Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MediaMasters and MediaMugs of 2014

In my regular ezine, I highlight superb media performers and absolute dunces for a weekly accolade. Now that 2014 is at a close, I've been reviewing the fifty selections to find the top three star performers and those who should never be allowed near a microphone again. Here, in traditional reverse order, are my selections:

MediaMaster of the Year

Third place

I'm obliged to my good friend Paul Cook for spotting the third placed MediaMaster. Paul went to see Katy Perry in concert a few days ago in London (yes, he's allowed me to say that). He told me that in the middle of her set, she sat at the front of the stage, holding a pint of beer, which she then tasted and admired. It was London Pride. Nice move. I bet she drinks Guinness in Dublin and Newcastle Brown in, er, Newcastle. OK, it's a little bit staged, but she's making much more of an effort to connect with the audience than performers who shout 'It's good to be back in [insert name of town here]"

Second place

A political MediaMaster in second place (yes, I know, but it's my call). Although Alex Salmond lost the independence referendum in Scotland, and resigned his posts as leader of the Scottish National Party and as First Minister, he still performed extremely well on the media. Having marginally lost the first debate with Alistair Darling, he stormed back to easily best him in the second. He also behaved with great dignity in defeat. With his new political ambitions, we haven's seen the last of him. 

The winner  

The late parliamentary sketch writer, Simon Hoggart. I admired him for his wit, intelligence and the fact that he had the greatest respect for the institution of parliament. Even his targets loved him, since he was never spiteful, but spot-on and incredibly funny. He described corpulent Tory MP Nicholas Soames thus: "You could tow him out to a village fete and charge children 50p to bounce on him." After a speech by former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott he said: "And the English language slunk through its own back door and drew the curtains." And of the unusual hairstyle of a Tory MP, he said "It's as if My Little Pony had been in a terrible accident and its tail had been draped over Mr Fabricant's head". Hearing the news of Mr Hoggart's death, Michael Fabricant changed his Twitter image to a My Little Pony in tribute. Wonderful.

MediaMug of the Year

Third place

Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, gave his final party conference speech before the 2015 General Election. As usual, he spoke with few references to his notes. Unfortunately, by his own admission, he forgot two important sections of his speech, about the budget deficit and immigration. His error was noticed immediately by reporters who had been sent advance copies of the script. Though Mr Milliband tried to make light of it, it's an embarrassment that will return to haunt him in the election campaign.

Second place

The managing director of John Lewis, Andy Street, won't be too welcome in and around Paris for a while. In a recent event for entrepreneurs, he said France was "finished", adding: "I have never been to a country more ill at ease. Nothing works and nobody cares about it." He went on; "If you've got investments in French businesses, get them out quickly." Warming to his theme, branded the Gare du Nord in Paris "the squalor pit of Europe", in contrast to London's revamped St Pancras station at the other end of the Eurostar line. He later said the comments were not meant to be taken seriously but that he "clearly went too far". How true.

The winner

Gerard Depardieu. His media interview claims are so ridiculous it's hard to believe he even said them (but he did). He claimed that despite having had a heart bypass operation, he drinks fourteen bottles of wine a day. Yes, fourteen. He also said that it doesn't make him drunk, and if he feels a little woozy, a ten-minute nap followed by a glass of rose wine and he's fine again. He took Russian citizenship in January 2013 as a protest against France's 75 per cent tax on the rich, and recently came under fire for suggesting Ukraine was part of Russia. He's also been banned from Air France for urinating in the aisle of a plane. Just occasionally, words are not enough.

Here are the lists again:

MediaMaster: 1. Simon Hoggart  2. Alex Salmond  3. Katy Perry

MediaMug:  1. Gerard Depardieu  2. Andy Street  3. Ed Miliband 

So there we have it. No gongs, no trophies. Just my personal selection. What's your view?

Image credits: Creative Commons licence

Friday, December 19, 2014

Olympic pools, buses, Wales and football pitches. Towards a new system of measurement.

According to a report this morning on BBC Radio 5 Live, Britons drink the equivalent of over two hundred Olympic-sized swimming pools of alcohol over the Christmas period. Comparisons like this are used all the time by news outlets, in order to put statistics in terms that we can understand. But does it really help that much? How big is an Olympic-sized swimming pool anyway? (2.5 million litres, in case you don't know).
There are a number of common units in use in the media. Here's a guide:

Double-decker bus  Used to measure height, or sometimes length. Why anyone should be able to envisage a stack of buses is a mystery.

Wales Used for the area of islands, icebergs and the size of asteroids.

Belgium See Wales. Used for larger areas (did you know that Belgium was larger than Wales?)

Isle of Wight See Wales. Very handy for asteroids in particular

Football pitches Used for smaller areas and sometimes length. Even stranger, sometimes height. 

Wembley Stadium Sometimes filled with stuff ("enough rubbish to fill Wembley stadium several times over") or people ("ten Wembley stadiums full of people are affected")

I think it's time we moved to a new system that makes more sense to everyone, so here are my recommendations:

London Eye Used for height. Many people have seen it, and many have been up in it, so they know what it's like to look down from it. "Three times the height of the London Eye" makes real sense.

"Strictly" dance floor Used for areas, replacing football pitches. Far more people watch Strictly than sit in football stadiums these days.

Shopping Mall A replacement for Wembley stadium. OK, malls vary in size, but these comparisons are pretty vague at the best of times

Apple Store Used for volumes of stuff, replacing Olympic swimming pools. I rather like the idea of "enough PCs to fill an Apple Store"

Alas, as for really large areas, I'm stumped. Any ideas?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Media Coach 19th December 2014

So this is Christmas; Time for a review; The Apprentice; MediaMaster and MediaMug of the Year; Deliver it, change it , deliver it; Say it, say again and again; Get more engaged in 2015; An interview with Katie Bulmer-Cooke; Music from Out of the Rain.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Media Coach 12th December 2014

'Tis the season for reality shows; Jeopardy; Commander Chris Hadfield; Sergei Chaban; How to create a cracking speech; What you can and can’t do; Three nifty social media updates; An interview with Rebecca Morgan; Music from Jim Boggia

Check out this episode!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Media Coach 5th December 2014

YouTube breaks; End of the Human race?; A great headline; Ian McLagan; Mario Balotelli; Interruptions and Heckles; Has something gone wrong?; How to avoid friends and followers; An interview with Paul Cook; Music from Katie Sutherland

Check out this episode!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Media Coach 28th November 2014

Back from Malaysia; A cricketing tragedy; Buy the Band Aid single; PD James; Whoops Twitter; Paint a Picture; Disarm the Loaded Question; Take it Easy; An interview with Susan Luke; Music from Mick Wilson

Check out this episode!

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Media Coach 21st November 2014

A speaking trip to Malaysia; Missing flight MH370; Mike Nichols; Bill Cosby; Mind your (stage) manners; Don’t get battered and fried; Be relevant, be original, be there; An interview with Krishna Muthaly, Music from Band Aid

Check out this episode!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Comet FIFA data shows "astonishing level of corruption" say analysts

Analysts are struggling to make sense of the data being sent back from Comet FIFA by the Garcia probe, which has landed at the heart of the mystery-shrouded body. Despite gathering and sending back a huge amount of information, the Garcia probe has suffered from being in the shade of Mount Blatter, the highest mountain on the comet. As a result, there has been an "astonishing level of corruption" according to most analysts.

One of the analysts said "A real problem was getting the probe to work at all. Nothing sticks to Comet FIFA, so it's very hard to keep the probe in place. It's possible that it may shut down due to the hostile conditions on FIFA, which is continually shrouded in a blanket of fog, thickest around Mount Blatter.

It's taken many years to get to the heart of FIFA. Analysts have been speculating about the toxic clouds around Mount Blatter, suggesting that they have created an environment that defies the laws seen elsewhere in the universe. "Some very weird things happen on FIFA" said one US investigator "We've never seen the level of powerful forces that exist there, which seem to deflect all external threats"

Though most analysts are shocked and stunned, the Eckert institute in Germany has gone against the trend. Their project COVERUP (Calling Out Virtually Each Rumour as Utterly Preposterous) has produced a summary saying that all is normal on Comet FIFA, and everyone else is wrong.

While analysis of the data from Comet FIFA continues, the body continues to thunder through the universe, destroying everything it its path. Analysts fear that it might one day destroy Planet Football. "We suspect the such a comet once crashed into the earth, causing the extinction of honest football administrators" said an analyst. "We hope it doesn't do the same to Planet Football".

Image credit Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

The Media Coach 14th November 2014

Techno-speaking; Misleading advice online; Neil Mullarkey; 100 years of film; A car vanishes; It’s really a conversation; Spoon collector monthly; Keeping it current; An interview with Ross Shafer; Music from Nugent & Belle

Check out this episode!

Thursday, November 06, 2014

The Media Coach 7th November 2014

Tower Poppies; A new speaking group; A brilliant course; A Space Oddity; Euros in Ireland?; Be in the moment; A field guide to journalists; Think Different; An interview with Adam Shaw; Music from Jim Boggia

Check out this episode!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Sir Richard Branson - the right words at the right time

The reaction from Sir Richard Branson to the tragic crash of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, which killed co-pilot Michael Tyner Alsbury and seriously injured pilot Peter Siebold has been both timely and appropriate. 

The Virgin Founder was on the scene of the incident in the Mojave Desert within hours of the crash and delivered a press conference in which he praised the bravery of both men on board, determined to find the cause of the problem, and re-stated his commitment to commercial space travel. Not only that, he confirmed that he would still be a passenger on the first Virgin Galactic flight. "There is no way I would ask others to go on a Virgin Galactic flight if I didn't feel it was safe enough for myself," he told CNN on Monday.

His words echoed those he delivered back in February 2007 at the scene of a rail crash in Cumbria, where a Virgin Pendolino train had derailed with many injuries and one fatality. In a memorable address to the assembled media, Sir Richard said Virgin cared about "people" and "safety" above "profit" and "finance". He called the driver a "hero" and thanked the local community for rallying round "opening their hearts and doors" to those injured and shocked.

Though he's not a naturally confident speaker, Sir Richard Branson has the ability to deliver the right words at the right time. His response to both incidents is exemplary behaviour for the head of an organisation involved in such crises. In short he:
  • Makes great efforts to reach the scene as quickly as possible
  • Takes control of the media by calling a press conference
  • Talks about his feelings for the people involved, especially those injured, and the families and friends of anyone killed
  • Promises to find the cause of the incident, without speculating what it might be
  • Reassures customers that safety is a very high priority
  • Ensures that any victims are properly looked after
There's one more thing that's often forgotten after events like this, and that is to keep an eye out for any media reports which give a misleading impression. Today, Sir Richard was quick to point out that press reports of an explosion on board SpaceShipTwo were wrong. Referring to the initial report by the National Safety Transportation Board he said: "They've ruled out a lot of the very British speculation by self-proclaimed experts over the weekend, in saying that the fuel tanks, the engine were all intact, and that there was no explosion, and they will come out with more findings in the next couple of days".
Any CEO with the misfortune to find themselves with a similarly tough crisis to deal with would do well to borrow the Branson playbook.

Image Credit: Creative Commons License

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Media Coach 31st October 2014

Halloween!; The mighty Jack Bruce; Jollofgate and Jamie Oliver; Poltergeist - the speaker; Double, double, toil and trouble; Trick or Tweet; An interview with Neil Mullarkey; Music from Dawn Langstroth

Check out this episode!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Status Quo's four lessons for speakers

On Wednesday, I was in an enthusiastic crowd at The Roundhouse in London to watch a unique acoustic performance by Status Quo. It was simply fantastic, and made me think about a number of lessons they demonstrated that all performers, including speakers, should think about. Here are four ways that the the Quo demonstrated not only their professionalism, but some things that every performer should take care of.

1. Timing The concert was being broadcast live on the BBC, so had to start after the news at precisely 8.03pm, and finish at exactly 9.30pm. Even though the band played two encores, they kept exactly to that time constraint. Very impressive for a rock band. Speakers should show the same discipline. Over-running is disrespectful to the organiser and speakers who may follow. Under-running creates gaps in the programme that something has to fill. Keep to time, every time. 

2. Connection With hundreds of loyal fans singing along with every song, it wasn't too hard for Status Quo to make a connection. However, they still worked hard from the stage to encourage the crowd to sing and dance, responding to call-outs with a smile, and playing with the crowd rather than to them. Speakers too need to make that vital connection so that a speech is not a monologue, but a dialogue, even if the audience role is simply laughter and applause. 

3. Experimentation On the admission of Francis Rossi, the band was very nervous of playing an acoustic set. He joked that they'd felt sick the night before when they played a preview in front of family, friends and press. He even suggested there would be lots of wrong notes (I didn't spot any). The thing was, even after fifty years in the business, and over a hundred million sales, they were prepared to try something new. Doing the same old speech on stage year after year can make you stale, so finding ways to innovate, even for only part of a speech is vital. If it works, keep it in. If not, move on and try something else. 

4. Delivery This is where the best performers excel. They know exactly what to deliver, and how to deliver it, to excite an audience. That comes only from experience on stage. It's why speakers talk about "stage time", or the need to get in front of an audience as often as possible.

Follow those four rules and you'll be rockin' all over the world. (Sorry!)

Picture Credit : Alan Stevens 2014. All rights reserved 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Media Coach 24th October 2014

Social media breaks the news; Ben Bradlee; Raphael Ravenscroft; Mike Read and UKIP; Status Quo’s four lessons for speakers; I’m not talking about that; Picture this; An interview with Phil Hall; Music from Robbie Boyd

Check out this episode!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Media Coach 17th October 2014

Speakers from around the world; Galileo at the West Wing; BBC archives; John Grisham;  What doesn’t make an exceptional speech; How re-bookable are you?; Unique content can be priceless; An interview with Tim Campbell; Music from Dawn Langstroth

Check out this episode!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Media Coach 10th October 2014

Professional speakers gather in London; Early BBC; Virtual speaking; Harry Smith; John Lewis boss hates France; Lest we forget; Put yourself on air; How to use Twitter to enhance your event; An interview with Simon Jordan; Music from Ainsley Diaz Stevens

Check out this episode!

Thursday, October 02, 2014

The Media Coach 3rd October 2014

Party conferences continue; Virtual Speaking; Lynsey de Paul; Sainsburys; it’s not what you have, it’s what they need; You don’t have to be big to be noticed; How to con people with social media; An interview with Patricia Fripp; Music from Ashton Lane

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Speechwatch - David Cameron's 2014 Conference speech.

David Cameron made his last conference speech before the 2015 General Election with a clear aim in mind - to look like a prime minister ready for a second term. His theme; "A Britain everyone is proud to call home" ran throughout, in a statesmanlike delivery that was in some contrast to the forgetful approach from Ed Miliband. Like Barack Obama, Mr Cameron made use of poster-sized autocue screens at the back of the hall. 

Rather than find his case studies on the heath, he sought a Normandy veteran, who received a huge standing ovation early in the speech, which set the tone of patriotism that ran throughout. It was clearly a pre-election speech, sounding not unlike a manifesto, with a number of promises, including a large increase in the tax-free allowance, to help that political meme "hard-working people".

Naturally, he had a jibe at the opposition leader for forgetting to mention the deficit with a nice piece of self-mockery about things he'd forgotten himself. As usual with politicians, he doesn't do humour very well. 

He has a tendency to drop into a soft monotone just before delivering a strong phrase. I detect some coaching there, and I'm not sure it quite works. 

In a remarkable section on education, he accused Labour of "hypocrisy". A bit of pot and kettle there, methinks. He also talked of the Tory party as being a "trade union" for many different groups. That played well in the hall, but the reaction on Twitter was not so warm. He referred to Twitter too, in a quip that fell flat. 

As ever, as do all politicians, he employed a number of triple phrases with rising emphasis, or "clap-traps" as speechwriters call them. They worked well, especially since he emphasised them with a double-handed gesture, which produces almost Pavlovian applause. He's not as adept at applause-surfing

He became emotional in a section about the NHS, receiving a standing ovation, more for the way he spoke than what he said. Quite unusual for a political speech.

There was but one reference to UKIP, played out in a gag about "going to bed with Nigel Farage and waking up with Ed Miliband". Best laugh of the whole speech.

He's not one of the great political orators, coming across more like a competent CEO than an inspirational leader. However, maybe that's what people want. He definitely outperformed the Labour leader, and threw down a gauntlet for the election campaign. Time will tell if he judged it correctly. 

I'd say it's his best conference speech so far. Eight out of ten.

Are Tesco and Sainsbury's going the way of the dinosaurs?

Oh dear oh dear. The news about some big supermarkets has been pretty grim recently. Tesco has admitted that their half-year profits have been overstated by £250 million. That's more than the slip of a finger on a calculator. We'll know more after the Financial Conduct Authority has completed their investigation. But that's not the half of it. Tesco announced a delay in opening two new out-of-town superstores in September. There was fury in Chatteris, Cambridgeshire when the promised store, and the 250 promised local jobs disappeared behind chain-link fences.

Sainsbury's has not been immune to changes in shopping habits either. This morning, they announced that like-for-like sales had fallen for the third quarter in a row, after 36 previous quarters of growth. Sainsbury's is not being particularly bullish about the future either, saying that they expect sales in the second half of the year - including the busy Christmas period - to be "similar" to the first half.

So what went wrong? It seems that like many businesses before them, Tesco and Sainsbury's took their eyes off the ball. They failed to notice the impact of nimble-footed competitors like Aldi and Lidl taking customers away. In July, a YouGov BrandIndex poll found that Aldi was now the UK's favourite brand, despite taking only five per cent of food sales. Lidl was ranked fourth. Sainsbury's was hanging on to tenth place, but Tesco didn't make the top ten.

Warren Buffett said "It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it". It's not all over for Tesco and Sainsbury's by any means, but they need to think about evolving pretty fast. 

Image Credit: Creative Commons licence

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Media Coach 26th September 2014

A very special edition featuring international speakers Lesley Everett and Sean Weafer speaking about professional speaking globally.

Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Media Coach 19th September 2014

Scotland - Independent?; Two launch events; Bob Crewe; Gerard Depardieu; Start at the End; It Ain’t over ‘til it’s over; Twitter or down the pub?; An interview with Frank Furness; Music from Ron Hipp and Carol Statella

Check out this episode!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Media Coach 12th September 2014

Two huge decisions; Pop in the Park; Rupert Murdoch; Mike Ashley; Don’t tease your audience; No comment is not an option; Get more engagement; An interview with Shelle Rose Chavet; Music from Mick Wilson

Check out this episode!

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Media Coach 5th September 2014

Not quite autumn; Warren Evans; Comedy Store Players; Kate Bush; The Russian Space Agency; Four more rhetorical devices; Can you give us a few words?; So what do you like?; An interview with Otmar Kastner; Music from Geoff Gibbons

Check out this episode!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Media Coach 29th August 2014

A tribute to Warren Evans; Storming off a Bake-Off; Killing a dinosaur; Believe it, Say it, Do it; Trouble, Trouble, Trouble; Sticking together on Social Media; An interview with Susan Luke Evans; Music from Lost Hollow

Check out this episode!

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Media Coach 22nd August 2014

Home from the hols; Events coming up; Donald Sutherland; Ian Poulter; Consider your language; Increase your Mileage; No more happy talk; An interview with Hayley Foster; Music from Jim Boggia

Check out this episode!

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Media Coach 15th August 2014

Predicting the future; The Lion King flash mob; Something completely different; Dump the sandwich; Monitor your media coverage; Getting the social media X factor; An interview with Hayley Foster; Music from Henrik

Check out this episode!

Thursday, August 07, 2014

The Media Coach 8th August 2014

Copy, emulate or originate?; JustPark your Mini; Wikipedia and a monkey; If you must use powerpoint; You should see what our rivals do; Three content curation tools; An interview with Bob Mills; Music from Ainsley Diaz Stevens

Check out this episode!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Media Coach 1st August 2014

Sunshine on Carnoustie; No more silly stories; A bit of jailhouse rock; Usain Bolt; Three wise speakers; How should I behave on TV?; Don’t worry about the numbers; An interview with Stephen Harvard Davis; Music from Mick Terry

Check out this episode!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Media Coach 25th July 2014

Keeping my head down in Carnoustie; The Commonwealth Games opens, just; Dora Bryan; Fun Friends Wine; Seven ways to create great speaking events; I don’t know what that means; Five tips for a thriving online community; An interview with Hugh Pym; Music from Nugent & Belle

Check out this episode!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Media Coach 18th July 2014

Hot, hot, hot; Sunshine north of Leith; Bullets at BarryBuddon; Wikipedia; Johnny Winter; Daft weather advice; Five ways to improve your speeches; May I please make my point?; Company newsletter syndrome; An interview with Jane Milton; Music from Ashton Lane

Check out this episode!

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Media Coach 11th July 2014

Bonny Scotland; July 4th in America; Holiday spam; Air New Zealand oops; Are you a second-hand speaker?; The ego has landed; Is it the medium or the message?; An interview with Thom Singer; Music form Mary Sarah

Check out this episode!

Friday, July 04, 2014

The MediaCoach 4th July 2014

July 4th; Hanging around with great speakers; Rob Cantor; A real mug; How to deliver a strong speech; What’s in a media kit?; How to drive people away from your blog; An interview with Martin Laschkolnig; Music from Ainsley Diaz Stevens

Check out this episode!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Media Coach 27th June 2014

Find My Dad’s Camera; The World Cup - or not; Felix Dennis of Oz; Phone Hacking mugs; How to have stage presence; What exactly is News?; George Orwell’s five rules of blogging; An interview with Tristan Gooley; Music from Sophie de Winter

Check out this episode!

Friday, June 20, 2014

The Media Coach 20th June 2014

Techfest at ExCeL; A social media disaster; Clever KitKat; Equality goes wrong; Would you like three?; I’m not talking about that; Social media honesty and openness; An interview with Jana Stanfield; Music from Sophie de Winter

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ten Business lessons from the Eagles

One of the most successful bands in the world, the Eagles, brought their "History of the Eagles" show to the O2 in London last night. They didn't disappoint, delivering note-perfect versions of dozens of hits from their back catalogue, and delighting (as far as I could tell) every member of the audience. OK, they've been at it for over 40 years, but they've had their ups and downs. Seeing them last night made me think about why they have been so successful for so long, and what we can all learn from them. Here's my take on it:
  1. Put on a show It's about making sure that everything fits together, in the right order, for the right reasons. Nothing happens by accident (though they prepare for the unexpected too). Even the ad-libs were carefully crafted. If you treat your business in the same way, you'll be remembered as a real professional.
  2. Hit the stage running. There's no time to warm-up when you're in front of an audience. You need to be ready to go a minute before you are called on to appear. That's true for any business encounter.
  3. Give the customers what they want. You need to know your audience, or your customers. It's easy to find out what they want by listening to them, or even by asking them. The Eagles played for three hours, and people knew the words to just about every song.
  4. Rehearse. Or to put it another way, practice. The smooth running of any operation only happens when you've done it several times before. If you don't practice, you'll get it wrong at some point.
  5. Be consistently great. For some people, that show was the one and only time they will see the Eagles. Their impressions depend on what happens. Remember that every time you have a chance to make an impact, you should take it.
  6. Acknowledge your helpers. Former band members Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner were mentioned, with the Bernie on stage for some numbers. There was a call-out to songwriters Jackson Browne and J D Souther too. Always remember who got you where you are today.
  7. Keep in touch. This is one of the most important lessons of all. Keeping in touch with people takes very little time, and reaps huge rewards. The Eagles have a huge fan base, and communicate with them regularly.
  8. Stay fit. Business is tough, and you need to be fit to cope with the demands. Staying fit is pretty much within your control. The four band members have a combined age of 265 years, but you'd never know it.
  9. Take breaks. There are no prizes for working all hours. You need to get your head up and go and do something else, which will definitely make you more creative and productive. As Glenn Frey said last night, "31 songs with no bathroom break - that's not gonna happen"
  10. Have fun. This is really what it's about. When you have fun in business, others do too, and that makes you more attractive to work with. There's no doubt that The Eagles enjoy their "work"! Don Henley called it "the best damn job in the world"

Picture Credit:  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

The Media Coach 13th June 2014

This week; World Cup Fever; Rik Mayall; All by myself; Police gnomes; What’s your Aesop?; Bridge over troubled water; Do as you would be done by; An interview with Paul Cook; Music from Mick Wilson

Check out this episode!

Friday, June 06, 2014

The Media Coach 6th June 2014

70 years since D-Day; A sarcasm detector; Katy Perry; Making it bigger; Off the cuff; While you are here; Don’t be a social media snob; An interview with Marianne Abib-Pech; Music from Ashton Lane

Check out this episode!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Media Coach 30th May 2014

A Celtic tour; Book Coaching and Thought Leadership; Maya Angelou; A Virgin Train announcer; Four more rhetorical devices; Before the first question; Three social media concerns; An interview with Rachel Elnaugh; Music from Robbie Boyd

Check out this episode!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Media Coach 23rd May 2014

The EU elections; One last vote; Speaking in Ireland; David Coleman; Nigel Farage; Living on the edge; How long have I got?; How to be unique; An interview with, and music from, Robbie Boyd, plus a chance to win a signed CD and concert tickets.

Check out this episode!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Media Coach 16th May 2014

Walking the talk; Google Glass; Small Business Book Awards; A tuneful ship; Breaking up the studio; Language - Sincere, Simple, Positive; How local TV news works; Are you Grey?; An interview with Frank Furness; Music from Ainsley Diaz Stevens

Check out this episode!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

The Media Coach 9th MAy 2014

Eurovision Song Contest; Google Glass; The Kings and Queens of Eurovision; Jeremy Clarkson; Perform like  Pro; Don’t make a song and dance of it; Communicate like a band; An interview with Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson; Music from Ultravox

Check out this episode!

Friday, May 02, 2014

The Media Coach 2nd May 2014

UK Blog Awards; Virtually in New Zealand; Brewdog bites; Bob Hoskins; Max Clifford; Never ever wing it; How to avoid being Paxoed; Be Original, Be Relevant, Be There; An interview with Gered Mankowitz; Music from Dawn Langstroth

Check out this episode!

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Media Coach 25th April 2014

Shakespeare’s Tragedy - MoyesBeth; Molly at Eurovision; Andy Warhol; Nigel Farage; A few words after dinner; They didn’t give me enough time; Go your own way; An interview with Dale Irvin; Music from Ashton Lane

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Excerpts from The tragedy of MoyesBeth, by William Shakespeare (sponsored by Biro pens)

Act 1 Scene 1

A blasted training ground

Three players are huddled round a brazier. Vidic, Ferdinand and Giggs

Giggs : when shall we three win again, in thunder lightning or Old Trafford?

Ferdinand: When the hurlyburly's done, When the Premiership's lost and won. Or just lost, actually.

Vidic: I must away to Milan, or at least somewhere with a decent manager

Enter Lord MoyesBeth

MoyesBeth: OK lads, we must stir our loins and lay low the foe Man U on Saturday

Giggs: But boss, we are Man U

MoyesBeth: Really?

Act 2 Scene 1

MoyesBeth’s office

MoyesBeth: Is this a teamsheet which I see before me,
Kagawa toward my hand? Come, let me change thee.
I love thee not, and so I sub thee still.
Art thou not, Fellaini, capable
of shooting on sight? or art thou but
A selection of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from my defence-oppressed brain?
I see thee yet, poor form as palpable
As yet another home draw.

Act 3 Scene 4

A pre-match warmup

Enter the ghost of Sir Alex and sits in the duogut

MoyesBeth: Avaunt! and quit my sight! let the Racing Post hide thee!
Thy bones are marrowless, thy tea is cold;
Thou hast no speculation in those eyes
Which thou dost glare with!

Act 5 Scene 5

A boardroom.

Lord MoyesBeth enters, followed by Lord Glazer

MoyesBeth: No man who is born of football can harm MoyesBeth

Lord Glazer: But Glazer is born of money. Take that, MoyesBeth

MoyesBeth pockets a five million pound cheque and exits

Exeunt all, pursued by a crowd of distressed gentllefans


Image : Creative Commons license

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The MediaCoach 18th April 2014

Happy weekend!; UK Blog Awards app; The Small Business Book Awards; Lui Bolin; Silence in court; The practice of practice; No sleep for the media; Four social media tools; An interview with Jolene Jang; Music from the Lost Hollow Band

Check out this episode!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Media Coach 11th April 2014

This week; Peaches Geldof; Oscar Pistorius; Maria Miller; Mickey Rooney; Oops on a boat; Where’s the connection?; Being Media-ready; Do you take your own social media advice?; An interview with Elizabeth Wright; Music from We Are Kodeta

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ten tips for Anti-Social Media

With all the attention paid to Social Media, there's been little focus on its related discipline, anti-social media. Here are a few tips to make sure that you know how to use anti-social media for no gain and scant profit: 

1) Promote yourself relentlessly, at all times. Make sure that every message is a selling one, so that your friends and followers understand what you are really about.

2) Never offer help. Why give away something that people should pay you for?

3) Re-send messages from experts, to give the impression that you have the same thoughts. Occasionally "forget" to mention their name to reinforce this impression.

4) Hide your identity behind a silly name or jumble of letters. You don't want to end up on a spammers list, do you?

5) Try to get as many people to follow you as possible, but ignore them completely. They are just your potential customers, so they have nothing to offer you.

6) Cut and paste articles and pretend that you wrote them (or at least hint at it by making it hard to spot the name of the original author).

7) Automate everything so that you never have to be at your computer, There are better things to do than listen to the dull conversations in social networks.

8) Constantly promote money-making schemes that you don't use yourself (because they don't work). You can make loads of money selling these as an affiliate.

9) Insult and abuse others, to damage their reputations and reduce their chance of getting work.

10) Never miss an opportunity to tell people that they are doing it wrong, and you are doing it right. They will get the message eventually, and give up, leaving you the winner. 

There you go. If you follow these rules on a daily basis, your business will change dramatically, albeit in the wrong direction.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Media Coach 4th April 2014

This week; Tabloid headlines; Our new TV studios; Working the Room; A two year old hero; Anti-Zombie Pong; More rhetorical devices; Seven Media Deadly Sins; What time are you on?; An interview with Rod Sloane; Music from Katie Sutherland

Check out this episode!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Media Coach 28th March 2014

This week; An online speaking course; Virtually speaking; Facebook comes up trumps; High voices in Turkey; Five elements of a strong speech; Five media myths; Anti-social media - ten tips; An interview with Karl Mecklenburg; Music from Mick Terry

Check out this episode!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Media Coach 21st March 2014

This week; Land of my Fathers; Virtually in Abu Dhabi; Your Virtual Book Tour; Tony Benn; Grant Shapps; Did they really mean that?; Seven tips for Radio; Set your content free; An interview with Patricia Fripp; Music from Mick Wilson

Check out this episode!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Media Coach 14th March 2014

Volunteering in Glasgow; Happy birthday web; Bob Crow; Dunking biscuits; Moving the chairs; News or “not News”; The web for knowing, a handshake for closing; An interview with Barry Lewis Green; Music from Ainsley Diaz Stevens

Check out this episode!

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Media Coach 7th March 2014

BBC3 goes; Danish sarcasm - bloody Vikings!; Ellen DeGeneres; Paddy Power; This joke is brilliant; Prepare your media ad-libs; How to take online complaints; An interview with Cindy-Michelle Waterfield; Music from Henrik

Check out this episode!

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Ten essential elements of an Oscar acceptance speech #Oscars

Our parents taught us to always say thank you. It's the right thing to do. If you receive an Oscar, here are some things to think about when you deliver your speech of thanks.

  1. Stay on time. If you have no guidelines, two minutes is enough.
  2. Stay relevant. Talk about the award, not your life story.
  3. Thank people who have helped you. It needn't be a long list, simply mention the three or four most significant, and add "and many others I don't have time to mention"
  4. Be humble. Winning an award is an honour, not an expectation.
  5. Avoid jokes. You're not there to do stand-up comedy.
  6. Avoid notes. You can easily speak for two minutes without prompts.
  7. Be sincere. And no, you can't fake that.
  8. Say how you feel. Being a little teary is OK. Blubbing constantly isn't.
  9. Be gracious. Praise the others on the short-list
  10. Remember to thank the Academy. First and last.
Lastly, smile as you return to your seat. You are entitled to!

Picture credit : Creative Commons licence

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Media Coach 28th February 2014

Tabloids on trial; The Toscars; A flamenco legend; Adidas and the wrong T-shirts; Ten tips for perfect pitching; How to deliver a powerful interview; The fine art of social notworking; An interview with Mikki Williams; Music from Ainsley Diaz Stevens

Check out this episode!

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Media Coach 21st February 2014

The BAFTAs; Glow in the dark reindeer; Russian punk police; Dame Helen Mirren; Two French Chefs; The Intro and the Outro; Five ways to get noticed by broadcasters; Elmore’s rules; An interview with Pickevent founder, Jose Bort; Music from Nugent & Belle

Check out this episode!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Being a Master at being a Master of Ceremonies

The BAFTA awards ceremony last night was a glittering affair, with stars receiving their well-deserved accolades, and mostly mumbling a few words of thanks. For me, the star of the night was the host, Stephen Fry, who managed the evening with style, panache and humour. None of that was accidental, but required a great deal of preparation, rehearsal and discussions with the organisers. 

The MC of an awards ceremony or a conference is a critical role. It's far more than reading out the introductions. As well as preparation, it requires a calm demeanour, the ability to fill time, respect for everyone in the audience and on stage, and keeping the focus away from themselves, and on those being celebrated. Those of us in the Professional Speaking Association who have specialised in this kind of work for many years know that being the host requires at least as much, if not more work than delivering a great keynote.

Here are my tips for becoming a master MC.

1) Preparation

The MC's role begins months before the event takes place.  Preparation, as ever, is very important. As soon as the speakers have been selected, make contact, explain your role, and ask them to supply an introduction. Be sure to ask if there are any matters that are concerning them, such as rehearsals and audio-visual requirements. It isn't your job to resolve these issues, but you should act as a go-between to ensure that everything is covered.

2) Outward focus
It's your job to make the speakers or award winners look as good as possible.  It's not about stealing the show. You aren't there to tell jokes and stories (unless you have to fill, but more of that in a moment). There will usually be an event organiser who will arrange a timetable for the event. They are a critical contact for you, and you should keep in close communication with them at all times. When the speakers arrive for their rehearsal, you should be there with them to check their introduction, handover, and what to do if the technology fails. You will be expected to literally step in and cover if anything should go wrong.

3) Organisation

It's perfectly acceptable (in fact essential) for the MC to take notes on stage. There may be formal announcements, or a precise form of words that a speaker insists on. You don't have to learn their introduction, but you should practice the technique of reading a phrase at a time and looking at the audience when delivering it. You should mention the name of the person you are introducing only at the end.

4) Control

During the speech, you need to keep an eye on timing, and alert the speaker with a pre-agreed signal if time is running out. If you have to fill in time while a speaker prepares, or during a technical hitch, you need to keep the audience informed and entertained. Your job as a professional is to keep the event on time. If that means shortening a break, that's what you do. Slippage through a day is a common fault, and is disrespectful to both the audience and the later speakers.

5) Thanks

Ensure that everyone is thanked before the event closes. That includes the organiser, the venue and all the backstage and front of house staff. Congratulate the speakers or winners again. Then you can relax and have that refreshing beverage you've been looking forward to all day. 

6) Post-event
Your role is not complete until you have sent a post-event review, suggesting improvements and maybe positioning yourself to host the event next year. After all, they deserve a professional. 

Image Credit: Wikipedia Creative Commons licence

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Media Coach 14th February 2014

Sunshine and Floods; A great story from Sochi; Sid Caesar; Sam Rubin; Toughen up your speech; Please release me; I’m on the train; An interview with the co-founder of the UK Blog Awards, Becki Cross; Music from Klara Kjellen

Check out this episode!

Thursday, February 06, 2014

The Media Coach 7th February 2014

Winter Olympics; David Vine; Twitter lunacy; Phillip Seymour Hoffman; Mamoru Samuragochi; To thine own self be true; Who are they going to call; Don’t market to online communities; An interview with Jennifer Kahnweiler; Music from Geoff Gibbons

Check out this episode!

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Media Coach 31st January 2014

Pete Seeger - a legend; Two Russian toilets; A singing ticket barrier; Coke’s not gay; Oh no, no that question; Meeting the reporter; When in doubt, cut it out; An interview with Sofie Sandell; Music from Lisbee Stainton

Check out this episode!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Media Coach 24th January 2014

Twitter in a Flutter; Ant and Dec yet again; Bob Blakely; Scented jeans; Pick a card, any card; Your mileage may vary; Online for knowing, a handshake for closing; An interview with Heather Townsend; Music from Mick Terry

Check out this episode!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The MediaCoach 17th January 2014

A spot of bother in France; Is foreign news a waste of time?; Roger Lloyd-Pack; Trouble on Tripadvisor; Five things to do before every speech; Five ways to make a reporter love you; Five ways to check a social media specialist; An interview with the co-founder of Ryanair, Kell Ryan; Music from Maggi Ronson

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Advice for President Hollande - "Sortir avec vos mains en l'air"

French President Francois Hollande is in a bit of a fix. A tabloid newspaper has made allegations of an affair with actress Julie Gayet. His current squeeze, Valerie Trierweiler, is in hospital suffering from ‘very strong emotional shock’ after hearing allegations that the President had cheated on her. At a press conference today, President Hollande deflected the first question about his alleged affair, saying "private matters should remain private". 

So how should President Hollande deal with the international media attention and barrage of questions? The French press, having had the question from their representative batted aside at the conference today, seemed to have accepted the response. Closer magazine, which broke the story, has removed all references from its website, following an approach from Ms Gayet's legal team. The international press are likely to be less forgiving and co-operative. 

Whatever the truth of the allegations, and there does seem to be a lot of evidence, there's no doubt that the President has to respond at some point. The more he keeps the media waiting, the greater the speculation that will occur, and the longer his name will appear in the headlines. 

Here's my advice to him - "Sortir avec vos mains en l'air" (Come out with your hands in the air). Talk to the press, and make yourself the prime source of information. Tell your side of the story. If you need to apologise, do it now, and make it sincere. If you plan to leave your current partner, get it over with. If you plan to stay with her (of course, that's not entirely your decision), end any affairs, say so publicly, and go away with her for a few days.

Every politician gets to a point where they think they can outmaneuvre the press. They are wrong. Everything comes out in the end. It's better to tell the truth, tell it early and move on.  

Image credit: Creative Commons Licence

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Four Great Pretenders on Social Media

In my opinion, there are several types of pretender on social networks. They claim expertise, but they are really frauds. When credibility and authenticity were being handed out, they were at the back of the queue, or more likely not in the queue at all. Sometimes it's hard to tell if they are real or fake, so here's a guide that I've developed for my own use. You may find it helpful.

Here's how I describe them:

1) The pretend expert 

These are the people who publish reviews of new products and services, sometimes before launch. They haven't seen or tried the new stuff themselves, but have simply read all the reports from people who have, and pulled together a summary which makes them look as though they are "in the know".

2) The pretend writer 

These are real crooks, in my opinion. They reproduce articles and blog posts written by others, with no accreditation, leading people to believe they wrote them. Sometimes they even claim the writing credit. Sad indeed.

3) The pretend journalist 

This is a type I'm seeing more often. they pick up online news alerts or listen to broadcast sources, and then announce the "news" to their friends and followers. They overlook the fact that if people are interested in a story, they will have the same alerts set up. If there was an attempt to comment on the news, I could see the point of it, but simply sending out "news" seems utterly pointless. News sites do it better and faster.

4) The pretend friend of celebs 

They continually "chat" to celebrities on Twitter and Facebook as though they are pals. 99% of it is one-way traffic. Occasionally, they will receive a response, which they will talk about for weeks.

What do all these fakes have in common? I suspect it's a desire for status - to be seen as an important member of their online community. Alas, I think it's all wasted effort. It would be far better if they posted their own views and experiences, offered their unique perspective, and engaged in debate. It would provide some genuine credibility, not to mention some much-needed self-respect.

Image License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 from