Thursday, May 31, 2012

Your social media cocktail

There's nothing like a tasty cocktail on the veranda on a warm summer evening. Let's see if we can put a social media cocktail together. 

1) Plan the ingredients. You wouldn't just start throwing various liquids into a glass at random (OK, maybe you would in the early hours of the morning, but go with me here). A cocktail needs planning and preparation. So does your social media strategy. you need to have an objective in mind, or it's just random activity. It may be listening, researching, asking questions or even (very gently) promoting. But you need to know what you're trying to make. 

2) Add the ice. Keep cool. It's very easy to get worked up in a discussion online, especially if faced by a "troll", whose sole aim is to annoy you. Stay calm and collected at all times, and never allow your passion to run away with you. 

3) Mix it up. Include a number of different elements in your online cocktail. Link to other useful sites. Engage in debates. Post pictures and videos. Comment on news stories.

4) Enjoy!. It should be fun. If social media becomes a chore, give it up for a while or ask someone else to do it. The more you enjoy yourself, the more engaging and engaged you will become.


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Media Interviews - all about............timing

Any stand-up comedian will tell you that timing is everything (by the way, you can a punch line there if you wish). So it is with media requests. Here are my ten timing tips:

  1. Always have a message ready
  2. Keep your company information up to date, and to hand
  3. Anticipate external events that may affect your organisation
  4. Always get back to a reporter before their deadline
  5. A good sound bite early is better than a great one late
  6. You should react in seconds and minutes, not hours or days
  7. Aim to lead the news agenda, not follow it
  8. Be the first to comment on any story about you
  9. If reporters don't call you, call them
  10. Being seen at the scene is important - get there

Monday, May 21, 2012

Success in Professional Speaking

Here's a video made by my good friend Terry Brock CSP, where he interviews Paul Du Toit and myself about the state of professional speaking today.

Friday, May 18, 2012

An open letter to Lord Coe, David Beckham and Boris Johnson #Olympics #torchrelay

Dear Seb, David, and Boris,

Tonight, I watched the Olympic flame arrive. Well done. Nice work. I don't mind admitting I had a tear in my eye. Alas, I'm still waiting to hear what, if any, my involvement with the Olympics entails.

With only 69 days to go, I'm still waiting for the outcome of my application to be a Games Maker to be resolved. Back in October 2011, I was called for interview for the Transport Team. Before my interview, I called up and said that I'd actually applied for the media team. I was told to come for interview anyway, since I could be re-allocated to the media team.

I attended the interview. I met the team leader. She said she'd re-allocate me to the media team. I heard nothing until April, when I received an email telling me that I had been allocated bus duties in the Transport team. I called to enquire what had happened. I was told that my application would be looked at again, in respect of vacancies in the media team.

I don't mean to overstate my experience or ability. However, I do run a successful media company. I've been a journalist for over 30 years. I've written several books on media. I'm a regular TV and radio guest on media topics. I speak all over the world about media. I'm a consultant to many large companies on their media strategies. I live four miles from the Olympic site. I'm delighted the Olympics is on my doorstep.

All I wanted to do was play a small part in the media side of the games. I can't understand why I've been given such little feedback, and nothing to do.

I will probably take my family abroad on holiday instead. I can't bear to be so close to the Olympics and yet so detached from it. My family and I were so excited when London won the bid. Now we're utterly disillusioned.

However, there is one small flickering flame of hope. One of you may read this and finally get in touch with me to let me know I can play a small part in the success of the games. But time is rapidly running out.

Could I please have a response? Even "Alan, we don't want you" would prevent me from hanging on with rapidly fading hope.

Thank you.

Alan Stevens FPSA, MCIPR, PSAE

Friday, May 11, 2012

Rebekah Brooks at #Leveson - it's all about the readers

Rebekah Brooks' evidence at the Leveson Enquiry was heavily trailed to be a "potentially explosive for Cameron and Blair". In the event, it turned out to be a damp squib.

She was poised, polished and very well prepared. The underlying message throughout her evidence was "it's all about the readers". She made the point on many occasions that The Sun is there to reflect the readers' views, not influence them. It was a clever and effective strategy, and as she relaxed under questioning, she was able to use humour to further deflect any potentially embarrassing questions.

She dealt with all of the issues in the manner of a seasoned politician, so perhaps her time in the company of prime ministers has taught her how to behave. She used a variety of techniques, including "I can't recall that occasion...", "As you would expect..." and "I'm simply here to explain how newspapers work..." It was a very sound tactic, avoiding any specific references that might be used against her or anyone else in future.

What did we learn from all this? Gordon Brown used to get "very angry". David Cameron used to text her "once or twice a week". Tony Blair used to "be at the same events sometimes". Hold the front page! (OK, maybe not).

The only time that Mrs Brooks appeared to be on the back foot was when her text messages and meetings with David Cameron were probed. She revealed that on some occasion, Mr Cameron signed-off texts "LOL". She also agreed that she and Mr Cameron had discussed the allegations of phone-hacking at News International. Frankly, it would be more surprising (to me at any rate) if they hadn't discussed it, since everyone else did.

So we, the public, were little the wiser after Mrs Brooks testimony at Leveson. All we heard was what we already knew.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Looking for Mr Dunbar

Almost twenty years ago, Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist, wrote a paper suggesting that the number of people we can maintain "stable social relationships" with is between 100 and 230. The "Dunbar Number" has been pegged at around 150.

As evidence for his theory, Robin Dunbar looked at the size of ancient villages. Roman legions and academic faculties. The numbers were all roughly the same. On the face of it, social networks blow a hole in the Dunbar number. But do they really? In most networks, small groups of like-minded individuals gather together to exchange ideas, and sometimes even pick the odd fight.

Some argue that it's appropriate to have large networks in order to find and maintain their "Dunbar network". Others (me included) don't make thousands of connections, but form and maintain their Dunbar network from a smaller pool. They're different strategies to a common end result.

My Dunbar network is composed exclusively of people I've met face-to-face. For me, that's an important part of social bonding. However, I know of successful small networks of people who have never been in the same place together.

Does the Dunbar theory work for you, and if so, how do you build and maintain your Dunbar network