Eggs and baskets

Being away from here has given me a chance to focus intensely on launching a new magazine without too many distractions. We now have five issues under our belt and I have reaquainted myself with the rhythms of conventional publishing. I know where the peaks and troughs of effort lie and I can get back to a more normal and less distorted life in the troughs.

Creating, editing and writing for Blue & Green Tomorrow has been a lot of fun and a lot of hard work. And it couldn't have happened without Simon, Lori and Dominic (publisher, sub-editor and designer respectively) and, of course, our marvellous contributors. Other people take care of 'webifying' the magazine at You can register (free) which gives you an account tab and access to digital copies of the magazine. Otherwise much of the content is publicly available under the various themed tabs.

Even through the mayhem of the launch, I've continued to do the occasional course on how to handle the media, often with my long-time partner in crime, Martin Banks. We used to call ourselves 'Press Here' but, when we both deviated out into analysis work, we sold the domain and renamed ourselves greybeards. One look at our photos will tell you why. I also run the odd writing skills workshop for business people.

And, now, here I am blogging again. Given the nature of the magazine, I suspect that I'll be blogging more about sustainability (could a word possibly sound more boring?) than about IT. But it's hard to keep me away from software. Talking of which, I now have an HTC Desire smartphone running Android, and jolly pleased I am too. That could be another running theme.

We'll see. But, as you can see from the title, I think that a deliberate spread of activities, providing I can do all of them well, will makes for a more balanced and fulfilling life than having all my eggs in one basket.

So, the last post turned out not to be The Last Post after all, just a pause while I gathered my wits.

See you again soon.



Why do the press use surnames?

I was running a media skills course last week when I was asked a question which I’d never been asked before: “why does the press refer to people by their surname?”

My initial, feeble but truthful, answer was “it’s house-style. All papers have a house-style and it is usually that you use the full name on the first outing and the surname only after that.”

Feeling that this was ducking the question, I added, “I suspect this is because it preserves our journalistic neutrality. We can hardly say ‘John murdered someone’.”

Long after I got back to the office, I thought of exceptions to this approach. Saying, “Jones was murdered”, when it’s fresh news would be heartless. It would have to be “Mrs Jones…” or “baby John…”.

I guess that whether we deviate boils down to common sense.

Maybe the origins lie in saving lead or typesetter’s time. Anyone know?

Keith Collins: big company insight + marketing + strategic social media

Keith Collins is a relative newcomer to active blogging but he has a lot of big-company marketing experience. (Dell, Xerox…)

To keep things simple, let’s call him a strategic blogging evangelist. That’s not to say that he thinks a blog is the answer to every company’s communication prayers. It’s not. But if he thinks it is, he will explain the whys and wherefores in business terms.

Since we both live slightly to the west of London, we met for a chat yesterday morning. Turns out we had lots of business acquaintances in common and, having met online anyway, our get-together got off to a fast start. The meeting made me think hard about my own role in life. As we left each other, I said "we’re complementary. My interest is in the use of social software inside the firewall and yours is in its use outside."

Driving home I realised that, while true, that only related to my journalistic focus. My training/mentoring focus is entirely about companies communicating effectively with the outside world – whether that’s the press, venture capitalists, the blogosphere or anyone else. In that sense, Keith and I are a lot closer. The big difference is that I’m coming principally from a media perspective and he’s coming from a big company/marketing perspective. Instead of being back-to-back at the edge of the enterprise, we find ourselves face-to-face.

I’ve met loads of social media evangelists but this is the first one I’ve met who also has an intimate practical understanding from the marketing and business perspective. (I hope the many PR and marcomms people I know will understand why I’ve excluded them from that statement.)

I have no idea whether Keith and I will meet again, or work together. Anything is possible. But I thought I’d tip you off about his existence.