Saturday, July 22, 2006

Help Wanted!

This is the fourth (of 4, at least recently) missing posts.
Apologies for any subsequent duplications.

Every morning, I awake with the larks and spend a fair few hours sifting through the overnight email collection of newsletters from near and far, and often get sucked off on some tangent that can deliver the sweet fruit of more knowledge.

I also derive a pretty hefty collection of folk I'd like to get in touch with, and hope to get on board with (and us with them) in the cause of synergy and mutual benefit.

And more often than not I'll stumble across an award, competition, grant or somesuch that needs investigating and, possibly, applying for.

This is all good stuff, but really makes only a small difference to helping be the entity it was intended to be.

Especially because little, if any of this info is currently making it to our pages.

I'm just so busy accumulating, I simply do not have the time to turn this into something that can be of interest and use on the site. Which is plainly ridiculous.

Plus there are now countless very fine online publications, blogs & Forums producing excellent news and views, with healthy and growing readerships... with enviably tasty ad support to match. And it's frustrating, because I can honestly say that I have read few that have anything I have not already come across already and, if such things really mattered, noted a lot earlier as relevant. And while a small minority do make an analysis or pass comment (almost all US-based), most are simply reprints of PR releases. We are guilty of this too, but mainly with 'info' stuff that can just be passed on. In mitigation there is this blog and such as our new PPProR section.

But is mostly about 'doing', and though all is in place to freely allow that to happen by any who choose to do so (person or company), the process requires constant nudging along. Specifications, ideas... and then sharing this near and far to inspire and encourage and attract more.

And that crucial aspect is falling behind.

So we need help. Bodies on the ground. Money to pay for them. We are applying for support from NGOs, government, initiatives, etc, but they are seldom keen on funding people's time. They like widgets. And targets.

There is promise in certain awards we've submitted to, and our premise is the establishment of 'representation' around the country. Perhaps ten 'regions' to start with. A bit like the Freecycle coordinators, only perhaps a little less rigid, clubby and cliquey, a little lighter green... and a bit more commercial, which means we aim to reward efforts and time.

When, as we hope, the money comes in, would you like to be part of this? It will inevitably be a slow start as we're on a learning curve, and I can't guarantee big bucks, and maybe not much at all initially. We'd certainly not expect you to be out of pocket, even from the outset! The kind of thing we envisage is as follows for 'Local Heroes', as we've named this project :

* Liaison with recycling/reuse organizations and media.

* Attending local events/fetes.

* Highlighting local re-problems and success stories.

* Initiating and moderating Forums/FAQ's on local e-topics.

Carried out by:

* Talking to local people/word of mouth.

* Surfing & contributing to local media sites and Forums.

* Contacting local organizations/councils/shops via the Internet, telephone/meetings etc.

* Show/Exhibition presence (we're planning roadtrip exhibition support)

If you think you like the sound of that, get in touch:

I think I've caught a viral...

This is 3 of 4 of recent missing posts. If the duplicate turns up, apologies.

...Or, at the very least, I'm on a list. No sooner does the Greenpeace 'viral' get sent to me, but now I have been sent another. At least the former was well targeted by the PR agency, but I'm damned if I know what some credit card has to do with my day.

I like(d) the idea of virals, at least as I understood them. But maybe I have missed the point. I thought it just like discovering new and edgy music used to be. An often vicarious pleasure, or through tuning into pirate stations, following anarchic DJs and haunting dodgy pubs, you stayed at the cutting edge. Now what's 'out here' is manufactured very much 'in here', and then served up under the guise of being raw. There are now archives, lists and awards. 'In people', who make sure we see what we're meant to, and nothing outside their control or ability to make some money from. There are probably already viral agencies (which I guess are like ad agencies only without the need to submit scripts or partner up with media buyers, though I guess they do now need PR agencies as a substitute).

When I was an aspiring creative, you begged, stole or borrowed to get a bit of time in an edit suite to cut a few frames together you'd knocked out on the HandyCam for the porty. Now it's full blown productions purporting to be without any corporate sanction or funding, when the dead hand of a trendy exec's brief is clear to all: 'use bad language, sex or violence (or all three) in some way that creates a hoo haa, and we'll get media coverage for free from the media gatekeepers who will be happy for the column inches/footage, and probably to lead to exposure more than the value of paid ads. Message is secondary. Action on the part of the consumer a surprise bonus.'

Meanwhile, I'm dusting off my HandyCam.... watch this space. No, really, watch this space...

What does your marketing say about you?

This is 2 of 4 of recent missing posts. If it turns up, apologies for the duplication.

My views on the whole 4x4 thing are well known (and if you don't know them, then there are around 400-odd posts to work back through to see that I don't own one, don't see the need for most to have one, but feel there are much bigger fish to fry, less divisively, than the current obsession some activists have with the stupid things. Any road up (geddit?), I was sent the latest Greenpeace 'viral' (not, as I thought was meant to be the way, by a chum, but rather the PR guys) and presume I am meant to pass it on. So here you are. Quicktime Windows media Flash

As an ad person, I have seldom seen such an overlong, indulgent bit of tosh in my life, delivered with so little wit. You can affect change with satire and lampooning (I have some footage in mind that could be cut to mock Chelsea Tractor drivers with their own words), but not like this. I almost felt like buying one if only to stick it to the whole backstabbing, besuited, Specsaver-wearing, sneering bunch of them. While I didn't quite agree with the message, I was impressed with the anti-nuke version not so long ago, at least as an execution.

I presume that it was all shot to the highest ethical standards and carbon whatsits, and no member of the production team, cast or crew arrived on anything but a bike and drank only from taps.

But I just live for the moment that anyone involved who thinks its hip or smart to gob in someone's cup for making a currently free consumer choice gets hoist with their own petard. For instance when my mate the farmer's daughter gets out of Uni, and when she's asked for a decaf decides to get her own back for missing the train scraping Greenpeace posters (more concerned with advertising their sponsor's energy tariff) off her Dad's Land Rover.

This was a lot of money, too (unless it was all a porty job by some daft agency with more hype than sense in its sights). So I hope the extra subs they may get pay of the office, director's bonuses and pensions, with enough left over for the awards ceremony dash to Cannes and, oh, maybe some decent planet saving as well.

Because I very much doubt this will stop any potential purchaser (should they ever see it, which I doubt, unless Jeremy Clarkson has a go at it, which he might - see conspiracy theory in earlier posts), and simply set those with a grudge on a path from which no one will benefit.

Nil points.

Winding up inventors

This is 1 of 4 of some recent missing posts (if it turns up, sorry for the duplication)

I actually can't better this title, at least in the context of this blog topic, so I'll simply nick it - Winding up inventors. That's a blog in the Observer today, and their own link (lovingly cut & pasted, so it isn't me... honest) doesn't work, so I'll include a wee bitty of what it was all about here:

"Trevor Baylis is enthused. He's been asked to judge a competition to find an energy-saving invention and he's looking forward to seeing what people come up with."

I am of course grateful at yet another such an opportunity to stay indoors slaving over another application (hence my sticking with that title), but of course had my own thoughts (which you will not see as the blog link seems to be dead):

"Great initiative. I shall certainly be applying. Why not? It's free!

But such efforts do take time to enter. And having quickly scanned the competition site I just hope that it won't restrict itself (or at least favour) only to 'things', which is where the second page of the entry form seemed to be heading.

I once coined the phrase 'Widgets from Wigan Syndrome' (not in a happy way) after a UKTI (an NGO-type entity mightily staffed, and funded, to encourage export of the British 'wares') event. It became rather apparent that there is a lot more understanding of, and hence sympathy and support for designing a thing/widget.

Service or internet-based (ironically the section of the site about 'great energy ideas' is currently offline due to a fatal script error) ideas seem less easy to get folks' heads around. Something you can touch is often sexier and easier to 'get'.

However, while I truly believe and accept that 'inventions' need to be sustainable and substantial, there are so many things in the world of saving the world that can be more complex and subtle, and need not necessarily be a 'thing' whose value can be weighed between the cost to make and market vs. projected unit sales.

As a veteran of many an oil-company (eg: Shell), consumer good (eg: Rolex) and media (Guardian!) initiated and/or sponsored event of this nature, I'm crossing fingers that to stand a chance I don't necessarily need to break out the lathe.

And while the money is significant, and most certainly can go a long way to 'making something', it's worth noting that it will pale into insignificance with the true costs of bringing anything to market, especially the promotion side.

At least with media support this has a built-in 'step up' already, and hence has to be worth a go."

The define miss blog

I just have to share this. Now I'm blogging on the blogger site, there's a lot more functionality to play with, such as a Spellchecker, which I just used on the last piece. The words it didn't recognise were 'blog' and 'blogging'.

So in future, I guess I'm writing a bloc.

I blog, therefore I am...

... a [fill space to taste].

There's a lot of blogging about blogging these days, and in writing this I feel a bit like one of those illusions using a mirror to reflect its own image in a mirror.... endless.

I think it best to draw a line, at least by the end of this.

I like blogging. Even if it's just for me, I can get stuff off my chest, leave a record (a chap on the BBC Newsnight blog I mentioned a few posts ago made a point - not necessarily the right way - about how those that ask our opinions very often don't print them (why should they?) but also often don't acknowledge them (which is plain rude. BBC's Working Lunch is a prime example mentioned, and it is not unique. Hence copying one's hard-crafted efforts onto one's own blog at least means they are published... somewhere) ) and remind myself of stuff. I also like to think they may have a broader appeal with value as entertainment, thought-provocation and plain information. I

If it gets a few folk back to my site, why not?