Category Archives: General

Engaging with Millennials: Westminster Media Forum Highlights

Engaging Millennials Forum

I recently attended the Westminster Media Forum in London and spoke about how we’re engaging younger audiences through Capital FM, PopBuzz and We The Unicorns. I only had ten minutes so it was quite a speedy tour, but here were my notes from the other excellent speakers that presented. Continue reading

Echo Chambers and Emojis: My Notes from Web Summit 2016

content strategy at web summit 2016

Each year, Web Summit attracts digital enthusiasts from around the world, seeking networking opportunities and juicy thought-leader presentations. This year, however, there seemed to be very little of that, from a content maker perspective at least. The 2016 event in Lisbon was heavy over-subscribed (50,000 attendees was the number quoted) and there was a change in style from previous summits – relaxed sofa ‘chats’ with speakers over detailed analysis. When there was a formal presentation you heard yourself muttering ‘thank god for Power Point’ which is, as you all know, a hideous crime.

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What Now for Journalism?

content strategy and filter bubbles

Some hastily scribbled thoughts following the recent US elections. What do US journalists (and perhaps all of us) need to do going forward?

  • Don’t get too hung up on this whole echo chamber/filter bubble analogy. Although its been important to acknowledge the narcissistic nature of social media, we now need to be careful that these kind of convenient and simplistic metaphors don’t obscure the good work journalists are doing every day to ‘break on through’. When you start talking about people being ‘trapped’ in their own ‘bubbles’ it starts to sound like ‘What’s the use?’ We need to engage, listen and speak a language that the majority understand.
  • Take as a given that advocacy ‘journalism’ websites is only going to get bigger and bolder. They will continue to attack academia and mainstream media for being elitist/disconnected from the populace/ordinary man/forgotten man.
  • The answer? Become excellent, amazing journalists. Let’s get better every day at what we do.
  • Let’s take another look at local news where investment has slipped.
  • Help Facebook become the responsible publisher it needs to be.
  • Challenge the notion that free news probably isn’t worth reading. Don’t hide the truth behind a wall.
  • Find news ways of funding good journalism – like getting Google of Facebook to pay for it.
  • Work with UX/Design to create experiences that facilitate comfortable reading of complex issues.
  • Reject the notion readers are only interested in surface skimming over depth.
  • Fight the titillation of fake news with well-researched, annoying details.
  • Listen more, comment less.

Gamestorm to futureproof your content strategy and design

content strategy gamestorming session

I’m a big fan of Gamestorming – creating really fun interactive sessions motivate participants to focus on a project objective. Using the element of play can be really useful in these instances, as so many of our meetings are dominated by distraction with people answering email on their devices and disengaged. Introducing novel exercises can really counter the monotony of established office routines.

The ‘Pre Mortem’
The exercise I selected from the Gamestorming book was the Pre Mortem – essentially focusing the group on what could go wrong with a project. Asking a group to spend time actively ripping apart a proposed vision or product is actually really fun, and something people aren’t usually asked to do.

Here’s how the hour was organised:

  • 10 mins intro (explain project and point of exercise)
  • 10 mins 2 x groups of 5 – generate disasters
  • 5 mins 1 x person from each group to stick up on wall
  • 5 x mins dot voting
  • 15 mins back into groups – take the top 4-5 and brainstorm mitigation for each
  • 5 mins 1 x person from each group to stick up on wall
  • 10 min summary of what we’ve learnt

Steven LAWW 3IMG_5072IMG_5076IMG_5078

With so many meetings booked in our calendars, many of which overrun or haven’t an established agenda or goal, it’s easy to take the simpliest path – attend, keep participation to a minimum, and then head to the next meeting. With a bit of forward planning, and maybe testing on a few willing participants in advance, it’s possible to create a really constructive session that really bonds the team and helps them see the project (with its many challenges and solutions) in a new light.

WANTED: Freelance Multimedia Editor Required!

We have an exciting new project starting on Heart.co.uk which will involve creating amazing, shareable content in a variety of formats. This person will have a strong understanding of what makes great distributed content so probably has experience of being both a Content Editor and Social Media Guru/Overlord. Other details below.

  • Education to degree level
  • Journalism qualification preferred with, ideally, experience gained with an entertainment/lifestyle publisher
  • Experience of curating amazing content – sourcing memes, videos etc and creating highly sharable listicles
  • Equally important – experience creating original video, memes etc – you are a true multimedia unicorn!
  • A flexible and willing approach to working under pressure and in a fast-paced environment

Please email me your CV and examples of your work.

Use Creative Writing Techniques To Shape Your Content Design

content strategy creative writing session

This week I attended another of Tom Hewitson‘s excellent Content Lab sessions, this time looking at how creative writing exercises can feed into content design. Although Content Strategy/Content Design/ContentMarketing are fairly new disciplines, it’s already fairly easy to follow ‘established’ methods which may not break any exciting new ground. I know that might be controversial so I’ll let that one hang for a while…

Anyway, at the session we had the wonderful Jacqui Lofthouse who took us through a series of exercises like the following:

  • Individual: Here’s a random photo of a person and answer the following – what’s his/her name?, What do they most regret? Who do they hate? What stops them sleeping at night?
  • Group: Flesh out your characters further with some inspiring ‘props’ (a series of envelopes with random objects e.g. a dollar note etc). What is the connection between the objects and the character?
  • Group: Write, without editing, about your character for six minutes. Here’s a scene to get you going…

Apart from being fun session (I rarely go to creative writing sessions) I found the techniques above really focused the mind around what the character thought and felt in a moment in time. The six minute stream-of-conscious approach was also good at fleshing out aspects that might have been easily deleted in the writing process.

You can see how this might be useful in persona-building activities and is certainly something I’d consider with my own team. However, I would have to be careful not to conflate an entirely fictitious character with a user: personas do have a habit of taking on a life of their own. But as a quick exercise to really engage a team around a topic/challenge, this was really fun exercise to explore.

We The Unicorns On The Gadget Show!

A couple of weeks back The Gadget Show team came down to our office to film a typical day with We The Unicorns. It was a really exciting day, with some great interviews with creators like Savannah Brown who popped in to tell us all about her new book, face-swap and generally look amazing in our Unicorns photoshoot.

Being approached by tv broadcasters is just such a great reflection of the hard work the team have put in other the last six months. We’re already attracting more than a million users every month and that’s down to the talent of the team but also the fantastic comments and interaction from the Unicorns community – that’s YOU!

So…..here’s the video. Onwards and upwards!