Say hello to Consolidated’s latest recruit..

So you may or may not have noticed that I’ve been a bit light on the ol’ blog posts recently.. I know, it’s been about 2 weeks which for me has felt like a lifetime.. There has been good reason though and it all paid off in a spectacular fashion today.

For the last few weeks now, I’ve been using any spare time to work on a presentation for my final interview with a position at Consolidated PR as a Social Media Strategist up for grabs on 16th December. I felt there being a bit more pressure because they’re the 28th top company to work for in the UK and also have just been featured in Marketing magazine in the Top 100 PR Agencies coming in at No 54.

What was the presentation all about? I won’t go in to the finer points but it was essentially 30 minutes to talk through my vision on an integrated social media strategy for a campaign, and all that’s involved in doing so, it needs the context to fully make sense but it was interesting to research and deliver.

So I was stood before the Heads of Digital and Consumer PR being asked to do my thing, there was everything riding on it. This was it, this was the moment. Before all that though and to heighten the suspense a bit, why the change in direction? I thought you were happy where you were? You were always saying how much you loved it!

As much as I’ve loved every minute working at Splendid Comms, I’ve been actively looking for a while for something permanent which they were unfortunately unable to commit. It’s not the most ideal of times to be hiring generally so it was understandable. They are however a PR Communications agency doing some fantastic work with some great clients like Marmite, Guinness, Lucozade and ShoZu. It has a real family vibe about the place and they genuinely enjoy everything that they do. I’ll be sorry to leave it all behind but will for sure be keeping in touch with them all.

Back to the presentation.. for the last few weeks I’d spent most of my waking free time researching, digesting, writing slides, cutting out slides, by the end of it I was even beginning to enjoy it!

On the day, I was horribly ruthless with my own content, (the one thing I find hard to do, cutting out slides I’ve spent quality time on) and went with the philosophy of less is more. I cut out about half my slides.. It worked, they all followed on from each other smoothly and it was remarked that I adopted a methodical approach from start to finish. Excellent! Surprising myself a bit in the process actually, because I was a complete bag of nerves the night before, on the day and up until the minute I started presenting! I was equally as nervous about the potential questions after.. what would they ask? Would I have the answer? Incredibly yes. The dreaded ‘We’ll be in touch’ was said which left me in doubt but I was happy with how it went considering how nervous I was.

17th December, the morning after the presentation, I get a call, essentially along the lines of “We’d like to offer you the job,” I was in shock. For the rest of the day I’ve had a smile you just can’t shift and have said the word awesome at least every other word. Ask @jedhallam !

On the 5th Jan 2009, I will be starting at Consolidated as a Social Media Strategist. What a way to start 2009! I have a feeling it’s going to be a year to remember. Hopefully for all the right reasons.

Anything else happen today? Yes yes and yes. I was alerted to the fact that my SOTM photo had gone up today by @tommalcolm which was taken a few weeks ago now and I’d forgotten about amidst all the job stuff going on. Someoneoncetoldme.com is a fantastic site combining photography and quotes that resonate with the subject. Mine was a quote that stuck with me through thick and thin that the mind is powerful and that it’s ok to think big and be a dreamer.. and here it is..

Oh, yeah, and how could I forget and someone on behalf of Channel 4 who are doing a documentary which is going to be featured in Picturehouse cinemas first and then on Channel 4 in Summer 2009 and it’s all about privacy on the internet.. interesting topic. They contacted me because they want a perspective on the other side of the coin. I’m an advocate for transparency and openness.

You can find out about the sites I find of interest through Delicious, the photos I take using Flickr, personal details on Facebook, work details on LinkedIn and the conversations I have on Twitter. It’s all there, and I’m completely happy with that because it brings such bizarre situations as this.

So they want to hear about the positive effects of the social networking phenomenon taking place with sites like Facebook and Twitter which is fantastic because I’d go as far as to say it’s been a life changing 6 months for me because of such sites. One question, how on earth they found me, again, all this internet fame stuff is absolutely mind blowing, I’m not worthy.

“It would be really great to get your thoughts on our film, and discuss the possibility of you appearing in the film.”
I spat out my metaphorical cup of tea.. what? You are kidding right? This is insane.
So what brings of tomorrow? I’m taking part in a week long paid mobile study on behalf of Nielsen, not quite sure what the selection criteria was for that either, considering they’ve only taken on 2 people across the UK to take part in the study.
Every day seems to be bringing something new and exciting to the table at the moment for which i’m honoured and proud to be involved in.

Reaching 500 Twitter followers – Does it mean anything?

Update – 25.11 PM – Danny has followed up with his own response here.

I’m possibly a bit biased but when I hit 500 ‘Followers’ (people who have chosen to ‘subscribe’ to my updates on Twitter) I thought that was pretty cool. It begs the question though, what does it all mean, if anything?

It’s not really something that I presume people generally even give a moment’s thought about, but when I was gradually climbing to 500, I thought to myself, this was a milestone figure, something to be proud of, in the geekiest, self congratulatory way, there’s some people out there who value what I’m saying. It didn’t really mean anything but I wanted to say thanks to the person who clicked ‘follow’ and in turn made themselves my 500th follower.

Welcome, @dannywhatmough to the equation who works at Wildfire PR and their blog is here, and who also turns out to be a top bloke. I understand he’s been spreading the Twitter word around the company and getting a whole host of Wildfirers on board the Twitter train, welcome all. Hope you stick around.

At first I thought, I’d ask him what his favourite sweets were and send him a load of them.. Then I put a message out on Twitter, something along the lines of “How should I commemorate my 500th follower?” to which @KerryMG said “Make a cake shaped like the fail whale!”.. Brilliant I thought, that’s more like it. It got my creative juices flowing.. I can do better than a few sweets surely. I thought that the fail whale was a bit out of my creative cake making depths so for the next few days I wondered what on earth I was going to do. I’ve told him I’m going to send him something now! I’d decided it was going to be cake orientated because it has that celebratory vibe about it, a cake means a special occasion, it was perfect.

I fired off an email to Danny being as cryptic as possible yet asking a bit about him, his interests and hobbies, with a view to making a truly personalised cake..

He was a great sport throughout and I soon found out that Mr Whatmough was in to Tech (Apple) Football, Food and Tennis.. It was as if I was looking at myself in the mirror, it was bizarre!

Initially, I had visions of making a cake shaped like the Apple logo/motif type thang, in the colours of Hearts FC and with a mini man playing Tennis.. I was day dreaming about a cake, that didn’t even exist, a true sign of a genuine nutter. As time went by, I realised that it wasn’t really going to happen but soon after I ordered a cake, a cake with a champagne bottle, balloons, party poppers, brilliant I thought. Obviously I wasn’t aware of what it looked like until it arrived with Danny on Monday morning so I was quite excited myself as to how it had turned out.

So what dyu think to the finished product then guys? It wasn’t until Danny, sent me a tweet and uploaded a pic of the cake from his iPhone no less, using Twitterfon to tweet and then Twitpic to upload the pic. Danny I could tell was down with the kids, and I liked that!

PS – Here’s the original Twitpic link

It’s funnily enough proven to be a quite different kind of relationship building exercise. Who’d have thunk it? We’ll meet up for a drink in the coming weeks I’m sure and live happily ever after.

PPS – I wanted it to say @Dannywhatmough, Thanks for being my 500th follower. @LitmanLive – but character restrictions only allowed the above.. so it’s not perfect, but I think it still gets the message across 😉

Can anything be garnered from this whole thing? The world of social media does definitely bring up some utterly fantastic yet hugely bizarre scenarios that you’d never experience otherwise.

In a weird way, I think it’s great that our paths collided and I wanted to reach out and make something happen. I’m not sure I believe in fate and destiny and all that kinda stuff but then there are the odd occasions that you think, wow, right place, right time, it’s great to be alive. There wasn’t any gain from me, it was one of those genuine feelings of, I want to do something different, to reinforce the value that all these people have put in me for following me when there’s an unbelievable amount of people to follow on Twitter.

It was my way of giving something back, saying thanks.

UK Preeple on Twitter – League Table Updated

So I’ve got round to updating the league table, you can find it here

Check it out to find out whether Hotwire have held on to the top spot, whether there are any new challengers making it in to the Top 3 and whether any new entrants have made an impact.

Let me know what you think and whether it adds anything to the grand scheme of things. Do you find it of value to see by number order an agency ranking? I know the numbers aren’t completely true in so far that there are all kinds of permutations that can affect the numbers.. for example, a small agency of 5/6 are never going to top any tables even if they have 100% of their staff actively using Twitter. Perhaps moving forward some changes could be made, for example % of workforce using Twitter? How viable would this be?

As I’ve said before, all feedback is good feedback, am interested in hearing what you think.

M.

A case of Style over Substance? Can an agency website do both?

The inspiration for this post comes from Steve Earl at Rainier PR (who looks like he could do some damage with a bottle of champagne) where he asks an interesting question..

Why are most PR agency websites a pile of turd?

Definitely recommend a read at the link above, brings up some great ideas for further debate.. eg whether the PR industry has when it comes to web design, learnt anything in recent years.. or whether an industry at the sharp edge of comms should be doing better.

What’s my favourite agency site? It’s a toss up between Mischief and Frank. Check them out for yourself, it’s definitely a wow moment when you visit for the first time, and every subsequent visit for that matter. Other notable agency sites I admire include Bray Leino, Cow, Diffusion, Freud, Hotwire, Kazoo and Nelson Bostock.

I believe an agency’s website should be attention grabbing and captivating from the off (see above for a few agencies who I think do that) along with pushing the envelope and getting a whole lot of positive press (like this perhaps) on the back of trying something different and separating themselves out from the rest. Their website is their promotional tool. In recent times the agency that most comes to mind is Lisa P Maxwell (whether it’s seen an uplift in client interest as much as it’s seen an uplift in hits from curious types like me is a question that remains unanswered though) More noise about them here and here.

From a tech point of view I think it’s a fantastic site which allows them to be more transparent in their business practices whilst also successfully breaking down the barriers of communication in such a way which positively encourages you to engage with everyone on the homepage, from top to bottom. I don’t know whether I should admit it but I’ve been checking back at ungodly hours just to see whether there’s anyone still in the office, not for any other reason than because I could! As Lisa P Maxwell’s site goes, some critics could argue that it is perhaps a bit of a win for style over breadth of content but this begs the question..

Should an agencies homepage be a championing of quality over quantity? Stripping down to the very bare basics, LPM still answers the same questions (About, Contact and Jobs) but in a unique and more personal way (WTF, Connect and Jobs) Have LPM shown the way in which all agencies will be heading in the near future or is it merely a short term ‘gimmick’ before resuming with something more ‘conventional’ ?

It’s been introduced most similarly yet not on such a scale by 10 Yeti’s and their YetiCam (which is pretty cool and I did also just have a look on a Sunday afternoon whether there was anything going on!) It’s quite well hidden though in comparison, almost as if they think it’s a great idea but are not sure where it should go. Something like that should be a showcase piece to be proud about on the homepage, it’s a USP when asking the question, Why 10 Yeti’s? (We have nothing to hide, you can see us doing our work, that’s why!)

However, and there’s always a however isn’t there?

Let’s contrast LMP above with an agency like Weber Shandwick (left) of which I’m a great fan of due to the monstrous breadth of content on site that is all readily accessible from the homepage. Interestingly, a recent article under their ‘What We Think’ section of the site is entitled ‘Less Flash, More Substance’ Maybe I’m on to something here!

Which agency websites do you admire the most and who do you think is achieving the best balance of Style Vs Substance?

[update] UK ‘Preeple’ on Twitter

UPDATE – The below is now outdated.. I’ve created a landing page of sorts for it here but to go straight to the Wiki Wiki Wikid then click here

Stephen Davies of Prblogger is a list machine. Following on from his brilliant list of ‘Jeeple’ (Journalists) where he categorised all known UK journalists on Twitter, he brings another list flavoured installment to the Twittersphere this time following up with ‘Preeple’ (PR People)

It’s been a rampant success thus far with it surely being hard to keep up with the deluge of comments, 36 to date, from users who have been missed off the list to be added. For the purpose of the new category page and the need for it to be abbreviated I’ve now added Tweeple to the mix!

Depending on which way you look at it, there is the possibility of a negative viewpoint being attributed to lists like this, so there’s two sides to the story. For example, case in point, it’s merely providing people with a prospective list of influential journo’s / PROs to use for their own advantage or commercial gain. It has caused Stephen problems before, for example, have a look here.

However, It depends how cynical you are but for me it’s a fantastic resource of the who’s who of the PR & Journalism world’s on Twitter. It’s great to think that these lists might become a bit of a competition for agencies to establish more of a presence online, proving the power of their own internal community.

Building on the brilliant usage of the list I thought it would be just as useful to get an instant snapshot of a listed agencies presence on Twitter in numerical order complimenting Stephen’s alphabetically ordered list.. So here goes!

At the time of writing (approx 12am 11th Nov having lost the entire post and redone!) :- I’ve created a bit of a league table of ‘Preeple’ below..

1. Hotwire (16)

2. Axicom (12)

3. Rainier (11)

4. Edelman (9)

5. Lewis (9)

6. Ruder Finn (9)

7. Cow (8)

8. Berkeley (6)

9. Freelance (6)

10. Wolfstar (6)

11. Hill & Knowlton (5)

12. Porter Novelli (5)

13. Six Degrees (5)

14. Text 100 (5)

15. ITV (4)

16. Liberate Media (4)

17. Mantra (4)

18. Microsoft (4)

19. Waggener Edstrom (4)

20. Weber Shandwick (4)

21. Diffusion (3)

22. Kaizo (3)

23. O2 (3)

24. Shiny Red (3)

25. Wildfire PR (3)

26. Fishburn Hedges (2)

27. Nelson Bostock (2)

28. Punch Communications (2)

29. Racepoint Group (2)

30. Splendid Communications (2)

31. Staniforth (2)

32. University of Warwick (2)

The greatest number being in the ‘Other’ section, either unaffiliated or possibly being their company’s Twitter champion.

Something to think about, perhaps Stephen’s list and this subsequent league table will encourage them to join their colleagues in making their company more visible in the Tworld (yeah, I just made that up..)