Category Archives: Masters research

The digital agency of 2015: Scenario 2, The specialist surge

So whilst my first scenario looks at the possible rise of true integration the 2nd scenario looks at the fragmentation of the digital space and a surge in specialists…

Enjoy!

  •  Marketing becomes tailored to specialist channels and agencies as a dawn of ‘high maintenance’ marketing commences 
  • Agencies have retained a digital / traditional split with more coming to market to deal with the specialist requirements  
  • Consumers are significantly more digitally able and helping to shape communities, channels and brands 
  • Clients are resourcing their digital team to deal with the multiple channels but agencies are still in charge as they lead clients through the space  

OVERVIEW

‘New Media’ continues to be an over-used term as fresh challenges, and demands on marketers continue to present themselves in the digital space –constantly evolving and therefore always perceived as new and unknown.

The constant stream of new technologies and communication channels create a constant reliance on digital specialists, across a plethora of niche topics, to keep clients up to speed and help shape the industry for marketers.  The constant battle to stay on top of change means that the lead agencies driving a client’s digital strategy are leaned heavily upon to lead them through the space.  

With recommendations being stemmed from the agency, rather than initiated by the client, digital agencies are constantly adding new specialist individuals and departments to cover off new requirements as they evolve. Small specialist agencies also pick up business as digital agencies outsource some of the more ad-hoc skills (not wanting to pick up the overhead) and clients go direct for one off tactical campaigns.  

Consumers are steadily increasingly their consumption of digital media – seeing it as a necessity in their lives. Social media has reached it’s peak in terms of penetration– with consumers tiring of peaking at other peoples lives and, instead, using it as a space to share and play with their closer friends, as well as create new connections with individuals who share similar specialist interests.

Technology has continued to expand rapidly amongst the big platform players with many adopting an open source development approach as they see the value in the power of crowds. Brands are also beginning to see the value of this as a method for reducing their production costs and welcoming creativity, and development, from new sources for both ideation and production alike.

 

Taking a deeper look

Consumers are heavy (and saavy) digital users

Consumers of 2015 have more options available for their technology needs. Personal computer prices have fallen but costs have remained comparable to 2009 as processing, hard-drive storage and applications demand higher spec machines – outweighing demand for low cost (and lower spec) products.

These higher specs are in part needed to drive online gaming and virtual communities as we see the demise of the console (with individuals fed up of the constant battle to upgrade hardware) and the rise of online gaming sites that stream games on a subscription basis, or within a community structure, direct to your PC or through a TV box.[1]

The use of online subscription accounts is increasingly common with individuals hosting data virtually[2] putting a trust in external partners to manage their music, photos and data. This move has been caused by a general acceptance amongst consumers that they don’t need to have physical products. This acceptance has been caused across the last 5 years by the increase in MP3 downloads, digital photography (and photo-share), the kindle reader[3] and virtual data storage, all working to increase the value consumers place on ‘digital’ ownership of products. This move has driven computer literacy further as consumers start to have to expand their knowledge to use new hardware and manage their digital content. This thirst for personal knowledge continues to help drive the industry further as digital partners are able to add more functionality and tools to their spaces – allowing users to help develop sites and apps as the younger audience in particular begins to master basic CSS and programming skills.

The government have successfully continued in their mission to create a “digital Britain” and successfully met their objectives. Most importantly they’ve managed to develop the nation’s digital skills at all levels and secured universal access to broadband, increasing its take-up and using broadband to deliver more public services more effectively and more efficiently[4] (Digital Britain, 2009).

Landline phones have begun to decline in ownership, particularly amongst younger households, as the growth of VOIP continues to offer a low cost alternative, with providers like Skype being the big winners. In addition to this, mobile phone penetration and tariffs have dropped to a point where 2015 sees mobile phone ownership (by household) exceed fixed telephone line ownership[5] (Euromoniter, 2009).

The growth of mobile phone usage for web access in particular has meant that personal mobile data is being shared more frequently between consumers and third parties. The early days of email is beginning to repeat itself as the government struggle to regulate data protection on mobile devices, and spam becomes a recurring handset nuisance.  

Specialist and niche sites are on the rise

As consumption of digital rises users are on the look out for new ways to spend their time online. Consumers become driven by seeking out like minded people with like minded interests and we see a surge in communities and sites tailored around specific topics and interests.[6] With specialist communities forming we also see a move in the number of sites being managed by groups of individuals – for both personal, and professional interest, with a growth in the number of bloggers.

This growth in special interest sites has created challenges for brands as they become unable to create large-scale integrated campaigns. Audiences have become fragmented, and whilst there are still high reach spots available on sites like YouTube and Facebook, brands have to seek out tailored campaigns in order to hit ROI objectives. The addition of also being able to understand specific interests within your brands remit also warrants additional budget. The ability for brands and agencies to enable campaign messages to be tailored to very specific audiences and ensure maximum audience engagement guarantees a better ROI (at a production price).

With specialist communities and interests cropping up a whole new requirement for digital specialists to understand the online behaviour of particular audience segments is in demand. Specialist digital agencies and freelancers begin to take advantage of this, looking at common audience types (Over 55’s, 18 – 24’s, Under 16’s) in order to monetise this understanding of digital behaviours, with brands and agencies tapping into them in order to ensure the space is used correctly.

Digital knowledge is concentrated to agencies

This fragmentation of media and sheer volume of channels, audience segments and engagement contact points means that the amount of knowledge needed is immense. Clients aren’t able to physically keep up with channel developments, their audience movements and subsequently place a heavy reliance on the agency to steer them through the space.

With a gradual loss of control (client side) as well as the increase in the number (and type) of campaigns being run by anyone brand, at anyone time, has seen an increased pressure put on the client resource. Brands have begun to resource up their team, dedicating specialists to areas that they see as critical to their strategy (mobile, web and social media are commonly having their own brand managers). Client side these brand managers work closely with each other, and each agency, in order to deliver the digital strategy.

The increase in resource has also led to an increase in the importance placed on getting the digital marketing right as increased investment places an even bigger demand on ROI. Senior marketing staff client side are forced to get involved, increased their understanding, and getting hands on in the decision making process in order to deliver the results back into the business.

This is having a positive effect on the digital agency as technical ignorance begins to disappear. Development, hosting, purging, bugs and virus’ begin to be terminology with problems that occur day to day now seen as something created by the channel, not agency excuses. Clients are forced to deal with these issues and explain them to senior staff making them understand the explanations rather than see it as technical jargon being palmed off on them as excuses.

Growth of specialist agencies

The industry overall is similar in terms of types of agency to 2009 with a range of traditional, digital and specialist agencies co-existing and vying for clients digital investment. The biggest change though is the growth in the amount of competition in the specialist sector with an array of small specialist individuals and agencies springing up to deal with and offer services within the digital area. Services vary massively with reputation management, social media, community generation, social gaming, mobile application development (Android / iPhone and Blackberry specialists) and content specialists pitching within the marketplace.

This continued increase in agency numbers has kept prices down. Smaller specialists can afford to work on lower rate cards with freelance and / or ‘one man band’ mentality and less overheads enabling them to win projects based on price. This competitive pricing also gives clients a reason to deal with the inconvenience of splitting business across multiple agencies.

To retain all elements of the larger client accounts, the larger digital networks and traditional agencies with digital offerings are forced to cut prices or tag on added value ‘free’ services to compete and retain ownership of their clients business.  

The amount of agency choice in the marketplace leaves clients broadly sitting in one of two camps. The first that sees adequate resourcing and expertise at the client end to conduct and lead a number of agencies within the digital space enabling them to benefit from competitive prices and carefully juggle multiple communications. The second sees a stretched client resource relying on working with one lead agency, aware of other services available but unable to take real advantage from these, leaning heavily on the agency to master the skills or outsource specialist work when appropriate.

Brands begin to open up their platforms to give consumers more control

With a vast amount of specialist skills, channels and audiences available brands are beginning to feel braver about opening up their brands for consumers to control. Open source, whilst not a new concept is beginning to move into the public space as an area previously used mainly by developers[7] or for feedback[8] begins to expand out further.

Brands are beginning to use crowd sourcing techniques to help the agency create the right digital ideas.[9] This use of panels and / or a section of the public to help shape the brand is increasingly important in areas where the brand, and even agency, hasn’t been before. Using sophisticated reputation monitoring tools brands are able to identify key contributors and influencers in target niche subjects, and areas, and use their power to successfully launch an appropriate campaign to the target market.

Agencies are opening up their planning departments to allow for research into these niche areas and admitting to clients where areas are unchartered. Clients, rather than being nervous about moving into new areas begin to embrace these as it leads to them being able to gain competitive edge (by being first to market). Digital agencies continue to be exploratory but, by now having the experience into how best to enter new areas and channels, the client feels more secure because the methodology of ‘entering new channels’ is now tried and tested even if the solution isn’t.


[1] OnLive launhing in 2009 give a snapshot into the possibilities for the future: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/7969044.stm

[2] Services like livedrive become common:  http://www.livedrive.com

[3] Kindle launched in 2009: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2009/oct/07/amazon-ebooks

[4] Digital Britain: http://digitalbritainforum.org.uk/report/executive-summary/the-interim-report/

[5] Euromoniter: Technology, communications and media report Oct 2009.

[6] Specialist social community sites: www.ning.com

[7] Linux is still heralded as the biggest breakthrough in collaborative development (1991): www.linux.com

[8] Dell rely heavily on a community of users to help shape their product offering www.ideastorm.com

[9] Brands pitch open creative briefs for display on sites facilitating the idea process: www.ideabounty.com

The digital agency of 2015: Scenario 1, The birth of integration

Continuing in my scenario analysis and MA quest I’ve completed the first of three scenarios that project a possible future for the digital space.

These aren’t necessarily reflective of my own personal opinions (although by the time I get to the end of the assignment I’m sure I’ll end up with more opinions than I’ll know what to do with). They are intended to generate debate and, hopefully to give me a 10k word essay to submit in my last but one unit (hooray!)

So… First one below for you – comments more than welcome!

 

 

  • Marketing efforts are fully integrated and joined up across channels 
  • Agencies are living and dying by their ability to create cross-channel campaign ideas 
  • Real time web, and mobile access are driving an ‘I want it now’ culture
  • Clients are developing skills at conducting their brand across multi-disciplines with one campaign concept
  • Multiple disciplines across agency departments are working together to create truly integrated solutions.

 

 

Overview

 

The age of ‘new media’ has passed and the dawn of ‘integrated communications’ is upon clients, agencies and consumers alike. Brands are considering ideas in their purist form and then applying channels that would be best suited to the concept and the audience, rather than letting marketing channels and executions exist in isolation.

Agencies are fighting to be the winners in the integration war with the smaller digital agencies of 2009 losing market share or being swallowed up by larger organisations. Larger digital players begin to add weight to their creative and planning departments in order to deliver integrated recommendations, enabling them to keep up with the bigger players. Multiple departments within agencies are being conducted with perfect synergy in order to create integrated solutions.

Consumers are becoming increasingly reliant on web (PC and mobile) – seeing it as a necessity in their lives and becoming heavier screen users. The blurring of consumed channels such as TV / IPTV and communication tools such as SMS / Web / Messenger / Social media mean brands and agencies have to think about multiple touch-points as consumers become skilled at multi-tasking and continuing conversations across different channels.

Technology development has slowed (but not halted) with the standardisation of web tools by Internet power kings such as Google and mobile giants such as Blackberry and iPhone helping consumers and marketers get to grips with how to use the technologies available. Whilst 2004 – 2009 was the rise and rise of social and content providers such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and iPlayer 2009 – 2015 sees a levelling out with usage of small niche interest channels mixed up with the mainstream players.

Taking a deeper look…

Consumers are heavy digital users

2015 has seen a dramatic shift in PC ownership. Affordability has meant that personal computer ownership has risen from 56% in 2008, up to 85% in 2015 – in line with mobile phone ownership and just above home telephone ownership (Euromonitor, 2009).

This increased accessibility for households to technology has meant that the PC (Laptop) has continued to expand in its usage. It’s at the top of a teenagers wish-list at the expense of a TV, DVD player or games console, as it has the ability to facilitate all three.

In addition to the growth in PC ownership mobile has developed at a rapid rate. Using handsets for surfing the net has become something that has been adopted by the young ‘contract’ audience, with growth up from the reported range of 7.2 to 17.4 million consumers (emarketer, 2009) up to 15 – 30 million consumers, making it something done by almost half the UK population. Tariffs now see free browsing and data being offered to get the competitor edge, replacing free SMS and calls now expected as standard.

Collaboration and social momentum continues

This availability to the web, with PC or mobile never being further than arms reach, has led to a massive growth in “real time” feedback. Obama’s inauguration[1] might have been the example of 2009 but 2015 see’s TV programming allow for real time discussion, plot development, and feedback with users as they watch it online, or via a TV set that allows interaction – think 2009’s strictly come dancing social taken to a new level[2].

Social media has continued to grow with Facebook continuing to expand it’s services successfully doubling it’s dwell time from 26mins in September 2009 (Hitwise UK, 2009) up to just under the hour mark in 2015.  This increase has been driven by the integration of new services into the network, with video players and online community games being the main contributors to it’s sticky nature.

Virtual reality communities are now mainstream as consumers begin to take the plunge into more advanced communities and games – the 64 million strong ‘farmville’ application of 2009 has evolved and been replaced by more complex simulator sites that branded products are placed within.

Becoming producers of contents has also continued to grow with the number of individuals writing a blog moving from 22% to 35%. This increase has largely been driven by secondary schools and universities who are beginning to make creating, maintaining and publishing opinions part of the curriculum.

This increase in publication, and importance placed by individuals on their digital self sees reputation management being done by individuals as much as it’s done by brands. The importance of ensuring your network profiles, blogs, search results and images are locked down or opened up (where appropriate), and are reflective of individuals digital image of their self,  becomes vitally important[3].

The increase in businesses checking CVs against social search results becomes widespread, acting as a screening process for interview candidates. Parents wanting a greater control on their (younger) children’s digital published information are creating alerts to monitor published content by, or about, them. This shift has been driven by a multitude of tabloid stories that have highlighted the importance of identity. Previous small scale stories seen in 2009 such as teenagers losing their jobs because of Facebook comments[4], couples getting divorced due to virtual affairs[5] and public cries for help[6] snowball further as media begin to sensationalise stories as celebrities, key business / political leaders and brands make significant slip ups – failing to appreciate the impact of their digital ego on their reality self.

Convergence of content

As consumers become more saavy at using digital to create, manage and control content we also see a move in how content begins to get consumed as the blur between destination channels, and content, becomes obvious.

Platforms such as ITV, Channel 4 and Google continue to struggle to create true affection amongst consumers for their brand[7] with loyalty coming more from programmes and content rather than the channel it is placed. This change is driven by content existing on multiple platforms creating an independence between programme and channel that isn’t seen in the broadcast age of 2009. It also sees integrated login features such as Facebook connect[8] as well as video players (with the same content) on any number of channels, making the destination less important than the content that is being accessed.  It’s not a case of whether to view X factor on ITV at it’s broadcast time but whether to view it at the broadcast time, on demand, on ITV, on Youtube, Hulu[9].

In addition to the content v’s platform battles lines are also becoming blurred as consumers treat their conversations the same way. Conversations flex from Facebook to Twitter, to Messenger and SMS. Disjointed conversations, whilst making sense to the consumer, make it very difficult for brands to use reputation tools to follow chat related to them and it a challenge to get any kind of meaningful data. This style of communication also creates further pressure in ensuring the brand is truly integrated as consumers no longer differentiate channels, nor tasks, from one to the next – each is simply a different way of access rather than servicing a different consumer need.

A grown up industry

With the sophistication of the consumer it has meant that the digital marketing industry has grown up. Digital is no longer viewed as a specialist skill but a fundamental tool within any marketing plan and campaign.

This sophistication, and added understanding of the digital space by consumers and marketers alike, has seen a big push by brands to create engaging content that is much more than a TVC or brand URL. Creating campaigns that stretch print, programming, experiential, web and mobile see a measurable increase in impact (compared to the minority advertisers who are yet to follow suit) with the marketing teams and leading agencies blurring the lines between channels to create consumer/brand engagement.

Clients are generating big brand ideas with their lead agency that are integrated across multiple channels. Creative briefs become media neutral, with the audience and the idea dictating the deliverables, as opposed to an ATL creative being driven down through the marketing team hierarchy.

The need to execute ideas across multi-channels also means that ideation has become key to an agencies success. Good ideas have to be created without consideration of what might be most profitable for the agency and, in order to keep up with this, traditional and digital agencies have no choice but to integrate each others skills into their offering.

Growth of integrated agencies

Digital specialists who entered the industry 10 years previous are transitioning into senior marketing positions within client organisations and traditional agencies. The increased household ownership of PC’s has ensured that digital is a key channel for marketing and clients no longer need heavy persuasion to invest in the space, or the staff, to deliver campaigns.

Large traditional agencies and networks have swallowed up smaller digital agencies to add the necessary skills to their offering and meet the demands of integrated briefs. Likewise their larger digital counterparts have also begun to buy in more traditional marketers and work in direct competition. Agencies become structured around audience, market sector and brands[10] rather than skill-set as conducting the various specialists becomes a job in itself.

Are able to stretch channels are still needed to be originated from a creative idea but added skillsets have to be involved (from the traditional planning / creative team) as the final execution becomes an open debate between planners, creatives, developers, media and mobile experts.  The agency being effectively able to coordinate becomes vital in it being able to unlock the right campaign idea and create this edge. This process of coordination is still relatively new and the industry still hasn’t seen one structure standardised and adopted, as agencies battle try to get the balance of inter-department involvement at the right level, and at the right point, correct.

This move to integrated solutions also is begining to see media and creative agencies start to compete for brand communication control in new ways. Media agencies are beginning to suggest communication ideas that would dictate creative[11], whilst creative agencies see ideas being reliant on media execution. Large agency networks begin to realign and integrate their creative and media divisions closer together with the concept welcomed by clients who see the financial benefit of one integrated agency partner and solution to their marketing challenges. Communication agencies are born.

Smaller production houses remain beneficiaries in the battle with sub-contracting giving them a steady flow of business as they remain the doers. Digital in particular benefits as specialist skills involved in web build, mobile and application development enables them to be the executers rather than the idea generators of the brief – working as white label departments of multiple agencies to produce and execute the work.

Clients and agencies work closer together

This new landscape sees the client and agency work in collaboration closer than ever before as they work to create one integrated solution. Clients begin by dictating their business challenges and, rather than distil this into separate briefs tailored to individual agencies or channels, it sees the advantage of briefing to one agency at top level, looking for one solution.

This open brief means a heavier investment in planning and ideation which has increased visibility to the client at a work in progress stage. The need to understand audience, competitor direction, technology capabilities and communication trends become vital in the exploratory stage of the brief. This exploration, driven by the agency, sees the client forced to review work at a planning rather than proposition stage. With the playing field for ideas (because of such an open brief) being so vast, the ability to agree direction, and eliminate channels quickly for fear of burning unnecessary budget becomes a vital client and agency skill.

This collaboration between client and agency in pulling campaigns together means a retained agency for big brands is vital. In addition to this clients are needing longer term agency partners as the investment in integrated campaigns see’s benefit in the client feeling that the agency is truly an extension of their own marketing team. The increased time the client and agency, also have to spend together, across all levels of seniority within both businesses, can equal account security as long as the client is being serviced and personal relationships are forged.


[1] Obama’s Inaugaration: http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/161890-CNN_Facebook_Teaming_Up_For_Obama_Inaugural.php

[2] Strictly come dancing social: http://www.bbc.co.uk/strictlycomedancing/play/strictly_social/about.shtml

[3] Google’s social search: http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?answer=165228

[4] Facebook sacking: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/scienceandtechnology/technology/facebook/4838076/Office-worker-sacked-for-branding-work-boring-on-Facebook.html

[5]2nd life divorce:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/nov/13/second-life-divorce

[6] Twitter suicide plea: http://www.nme.com/news/chipmunk/48309

[7] Media brand affection: http://www.nma.co.uk/opinion/industry-opinion/analyst-speak-media-brands-are-failing-to-stir-love-or-hate-among-their-customers/3006240.article

[8]Facebook connect: A single click login  http://mashable.com/2009/01/12/facebook-connect-implementations/

[9] It is assumed that Hulu has successfully managed to complete talks with UK programmers and is now in the UK. http://www.hulu.com/

[10] Agencies like Bohan in the US are already taking such steps: http://www.bohanideas.com/WARCreprint.pdf

[11] Mindshare AU in 2009, killing their WPP creative counterparts. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/mindshare-agency-outlines-new-world-order/story-0-1225729233818

The agency of 2015

My latest assignment for my Masters is about the future. Trying to figure out what the future could hold for a digital agency using a technique called scenario analysis – generating different possible scenarios and then coming to a debated agreement about which one (or which elements) are deemed most likely.

It’s proving a difficult one to pull together. Futurologists (if thats what you’d call them) in other fields tend to have some set paramaters they can use to work out roughly where things are headed. I have 15 years of data but with such massively shifting variables that affect an agency it makes it almost impossible to work out the rate of change, or types of change that can be easily expected. Think about it. Consumer behaviour, brand adoption, technology, government initiatives, viral spread, convergence of channels… The list is endless.

To carry it out I’ve spoken to a range of individuals from media, creative and production houses – tapping into their personal views as to what they thing could happen. Unsurprisingly some common themes kept cropping up…

  • Social media:  The rise and rise of facebook have made it impossible to ignore the importance of brands and clients mastering this area and staying on top of trends to create connections.
  • Data:  This topic was a double edged sword. It seems inevitable that the way we can deal with data professionally is going to continue to expand across the next 5 years but actually, when you dive into it, data is a problem already. We dont have a standard measurement tool that clients can easily understand. A client knows what a TVR is, and, in some respects, thats what they can compare like for like, cross campaign and agency. What do you get in digital – around 50 different possibilities and a danger of drowning in it all!
  • Mobile: A fall in prices of smart handsets as well as the gradual shifting of tarriffs starts to create more possibilities for many uses i.e. Web, Music and phone.
  • Industry maturity: The last 15 years has seen an immaturity and lack of experience in relation to channels such as TV and print. WIth the industry growing up we’ll see more digital experts moving into more senior client roles whilst a fresh graduate workforce of digital natives is soon going to be driven into the workplace.

Along with the above there are a huge amount of others all that will enable me to rank the most important parameters and enable me to create 3 distinct scenarios – all aimed at generating discussion and opinion amongst peers to try to come to anrealistic point of view as to what the future could hold. Deadline for end of today on these so will post up once I’ve formulated!

Tangalla: Day 1 – 4

Palm Paradise Bay

Palm Paradise Bay

My first 4 days in Sri Lanka was spent in Tangalla in the lovely palm paradise cabanas  – we arrived there quite late at night following a long taxi direct from Colombo (it took an absolute age and in retrospect we should have had a night near the airport before heading off!)

But, on arrival the accomodation was perfect and the sandy beach was even better.

Tangalla Sri Lanka

Tangalla Sri LankaAside from lazing around, eating quite good food (and I base this on the fact every guide book had told me it would be terrible!) There wasn't a lot to do. Lots of sun, lots of sri lankan curry and absolutely no-one else staying at the cabanas.We also had our first encounter with Sri Lanka. On the 2nd day an elderly man came up to us on the beach. He told us his name was Winnie and that his beach hut was the abandoned one on the beach. Since the Tsunami he'd been cooking on a gas stove in there and, as we were there early in the season he didn't have the money to open it. He asked if we'd like to go there for lunch the next day and we agreed. He then asked if we'd give him the equivalent of around a tenner so that he could buy the ingredients for our dinner. Naively (and with the view it was only a tenner) we gave him the cash. The next day we hung around till 2pm and no Winnie, defeated and armed with the ROugh Guide having told us about these horrible Sri lankan touts who fleece tourists for your last penny we retreated to the palm paradise cabanas for lunch. Half way through some delicious grilled prawns a face peered over the balcony and winnie stared up at us. He explained that he was so worried about the weather he didn't think he'd be able to carry off the fish BBQ we'd been promised and, instead, cooked us dinner in his own home and had boated it around the bay, from his village, and onto the beach for us. Queue me, and Aidan, feeling like the worst, most spineless tourists to walk the land! We had to have a 2nd dinner (we couldn't let Winnie down) and, like a bad vicar of dibley episode felt absolutely stuffed and guilty with our lack of belief in an honest man. Lesson 1 of Sri Lanka learnt, whilst people do try and fleece you for every penny (which we found later on) Winnie was an honest man who deserves your chance - his food was amazing, his attitude faultless so don't be like us and if you're lucky enough to stumble across him, give him the time of day (and a beer or 2!

Winnies beach shack

Winnies beach shack

Sri Lanka Holiday

For whatever reason my blog seems to rank really well on Sri Lanka… Having only entered it once on my blog it seems a slightly obscure search term to be driving traffic to my site but in light of it I thought I’d do a few post this weeks on my Sri Lankan trip.

To start with I went for 3 weeks. Begining in Columbo I went straight from airport, by car down to Tangalle to stay in the middle of the forest, right on the beach in a beautiful cabana for 5 nights, from there it was straight up by a frantic and deathly bus journey to Ella where we spent 2 nights exploring the hill village and walking in the tea plantations, at this point we ran into another couple travelling with a wonderful driver called Larry who journeyed on with us by part train / part car to Adams peak where we stayed at the “slightly chilled, slightly yellow house” and climbed the steps at 3am to the top.

2 days later, more than weary, it was onto Kandy where we did day trips around the cultural triangle and elephant orphanage.  Another train journey to Colombo and a further train journey down to Galle saw us hit the beaches of Unawatuna for 7 nights before it was almost home time. Back up (by train) to Colmbo, a tuktuk to Ngembo for 2 nights on the beaches before the night flight home.

Our journey wasn’t that direct, we went up and down the island as opposed to round and round but were governed by where we wanted to be as opposed to the quickest travelling or “most sensible” route.

More to follow and the journey in pictures is here

Pants man

After watching last nights Apprentice and hurling insults at the poor individuals as you can do in the luxury of my own home I felt that Philips pants man pitch took it to a whole new level.

It reminded me of many late brainstorms when no ideas have come and you all start to lose it slightly – you let a tangent get carried away too much and begin to come up with the insane ideas but someone sensible in the room will bring everyone back down to “marketing” earth. I loved the fact that they went with the idea, I love the idea of pants man and I wonder if kellogs will ever launch a limited edition pants man pack….

So this post is an ode to the pants man creative pitch – if only…

Getting Things Done

I’m busy at the moment. With an assignment due in as part of my course in 3 weeks I’ve switched from thinking about it to doing it and, as always when you start with the blank sheet of paper, I’m panicking.

As part of my current unit we’re reflecting on ourselves. Something that, at the start of the unit I didn’t really buy into but on reflection (reflecting on reflecting) something I’ve found interesting.

I’ve started my assignment back to front – beginning with the Action Plan (following a series of self-awareness tests I’ve been doing) and, once this is established will start work on the theory of psychological types (exploring Jung and Briggs) and Experiential Learning (focusing on Kolb).

Having looked at my actions a key thing that’s come out is my ability to multi-task, hit deadlines and be hugely productive but, at the same time, inefficient. I’m a victim of distraction and an absolute nightmare to concentrate on a primary v’s secondary task. To try to frame my thinking I types into Google “Efficiencies in managing workload” and, unsurprisingly, got millions of results back. Interestingly one stuck out, David Allen and his business philosophy of GTD or (Getting Things Done). I’m not normally one to delve into self-help or management books but this philosophy has intrigued me. He claims to be able to give small tools to help with prioritising tools – working on a 5 step cycle to ensure you GTD in your professional or personal life:

  1. Collect
  2. Process
  3. Organize
  4. Review
  5. Do

None of these steps are revolutionary and we all probably do these in one way or the other in our day to day lives but the interesting technique here is to actually spend time to think about our approach. I, like most people, rely on a To Do list to keep track of whats coming up. This is the way I collect, Process, Organize, review and Do. I expect this one list to achieve all of these things and be responsible for ensuring I’m productive.

The 5 steps are separate entities and, although interlinked, shouldn’t be addressed through one tool. I’ve not practiced GTD yet (having only found out about it this afternoon) but this is one book I plan on reading and seeing if the application and content of this is something that can be used in an agency environment or whether my sturdy To Do List is as efficient as it’s gonna get!

Interpersonal Thinking

So… Back to my personality quizzing to aid me in my scholarly studies as well as be a bit reflective and self indulgent…

Today I wanted to check out the likes of Einstein V’s Freud V’s Leonardo di Vinci to discover what type of thinker I am. The BBC was there to help me out (I’m starting to like their quizzes!) Where I found their “Thinker Quiz”. The quiz consisted of just over 30 questions querying what humanity areas I’m interested in, what I enjoy and the sorts of things I pay consideration to in my reflection time. The conclusion?

You are an Interpersonal Thinker
    Interpersonal thinkers:

  • Like to think about other people, and try to understand them
  • Recognise differences between individuals and appreciate that different people have different perspectives
  • Make an effort to cultivate effective relationships with family, friends and colleagues
Like interpersonal thinkers, Leonardo had lots of friends and contacts, and was a popular figure at the Italian court.   Other Interpersonal thinkers include
Winston Churchill, Mother Teresa, William Shakespeare

Careers which suit Interpersonal thinkers include
Politician, Psychologist, Nurse, Counsellor, Teacher

Ths seems to fit. I’m a people person and the thing I like most about my job is trying to form different relationships with people and trying to work out inter-relations between others. Likewise as a marketeer (and arguably sales person) a key attribute to almost everything I do involves being able to influence people: I try to do this with empathy (rather than behaving like a bull in a china shop) and whilst some may disagree dont think I do too bad a job of it.

Interestingly the “teacher” career type comes up again here, as it did in my very first post on the Myers Briggs type indicator. This got me thinking about aspects of my job I’ve enjoyed and a lot of it is to do with teaching (explaining through presentations strategy or tactics), mentoring team members (when time allows it) and trying to see things a bit differently to help bring it to life (I can get carried away in how to make boring content compelling).

I think the understanding people also shows the more vulnerable side that you have to professionally hide. Tthe bit where you pretend it doesn’t matter what other people think when, as  person trying hard to understand where those around them are coming from, actually finds it quite upsetting!

OnTrack Application

I’ve moved away from testing myself (just for the day – it’s getting a bit intense!) and instead looked at a Facebook application “OnTrack”:

What are your goals? How can you keep yourself ontrack? How can you keep yourself inspired….

The OnTrack application on facebook promises to help you achieve your goals: Publishing everything you would possibly want to track onto facebook for you to congratulate yourself in your achievements and keep private, or share with your friends.

Once you’ve uploaded the tool you’re able to upload your individual goals. Once you’ve set up your first goal you then go on to work towards it by adding your habits that will help you get there. A nice touch of this application is that you can also keep it private so noone (public) needs to know that you’re working on getting a payrise or trying to be happier in your relationship. Another nice touch is you can even nominate a friend to monitor your progress: Perfect if you have a friend who want laugh at the possible american cheesiness of goal setting!

Interestingly the application only has around 350 users and, on a brief scroll through the application users there is an over-whelming majority of 40+ Women. Is this because this application is aimed at this group or simply that of a certain maturity level discussing your goals (and the fact that you’re not yet reaching them is easier?) Reviewing the application I’m not convinced that Facebook will see it taking off (particularly in the UK) – with the social networks tending to be about portraying their self (or even alter-ego or assumed self) I dont know if acknowledging that there are things to be worked on in their life is what the younger audience in particular would want across their profile. . . It will be interesting to see how this application takes off and if people are using it (take a look at the vision board for more appraisal points!)

 

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Rachel

Mmmm… Just took the “which member of the friends cast are you” quiz.

Ignoring the fact that I’m obviously only slightly like Rachel and actually more like Monica (or possibly even Ross) the quiz reminded me of a friend who was slightly more obsessed with friends than me (Hard seeing as I had a 2 year obsession with the program back in 1997 – 98). But, that aside, I remember her doing one of these quizzes on facebook and she told me that she had took 4 attempts to get her “pheobe” outcome that she wanted. Ignoring the fact that she took the quiz 3 or 4 times it seemed weird that she needed the quiz to affirm that she was like Pheobe (which she wasn’t based on the quizzes 4th time lucky logic) but also that, when she didn’t get the outcome she wanted, that she continued in her Pheobe quest until she got the result and she could publish this to her Facebook.

Facebook is a funny thing really as it proceeds or exists as a way of organising your social life and / or sending stuff through to your mates but predominantly it acts as a snapshot for your personality. A way of affirming to your current social circle or promoting to past social acquaintances the type of person you are. The quizzes that users publish on their status (Which friend are you? Which Sex in the city member are you? How naught are you?) Act as a way for friends to get a glance of what you might be like. Interestingly with the majority of these totally fabricated they merely act as a way for users to promote their perceived version of “self” who they see themselves as and who they want others to see them as…

On that note, going to go and check out my facebook profile and see how out of touch with reality it is….!

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You are most like: RACHELHow sure are we? BARELY As Rachel, you are sometimes seen as shallow and ditzy. And it’s true that you have been known as somewhat of a dreamer. But that will change. Now that you are in the real world, and can’t rely on daddy anymore, you’re going to have to dig in and get your hands dirty for once. But you’ll be okay…behind that rich kid persona is one tough cookie.