sascon-2013/

Day two: http://www.stateofsearch.com/day-2-sascon-2013/

It’s on the #SAScon hashtag on Twitter.

The dust has settled and I have had time to think. Marketing is becoming more converged, but the specialisms are becoming more sophisticated: the challenge for the future will be understanding who does what (and it’s all very fuzzy around the edges), and managing across the disciplines. Whilst we can afford to be generalists right now, the level of understanding we may need to actually perform these tasks to a level of excellence is so in depth that maybe the time of convergence is passing, and the specialists will shine.The skills for the PR – and other digital disciplines – in future will include:

  • understanding what other digital marketing disciplines do and how to measure them
  • understanding the interface between online and offline
  • learning how to manage and work with other specialist agencies
  • networking with people in other specialisms so you know who to go to.

In terms of what we deliver, best practise has never been more important. We don’t know what’s around the corner, and sure as hell it will be something we haven’t yet conceived. Staying abreast of what’s happening is important. SAScon is a great and inexpensive way of helping yourself along that path.

 

 

 

Biggest challenges for the PR industry?

Great piece of research: the European Communications Monitor 2012.

This is the video, nicely presented, easy to understand.

The only area where I’d slightly take issue is on the subject of ethics. Ethics are no less important today to communicators than they ever have been. The difference is accountability for ethics, which pushes it up the agenda. And yes, there’s more legislation, but it’s more the advent of social tools in the hands of the general public that has really made the difference. But while this may make our job harder in one sense, in another it makes all of those ‘softer’ things like ethics and values, which have been hard to push onto the boardroom agenda, suddenly matter at that level too.

This, I contend, can only be for the best.

I look forward to delving deeper, but first looks suggest this is great piece of work.

Management has certainly become more complex, and doing more with less – but that’s what makes PR one of the most interesting professions in the World. Bring it on!

 

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