the best one for the job


I have been mostly working on my garden this weekend, as i have been in previous weekends and i got me thinking about how we do things in our work life.

I have been trying to get a garden for the past number of years, yes that's right years, and kept doing a little here and a little there and trying my best to turn the lump of soil that was Mount Kilimanjaro into a nice flat lawn. One thing after another #happened#.

As ever problems kept occurring - those horrible snags that ruin a well laid plan. I did have quotes from builders from over a year ago now that brought tears to my eyes, and not in laughter. so DIY R us was the apparently the thing for me.

I'm not bad at the old DIY, but not brilliant either as i don't do it every day.

As things went, i messed about, made probably basic mistakes to a professional, and goodness knows how much money i really wasted in trying to save money.

Yesterday, i helped finish off the last of the foundations for the last parts of the wall for my new garden. It felt good, and it is still feeling very very sore. I'm am simply not as fit as i thought i was, nor was i as used to physical labour as i thought i was.

Then the epiphany that brought me to type all these words out. Always get the professional in to do a job that you might be able to do with lots of time to spare and resources.

Yes there is usually lots of teeth sucking once prices and quotes are being discussed, but in the long term you want things done right. A key is building a good relationship with your 'sub-contractor'.  If you don't feel you can work with them, then don't.

The builder i am working with is a wonderful guy and easy enough on the pocket. As soon as i started talking to him i felt i was talking to someone who knew what they were doing and what the job would take. I had of course been chatting to a few other builders, but Raymond, my builder, explained what he would do and why it would have to done that way. He was honest in his talk and his walk. I trust him.

And here is my point, the same goes for public affairs or public relations. Businesses and organisations need to build relationships. Normally this is viewed as building relationships with their customers or clients or whatever. Yet we all work in a legislative context, which is decided upon our government.

We all need to look at how we are doing things in creating and building that constructive relationship with government, with the Departments, and with politicians - from MEPs, to MPs, to MLAs to local councillors. They are creators, facilitators and implementers of legislation- the primary function of governmental structures.

Now if an organisation wants to influence the right people at the right time with the right information they are really going to need to plan in lobbying activities, or, for the more politically correct, political communications.

No organisation is the same. Different issues, different modus operandi, different budgets, different sizes ...... you get the picture.

Many organisations have in-house public affairs teams, many do not. Those that do not either run ad hoc public affairs posts to simply muck through while others engage the services of a public affairs agency.

A public affairs agency will simply do what any organisation can do in the lobbying field. The only difference is that they will do it, in the words of Daft Punk, harder, better, faster, stronger. This also allows the organisation to focus on the thing they do best while still getting their messages through to government. It is that simple.

Yes i could have built my own wall, put in the founds, put up my own fence.  I guarantee though that it would be finished in about 2025 and still not look right. Plus who do i go to if it falls over?

With an outside professional you have peace of mind and are still in control of the overall project. The same is true for beginning a public affairs campaign. A professional has the where-with-all to know what to do if things go right and if things go wrong. they are people that the organisation can call on to fix the situation if it is not the one the organisation was wanting to happen. 

Yes, i work in a public affairs company. Yes, if you are an organisation looking for a public affairs solution i would love your custom. Yes, i would say Chambre PA is the best - but then i would, wouldn't i?

What is really important is that organisations understand what they want to achieve and that they feel the public affairs company gets it. Understanding, clarity and trust, i think are the main points of approval organisations should tick box against.  Price does come into it, and  although it could be said 'you get what you pay for', it does not mean that the most expensive is the best. An organisation should look at the overall package and be happy with it.

I am really happy with my builder and i hope to have the whole thing finished, weather permitting, in a couple of weeks. I brought in a professional to do a professional job.

Tweet Tweet


This year more than any other i have begun to notice how many politicos, politicians and political parties are using new social media technologies.

I blame Stephen Fry for this. Who would really have heard of twitter if it were not for the unofficial king/president/patron of twitter, Mr Fry himself? Indeed, many celebs are on the thing, helping to create its own viral hype without spending a penny of expensive adverts. Web 2.0+ is here.

Apparently according to Twittercounter the person in the number one spot of followers is Ashton Kutcher with around 1.7 million followers. Maybe all those gossip magazines should be worried. Instead of waiting a week to see what hot juicy bits of infantile gossip there is with shock horror angle, people can actually follow the celeb in question and get it direct instead. This should appeal to many people as it is more immediate and feels more personal.

So are our great and the good using social media to socialise or propagandise?

A few tweeters have had their hackles raised about this as they found that all that happened was politicians were using their twitter accounts to publicise press releases.

I can understand the exasperation, but on reflection why not? Politicians, though i half suspect a number of them do not actually tweet themselves, are beginning to put up not only press release material, but what they are doing  - indeed the actual function of twitter.

Having a twitter account i have also seem swathes of abuse/spam through people asking for retweets [put up better posts!] to people trawling their large number of followers and doing a #followfriday* with them all. 

Also, as someone who likes follow all that really sad political rubbish is it not a good thing that we are informed toot sweet about new online publications??? They are not all going to be new headlines but the flow of information is a politico anorak's lifeblood.

Plus twitter is a new phenomenon for us all - we are all getting to grips with its own etiquette and language codes. Not too long ago I only really sussed the #hashtag thing, though still not totally 100% on this.

The real issue in this and i include not just twitter but blogs, websites, facebook, myspace, flickr, tumblr etc is that they are social media. A new way to interact, discuss and receive feedback.

Politicos and political activists are probably more 'with it' on social media and its potential to connect with the audiences they want to engage with. Potential problems, though, are issues surrounding its geekiness, what target publics are actually accessing social media as a communication  tool and it could just all end up with most just dipping their toes into social media then ignoring it and leaving it to a hardcore bunch who, while getting the issue of social media, because there are so few in the end just talk in circles.

Social media is a tool and we do have to keep up with it but i think in the end what really needs to happen is that each method of communication is assessed is it nice? yes.  Is it cutting edge? yes. Is it on the rise in popularity? yes. Does it reach our target publics? Ahhhh, maybe.

Many organisations selling things see it as a great marketing tool. It could indeed be a real political marketing and discussion tool, and i think it is moving that way. It just really needs properly assessed.  Just because Barak Obama used it does not mean we can use all his methods in our own context.

Many of our politicians in this Euro election for 2009 and all scrabbling to be the most relevant, the most up to date, the most switched on in terms of social media and all of its wonderful shiny gadgets.

Me? I would just like to see them face to face on my door step!

* #followfriday seems to be a twitter cultural phenomenon where followers are essentially given a bit of promotion to reward them for being loyal followers. I have had some experience of looking at a full page of tweets that had nothing but said #followfriday - mostly useless to me. I have however given in to doing this myself, but restricting myself to one #followfriday with no more than five followers included. I think this is more effective and will produce more interest than spamming everyone with hundreds of names. 

I have to put this in, a really nice 'social media in plain English' vid. Enjoy.



Well, i am starting on the journey of blogging about grown up things, as opposed to my erratic blogging on toy soldiers and mindless distractions.

A lot has happened since 1998, when Tony made his bizarre 'I feel the hand of history' statement - hence the name of the blog.

Many things have happened in the 11 years since that statement, i got married and had kids for one. But Northern Ireland has also changed more than i could have ever imagined, being one of the generation that was born during the height of the Troubles. Perhaps the boul' Tony was not that off the mark after all.

We now have our own Northern Ireland Assembly, and after being such a yo-yo institution has settled down a bit since May 2007 when images were beamed around the world that i never thought would happen. Ian 'the big Doc' Paisley sitting next to Martin 'the apprentice' McGuinness smiling and joking, along with numerous others from the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Paisley & Adams at the press call in May 2007

How we all had to pinch ourselves.

The stabilisation of the Assembly was just in time for the big economic crisis to hit our wee shores and provide us plebs with more than enough excuses to shout 'what are they actually doing for us'. Recently this has also moved into overdrive with the Telegraph reveling that our MPs have been having a great time claiming the likes of yogurt, chandeliers and moat cleaning on their expenes.

Has our politicians, MEPs, MPs, MLAs and even Councillors, behaviour affected our perception of politics as a whole? Is it an unfair perception or completely justfied?

I think much of it still stems from the Major years and the much criticised 'back to basics' campaign that was viewed as politicians telling the country that family values and morals are the way forward, no major disagreement from my own views, but became synonymous with sleaze and corruption as MP after MP became caught up in very un-family value and immoral scandels.
The people do not trust politicians to be the moral compasses they should be. Some are. But the perception is that the vast swathe of politicians are not. Sad, but there you go.

Perhaps someone out there can provide an answer?


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