Power Off – how a digital detox restores factory settings

“Let’s not turn our phones on tomorrow” I suggested to my wife at the weekend. She agreed and we spent Sunday without them.

As we travel further into this scary journey they call life, it feels like there’s a developing need for us to understand, control and tame our own brain. We might think we’re in control of it, that we power its processes and rhythms, and we decide how to communicate. But increasingly we’re not and we don’t. This is largely thanks to smartphones and all-pervasive technology.

Mental health is broadly gaining more recognition and understanding. From paranoid schizophrenia to regularly feeling sad about everything, it’s a vast spectrum and deeply complex area. We all have a mental landscape of some sort, which influences how we communicate with the world personally and professionally. We all have personal moods and struggles. There are all sorts of ways we might address these: different types of therapy, hypnosis, reading lots of self-help books. My view is that a key one concerns our relationship with technology, primarily our smartphone.

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What That Follower Number Actually Means

We are defined and shaped by numbers. They are ascribed to us and created by us. Age, date of birth, height, weight, income, bank balance, spouses, children, date of death. Temporary or permanent, these digits are all ingredients of our identity. They affect how we are perceived by other people and how we perceive ourselves.

Today our obsession with numbers has taken on mind-bending dimensions thanks to the digital, data-driven age in which everything is measurable. If you have several digits next to the word Followers in a profile, you can be considered A Big Deal on the internet, a success.

For as long as social media has existed, an assumption has been made that bigger digits are ‘better’. The bigger your audience, the higher your recognition from friends and peers, the more popular you are, the greater your chances of success and being discovered, the better exposed your brand, the wider your network, the more likely you can monetise content through advertisers.

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John Simpson – Hadyn Ellis distinguished lecture

johnsimpson-cardiffuni_mh20161124_10wmaThis year’s Hadyn Ellis distinguished lecture brought foreign correspondent veteran John Simpson to Cardiff University.

They don’t get more distinguished than Mr Simpson. For many people alive today Simpson is one of those omnipresent BBC voices of sturdy broadcasting authority. He has been on our screens and in our airwaves seemingly forever. His 50 year BBC career has seen him reporting from an unfathomable range of dangerous and volatile places, at times of major historical significance.

In journalism terms, he’s been there, done it and got the waistcoat.

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Cardiff Business Club – MacMillan Cancer Support boss Lynda Thomas

- macmillan.org.uk

– macmillan.org.uk

On the eve of International Women’s Day 2016, a talk was given by MacMillan Cancer Support chief executive Lynda Thomas at the Principality Stadium for Cardiff Business Club.

A few days before I’d seen the talk advertised online. My wife is the PR Manager for a charity, so I thought she’d be interested and it would make a cheap evening out.

Lynda Thomas is originally from these parts of South Wales, and she proudly wears her Welshness. It was astute to express this at Cardiff Business Club right from the start, especially during the week of an England-Wales rugby match. Inside the iconic, recently renamed stadium, the crowd was with her immediately.

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We Need To Talk About Your High Volume Twitter Strategy

physVvirt1Isn’t it funny, how we don’t talk (on Twitter) anymore?.

Over in the US it is said that Twitter is struggling. It failed to add any new users for the second quarter in a row. At the end of September, Twitter had a core audience of 307 million active users, adding just 3 million worldwide during the three months since June. It seems mass market appeal is no longer there.

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CIPR Cymru Breakfast Briefing On Crisis PR Management

PR-crisis-management

@AlexSingletonUK

Last week I was offered the chance to attend a CIPR Cymru business breakfast meeting in Cardiff Bay. Speaking on the subject of crisis communications was Alex Singleton, former Telegraph journalist, former associate director of The Whitehouse Consultancy and author of the book ‘The PR Masterclass’.

Crisis communications is always an engaging PR topic. By its nature, we tend to be more aware of organisations which have badly handled crises, rather than those which have successfully evaded or deflected the threat of poisoned PR darts.

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The quality spectrum in content marketing

spectrum As CEO, you’re confident that your social media and content marketing is sorted. Someone handles your Twitter and Facebook, your blogging strategy, press releases, brand awareness and the general public face of the company. Maybe you don’t totally understand it, but you trust them to do whatever they think is best.

There’s a growing climate of casual acceptance in content marketing, which borders on complacency. While the various facets of social marketing are rapidly maturing, acquiring some kind of critical mass and effectively integrating with more traditional digital marketing tools, it still appears enough for many to just know the box is ticked.
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Be careful who you follow

followMost online social communities depend upon reciprocation, following the activity of others in order to be followed back; a sometimes blind and urgent focus on simply driving up those important numbers. This is a call to pause for thought.

Much of business today revolves around metrics, data, numbers.  The mass of people online means a wealth of data, new job roles designed to exploit that data and professionals desperately scrambling to keep their skills up to date.  It’s not hard to see why data has been dubbed the oil of this century.

This is largely for the good, for transparency and accountability, for conversions and web traffic, unambiguous black and white.  Close measurement and analysis has become meaningful and arguably most meaningful where it’s most niche, where there is specifically developed software within a sector; where metrics are fluid and have serious value.
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Wise words from a communications Olympian

BrockDoyleAfter attending the season’s launch earlier in the month, last week I took another trip to the salubrious surroundings of St David’s Hotel in Cardiff Bay for a Cardiff Business Club event.

Kicking off the season was Jackie Brock-Doyle OBE, CEO of Good Relations Group. When you’re credited with bringing the Olympics to London and having a large say in overseeing communications for the whole thing, as well as for the Paralympics, Commonwealth and Invictus Games: that deserves respect.
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Business buzzwords serve a purpose – get over it

Some ducks, "going forward".

Some ducks, “going forward”.

Whether it’s ‘thinking outside the box’, ‘going forward’ or virtually any other oft-used term of business-speak, many people bristle at buzzwords. They should probably relax about it. 

For marketers, communicators, PRs and most professionals addressing words all day long, those hackneyed and overused phrases of business language can become a grind.

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