I’ve always been hesitant about the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme. I work in PR. I studied PR. Why is CPD important?

I put this to Stuart Bruce when I had the pleasure of sitting alongside him at a CIPR roundtable last month. I came to realise, like so many other CIPR members, that I had a few misconceptions:

  1. CPD costs money
    It doesn’t. In the past I always put off CPD because I had already spent thousands studying PR at degree level. Spending more money on education alongside practically living the role seemed nonsensical.
  2. No time for CPD
    My hours are long enough. I thought CPD would take loads of time, but it didn’t. You just log in to the CIPR website, log your CPD points and submit. Done. It probably took me an hour in total.
  3. Yet more learning
    I learn something new everyday. We have training sessions at work and I read plenty. What I didn’t realise is that many of the activities I already complete gain CPD points. Essentially I was earning CPD points without logging them, therefore not being recognised for my ‘accredited practitioner’ status.

So thanks to Stuart, I’ve logged my first year of CPD. As you will see from my logged tasks, it’s easy getting to that magical ‘60’.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 22.08.00

Logging my CPD points was a rewarding experience and I’m now only a year away from my ‘accredited practitioner’ status – something every CIPR member should strive for. True, you don’t need it to work in PR but the listed activities will help inform my client delivery.

As Stuart said, “I’m betting you’ve done the work, so why not get the credit?”


Only one month to go until the #MarsdenMarch!

It’s only one month until I take part in the Marsden March, an annual charity walk that takes place between The Royal Marsden’s Chelsea and Sutton hospitals. The purpose is to raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity; my purpose is to get fitter.

You’re right. It’s not a run. It’s just a 14-mile walk. I’ve even heard from reliable sources that some people on route like quickly popping into local pubs (to only use the toilets apparently…) However, the athleticism needed for this walk seriously overestimates my cardiovascular performance – I’m hopelessly slow, unfit and completely unprepared.

So as per the official training guides I’m doing plenty of walking in preparation, mostly as part of my daily commute. Being a total geek I’ve enlisted the support of gadgetry. Having recently sold my Fitbit Flex, I’m now using Apple’s Health app.

Just look at these graph-tastic illustrations of my sporting progress. It’s frightening just how much data my iPhone is logging every second.

If you would like to support my charity walk then please donate here to my JustGiving page, where I’ll be walking as part of Team Goldsmiths (courtesy of my long suffering girlfriend.)

I would really appreciate any donations as the big day approaches. Anything. Even the smallest amount will help improve a life.

We must protect our access to social media data (#CIPRmanifesto)

I’m not sure whether to read the first line of the CIPR’s manifesto with cautious optimism or pure elation, “The UK General Election of 2015 promises to be most unusual”. Although there is no denying this statement’s truth – from May 2015 we’re going on a roller-coaster ride of unexplored political territory.

The CIPR outlines a number of areas for the next government, including the importance of PR and public affairs, gender equality and Internet governance. Having met the CIPR editorial team, drafting this document may have been stressful – over 11,000 members are about to pass judgement!

However, I feel apprehensive with the CIPR’s summary of data protection in the document. It seems dated as it fails to understand the huge developments that have taken place in the EU. It may also be in danger of going against how CIPR members are currently using social media data to deliver services.

The PR industry relies on the trading of social media users’ data so that it can deliver services and evidence its effectiveness to clients.

When you sign up to Twitter (or any social network), as mentioned by the CIPR, users need to give away their personal data so that it can be bought and sold by Internet organisations. This is the lifeblood of every social media monitoring tool; be it Brandwatch, Radian6 or Pulsar. Without it social media practitioners, such as myself, are unable to effectively manage or measure online activities.

Cynically it could be said that we rely on users blindly signing up to a social networks’ 15,000 word terms and conditions, because without access to user data our jobs are near impossible. Of course, a user only gains from giving away personal (disposable) information and therefore shouldn’t worry what happens to it. It’s just a tiny sacrifice that is made so that a social network can be used.

Keeping all of this in mind, the CIPR concluded on data protection,

“We therefore have one part of our data environment which is highly regulated and in which citizen’s rights are regarded as pre-eminently important, and another in which there is effectively no meaningful control on the use and re-use of data. This lacks coherence, is not sustainable and will ultimately lead to frustration.”

It’s extremely unclear and disconcerting that the CIPR has suddenly decided to take a stand on data protection without consulting the membership. Especially when it is such a hazy view – not good for clear manifesto points. The “… effectively no meaningful control on the use and re-use of data” directly implies the transaction of a social network selling data to a social insights company. That, for the PR and public affairs industry, must be protected at all costs.

Especially as a large public debate will continue to bubble as the current EU Data Protection Regulation considers the impact of globalisation and social media on data protection (across every EU member state).

The point of this post isn’t to say that the CIPR’s stance is wrong, only unclear. It frustrates me that my representative body hasn’t consulted its members on data protection, especially as there must be hundreds of better-qualified thinkers than I who could have contributed to this manifesto.

I would like to see the CIPR take more action on data protection and develop the ideas summarised in their manifesto. However, we won’t even impress our political allies unless we can demonstrate an up-to-date knowledge of current data protection developments.

But… despite the little bit on data protection, the rest of the manifesto is fab!



Turn online tables into graphical charts

Without innovation it’s impossible for consultancies to offer services that represent real added value. So we test innovative new technologies by pushing them through Keene Labs. Our dedicated project area where we work with open source communities to develop new products that improve our services.

Last week I published a post that showed you how a tool called, which uses Internet crawlers to turn any webpage into data, can be used to create a wordle with Tagul.

This week I’ve done another screencast to show you how can be used alongside a tool called to create graphical charts. An incredibly useful function as the internet is full of various tables of data (especially polling websites).

Do watch the video below.

And the finished product…

Sutton Crime Stats (2013 VS 2014)

Google Analytics adds Cohort Analysis (Beta)

Google has released cohort analysis as an option on the Google Analytics dashboard. It allows you to breakdown an overall visitor number into different groups (known as cohorts), and then analyse visitor behaviour based upon common experiences visitors may have had. For example, you may want to compare how users who visited your website from an email campaign compared with those who had visited from Twitter Ads.

It’s a form of analysis I first came across in my past role as a Multinational Account Manager at Microsoft – online advertising analysis is generally way ahead of digital PR measurement.

Google Analytics’ cohort analysis is still in beta version and therefore it is extremely basic. As of writing this post you are able to select from a number of segments (existing metrics on Google Analytics such as device or traffic type), but the rest of the options are a little bit… simple.

  • Cohort type: Can only view how visitors to a website behaved after a certain date
  • Cohort size: Can only be by day, week or month (so a general overview)
  • Metric: Choose a Google Analytics metric that you want to measure
  • Date: Choose the date range

Despite some limitations, cohort analysis can still provide some interesting results. For example, the below screenshots show how the duration times vary between mobile users and desktop and tablet users.

Cohort Analysis, Google Analytics, visit duration


I’m sure this new feature, whilst only basic at the moment, will provide valuable feedback about client campaigns.

Create beautiful word clouds with scraped data

At the consultancy I work for, we recognised that we would need to think like a start-up this year. So we set up Keene Labs. A dedicated project area where we work with open source communities to develop new products that improve services.

One of the tools we’ve been delivering client work and experimenting with is called Through using crawlers, the tool can turn any webpage into raw data – this in turn can be manipulated in a number of ways. The tool itself was built by a young tech startup based in London who I had the pleasure of meeting at the end of last year.

In the screen capture video below I show you how you can use to scrape data from a blog and then present this data as a beautiful word cloud using Tagul. It’s my first screen capture ever – so don’t pass too much negative judgment!

The finished product…