Celebrate #SpeakCockneyDay on March 3rd – the ‘fird of the ‘fird

The Cockney accent will disappear from the streets of London – it will be brown bread – unless you do something. Linguistic experts predict the Cockney dialect will disappear from London within 20 years.

#SpeakCockneyDay on March 3rd is your chance to do something about it by celebrating what it is to speak, live and be a Cockney, to keep its spirit, sense and slang alive. Cockneys have always had to overcome class snobbery to survive. Now it needs to be seen as relevant to a new generation, a new age, to keep its cultural flame 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 subversion of pretension and pomposity

Whether born within the sound of Bow Bells, or become a Londoner, or 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.

It is not about being nostalgic, trying to hang onto something that passed its sale date. Rather, it is about preserving a cultural diversity, a richness that defines London and British culture, yet can still add to any new linguistic or cultural melting pot.

Any new hybrid 21st century London language would be better, stronger rooted, by having some Cockney DNA in it. Hence, the need for a ‘Speak Cockney Day’ on March 3rd. A completely non-commercial, independent idea. It’s not pony nor Brad Pitt, but a fight for something worth treasuring.

A creative community, One Minute Briefs created some great inspiring creative to spread the word about #SpeakCockneyDay. I will be sharing their efforts over the next few days on Twitter. Do follow and share.

Why March 3rd?

For ‘Speak Cockney Day’ to survive and flourish it needs a memorable date. Something easily remembered, can be passed on, as well a date that somehow also conveys something of the Cockney spirit

March 3rd – or ‘fird of the ‘fird – with its hint of self-deprecation, seems to fit the bill.

6 fings you can do to celebrate #SpeakCockneyDay

  1. Have a go at speaking or ‘rabbit’ with a Cockney accent. (For the best collection of cockney vernacular on the web check out www.cockneyrhymingslang.co.uk )
  2. Do an impression of a famous Cockney, a Michael Caine for example, and celebrate the, vernacular and phrases – including rhyming and back slang.
  3. Do a ‘Cockney laugh’, characterized by laughing at others’ misfortune in a forced, repeated way – think of the TV character Alf Garnett.
  4. Do some Cockney dancing as personified by Dick van Dyke in the film ‘Mary Poppins’ or Stanley Holloway. It’s easy. You simply dance holding some imaginary coat lapels.
  5. Have a ruby (curry) with friends and watch some Cockney film classics like ‘Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels’.
  6. Do something for charity to celebrate the innate generosity of the Cockney spirit.

‘appy March 3rd #SpeakCockneyDay

Why Cockney is a cause for celebration – and action

An influential July 2010 report by Paul Kerswill, Professor of Sociolinguistics at Lancaster University, Multicultural London English: the emergence, acquisition and diffusion of a new variety, predicted that the Cockney accent will disappear from London’s streets within 30 years.

Despite the accent having been around for more than 500 years, the report claims it is being replaced in London by a new hybrid language: “Cockney in the East End is now transforming itself into Multicultural London English, a new, melting-pot mixture of all those people living here who learnt English as a second language”.

Conversely, migration of Cockney speakers has led to a ‘Cockney diaspora’ with the dialect, growing out of its traditional East End heartland, to encompass all of London, both sides of the Thames estuary, Essex and wherever Cockneys are in the world.

‘Cockneydom’ is celebrated in music, television and drama – and is a major icon of British culture.

The Cockney vernacular and slang however, has always had a challenge to be accepted. In 1909 the London County Council Conference on the Teaching of English in London Elementary Schools stated, “the Cockney mode of speech, with its unpleasant twang, is a modern corruption without legitimate credentials, and is unworthy of being the speech of any person in the capital city of the Empire.”

Since then, Cockney has superficially become more socially accepted as an alternative form of the English Language rather than an inferior one. Yet scratch the surface of English society, and stigma and snobbery can still prevail. And it is this inferiority complex which could spell the killer blow for ‘Cockney’.

There is a need to assert Cockney – its slang, vernacular and expressions – so it can be a valid part of, and flourish within a new linguistic melting pot that is evolving in London, as well asserting a sense of pride among those who consider themselves Cockney, or admire the Cockney slang and culture.

Yet, an inferiority complex holds back asserting Cockney in the new linguistic melting pot: it’s not saying the old has got to be preserved. Rather, the old can evolve, survive, and flourish if promoted in a new dynamic context.

Any new hybrid 21st century London language would be better, stronger rooted, by having some Cockney DNA in it. Hence, the need for a ‘Speak Cockney Day’ on March 3rd.

How did Speak Cockney Day come about?

I was born in the old East End Maternity Hospital, Stepney and grew up in Poplar. I’m a proud East Ender. As a friend once observed: “You can take Andy out of the East End, but you can’t take the East End out of Andy.”

I have a passion for London culture, even writing a book called ‘Tubespiration – how to get your next brilliant idea on the London Underground’ that combines my other passion for creativity.

My claim to fame is that I once hit a cricket ball under the River Thames (I was playing cricket, when I was kid, near the entrance to Blackwall Tunnel).

Yet I still remember, with some pain, the times being hauled up in front of my junior school classmates and yelled at by the teacher to pronounce my class registration number of ‘33’ ‘properly’: “Green! It’s Thhirty-Thhreeee”.

Needless, to say her efforts were wasted, and in hindsight, profoundly wrong in my view, seeking to impose her cultural values on another.

Regardless,I can now smile about it, and today even celebrate it.

The Vision

‘Speak Cockney Day’ on March 3rd – the ‘fird of the ‘fird – provides a focal point for both celebrating and investing in the future survival of ‘Cockney’.

It’s not about nostalgia, a backward-looking reminisce but rather a positive statement about helping Cockney culture to adapt, grow, and flourish in a new era.

It’s about connecting everyone – celebrities, cockneys, non-cockneys – all who care about our London pride and do your bit keep the Cockney spirit alive, and where possible, help good causes.

It’s a chance to find out more about your Cockney Culture, its rhyming slang, expressions, history, traditions and culture. Celebrate your favourite Cockney heroes, TV shows, films and bands, to enjoy what you think is your London culture so you can help preserve its qualities for future generations.

The day provides a great opportunity to keep the flame of the Cockney spirit alive.

Anyone interested in doing something to help, get involved would be very welcome to get in touch with Andy

Further information

Do get in touch with Andy Green at andy at andygreencreativity.com or phone 07815 884 525 m

Profound new thinking on the future of PR & Comms – do read the winning entries to the Reginald Watts Prize for Insight

If you work in public relations or Comms and want profound new future thinking then ask a group of the industry’s most able under 25-year-olds.

You must read the winning entries to the Reginald Watts Prize for Insight. I was privileged to be part of the judging panel, and I really mean privileged to have had the chance to enjoy some wonderful, inspiring thought pieces.
Reggie was the former Chair of the PRCA, CIPR President, CEO of Burson Marsteller and I was proud to have worked with him and know him as a friend.

The Award, now in their third year, saw Grace MacDougall, Account Executive, Crest Communications take first prize. The standard of entries was so high that had they been submitted at university, each would have gained a first.
The Prize – with trophy and £500 prize – was open to PR and communications practitioners aged 25 and under.

Essays up to 1,000 words, responded to the question: “In an age of a revolution in digital communications how would you define ‘Public Relations’?”. Entries were judged on their demonstration of intelligence, and their forward-looking viewpoints.

Francis Ingham MPRCA, Director General, PRCA, said: “I would like to congratulate Grace MacDougall for winning the Reginald Watts Prize this year. He essay was thought provoking and creative and her win is well deserved. I would also like to congratulate everyone else who was shortlisted for the awards – the quality of entries was extremely high, and they should be proud of themselves. Finally, I would like to thank the judges for their time and expertise.”

I judged alongside Jonathan Chandler CMPRCA, CEO, Quiller Consultants and PR and Communications Council Chairman; Julia Craggs MPRCA, Senior Account Executive, 80:20 Communications and Reginald Watts Prize 2017 winner; and Kirsty Leighton MPRCA, Founder, Milk & Honey PR.

Following Reggie’s passing in 2016, the annual prize commemorates his thought leadership, writing, and forethought. The competition challenges young, aspiring professionals to write thought-provoking essays on the PR and communications industry with a different question is set each year.

The PRCA will be posting all of the finalists’ essays on The PRCA Blog.
Here are the first two entries to enjoy:

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

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

Great training session offer

What an amazing ‘2 Masterclasses in 1’ offer‘. I have teamed-up with one of the leading mutli-channel Content producers to offer an exceptional value session in just a morning session on Wednesday May 10th in London.

It offers powerful story and narrative creation from me and, from Russell Goldsmith, you get how to realize your idea into compelling Content, particularly video.

We live in an age of integrated comms where ideas and stories have to succeed across multiple channels. In one morning session you can transform your abilities to deliver great stories through an integrated campaign.

Explore the opportunities available to you to use video to engage your audiences, be that owned, earned or paid for, from micro-content, such as Instagram and Snapchat, to streaming events through Periscope and Facebook Live.

Learn how to use video to amplify your message and improve reach through targeted coverage on online media and influential bloggers; work with Social Talent and YouTubers; generate buzz; improve SEO and increase your ROI

You will also see examples of how interactive video can drive sales both on and off-line, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality plus we finish with some production tips and what’s involved in subtitling and voice-overs as well.

Tickets and further details on this great ‘2 Masterclasses in 1’ offer here.

Read more

Celebrating #SpeakCockneyDay

A month ago we launched #SpeakCockneyDay on March 3rd – the ‘fird of the ‘fird. Through the fabulously talented creative community @OneMinuteBriefs we challenged some of Britain’s finest rising creative talents to get the message over about the need to safeguard the cultural future of Cockneys.

Winner of the competition was John Elevenblack of The Hideout not based in London, but in Maidstone, Kent, just behind Leeds Castle. They created a series of images of an alternative reality, of a Transport for London that was proud of its London roots and spread the word about Cockney on it bus and Tube routes.

“We’ve no Cockneys in the studio, but just have a love for a good brief and Creative. Would be cool to try and do a little guerrilla advertising for next year’#SpeakCockneyDay using the idea.” said John.

Check out all the entries here.

A big Tom Hanks to all that entered.
What will you be doing to celebrate #SpeakCockneyDay 2018?

Why you should enjoy ‘Blue Monday’

It’s sort of officially Blue Monday on Monday January 16th –  the third Monday of January – symbolically the most depressing day of the year.

And it provides a great opportunity to promote greater understanding about mental well-being, positive psychology, or just an excuse to have a good time. And also for you to harness the power of memes in your life. Read more

Do a ‘Pre-Mortem’ on 2017 to make your planning and strategic thinking even more powerful

This plan failed - Why?

Do you want to be really prepared for all the opportunities and challenges that 2017 throws at you? Then you need to do a Pre-Mortem.

“You’re familiar with the concept of Post-Mortem – where you review and quickly identify what didn’t work, what went wrong – and who was to blame. All made easy by that greatest of gifts – hindsight.

One of your greatest enemies to your planning is over-optimism. Yes, even pessimistic you can be guilty of over emphasising the positive in your thinking.

Optimism bias is recognised by behavioural scientists, such as Robert Cialdini, for encouraging you to overstate the positive and underestimate the negative in your future planning.

So if you are planning for 2017, devising new strategies or new ideas you need to be aware of your optimism bias, and take constructive steps to counter its pervasiveness.

A great tool I use is the ‘Pre-Mortem’. It is a great way to help you overcome undue optimism or failing to fully appreciate certain risks. Read more

Interview: Chris Lewis, founder of world leading PR company Lewis Global Communications


Chris Lewis is the founder of Lewis Global Communications, one of the world’s leading public relations and communications agencies, with 600 staff across 27 offices throughout Asia, Europe and North America.

He is the author of three books; ‘The Unemployables’ a profile of 40 high achievers from all walks of life, ‘Brilliant Minds’ a satirical novel about politics and advertising, and his latest ‘Too Fast To Think’ – highlighting ways of reclaiming your creativity in a hyper-connected work culture, which recently topped the Amazon Hot New Releases chart. (All proceeds from his latest book are going to the creative arts foundation Kupambana.)

[Please note this interview was recorded before recent events in the Presidential elections in the United States.] Read more

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