Biggest-ever UK-wide Brand Story Tour 2018

I am doing the biggest-ever UK tour to transform the story telling capabilities of public relations and comms professionals. It is taking place in March and April visiting Bristol, Manchester, Edinburgh and London – with only a few tickets left.

The goal is to enable PR and Comms practitioners move from being tellers of news stories into better storytellers, and outstanding narrative and story strategists, enabling them to be at the forefront as the industry evolves into becoming master storytellers across Owned, Shared, Earned and Paid-for media.

The one day Brand and Brand Story workshop provides delegates with a toolkit with new thinking, strategies and tools to transform how they deliver results at work. The biggest excuse not to do training is ‘I can’t afford to spend a day out of the office.’ The workshop overcomes this by combining working on your own real world challenges coupled with a profound learning and development experience, so avoiding any downtime.

Here’s how one delegate, Emma Wheat of leading food, health and well-being specialists Ceres PR described her experience of the Brand and Brand Story workshop. ”The course really confirmed to me how much more effective and exciting communications can be once a brand story is invoked. Stories attract people, and people are driven to make decisions based on their emotions.” Emma’s full blog can be read here. Read more

Why we need #SpeakCockneyDay on March 3rd

The Cockney accent will disappear from the streets of London – it will be brown bread – unless you do something.#SpeakCockneyDay on March 3rd is celebrating what it is to speak, live and be a Cockney, to keep its spirit, sense and slang alive.

Cockney is more than an accent, or vernacular. It’s a state of being, a character, with virtues of self-reliance, magnanimity, a commercial nous, independence of spirit, egalitarianism, directness, and occasional subversion of, pretension, poshness and pomposity

Linguistic experts however, predict the Cockney dialect faces a diabolical future – and will disappear within 20 years.

Whether you’re born within the sound of Bow Bells, have become a Londoner, or are now part of the Cockney diaspora, whatever your place of birth, colour or creed, ‘Speak Cockney Day’ is a time to celebrate Cockney life and culture – and do something to give it a new future.

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Twixtmas Creative winner

A creative Twixtmas Advent Calendar, featuring 5 different doors to do good in the 5 days between the Christmas and New Year holidays, was the winner of the One Minute Briefs creative challenge, sponsored by my social enterprise Grow Social Capital.

And the winning creative, David Holcroft, is a great example of the wonderful people in our world doing great things to make their world a better place. David is a teacher at Pendleton Sixth Form College in Salford, teaching graphic design and advertising.

“I like to think I do plenty good deeds every day through my work because, as cliché as it sounds, I really do love inspiring and encouraging young people to better themselves.” said David. Read more

End of an era as I sell the Wakefield Media Centre

I am marking the end of an era following the sale of my business, the Wakefield Media & Creativity Centre at King Street, Wakefield.

Being a former ‘Wakefield Business of the Year’, ‘Yorkshire Public Relations Professional of the Year, and ‘Yorkshire Regeneration Pioneer Award’ winner it ends a 35 year relationship with the city and Yorkshire.

I was founder director of the Wakefield Media Centre and former Managing Director of GREEN public relations. I’m now focussing on a new career, based in Barry Island in south Wales, where I am planning to launch in the New Year a new social enterprise, ‘Grow Social Capital’ to tackle the changing levels of social capital in communities across the UK.

I was an active figure in the Wakefield and the Yorkshire business community. I was a former Chair of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Yorkshire group, creating in 1994 the world’s first Festival of Public Relations in Leeds – a week-long celebration of the public relations profession, a member of the first Board for the Huddersfield Media Centre and the Round Foundry Media Centre, Leeds, and also a judge on the Yorkshire Awards. (For my sins I was a member of the panel that bestowed the ‘Yorkshireman of the Year’ award on Jimmy Saville. I did atone with a contrite feature article in the Yorkshire Post many years later.)

For the Wakefield district I served as a Board member on the Wakefield City Centre Partnership, and also the Wakefield Theatres Trust. I set up a residents group at my home on St. John’s Square Wakefield, where on leaving we planted a tree to mark my family’s local roots.

My legacies for Wakefield and Yorkshire include:
• Transforming in the late 1980’s the County’s Yorkshire Day celebrations on August 1st with a national award-winning campaign which raised over 10 years an estimated £250,000 for local charities
• In 1991 saving the Leeds-based Treats Ice Cream company (later to become Richmond Ice Cream) from closure by Unilver
• Conceived and delivered an award-winning creative industries hub, the Wakefield Media Centre, creating new jobs, training opportunities and cultural events in an area hit by the decline of the mining industry and is still running after 14 years
• The ‘Story of Media’ statue on the outside of the Wakefield Media Centre building which I designed with local artist John Milsom
• Opening the first IndyCube co-working centre in England at the Wakefield Media Centre
• Putting Wakefield on the creative industries map with the first major public relations agency to be based in the city and establishing a local creative industries networks, the forerunner to the city’s Cognitiv group, now part of the Wakefield BID
• Creating an Investors in People backed graduate training scheme providing a chance for local graduates to get their first break in PR
• Five of my former staff now running their own public relations agencies in the region
• Was a founder director of the Bully-Banks campaign group which secured partial justice for 18,200 small businesses across the UK who were recognised as victims of bank mis-selling who received £2.2 billion in redress

Reflecting on my time in Wakefield and Yorkshire I became an adopted Yorkshireman and am both proud of helping others during my time, but also sad in marking the end of an era cutting my formal ties to Wakefield and Yorkshire.



We had many good laughs over the years. Like the time I had the idea of inventing a new art form ‘audio sculpture’ by making our Media Centre Britain’s only ‘moo-ing building’ (we broadcast the sound of a cow moo-ing every hour.) I got my old mate Jay Jones, who lives in San Francisco to do a photocall while he was visiting us, posing as a ‘Californian Audio Sculpturist’.


Helping Ireland lead the way in new qualification for Creativity in PR and Comms

I am really delighted to be working in partnership with the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) to launch a new professional qualification in ‘Creativity’ for the communications industry – believed to be a world first – enabling professionals to achieve a competitive advantage in their work.

The course is designed to provide both the strategic and tactical skills to achieve better results in offline and online communications and improve delegates’ management of the creative dimension at work.

Delivered through four linked weekend courses, with assessment based on producing a campaign case study, successful delegates will receive a Certificate in ‘Creativity and Creativity Management in PR and Comms’. Read more

Barry’s first ‘Festival of Ideas’ at the 8th Friendship Festival

I am organising Barry’s first ‘Festival of Ideas’ – a sharing of new ideas, personal passions, and poetry – is taking place as part of the 8th annual Friendship Tree Festival between 11am-4pm on Sunday July 23rd at the Knap gardens, Barry.

The ‘Festival of Ideas’ is a pop-up event aiming to be part platform for the spoken word and part soapbox for anyone in Barry who has anything to say to make the world a better place. It is being organised in my role as founder of the Barry IdeasBank.

It will feature an open mic programme of seven minute slots for anyone who has an idea – so long as it’s not racist, party political, or tedious.

The Festival has already attracted a number of poets sharing their poems along with polemicists speaking on topics such as the need for a universal basic income, why we need to speak to our neighbours, and is there such a thing as ‘Barryitus’?

So, if you’re in the area, bring an idea along with your friends and picnic – and share it.

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Theresa May fails the fundamentals of basic storytelling

Theresa May lost her UK General Election gamble because she failed the fundamentals of basic storytelling.
Rather than engaging or inspiring, motivating the British electorate to support her quest for a larger parliamentary majority she achieved the opposite. Her stock, status and standing as the person to lead the British people as their Prime Minister diminished because of four basic errors in her storytelling.

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Today’s a day for remembering a true British hero – Bertie the ventriloquist doll who landed on ‘D Day’

Only the British army would take a ventriloquist’s dummy on the D-Day landings in 1944.

Yes, it’s true. A British Army Captain, took ‘Bertie’, a ventriloquist doll, Bertie, onto the beaches of Normandy in the first few days of invasion.

Bertie’s resplendent army uniform proudly included a number of campaign medals.

Just imagine if he had got captured. Imagine the Gestapo trying to interrogate him, to get him to talk!

All of us should now have a new creative hero. Capt.E.H.‘Ted’ North – the man who had a hand in Bertie.

Maybe, it could be an idea for the future BREXIT negotiations, with our leader and dummy at hand. Some may say this is already the case. Read more

Why PR needs to do SEO and NEO

Public relations has a paradox: on the one hand it needs to measure to the nth degree its impact in the digital world and embrace Search Engine Optimization (SEO) led PR. (Check out Stella Bayles excellent introduction).

On the other, it needs to calmly accept the fact that, like the ancient mariners who put monsters or dragons on their maps to indicate the unknown, we in public relations need to do the same – or what I call NEO – Nothing Evidently Observable.

We exist and operate in a world of increasing granularity where can know of things to precise detail. Yet, paradoxically, we operate at the same time in a world of deep darkness.

We can often be needlessly, and unhelpfully beating ourselves up, allowing ourselves to be put down because of a failure to recognise and respect this double-side reality.

Our PR world is increasingly becoming more granular in how it goes about measuring what it does. Forward-thinking communicators urgently need to address its big wake up call to measure, evaluate and iterate.

Yet we must also accept communications and PR operate in a world where we need to identify and consolidate our understanding of the equivalent of the dragons on our map – the NEO: Nothing Evidently Observable.


Dark Matter

If scientists can accept the existence of Dark Matter – where they readily admit that parts of our universe are beyond comprehension, or financial experts recognise ‘radical uncertainty’ where we cannot compute an outcome, shouldn’t we in PR be honest and comfortable to recognise at there is stuff in human activity and our communications universe that eludes definition and direct control?

In her book ‘Dark matter and the dinosaurs’ scientist Lisa Randall highlights how science recognises three components of our universe: dark energy – the expansive and delocalised property of space itself, ordinary matter – that includes atoms, subatomic particles and even Black Holes – and lastly, Dark matter. Read more

Creative design from the South

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