Tag Archives: Joshua PR

A Training Hiatus

I talked about a big day of triathlon training in May, however I have realised that over the next few weeks I will have to take a bit of a break in my training.

I do this swimming (and running and cycling) for ‘fun’. As a way to relax and unwind after work, but also as a way to push myself and get the best out of my [now noticeably aging] body. I do it because I enjoy all the aspects of it – the training, the events and the camaraderie. I do it for me.

However, I have other priorities in life – in particular family and work.

Family stuff is fairly settled at the moment and my son and I have got into some great routines and we [at least I do] enjoy the time we have together. It’s work though that’s going to need my attention over the next few weeks.

I run my own business and I’m lucky that I enjoy it – but it is mentally all-consuming. Recently we’ve won some new and exciting clients and on top of that there’s a big industry event coming up at the end of Feb. Over the next few weeks I need to ensure that I have 100% of my focus available for work every day. So until the end of Feb I’m going to rein in the training a bit.

I still plan to do as much as I can, but to make sure that’s out of fun and enjoyment and not forced or pressured. I’ll be using any exercise and activity as stress relief and enjoyment, rather than as training.

I need to prioritise things in life and for now work HAS to be my priority. I also need to understand how I tick and although I’ve talked about exercise as a stress relief I also know that I just need ‘time off’ to relax and perform at my optimum. I’m not someone that can whizz through life at a hundreds miles an hour, and rush from job to gym every day. I need some down time too. I need to be able to spend time on my own and with my own thoughts to recharge the batteries.

So that it what I need to focus on for the next few weeks – work and then myself to allow me to perform for work at my best level. Exercise will play a part in that, but putting myself under pressure to hit training goals certainly won’t.

Hopefully once this period is out of the way and March rolls around I’ll be able to get back into it

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Money and fun

Not a swimming blog, but I’ve been chatting to a few people about my ‘philosophy’ for work recently, so I thought it was time to blog about it.

– – –

I used to run a traditional, medium-sized PR agency – back in my London days. And when it was good it was great. We had a great team, we did great work and we went to the pub nearly every Friday.

However, when it wasn’t so good it was bloody hard work. We still did great work and we still went to the pub, but the team became a struggle to afford and it would weigh heavily on my shoulders. We had some work for them all, but not quite enough to make them profitable, but too much to get rid of anyone.

It’s the curse of medium sized businesses, especially service ones.

And too many businesses are wedded to this way of thinking. It means that if new business opportunities come in the only criteria they are judged on is income. Everything else is deemed irrelevant.

How can it be done differently?

I don’t know about you, but there are two reasons why I work – money and fun.

Money is important, it pays the bills, puts a roof over my family’s head and allows me an occasional nice thing. I like nice things, they make me happy and when I’m happy I work better – which is also why fun is so important. I don’t mean fun in a ‘wacky’ kind of way, but plain and simple enjoyment in what you do. I think that’s pretty important, especially as we all spend so much time working nowadays. So ‘fun’ also means doing a good job and seeing the results of your efforts.

But that’s it – money and fun.

I set up a different kind of agency to work in this way – and that’s how we judge whether a new project is for us: will we make money (and the best clients are those that understand that we all have to make a bit of profit along the way); will we have fun (which includes getting good results)? I’ll be honest, if one will be high, then we can accept sacrificing the other a little.

But money and fun, why else do you work?

 

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MWC 15 Summary

This is a work-related post, specifically about a recent mobile conference in Barcelona. If you’re hoping to read more about swimming nonsense, then please come back later šŸ˜‰

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As I have done every year except one for the last 12 years I was out at Mobile World Congress last week. I spent two days at the show itself, two nights out in Barcelona and had two flights that were mainly full of congress attendees. Based on that short sojourn here are the key points I picked up from the show.

‘Mobile’ is dead
Although the show is ‘Mobile World Congress’ the term mobile is now pointless / redundant / undefinable. Does ‘mobile’ mean the handset you have? If so, where do we classify tablets, or even watches? Or maybe we use it as a verb and talk about ‘being mobile’ – but what about laptops or even fridges connected to data with a sim card? Or the fact that wifi is where all the ‘mobile’ traffic is now?
Throughout the show people were struggling with the concept of mobile and defining it differently for their own purposes in each different meeting attended.

Disruption of the network
One of the biggest issues that I came across was the fact that the OTT players are now the new norm in the content & platform part of the industry – leaving the operators in their wake. The next level of disruption they seem to be targeting is the network itself. This is of course linked to the announcement of a Google MVNO and Zuckerberg’s push for more free data to be offered to users.
This is all without talking about the event’s biggest elephant in the room. Apple never attends MWC formally, yet I heard some chatter about them ‘creating’ their own network. An iPhone-sized disruption to the network layer…?

Lots of buzz
There was lots of positivity around in Barcelona last week, possibly more than I’ve witnessed in the last few years. It may of course have been linked to my own positivity (I have a renewed enthusiasm for the show after a couple of years of it waning), but there were a lot of stands, visitors and, if the overheard conversations are anything to go by, deals struck.
And of course the biggest measurement of ‘buzz’ – there was plenty of beer drunk and ‘good times’ had.

A sleazy side to Barcelona
We have seen a sleazy side to the show in the past that appeared to be cleaned up by the GSMA (although apparently CBoss were back again this year). However this year we saw the sleazy side to the city with ads from the local ‘massage parlours’ being targeted directly at the show’s attendees.
While we can’t expect to speak for the city for the other 51 weeks of the year, there is a sense that the GSMA has to place itself above the likes of FIFA and when spending this much money demand a certain level of ‘behaviour’ from the city.

I loved it
Screenshot 2015-03-09 17.31.14My final point, as I’ve mentioned above, is I loved the show this year. Partly due to the fact that of where I stayed (thanks Helen), partly due to the Joshua PR sponsorship of Swedish Beers (and what a fun night that was!), partly due to the happy clients, partly due to people I met and partly due to the meetings I’ve already arranged on the back of the show’s activities.
Roll on MWC ’16!

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Just one headphone…

I rarely talk about work here, but it just occurred to me how much I love the current working style that I have.

I run a PR agency called Joshua PR that is a virtual company – which means that we don’t have an office full of staff, instead we set up dedicated project teams for each client. But while the company doesn’t have an office, I do. Although I can (and do) work from home, I like the discipline of coming into the office every day and the separation of being able to leave my work in the office when I go home. I share this office with a good friend of mine Lucy (who runs KuKu Apps).

Our work complements each other and I’d like to think that our personalities do too (she may tell you differently if you ask her). And so we both tend to work with just one headphone on.

I like the new modern way of working that you plug yourself into your own music collection and focus on the task in hand. Yet Lucy and I also share, chat and collaborate throughout the day. So we don’t plug in completely, we always have one ear ready to listen to each other.

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Coniston Tomorrow

Tomorrow I’m going to be swimming the length of Coniston – all 5.25miles of it.

I did it a couple of years ago – so this time around I’d like to beat my time from 2012 (which was, annoyingly 3 hours and 6 seconds). Weather and conditions permitting, I should be able to do that.

If I’m serious about a plan to swim the channel at some time in the future these are the kind of swims that I need to be able to knock off reasonably comfortably, yet at the same time treat them with the respect they deserve.

At the moment I’m in a hotel in Barrow-in-Furness, staying over so I’ve only got a short drive to the swim tomorrow. Apologies if you’re from Barrow, but it doesn’t have a lot going for it from what I can see – although in that respect I suppose it reminds me a bit of Dover. Both have seen better days.

I can’t complain too much though as I’m researching flights to Nashville for a work trip…

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Cracking Bank Holiday

We’ve had a bank holiday in the UK this weekend – with another to follow at the end of May too – and I’ve had a great weekend. This is what I’ve done:

– Beer and darts on Friday
– Some retail therapy on Saturday
– A couple more beers on Saturday night
– A lake swim on Sunday morning – my first of the season – only a gentle 2km, but it was great
– To the gym on Sunday evening – including another 2km in the pool
– A bike ride with my son this morning
– An afternoon in the office this afternoon – and because I love my job, that was fun too

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Love Fridays

As I got in the car tonight to drive home from work I had a smile to myself. At the moment I really love Fridays.

And it’s not for that “weekend” feeling that most people have. I actually enjoy working and often spend some of the weekend working too – although not every weekend and I do have many great weekends off too. No, the reason I love Friday is that at the moment it’s just a great day for me.

It starts with a swim – this morning I did 2.125kms which is a strange distance I know. I did 2 x 1km, then wanted a little cool down. However they are reflooring the side of the pool at the shallow end, so I had to swim an “odd” length to get out.

After the swim I drive to the office to work on VisuallySocial. I split my working week between Joshua PR and VisuallySocial and although Joshua PR takes the vast majority of my time I try to devote every Friday to VisuallySocial. We are trying to establish the business and it’s a really interesting challenge to face and quite different from the Joshua PR stuff.

Not only do I enjoy the work on a Friday, but I get to work with one of my favourite people too. As I said, we’re trying to build the business so it’s important that we sit and chat and work through thoughts and ideas and occasionally issues. But it’s great to work with Lucy and we complement each other very well (we sometimes compliment each other too!).

I may sound a bit sad (and clearly make me sound old), but as I get into the car I then listen to Simon Mayo on Radio 2. There’s something about his Friday request show that is genuinely heart-warming. To top it off, this evening as I was driving home I could feel it getting lighter in the evenings and I could imagine nice, warm summer evenings.

Finally, Fridays are my darts nights. There’s a group of blokes which I managed to join that plays darts every Friday in a local pub. It’s nothing serious and not necessarily a great standard of darts, but it’s good fun and they are nice blokes. I’ve only been playing since just before Xmas and they’re all a bit older than me (and been a group for years), but they’re really welcoming and friendly and I really enjoy my Friday night darts.

So that’s my Friday – and I love it.

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When do you get a PR agency?

Please excuse this post. It’s a little bit self-indulgent from me as this is my response to a conversation I was having on Twitter. I’m not even sure the people I was talking to on Twitter will read it, but here goes…

It started with this tweet.

Tweet by @chrissyfarr

And so I replied (if you follow the link above you’ll see my responses). But it got me thinking and I realised that I couldn’t say what I wanted to in 140 characters, or even in several multiples of that.

I can completely understand the sentiment behind this – a reporter has a good relationship with a founder and finds them a good source of information (about their own company, but probably about the wider sector too) and suddenly that relationship and that source disappears. We’d all be pissed off about that.

But if you look at it from the founder’s point of view – they’ve just been given a bunch of money to make a step change to their business. The money is meant to make a significant difference and suddenly the founder’s targets, requirements and responsibilities have changed dramatically. In the same way suddenly the day-to-day activities that they were doing at the previous stage are not the same day-to-day activities they need to be doing now. I can imagine that there are lots of changes and of course the money means that they can now hire people (including a PR agency) to do some of those tasks they are leaving behind.

Personally, I don’t think it’s the fact that someone else is doing the task I think it’s the way the whole thing is handled.

Too often an agency will win the business and suddenly a junior will be employed to do the media relations. The journalist goes from speaking to a senior executive that not only knows their business inside out, but also knows the sector intimately, to speaking to a junior PR exec that isn’t quite sure of their own name (or that’s how it seems). If that is coupled with the fact that the founder hasn’t done a proper handover and highlighted the journalists they already know well (possibly even sending a personal email to a few) then that is bound to piss people off and completely justifiably.

In summary: of course the founder in this situation should get people to help take over some of the workload (that’s what the money is partly for), but pick a PR agency with senior people that know what they’re doing and give them a proper handover.

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Of course I would say all of this – I run a PR agency. But I’m also the founder of a start-up.

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GRRR PR!

I don’t really like to talk work on here, but clearly this blog is turning into a place for my ramblings about life in general and not just swimming, so here goes.

Last week we found out that the PR agency I run didn’t win a new client we were pitching for. In itself it’s not that unusual – while we pride ourselves on being good and winning lots of new business it’s true that we lose more than we win (we probably average about a 1 in 3 hit rate). However it was how and why we lost it that really annoys me.

The company is a start-up and is pre-revenue and has been doing PR for a while, but it hasn’t provided them with the breakthrough that they wanted. So they looked for alternatives. Yet when it came down to making the decision they played it safe and went back to the old agency.

Having seen the work they’d done previously it makes it even more disappointing. For some people (agencies and clients alike) PR is about writing some things and getting them published. They think it’s about output, about ticking boxes and claiming success – they think it’s about what the agency does.

Rubbish.

PR is / should be about so much more. It’s about making a difference to the business – doing whatever it takes (from a communications point of view) to make a breakthrough. That’s especially true of a start-up.

Sometimes, although rarely in the case of a start-up, that can involve lots of writing and lots of very considered and worthy pitching to journalists. But more often it requires something different, a spark, a willingness to be bold and say and do things that get you noticed.

When you only seem to care about the output, you forget the end results. For too many PR agencies coverage is considered a result, yet it is only one step on the journey to real goal – which is usually increased sales. What you say is always more important than how often you say it – one piece of the right kind of coverage is worth more than any beautifully bound clippings books that some agencies pride themselves on. And sometimes you might not even need media coverage as it may be that the right word in the right ear makes a much bigger impact than a year’s worth of press releases.

PR agencies can and should be the catalyst for this of approach – they should match the end goals to the methods and define strategies to achieve the goals. PR agencies should be a strong creative force that drives the business forward – and don’t get me wrong, the best ones are. But too many aren’t, too many only care about their own output. But for this to happen across the board clients need to stop buying safe PR.

I wish this company well, from what I saw they have the potential to be a player in their sector. I fear that they will miss their chance though because they are afraid to be bold.

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