Alix King

Freelance Copywriter

Does everyone have a career catalyst?

bermuda

With the latest release of the A level results, it reminded me of how nervous I was when I received mine, worried that if I didn’t choose the correct path at university, then I would be ‘stuck’ with that career, and could never change.

Looking back at my career history, I realise that change is easier than I once thought. Brave, difficult, but not impossible. We CAN change along the way.

But do we think about the catalyst behind a job or career change?

I’ve had a few job changes along the way, and career changes at that. But what caused those changes?

Journalism first

I went through my career history. In most circumstances, It was ME who was the catalyst for change, it was ME who made the decision. I have ants in my pants (not literally) and have a thirst for knowledge and experience, so it was ME who first decided, after my journalism degree, that I was having far too much fun in magazine journalism (to be honest, working at FHM and Loaded WAS fun) and needed something ‘serious’ on my CV, so embarked on something else.

Not just anything though, oh no. I thought I’d go for super serious. I thought i’d go and do a law degree!

It was then also ME who decided to mix my two skills; become a legal writer for a sports agency. It was still ME who decided I needed some more experience after that (and some sun!) so worked in Bermuda as a media reporter for a criminal barrister.

I know, right? If you’ve just Googled ‘Bermuda’, it’s a whole first page of images of paradise.It was a good change, methinks. (that image above is REAL). Well done me! It’s a British colony, It’s a tax haven, it’s Bermuda-ful, as they say.

Let’s do law

Bermuda law is loosely based on English Common Law. It’s self regulated and a fused profession. This means that there is no distinction between a solicitor and a barrister. What this meant for me is that I got to go to (let’s call it ‘high court’) every day – for shoplifting cases, for murder cases, for boundary disputes, you name it, they dealt with it there. It was fascinating.

I was having a great time. and so was my bank balance. So you’ll understand when I tell you that the catalyst for leaving the island, and my job, wasn’t ME this time.

I had a moped accident. A serious moped accident. It was my fault, there was no alcohol involved, (this is one of the first things that people ask me) it was purely down to my inexperience on two wheels. It was the catalyst that I couldn’t control.

Back to England

I was shipped back home to my mum’s in Hampshire, and so began my long recovery. I felt I had hit rock bottom. But there was still a chance for change – and I was again in the driving seat! (bad pun) It was ME who could be the catalyst for change.

Before I could work full time again, I did some volunteer work. Considering my background – I decided carefully on what that would be. I shadowed a Legal Aid criminal barrister for a few months. Hey, it wasn’t Bermuda – but I was on my way.

When I could work part time, I found a job in a local solicitors. This was private client work, (drafting wills, powers of attorney) not that exciting. But I had made a decision. I was making a natural progression.

I then recovered fully, and was given the go-ahead to work full time again. I was given a natural re-set button. (we don’t get those very often). I thought long and hard, and came to the conclusion that law wasn’t for me.

I had made a conscious decision to completely change my career path. It was now ME again that was the strongest catalyst for my career change, and I felt that going back to my first love, my first career of writing, was a good decision.

I spoke to some of my old contacts, went head-first into building my journalism and writing career in Bournemouth (and surrounding areas), and did my hardest to make a success of it.

Fast forward six years, and I run my own business from home, have some fantastic clients, have had the chance to travel and can even pay my mortgage! You could say that it’s the best decision I ever made. And it happened because of a career catalyst – that was out of my control.

If I could go back and give advice to waiting-for-A-level-results-Alix, I wouldn’t say a thing. Making mistakes, bad decisions, and HUGE changes along the way can only help your career. I’ve done it, and I survived.



Experience UX

A User Experience (UX) agency specialising in User Experience research, owner Damian had interviewed those working in UX across many industries. I was asked to work from a transcript and to write up the interviews for publishing on the website. I love delving into as subject that I am not familiar with. Read a UX interview here.



A countryside retreat…

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Sometimes I write articles and for one reason or another they don’t get used. I enjoyed researching for this one and would love to go there…anyone want to take me??

Welcome to Soho Farmhouse, the new Oxfordshire retreat from the Soho House group.

Settled within 100 acres of Oxfordshire countryside, Soho Farmhouse features accommodation of varying sizes; 40 cabins, plus a four-bedroom cottage and seven-bedroom farmhouse for larger parties.

If you’re full of energy, there are many activities to entice you on site, but if you are ready to hide away from the world, the cabins are designed to provide you with everything you could possibly want to never leave their four walls. There are necessities in the kitchen; stocked with home-made cookies and Soho House cheese, and the living areas have a cosy wood burner and blankets aplenty, for those who wish to cosy up in a romantic bolthole for an entire weekend and not see another living soul.

If activities are your plan, then this is the place for you. Each cabin has a customised Foffa bike for each occupant (complete with name tag), allowing you to explore the site fully. There’s a state-of-the-art gym, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and an on-site stable yard offering horse riding and pony trekking.

Pampering is a must at the Soho Farmhouse; with a comprehensive Cowshed spa offering a huge variety of treatments, and a Josh Wood hair salon for grooming, colouring and styling there’s no excuse to not relax and rewind.

The facilities at the Soho Farmhouse are remarkable. There’s a deli offering home-reared charcuterie, a wine cellar, a cookery school – and for alternative fitness ideas there is a five-a-side football pitch, tennis courts, a boating lake and an ice rink in the winter. Want to escape your thoughts for a few hours? Visit the cinema.

Those with a love of gastronomy won’t be disappointed with the dining options on offer. The Soho House group is renowned for its dining, and dome say the food at Soho Farmhouse is well worth the visit alone. The main farmhouse offers all-day dining for families, with adult-only mezzanine levels – think classic British comfort food enjoyed next to an open fire.

Fancy Farm is a fine dining option for a more elegant evening, while the Mill Room offers a country-pub vibe with a variety of beers and ales on tap.

A rotating restaurant in the middle of the main courtyard also has a weekly changing chef residency, offering Indian cuisine one week and Italian the next.

Attention to detail is what makes a stay at Soho Farmhouse so wonderful. Guests are asked for their height and shoe size when
booking, to ensure the correct bike and pair of wellies are waiting for them…

Escape the rat race and settle into a luxury countryside retreat like no other – visit www.sohofarmhouse.com

 



“I don’t think any of this digital stuff affects me.”

…That’s what my mum said in the queue to eat at Marks and Spencer’s café. We ordered some soup, and were given a square black plastic pad with a number on it. We sat down with our sparkling elderflower water and waited for our food. Just as mum started saying, “How will they know where we are?” our plastic number vibrated on the table, and the waiter arrived with our bowls of soup.

I asked how this worked. We were told that the number pad had a sensor, which was connected to a GPS ‘circuit board’ in the ceiling that then told the server exactly where we were sitting. (my non-techie explanation).

I said thank you and then turned to mum, grin on my face.

“That’s digital. See? It helped you to get your M&S soup!”

The fact is that digital affects all of us. The digital era evolved slowly, and escalated quickly. One minute we had dial-up connection to get onto the Internet and now we can scan all our own groceries, can turn our heating on from our phones when we leave work and can even see in real-time why and how late your bus is going to be.

Digital is making our lives easier.

I’m not a techie in any way – I love my print journalism. I do, however, keep abreast with news online, generally on my smart phone, and this is where I saw the big story last year about how Bournemouth was beating London as the UK’s fastest growing digital economy (cited in the Telegraph).

Now that may have been subjective, it may have even been blown out of proportion. But what is true is that there are digital projects going on in the Bournemouth area that deserve that accolade, and will amaze and excite even the un-techiest of person. (i.e. me).

Let’s take Westbourne as an example. It’s a small suburb of Bournemouth, just west of beachy Bournemouth, with independent boutiques similar to those that you see in Wimbledon Village or Chelsea. Hidden there (and I mean hidden) is a hive of digital activity

First is Base, a mobile app development company that allows companies to connect with their clients using modern mobile app technology, or ‘wearable digital technology’ (Apple Watch or Google Glass specs, for example).

Give me an example of how this works?

Base have developed an app that when switched on can influence shopping behaviours. If you were to shop in Marks & Spencer, and have their app downloaded on your mobile or ‘wearable’ device, the sensors in-store would locate your presence while you were there, gather information on your recent shopping purchases and provide you with offers that apply to those previous shopping habits – that otherwise you may have not heard about. Clever! Find out more about Base here.

And that’s not the only thing happening in Westbourne.

Just a stone’s throw from Base is 3 Sided Cube, located in the County Gates building. As well as having a cool name, it is a digital agency that specialises in designing and building great mobile apps.

Digital saves lives.

CharityKit

This is a platform powered by JustGiving that enables any charity to build and manage their own mobile app. Once set up, the charity and supporters will have a mobile app that they can download, while the content is entirely controlled by the charity itself. Great for smaller charities with lower budgets.

American Red Cross

3 Sided Cube have had a long-standing relationship with the American Red Cross. The ARC recognised the need to move its blood donation booking system to a mobile platform, and 3SC created a solution for this. Their app also encourages, motivated and engages donors.

To find out more, visit their apps page here.

Barclays Eagle Lab

That’s not all that’s happening in Westbourne. Barclays Eagle Labs chose Bournemouth – in particular Westbourne – as one of their venues. Also situated in the County Gates building, here you can find incubators and workspaces to help growing businesses, and ‘maker spaces’; studios with 3D printers, laser cutters and other facilities to show younger people how to work with digital tools. In particular, as advertised on Barclays television ads are classes to teach youngsters coding and all things digital, providing them with the knowhow to create computer programmes and more…

I only investigated a few things happening in Westbourne, a small suburb of Bournemouth. Imagine what else is happening elsewhere! Having achieved national press status recently as one of the UK’s fastest-growing digital economies, and owning one of the fastest public WiFi services, Bournemouth is sure putting its feet firmly on the digital map. And I haven’t even mentioned the Silicon Beach event which attracts digital leaders from across the UK! I could go on but it would take a while…

Digital is everywhere, and we need to embrace it. It affects all of us, however big or small. And digital isn’t just ‘those fancy phones and silly games’. Look at the Red Cross app – digital saves lives! We are lucky to see the digital revolution on our lifetime.

What do you think now mum? MUM?? (She’s just ordering her groceries online. DIGITALLY). Sigh.

If you would like to find out more about digital in Bournemouth, and meet leaders of the most influential digital agencies in Bournemouth, come to Meetdraw this Thursday. And get a free drink too! Get your free ticket here



Change the workplace – we can do it together!

WHAT IS the ALL ABOUT PEOPLE event?

A unique workplace event where everyone is welcome…

BE A PART OF two days immersing yourself in ideas, experiences, conversations and inspiration.

On what?

Building amazing organisations around the right people, in the right places, doing the right things. Bringing together people who are passionate about creating better, more successful workplaces… and wondering what that might look like.

Where is it?

Cross-industry, cross-profession – this is a workplace event like no other. It’s by the sea, at Pavilion Dance South West (click here), with lunch from Lunch’d (click here) in June.

I’ll be there! And i’m offering you a DISCOUNT CODE for tickets. Go to http://allaboutpeople.co/ , click on the Eventbrite link and use the code TEAMAK for your 15% discount.

 



Content with your lunch? Check out this new content from Lunch’d

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Food and Content.

Have you heard of Lunch’d? It’s a super stylish healthy lunch delivery service, satisfying the hungry workers of Bournemouth and the surrounding areas. The man behind the idea? Self-confessed foodie, Oli Perron.

But what is he doing with content? He’s getting on the Mark Masters’-penned Content Revolution ™ bandwagon, and I wanted to find out more.

But first, let’s go back; this calls for a trip to the past, where it all began…

The story of Lunch’d

Oli hails from London, where he used to be a chef. He then ventured to the snow with his chef whites for some gourmet ski seasons, before returning to the capital city to sell fresh produce to city banks and top restaurants via contract caterers. He certainly had a taste for a career in the food industry.

But pounding the pavements was not for him. He was drawn to the coast, and while attending Yeovil College to study (part of Bournemouth College) he met Tom, still one of his best friends and a Lunch’d investor.

While Oli moved back to London, best friend Tom moved from Somerset to Bournemouth to work within the digital industry. He worked for a digital agency called Folk, which is where he worked when Oli continued to visit him at the weekends. Oli cursed himself having to trudge back up the M25 on a Sunday night, when his heart belonged in the seaside town.

Bournemouth bound

And so he moved to Bournemouth in 2010, with the idea of distributing fruit and veg there. He set up his company ‘Boxed Veg’. Hiring one of the rooms at Folk for Boxed Veg, he then took a side step and became an account manager for the agency.

For the next few years, he learned all things digital, including how important it is to tell brand stories.

The beginning of Lunch’d

Oli then left in 2013. He knew he wanted to work with food, but wasn’t sure how. The boss at Folk asked him to make some lunches for a client meeting. There was nowhere good to dine out nearby, so Oli catered for them with super healthy and stylish lunches. Folk told a few other creative agencies, some tweeted to their followers and within 2 or 3 months Oli was delivering lunches to 10 agencies.

Where was his HQ? His environmentally-approved penthouse flat, where he was making all lunches in a confined space. He was also doing everything himself from buying produce, to cooking, marketing, delivering and even his own accounts!

His self-marketing gained him an interview with the BBC, which led to delivering lunches to large gym chain, Fitness First. Marketing in all its forms was working!

Lows as well as highs

It’s not all been upside. He lost a big client at the end of 2014, which put pressure on profits. But he kept on trucking.

Roll forward to the present day where he now has a huge commercial kitchen in Alder Hills, allowing for the business to grow.

SO what about content?

Oli says that he has always enjoyed messing about with the medium of film, from an early age with friends to then seeing a real need for video content in business while working in the digital industry.

He knew video content was going to emerge in his business, but at the beginning, didn’t have the time or the capacity.

The importance of content

It’s important to see the individual brand story, from the person behind it (such as Jimmy from Jimmy’s Iced Coffee) to your daily life and an insight into your business day-to-day – having a genuine voice.

Oli’s first episode for Lunch’d explores trawling through his accounts, a trip to Manchester, cooking in his original kitchen, and even a business meeting with House of Fraser Department Store.

What’s the idea behind this extra content?

“I used to film video shorts from my kitchen – which foods were in season, how to prepare a healthy lunch yourself quickly and easily. I like cooking shows like ‘Nigella’, but how many people have Star Anise in their kitchen cupboards? My recipes were simple and real. It’s easy to connect with your audience, but you have to make an effort and you have to give them something slightly different to enjoy.

“If you give your audience something enjoyable to watch and share, and it’s from your real working day, then there is no better advertising for your business. Everyone likes to see behind the scenes. It’s important to be honest and transparent.”

“The food in my filming isn’t just for show, it’s the food that my customers are eating! The transparency of my videos echo the transparency of my business”

Watch the Lunch’d video diary – Episode one here. And try one of his lunches!

And for episode two – click here. Featuring yours truly!



Content workshop part two: Building your audience.

CONTENT highlighted in green

What is content?

I introduce myself, and my profession, in a variety of ways. I am a journalist. I am a copywriter. I often describe myself as a content writer – mainly because some don’t know what a copywriter is, and also because a ‘content writer’ covers a lot of the many different services that I offer. In a nutshell, I am a writer, and offer content for a host of clients in many different guises – but all in the written word.

 So what IS content if it isn’t writing?

Dave Trott, legendary copy genius (my words) has had trouble defining content, (shown here) http://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/view-dave-trott-content-content-content/1370207. If he had trouble, how can others be expected to?

The only person I know who has come close to defining content well enough so that everyone can understand the concept is Mark Masters, owner of The ID Group, content marketing consultancy. He says:

‘Effective content marketing creates better experiences for your customers. We help brands stand for something, find their niche and deliver useful information across channels. The objective is to build an audience, drive profitable action and grow your business.’

I understand more now. But do we need to define content?

Should we define it? If we are using this big word of content in many different guises, video, social media, blogs, editorial articles, photographs, sketches, interviews, and MANY others – does it need to have one finite definition? I attended my second content workshop, hosted by Mark Masters. MM says in his workshops (well he did in the one I attended) that the most important thing you can do as a business is to not define content, but to BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE. It makes sense – if there is no audience to enjoy your content, what’s the point in producing it?

Build your audience. Build your business.

This really resonates with me. I have to go against Sir Trott and argue that we don’t actually need to define content – we just need to concentrate on building an audience in order to grow our business. Content can be defined any way you want, as long as it allows you to reach the same end goal.

So what does this involve?

Mark talked (actually we all talked – this was a workshop!) about how to connect to your audience. Tell your story! We can all be storytellers, without even knowing it! He says: “We’re not just telling and selling; we’re building relationships.”

We had some great guest speakers at the workshop – all connected via the medium of Skype. (SO digital. Impressive or what?!) The first was Geraint Holliman, Head of Strategy at King Content. He had some great advice and pointers, which we all discussed. Here are a few:

  • Think in the same way as the person who is listening to your story
  • The reader hates gaps – fill those gaps!
  • It’s important to have an emotional connection
  • Think – what does the customer want to hear?
  • Take time to understand who your customer is
  • Why did you get into this business? Tell that to your audience!
  • People want to be educated – the more info, the better

We also spoke with Ian Rhodes, digital marketer, influential businessman and one half of content marketing podcast ‘Marketing Homebrew’ with Mark Masters. He spoke from his own experiences and got everyone at the workshop talking. He asked the question: what does storytelling mean? He discarded the notion that ‘marketing has changed’; we just have MORE channels to connect with our audience.

We all discussed building your audience and realising that audience. He suggested that we needed to take a step back and really decide what they want and need. Ask yourself – what can you do for them? What information can you provide them with – and what value is it to them?

He really made the workshop think – that this content that we provide cannot be a flash in the pan, it must be informative and become an authoritative piece.

Robert Rose, content marketing strategist, author and speaker from Los Angeles was our third and final speaker. He had some excellent points and discussion topics.

He says that he asks himself:

  • We have the solution to your (the client) problem. Now how do we tell that story?
  • What differentiates us? We have to tell our story around that!

He suggested that we should use content as ‘…a bridge to get to the consumer’, and that we shouldn’t waste the opportunity. He did press the fact that content ‘has to be consistent’. We shouldn’t start a weekly blog and then get bored and miss a few weeks. Keep going with your content plans and your audience should build organically.

What did I learn?

I always learn a lot from the workshops – not just from Mark and the guest speakers but also from the attendees. What do they think and feel about shared content in the digital world? The biggest points that I took with me were:

Make your content relevant for your audience. Go off on a tangent – talk about something irrelevant and your audience will just stop following you, and, most importantly, listening.

Define who you are. No one wants to learn from someone who is unsure of who they are. IT company? What exactly are you offering your customers? In which areas? Do you specialise in any particular subjects that others don’t? That’s what you need to tell in your story.

We can all tell a story. Can’t write? Tell it through video, images, put stick men in photographs, record audio notes, whatever. And if you really want it written, ask someone who can – like me! (shameless plug).

The competition out there is growing. What can you offer that others can’t? How can you tell them? Via the power of content. Get to one of Mark’s workshops and discuss with others that have tried. I promise you their business is better since they explored the world of content.

 

 



When interviews exceed your expectations…

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It’s no secret that print journalism is my first love. It’s seeking out the story, pinning down that sought-after story and then holding the finished publication, fresh from the printers in your hands, smelling the pages and seeing your name next to something that makes you proud.

I love to interview people. People from all kinds of backgrounds, industries, businesses and worlds. I love to find out about their lives, their loves, their passions for what they do and more importantly an insight into what makes them excited.

Some interviews are challenging, some enjoyable and some downright difficult. I enter the interview with the same outlook; I am there to do a job and I will damn well do it to the best of my ability. There’s nothing but upside if the interviewee turns out to be incredibly easy to talk to – making my job easier.

That’s just what happened when I was asked to interview X Factor 2009 winner Joe McElderry. Given an hour’s warning, I hastily researched him on Google. I was suitably impressed that, at 24, he has released 4 albums (most X Factor finalists have only reached 3), has won 3 reality TV programmes (X Factor, The Jump, Popstar to Operastar), is nearing the end of a looong tour (Evolution began in February and ends at Christmas), took six weeks out to take part in The Who’s ‘Tommy’, stars in pantomime until January in Hull and then stars as the lead in Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat from February. Phew! Expect a diva, I thought.

I thought wrong. After being given his mobile number (most personalities are seated in their agent’s offices for a day of press) I called Joe, who was sat in his flat in London (eating cereal) having answered a day of journalist’s questions. He know what they would be asking, just as he had been prepped as to what he should be telling them. But not once did he sound bored, irritated or even tired as he answered my questions on his tour, Tommy, going onto the West End stage and (not) getting nervous on stage – for the nth time.

Joe was refreshing, charming and downright lovely. he restored my faith in interviewing ‘celebrities’ and reminded me why I love my job. I even managed to make it to the show venue, met him in person for 2 minutes where he hugged me AND my mum and signed my interview.

Not only is he a fabulous performer, he is a genuinely down-to-earth young entertainer. And if karma exists, this boy from South Shields should expect a long and successful career….



Do you need to go to a ‘Content Workshop’?

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After immersing myself in MM’s book ‘The Content Revolution’, and nodding to myself more than one of those parcel shelf dogs, I felt that I really needed to know if there were others out there that thought the same about content – and hell! Did they too want to do something about it?

The perfect opportunity and scenario was to attend Mark’s Content Workshop, held at The Shelly Theatre in Boscombe. There were a handful of people there, a good number of people. Some worked with content, some would like to in the future, and some just wanted to know more about it.

What’s the big deal with content anyway?

Marks runs The ID Group, a content marketing agency based in Parkstone, Dorset. He admits he’s had his ups and downs, his successes and his failures. He’s fiercely honest. But one thing remains consistent with him – he’s dedicated to building an audience for his clients who will then trust them and regard them as an influential source.

Everyone wants a successful profitable business. For that, we need customers. We therefore need an audience. Mark knows that effective content marketing creates better experiences for customers and he wants to teach people to understand how to grow their audience.

Who was there?

There was a real mix of people at the workshop that I attended; an academic, a journalist, a marketing manager, a digital agency worker and owner of a business for starters. We all had something to say about content.

But it wasn’t just Mark talking at the group (although he IS very engaging). As well as citing some major successful businessmen (Dave Trott, Steve Jobs) we got to talk (by digital means) to Tim Poulson, owner of successful startupwww.pcosdietsupport.com. We also spoke with Ian Rhodes, a digital marketer, influential businessman and one half of the Marketing Homebrew (a two-weekly content marketing podcast) with Mark himself.

Speaking with others who deal with content first-hand brought up loads of questions from the attendees. An important one that everyone seemed to share an interest in asking was: ‘what content can I provide that will help me?’

The answer coming from MM was simple; three rules to live by – Imitate, Collaborate and Persist.

What Mark explained was that we can’t stick to these (now archaic) 20th century tactics of ‘shoving stuff out there’ and hoping that we receive a follow, a like, or even some conversation in return. It’s got to be more tactical, it’s got to have more planning, more feeling and definitely the personal approach.

This was proven right there and then at the workshop. We had the lovely Rob Murray demonstrate this for us. He works for Farrow & Ball (a major national business which I’m sure you’ve all heard of, based right here in Dorset) and it was his idea last year to introduce a separate blog called ‘The Chromologist’. Concentrating simply on colour, the blog site (that runs alongside the main F&B site) informs and inspires its followers to explore everything concerning colour. It ‘delves deep into the world of colour, from art and home inspiration to food fashion and literature’.

This is a perfect example of a company committed to creating content, organically building an audience and as Rob himself admitted: “The Chromologist could eat up Farrow & Ball in terms of search and targeted messages.”

So what did I learn?

I’m a content writer. I write content for others and hope they see the importance of content as much as I do. Mark clarifies the very importance of content in today’s digital world. We can’t all carry on just sharing others’ information, knowledge and skills. We need to stand out from the crowd; we need to let them know that YES we know what we’re talking about and YES we are proud to shout about it!

I not only learned that more and more people out there are realising that content is key; I also learned that you can always find out ways to improve your business, idea or product. Don’t sit around waiting for your clients/audience to come to you. Sign up to one of Mark’s content workshops – I guarantee you’ll end up with a bit of the ‘nodding dog syndrome’ by the end.



Content is king.

content revolution

I recently delved into Mark Masters’ world of content, and boy was I happy I did.

As a writer, I’m biased when it comes to the subject of content writing. Of course I think it’s important, and of course I believe content is of the utmost importance when standing out from the crowd – I tell my clients this every day.

But Mark’s inspirational book achieves this and a whole lot more – he changes the way people from all backgrounds think about content.

All in business, be it a huge company or a stand-alone freelancer, are vying for new business; it doesn’t just arrive and sit in our laps. We all have to work for it. With a huge number of prospective clients out there, we have to think of new ways to engage with our chosen audiences. Mark Masters opens our eyes to just that – connecting with these chosen audiences by using content to tell a better story.

But what does he mean by content in his revolution? Content isn’t just the written word (although again, I am biased. Print journalism I will always love you).

There’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, WordPress, YouTube…(need I go on?) and as MM (I like that he sounds like a super hero now) explains: ‘…we should be adding value though sharing information that is relevant to the interests of others. Your ultimate aim is to make the lives of your audience better, easier, and more time-rich.’

But why do we need to share content with our ‘clients’? MM explains this in simple terms: ‘One thing that has not changed since the dawn of time, no matter how big the technological advances have been, is the need for businesses and people to build relationships. People do business with those they know, like and trust’. And how will you build up a relationship with them? Through content.

But you have a business that sells a particular product – what does this mean for you? Well, how do you stand out from the crowd, how do you connect with your customers, and why should they come to you rather than someone else in the marketplace that provides exactly the same thing? MM states: ‘There is the potential to attracts a much bigger pool of prospective customers if you are providing something of value rather than merely selling a product or service.’ A-HA. Sharing your knowledge and story perhaps?

And everyone can tell a story. Be it a story to your mates in the pub of something that happened at the weekend, to a job interview, to a date that went badly; we can all talk about stories with us as the main character. MM simply points out that this also works in business. We’re all kind of specialists in our own chosen business and can definitely tell a story about that.

As we are all taught at school, ‘write from your own experiences.’ And of course, our business, product and service ARE our own experiences…! When MM says ‘The more compelling the stories, the more others will say “I can relate to that’’ ‘, this is how your experiences, however big or small, can influence others and really allow them to connect with you on a level above normal business practice.

So you can tell your story, yes? But how and where? As if by magic, super hero MM tells us: ‘The tools with which you need to be armed today (in the digital era) are: energy, knowledge, consistency, an email account, a computer, Wi – Fi and an abundance of ways to reach an audience.’ Yes, you guessed it, he tells us that too: ’Since the start of this century, the sophistication of new media channels has completely changed the way in which we interact with others via: websites, blogs, email, social media…’ (I’ll stop there. You really need to buy the book!)

If you needed any more clarification as to why you should tell your story, MM even cites Robert Rose, Chief Strategist of the Content Marketing Institute: ‘The stories we tell are the only differentiator we have left.’

So now I get it. Be different, tell your story, and enlighten other people with your own experiences and tales that you have to tell. They’ll respect you, connect with you, trust you and hopefully, the icing on the cake – start a business relationship with you.

I couldn’t put The Content Revolution down. I walked, book in hand to a meeting, almost walked into a lamppost, had to manoeuvre around a small dog and must have looked like a complete lunatic as I kept nodding, exclaiming ‘yes!’ and stopped to make pencil notes every 200 yards.

I won’t ruin the whole book for you – you must read it. But a fantastic quote about reaping the words of content comes from Kirk Cheyfitz, Co-CEO of Story Worldwide: ‘The right content strategy unites and empowers all of a business’ communications of all sorts across all channels. Research has shown that [sharing your content] can have nine times the reach of traditional messaging and two to four times the impact on purchase behaviour.’

This is something that can benefit everyone, no matter which industry they are in.

If you care for your business, want to make a refreshing change and would like to find a way of connecting with like-minded people, read Mark’s book. I guarantee you can’t make it to chapter two without making notes in the margin.



With industries consistently overlapping, we need to work together.

 

ITaaU network

The ITaaU Network+ Community Conference, held in July, confirmed just that.

If I’ve learned one thing from running my own business, it’s that I need help. We ALL need help. Yes, we want to succeed on our own merit and of course we want the pat on the back and the “well done – AND all on your own!”

But help from others makes it all that little bit easier. When I started out on my own (nervously) as a freelance copywriter and journalist, I desperately needed help, and I wasn’t afraid to ask. I visited networking events, where I met with people from all industries, backgrounds and disciplines. I thought that they would not know anything about my industry, but they actually surprised me with their suggestions, ideas and offers to help.

I have now learned that it’s okay to ask for help – and it’s actually better to collaborate with others, even if it doesn’t seem obvious at first.

I recently attended the IT as a Utility Community Conference. The ITaaU Network is a dynamic community of researchers, practitioners and policy-makers interested in interdisciplinary collaborative activity, that relates to IT utilities applied across the whole spectrum of disciplines, in the context of the Digital Economy.

The range of speakers was immense; I didn’t know what to expect. There was Tracy Keys, from the Research Council UK, explaining a research council’s perspective, Andy Stanford-Clark from IBM, explaining what was next for the Internet of Things, alongside Anisah Osman Britton, from innovation and accelerator programme The Bakery and Zoe Philpott, an interactive storyteller, telling the story of Ada Lovelace.

On paper, they don’t seem to gel; and I’m sure that was the first opinion of most who attended the conference. But as the event progressed, breakouts groups took place and talks finished, it became clear that all had something in common and more importantly, all had ideas for innovation and new ideas for disciplines that were usually out of their capacities.

After each talk, there were offers of collaborations, help with projects in the future and general ideas of who to connect with and who to ask for help.

General sound bites and opinions from attendees were of the same opinion.

“The Network is great as it brings together academics and business alike.’”

“There’s a wealth of ideas here, ready to be taken to the next level of development.”

“ I found it surprisingly relevant to my industry – I didn’t se the immediate relevance – but it was: lots of innovation and different ways of working.”

I’m glad I attended; from what originally seemed not relevant to me and out of my comfort zone, I was surprised with how much content I found useful from every single speaker at the conference.

The ITaaU Network continues to bring together individuals and businesses from different areas, all with an interest in the Digital Economy.

In this digital age, industries are consistently overlapping, and this will continue to happen. Networks such as this benefit everyone; even me. We need to encourage more people and organisations to become part of these networks and get involved.



“I’m sorry mum, I really have to talk to strangers now…”

 

talk-to-strangers

I talk to people everywhere I go. I’m one of those people that talks to old people, stops and helps people that are lost and woe betide any of you that work on a shop counter and actually ask me if I’m having a good day.

Writers have to find their inspiration from somewhere. I find it from normal everyday life. People are fascinating! From every background, race, religion, you name it, they have stories and I want to tell them!

I recently went to Paris on the Eurostar for a weekend away. I met a friend there and, armed with a book (just a prop) I found my seat. There were girls on a hen do, couples who were on a romantic weekend away and Parisennes on their way home for the weekend. I was in for a perfect couple of hours of people watching and taking notes.

Then two ladies came and sat opposite me. I got talking to them (natch) and deduced that they were mother and daughter. Off for a trip to the capital of chic, they were both nurses, dad was a doctor, brother was the only non-medical in the family and June (the mum) had a horrid sister-in-law who was bringing up her daughter (June’s niece) to be a spoilt young madam indeed.

How did I find all of this out? Now being an investigative journalist first, copywriter later, I find it easy to extract information from others without giving out details of my own. But I’m not going to use June’s family in any story in the future (well not using their real names anyway*).

Sometimes talking to people opens doors that were inaccessible before. On a train journey a few weeks ago I got talking to a fabulous Turkish man. He told me that a friend of his was the film reviewer for a broadsheet newspaper. Being a film buff, this is my DREAM. Not to do the job, but to visit and gain an insight into something I find fascinating. He said “yeah send him a message on twitter and say you met me!”

I did. I’m going to see him next week.

I was at my local train station, dressed in my running outfit, travelling to meet my friend for a jog. While waiting for my train, I heard three gents talking about an event they were going to in London. They sounded media-ish and I couldn’t for the life of me work them out. As they got up to leave I said: “Excuse me, sorry to stop you, but what do you do and where are you going? I’m a copywriter/journalist – it’s my job to be nosey.”

One of the gents said: “We’re from a digital agency, going to an awards ceremony in town. Did you say you’re a copywriter? Here’s my card. We’re always looking for copywriters.”

I popped to the agency yesterday and am working on a project with them soon.

I was in my JOGGING KIT for goodness sake!!

In this day and age of equality and fierce competition, you’ve got to stand out from the crowd. Start talking to strangers. You never know where it might lead.

*names have obviously been changed.