One of the social media groups I use is for freelance women journalists. For all Facebook’s flaws, the group is brilliant: like an open-plan office with none of the irritations and all the companionship of 4000+ colleagues who’ll always deliver on requests for advice, feedback, sympathy, or last-minute contacts. Those shout-outs for contacts appear every day. “Looking for local post offices that still have a resident cat”, writes one. “Does anyone know a media-friendly volcanologist?” “I’m looking for a woman aged 30+ who showers at least twice a day. The more the better.” (These were all real requests. They all got multiple responses.) Continue reading “Cats and volcanologists”
Four years ago, I spent a Friday night travelling up and down the Northern Line, filming people trying to talk to strangers on the Tube.
The gathering was organised by Barbara, the sister of a Portuguese friend. Tired of Londoners burying themselves in their phones and ignoring each other, she wanted to create an offline space where people would have real-life conversations. The Tube party was a starting point; I didn’t quite get how her venture, Offline London, would work in practice or who might pay for it. But I liked the concept, liked the people, and thought filming might be fun. (It was. We were buzzing for hours afterwards.)
Social enterprises have great stories. So why do they so often struggle to tell them?
One-fifth of social enterprises in the UK say they’re not good at marketing, branding and PR; more than half consider themselves average at best. Among small charities, the picture looks similar: over 40% say they need upskilling in external communication.
This isn’t very surprising. Communication is not necessarily prioritised among the operational stuff; it’s often considered something anyone can do, and so not worth much investment in specialists.
It’s also really time-consuming to do well. Continue reading “Good stories: How social enterprises can communicate “
What’s it like to be a triplet?
What do teenagers think about 8-year-olds using smartphones, or about online groups that encourage anorexia?
What do young people’s ‘stress monsters’ look like, and how do they keep them in check?
At Exposure we’ve learned about all of these things since we started producing youth-led podcasts. It’s been a lot of fun, especially when you get them into a professional recording studio. So far we’ve been hosted/supported by White City Place, a creative development in west London, and across town at Splice in Shoreditch. Continue reading “Listening in”
Freelancing means being your own accountant, new business department, admin assistant, facilities manager and boss all in one day, alongside doing the work you’re actually qualified to do. So you need all the help you can get, and ideally without forking out each time. Every freelancer has their own mix of resources — here’s what works for me:
Yep, Facebook is top of my list, thanks to the groups that put you in instant contact with hundreds or thousands of other professionals. Continue reading “My freelancing toolkit”
Seven ways to do better live reporting from events
We’re all using social media, so there’s an assumption that anyone can also live tweet from an event. But I don’t think that’s the case, or at least, not without practice. Often conference updates feel a bit bland (so what?), or irrelevant to those who aren’t in the room, or they simply miss out a lot of opportunities.
So I attended the Nonprofit Tech for Good webinar last week on live online reporting, and learned it takes a fair bit of thought to create useful, accurate updates that add to the conversation in the room, and that are valuable long after the conference has finished. Below are some tips: Continue reading “Selfie stick optional”
Michelle Obama’s recent speech at the Democratic National Convention caught attention far and wide— but what made it so good? Journalism training specialists Poynter have a useful analysis here.
Speeches are a valuable resource for learning effective writing: as Poynter’s author points out, because they’re meant to be heard, they use more rhetorical devices than stuff that’s written down. The sound and the flow and the language jumps out at you, even if you don’t know why that is.
There’s lots of good stuff in the post about choice of language and structure, but one lesson I particularly like is: express your best thought in a short sentence, preferably using simple words (“when they go low, we go high”). It’s an approach that applies to most forms of communication, and reminded me of another helpful (and helpfully brief) resource. Continue reading “Write better #1”
The age of the public review prompts some extreme behaviour – like the hotel that got ridiculed for charging £100 for posting bad reviews on Tripadvisor.
But it’s not surprising that the hotel management took Tripadvisor so seriously. Public ratings matter (and it’s worldwide: travelling in Uganda last year, every place we stayed at asked us to write them a review).
Customer feedback carries even more weight in the sharing economy, where services and resources offered by fellow citizens aren’t guaranteed by industry standards and where getting a refund is difficult, awkward or impossible. And it’s unbalanced: one bad review can outweigh ten good ones. Negative feedback can ruin the reputation and even livelihood, of the driver, DIY-helper, graphic designer, dog-walker – anyone who has decided to make their living as a microentrepeneur. Continue reading “Trust me, I’m a microentrepreneur”
Three years of war in Syria, and we bystanders are hardened to images of destruction and displacement – while the job of those trying to keep the issue in the spotlight just gets harder.
Save the Children got a bit creative, producing a campaign video about Syria that shows nothing of Syria. It’s had 26 million views within 10 days, and counting.
It creates a buzz.
Not easy for a publication these days. Of course, the authors are pretty well-known and have lots of money (they’ve handed out over USD 28 billion to date); they don’t exactly have to fight to be heard. Continue reading “Dear reader”