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 Raƫlian 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: