Highlights from day one of The Guardian Changing Media Summit 2015

What better incentive to blog than a day spent immersed in an environment humming with thoughts and visions about the digital/social/media future?

I’ve soaked in perspectives and pontifications – from soundbite-packed panels to the anachronistically-named ‘fireside chats’ all day. What have I learnt?

1. The ebullient, opinionated and incisive Gary Vaynerchuk is worth listening to. His opening rapid-fire presentation urged the audience to seize first-mover advantage and grasp new technology, rather than sit back and see if it’ll be adopted.

Classic marketing common sense, right? Sure: but in the digital arena, it takes new form. We’ve seen news cycles shift from 24-hour to 24-second: likewise, we need to move swiftly to embrace/take advantage of new platforms and media. In particular, Vaynerchuk touted Meerkat.

It facilitates live video streaming. It could be dynamite. Read about it here. It might be the (immediate) future of citizen journalism and/or marketing communications.


2. Facebook’s Nicola Mendelsohn pointed out that Facebook is mobile-first, as are most of us (whether we appreciate it or not). “The mobile revolution is about people, not technology. Mobile revenue accounts for 69% of our total revenues.” I often say that ‘words are our currency in PR’. She observes that we’re moving from a text-based world to a visual one. Am I behind the curve? Do I need to learn to draw…?

3. We media/advertising/marketing/PR types talk a load of waffle/guff. Sometimes you’ve got to dig under the surface of the semantics to get to the gold.

4. Tom Weldon from Penguin Random House pointed out that there’s clear delineation between his publishing powerhouse and Amazon. One is about execution, price and customer service – the other is about nurturing creative talent.

5. My attention span is not what it used to be. People who can live blog should be respected.

6. The world is completely different to how it was ten years ago. Change is here to stay. We really, really don’t know what’s around the corner. Strap in. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride.

There’s loads of good content from the day here. Videos, tweets, a live blog. Go ahead. Feast. Or gorge, if you have the time and appetite.

An easy read, feel-good homily

Reggie Love was Barack Obama’s body man: the guy who carried the cases and straightened the schedules. His biography was timed to come out toward the end of the President’s time in office. It’s a worthy read: full of homespun wisdom and gentle puff PR.

The upside? It’s a reaffirmation that everything is possible. A young black man learning life lessons from both the basketball court and the leader of the free world.

If you’re expecting insights into the 2008 campaign, forget it. No new ground here, except for the revelation that Senator Clinton had a meltdown moment and “exploded on Obama” in December 2007, after he pointed out that her camp had been sending emails labelling him a Muslim.

“Before he could finish his sentence, she exploded on Obama. In a matter of seconds, she went from composed to furious. It had not been Obama’s intention to upset her, but he wasn’t going to play the fool either. To all of us watching the spat unfold, it was an obvious turning point in our campaign, and we knew it…Her inevitability had been questioned.”

Love links this incident to the Des Moines debate, where Obama was asked “how he could claim to be an agent of change when he had so many former Clinton advisors on his foreign policy team.”

Clinton “snorted and muttered” indicating that she was keen to hear his reply.

“Well, Hillary, I’m looking forward to you advising me as well.”

And that’s how history unfolded.


Time poor, just not cash rich. But thankful.

So, we’re fully two weeks into the not-so-New Year. All my good intentions of disciplined blogging have gone to the wall.

But I figure that sporadic, thoughtful posts are better than lengthy absences interspersed by turgid prose, right?

Tomorrow I graduate from BCU with an MA in PR. I failed to get a tan or to lose weight for the photo. Managed a haircut, though. At least it will provide an accurate picture of what I actually look like instead of how I see myself…

Today, I’ve been with a new client in Oxfordshire. Next month, four of our team fly to Canada to meet another new client. Man, it’s cold there, now. Anyone want to lend me some thermals? In between those dates, we move into our lovely new offices (although, as you can see, they’re not (quite) lovely yet). A ‘work in progress’, I’d say; much like yours truly.

New office

The moral of the story (or ‘narrative’ as we say in (sometimes) pretentious PR-land): I’ve got a lot to be grateful for. And so have you. Carpe Diem, as they say. Even if it means going a few days without spilling some words out hastily via a keyboard.