Tag Archives: she says

New event: Engagement – the battle for your time

Ooh, I am very excited because we just put booking live for the next She Says event: ‘Engagement, the battle for your time.‘  It’s on Thursday 17th November.  Go and book your ticket now!

We chose this topic because engagement is a word we all use, but do we all use it properly.  Do we know how to measure it?  It’s so useful and at the same time useless…

So we have speakers from all kinds of disciplines lined up and about to be lined up, all of whom will have a very different view on what ‘engagement’ entails in online marketing and digital design.

It’s also going to be at the swanky SocietyM, and there will be time to have drinks, chats, and enjoy the surroundings.

A quarter of the tickets have been taken already – don’t miss out, make sure you book soon!

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We’re planning the next She Says Scotland event

We’re planning the next She Says Scotland event.

I can’t say much about it now, apart from that it’s going to be very special and exciting and held in Glasgow… But I’ve been having some very exciting conversations today about speakers and venues.

If you do want to help out, either by speaking or suggesting a topic or by coming along and helping out generally,  please get in touch via She Says Scotland.

Remember, She Says is all about giving women from creative/digital industries a platform to share their experience and skills – but the events are open to all.  Spread the word and get ready to see some great speakers.

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Sexism is alive and well, oh yes

In a former life I was so interested in feminism that I was doing a PhD on its history.  Back then I hadn’t encountered much sexism directly, although I was very aware of its existence.  I was more interested in it in an abstract way, of what gender actually meant, and I disappeared so far up my own Lacanian arse that I didn’t manage to get my research written up.

Since then I haven’t encountered much sexism directly either, although I am perhaps more aware of its existence.  I don’t work in a sexist environment and I have never felt that I couldn’t do something because I am a woman.  I’m lucky.  I don’t think I am affected by the pay gap, and since I don’t have children I have not really come up against any of the hurdles that can entail for women.

However, I am extremely aware of the latent sexism/chauvinism in the industry I work in.  Advertising/tech is dominated by men at its higher echelons.  Maybe this is because of the childcare thing, since we work stupid macho hours and do a lot of travelling.  However, that can’t be the only reason.  Time and again we see the same men being asked to write articles or speak at conferences, and when women are invited it appears tokenistic, even to the extent of being open about ‘needing a woman’ so thinking of her.

I went to the Social Buzz Awards panel discussion last week and the content was rather disappointing – I was expecting a conversation about insight, innovation and ideas, but instead it was largely focused on the personality required to run good social media, and whether women were better at social media than men because they are better at multitasking and communication.

A twitter argument began the event because of the 8 panelists, there was only one woman, who didn’t attend the event. The panel just didn’t represent the social media practitioner audience – which was a healthy 50-50 split of men and women.

I didn’t really enjoy that discussion much.  I would much rather have addressed the issue head on than on Twitter, which just felt passive aggressive.  I don’t want to come across as petty.  This feels like a serious issue.  It is a serious issue.

It is comforting to know that this cause has been taken up by influential, international names in the industry such as Farrah Bostic, Cindy Gallop and Edward Boches.  The toomanywhitemen hashtag highlights not just the gender unbalance but the ethnic one too, although I guess this is more relevant in places outside of Scotland.

On the day of the International Marketing Festival (which featured a lot of male speakers) we held the inaugural She Says Scotland event.  It was really fun to do, and we were quite aware of the contrast between the two events.  She Says has been going since 2007, having started in London/New York, and it’s about giving women a platform, to share their ideas and experience.  If women can become better known via this organisation, help to put them top of mind when ‘normal’ conferences are being planned then it will have done part of its job. It’s not just about giving women a voice in the industry though, there is a mentoring system and it’s all about helping each other.  You don’t have to be a woman to come to the events either.

I am glad that Dominique took the plunge and decided to get it started in Scotland.  We need it.  Watch this space for details of the next event, which will be in Glasgow…

How to sum up?  Well, I guess I am a feminist because talk of ‘ladies’ and ‘better communicators’ and too many men speakers at conferences pisses me off.  I think we’d be better off if we all tried to make a change and help to make the great women working in this industry more visible.  What do you think?  Is feminism a dirty word?  Is it all about sexism?


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Where do good ideas come from? Slides from last night’s She Says event

Last night was the first ever She Says event in Scotland.  Very exciting to be part of such an auspicious occasion, and in the lovely venue offered by the Leith barge, the Mary of Guise.  We even got to taste their new beverage, Maid In Leith.

The selection of speakers was terrific because we were from quite different skillsets and backgrounds – Carolyn Peacock of BigMouthMedia is an Account Director, specialising in Paid Search, Eilidh McDonald is an illustrator and designer and I’m planning/strategy so although we were all speaking around similar themes our approaches were all quite different.

After the talks there was a lively discussion (involving more beer and wine) about ideas and our experiences.  We also vowed to have another She Says event soon, hopefully in Glasgow.

Anyway, here are my slides and an outline of what I was talking about.

Title slide:

Where do good ideas come from is a good question.  To begin to answer it I did what many people do and googled it, and came across various videos of Steven Johnson talking about his book of the same name.  I jotted down some of my thoughts about what he says…

  1. Good ideas need time.  This is obviously essential.  Thinking time, time to muck about, time to talk, even procrastinate.  It doesn’t really matter what you do with the time, as you are probably processing your thoughts somehow.
  2. Space is also important.  You can’t come up with good ideas if you’re tied to your desk.  Get away, look at things differently.
  3. Johnson doesn’t mention creative people – but I think that the people involved are very important.  They’ve got to be totally prepared to say silly things or make a fool of themselves.  It helps if they’re into new stuff, always trying the latest gadget, going to see films and theatre and new restaurants and so on.  New experiences are important to keep you thinking forwards.
  4. Networks also v important.  TED and twitter are my favourites.  Creative people (except maybe authors) don’t work well for long periods alone.  Virtual networks are fine but you can’t beat being in the same room together speaking like humans.
  5. Johnson thinks environments are important.  Here are some nice creative environments.  Mother has a big concrete table.  St Luke’s was very unusual, we had brand rooms and ball pools and a terrific canteen.  We hotdesked and it worked really well.
  6. This is where I work now – Equator.  The environment is lovely – got a great buzz, we’re all on the same floor, we have glass meeting rooms.  It doesn’t feel ‘closed’.  However, I don’t think environment is that important.  You could just as easily be at the pub.
  7. Or in the shower.  or riding your bike or swimming lengths of your local pool.  Sometimes you need to do something boring and repetitive to think deeply.
  8. But hang on.  Asking where good ideas come from is a bit like asking for the answer without knowing what the question is.
  9. if you’re going to ask where good ideas come from, you need to ask other questions, like what is a good idea, how do you create good ideas, and then how do you know you’ve got a good idea, and is it a good idea if you don’t execute it/well?
  10. Here are some good ideas that I like.  What have they got in common?  First is piano stairs.
  11. A hunter shoots a bear.
  12. Skittles facebook updates
  13. Subservient chicken
  14. Skateistan
  15. Big bean bag
  16. Charity snooze
  17. Playmobil Apple Store
  18. Nike +
  19. Google
  20. HTC
  21. All these ideas, platforms, tactics and campaigns have insight in common.  Many will also have been developed using a strategic process like this.  What’s the point of strategy?
  22. Yogi Bear – if you don’t know where you are going how will you know when you get there?
  23. Little Prince – a goal without a plan is just a wish
  24. So in this strategic process your ideas come from knowing your market, client, brand, and audience inside out, and then playing around with what you know until you find some routes to develop some insights.
  25. Then there’s the steps you take to define your idea further and make it ‘good’.  What’s crucial here is to understand what an insight is, because even though it is fairly old-fashioned, I wholeheartedly believe that it is this that takes you where you want to be.  I am indebted to Simon Law, Phil Teer, Charlie Robertson and a whole lot of other planners for my understanding of this process.
  26. definition
  27. definition
  28. definition
  29. what it’s all about
  30. I like to adapt this, given that we’re not just selling stuff anymore
  31. This is a great way to remember the difference between research and doing something with it.
  32. Revelation is a good wayof thinking about it.  Also the cause and effect-ness of it.
  33. testing it
  34. testing it
  35. testing it
  36. knowing if it’s more than an observation – does it answer ‘why’?
  37. then if it’s a great insight you can create your platform/write your creative brief/create your hero executions
  38. check you have the ecosystem in place to support it
  39. engagement strategy is more than a +1 or a ‘like’
  40. get all that right and you have awesomeness!
  41. remember this is digital – for a quick win you can always stick cats in it (or sex)
  42. thanks for listening



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Tickets for Thursday are going to run out, so be quick!

I might have mentioned that the inaugural She Says Scotland event, ‘Where do good ideas come from?‘ will be taking place on the Leith Barge this Thursday. I’m up early this morning writing my presentation.

It will be much better than anything you’ll see at the Fringe or the Edinburgh International Marketing Festival (depends what you see I guess…)  Not only am I going to be speaking but my pal Eilidh McDonald will be too!  And some other talented creative people I haven’t met yet.  It’s going to be fab.

There are apparently only a few tickets left so if you’re planning on coming, get booking now.

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Gathering inspiration about good ideas

So, following on from my last post, I have been given the opportunity to speak at the forthcoming inaugural She Says Scotland event, which is also titled ‘Where Do Good Ideas Come From?’  I’m now trying to think of an interesting angle for my talk, having a look round the World Wide Web for some inspiration.

There is lots out there…

The recent event in London sounded really interesting, and was inspired by Steven Johnson’s book of the same name.  I haven’t read the book but I’ve watched these two videos, which I hope are accurate reflections of the argument.

In the first there is a brief summary of his thinking about hunches, half-hunches, collaboration and inclubation.

I agree very strongly with him about the above!  It is obvious, but good ideas need time and they need to be talked about.  We need to give everything time and space to grow.

We are also extremely lucky to be so connected by technology these days – I feel that this makes solving problems much easier.  (Especially since the web has become a wonderful time-saving repository of knowledge, offering more time to spend thinking about things.)

And this is a longer talk where he describes his ‘liquid networks’ theory of innovation in more detail:

What’s exciting about this video is the ensuing discussion in the comments about getting people to work together on problems through the TED platform.  Big brains helping each other.  Could be quite exciting!  (Although I think it is probably already happening.)

Johnson’s argument is very much focused on the environment required for fostering ideas.  The Independent seems to think this is a bad thing.  I have worked in agencies that focused a lot on building a free and creative environment, and some that were more like bog standard offices.  It is more pleasant to work in the wacky, hotdesking, unconventional ones but I don’t think we had particularly better ideas as a result.  However, as long as you don’t think this is the only way of nurturing creative thinking then that’s fine.  You need people who aren’t afraid of saying things that might be wrong or stupid.  You need people who don’t give up.  You need time.  You need coffee…

I’ll post this now, but be prepared for part two as it’s always quite handy to collate some basic source material in one place like this.

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Where do good ideas come from? A post about ideas and creative briefs

Where do good ideas come from?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week, as I was asked this very question the other day, as my good friend Nicki Sprinz was giving a talk on ideas at the most recent She Says event.  I answered her question with lots of rambly stuff, which she kindly edited into something that sounded quite pithy and sensible.

I said

Good ideas come from intelligent creative people working together.  The brief just sets the parameters for the direction and records the thinking.

This has come at a good time as I’ve been asked to do some training with the people in my department on what a planner/strategist does, why planning/strategy is good, and also how to make better creative work/ideas happen (but still be ‘on brief’.)

One of the important elements in this argument is the creative brief.  Creative briefs are important.  Lots of agencies don’t bother with them any more – many more than that don’t seem to care if they’re good – but they should still be held in high esteem because:

They are a record of all the thinking that has happened to date.  This should be a lot of thinking.  There should have been desk research, consumer research, trawling through stats and reports and whatever else to find golden nuggets of insight.  These insights, challenging thoughts which should be no less than ‘revolutionary’, should get people excited about the task.

Here’s an absolutely terrific presentation about creative briefs from Dare:

Anything can be exciting if the benefit to the consumer is made clear in the brief.  If that’s clear then thinking up the next ideas beyond that is down to the people in the room.

Good ideas come from creative people working together.  The brief should be great and the person doing the brief has to know their stuff.  The other people in the room should be creative, smart, funny (funny is essential), enthusiastic, and prepared to say whatever comes into their heads.  The cliche that nothing is wrong in a brainstorm is right.  That’s why it’s a cliche.  I also say ‘working together’ because it is work.  We should be prepared to take lots of time to hone, refine and perfect our ideas.

So, that’s it.  I really would have liked to have been at the event – sounds like it went very well.

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