Blogging for Good

A fine sketch by Taragh, one of those attending the London Bloggers Meet up. You can see more of her work at http://www.taragh.co.uk

London Bloggers Meet-up on Tuesday May 14 was Blogging for Good. It looked at how non-profit organisations use blogging and social media to engage with their communities, build fans and followers and ultimately drive donations.

The three special guest speakers were: Eve Critchley from mental health charity  Mind, Amy Agnew from Save the Children, and Eva Keogan a blogger from the Save the Children Blogladesh campaign. And what follows is the gist of what I was able to decipher from my scribbled notes on the night.

The big takeaways were: writing about real life can be therapeutic for yourself and others; bloggers can and do change the world for the better; and to know a blogger you need to woo and understand them.

Eve and the Real Mind

Talking about blogging at, and about, the mental health charity Mind, Eve Critchley highlighted the importance of real stories in getting across messages around crisis care for those in hospital as a result of being suicidal. She also noted the therapeutic benefits of ‘being heard’.

Mind provides ‘static’ advice on the website so the charity’s blog posts and podcasts are important in providing something dynamic and of the moment. The blog also enables greater transparency and provides a vital channel for communicating with key stakeholders such as fundraisers and supporters.

What are they looking for when it comes to blogging? Eve says they are always on the look-out for first person, direct experiences, and they monitor Twitter for people who have something relevant to say.

Eve shared the positive impact of a new online community called Elefriends, managed by Mind and supported by the Cabinet Office’s Social Action Fund.  This has grown organically and is in the words of one user ‘a bit like facebook for beautiful people whose brains are wired differently’.

Amy and Blog Campaigns

Amy identified two priorities for the social media team at Save the Children: exerting pressure for political change and fundraising for programmes.

Charities struggle to get issues into the mainstream media even with lots of statistics and the support of celebrities. Bloggers use the stories, the media follows the bloggers, and politicians follow the media, so blogs exert influence: ‘Politicians really care about what people are saying and what they care about’.

Amy valued bloggers for being ‘amazing storytellers’ and ‘they know their audience and how to speak to them’. Illustrating this she cited the impact that bloggers had in the charity’s 2011 campaign ‘No Child Born to Die’.

This was the first time a UK charity hosted a conference to inspire bloggers across all disciplines to write about the campaign and raise awareness of the millions of children who die from preventable diseases each year.

A key objective was to pressure breast milk substitute companies Nestle and Danone to stop any conduct that undermined breastfeeding – a powerful, natural antidote to hunger and disease. If all babies were breastfed within the first hour of life, 830,000 children’s lives would be saved every year.

It worked and today Danone is committed to publishing its practices online. Save the Children now hosts an annual bloggers conference in the autumn to brief the blogging community and engage them in campaigns such as the current IF: Enough Food for Everyone.

Eva Been to Blogladesh

Eva related her experiences of blogging for Save the Children while maintaining independence and credibility. You can see her blogs here under the name of NIXDMINX.  Eva had some tips for PRs looking to engage with and ‘woo’ bloggers:

  1. Follow on twitter and retweet the good stuff
  2. Read the blogs and comment where appropriate
  3. Allow one month to get to know the blogger and their audience
  4. When you make contact, make it personal

And you can find out about the campaign she is involved in Save the Children Blogladesh.

And …

I missed lots … so if you have anything to add, please add in the comments section. And when it came to communicating with a younger audience then you need to be looking for innovative YouTube bloggers like Charlie McConnell.

Rough Notes on Music and Social Media

Great meet of the London Bloggers at the Elixir Bar behind Euston. This one was all about music and social media; how the industry is changing as a result of blogging and social media, examples of artists using blogs and anything music industry related. Three very knowledgeable guest speakers each had ten minutes to share their knowledge; and these are my notes on what they said.

Tasty Tunes from Terry

Picture of Terry Tyldesley

Terry Tyldesley says Kitmonsters aims to be accessible, authentic, artist-led and independent.

Kitmonsters is a very successful blog that celebrates musicians and the kit they use to get their sound. Founder, Terry Tyldesley gave us some notes on what resonates with their audience.

The blog is all about musicians and how they make their music, videos, pictures, etc. It provides an in depth look at the ‘cool kit’ that ‘hot bands’ are using in a ‘monstrously simple’ format.

Check out some of the profiles: folk singer Sam Lee, Martin Ware of Human League and Matt Black of Cold Cut.

So what is the secret to success? Be accessible, authentic, artist-led and independent. Terry stressed there is no ‘gig speak … it’s written so that everyone can understand and dip in and out. It aims to provide a truly 360 degree view of an artist and reflect the grass roots … and its very female friendly!’

It’s documentary style with just a few questions that prompt artists to talk about their guitars etc and how they make their music. This artist-led approach has created a kind of family feel for those who have been involved.

The blog has a good look, feel and functionality; great pictures, good sounds and nicely filmed interviews. The content management system is the work of Gary Hill, Bafta award-winning designer of the Design Museum’s website.

Terry name-checked a number of other sites which are either great blogs or where blogging has created a community> I found these and they were all really interesting and full of ideas: Riot Grrrl, Techno Kittens, She Makes WarSteve Lawson and Tom Robinson.

Terry mentioned that producer Jagz Kooner reckons that today ‘the music scene is more punk than it’s ever been’.

She noted that it is difficult to keep up with all the social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, and Soundcloud are the three ‘must haves’. Others to consider include: Google+, Pinterest, Mixed Cloud, Last FM, Vimeo, Vine (twitter for video – 6 seconds), Blip FM, Flickr.

And some tips for musicians:

  • Cross post everything to other social media sites like Facebook, Flickr, Instagram because it is the only way to keep up;
  • Use Google metrics to see who is visiting your site and what they are interested in and use this to fine tune what you do;
  • Be strategic and make sure you have all the things you need to promote the band in place such as ‘biogs’, pictures, your own mailing list, fliers, etc.

And most important, make sure you have a ‘googable’ band name so people can find you easily.

Algorithms by James

Picture of James Howard of Google+

James Howard of Google+ says get in touch with ideas on making music with Google+

James Howard heads up music for Google+ in the UK. James’ advice was to focus on what works well and to consider a presence on Google+. He was interested in the use of the platform to enable more sharing via YouTube and Maps. I didn’t really get the Google+ pitch and was interested when he called Google an ‘algorithm company’. Google is many things to many people and there is an open invitation from James to get in touch with creative ideas for making music with Google.

Dubber’s Jazz 

Andrew Dubber is Professor of Music Industry Innovation at Birmingham City University, author of ‘Music in the Digital Age’ and ‘Understanding the Music Industries’, and advisor to Bandcamp.

Andrew Duber

Professor Andrew Dubber reckons that when it comes to music, ‘participation is more important than popularity’

Now here was a man who had a lot of interesting things to say. Andrew ‘loved Google’ but hated this idea of ‘content’ or what he called ‘meaningless communications’. And when it came to Google Analytics it just didn’t do it for him. In Andrew’s world, communication is all about the value of the conversation and not about numbers.

There was a reminder to engage with the topic of the moment when he mentioned a post he had just written about the death of Margaret Thatcher. It’s so obvious but not so easily done …  here is the post ‘Nothing really died today’ with a lovely and appropriate comment on Thatcher’s legacy delivered by bandmaster Peter Postlethwaite in a clip from the film Brassed Off.

Andrew comes from a place where social media and music is much more than marketing; friendship was mentioned and a band called Hope & Social which exists with aim of making people happy. I checked them out. The band’s website is definitely a place to visit, enjoy, and be inspired by. It shows how to make sense of making music today and how music can really make a difference! Check out their Crypt Covers.

Andrew made a nice distinction between making music back in the day and today’s situation. In the halcyon days of vinyl you were either a ‘lottery winner or a nobody’. Then it took a £250,000 to make and distribute a record whereas today you can do it for about £250.

He argued that when it comes to music, ‘participation is more important than popularity’. Many is the time I have listened to an open mic singer where the music was not so good but the passion and authenticity more than made up for this. I think he has a point!

And he had some advice for bands in search of their audience.

  • If you are finding it difficult to attract followers, question whether you are as good as you think you are.
  • Make sure you have an extra band member who doesn’t sing or play but manages Internet presence and goes out and promotes the music.
  • Find out where your audience is and communicate with them

At which point someone pointed out that we were right back in the world of ‘marketing’.

Final point was that social media is a by-product of what you do as a musician or anything else you do. It is not an end in itself.

To conclude there was also a short set by singer / songwriter Toufique Ali.

Postscript: I was talking to Bernie Mitchell, who along with Andrew Bargery, organizes London Bloggers (let’s have a round of applause for this) and he pointed me to an interesting TED talk by Amanda Palmer called ‘The Art of Asking’.

 

Basic Copywriting Brief

Handful of pencils

Effective communication is not about what you say but how the person at the other end receives it. Before you start writing make sure that you have an absolutely clear idea of what you are trying to communicate and to whom. Here are some key pieces of information you need to gather. It is by no means definitive, so please take a look and then come back to me with your thoughts and suggestions on best practice.

Contact  details

  • Name
  • Position
  • Organisation
  • Email
  • Phone

Project description

  • Website copy
  • Brochure
  • White paper
  • Case study
  • By-lined feature
  • Other

Scope of the work

  • Research
  • Interview
  • Write
  • Rewrite
  • Edit
  • Subedit
  • Other

Deadlines

  • 1st draft
  • Revision
  • Final copy
  • Approved

About  our business

  • Industry sector
  • Products
  • Services
  • Other

Sign-off

The person responsible for managing and giving final sign-off on the project?

Word count

Estimate word count for each element

Brand values

Insight into the brand

  • Proposition
  • Character
  • Promise

Main competitors

Who are we up against and what do we like and dislike.

  • Provide website urls
  • Highlight best practice

Target audience

The more information about the target audience, the more relevant the communications can be. What are their likes and dislikes, critical issues, and what do we want them to do?

  • Internal
  • External
  • Position
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Business
  • Consumer
  • Socioeconomic class
  • Other

Objectives

What business need does this communication support?

What do you want this communication to do?

  • Position
  • Inform
  • Build awareness
  • Generate sales
  • Other?

Key messages
What do you want the audience to:

  • Know
  • Feel
  • Do

Tone of Voice

  • Corporate
  • Conversational
  • Snappy sales pitch
  • Quirky
  • Other

Other

  • Samples of work that you like
  • Other key information

So there we have it. What have we missed out. Drop me a line with your suggestions. Thanks.

Well Told: Edelman Trust Barometer 2012

The stepping stones to rebuilding trust - Edelman Trust Barometer 2012

The Edelman Trust Barometer 2012 is an annual global study, now in its 12th year. The results are topical and without being preachy, it delivers content with vision and a degree of wisdom. But what really struck me was the way the agency packaged and delivered it over a range of media. It’s a story well told, and there’s some good lessons for business communicators.

Lesson in thought-leadership

As an example of thought-leadership and a template for effective communication thereof, it seems pretty much perfect. The issue of ‘trust’ is a hardy perennial and a critical element in developing good relationships. Edelman (German translation: Pure Man) is an icon in public relations so the choice of  trust as an issue is a perfect fit.

And Edelman’s communications template for distributing the story, with integrated traditional and online media, is one that we should all note and aim to copy. On the website, note the slicing and dicing of results to create sections around the state of trust in institutions, in industry, and the path forward.

There are also downloads, press release, executive summary, social media to share, and a snappy video summary of the results by CEO Richard Edelman. If only we could all tell such a good story in just three minutes.

Take away the keys of the car

One of the great things about the Trust Barometer 2012, is that the narrative is well developed. The reader is grabbed by the content and hooked with some memorable ‘soundbites’ and word pictures. Nice creative touches extend to images such as the simple picture idea at the head of this story.

But ‘take away the keys of the car’ stands out as a great word picture  to communicate just how sceptical citizens are  when it comes to government – hey, they want government to hand back the keys! Not surprising because the survey shows that in over half the countries, trust levels have dropped below 50%.

The Barometer suggests that trust in business has remained reasonably stable but confidence in the CEO has fallen from 50% to 38%; only government spokespeople are less trusted. Now the most trusted people in society are academics, technical experts and regular employees of organisations.

Move away from the guard rails

Looking to the future, Edelman says that to rebuild trust, business leaders will have to reach beyond  their immediate stakeholders and engage with a wider and more unusual community. It’s about greater societal engagement with  the most pressing issues of the day; business needs to develop not just ‘a license to operate but a licence to lead’.

Another striking analogy and word picture is ‘the need to move away from the guard rails’. Edelman explains that business needs to shift to ‘principle-based leadership, not rules-based’. There also needs to be radical transparency and engagement with stakeholders beyond the customary regulators and employees.

Edelman Trust Barometer 2012 is a great story well told. If the results are true, we will need to see the story four to five times before we believe it. In the mean time, it gives us food for thought, a taste of best practice, and a vision for the future. And you can’t say that for all thought-leadership.

Mind Mapping Will Make You Better

If you feel overwhelmed when it comes to organising yourself, organising work, and particularly when it comes to organising information, then mind-mapping may be for you. And specifically, an open-source programme called FreeMind.

This blog is about FreeMind and how it can destress you and make you more effective in your work.

The biggest challenge facing most of us today, is coping with information and our tendency to multitask. It reaches a point where the brain ‘hangs’  like a computer with too many programmes running’. The result can be:

  • Stress that leads to more stress and an inability to cope;
  • Written work that is confused and jumbled;
  • Plans and proposals that lack a logical progression;
  • And a linear way of thinking that stifles creativity.

So we need to free up the mind with FreeMind. This is a free open source software for creating mind and concept maps. It lets you generate, visualise, structure and classify ideas. And its also a great aid to studying (note taking) and organising information.

I like FreeMind because it lets you clear the mind and that gives you back control. You manage information more efficiently to produce coherent and compelling written materials. You can build and re-engineer your projects and proposals until they are perfectly structured. It enables a more fluid way of thinking and capturing thought because it uses pathways just like the brain. Finally it lets you create the BIG PICTURE and share it with colleagues.

Or does it?

With FreeMind you can print your maps and export them as jpegs and PDFs, but you can’t export them into Microsoft Office.  If you want to export to presentation or word-processing you will need OpenOffice.org 3 . This is as another open-source solution which is free download and use. it works just like Microsoft Office.

  • Leading office software suite
  • Works on all common computers
  • International open standard format
  • Read and write files from other common office software packages.

Download, and use completely free of charge for any purpose, here.

 

Great idea 1: tear-off contact details on noticeboard poster

Noticeboard with tear-off contact details.

Noticeboard with tear-off contact details.

I popped into Gigsounds to get some new guitar picks and saw this clever piece of communication on the noticeboard. Not only were the contact details cut for easy tear-off, they had also been perforated with a pin on the fold. Great idea and creative use of the medium. While buying picks I also learnt that the best place to keep from losing them is the little change pocket in your jeans. Put a pick in each pair and you should be well covered. Thank you Gigsounds in Mitcham Lane, South London, for two great ideas!

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

Ten Top Tips for PR Research

Whoops! How did we end up here?

I had a bad week trying to produce a research report  and I wanted to share some tips to those that travel this path after me. If you do these ten simple things you may produce a report that has editorial legs and at no  point will you feel out of control or overwhelmed by the process. Then again …

1) Define the 0bjectives

If it’s for PR, you will probably be looking for data that provides an opportunity to do thought-leadership PR. So your research needs to address an issue that is topical and relevant to your target audience, while playing to your businesses strengths.

2) Check media appeal

In developing your research project you will be quite focused on ensuring that the results indirectly lead people to your door and position you as someone who can help address the challenges and opportunities identified. But make sure that you also come up with results that excite the editor and ensure press coverage. You could give him or her a call and ask if there is a question that needs to be asked.

3) Platform for PR messaging

Check back with the client once you have the final questionnaire and make sure that the ‘hoped for outcomes’ provide a good platform for them to provide thought-leadership and putting across key messages about the industry, market, or whatever you are surveying.

4) The final report

Before you proceed have a crystal-clear idea what the final report will look like. Agree not just the visuals but also the document template covering:

  1. Number of pages
  2. Contents: Introductions, Executive Summary, Research Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations, About the Sponsor
  3. Word count and content criteria for writing each section
  4. Style and tone of voice
  5. Use of visuals

5) Shared vision

If the research agency knows what you are looking to achieve, they can tailor the results to meet your requirements. One of the mixed blessings of today’s technology is the power to dice and slice the data in lots of different ways; to the point where you are overwhelmed results. Beware information overload and go for just the right amount to make a compelling research report!

6) Say what you want

Clarify with the research agency how you want the results presented and to whom. Specifically, to make analysis and report writing as easy as possible, ask for a results report that enables you to write your report without the distraction of data levels that are not relevant to the immediate task. You can come back to that later.

7) Define results format

Sometimes questions have so many cross references that they cannot be presented in a diagram and come to you in an Excel spreadsheet instead. Oh dear! Avoid these if possible because they will make you go cross-eyed. If you do have to deal with them, ask for the decimal points to be rounded up and the charts formatted so that they fit on one page.

8)  Answer to open questions

The quality of answers to an open question depends on the quality of the question – i.e. is it easy to answer in a few words – and the quality of interviewer. Will he or she probe correctly and then record the answer in language that is comprehensible. Just beware! And if you are doing European surveys you will have to get these answers translated which will be an added cost.

9) Be SMART

When you set up your research be smart and put together a schedule that allows enough time for each of the component parts to be done thoroughly (SMART as in Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). Don’t scrimp on the planning, nor on any element of the process because everything is interdependent. If you get one thing wrong, the rest will begin to wobble. And yes, this should have been the first tip …

10) Report and PR

Think twice before deciding to write up the research results yourself. Maybe this is best left up to someone who is experienced in the art of drawing out and presenting data in a way which is easy for the reader to digest. If you are client-side or the PR person, you can add value when it comes to writing up the Executive Summary and developing the press briefing materials.

So that is what I learnt this last week or so. Its been a good lesson because its done just what that old China man said about learning: ‘I hear I forget, I see I remember, I do I understand’. Phew … and do I understand!

And now, if I have missed anything out please post a comment and give us your tips to make a success of PR research projects.

Do Great Links Make Best ‘About Me’ Copy?

Writing a good ‘About me’ section is tough. Author and journalist Leo Benedictus’ ‘About Me’ page is short – just 218 words – but uses many witty and informative links to engage the reader. It all adds up to a great job of selling the man and his first novel The Afterparty.

Benedictus worked as an advertising copywriter and it shows. The content is fresh and engaging. I was filing it away as best practice before I’d even explored the links. There are about 30 which entertain and inform. Discover them for yourself by going to Leo Benedictus’  About Me now or read on for an overview.

Evocative scene setting:

  • December 1975: Movie magazine covers from that month and year
  • late 1990s Youtube video of  Underworld’s ‘Born Slippy’ anthem
  • 2002: Youtube video of David Beckham’s World Cup penalty against Argentina

Some nice jokes illustrate his story:

  • Jon Snow: Links to exotic tie selection
  • Random House: Youtube of a ‘random house’ music mix
  • concentrate on writing: Man modelling Marks & Spencer dressing gowns
  • Mention of a special immigration issue of the Guardian’s G2 section published in January 2005: Sun newspaper story ‘Harry says sorry for Nazi outfit’

But on a business note he makes sure to communicate his credentials:

And of course it all leads on to the sales (in the nicest possible way):

  • buy it now links to buy the book on Amazon
  • Or you can read the first chapter here.

And here’s the rest of the links that spice up the story:

When I tweeted a link to Leo Benedictus he tweeted back: ”Gosh, thank you JPD! Wonderful to be noticed. I took more trouble over it, and pleasure in it, than it is decent to admit. L’

I disagree. This ‘About me’ column perfectly reflects the person and the product that it is promoting. The opening paragraph of  Sam Leith’s review of The Afterparty in the Guardian:

‘Strap yourselves in, postmodernism fans. This is a book within a book, based on a true story. Well, not true-true. That is to say, the true story that is fictionalised in “The Afterparty” (the book-within-a-book) isn’t actually true: it is a figment of the imagination of the author of The Afterparty (the book under review here).’

Fabulous!

If you know of better, please share. Some of the qualities we are looking for seem to be:

  • Short and sweet
  • Engage and entertain
  • Show don’t tell
  • Be appropriate
  • Be inventive
  • Subtly sell and promote

By the way, sadly the many links don’t help with Google search rankings because they are going the wrong way. Ah well, you can’t have everything.

 

 

10 Tips for an Aspiring Photojournalist

My son Leo and I walked the Thames Path from the Thames Barrier up river to London Bridge. We both took cameras and these 10 Tips are some thoughts on what more Leo could have done to further his ambition of becoming a photojournalist.  Pictures by Leo Buckley.

  1. Have a goal! We took our cameras but we never sat down and decided what we were going to do. And maybe for that reason, we did very little. So Tip 1 is have a goal. It could just be documenting the walk so that you can show people where you went and what you saw. For example, this is one person’s record of a Green Chain Walk. If you don’t set yourself an assignment, you may enjoy the walk so much that you forget to record it.
  2.  

  3. Get the camera out!  Don’t wait for something interesting to pop up. If you have the camera out, you look for pictures and are prepared for that ‘decisive moment’.  It’s all interesting because you’ve never been here before, your audience isn’t with you, and there’s no going back for the pictures that you didn’t take. Work the camera, find the angles and shoot lots of images.

    Supermarket trolley abstractions

  4. Follow up the wonders! We wondered at the many supermarket trolleys half buried in the silt of the exposed river bed. They made great images but who put them there and why?  Exploring these questions can be the making of a story as we found out when we researched supermarket trolleys later. This article in the Daily Telegraph outlines the size of the trolley problem in Britain and this post presents eight alternative uses for them.
  5.  

  6. Do portraits avoid cheese!  Leo likes taking pictures of people. You can sneak shots of people but its also great to engage with them; explain what you are doing and ask if you can take their picture. You shouldn’t publish pictures of people without their permission – read about model release here. – but maybe you can take their email address, send them some copies and if there is a good one ask for permission to use it.

    A worker in the sand and cement yard.

  7. Ask questions!  The man in the orange boiler suit and hard hat was happy to explain how the dredgers delivered sand to the quayside. How it was offloaded onto a conveyor that delivered it into the yard and from there onto railway wagons that supplied sites all over London. And he was happy to pose for a picture.

    Conveyor belt for unloading dredgers.

  8. Don’t ignore the wonder! From the Thames Barrier to Tower Bridge, we saw just a handful of people.  We wondered if it was because the kids were back at school and other people had gone away for the long holiday between Easter and the Royal Wedding. Because it was so empty we didn’t take many pictures. But the emptiness n that day was something quite special which we should have recorded.
  9.  

  10. Photograph the remarkable! The Thames Path snakes through London and this means that Canary Wharf is at one point across the River and the next moment rearing above the High Street behind you. We remarked on this but we never went right out to capture the phenomenum. If it is remarkable, listen to that voice and photograph it!

    To the Blackwall Tunnel and beyond Canary Wharf

  11. Be cheeky! From Rotherhithe to Tower Bridge you have to leave the river on numerous occasions because of the many property developments. But on one occasion we did vault a chained bridge and went on into the grounds of the Hilton Hotel, rejoining the Thames Path via the lobby of the hotel. It felt good to push our luck  and a shame not to have recorded it.

    The steel and glass perfection of Canary Wharf

  12. Cityscapes and abstractions! The air was clear, the sky was blue, and the sun was bright; a perfect day for the steel and glass architecture of the offices on the north side of the river and the apartments on the south! But it all looked too bright and shiny; like something that had been photographed a million times before. So we didn’t photograph it much but we should have because it was so glacially beautiful and appropriately empty!

    Not everyone likes the development on the Thames.

  13. Two sides to the story! Having set out on our journey with no clear goal we came back with a hotch potch of images.  If we were thinking to be photojournalists then perhaps we should have gone looking for a story and come back with a balanced report. The image above highlights the flip-side to all those glassy developments. The photojournalist needs to provide a balanced and objective record!

 

Photojournalism

According to Wikipedia, photojournalism is a form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images to tell a news story. It is distinguished from other close branches of photography (documentary, social documentary, street or celebrity) by:

  • Timeliness — the images have meaning in the context of a published record of events.
  • Objectivity — the situation implied by the images is a fair and accurate representation of the events they depict in both content and tone.
  • Narrative — the images combine with other news elements to make facts relatable to the viewer or reader on a cultural level.

And an edited version of Potasky’s tips for photojournalist students:

  • Pick a topic. Some stories can be told with pictures more easily than others.
  • Create an assignment outline with requirements and objectives.
  • Make a list of shots to get so you don’t miss anything important and can tell the story.
  • Look at photojournalism on line to get ideas for pictures that look great and tell the story.
  • Take a lot of pictures using all the composing techniques you have learned.
  • Don’t pose the shots but just record things as they unfold.
  • Afterwards edit the pictures down to tell the story.
  • Judge your pictures in terms of vision, aesthetics, camera technique and final image.
    • Vision:  Is the image original and does it meet the requirements for the assignment?
    • Aesthetics: Does the composition excite and enhance the image?
    • Camera technique: Good exposure, focus, aperture, shutter, and angle?Image manipulation: Is it colour corrected and sharpened

10 Lovely Tips for Producing Great Tenders

Preparing a tender is  a tough job and if you are not careful they can get out of control.  I wrote down these tips after a  traumatic experience; a few simple things  to set yourself up for success instead of heartbreak.

1. Focus on Requirements

It’s worth investing the time in really getting to grips with this. Have a clear idea of what is required and if in doubt go back for clarification. Then measure everything you do against this. Remember those school essays and ‘answer the question’!

2. Brainstorm the Answers

Bring an open and empty mind to the opportunity. Avoid reaching for stock answers and solutions and instead see what fresh thinking the team can come up with. Engage with the challenge and enjoy (and record) the process!

3 Storyboard the Response

Once you have your answers, work together to storyboard your response. Create a document with a natural flow; one that sets up the challenge and then shows how to engage with it and bring things to a successful resolution.

4 Planning the Document

Set a word count for each section and then allocate writing responsibilities.  The rule for contributors is that you deliver on time, the exact number of words (or less) for your section. Be strict or you may receive a ‘cut and paste’ approximation that takes you ages to pull into shape.

5 Setting the Format

Make sure that everyone is using the same word-processing package. For example, different versions of Microsoft Word are incompatible and lead to formatting problems. Consider providing a pre-formatted document (fonts, typefaces etc) for contributors to work with.

6 Standardise on Formulas

To make your document easy to produce and understand, standardise the way you present information. For example:  Tactics (What it is, How it works, Benefits); Profiles (Skills, Successes, Qualifications); Case Studies (Challenge, Solution, Benefits).

7 When in Doubt

Cut it out! If parts of the document seem dull and don’t do the job delete them.  Make it easy and interesting to read. And avoid squeezing information in at the expense of good spacing. A bullet’ed list condensed into a paragraph is a brick wall to the reader.

8 Read it Out Loud

When all is done, get the team back together and have everyone read out their section. Does it have pace, and does it engage? Use this opportunity to further refine and polish the document so that it has vitality and momentum to it.

9 Executive Summary

Now translate this ‘film script’ into an elevator pitch. Your Executive Summary should inspire and delight the prospect. It should give a clear idea of what you are proposing and the benefits of you solution, while leaving the readers hungry to tuck into the document and find out more.

10 Dotting and Crossing It

Now make sure that spelling and grammar is good, sections are properly headlined and numbered; and the index and page numbers are correct. Hard copie,s and soft copies on a disk, will need to be produced and the courier booked to deliver the document to client in good time.

 

So that’s my top ten tips! Did I miss something? What else should we be watching out for? I love to hear your tender tips!