Something for would-be writers and spokespeople


Tebbo's Tips

All the above are free.They help you get started with handling the media or with business writing.

I created them because organisations need to influence their prospects, customers and other stakeholders either indirectly through the media or directly through their own efforts, whether they're self-published (company website/blog) or through submission to a media company. (See Tom Foremski's EC=MC: Every Company is a Media Company if you want to read more.)

The top image links to two videos, each broken down (if you want) into eight mini-videos of approximately two to five minutes duration. The bottom two link to downloadable pocket-sized memory-joggers. (They're actually A4 and come with printing and folding instructions.) If you prefer, just go to which also includes some useful links.

I offer all of this free of charge. In one respect it's me 'giving back' and sharing my knowledge. In another, I hope they reflect favourably on me and my work and attract people who'd like me to work with them. They're all Creative Commons – share by all means, but please don't alter them.

The videos are hosted on YouTube and the memory joggers are hosted on Google Drive. I had some fun writing the delivery script for the Tebbo's Tips memory-joggers, but that's another story.

I hope you enjoy what you see. I showed a few of my more critical friends and they've been very kind.

I'm enormously grateful to Alison O'Leary for agreeing to work out some questions and grill me for the videos. And, of course, to all those customers, friends and colleagues that have helped me throughout a most enjoyable career. Which, incidentally, I hope is far from over.

Poetry in Motion

CutThroatThe title of this post comes from a Johnny Tillotson song (mp3). The reason I chose it is because someone I know is in the middle of a poetry tour.

The person in question is Felix Dennis; a man whose friendship I treasure and whose publishing values I aspire to. He knows, better than any other publisher I've met, that the reader is the most important person in the world.

We went to his show at the Stratford-upon-Avon RSC Courtyard Theatre via a long detour to avoid a traffic clag-up on the M40, a check-in at the olde worlde Falcon Hotel, a cream tea at the Emporium and a tasty meal at Loxley's. Ah, not to mention the six free glasses of wine at the theatre. Cheers, Felix.

Off the top of my head, here are ten verbs that attempt to capture the Felix style. He whispers, growls, barks, laughs and shouts. He cajoles, implores, questions, stirs and delights. Not really what I expected, but I should have done, it's exactly how he behaves face-to-face.

Truth be told, he also promotes, begs and sells. He seeks donations for his Heart of England Forest charity, his poetry books and his periodicals – especially The Week and its associated wine retailer. Oh yes, he moans too about the state of our nation, of Europe and several of its individual countries, and of the poverty in St. Vincent, for which he's Honorary Consul in Warwickshire. He urged audience members thinking of a Caribbean holiday to go to St Vincent for a better welcome, wonderful scenery and lower costs. (A crude summary of what Felix actually said.)

Perhaps because he's become a local lad – his main home in the UK is in the nearby village of Dorsington – or maybe because of the free wine, or both, he was well-received in Stratford. The audience was on his side from the off, and stayed there through an interesting mix of sad, funny, moving and thought-provoking poems. All linked together with cameos from his life and illustrated with back-projected images, movies and words from his poems.

I spotted a Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band placard in the sequence from the 60's. A friend of mine played with  them when they were called The New Jungle Orchestra. All a long time ago…. I also spotted a typo or two in the poetry texts. "Baffoon" was one. And I think I saw a "wilt" where I expected a "wit", or maybe my thoughts were elsewhere.

An evening with Felix is unusual, to say the least. He shares his life's learnings in an enjoyable way. He talks about life aboard the Bearded Dwarf – his company poem. The staff used to call him that, so he adopted it as a pseuonym for his companies. I didn't, but I could have nodded all the way through that poem – in agreement, not exhaustion. I probably learnt more about publishing, editing, writing and life in my own 27 months as a crew member (from mid '79) than during the rest of my life..

Thank you Felix, for the show last night and for inspiring the second half of my life.

How sticky are your labels?

(First published in "The Right Thing To Do?" 9th August)

As editor of "The Right Thing To Do?" I've tried to stay in the background but, due to a monumental workload elsewhere in recent weeks, I've failed to find a guest writer this week. So you've got me. Hope you don't mind.

As a subject I thought I'd look back at my own life and figure out what the most important lesson has been. And I reckon it's 'authenticity'. Whenever I've tried to be someone I'm not, I've ended up unhappy at best and stressed at worst.

The trouble is that companies quite often force you into these uncomfortable situations. And, without some kind of training – in management skills in my case before I secured my first managerial position – you either busk it and get away with it. Or you do what I did and try to satisfy everyone and end up so stressed my wife had to call a doctor. (I don't remember, but I was apparently banging my head against a wall at the time.)

Fortunately, I was able to resign fairly amicably and move on, to better things as it happened, but with some lessons learned in a very hard way. After that, instead of pretending I was some kind of superman, I tried to be more open and honest about things.

Sure, we have to pretend a bit. Some years later, when I became editor of a magazine, it was a massive departure for me. I didn't feel like an 'editor'. I lacked the authority of many of my writers. But I found that, because I had the label 'editor', people treated me like one and it took very little time to grow into the new role. One that was completely compatible with my skills, motivations and values.

Again, I was lucky. A fantastic publisher (Felix Dennis) gave me a wonderful feel for this new profession (I'd had a series of IT management jobs before largely switching to publishing) and, best of all, I was able to be 'me'.

How many people get that opportunity? How many people are labelled and feel obliged to live out those labels? 'Nerd', 'air head', 'superstar', 'disabled', 'tycoon', 'housewife' and so on. The only labels you need to conform to are those you choose for yourself. You have only one life and, while it might take courage to break free of the comfort of your label, if your inner self and your label are incompatible, you need to do something about it before the stress gets you.

If you want to hear and see someone who's learned this lesson in an astonishing and profound way, take a look at this TED video by Caroline Casey. She had two massive 'change moments' in her life, at 17 and at 26. The first threatened to bestow an accurate but unwelcome label on her, and her denial of it led to the second which was close to a breakdown. By then accepting what she was and acknowledging what she really wanted, she was able to perform what you and I might regard as miracles.



Online Marketing 101

If you need a crash course in online marketing, you could do worse than browse my recent collection of articles and blog posts by experts on the matter.

I had started off, a month ago, intending to investigate what's out there on the subject of 'web-based business to business collaboration' but, as I collected the links on, I found that 'marketing' was the theme that bound most of my discoveries together. Hence the title of this blog post.

When I was a journalist, I didn't really like having to interview marketing folk because they were too sanitised, too in control of their messages and hard to get real stories out of. (Good stories to a journalist are those which carry at least a hint of disclosure.)

However my investigations gave me a new respect for marketing, it really does seem to belong at the centre of B2B collaboration activities. 

Here's a snap of part of my collection (click on the image to see it full size):


It was 'curated' by looking at hundreds of suggestions from, reducing them to fifty or so, then throwing out the four or five that didn't live up to the promise of the extract.

The result is a neat little package of pieces, admittedly of variable quality, but all of which helped to round out my existing perceptions of how to approach online B2B collaboration.

Since so much work went into the curation, I thought it would be silly to keep it to myself.

See what you think. It's at


An evening with PR/Marketing Guru, Larry Weber

Back in May, I trotted off to meet with marketing/PR guru, Larry Weber and a bunch of other interesting people, including Jack Schofield (IT man at the Guardian for donkey's years and erstwhile competitor – we both edited PC magazines in the early eighties) and Bill Nichols an academic and marcomms/reputation consultant who, when Jack and I were competing, was Clive Sinclair's PR man. They were both on the speaker panel with Larry. The other notable people were in the lively audience.

The occasion was the UK launch of Larry's (then) most recent book: Everywhere. It's about social networking being at the heart of the future of business. He calls this 'anytime, anywhere' access the the fourth wave of computing. (I ought to know what the three earlier waves were, but I've forgotten. Maybe it was brains, internal networking and internet, or something.)

No surprises so far then. But I don't think Larry set out to surprise us particularly. More that he wants to share his familiarity with the subject matter in a non-frightening manner. After all, the people who really need his insights are those who are probably the most fearful of openness, transparency and genuine dialogue. You might think of them as the 'command and contol' brigade. While this has its place, it's probably not where the rubber of the corporation hits the road of the marketplace.

Sorry, I should be talking about Larry's evening. (And, if you're wondering why it's taken me so long, it's because I was suddenly pitchforked into a new company and I've been more than a tad busy. My conscience was pricked by a Facebook post about his recent presentation to the Public Relations Student Society of America. The headline of the post was "Social media's impact bigger than television's.")

At his book launch, he predicted that, by 2015, "you'll be hard pressed to find any newspapers or nightly news on TV." He says, "TV ads have got to die sometime." He may not always provide answers but he knows how to provoke fresh thinking. Let's hope the revenue replacement doesn't put the TV companies even deeper in hock to corporate sponsors.

With regard to the Fourth Generation thing, he told the story of how he sent off for brochures from all the prospective colleges for his daughter. She didn't look at one  of them. She'd already done her research online. Except she didn't refer to it as online. When Larry once said to her, "I'm going online", she replied "Oh Dad, we don't go online any more. We just are." Online, that is. And a lot of people reading this will know what she means. If you're not one of them, then it's likely that his book will interest you.

Another thing he talked about was Innocentive. Companies give it problems and money and it gets its community of 'solvers' to apply their brains. Larry gave examples of $100,000 here and $25,000 there. It's all online (of course). And the winning contributor exchanges their IP for the cash. That's a great commercial application of crowdsourcing. Related to this were his comments on how social networking allows for the intense, focused, sharing of knowledge. I think his book goes further and talks of micro-segmentation of the internet so that you can find a community and go deep into just about any subject that interests you.

He is very clear that successful companies (especially consumer-facing) will have to become radically transparent, be willing to share and also to stand for something that will resonate with customers and prospects. Core values that permeate the company's business. Larry doesn't claim it will be easy, but he sprinkles his conversation with stories old and new of how companies have turned on the proverbial dime. Dell, of course. BP to a certain extent. And so on.

I was quite taken with the idea that, "big sites will die under their own weight." He said this because he believes that all the power is now in the network. Not sure that a behemoth like IBM would totally agree with this sentiment, despite its strong advocacy of social networking values. With statements like this, the evangelist in Larry seems to pop out of the closet. (My views of evangelists are here.)

Let's turn to one of the other speakers, Bill Nichols. He scored a hole in one for me with his observation that "People respond to emotion and fairness."

I have the sense that the former has been faked and the latter missing for a long time.

If Larry and Bill are right, we would seem to be heading towards a better and much more harmonious world.

Let's hope so.

Sir Jimmy Savile

Jimmy Savile died today. I hope you don't mind me reprinting an interview I did with him some years ago for Mensa Magazine. RIP Sir James. It was good meeting you.



Sir James Savile, to accord him his correct title, is more than just flash jewellery, bonhomie and platinum blonde hair. These are merely the superficial manifestations of a very practical and thoughtful man. My aim for Mensa MAGAZINE was to meet the man behind the mask.

Few knights would conduct press interviews in zip-up carpet slippers, white socks, a red sports shirt, a yellow dressing gown and what looked suspiciously like blue pyjama trousers. The characteristic huge cigar was clamped in his teeth. I asked him if smoking had any effect on his running. "None whatsoever." Does he inhale? "No, no, no, no. You'd die in four seconds if you did. It's just for the aroma. And also they kill all known bugs dead."

I suggested he identify five pivotal moments in his life. The first one, "being born", was dealt with swiftly. The second came 15 years later when he realised that, "although still being totally in love with my parents, I'd have to de-learn a lot of the stuff of life they'd handed down to me. For example, my dad was a bookmaker's clerk so he had an inbuilt distrust of policemen which I grew up with. I had to de-learn that policemen were a problem in life, but that didn't affect my respect for my folks."

His third pivotal moment involved "the taking over of the gentlest form of control. My parents brought me up for the first half of my life and I brought them up for the second half of theirs. I realised that I had a clearer outlook on life than they did. Also it was obvious that I was earning ten times more than they ever dreamed about so, for their benefit, I then re-educated them that life wasn't like they thought it was from the Victorian days."

This looks, I know, a bit smug in print, but when Savile talks you can sense a warmth and affection for his parents who, apparently, were just as enthusiastic for the reversed roles as he was.

I suggested that they must have been very special parents to listen. "It's not so much that they listened, so much as they accepted. We never discussed it in anything like detail, because I realised that there's no point in discussing it. Later, after my father had died, I took my mother – I called her the Duchess – from the family terraced house to live in a sea front flat in Scarborough, with me. She had a beautiful place looking out at the sea. Whereas the way that she and my father were doing things, God bless him, we were looking out in somebody's back yard."

Did she regret anything in terms of old friendships and social connections? "Not at all, because of the thing called the telephone. The telephone is a lifebelt to old people. They should all have free telephones. Not free calls, though, because other people will come in and use it."

The fourth moment came when he realised, "the enormous sums of money that I was earning weren't going to ruin me, change me or kill me. When you get in the big bucks those are three things that can happen. The present day is studded with stories of people who have acquired lots of money which, in several cases, has led to their early death. They were more successful than I but not necessarily as clever because they're dead and I'm alive."

I asked him what traps they fell into. "Corruption. All round corruption. Corruption of the body, the spirit and the mind. That's what happened to them. As simple as that." Savile's fifth pivotal moment was, "the eventual realisation of your life long goal and, with some trepidation, you look at it to see if the goal was worth fighting for in the first place. My goal was simple: to be loaded, with nothing to do. To me that was eminently sensible. Because to be loaded with nothing to do delivers you ultimate freedom."

He based the amount of money he'd need on the assumption he might live to 110. "I'd gone up, as it were, the rapids of life, and had gone into the calm waters of the lagoon at the top and the lagoon was everything that I hoped it was going to be on the way up. So there was no disappointment. No saying, 'Cripes, I've wasted my entire life becoming loaded with nothing to do and it's not nice.'" So the final realisation was, "Yes, I'm loaded, I've got nothing to do and it's bleeding marvellous. It's bleeding fantastic. It means that I don't have to bother to earn money, which means that I do things because I choose to."

"Other people opt for different things. You can imagine me as the trunk of a tree with no branches and my juices shot straight up the trunk to the blossom at the top. Whereas every other human being that I know developed branches – wife, family, dog, cat, son, daughter, and their juice gets diverted and doesn't usually get right to the top because it's drained off. I will never have the emotion of a wife and two kids where they're all safely tucked up in bed and I go and lock the house up and go to bed. That must be a very satisfying thing. I don't have that. Likewise, they don't have this single-minded pleasure of setting out for something, achieving it, and saying, 'Hey ho, how about that then?'."

I wondered whether he thought about doing good when he was on the way up. "In the early days, my folks were always on the fund raising kick because it was a way of life. It provided a social life – whist drives, dances, all those things. It was not only a fund raising thing, it was a pleasant evening and it had a purpose of profit to give to somebody else at the end of it. At the end of the day, you'd hear them talking 'We've made one pound four shillings. That's very good. We'll give that to the Little Sisters. They'll like that.' And I used to think, 'Cripes there's about nine people grafted their balls off for about five days. They've got one pound and four shillings. Equated out that makes it about tuppence ha'penny each. There's got to be an easier way.' It was undeniably pleasant, you understand, but then I realised that they did it as much for the way of life as they did it for the gain. But all this went into my computer up 'ere." He taps his head.

"Then I realised that if I made myself independent, eventually, I might be of more use to people. So I didn't do very much for anybody for the first ten years. And then, as it got obvious that that I might just stay, I started to do that bit more. Then there came a period where what you did for people overtook, time-wise, what you were doing for yourself. And now the ratio is I work, we'll say, one day a week for me and six days for everybody else, for free. I don't see that that's giving at all. I see that's sensible because, exactly like my folks, it also gives me a lifestyle which I quite enjoy."

I asked him what major problems he thought the world faces. "The common denominator of world problems must be, again, corruption. It is patently obvious that individual corruption has ruined many an emergent African state. It's patently obvious that corruption has ruined the country of, shall we say, Iraq. Somebody like Saddam Hussein who professes to work with God on his side but at the same time builds himself a fifty million pound palace and gasses the Kurds. Which he did. Then obviously, the guy is a con man. If he is not a con man, he is totally deluded in what he is thinking."

"Corruption spreads. If the boss is corrupt then the deputy boss is corrupt. And so is the deputy's deputy and so on and so forth, right down to as far down as it can possibly reach. If one poses the question, 'Will you ever eradicate corruption?', the answer is, 'No'. Because the resolution of the vast majority of things in the world is attempted by debate. But very few bring into the frame the thing called human nature. Corruption, in all its forms, is the bedevilment of the world."

"The alternative is within your circle, to do what you can starting with yourself, to resist corruption. At the end of the day, you have to be prepared to jettison those people who won't knock corruption on the head and get on with your own little thing. Conversely, you can have ceaseless, endless, pointless and stupid debates about so-called global problems when it's comfortable not to acknowledge the real problem, which is corruption."

Another answer, he suggests, is "sensible and honest education. Education is different things to different people. If you have a nationalist group that instructs its children to sing nationalist songs and actively hate those not of its nation, that is not education, that is corruption. So corruption can be passed on by education."

I couldn't leave without asking him about his three major honours. The first, his OBE in 1971, came while his mother was still alive. He shared her disbelief that a child from such humble origins could be so honoured. In 1980 he became a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory, an honour bestowed by the Pope. "That," says Savile, "was a tremendous honour because, as a Catholic boy, to get a papal knighthood was totally unthinkable and was the source of much inner comfort and humility as well."

This experience was repeated in 1990 when he received a knighthood from the Queen. According to Savile, "I found all these awards of high fun content, high dignity content, and some small acceptance that whatever I was doing I must have been doing it right in the eyes of man, if not necessarily in the eyes of God. But I've got to pay that bill as and when it comes. The second bill."

I'll tell you now, I wasn't looking forward to meeting Sir James Savile OBE. Although I loved programmes like Jim'll Fix It and Savile's Travels, I was convinced he'd bury me in banter. I am delighted to say that I was wrong. He was extremely pleasant and courteous and gave very thoughtful answers to my questions. The man is undeniably kind. He is relentlessly logical. But the thing that impressed me most was the quality and strength of his convictions.


Homo Imitans. People do what we do, not what we say

The human body has two circulatory systems, the veinous and the lymphatic. They are connected, but largely independent.

Hi Leandro Herrero's latest book, Homo Imitans, reminded me that the body corporate also contains two circulatory systems, the hierarchy and the networks. And, while each plays an important role, the networks – rather like the lymphatic system of the body – have incredible power which is underestimated, if not ignored, in most organisations.

This is a mistake, says Dr Herrero, describing the two systems as 'World I' and 'World II'. His book is mostly about World II, with the occasional nod to the enabling and encouraging role of World I in enlightened organisations.

His fundamental thesis (building on his earlier Viral Change book, which I reviewed here) is that people are more inclined to change their behaviour by copying peers that they respect than commands from on high. And, since behaviour is the only thing that counts when it comes to real change inside organisations, this is where (change) management should be focusing its energies. Dr Herrero gives due credit to authors of social networking books which cover a lot of similar ground, but his talent is in directing his thoughts and guidance slap bang into the heart of organisations that want to change but don't know how. It is also, very occasionally, a 'sell' for his Viral ChangeTM practice, should you not want to go it alone.

Influence travels through networks completely independently of the company hierarchy and, in many cases, without the hierarchy even being aware of what's going on. In an organisational example, we saw it when Greg Dyke left the BBC after the stink around the 'sexing up' of the Iraq dossier – the crowds of staff, some in tears, seemed to appear out of nowhere but they were actually galvanised by the internal network.

In a non-corporate example, the recent rioting and looting in England came about largely through social networking and many people caught up in it were simply copying others who appeared to be 'getting away with it'. (The book contains a very useful 40-page annex which describes in detail many examples of social contagion with references to Dr Herrero's source material. It's called The Human Condition: a guide for the perplexed.)

All of which brings us back to the title of the book (Homo Imitans, if you've forgotten). We see what others do and we copy them. If others who respect or like us, see us doing something in a new way that makes sense to them, they copy us. If just three people copy what 'someone like them' is doing, then it's clear that such a social infection will quickly reach epidemic proportions.

The trick espoused by Dr Herrero is to find those key people in organsiations, wherever they are, and persuade them that a new way of behaving is good for them. (Obviously, it has to be good for the organisation, otherwise there's no point in doing it.) Much has been written about finding such 'champions' but less has been written about focusing on their behaviour.

Words alone are not enough. Dr Herrero likes to collect "Don't do that" posters which usually have little effect but can actually encourage whatever it is they're trying to stop. ("ABUSE OF STAFF WILL NOT BE TOLERATED", etc.) People will respond much more readily to what others do than to what they say.

The book is rich in structure and entertaining in style. It hammers home its messages and suggests new practices from a variety of perspectives. Each chapter reinforces what went before but, maybe because I've spent the the last 35 years as an enthusiast of behavioural psychology and the last seven deep in social networking, I felt I'd well and truly got the message before the end. Nevertheless, I notice I've still made margin notes right up to the last page.

I particularly like his encouraging penultimate paragraph:

"Viral ChangeTM … doesn't depend on behavioural sciences, network theory, social sciences, storytelling and leadership studies. Or even us as consultants!"

Leandro Herrero provides a wealth of persuasive examples and evidence which will help you make the case for socially-driven behavioural change in your own organisation.