Five thoughts on email

Ray Tomlison, the man who put the @ in your email died this week and many tributes paid to him. Many people have a love/hate relationship with email. We love the ease with which we can send messages and we hate, nay loathe, seeing our inbox fill up.  I had so many thoughts about email that Five Thoughts has extended to ten so there will be a second five thoughts on email next week.

  1. Sign up to a newsletter using the the first name Sexy, the second name Beast. It really does lift your day when you get an email addressed to “Dear Sexy” or “Dear Sexy Beast” and occasionally from those who don’t know who to work an email list very well, “Dear Beast, Sexy”.
  2. For persistent emailers, reply asking if you can at least have a date with them as they seem to know you so well.
  3. If you receive an email, probably a newsletter, you are pretty sure you didn’t sign up for. Unsubscribe. Delete.  Forget it. Life’s too short to get angry about it.
  4. Remember people who email you are only doing what you are doing, trying to earn a living, promoting a cause dear to their hearts or trying to connect with you.
  5. An empty email inbox may seem like a great achievement but is it? Climbing a mountain is an achievement, battling with a chronic illness is an achievement, staring at an empty inbox may be pleasurable but it’s really just a tick off you to do list.  You will be very disappointed if your inbox is empty tomorrow. Boasting about the size of your inbox is not big or clever.The fullness of your inbox is not a sign of your inherent popularity, just of how widespread your email address is.

Five more thoughts on email next week.

By the way I hate spam as much as the next person.




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Not all video content is created equal

video content infographic

You are free to download and use the above infographic, here it is in pdf format

Not all video content is equal



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Viral or Niche, where is your audience?

Once again my eyes have been assaulted by claims that this, that and the other has become a viral hit on the internet.

On closer investigation I discovered they didn’t really go viral. At best they were shared a good number of times but not really viral. Viral suggests reaching an audience way beyond your intended one. Let’s face it having millions of people viewing your video, post or photograph must be brilliant but in reality what does it achieve?  A million YouTube views. All that means is one million people clicked play. They may have clicked off after 3 seconds, got distracted and just not paid any real attention to the content anyway.

I am not saying numbers are unimportant but that they might not be as important as we think they are.

Maybe we need to examine them a bit more. If you make a video of a friends birthday party and post it to FB and everyone of your 600 friends on the platform viewed it, then you can say your video was a success.  It reached everyone of your intended audience. Beyond your Facebook friends your video has no audience.Maybe we need to re-examine what we deem success in the social media world. Huge audiences does not necessarily imply huge engagement.We need to define our audience better and assess the success of the video or campaign, not by how many random people have watched it, but by the engagement it generated with our intended audience. At a recent Charity Comms event Joe Hall, online campaigns and communications manager, The Climate Coalition/ founder, Woo Hoo Yeah Yeah! shared this slide.


It shows an event was trending, surely a success, but the sharing was only amongst activists. As the next slide showed everyone else was unaware.


Numbers only tell a part of the story. It seems to me having plenty of committed activists engaged with your message is much better than a large mildly interested one.

How you define your audience is up to you but define it and reach it you must. Viral isn’t everything engagement on the other hand.

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Five Thoughts For Thursday – the one about promotion

5Thoughts on Thursday Logo

Five things that occurred to me as waded through the internet this week.


  1. It’s OK to blow your own trumpet. Why would you want to blow someone else’s anyway’?  It’s probably not that hygienic. Remember though not everyone is a trumpet person, some are violin people others are piccolo people. Make sure your message is suited to your audience.
  2. Big yourself up by all means but visiting a couple of places does not a tour make. “By popular demand” does imply a demand beyond you, your friends and your dog.
  3. You are most certainly a unique person but it’s unlikely that your business or your offering is. Don’t claim to be the only one and only, leave that to Chesney Hawkes.
  4. Don’t make a claim to be a leading something or other unless you can back it up with hard evidence. Make sure you are the leading expert in your own house before claiming it for your street, town or world.
  5. Don’t promise what you have no idea how to deliver.  Stretch yourself by all means. Remember, what you don’t know you can learn.  What you can’t do someone else can and collaboration is a strength not a weakness.

Happy Thursday!


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Five Thoughts For Thursday – The One about STUFF

5Thoughts on Thursday Logo

We are assaulted on every side by information, misinformation and stuff.


Yesterday one of the top stories on the BBC website was the death of the actor Leslie Nielsen. This was followed by a host of tweets and Facebook statuses mourning the loss of this fine comic actor. Many reflected on how cruel 2016 had been so far, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman etc. Bizarrely the Airplane actor died in 2010 yet his death was reported as if it were yesterday. I have no idea why.
The lesson is clear. There is so much information out there just how do we process it and, perhaps more importantly, filter it?
Here are my thoughts on the subject.


  1. Save the good stuff but don’t hoard. Read it, if not read in a week, delete it.

  2. Forget the useless stuff.

  3. Enjoy funny stuff.

  4. Share the good stuff.

  5. Remember not all stuff is equally valid.


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Five reasons I may unfollow you on twitter

  1. You insist on telling me your twitter stats, daily, weekly and monthly (I don’t care)
  2. You are still using
  3. You post links to websites I cannot read.
  4. You never engage with anyone. Not even a RT or a like for anyone or anything.
  5. All you do is RT stuff.
If you ever find me doing these things then feel free to unfollow me immediately but don’t tell anyone it’ll be our secret.

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Amusing ourselves to death


Some years ago I had a sabbatical and my topic was “Communication in a Post Modern World”.  Now I do not intend to share my findings or lack of them. However I have revisited a book that had a profound influence on me at the time.

Neil Postman’s book, “Amusing ourselves to death” was an analysis on television’s effect on culture. Published in 1985 it was pre internet, email, Facebook, Twitter etc yet re-reading it has given me some food for thought.

We spend a lot of time on social networks and there are many who now claim it as an art, a skill, and by the looks of things a marketable skill, BUT, there is has to be a but, maybe all this time and effort we are putting into social networking is really just amusing ourselves to death.

In investing time and energy into social networking are we deceiving ourselves into believing we are being productive and all this effort is worthwhile. Maybe in a years time social networking will be so last year and there will be another genre of mass communication to amuse us.

Every now and again I re-arrange my office, re-order the way I work. Why? Because it is something that I can do.

There is an end product. It makes feel I am achieving something.

In reality I am rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

There truly are better ways to feel and be productive and maybe the 100 “tweets” I posted will make me feel productive but maybe I would have been better doing some real work!

“When a population become distracted by trivia, when a cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainment, when a serious public conversation becomes a form of baby talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; cultural death is a real possibility.” Neil Postman

[“Amusing ourselves to death” by Neil Postman is still available on Amazon as are several other of his books and what looks like an updated version of this classic.

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Thank you Martha Lane Fox

I, along with many others, tuned in last night to watch this year’s Dimbleby Lecture given by Baroness Martha Lane Fox.

Martha Lane Fox is probably best known as the founder of with Brent Hoberman but latterly has given her time to two governments as a Digital Champion.
The thrust of her lecture was for the establishment of a dot everyone, to make the UK the most digital nation on the planet.  She quoted the late activist Aaron Swartz who once said, “It’s not OK not to understand the internet anymore.”

The next day I saw this tweet from Baroness Fox;

martha lane fox twitter

Of course it never happened and it was never going to happen. I get the impression that many in the media see not being knowledgeable about the internet as a veritable badge of honour. A sign that they are somehow above it all and reasonable and proper debate and thought takes place away from the idle chatter and noise of “the internet”.

In this General Election “The Internet” is not seen as the real issue. The real issues are immigration, the economy, wages and jobs. Well try and get a job without decent access to the internet. Almost impossible.
Somehow we need to break this false dichotomy of new and old.

If a child spends time on a computer it is deemed, by many, to be wasted time. Time they should be using to climb trees, scrape knees play with other likeminded children and get skin cancer.

A child who locks themselves in their room and reads the entire Harry Potter series of books is seen as some kind of hero. No doubt a genius. Let’s gloss over the fact reading is a solitary activity and one where they are unlikely to climb any real trees or scrape any knees. At least they wont get skin cancer.

Once again it is the old world – good, new world bad.

Away from the media there are many in business who avoid the internet. In SME’s and boardrooms alike the internet is seen as unrelated to the real world of business. Let us hope they will realise it is not one or the other but both.

This year’s lecture was a breath of fresh air featuring as it did a call to action. This election I will be asking candidates for their views on superfast broadband, data security and the harnessing of the internet for the common good.

In the meantime I can sign the petition and back Baroness Fox’s call for a dot.everyone institution. I leave you with her words.

“Britain invented the BBC, the NHS – let’s not have a poverty of ambition – we can and should be inventing the definitive public institution for our digital age. If you like the idea, I have set up a petition at so please sign it.  And please blog, tweet, respond – lets start the debate.”

Sign the petition here

The Richard Dimbleby Lecture

A PS to show how far we still have to go.

I wanted to book a service for my car. I was extremely gratified to see my local dealer had an on-line booking page. I duly filled in the form with my name, car model, preferred day of the week and my contact details. I clicked send and received a message that they would be in touch. Four days and nothing. When I rang the garage they admitted they don’t really check their emails or notifications, “Always better to ring us” they said. Words fail me.




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