Something for would-be writers and spokespeople

Videos

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 tebbo.com 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.

Blog navel gazing over

My last blog post prompted Euan Semple to post two more of his own. These grabbed far more attention than mine and led to some interesting debate, much of it on Facebook where he's recently taken to repeating his blog posts.
 
Before Euan got involved, I was getting an even mix of opinions. Some who thought I was right to not post much, if at all, and others who thought I was mad to even think of stopping. Then, when Euan got involved – the first time to share my angst, the second time to rail against someone who said "blogging is just showing off". (One riposte to that was the sensible, "Blogging is so varied you can't make blanket statements.")
 
Let's cluster some representative comments. Draw your own conclusions.
 
First of all, why blog at all?

  • Your blog is your gravitational centre
  • Write for your community
  • My community is so small we may as well meet down the pub
  • My community is global, we can't meet down the pub
  • I'm going to move back to my blog to serve my interests rather than some IPO'ed profit engine's
  • If I post knowledgeable/interesting stuff it leads to opportunities
  • Writing forces me to think and get feedback
  • Co-creation results in greater/deeper insights
  • Co-existent thoughts rob dominant thoughts of power

And here are some tips for would-be bloggers

  • Don't do it if your heart's not in it
  • Be selective and deliver gold
  • Be an example of good writing
  • You stand or fall by your content
  • Get people to think, not tell them what to think

Some commercial organisations see blogging and commenting as an obligation. (See the 'heart' comment above.) Someone suggested it's a publishing strategy, just like the pamphleteers of old but with the world as their potential audience.
 
When I was an established columnist, Dave Winer wrote his first blog post. I remember thinking "Who does he think he is?" One of Euan's comments took me right back to that moment. But it's only now, 19 years later, that it's dawned on me what irritated me so much. It was his use of the first person. He was writing as himself, as if he were important. In several years as an editor, writer and columnist, I always tried to avoid the first person. My attitude was "I'm not here to promote myself" (except through the byline, which few people notice).
 
I have a massive list of more great comments eked from the Euan posts, but I'd like to conclude this post with a rather elegant contribution from Vicky Smith (reproduced with her permission). Thank you Vicky. Here goes:
 

"Blogging offers egotistical natures a platform to broadcast and attention seek. For others, it's a release of private thoughts in a more therapeutic manner (one could maybe say both make the blogger feel better). For others again it's for money… This discussion has prompted me to think of blogging like art or painting, a form of self expression, which just happens to be shareable online. I'm sure many artists would like their work seen more, be it for making money or for ego, others less so because it's more a private hobby for personal reasons. It all just depends. We're all different, and it's a platform for expressing those differences, if one so wishes in whatever way one wants."

 

Why I (don’t) blog

Anyone who follows me will notice I don't blog much any more. The overriding feelings I have are a) I don't want to add to the noise and b) I don't want to use it as a sales platform.

This means I will only post if I have something original to share that I think will interest/help my readers.

Does that make sense to you? Or am I barking mad?

Buying in store vs online: advice for stores from Graham Charlton

If I'm buying a commodity that I'm familiar with (or have had recommended), I usually get it from Amazon. If I'm in a tearing hurry, I get if from a shop. Rarely do I look at something in a shop and then buy it online. And, recently, the price differences/hassle factor often combine in the store's favour anyway.

A recent example is a mattress: next day free delivery and they took the old one away. And the company – Jones & Tomlin - had a brilliant website and price matched anyway. What wasn't to like?

But many retailers – and I know John Lewis suffers (suffered?) from this – are plagued by the 'touch and feel' and 'advice-seeking' brigades who then, having found what they want, go home and order from Amazon.

Graham Charlton, who I don't know, but who seems to talk a lot of sense on this subject has blogged about various strategies stores can adopt in his post, "13 ways for retailers to deal with the threat of showrooming".

Thought you might be interested. Lord knows what it has to do with my blog theme though. 

 

This is not breaking news… it’s already gone viral

Why does something happen just when you can't get to the computer?

Yesterday a man (you probably know who) appeared on the radio and tv in advance of his company's launch of a new product. No doubt he couldn't reveal too many details, so the interviews were theoretically too early. But then, if he'd tried to get on today, the news would have already gone round the world and the programmes would have been less interested.

So, he arrived with a set of inward-looking and content-free messages which he was determined to deliver. If anyone had advised him about bridging techniques or addressing the interests of his audience, his memory clearly failed him.

He answered every question with a non sequitur, usually involving words like unique, new, proposition, experience, essence and transformation.Oh yes, and he found it "exciting", several times. Completely forgetting perhaps that he's paid to be excited.

In the end, one of the presenters was so anxious to get something out of the interview that they offered an open goal, "Sell it to us then." And he talked about "managing to find the way to transition the essence …"

Handling the media is not rocket science but I accept it can be stressful. That's why you need to prepare. Know what you want to say and what you can say. Make sure it is of interest and, hopefully, benefit to the audience. Say it in concrete language that they understand. Know how to bridge (I call it transition – am I guilty of the same crime?) away from the awkward question and get onto something interesting to the audience.

My mate and highly regarded journalist/editor, Dick Pountain, came up with a form of words that would have got the interview off to a racing start and actually delivered value to the audience within a few seconds. Sadly I can't share those words because it would identify our miscreant.

Tebbo’s Kick Ass Writing Class

Well, that was fun. I decided to take a SlideShare presentation, tweak it a bit, add a sound track and upload the resulting movie to YouTube. (I had my reasons but I'll keep them under my hat for now.) The result is a five and a half minute free introduction to effective writing. Hopefully it will encourage people to have a go – regardless of their past experiences – and actually achieve something fairly quickly.

The tools I used were PowerPoint, BBFlashbackPro and Audacity (just when I had to go back in and patch a bit of the voiceover because I'd used the wrong word). I am not remotely expert at using any of these tools. And, yes, you might say it shows. But the point is that I just got it into my head that it would be good to share this part of my life experience. I didn't set out to be slick.

Should I do another one on another subject, or get me coat?

 

PS April 2014: I retired the video and replaced it with another nine – a big one (20 minutes or so) and a set of eight smaller ones cut from the big one.

The right thing to do?

Recent events have drawn me away from Teblog and I think they’re likely to keep me away. But I am involved in something much better.

First a bit of background: editing and writing much of the original paper version of Blue & Green Tomorrow gave me massive opportunities to write about the environment up to May last year; on the communication front, media skills training hit an unexpected peak in January; and, since June, I’ve spent at least half of my time with a company which hits every Tebbo hot button: communication, environment and IT.

The people I work with are great and we’ve created a neat website, demo and knowledgebase plus various social media presences. The company itself, 6Connex EMEA, is all about online events, content and collaboration, thus accelerating work and cutting the costs (financial, social and environmental) associated with travel.

But it gets better. Tracey (the boss) and I wanted to do something extra but non-commercial. Inspired by the work of the Lunar Society at the dawn of the industrial age, we wanted to get right-minded people to share their practical insights with each other and with anyone who cares about making the world a better place. (The motivation is similar to Blue & Green Tomorrow’s. The difference is that it goes way beyond environmental issues.)

We’ve had direct contributions from people like publishing mogul, poet and forest builder, Felix Dennis and green investment wizard Ben Goldsmith. We’ve covered some interesting TED videos – one on Gross National Happiness and another on why things will get better. We’ve also had people who are at the heart of change in educational systems and one who argues that growth and sustainability are incompatible.

 

Some pioneering contributors and featured presenters in The Right Thing To Do?

TRTTD folk

Top row: Euan Semple; Clive Longbottom; Ben Goldsmith; Ray Maguire.
Bottom row: Matt Ridley; Chip Conley; Felix Dennis; Salman Khan.

 

Just this week, social networking guru, Euan Semple, contributed a great post entitled “Bloggers are the rag and bone men of the information world.”

Everyone is giving their time and ideas for nothing. No-one puffs their business directly, although they can all share their credentials in their mini-bios. TRTTD exists for knowledge sharing and discussion which will provide a bedrock of thoughtful considerations for our collective future. Depending on individual circumstances, posts are either contributed, the product of an interview or are written up around an online video.

Curating TRTTD seems to me to be a much better cause than continuing with Teblog. I’ll keep it open for now, but expect most of my energies to be spent elsewhere. And, if you like the sound of “The Right Thing To Do?” why not come on over. It would be great to see you there. Here are the Website and Twitter links.