Thursday, 30 July 2009

Good things will come to those who wait...

I disagree completely with the statement, "good things will come to those who wait"; in my opinion, good things will come to those who go out and make it happen for themselves. It was maybe 10 years ago I was in a job biding my time, existing, working to go out and enjoy myself. I stopped and suddenly realised that I spend more time at work than doing anything else in my life. I had to do a job I really enjoy.

In the past few years I've had a ball, I feel so lucky; I went back to art school and studied life drawing which culminated in one solo exhibition and one joint. I got involved producing a TV show, have started or am on the board of 6 different companies; developed some ground breaking software, was the Edinburgh rep for the British Motorcycle Federation, flew the family out to Las Vegas so I could go to a business meeting - it goes on...

I know if I'd sat back, lived a safe existence I might have experienced some interesting things but definitely not the life I lead now.

So what's brought this on, is this my swan song - No. I was supposed to see a friends band last night, Ten Storeys High - I couldn't make it. Their first release is the video below which I did some of the camera work for; it's called "Good Things" i.e. good things will come to those who wait; Callum is singing about his love for Ros who incidently has been really ill but is now on the mend and I wish them all the very best.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Attention!



Getting or making an attention is a trial unless there is real confidence in your tone and attitude in your nature.

I was watching some old reruns of Dragons Den the other day and there was this pair who had come up with an alternate to the traditional bell for the push-bike: a digital one. They lived in London and were tired of being unnoticed by every other road user. The old bell was too tinkly amongst the horns and torrent of verbal abuse - the Dragons response (who I'm guessing don't know what it is to ride a bike in public let alone on busy London streets) was littered with sarcasm about using clown horns and compressed air horns, understandably in my opinion. OK so I love the idea of the battery operated digital shreek or whistle; the problem wasn't the product it was down to the humble presentation.

I attend tennis coaching every Sunday morning, it's a group activity, there can be as many as 15 or as few as 4 that turn up. Not that I'm sneaky or troublesome but inevitably we somehow end up analysing the game area that I want to work on. Why is that - I don't pay any more than anyone else, I'm not the worst or the best. I just look out for number one... me. I'm not there for the benefit of anyone else - don't get me wrong I've made friends with quite a few who make it along on a regular basis, it's just that I'm interested in winning.

If you want to win get yourself noticed! It's easy for me to say I'm in marketing... if you don't do it no one will find you or your product... NO BLOODY BRAINER! You do it for your company, why don't you do it for yourself.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Tweetabits offers £150,000 of prizes to Twestival


Twestival dates have been confirmed as 10 - 13th September 2009. The last Twestival event was the biggest Twitter fund raising event in history raising over $250,000 for charity:water, a non-profit organisation bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

Tweetabits has been in touch with the organisers and they are excited at the prospect of having a Tweetabits user license as a raffle or auction gift to offer attendees of the event.

Twestival is being held in 300 countries around the world, it is therefore likely that Tweetabits will be offering the equivalent of £150,000 worth of licenses to this amazing charity event. An exciting prospect...

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

How to...


Network like a rockstar.
You can not succeed without the help of other people.

I came across an article recently - I forget who highlighted it to me - it was all about building your own profile online because ultimately the bigger your following the more credibility you are seen to have. Particularly on a blog as opposed to a Twitter or Myspace account.

Building up your own profile is best supported by a strong network, because marketing exists through other people. Think of your life like one giant networking event and recognise that you are already well networked. You have friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances that you've met throughout your life. If you draw upon these contacts and try and help them out, then they will do the same for you. Over time, this strategy will boost you and your brand, getting you where you want to be.

So don't bother learning the guitar... just get passionate about the stuff that interests you. So how do we lead the crowd; you avoid it altogether...

Friday, 17 July 2009

TechCrunch talks Tweetabits



Online PR is a difficult beast to tame at the best of times. I don't profess to be an expert in this area, I only know it's not something that you can immediately impact overnight. There has to be a sustained approach from lots of different angles using and abusing the friends and contacts you have to then employing a professional PR company to manage your property for you. I know a couple in this area so we'll see where it ends up:)

Tweetabits was mentioned in HI-TECH magazine earlier in the week and then offered up for discussion on TechCrunch today. Mike Butcher heads up TechCrunch Europe, he's a nice guy who constantly gets bombarded by new storys that he has to assess whether they are news worthy and what the angle will be. His approach to Tweetabits was flipant but he can also see the benefits. I look forward to seeing the feedback on TechCrunch. Although I have to bare in mind that it's not really the targetted audience that read Mike's blog. The product is really for business to consumer companies that have multi-sites either globally or locally not geeks that are looking for the next big thing in "tech world".

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


Image courtesy of "Newspaper Innovation"


Brian Currie gave me permission to post a link to his article in The Herald today: "Governments ‘must safeguard future of Scots newspapers"
My question to you is Yes or No?

In my meagre opinion - No

I have argued on 38 Minutes previously that great creative journalism is fantastic - they need all the support that we can give them. I was not referring to a handout - I was referring to links and recognition of the copy they write (i.e. not plagiarism).

If the paper is not keeping up with the times - design, content and interactivity then does it deserve to continue? And why should a handout be requested... is it because it's a failing business and they have lost sight of a commercial opportunity and this seems like the easy option? Hell the banks got away with it, why can't we attitude?

Or should the debate be the "invaluable" service that newspapers perform - if they were truly invaluable would they be in this much trouble?

Previous related articles:
"Newspaper Circulation"
"Newspaper Survival - another direction"

Must tax payers support another failing business?

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Festivals





At the moment 'T in the Park' is in full swing and the 3rd day is about to kick off. Talor (my 16yr old daughter) is there with a huge group of her pals - my experience of it this year has been a phone call with some screaming and a Calvin Harris moment thrashed down the ear piece... she's loving it (so far). It is true to say that I will never likely return; in 2007 Colin Usher and I were part of the Proclaimers crew, we were media managing them at the time and also filming their performance - so basically our existence consisted of hanging out in the Artists Village and doing all the backstage stuff that went with it - getting invited to a party by Mani (Primal Scream), hanging out with the guys from The Crimea, chatting to Edith Bowman, waving at Drew Barrymore (should have gone over and said hello... sorry hon), sharing a portacabin with the Arctic Monkeys, on a table with Sandi Thom, stood on Lily Allen's toe (made that last one up - but she was there)... I could say more but we'll leave it there. The point being that yes it has a few famous people but look at in comparison to a couple of others.

The press this year have been saying it's the biggest Festival in Scotland... umm right, not strictly true - the word music may have been missed.

I still don't understand why the Edinburgh Festival (Fringe) does not get more publicity - it has to be one of the biggest on a global scale. Last year there were 1.75 million tickets sold for events lasting over 23 days. This year the Fringe 2009 features 34,265 performances of 2,098 shows in 265 venues - that's a staggering piece of management.

SXSW = South by South West an amazing festival over in the states which has been going for 22 years boasts 1500 acts - I'm not dissing it, I've been invited over for next years... it's just that it succeeds where Edinburgh hasn't in the world of PR.

Edinburgh
now has an amazing opportunity to attract an international audience of amazing proportions because the weakness of the £ in the money markets (both US and Euro), so let's milk it. Big it up, every opportunity you get!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Tweetabits




Ok so the game is afoot... we are now undertaking a soft launch of Tweetabits. So I'm afraid this blog will probably mention it rather a lot over the next few weeks and months.

For those of you that don't know: it is a twitter tool for businesses. Example: You are an accountant based on Easter Road but you work with clients all over Edinburgh. You are interested in connecting with people tweeting that are discussing payroll issues, Tax (but not Council), bookkeeping queries but not jobs. Tweetabits provides you with location or area specific columns of tweets that are headed with your search terms 'Payroll', 'Tax', 'Bookkeeping' and you can create as many columns as you want. Delivering live conversations from people just from in this case Edinburgh. This allows you to start conversations with people that need your services. Genius!

Additional Features include hot and cold leads by tweet and by user.

We are at the end of the development cycle and now looking for businesses to try it and give their feedback.

The pricepoint is £495

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Plan's coming together


Today I had some great meetings; one with Darcie at Channel 4ip and another with Sally at 'Common Turf' c/o Cultural Enterprise Office (CEO).

With Sally it was a case of getting to grips with CEO and Common Turf; a better understanding that they work where Business Gateway don't. They provide a similar sort of back up in business mentorship and processes but for those smaller companies that don't necessarily fall into the most likely remit of the gateway. Common turf then analyses those businesses and creates opportunities for them to meet - although they would if recent funding could support it further - it's another one that's under review.

We're hoping to hook up again in the not too distant future.

The Channel 4ip meeting was to share inside knowledge on a new twitter product for SME businesses and in particular Franchised businesses. It's a product called "Tweetabits" created by Digital Face (DF) that delivers local tweets relevant to location specific searches. DF are looking for support and feedback on the product - Darcie has until Thursday night to give me a report...

Today I was blown away by Glasgow; I caught it in a new light - it's gorgeous when the sun is shining, particularly Merchant City. The people are friendly, they are generally good looking or make a huge effort to look the part. The buildings are well cared for. I left thinking wow you've upped your game; great effort Glasgow City Council - now that's not something you hear very often.

Image courtesy of Hugh MacLeod

Monday, 6 July 2009

Fair day


Ok, so it's fair to say - I had a fair day; and by that I mean I had a couple of great meetings with a fair outcome followed up by queueing in traffic behind a bunch of carnies on their way to set up a fair...

It was good to see Stewart again at SMK Print; Stewart works out of Easter Road and has been in print business for the best part of his life and what he doesn't know about print could probably be written on the back of a stamp. Stewart and I belong to a little known networking group called 'F4B' or 'First for Business' (putting business first - in the morning) - the height of cheese because the meetings start at 7:00am. I can't say it's a struggle for me because I'm always up with the larks but it's been great. You can find out more about here: F4B

I had lunch at Hawke & Hunter again today with some new clients who have loads of requirements so that was quite exciting; I obviously can't give too much away here because work starts in earnest next week and I don't want to jinx it before we even start. Top effort at H & H again, I should be getting my food for free the amount of times I go to that place (hint hint...!)

Back at DF Central I had a great meeting with my mate Davey Peters chatting about some mutual projects - he does nothing but impress me with his take on life and all things creative. It's great to get an injection of hyperactivity that you know is going to lead to something fantastic - I'm counting my chickens here but I know it's going to be more than just a fair outcome.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Hugh gets gushy...



I don't know what I did to deserve this but it's a social media goldmine. Recommendations and referals are what make you as a brand stand head and shoulders above the masses.

I was getting flooded by twitter hook ups and couldn't work out why until I spotted this. Be a friend and recommend someone you know - it's pay back time!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Innovators


I seem to be working or meeting with lots of innovators these days. A few days ago saw me at Hawke & Hunter again having lunch with a couple of guys who have succeeded in gaining funding (almost done deal whilst going to press) for a Scottish Social Network; their premis is to hook up like minded individuals that have Scottish roots "KILTR".

Yesterday I was at ECM (Edinburgh Coffee Morning #edcm) the home of media savvy, social networking geeks with interests from film production to Humanist 'Celebrants'. It was great to see a few new faces - Tori Long from Head Resourcing, Dave Cummings from Limbo (film and music producer with great digital marketing strategy knowledge) and some old faces - Jon Mountjoy from Sales Force, Marc Tanenbaum a flash games developer, Darcie from Channel 4...

I then went on to meet Tim Barlow from Attacat for lunch down in Canonmills at the Circle Cafe which had really great food (we both had the specials, my salmon was wrapped in pastry with a light pesto sauce)... wow. Tim is starting a new project and is looking both for funding (of which he's got a great starting point for) and a development team. I can't give too much away but suffice to say it's an amazing idea that is absolutely possible. His challenge though is finding a 4 or 5 man team that can develop or take to market this formula whilst also providing him with an outline cost for developing the product. There are quite a few unknown quantities involved because it is something that has to integrate across multiple browsers and platforms (he's looking for people with knowledge of the Google toolbox) whilst intelligently deciphering live written content replacing elements in all forms of online written content. Where does he start?

When we were looking for a development partner for AdPay they fell into our lap - I now realise how lucky we were. However now there is 38 Minutes; here is a website that is supported by Channel 4ip and Scottish Enterprise that holds Scotland and Northern Ireland's online community of creative, social media, techy geek sorts. Post a request here and software developers will come flooding in.

Finally last night we were out for a bite (my wife and I) to eat with our dear friends Neil and Leena who are on the cusp of getting married. We went to Channings Hotel in the new town. It has been a long time since I was there and my goodness it's changed; the Town House Group are never ones to rest on their laurels but they have certainly grabbed the bull by the horns and have developed a little gold mine - the outside terrace (beer garden) is a dream spot. The real innovation here though is not the building but the staff. At one time or another we have either worked in the service industry or know someone that has. These guys were attentive, friendly, and always there when you wanted them; and when I say friendly I mean it felt comfortable not pushy just really helpful (lets hear the applause). As you may gather I get out and about a lot, it's not often I am so effusive about good service. Great work Channings!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Amazing work at RUTS



Yesterday saw me visit one of our support projects... once a year Digital Face picks a charity and works with them to deliver a project free of charge. It usually takes the form of a website, graphic design, marketing strategy or just straight volunteering.

This year we are starting to see the fruits of our labour working with R.U.T.S. or Rural and Urban Training Scheme. These guys carry out some amazing work. They provide an invaluable education to high school kids who have lost their way or need focus by introducing them to motorbikes... yup they learn how to build, reconstruct, ride... anything and everything to do with bikes whilst also gaining invaluable skills whether reading or arithmetic but ultimately gaining a certificated and SQA recognised qualification.

Although based on the outskirts of Edinburgh (near the Mining Museum at Newtongrange) they have 2 mobile units that visit schools and remote areas. Due to the mobile units (instigated last year) they now have appointments all over Scotland and are getting innundated with requests. However they are now becoming a victim of their own success. They now desperately need new bikes and safety gear because it's all starting to look a bit old and tired. They are a charity and require assistance not only from grant funding but private and local businesses or associations.

So if you know of anyone that is a keen biker, that has a business and would like to be associated with helping wayward kids gain a more rounded education please get them to speak to Caroline or one of her team!!! Sponsorship takes many forms - not least the provision of knackered old, unused or neglected bikes (and bike parts) that they can do up and sell or return to the original owner for a fee.

RUTS: 0131 663 5736 or E: info@ruts.org.uk