Joining in with #WisleyWings 2014

Each year I avidly wait for RHS Wisley’s Butterflies in the Glasshouse to take place; it’s turned into a little birthday treat. It’s one of those moments when my love for nature combines with my love for technology. It’s amazing what a few butterflies, a compact camera and Adobe’s Photoshop Lightroom can produce.

This year I noticed that Wisley introduced a hashtag for the occasion, #WisleyWings. I couldn’t resist taking part with my below photos. It reminded me that the best social media activities are the ones which link to real life events.

Autumn Statement 2013: Told through tweets

It’s been a busy day for the agency I work for, Keene Communications, as we kept up-to-date with George Osborne’s Autumn Statement. Not only live tweeting the event but also offering political analysis for our clients. Our below Storify below sums up the key facts well.

Is Twitter Reach Credible? [VIDEO]

What happens when you put two seasoned heavy weight PR professionals in a Google Hangout together? To find out I joined a Google Hangout with Neville Hobson, the UK’s most influential PR blogger and entrepreneurial communications professional  and David Phillips, a professor of Online Public Relations at the School of Communication Lisbon.

The topic? To tackle a listener’s question of Neville Hobson’s “For Immediate Release” podcast after a case study published by the agency I work for used the metric ‘Twitter Reach’ as part of the metrics. The listener made the point that this measure is flawed on a number of counts not least that it is predicated on an old metric used in traditional media called ‘opportunities to see’ and did not reflect the actual number of people who saw the Tweets or reacted in anyway.

We all had a little debate.

PS. After this discussion I realised the questioning listener was Senior Vice President at Edelman, Dave Fleet. I’m glad to have found this out after the discussion! 

Top Tips for a Perfect Pitch

Leah Eser is one of the star students of  the winning team who conquered Grayling’s annual competitive pitch competition. Having won the pitch competition and as a soon to be Public Relations and Marketing graduate from Leeds Metropolitan University I couldn’t resist the chance to ask her to write a guest blog post… she agreed. Here is her story and her top tips for a perfect pitch. 

In public relations, pitching to a potential client is one of the most important things you will have to face in your role and is integral to the success of a PR agency. More often than not, the pitch is the one chance you get to really wow an organisation and tell them why YOU are the best agency for them.

Recently, a team made up of me, Jo Trimmings, Georgia Reilly and Chloe Wise were crowned the winners of Grayling’s annual competitive pitch competition. Working on a real-life brief from the agency, we were chosen out of 18 groups and made it into the top four groups selected to pitch in front of a panel of judges at Grayling North’s Leeds office.

Christine Emmingham, Director Grayling North, said ‘This year’s winning team were clear winners; they had the right strategic approach brought to life with workable ideas and creative flair.”

It was a fantastic achievement and provided practical skills and confidence we can all apply to future pitches and in our new roles outside of University. Using this experience, I have devised some top tips for new business pitching.

My top tips for being ‘pitch perfect’:

1. Form a team: Working as a team is essential and it is important to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each member and choose accordingly who will work on the brief based on these. Does someone have a fantastic creative mind? Is someone a confident speaker and great with people? Or is someone better with presentation design and research? Drawing on key skills will result in a smoother process.

2. Understand the brief: During a new business pitching process, the organisation or individual will begin by sending you a brief summarising their business goals and what they want to achieve through their work with you. Take time to really read and comprehend this – greater understanding of the brief will lead to more realistic strategies and tactics that are sure to impress the client.

3. Do your research: It’s important not to use the brief as your only information throughout the pitch. Be aware of external issues that may be affecting the organisation including environmental issues and prevalent topics in the news. The beginning of your pitch should demonstrate a great understanding of the company and the environment that they operate within. Start with the client’s issues, aims, objectives and goals and then how you will achieve or solve them.

4. Be concise: Remember, the client isn’t in PR so don’t overwhelm them with fancy jargon and whole-world promises. Make sure you are addressing their needs and do this in a clear, concise way in a language they can understand. Show that you really understand their business.

5. Engage: Whilst you shouldn’t spend TOO much time working on the slides, make sure they are clean and not overloaded with text. They should give an overall summary of what you are discussing, but maintaining eye-contact with the client and adding information vocally is very important and demonstrates and encourages engagement.

6. Creativity and personality: It’s important to be practical and realistic with ideas based on the brief and the budget, but make sure you add some creative flair to really inspire the client. You might even want to do something different from a presentation. Is their brief heavily social media based? Why not create a video or interactive social media pitch?

Finally, stay human and ensure personalities shine through throughout the presentation. After all, the client wants to pick an agency they believe they can work with – so be personable and friendly!

 

When eBay sides with the Troll

I’ve been a member of online marketplace, eBay, for 7 years and have never had any problems. Whenever others have been worried to transact on eBay I’ve always been the first to defend the security and customer service systems it has in place. Yesterday, this all changed.

A user called ‘ilovecarolvickers‘ has been winning items across eBay but not getting in contact or paying for any of his wins. He then proceeds to leave sellers with false negative feedback, usually about the condition of the item. Why? Because he/she is a troll, existing only to waste people’s time on eBay and to making selling impossible.

He has done exactly the same to me:

ebay feedback

Naturally, I have been through the eBay resolution centre to cancel this transaction (which will take me 7 days) and have reported the user as fraudulent.

Here is a copy of my message to eBay:

mymessageebay

I also followed this message by a shorter one stating that since my message, the user has also left me false negative feedback. Want to see eBay’s response to me?

Hello Mike,
Thank you for writing back to us about the negative feedback you received from your buyer “ilovecarolvickers” for the phone (item 300873812812) they’ve won. I understand you’d like it to be removed as it is untrue.

Mike, I reviewed the feedback the buyer left and found out that it does not fall to one of our feedback removal criteria. Therefore, we can’t remove the feedback.

Please understand that for Feedback system to be fully effective, it needs to stay between members. If eBay got involved in Feedback disputes, people’s opinions on buyers and sellers would be replaced by eBay’s opinion. That’s why we’ll only remove Feedback ratings and comments under very limited circumstances – we won’t remove Feedback on the grounds that you think a comment is untrue or undeserved. This is because the feedback was the other member’s overall assessment of how it was to transact with you on eBay.

If you’d like to know our feedback removal criteria, you can copy and paste the link below to a new browser in order to review our feedback policy.

http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/policies/feedback-abuse-withdrawal.html

Though we can’t remove the feedback outright, we have alternatives that are just as effective in resolving your feedback concern.

Your first option will be the feedback revision. Often, disputes involving feedback are best resolved through open and honest communication between members. Once you’ve resolved the issue with the member, you can submit a feedback revision request through us and your buyer will be notified of your request to have the feedback changed from negative/neutral to positive.

This response by eBay was a cop out and if she had read the background to the case, eBay would have know that getting in contact with the other member is impossible. Why? Because he is fraudulent. Here is my very frustrated response to eBay:

Hi Rita,

I’m asking for the feedback to be reviewed as it is wholly untrue. The transaction NEVER happened and his review was over the quality of the phone. He never received the phone because he never paid. He never paid because he is a fraudulent user. Please assess his other feedback.

I understand you would like eBay users to resolve matters between themselves but this is impossible as this user is only on eBay to troll others.

I am shocked that eBay would allow such behavior and not protect the rights of its innocent users.

Please reply to this message ASAP with a resolution to the matter.

In conclusion eBay need to back up its innocent users and properly research each case. This whole mess is making it impossible me to transact on eBay and has left me with an extremely low 66.7% Positive Feedback rating. Not only this but another new user with zero feedback has now bid on my new iPhone 4S listing – genuine? I’m not sure. I have a horrible feeling that trolls are taking over eBay.

Can sellers trust eBay anymore? No.

Does eBay support its innocent users? No.

Will this case be resolved? I hope so and if it does I’ll update this blog post.

Please share and comment on this post. I really want eBay to resolve this issue but so far they seem to be doing nothing.

[UPDATE 18/03/2013: Finally eBay have agreed to remove the false negative feedback on my account and to drop their charges against my unsold item. I’m relieved the situation has now been resolved.]

Guest Post – How to leverage Social Media to find your next job

During the last 10 years recruitment has changed at an incredible pace. Headhunter and recruitment agencies have been disrupted by a new wave of online platforms and social networks. The key challenge is connection employers with candidates, and in the last few years employers have wised up to the fact that they don’t need to pay a recruiter £5k to find great candidates and job seekers have realised that new avenues have opened up to connect with potential employers and that a nicely varnished online profile can help you land your dream job.

Here are 5 social media tips, which will help you in the job hunting process:

1. Register yourself on Linkedin and upload your CV – Linkedin is the largest professional social network on the planet and if you’re not on it, you’re missing out. It’s a great platform for exchanging business ideas, flirting with potential employers and connect with old and existing colleagues. Optimize your profile with these tips: i) recommend and ask for recommendations from your friends and ex-colleagues ii) Add your written work such as guest blogs, academic coursework etc.(from the navigation bar > More > My Applications), iii) Add events you have participated in or you are going to (you will find many of them in your city) and, ultimately, join work related Association and Groups v) Leverage your second degree connections – you’ll be amazed how many relevant people your friends and other connections can introduce you to.

2. Use social job search engines like Adzuna or Branch Out to look for marketing jobs and  other fields ones. These tools allow you to quickly and easily identify friends in your network who work at companies that are hiring. Having connections and “lines in” to relevant employers can help you a) Understand what it’s like to work at the company b) Give you an advocate at the company – A quiet word in the bosses ear can go a long way!

3. Open a dedicated Twitter account and be interesting. Recently Saatchi & Saatchi launched a graduate recruitment campaign based on the number of followers and retweets a candidate could generate. Follow professionals and recruiters in your field, they have sometimes a dedicated Twitter account with job ads (example: @jobsLDNIT for jobs in IT in London). If you want to use Twitter to see job ads you may be interested in using the hashtags #jobs combined to a city (example: #london)

4. Connect your Twitter account with Linkedin ( More > My Applications ) and use both of them to boost your popularity. Start to think about the short list of companies you’d like to work for and follow all areas of social media. Engage with their employees and relevant people that could be interested in your skills and you as an individual.

5. Be careful what you publish online about yourself. Do a big cleanup of your personal internet history and change Facebook privacy setting. Most employers will type your details into Google to get a deeper insight into you. Make sure there’s no nastiness they can discover!

How I use my Social Networks

This post is a shameful copy of Richard Bailey’s post from September. However it interested me due to the different ways people approach different social networks.

Facebook
I use this network for my friends, family and colleagues – never for business purposes. Increasingly I am finding Facebook great for sharing photos with my friends but not so useful for communication. Event notifications have become overthrown with junk, too many games appear in my newsfeed and the horror of ‘likes’ plague the network. Over the last couple of months I have not used Facebook that much. I would rather have scurvy.

Twitter
I’m public on this social network. I use Twitter to further my knowledge (academia and news), keep in touch with a few friends and network with professionals. The 140 character limit on Twitter doesn’t build meaningful relationships but it is enough to get you noticed by professionals as a student. I unfollow those who are usually too noisy.

LinkedIn
Acts as my online CV, a great place to have long conversations with professionals. Over time I have joined many groups for professionals; including Public Relations, Advertising, Marketing, Media and Social Media. In the past I only added those to my network who I have worked with. I decided to ditch this attitude recently and network with those from within groups. Doing so helps spread my profile around, publicise myself online and keeps me open to conversations. I regularly visit this website when I’m interested reading about the latest industry debates.

Blog (You’re on it!)
Those who follow this blog will know I post on a frequent basis. I have never managed to keep any single blog purely on one particular subject and tend to write about what I find interesting. Always looking for new methods to publicise this online parking spot of mine. Occasionally you may sniff a commercial money making tactic but such activities help to pay the bills (remember I’m a struggling student!).

Tumblr (blog x2)
I went through a phase of posting to tumblr as I yearned for an online blog where I could write about slightly more relaxing subjects. As it happens my brain doesn’t like relaxing subjects and so my Tumblr blog didn’t last very long.

YouTube
Don’t judge me too much from my YouTube page! I don’t worry about the total amount of video views or subscribers. I use my YouTube account to take note of noteworthy videos and keep updated with my subscriptions. You will find various videos of mine uploaded, some of which might be interesting but these uploads are done more for my pleasure.

Formspring
If my memory serves me right I have answered over 200 questions on Formspring. Eventually I decided to turn off anonymous questions and you now have to be registered to “ask me anything”. Most people have asked interesting or amusing questions: only a couple have decided to use Formspring to shout abuse at me.

Microsoft Zune
I’m new to Microsoft Zune and upset that it wasn’t released in the UK sooner. Zune is Microsoft’s equivalent of Apple’s iTunes. Before you boohoo it, try it. You will be positively surprised by it, even if you still prefer to use iTunes. Zune features a social networking option. You can add me to it by inviting ‘Mikesoft98’ on Zune.

I’m a member of plenty of other networks but these are the important ones. How do you use your social networks?

When I Fell In Love

We never forget the first time we fall in love. It is one of those moments which stick out in our memories as a point in our life that everything either changed for the better or worse. Some say love takes time to build but for me love was at first sight. I remember the day clearly.

It was 1995 (I was 5 years old) and my parents were upstairs in the kitchen. The ground floor of our house at the time only consisted of a small hallway and then an oddly placed office just before the glass shutters leading to the garden. It was in this room that my dad kept his computer. Saying a large 15 inch monitor would sound ludicrous today but the reason for the screen’s size was due cathode-ray tube (CRT) technology. Every monitor in 1995 was basically a beige television with a slightly higher refresh rate.

This sizeable monitor sat on top of a horizontal base unit. A computer which boasted a processor of a few megahertz, hard drive of a few megabytes and a 3 ½ inch floppy disk drive, advancement from 8 and 5 ½ inches. The CD drive was introduced to the unit in 1996. By today’s standard the specifications were low but this beast ran Windows 3.1 phenomenally well.

Windows 3.1 not only marked the occasion when Microsoft was realising their vision of “Computer on Every Desk in Every Home” but also introduced concepts such as virtual memory and multitasking. An achievement at the time which was innovative and could only be imitated by the Mac through special application shells. Although Microsoft and Apple development cycles were roughly identical. Not surprising as both companies are partnered at the hips on a number of objectivities, this remains true to the present day.

As I sat in front of Windows 3.1 in my dad’s study my life suddenly made sense. Moving the mouse I could see the cursor moving on the screen and realised through clicking I could interact with various elements of the interface. Keep in mind that I could not read or write at this point in time. Dyslexia had delayed this development until I was eight years old.

The occasion of using Windows 3.1 literally stole my breath away. I just knew my life would have to involve this. Even though I was young I knew that this system was different to anything else I had seen or used. The possibilities were endless, although I could not have imagined how computers would have continued to develop through my life time. I became obsessed. I also helped mark the occasion when generation Y become the first generation to speak digital as their mother tongue.

I fell in love with technology that day. Whenever possible I would spend time learning how Windows operated and the various commands MS DOS supported. With my dad I could even surf the internet. If my mind serves me well I believe we used Netscape as our browser and Microsoft’s MSN was our homepage. At the time MSN acted as a portal, much like AOL did in a few years ago – Google did not exist.

It must have been mid-1995 when I started using Windows 3.1. This meant two students in California were about start a dissertation on the algorithms of the internet to build an online library. I’m not sure even they knew how big this piece of work would affect the world and their life. In 1998 Google started in a garage and has grown ever since.

When I fell in love with Windows 3.1 this wasn’t a love purely for Microsoft. It was a love for technology as a whole. Today I use products by not only Microsoft but Apple and Google. If we look at hardware manufacturers then I range from Logitech, HTC, LG, Goodmans, Canon, etc.. the list goes on into eternity.

Being in love with technology doesn’t mean being loyal to a particular brand. It is childlike and joyful. I remain just as passionate today as I did as a five year old in my dad’s study. Never did I realise that one day I would end up working for the company who sparked my interest in technology.