Archive for the 'Comms' Category

Jun 03 2008

They think it’s all over …

Published by under Comms,Russia

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… it is now.

The Champions’ League final, that is.

I know I don’t normally talk about work on this blog, but I thought I’d point out our Moscow Football Diary on the FCO Website. There’s some photos on the Flickr channel, too.

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May 19 2008

Public Affairs News Awards, 2008

Published by under Comms,Politics

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rod_cartwright.jpg Received an interesting Facebook event notification this morning, inviting me to vote for Rod in this year’s PA News awards. He’s up for ‘Public Affairs Personality of the Year’.

The profiles of the three shortlisted candidates make interesting reading. Rod’s, to my mind, doesn’t do him justice. I don’t know ‘Anne Longfield OBE‘, but despite an interesting enough write-up there’s no photo. This makes me nervous. Lionel Zetter’s entry, though, is well worth a read, if only because he comes up with a true Rod-ism if ever I saw one:

of course there is good lobbying and bad lobbying, just like there is good sex and bad sex – but let’s face, it most of us would rather have bad sex than no sex at all!

I voted for Rod, of course. And you should too. Maybe if he wins we can persuade him to start blogging.

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Apr 08 2008

Tweet tweet?

Published by under Comms,Digital

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Simon observes that, from Number Ten to Barack Obama, they’re all at it. Perhaps it’s just my rather small social networking and blog reading circles, but it seems like the political world’s going mad for Twitter.

I do wonder, though, what use much of it is. If you’re an Obama supporter, you may well sign up to his feed. But if you’re not, or of you’re undecided, why would you bother? More to the point, what proportion of America’s non-voters or floating voters (do the US have those?) are politically active enough to sign up to a potential President’s twitterings?

I signed up for Twitter ages ago, and then promptly forgot about it. I did have a BBC Breaking News feed being sent to my cellphone, but it seems to have broken. I’m just not sure it’s relevant for me right now. I don’t have GPRS so am not ‘always on’, and Facebook status updates take care of the keeping-up-with-friends side of what Twitter offers. Plus, and here’s the thing, none of my friends use it.

I’m not completely anti, though. I do think Twitter has its uses – maybe the concept just isn’t mature enough for we, the masses, to see them yet. And it must, therefore, be a Good Thing that the likes of our PM are Twittering.

In the future I can see Twitter as a replacement for clunky and costly SMS updates – flight arrivals, weather, travel advice and so on. And how about a Terminal 5 Twitter feed?

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Apr 02 2008

Lost your bags in Terminal Five?

Published by under Comms,Media,Music

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Perhaps this’ll cheer you up.

Just brilliant – almost makes me wish I’d decided to work in advertising after all.

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Mar 31 2008

Links of the fortnight (and a bit)

Published by under Comms,Digital,Media,Misc,Politics,Tech

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Sorry for the hiatus. Believe it or not, until I get my replacement MagSafe adaptor I’m spending very little time online – using the laptop on a coffee table (the only place I can jiggle the wire sufficiently to get it to work) gives me a sore back.

Anyway. Jumbo helping of links to make up for my silence …

Sex Scandal Cheat Sheet – from Matt Bors. Excellent.

BBC Micro, we salute you – 10 PRINT “JAMES IS SKILL” 20 GOTO 10

Beau Bo d’Or on the Beijing Olympics

Theo on Civilian vs Military friends – for Rob, Nicky & Ellie

Richard’s Top 5 PR films – Great list but, as others have said, Thankyou for Smoking has to be on there

Aggregating the Walled Gardens – Neville on the future of social networks and the barriers between them

EDM1245 – Total Politics magazine – Sprung!

Tim Ireland on SOCPA – Marcus, Sam, this one’s for you

Tim Marshall on the cost of war – harrowing

Downing Street twitters – whatever next?

Still number one on Google for ‘Sinister Beard’, too. Woot!

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Mar 17 2008

Return of the Sinister Beard

Published by under Comms,Digital,Media,Politics

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Looking through my Statcounter log today, I apparently had a visitor from Argentina in the early hours of yesterday morning. Not so unusual, thanks to the global nature of the internets and the Google. But this particular visitor is rather special.

Why?

Because he or she ended up at this post after googling the phrase “Sinister Beard”.

Which reminds me of Rod. Rod Cartwright, for those who haven’t been following, is a friend and former colleague of mine with a wise, amusing and eloquent turn of phrase. The blogosphere, thus far, is all the poorer without him.

Here’s an article Rod wrote for PRWeek the other day, on the regulation versus self-regulation debate currently surrounding the lobbying industry in the UK. It’s rather good, if a little lacking in Rod-isms.

C’mon, Rod. You know you want to.

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Mar 17 2008

Bell R Us

Published by under Comms,Politics

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According to reports today, British PR firm Bell Pottinger has been hired by the government of Belarus.

Interesting times for the account team.

Incidentally, Bell Pottinger were due before the Commons Select Committee on Public Administration last week.  Which brings me to my next post …

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Mar 11 2008

More on Civil Service blogs – and Civil Servants blogging

Published by under Comms,Digital,Media,Politics

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Tom Watson MP, Minister for Transformational Government, has kicked off a very interesting discussion around what a Code for Civil Service Bloggers might look like. Given the Times’s (hyperbolic, perhaps?) suggestion of a “Whitehall Crackdown” in response to the Civil Serf episode, Tom’s decision to get involved – and publicly – can only be a good thing.

Of the many comments on Tom’s original post, Paul and Matthew’s contributions are, I think, particularly relevant.

Paul Canning, like me, doesn’t write about work, for reasons I can wholeheartedly identify with. Matthew Somerville, like many others, wants to clarify the distinction between civil service blogs, and civil servants who blog. I’m definitely the latter but, in the presence of sufficiently clear and understandable guidance, would try my hand at the former.

As a very crude distinction, I’d venture that the former should stick to their own (and related) policy areas, and get the lines right whilst contributing to the debate. The latter should stay clear of their own (and related) policy areas – not always easy – but are then free to contribute to whatever other debates float their boat.

I’ve tried to address this myself, both in my ‘about’ page (complete with disclaimer), and in a post entitled ‘What this blog isn’t’ just over a month ago.

Tom, if you, or any of your team, would like to discuss further – or, indeed, if you fancy convening for the purpose a virtual forum for civil service bloggers, and civil servants who blog, I’m in.

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Mar 11 2008

Civil Serf: part of the problem?

Published by under Comms,Digital,Media,Politics

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Thanks to a four-day weekend I’m a little late jumping on this particular bandwagon. There are dozens ofmy take on civil serf‘ posts out there already, but I might as well add my own.

The facts are well-known: Young-ish, senior-ish Civil Servant with private sector background finds her frustrated at Whitehall inefficiencies. Many of us can identify, I’m sure. Starts venting her frustrations in her blog. Pulls the plug after the inevitable media interest.

My feelings on this are almost identical to Jeremy Gould’s – she broke the rules (in spirit, certainly, if not in letter). More than that, though, if you ask me (and, by implication, if you’ve read this far then you did), Civil Serf wasn’t helping to fix anything, she was part of the problem.

Sure, she uncovered some bureaucratic inefficiencies and got frustrated by them. Every bureaucracy will have them. But, having re-read a few of her posts, I’m not sure I recall much by way of positive suggestions as to how to improve things. Not a great deal of constructive criticism. I find it hard to believe that she didn’t come across the odd example of government machinery working well, either – but then, as we all sadly know, good news isn’t news.

What interests me more, at the moment, is the ongoing media reaction. Civil Serf is all over the mainstream press at the moment in a raft of identikit, superficial articles. You can hear the pack baying for her eventual unmasking – followed by her inevitable sacking, all in the name of a good story. “Hunt is on”, says the Times, for this “Demon Blogger”.

Is it?

Civil Serf’s identity doesn’t really bother me. I’d be vaguely curious to know which Department she works in, but that’s about it. But given the (Sunday) Times’s track record I guess we shouldn’t be all that surprised at the quest to tear off the rubber mask.  And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for you meddling journalists!

Now that the Civil Serf blog has been taken down, Simon Dickson over at Puffbox has grabbed the URL and, where the blog used to be, has posted a useful potted history along with his take on the subject. Which has to be better than the alternative of a page full of ads for viagra and pirate software.

He’s not quite correct to suggest, though, that Civil Serf’s content has been lost for good. Thanks to Google Reader, I have all of Civil Serf’s posts from some point in December onward. I’m not sure, at this stage, whether it makes sense to reconstruct the blog for posterity; if the author wants it taken down, perhaps to safeguard her (or his?) continuing employment, there’s an argument in favour of acquiescence. But I can’t be the only one who has them.

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Mar 09 2008

Links of the Week

Published by under Comms,Media,Misc,Politics,Russia,Tech

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Light Sabre for your N95 – pointless but brilliant

Simon Dickson on Whitehall and WordPress – don’t hold your breath, Simon

Nokia Internet Tablet – shape of things to come, or interesting tangent?

Renault buys into Lada – cue all the old Lada jokes. But hey, look what VW did for Skoda.

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