Friday, 18 December 2009

Gambia School Supply Drive Update

I didn't blog as much as I would have liked, but operation Collect School Supplies for Gambia went really well and we successfully manged to reach our maximum luggage capacity.

We'll be meeting with the Fresh Start Foundation's Gambian representative on Tuesday and delivering the the pens and notebooks to the school ourselves, which will be a great experience.

Rosie and I would like to thank everyone for their school supply donations and support, especially:

Wendy, Clare, Eilidh, Saj and Ann from Professor Wendy Atkin's Research Team at Imperial College London
Laurie, Kerry and everyone at Wildfire
Amanda from Fresh PR
Asda (thanks Dom!)
Geni from EvenANerd
Our parents and family
and everyone who donated direct to FSF's JustGiving Page (please let us know who you were!)

Have a great Christmas. I'll be sure to post pictures upon on return.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Retro Social Media Manuals

I'm loving these retro-looking social media manual covers from Stéphane Massa-Bidal.

Prints available here.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

How to get 1000 Twitter followers by doing nothing remarkable and not being an expert in anything

*Edit: this post is really just an excuse to show off this wicked cool GIFThis week my Twitter follower count ticked over the big One Thousand mark. What does that mean? I guess, 1000 Twitter users, either people, spammy marketers or robots, thought that what I have say is worthy enough to greet them in their Twitter feed throughout the day.

I am really thankful that of those 1000, many of them are friends and colleagues who wanted to connect online, and am kind of blown away as to how fast my Twitter activity has grown over the past few months.

They are really basic, but here are some reasons why I think you're following me and some tips to get more followers yourself.

Be yourself
Kinda lame advice, but personally, I only ever follow faceless feeds when they provide really useful information. It would be hard to compete with them from your personal account. Plus, I don't think people want to follow robots, they want to connect with other people. So, be a person online. Have opinions, share your thoughts, rants and raves. Just be careful not to over do it.

Don't be afraid of mistakes
Despite how some people might present themselves, no one is really an expert at social media. Microblogging is still pretty new for all of us. It's rules are changing all the time, so don't be afraid to try new things. What's the worse that can happen? People might start a hashtag about it:
Okay, so, that was embarrassing. If you do fuck up: apologize, learn from your mistake and move on. The internet moves fast, your disaster will be old news in a day or two. Besides, you'll probably end up better off. You'll have learned what not to do and you might meet some interesting people throughout the episode, as people like controversy and gossip.

Vary your interests
I work in technology PR, but if I only tweeted about technology PR I would not have found half the cool people I now follow on Twitter. I'm an avid nature lover, with a passion for loud motorcycles, vegetarian recipes, tattoos, comic books and zombie movies, and every now and then, I tweet about it. Sometimes, people end up following me because of it.

Expand globally
My Twitter blew up when I crossed the Atlantic. A new city, a new country with so many new people to learn from. But really, online there is no reason why geographical boundaries should dictate who you connect with. Go ahead and make some new friends in far away places.

Learn, share and prepare to be shared
This is hopefully why you are on Twitter in the first place. Few of us want to hear broadcasts about your breakfast. Instead, interact with other users, retweet them or let them know what you think. Share something neat, cool and useful. And when you do tweet, craft your message so it is easily retweetable, leaving space for the "RT @You:" Also, don't wait for others to find and follow you. Be proactive about it. Find cool people, follow them and say hello.

Be my follower 1001 here: @DanHowe

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Metro Photo Cock-up

Yeah, that is an awful blog title.

This morning my co-worker, Chris, pointed out an inconsistency in the London Metro. We have two copies in the office, which appear identical, with the exception of the photo of Lady Gaga on the top right hand corner of the cover, as well as in the Lady Gaga article inside the paper. Each had a different photo. Perhaps they were different editions, or one was printed before a better photo of Lady Gaga became available.

Either way, it isn't anything like the photo mess-up in yesterday's Toronto Metro, as pointed out by blogTO on Twitter.

The picture is a little too small on purpose, if you want to see the wardrobe malfunction in it's full glory, you can head over to this blogTO post and scroll down.

Best part of it all is Metro's reply on Twitter:

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

What happens to your Twitter after you die?

When you are dead, what happens to your Twitter account? Last week Alltop posted an article explaining what becomes of your Hotmail, Gmail and Facebook accounts with a link to an article on what happens to your MySpace and Yahoo after death. But what about Twitter?

I was unable to find any mention of Twitter’s policy with death when scanning their Terms of Service or Privacy Policy pages, so I sent the Twitter support team an email.

As per Twitter’s Privacy Policy, they cannot disclose account information or passwords to anyone, even after you die. That means that your next of kin won’t have access to your direct messages and they wont be able to send out a message to inform your followers.

Twitter will remove the account for you though, if requested. A family member needs to fax or post a copy of the death certificate in to Twitter along with the Twitter user name of the person who died.

Without thinking too hard about it, I can name two dozen online accounts that I have opened, from blogs to banking, shopping to socializing, but I am sure I have even more. With so much of our lives online these days, do you think people will start leaving instructions as to what to do with their empire of online profiles after they die?

You can find me on Twitter here: @DanHowe.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Gorilla vs. Bear: channel executives decide

From the Five Minute Interview section in the back of MicroScope magazine, where they ask a series of questions to channel executives, this question made me smile:

If a grizzly bear and a silverback gorilla decided to have a no holds barred fight, which would you put your money on and why?

From past interviews, four out of seven channel executives chose the grizzly, citing the claws, teeth and the size of the beast.

Those that sided with the silverback thought that the agility and intellect of the gorilla would help it dominate.

Who’s right? There’s only one way to find out:

Oh yeah, there’s also some IT channel questions in the interviews… but I prefer to focus on what’s really important.

Friday, 13 November 2009


In a video posted on PRWeek today, Shel Israel spoke about how PR practitioners need to change tactics as social media changes the game:

There are a bunch of PR people who think that their job is to pitch and pitch and pitch and pitch and if they keep going on this route and keep up these practices and bring them into social media, I see a future for them in the restaurant service industry.

One of the changes that social media has brought is the way journalists find sources for their articles.

Last month, work took me to the office of a national UK newspaper. Once we got passed the bottleneck at the security gate (the Canadian papers I’ve visited don’t have nearly that much security!) and made it into the newsroom, we were able to sit down and chat with one of the writers.

He spoke about how he is increasingly getting more and more sources and stories from the comment section of his online articles. Despite the amount of extreme ranting, it turns out that most journalists actually read every one of the comments to their articles.

Instead of pitching clients to a journalist in an email or phone call, there’s a place for PR to identify articles and help clients craft comments to insert themselves into the conversation with an opinion on a subject both of interest to the journalist and relevant to the client’s business. This can be done on the newspaper's website, or in 140 characters on Twitter or even through sites like LinkedIn.

Maybe that’s one of the changes Shel was talking about.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Learning French with social media

In the new year I am going to regain my competency in the French language. Having scored only elementary on International House's online grammar test, I thought I’d get a head start on January classes and see what I can pick up using YouTube and Twitter.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much out there.

On Twitter, there’s a neat game called Tweet French, where users reply to a daily question, but @TweetFrench has not been updated since the summer

On YouTube there’s a lot of video French lessons that look as if they are from 1993, there’s also a few ‘repeat after me’ videos but memorizing words for fruit or body parts isn’t the same as learning conversational French. And there are channels like jremy7, which looks kinda useful, but just isn’t for me.

Where is the excitement in learning French? Where are the cool, funny, interesting Twitter or YouTube lessons? Where’s HotForWords en français?

Anyone have any recommendations?

For now, I'll just stick with watching Coeur de Pirate videos.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Why I buy the news

Despite newspaper circulation dropping, and ad sales falling around the world, I can proudly say that I am one of the Generation Y who is reading the papers.
Even though I get all the dailies at work, I still buy a copy of the Times to read on my way in on the train every morning. Why? It is all down to the freebies:It's like getting a toy with a box of cereal. With a new book every day, my winter reading list is set.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009


Today I sent out an email on behalf of some friends and their new website.

For some reason, the email sent multiple times.

And wow, Twitter is a powerful thing. Those who received the multiple messages are venting for sure.

I can’t apologize enough for the mistake and inconvenience the multiple emails have caused.

In response to some of the Tweets, don’t worry. I was helping out friends, they are not my work clients and you wont be receiving follow-up calls ;)

Sorry again,


PS. My blog traffic is also exploding. Hopefuly, while you are here you can check out my Gambia project.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Collecting School Supplies for The Gambia

This Christmas, Rosie and I will be enjoying the sun on the Gambian coast. But, despite the flashy new hotels on the beaches, The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 160 out of 173 countries in the 2002 UNDP Human Development Report. We wanted to see if that while enjoying our beach holiday, we could also do something to help.

My Dad traveled to The Gambia when I was a kid and he told stories of the beauty of the country, but also of the poverty. He told me how children would run up to his group asking for pens and paper so they could attend school. It turns out, things haven’t changed much since.

Since Rosie and I usually travel with only our hand luggage, we decided to take advantage of the airline’s maximum baggage allowance and bring with us bags filled with school supplies to help give these kids an opportunity to learn

Tonight I spoke with Lamin Daffeh, Executive Director of the Fresh Start Foundation (FSF):

The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Therefore, most parents don’t send their children to school especially girls because they simply cannot afford to buy uniforms, books, pens, pencils etc. Such children became victims of abuse and exploitation, early marriages or child labourers.

For the past four years, the FSF is dedicated to providing educational resources to two rural schools with a total enrolment figure of over 700 children and are struggling to retain children’s attendance due to lack of resources. We believe that the education of these children will contribute to the eradication of poverty. We are a small charity but making a huge impact in the lives of disadvantage children in The Gambia. Recently, we have seen an increase of the enrolment of girls and in one of our schools, we currently have more girls than boys. Most children are keen to attend school but due to lack of educational resources they can't, so your idea of taking some pens, pencils, note books etc is welcome.

We could really use your help in filling up our suitcases. Raid your office supply cabinet, or stop by Poundland to pick up a few items while you are doing your Christmas shopping. Anything you can give would go a long way in helping a child attend school.

Below is the first suitcase we are hoping to fill. Over the next couple months I will post pictures of our progress along with 'thank yous' to those have dropped off items.

If you have something to donate, we can meet in Surbiton by day, in Clapham in the evenings or central London on the weekends. I’ll also be at various PR industry events, and CS meet-ups if it happens to be convenient.

Fresh Start Foundation is a small UK registered charity doing some amazing work in The Gambia.

If you would like to contribute directly to FSF, you can find their JustGiving page here. It is incredible what they can do for only £0.015.

The death of the glosssy

The magazine industry is continuing to decline. Some are capitalizing on dead celebrities, other are trying to be innovative, but most are still putting out the same crap.

One trend that really confuses me is when magazines print memes and pictures that are making their way around the web. If I wanted to see LOLcats I'd visit I Can Has Cheezburger, not spend $4.75 at the corner store.

I think it is great when the commuter papers print the latest big internet thing because I can't spend all day on Twitter, and being able to catch up on yesterday's craze on the train is kinda nice. But with most people these days being online, magazines printing things long (in internet terms) after they already become overplayed doesn't make sense to me.

PS. Yes, that is a Czech magazine.


A couple weeks ago I tweeted about how much I wished I did PR for the Raeleans (and I kinda was), but I only just visited their website.

Check out their press site:

Cult or not, the Raëlian movement are pretty good at getting attention. I could spend hours going through their past media releases and *cough* press gallery.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Old Time Viral

BoingBoing is wondering if giving viral videos an old-timey silent moving picture feel will make them even more popular. I hope so, because this old-timey version is hilarious.

Jenkins, I've been hoodwinked.


Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Canadian Community Newspapers Map

Here it is. My map of community newspapers across Canada.

I started to work on this a while ago, when I was in Canada. A client had some news to announce with a customer that was based in a remote northern town. It was a cute story and I thought I'd send the release to the local community paper. As many of the small newspapers had very little web presence, it was hard to track down the closest one, so I thought that a map would be a great solution.

But, I got frustrated with all the data and gave up on putting the map together. Yesterday Rosie came across my old files on her laptop, and being the spreadsheet wizard that she is, decided she would have a go at making it work for me.

Probably by now, someone has already made one of these. I know here in the UK, Gorkana have a regional mapping tool for publications. But this Google map is free to access, and hopefully of use to somebody out there.

Too see all the community newspapers, click to view in a larger map, then click through the pages of newspapers on the left hand side. They should be ordered by province.

View Canadian Community Newspapers in a larger map

PS. There is a massive hole in the map. La belle province is missing. A lot of the french addresses would come in as errors on the map, so I removed all Quebec newspapers as I try to fix the problem.

Monday, 19 October 2009

25 UK PR recruiters and other helpful people to follow on Twitter

I was cleaning up my Twitter the other night, and noticed all the job search people I was following from back when I was looking for work.

They came in handy for me, so I thought I’d pull them together in a list for anyone out there who’s looking for a job.

The full list can be found here on TweepML. With TweepML you can follow them all really easily.

Here are a few of my favourite:

PRJobsLondon – This is the best feed I’ve found of PR jobs. They take jobs from various sites and post them all in one place for your convienence

PRjobs - Lindsay doesn’t work with PR jobs in the UK, but she does write a blog that’s full of great tips and tweets interesting articles

UKTJPR – Tech journalist and PR updates. Occasionally retweets job opportunities, but better for just keeping on top of industry news

TwitjobsMedia – This is another great feed. These jobs are hand selected by a human though

See the full list here.

If I missed anyone, let me know by Twitter.

PS. See also: Danny's 70 people to follow in UK PR

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Puppets 2.0

I think every cool new social media site should be explained by puppets

Friday, 16 October 2009

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Regret The Error


The Game Meats Company at Myrtelford is a halal-accredited organisation which processes only goats, emus, ostriches and deer…At no stage did export operations manager Rick Cavedon say Senator Fielding had ’saved our bacon’

- The Border Mail


Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Top five ways to keep learning outside of school

I kinda really liked school. Alright… so I may have complained about it the whole time while I was there, but look at how much fun I’m having in the photo below.

And it isn’t just the laughs I miss, I also miss the learning, as well as the challenges and growth that go along with learning. After leaving school, I have managed to keep some of that development alive. Since everybody loves lists, here’s my top five ways to keep learning outside of school:

5. Read
Pretty obvious. Keeping up to date with what’s going on in PRWeek or just reading the dailies are great ways to exercise your brain.

4. Webinars/Teleconferences
In this industry you can never be too far away from a phone or an internet connection, making these ideal to keep you PR skills sharp. In my experience, most are pretty dull, but there are some out there that seem worthwhile.

3. Keep in touch with your classmates and teachers
Through social media it is pretty easy to keep up with what is going on in your old school, and it is always really interesting to see how the curriculum is changing. I keep in touch through Twitter, and my school's own network on Ning.

2. Industry events
In Toronto I went to Third Tuesday, in London there’s events like NMA Live. With Tweetups and Meetups there’s always an excuse to get together with other PR professionals to chat about what is going on in the industry.

1. Blog
For your agency, your clients or yourself: blogging is a great way to keep you thinking about upcoming trends and cool ideas. I've only been posting at this blog for a week, but I am really enjoying it and hopefully will be able to keep it up.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

PR: a fate worse than death?

Come on, it isn't that bad. Atleast, not most of the time.

I always thought PR would be a bearable job if you got to choose what you sell. I could start a PR company where we talked about Gatorade, Maker’s Mark, Fridays, ball gags, stilettos, Black Flag, poutine, inside jokes, and catching something someone tried to whip at your head. However, having to sit on the phone and tell people about the new Chili Peppers shoes must be a fate worse than death.

- Gavin McInnes, Street Boners and TV Carnage


Sunday, 11 October 2009

The Rape Tunnel and the dangers of not doing research

On Monday, Gawker posted a story about a pretty far fetched art installment called The Rape Tunnel.

Of course, it turned out to be a hoax. None of the names or places showing up in an online search should have raised suspicions, if Gawker had spent the time looking into it.

I guess it's an example of the dangers of just copying and pasting from whatever comes across your desk, without taking the time to research or think about the story.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Cashing in on photo crashing squirrel


The cheeky squirrel that popped up in a vacationing couple’s photo last month, then began crashing photos all over the internet, now has a full time job:

Banff Lake Louise Tourism’s new mascot.

See the squirrel on their homepage or check out the squirrel’s own Twitter.

Great SEO strategy: threats and lunacy

A unique solution to help your business rise in the Google search rank: send crazy emails and unrealistic threats of legal action to your competitors.


Monday, 5 October 2009

Byte Night London

It is Monday morning and my head still hurts. But a three day hangover is worth it for charity, right?

Friday was Byte Night. With a group from work, I braved the cold and slept under the lights of tower bridge along with dozens of other IT workers, PRs and journos, all while raising money for Action for Children.

Here is a photo of my boss in a funny hat: