Who wants to be the new me? Some thoughts on Edinburgh council’s new news manager post…


My old job has been advertised, although it’s not exactly my old job. (By the way, if you want to apply, get your skates on – deadline is this Friday.)

I’m pleased to see that the title has been changed from ‘media manager’ to ‘news and content’ manager. That’s important for several reasons: it marks the fact that the job had, intentionally, become about social media as well as traditional media; it recognises that what’s most important is the ‘news and content’, not necessarily the channel; and, from a dull, organisational point of view, it provides greater flexibility in the responsibilities and functions of the team managed by that person.

For the right candidate, I can barely think of a better time to have this job. Read the rest of this entry »


The Clutha tragedy and the future of Police Scotland’s comms team


The stories of pub-goers, passers-by and the emergency services have been brilliantly reported in the last couple of days. I have spent the weekend mostly decorating, with 5Live and Radio Scotland for company throughout, and more than once did I down tools to focus on the compelling commentary and testimonials that occasionally left me speechless.

Glasgow’s response to the tragedy has been inspirational and, speaking as someone with no connection to the city, I’m not sure every other community could claim it would equally emerge with its reputation enhanced if faced with a similar challenge.

Supporting those at the scene will have been a great number of people often overlooked in the reports of such incidents: council road workers, 999 operators and, yes, comms officers, among many others. Now, I’m sure no-one in those lines of work would claim a parallel in what they do with the awful reality of dealing with a major incident at its sharpest end. But, they all have their own pressures and stresses that they need to manage.

I’ve been struck by the fact that, just a day or so before this tragedy, plans to restructure – and perhaps to reduce – the Police Scotland comms service were reported. Read the rest of this entry »


Arguing among friends and segmenting audiences


Truth springsI spoke at an evaluation best practice event at the Scottish Government a few weeks ago, which prompted two (unrelated) thoughts.

The first was courtesy of Kenneth Fowler, Director of Comms at Creative Scotland, who shared David Hume’s quote at the end of his presentation on partnerships.

This resonated with me particularly because not long before that I’d met our global Chief Executive Officer, Andy Polansky, for the first (and possibly only!) time.

He’s in charge of the 2500 people in more than 80 countries that make up Weber Shandwick. It so happened he was having a holiday here and decided to make a visit to the Edinburgh office, where folk from our four Scottish offices gathered to hear his views about PR and the company’s future. Read the rest of this entry »


Winter weather over-tweeting is producing a comms whiteout…possibly…


2009-06-18-SPC4FourYorkThis post could have been my answer to Monty Python’s Four Yorkshiremen sketch, where I explain how, when I were a lad, winters lasted for 13 months of the year and we’d have to scrape the ice from our eyes before getting up at 3am to walk 21 miles to school in bare feet.

I’m resisting that, although I do need to explain that we did have some pretty cold and snowy winters when I was growing up in Killin in the 80s. We also had relatively regular power cuts, notable to us if only because our dad worked for ‘the Hydro’ and would be called out to help get the supply restored. And in those circumstances, I’m fairly sure that we were either prepared, or prepared to adapt to the situation.

So, I have that perspective on one hand and my role now as a professional communicator on the other. And so far, I’m really not convinced about all the gritter tweeting and such like that seems to have become de rigueur.

Before I say any more, I need to stress that I fully recognise that cold, snow and severe weather conditions of all kinds can cause real hardship or much worse. This post isn’t about those who are genuinely vulnerable or who become at risk through no fault of their own; nor is it about exceptional weather*.

But there are some things I don’t fully get about how others are approaching this when it’s simply a bit chilly or there are a few centimetres of snow on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »


Whatever the future for social media gurus, I really wish some of them would wind it in


Frank Zappa didn't like gurus either, as you can hear on this fine album in 'Cosmik Debris'

I’ve read a couple of interesting (old) posts recently about the future of social media experts: Social media is still a specialism and 99.5% of social media experts are not qualified to do their role. Mike McGrail, the Social Media Penguin, has also penned a few thoughts on this issue in two posts (which I’ll call Puffin Poo 1 and Puffin Poo 2).

Away from this sensible stuff, I’ve had some supposed gurus tell me some right nonsense, or read similar online. And it is this: organisations should only do social media if they can do it perfectly.

That’s paraphrasing, but not much. While I generally try to be quite moderate and tactful, I want to vent on this a little. Frankly, I’m getting a bit fed up of self-appointed communications quacks telling me how the world should work on the basis of their flimsy organisational experience, half-decent reach statistics for some widget they were promoting or perhaps a little blogging success. Read the rest of this entry »


Some advice for jobseekers, especially the 30% who don’t proof their submissions


I recently had to review 93 job applications for a couple of temporary assistant posts. It was a fairly mammoth task to do properly, something which I don’t mind, but there were some distressing sights in among them.

Worst of all was that at least a third of them had an obvious spelling or grammatical mistake. I read – but don’t proof read – applications, so if it was easy to spot the errors then it’s safe to assume there were more I failed to see.

And this wasn’t only among the ‘random’ entries that every vacancy attracts. These were basic errors that mark ignorance – or more often, carelessness – on the part of people who really ought to have known better. I wouldn’t quote application text verbatim, so to summarise some of what I observed: Read the rest of this entry »


The grand @edinburgh_cc 12hr experiment – some initial views


I’m going to do what emergency exercise planners like to call a ‘hot debrief’, although I guarantee it’s not nearly as much fun as it sounds!

So, today, we tweeted a lot from www.twitter.com/edinburgh_cc (and other council accounts) about what the council gets up to in a day.

The purpose? Simple: to do more of everything and see what worked and didn’t. What follows is a personal view of the day and is absolutely not an official council position. Read the rest of this entry »