Monday, 7 November 2011

For keeps

There is a post in Mashable ( about retaining talent in start ups, but are those pointers genuinely unique to start ups? It advises that buying a team into your vision is crucial. Well, I work for a middle-sized organisation, and that conversation is as current for me as for any start up. I'd say actually it is probably tougher, because the vision and values have had time to morph or be defused, which wouldn't happen in the early days of an organisation.

Secondly it talks about the need for recognition. Maybe this is more relevant for a start up, but I'd maintain that really, every good organisation should do this. It doesn't take much to say "thanks".

Finally it emphasises how important feedback is. I spent a week this summer learning about being a leader, where a big emphasis was placed on feedback. So, really, what is unique about this list to start ups?

Saturday, 5 November 2011

A test from my iPad

It's always a strange thing when presented with a new toy. With the strong belief that I can improve my productivity I went put an bought an iPad today. My belief is that I can spend less time writing up meeting notes, and potentially more time writing on the move. First blog post in a while, let's see if that changes!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Google +

Finally made it onto Google+ yesterday. My husband tried to invite me last weekend but the invitation process was suspended, with Google being very selective again with their new launch. It works well for them in building up a certain level of hype: people talk about it, want to share it, but are restricted. So having finally made it on, I have to say my experience so far has been limited.

The search functionality feels odd to me. Particularly the mobile version (which is also in play on the iPad not just phone): for each page of search results it restarts the alphabetical sorting, so on p.1 you get results sorted from A-Z but then the same again for p.2 etc, instead of all A together, then B then C...

I also (partly because of the above I suppose) found it hard to find people I wanted to connect with. I couldn't search for Twitter or Facebook contacts for example. I couldn't find people I knew were using Google+ even when I typed their whole name in.

The circles concept is without a doubt both clever and unique, but at the minute there aren't enough people on here for me to use this optimally. In the meantime there are very few people in very few circles. The most populated - and where I see myself getting most use - is for following bloggers that I typically read rss or twitter feeds for currently. This might change as more people join, but Facebook isn't going anywhere any time soon...

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Blogging for business parts 7,8 and 9: content and posting

Creating editorial calendars is something we've been spending a lot of time on at work recently, as it really is critical to keeping momentum. We have several sites, some which had structured plans, and others which didn't. One of the key take aways for me from this section of The ebook was how we can optimise our posts using Google keyword search to identify what topics in our field at people are searching on.

A lot of planning at the outset of a new blog really does make it easier to kep a steady stream of content. The ebook has some great suggestions about this, including separating out ideas into different categories, such as education, reviews, background on company, etc.

There are good case studies, plus a walk through on uploading a new post.

More from previous posts about blogging for business here

Blogging for business part 4

Continuing on from part one and 2-3

Chapter 4 introduces the importance of a searchable blog name. SEO is an area I still need to learn lots more about so this is pertinent for me even though I am not currently setting up a new blog. The book sets out four top requirements for name selection: firslty selecting something optimised for search, which he suggests using the keyword search within Google Adwords to do (narrow your search according to the target audience you are trying to reach, to help identify what words will make the site appear most frequently in search results); is brandable/recognisable; is short; stands out from the competition.

FYI I'm going to be skipping over chapters 5 and 6 as they don't apply to me at all right now: setting up on Wordpress and the top 8 required plugins.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Blogging for Business parts 2-3

On reflection using my personal blog as a way to work through the exercises in Darren Rowse's latest ebook (see my first post on this from yesterday) isn't going to be useful, since it is primarily aimed at business bloggers. However given I downloaded it as a chance to rethink through choices I make at work, where it's relevant I'll use this blog for case studying, but where it isn't I'll just summarise what I will do back at the office.

Chapter 2 asks me to set up measurable objectives for the site: drive traffic, build brand, convert readers to customers etc. I have no such lofty aspirations for this site, although if I invest more time, then I would expect to see some associated uplift in traffic as a result.

At work, do our blogs have clearly defined goals and measurable targets? It's something we're working on quite hard right now, but how good are our evaluation criteria? Something to reassess.

Chapter 3 considers hosting your blog. I chose Blogger for this blog as I used Wordpress at work and wanted to learn a different platform. It was interesting to read the recommendation to always self-host your own business blog, I.e. Using rather than a 3rd party one. The reasoning is of course that on a hosted site you are always at the mercy of the host's t&c's. More to come on this in future posts.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Working my way thru the latest ebook from Problogger's Darren Rowse

So yesterday I downloaded the latest ebook from Darren Rowse, the creator of ProBlogger.

In an effort to make the most of my time reading this, I'll be working through my exercises from each chapter on here.

So, up first: competitor research.

Well, that's an interesting one for me, since really I didn't set this up with a clear audience in mind. I mainly wanted somewhere to write thoughts on my continous learning, with the aim of having something to regularly come back to when I wanted to think about my professional development. Also I guess it was a way to share thoughts on my industry and on PR. Somewhat of a surprise to me is that having not been on here for quite a while, there is nevertheless traffic coming in via 2 main sources: my LinkedIn Profile, and my Twitter feed. Well, that makes sense, since I'm more active on those channels, and my blog is linked from those channels. Sheesh. Really ought to invest some more time on here ;)

So, I guess that would mean this is a blog that is a) a shop front for me professionally, plus b) a source of information on PR and publishing, so that is how I'll pick my competitors.

1. The Google blog search
The ebook says have a dig through the search results (i.e. not just p.1) for five similar niche blogs. I started out with "PR and Publishing" as my search.

2. The top result
The top result in was A nice looking site from digital marketing company "How do you do". Actually quite like this site and will be subscribing to the RSS. in terms of style (the ebook says look at this), each post has a photo/illustration at the top of the post, and is broken down into sub sections. There is some twitter activity, but low commenting on the blog itself.

3. The Case study sharer
This is a good looking blog with lots of interactive links/media: The posts are short on the whole, but always with images or video. Seems to get good traffic, and again a site I'd happily subscribe to. Amazing how much you find when you search around a little.

4. The learner
Actually this is a lot more like my own than I had realised: This is a student writing about insights into the industry they want to pursue, as part of an internship at another agency. There are generally lots of images, although this does vary from post to post.

5. The uber blog
This is the "wo, how funky is this' one:!/cover. A very attractive site from a consultant, with an interesting mix of content that I would really like to read. Having said that it's the uber blog, I have to say it wasn't the easiest to navigate, and I don't think all the functionality was working on an iPad. There is however a standard version wihtout the funkiness which is better for mobile. Of all the sites, I saw the most engagement on this one, and actually that's probably down to the focus of the content, which is well written. There is again an image associated with every post.

There was a commonality across all the sites, which was the sharing of interesting finds from the industry, nothing about product or service as such. There was a good deal of advice sharing, plus some opining. This was a quick skim and I'll learn more through spending more time reading the feeds from these sites.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Learning to pod

Today was the first of four days of training for me this week. It was the turn of the podcast today. We had arranged for JISC Digital Media to deliver a bespoke training course for two days, firstly podcasting then videocasting. Joel from JISC was fantastic. Kept things very straight forward and avoided too much jargon. Also  his enthusiasm for all things sound came over - shared some interesting facts that I had not known before, for instance what the "X-bit" means (he drew charts: it's about the number of times that a sound file gets pin pointed when converting to digital, so determines how accurate it then sounds - higher bit then higher quality).

We had much better mics during the training today than I do at home, and I'm intending to invest in more kit for the office, but nevertheless felt it was as good a time as any to try out my newly acquired skills. So, courtesy of my laptop mic, here's my first podcast... on podcasting... how meta am I.