Tuesday, 8 December 2009
Spotted by my colleague Karin Robinson via my ex colleague Mark Pack.
'It's buggered mate' is the name of an Australian version of Fix My Street.
Just the same concept - but even better communicated.
Thursday, 5 November 2009
TfL’s abolition of the Hammersmith & City line.
They’ve merged it with the Circle line - which easily could have been described by opponents as ‘abolishing a tube line’ – which was in fact why it hadn’t been done for decades when it had been considered.
TfL’s confident framing of the debate has meant that almost all the focus has been on the positives.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Very very very few new technologies have 'killed' an old technology. What new technologies usually do is do part of what one or more old technologies did much better while making old technologies focus on their strengths.
- Print Press vs Books vs Radio vs TV vs Internet vs Mobiles
- Horse and Cart (now used just on some farms) vs Canals (now used for living and pleasure trips) vs Trains (still king for short-medium distances and large loads across land) vs Trucks (smaller loads across loads with end-to-end delivery vs Boats (long distance, slow spoiling loads) vs Planes (passengers and high-value fast spoiling loads)
- Letters vs. Phone Calls vs. Emails vs. IM/Micro blogging
- Film Camera (still used for high-end professional photos) vs Digital Cameras
One of the few times I can think of when one technology replaces another is when it is a direct replacement: data tapes vs floppy disks vs CD-RW vs DVD-RW vs USB/Flash/SD Cards - but even this still has examples of each 'generation' still being used
...and from using Google Wave, there is no way it will replace email any time soon if ever! It is a great collaboration tool, but isn't an email killer. It will likely replace email's mis-use as a collaboration tool which is what it was intended to do.
For anything to replace email, it would need to:
- Non Proprietary which almost all social networks and media is not
- Be a free both to users and in terms of the licensed technology
- Be an open standard which almost all social networks and media is not
- Do all things much better than email. Most alternatives do only a few things better than email.
- Be as easy to use as email. Hard to get easier than 'compose', 'reply', 'forward', 'delete'
- Not dependent on any one provider
- All data is portable
Email is so flexible it allows LOTS of bad practices - but it also allows lots of good practices. Most social network and IM system prevent most practices but also don't allow many good practices. (e.g. think facebook messages from groups: limited recipient size, no html, no tracking, etc)
So email dead? No way! Facebook and Twitter dead: much more likely :-)
Friday, 16 October 2009
One of the most basic things you can do online is to send out briefing and comment on a news announcement.
Boris Johnson's announcement of a fare increase yesterday produced the following reactions:
· 1.57pm Lib Dem press release response – scrappy and untidy but fast and with lots of detailed briefing on the back of it. Useful if I was a journalist needing a quick comment or anyone trying to get to grips with the detail.
· 3.53pm I get Progressive London’s (ie Ken Livingstone) response – a well formatted but wordy explanation of everything that’s wrong with Boris. A bit too detailed for a press release, not detailed enough to be a briefing.
· 6.12pm I get Boris Johnson’s explanation from the GLA. This is the best formatted of the lot, basically his Evening Standard article cut & pasted. Well written and comprehensive. Serious rather than his usual jokey tone.
I’ve checked and Labour officially don’t seem to have responded to the increase in London (e.g. their London website) – except from via the media.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
Castrol is combining speed camera technology with digital roadside billboards to tell around 200,000 drivers what the best oil for their vehicle is in a new ad campaign.
Ogilvy Advertising conceived the idea, which is an innovative recasting of Castrol's pre-existing 'Right Oil Right Car' service.
This allows anyone to find out what is the best Castrol oil product for their car by telling Castrol what their registration plate number is via mobile or online.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Tuesday, 8 September 2009
• Focus on the subject and first lines– which are the only things people will see if they are using Outlook. This is often where emails get pruned.
• Incorporate email collection into everything you do – petitions, events, anything you can think of. Building a good email database is difficult – but the payoffs are great.
• Ask people to do you a favour. People read their emails because they are interested in what you’re doing. They will actually do you a favour without incentives.
• Don’t create a ‘newsletter’ that’s just a bunch of stuff. Have a single purpose in each email that you’re trying to drive people to do – such as signing friends up to a petition.
• Use a good email programme to track who opens your emails and what they click. You can then send follow ups to your most enthusiastic supporters.
• Test your emails before sending them – what looks nice on screen can look horrible in somebody’s Gmail or on their Blackberry.
• Pictures aren’t always necessary. But a good photo in the right place potentially serves the same function as in a newspaper, that is to sum up the story in an emotional and human way.
• Relentlessly interrogate whether your email is relevant to your audience. It might be a serious, long email. But if it’s relevant people will read it.
• Never, ever spam people. At best you’ll drive away people who you’ve carefully recruited. At worst you’re creating a nasty reputational (and possibly legal) problem for yourself.
Credit due to Blue State Digital’s guide, numerous emails on the E-Campaigning Forum and MailChimp’s guides. Also inspired by great emails by Avaaz, Amnesty, Obama and advice from my colleagues on the Lib Dem Hearts & Minds sub group of the Technology Board.
Monday, 7 September 2009
One benefit of having worked with the media for over a decade is that I see some stories reappearing that I started some years ago.
Here are two stories from years ago that are still regularly appearing.
Tax manuals getting longer
After a conversation with a tax specialist back in 2000 who said that ‘tax manuals just get thicker each year’ I came up with the idea of simply measuring how many pages the main Tolleys tax manuals had. It started as a small diary piece in the FT, but is now an annual media staple, reported on the front page of the Telegraph’s business section this morning.
After seeing a squirrel in my Brixton front garden I wrote an obviously tongue in cheek piece on the Urban75 website about what would happen if it got addicted to crack. The ‘if’ rapidly got lost and was picked by first by the South London Press, and then by virtually the whole national media. I’m particularly proud that it cropped up in a ‘Saxondale’ section by Steve Coogan. It still crops up occasionally, such as in this Londonist interview with Mike Slocombe recently.
You can see the full story develop here on Urban75.
Thursday, 20 August 2009
There's a simple example here where Tam (my partner) has used it to show local residents in the Crofton Park / Honor Oak Park area what problems she has recently reported to the council.
Thursday, 30 July 2009
Thank you very much in advance,Rob.
Wednesday, 8 July 2009
No.10 Downing Street, much less noticed than Stephen Fry's following on Twitter, has amassed almost a million followers on Twitter.
This must count as by far and away the biggest, and least noticed, success of Downing Street's digital team.
I take my hat off to them for this. Why on earth aren't they crowing about it more though?
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
I particularly like the Simply Understand blog which translates official policy speak into readable English.
Monday, 6 July 2009
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Friday, 26 June 2009
'Politicians' come in at -52%.
So is it entirely rational for politicians to use the other least trusted people, journalists, to try and change their reputation?
Thursday, 18 June 2009
It's fairly straightforward, with this conclusion on the Lib Dems:
Outside contenders. Good tools for local activists are let down by terrible design and weak integration. Bloggers fare better, especially at a local level, and overall understanding of social media is impressive. Pack’s departure leaves some very big shoes to fill.
You can find it here.
As pensioners gradually choose to go online this seems to be changing to me as pensioners are refusing to stick in their designated areas, and are out their challenging our prejudices.
This posting, from my amazing great uncle, makes the point brilliantly:
From schooling (what there was of it) I became a pilot. And when the war ended I started in medicine (scotched by TB), stage designer, landscape artist, traveller and illustrator, sculptor, writer of books and articles, and back to being a painter – with lots of little bits in between.
And all along I have brought up children, run gardens, run houses, cooked for all and sundry, as well as creating two small, experimental vineyards.
You can read the full post here.
Sunday, 14 June 2009
In other words re-singing a music video so that the words fit the images.
The current major hit is a reversioning of Total Eclipse of the Heart:
My favourite so far is Take on Me
Monday, 8 June 2009
TFL allow you to sign up for travel updates by text.
I've just got one alerting me of a tube strike tomorrow night.
And directs me to the website for more information.
Extremely simple but in its own way perfect.
The different strengths and weaknesses of different media channels were very obvious watching the election results over the last few days.
The traditional media did a good job of comprehensive analysis both online and offline, but hours after the events, so was usually my last port of call.
The legal constraints and lack of imagination of councils mean that while they run the whole process they are very poor at communicating the results quickly or interestingly.
Twitter wins hands down for being the fastest way to find new information about counts around the country. For instance a Twitter search on ‘Bristol’ directed me to a good source of results on Bristol council’s count on Thursday night.
For the really targeted stuff, like who won the local council by election in my backyard, text messages were faster than anything the councils did, or indeed any other medium succeeded in doing.
Facebook’s status updates worked well at telling me results relevant to my Facebook friends. So I found out, for instance, about the Conservative to Lib Dem swing in Sutton courtesy of Tom Brake’s Facebook update.
The BBC worked well at giving me answers to questions like ‘What percentage of the vote did the Liberal Democrats get compared to 2004?’
However the BBC didn’t bother with sub regional results online, even though nobody really cares about regional results until they are finally announced. So for questions like ‘Who has done best in the European results in Burnley?’ discussion forums were a far better source of results.
Discussion forums such as Vote2007 and the comments threads on ConservativeHome, LabourHome, Lib Dem Voice and Political Betting were excellent for gathering together softer gossip and the feel of counts as they went on.
This is exactly the sort of thing that CNN’s panellists gather up superbly during American elections. But British forecasters seem to be comfortable with pundits who have never run an election campaign, so have very few links into the grassroots campaigns.
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
His emails break every email marketing rule around.
But unlike virtually every other marketing email I get they are well written, funny and engaging.
So despite my political opposition to him I can't help but smile and marvel at the quality of the writing.
And of course by doing so he effectively reduces his risk of being attacked on the big issues.
Here's a great example from recently.
Sunday, 26 April 2009
When communications campaigns are put up for marketing awards it's almost as if internal communications doesn't exist as an objective for anyone.
For most organisations their staff are potentially thousands of people (or in the case of the NHS over a million) who, every day, have the opportunity to market their organisation - not just to customers but to their friends, neighbours and acquaintances.
Within major organisations there's usually a communications hierarchy where the press office is closest to the board, marketing is somewhere in the middle and internal communications is often left to the human resources department.
All the exceptions I've come across either result from an organisation that genuinely believes that staff are the future of it (e.g. the John Lewis partnership) or where the Chief Executive realises the value of it (e.g. Allan Leighton's internal Ask Allan blog at Royal Mail).
Anyway this is a convoluted way of saying that there's a great blog post on this at Hill & Knowlton's Collective Conversation blog here.
Friday, 3 April 2009
The Independent, across the whole of the UK, has an audited ABC of 200,000 copies per issue (daily).
Add together free newspaper circulations across the UK and they must be in the millions.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
1. Twitter - nothing at all - reflecting the fact that I only have one follower.
2. Blog - roughly 25 visitors found the news out that way, and a few said congratulations in the comments. This seems to be a combination of my regular visitors plus a few people who noticed it on LibDemBlogs.
3. Facebook - at least 25 people noticed, with lots of wall comments and messages. This included quite a few people at my work - and gradually they've told other people at work. Cumulatively I reckon half my company (ie 50 people) now know indirectly this way.
I'll sweep up by email at some point in a few days - but it's an interesting reminder of quite how un-viral even interesting news can be.
Saturday, 28 March 2009
A week or so ago we told a few friends / family. And it didn't leak (apart from my Dad being over enthusiastic).
Friday I announced it on Twitter.
And now I'm announcing it here.
After here I'll do Facebook.
And eventually I'll send an email to everyone else.
My guess is that Facebook will be the bursting of the dam...
Monday, 23 March 2009
Thursday, 19 March 2009
Closely related to this there are plenty of simple websites, such as Iain Dale's successful blog, that are simply well designed blogs using technologies such as Wordpress.
Sunday, 8 March 2009
Howard Dean's speech at the Lib Dem Spring Conference this weekend in Harrogate was interesting even if he didn’t say anything particularly revolutionary. The six key points he made that were interesting were:
1. Build relationships first with the existing communities – you have to reach out to people who care about an issue that you've got common ground with. Implication – start by listening to what people are saying about your issues
2. You can potentially get the community to then adopt your messages (and discipline) – once they’re bought into your victory. Implication – see message discipline by the public as the sign of a successful campaign rather than the (unachievable) cause of one pure message that you direct
3. Messages trump everything else – most internet political campaigns fail. This isn’t just technical failings to use the tools well, it’s mainly a failure to have a motivating message. Implication – a crap message and a good website is pointless
4. Taking the states seriously, even when they were unwinnable at Presidential level, was incredibly powerful. These states then started having a real political debate again, raising the morale of supporters and so meaning that when the Republicans messed up (e.g. a Governor is indicted) the Democrats can reap the rewards. Implication - take the training / support to regional / local staff seriously so that they become more effective campaigners for us.
5. Reaching out to evangelicals didn’t get many to vote Democrat despite stressing the issues that evangelicals and the Democrats share. But it massively reduced their hatred of Democrats – so they were much less enthusiastically campaigning for the Republicans. Implication - keep talking to your opponents so that you can at least reduce their anger at you.
6. Personal relationships between activists and voters really matter, so the same person will knock on the same door year after year to build a long term relationship. Implications - find ways to get your staff to build relationships and be enthusiastic for you.
Saturday, 21 February 2009
It searches the deep web (ie it puts your name into databases and sees what comes out) to find far more than Google would - reminding us of what a trail we leave online as we live our lives now.
Hat tip: Mark Pack.
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Monday, 16 February 2009
What really matters is something altogether less glamorous. And that is a really coherent and responsive email-driven supporter mobilisation strategy. Even at 30 per cent in the polls, Labour does have tens of millions of supporters it should be communicating with, many of whom have email. It’s not about technology. John McCain had all the same e-mobilisation tools as Barack Obama he just didn’t use them nearly so well. If the next general election is close (and looking at the polls, that’s a big IF) this could turn out to be an important difference between the parties.
Saturday, 7 February 2009
It takes feeds off Youtube and creates a custom video channel for you - so you can simply listen / watch lots of videos in a row.
Particularly useful for your own custom music channel or watching long speeches in one go.
Currently I'm using it to catch up on the music of Betty Davis, an under appreciated musical genius. If you haven't heard of her she introduced Miles Davis (her husband) to Jimi Hendrix.
Friday, 6 February 2009
Make campaigning fun. Campaigning is like sex – if you’re not enjoying it, you’re not doing it right. It should never be a drudge. Make sure there’s plenty of meals, drinks, social events, and a campaign HQ with plenty of tea and biscuits. Tap into the enthusiasm of young people with blitzing and street stalls. High energy, high impact, low cost.
Friday, 30 January 2009
... it had a simple strategy behind it all - find your support, recruit them, give them something to do and then say thank you. And by repeating these steps, changing the calls to action, and monitoring how each user responds, the campaign quickly built an organization of unpredicted scale and commitment to Barack Obama.
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
Nate Silverman's description of what it means to be a volunteer member of staff is superb:
Young people generally perform paid campaign work, because the hours are absurd and the pay is marginal. For the vast majority, no job sits waiting at the end of the rainbow. Only the few make it through multiple “cycles,” the term for a campaign period. It is grueling on the body. Other areas of life are suspended or simply dropped. A campaign becomes all-encompassing. From the day you start until at least Election Day, it’s an all-day, every-day job. The sacrifices are sometimes hidden and private, little things you did that only you or maybe one or two who were right there will ever know or appreciate. And it all happens with the possibility that you won’t ultimately win.
Thursday, 22 January 2009
Saturday, 17 January 2009
They sum it up rather neatly:
200,000 people have written to their MP for the first time, over 8,000 potholes and other broken things have been fixed, nearly 9,000,000 signatures have been left on petitions to the Prime Minister...
Fixmystreet, one of their best projects, is simple and effective. You leave your complaint, the council deals with it, and MySociety logs their success (or failure). I can, for instance, see that 100 metres from my front door somebody has reported a badly lit alley, and the council has promised to fix it.