Finding Time to Blog

The question from the outset is complex. No secrets lie within the pages of the book Michael White, my life is fantastically normal. Yet somehow I have found the time over the last year to work full-time and keep this blog going. This is the 67th blog post of 2011 and I want to let you know how I do it.

The Weekday Situation
Being a Multinational Account Manager at Microsoft does not require me working over the weekends, only Monday to Friday. On average I work for Microsoft 8 ½ hours each day, occasionally spiralling to 9 ½ hour days depending on my level of workload. In which case I choose to arrive earlier to work – yet the working hours do not take into account my travelling time. Each week I spend at least 7 hours travelling to London and back.

Organisation is Key

You’re sitting at your desk in the morning but there is something wrong, you feel stressed. In your mind you know the tasks you need to do but are unable to decide what should be done first. During these times it is easy to procrastinate.

Do not underestimate calendar planning. Plan each task of your day into your calendar. Below is an example of a day next week:

 

9:00 – 10:00: Review Advertising Campaign Performance

10:00  – 11:00: Look into campaign ‘x’ to compare against agency data

11:00 – 12:30: Team Meeting

12:30 – 1:30: Lunch

1:30 – 3:00: (Unplanned Time)

3:00 – 4:30: Xbox Team Unveil New Features

4:30 – 5:00: Call client regarding issue ‘y’

5:00 – 5:30: Rebill order ‘z’

Be ready and prepared. If you are then it is easy to spot a period of time when blogging could be possible. Yet all jobs are different, could you make time over the weekend?

Evaluate Value
There are possible actions each day which may not add to the value of their time. For instance occasionally I receive a meeting requests in my work calendar which are either not relevant for my role or simply time wasters. A couple of interns from my year had the habit of planning meetings which would eventually prove unnecessary as no developments had been made from a previous week – avoid time wasting meetings like the plague. These meetings block out time and will eventually only cause stress.

In a simpler metaphor, your calendar is a plant which must be regularly pruned.

Importance of Blogging
Some days I will blog at Microsoft over my lunch break. Writing provides a therapeutic break from an otherwise hectic day. On other occasions I will write once I arrive back home. Blogging should not be seen as a task but instead a necessity. Find time to enjoy the act of writing a post. If you look carefully there will be time somewhere.

 

This blog post was proudly written on a Sunday morning. It took form at 8:30am and was completed at 9:20am.

 

No Microsoft Graduate Scheme for Me

In a recent interview with Ben Cotton (will be published at the beginning of August) I expressed how I could see myself working for Microsoft for the next few years. Yet a door closed firmly today with the news that my Microsoft Graduate Scheme has not been successful.

Returning to Microsoft as a graduate is the most direct path after having been an intern at the company for over a year. Hearing the news whilst still in employment is a shock, especially as my team decided to extend my internship contract way beyond the June deadline.

The world is deeply competitive and despite members of my team contributing to a flattering end of year report, having achieving all of my commitments and assisting with the delivery of roughly $1M of revenue – it was not enough. For some reason (which I will find out tomorrow) I was not considered compatible against the criteria of a Microsoft Graduate (I still don’t know what these criteria are).

The Size of the Pond Matters
We are all fish and our size depends on the pond we find ourselves in. Microsoft is a large company and it just so happens that the pond is vast. The Microsoft Marketing scheme has a handful of positions (last year there were two) and my application has to be considered against the competition. In this case the competition won.

Learning how to Stand Up Again
It is easy to feel knocked down after any job application is rejected. Many of my friends are trying to find work; some have been searching for over a year. Whenever a path is closed it is important not to take the rejection personally. Companies will look for what they find relevant for the positions they have available. Pick yourself back up and continue searching.

Companies Make Risks (and sometimes lose)
It is true. Out of my year of Microsoft interns there are a couple who I know worked extremely long hours, approached their jobs with professionalism and did superb work. They too heard the news today that their applications to the Microsoft Graduate Scheme were not successful. Without a doubt many will go on and lead extremely successful careers. Whenever any company rejects an application they make a risk, that person could go on and do something better.

How do I Feel?
Disappointed that my path to the Microsoft Graduate scheme is closed. Microsoft is a brilliant company and I encourage any student to consider the Microsoft internship scheme. Clearly the Graduate Scheme was not meant for me and many paths remain open. Perhaps I will finally go into a Public Relations role? Stepping into the world of media is now my next challenge.

 

For those who may have made it onto the Microsoft Graduate Scheme. You have my best wishes x

 

Adopt a Word: Help a Child with Language Difficulties

You can change the lives of children with speech, language and communication difficulties in a rather amusing way. Adopt a Word gives you the opportunity to own a little slice of the English Language, for £15 you can adopt a word of your choosing. Once you have adopted your word you can proudly show off your Certificate of Adoption as I have done below.

As you can see I decided to go for the word ‘pseudohermaphroditism’ (as I discovered ‘orgasm’ wasn’t available). My word is charming, simply the medical term (although redundant) of one who is lucky enough to have been born with genitalia that differ on the outside and inside (eg, man outside and woman inside). If you are going to adopt a word then it has to be an interesting one.

Please consider adopting a word today, it is easy and will go towards helping a child with their communication difficulties. As most readers of this blog are in the PR industry we all know just how important communication is.

Adopt a Word can also be found on Twitter.

 

The Apprentice 2011 Candidates: Twitter Profiles and Websites

It is a well-known fact that once the last episode of The Apprentice airs suddenly all of the candidates from the series appear on Twitter. Here is the series 7 list of all The Apprentice candidates I could find:

Tom Pellereau
Twitter: http://twitter.com/inventor_tom
Website: http://www.tompellereau.com/

 

Helen Louise MilliganTwitter Bid Picture
Twitter: http://twitter.com/helen_milligan
Website: http://www.helenmilligan.co.uk/

 

Jim Eastwood
Twitter: http://twitter.com/jim_eastwood_
Website: http://www.jimeastwood.co.uk/

 

Susan Ma
Twitter: http://twitter.com/susanma
Website: http://www.susanma.com/

 

Melody Hossaini
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Melody_Hossaini
Website: http://www.melodyhossaini.com/

 

Leon Doyle
Twitter: http://twitter.com/LEONtrepreneur
Website: http://www.leondoyle.co.uk/

 

Zoe Beresford
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ZoeBeresford

 

Glenn Ward
Twitter: http://twitter.com/glennapprentice
Website: http://www.newlandlogic.co.uk/

 

Alex Britez Cabral
Twitter: http://twitter.com/AlexApprentice

 

Gavin Winstanley
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ApprenticeGavin
Website: http://www.glasses123.co.uk/

 

Felicity Jackson
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ApprentFelicity

 

 

 

Google+ is Easy for Influential Bloggers (they are the minority)

Whilst well known bloggers such as Darren Rowse and Chris Brogan discuss the benefits of linking your blog to Google+, they are in the minority. You see, collectively both users can boast:

  • 251,474 FeedBurner Subscribers
  • 330,133 Twitter Followers
  • 33,732 Facebook ‘likes’

This is why both of them on Google+ have already been added to a collective figure of 22,510 circles.

With so many loyal followers I am not convinced that power users such as Chris Brogan and Darren Rowse can fully understand what it is like for a relatively novice user to join Google+ or a user without such a dedicated following.

 

Google+ as it exists today
Out of the 2,880 followers I have on Twitter I have only been added to 39 circles on Google+. Such a statistic is to be expected. Even though I have offered out invites it is not enough to convince the majority of users that Google+ is a network worth spending their time on. Hence whilst Rowse and  Brogan praise about the heightened engagement on Google+ it is difficult for me to see it. Last night I had 12 mentions on Twitter and only 1 mention (from a real life friend) on Google+.

 

The Point Everyone is Missing
Building a following on any social network takes time and Google+ is not a magic bullet to increase readers to your blog.

Do the maths: Both Rowse and Brogan collectively have 330,133 Twitter Followers and 22,510 Google+ circle adds. This means only 7% of their fan base on Twitter moved to Google+. Just under 1% of my followers made the jump. (Hypothetically assuming that only people on Twitter signed up to Google+)

It takes time to build a presence on any social network and those of us whose jobs are mostly away from our blogs will find it difficult to update Twitter, Facebook and Google+ separately. Yes, Google+ API will be opened soon and inevitably we will see cross posting techniques but that misses the point. All these networks are different and must be treated differently in order for them to be used effectively.

 

Does Google+ have a Future?
I do believe Google+ has a future. The hype around the project has been intense. Although for many of us Google+ will not be a simple move. It will require us to build up a new audience of followers in the recognition that one day, more traditional platforms such as Twitter, may be replaced.

 

The Murdoch Empire is Under Siege

Rupert Murdoch has been involved in UK politics since he formed a close affiliation with Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s. Having Murdoch on your side assists a politician with winning an election, yet it could also be said that Murdoch carefully chooses the winning horse. There is a sphere of influence which surrounds the man; mostly one constructed of fear. Those who are public figures are careful to keep Murdoch on their side, Journalists fear to criticise as it may harm their job prospects and politicians want to win their elections.

Yet a few days ago this bubble of influence was popped in the UK. News of the World (NoW), a newspaper that was founded in 1843 (although News Corporation took ownership of it in 1969), was closed down. For years the newspaper had been suffering from a damaged brand due to phone hacking allegations. Evidence which suggests murdered school girl, Milly Dowler, had her phone hacked was too much for the public. People used Social Media to convince companies who advertise within NoW to stop advertising with them. It worked.

Last week the paper was closed which caused 200+ job losses and generated 3.8m of sales from those keen to pick up the last edition. All advertising spaces within the paper were donated to charity and 74 pence from each sale was donated to charity.

Murdoch is ruthless and the decision to close NoW after 168 years must have been carefully planned. Evidence of this is shown by another paper, the Sun on Sunday, magically appearing in place of NoW (Rumours suggest the domain name was registered two days before NoW closed). It could be said that NoW has simply been rebranded as the Sun on Sunday. Whilst key players such as Rebehak Brooks, Andy Coulson and Glenn Mulcaire will definitely be distanced from the new brand, I would not be surprised if other employees from the closed NoW find themselves working for the Sun on Sunday.

News International is fighting two different battles; the legal battle in the courts and their public image in the UK. For the first time in over 30 years the Murdochs are losing their media control. Already Jude Law has accused The Sun of phone hacking which may bring harm News International’s largest circulated newspaper in the UK.

News International is under scrutiny and politicians are feeling the pressure due to their associations with the press. Rupert Murdoch has apologised in a printed advertisement but that won’t be enough. In 1992 The Sun could boast their headline, “It’s The Sun Wot Won It” but no more.

It is important that a free press continues but it is necessary for newspapers to start questioning what is meant by ‘public interest’. I highly recommend watching this interview with Hugh Grant over the NoW phone hackings as he raised good points concerning public interest. The Murdoch empire is under siege and they are scared.

MPs requested that Rupert and James Murdoch to appear before them to answer questions on phone hacking was originally declined last week. However last Thursday the pair agreed to appear along with Rebekah Brooks. This scandal has a lot of life in it yet.

 

[As of finishing this post I’ve read an article in PR Week which discusses how employees from NoW could be trying to move into PR jobs. Let’s hope this exodus doesn’t damage the PR Industry.]

 

Google+ Hits the Online World with Force

If you haven’t got an invite for Google+ then don’t worry, it will spread like a virus. Already Mashable are reporting that Google+ may have approximately 10 million users and the network has only been around since the end of June. This is unprecedented growth; Google may have finally found a way into the Social Networking world.

We should all be surprised. Google Buzz project was one attempt to social bliss but due to security flaws put everybody with a Gmail account at risk. Another attempt was Google Wave (a project I still love) but that was not to be, the average user found it too complicated and unnecessary.

It is the formula of Google+ which makes the network desirable. Anybody with a Gmail account can have Google+ and the invite method makes the whole experience seem somewhat exclusive.

I was tempted to call this post ‘Another Cliché article about Google+’ simply because every technological geek and social media entrepreneur across the internet have voiced their opinions on how Google+ could shape the social networking landscape and other developments we are likely to see in the future.

For the moment Google+ exists as a network which is specialised around sharing. A sleek organisation method called circles allows one to organise their social contacts under Friends, Acquaintances, Family and Following. It is then possible to share status updates and media links to specific groups of people. Simple and smart, no other social network allows you to do this with such ease.

Another neat feature Google+ can boast about is group video chat called Hangouts. No surprise that this feature was announced a week before Facebook released Skype integration. The Social Networking world is so valuable due to our personal details. Using Google+ will assist with growing the audience of other Google services and in the future we are likely to see all of these services (including Gmail) fall under the Google+ network.

Personally I found that people are interacting far more across Google+ than any other network I am currently part of. I am unsure at this stage whether this is because Google+ is the new shiny social media gem or if this is a trend set to continue.

To really experience Google Plus you need to try it. I still have invites available and so if you would like one comment below with your email address and I’ll send one across.

 

What do you think of Google+?

 

Applied for Series 8 of BBC Apprentice

After much support on Twitter and Facebook I have applied to appear on series 8 of BBC Apprentice. At this stage I have mixed feelings about my application. First cause of concern is the impact the show could have on my career if I were to appear on the show (if I were not to win). Secondly I have no idea for what the producers look for in a candidate.

Whilst I can boast about my efforts at Microsoft in the application (which will provide weight), the rest is University related and probably not too unique to others around the country. For the moment though I live in belief that my application has probably disappeared into a pile of thousands.

Whether the filming dates would work around my final year of University is a mystery but appearing on the show would be incredible. Mainly as I believe I could do a better job than most candidates who appear on the show.

Time will tell. I’ll let you all know if I hear anything back from the BBC.