The Do Good Better List - 4 things I've loved this week

It’s been a week of reflecting, catching up, and more and more learning…

1. Has it really only been 3 months?

This week marked three months since I launched Grey Fox Communications and Marketing Ltd.

On 3rd July, I met with two former colleagues over coffee, to introduce the concept and to let them know that I was available to help them with anything they might need.

After lunch, I came home, made a few final tweaks to this website, and hit “publish”. And that, for me, is the moment I consider Grey Fox to have launched officially.

And I marked it a tweet which had my highest engagement levels of any of my Twitter activity all year.

In some ways, it feels like yesterday. I’ve been so busy that I’ve hardly noticed summer turning in autumn in the dramatic fashion that it has.

But in lots of other ways, my life and career before being a freelance comms consultant feels like a million years ago. 

I put that down to a few things. Firstly, the overall mind-set shift has been huge. Moving from being an employee into working for yourself is a dramatic change, and many people tell me that once you do it, there’s no going back. The timeframes change depending on who you speak to, but I’ve heard a few people say that when you’ve worked for yourself for 6 month (3 months / a year - I’ve heard them all), you become pretty much unemployable in a traditional workplace. I’m not sure how true that is, but it’s certainly true that you have a completely different attitude to things like working hours, income, budgets, and priorities; all of which you essentially set for yourself. I can imagine that it’d be difficult to devolve responsibility for those things to someone else after a year or two; and it’s definitely true that I’m enjoying being in control and having responsibility for my own working patterns (client permitting of course). So, for me it is kind of difficult to think about a different way of working now.

Secondly, I’ve learned so much, and met so many people in this three months. I had two really excellent (and fun) catch-ups this week with two other freelancers whom I’ve come to know well, just in the last three months. Meeting new people, and making new friends is always a wonderful thing - and I’ve been knocked out by how supportive freelancers (whatever their specialisms) are of each other. That’s been something that I wasn’t expecting, and, has been an amazing surprise.

Life is always richer with friends. And starting Grey Fox has introduced me to new people I really admire and enjoy working with, and provided the opportunity to work again with some of my favourite former colleagues. Again, it’s difficult to imagine not knowing some people, or going back to a time where I didn’t see or hear from others year-to-year.

And I think thirdly; the sheer variety of work I’ve had the privilege of working on keeps your mind moving and very active. I’ve done copywriting, SEO analysis, video, strategy, workshop facilitation, content creation, and lots besides; and for a select but diverse client base. Even those proposals I’ve submitted that haven’t turned into work have taught me a lot, and introduced me to new people.

So, yes, it feels like a lot longer than three months. It’s been tough at times, but incredibly exciting and worthwhile. I’ll check back in another three, to let you know how I’m feeling in the bleak mid-winter….

2. Granicus Post-conference content

I was really disappointed to have to miss last month’s Digital Engagement Summit, hosted by Granicus last month.

But thankfully, they’ve put all the presentations and talks online. And I’ve been really enjoying watching them.

Some of my absolute favourite comms people are in there, and if you get any spare time (it’ll take you a while to get through it all!) I’d heartily recommend the presentations from these three awesome comms people.

All of the sessions are on the Granius website, but here are my three favourite:

Email Marketing to influence outcome - by Albert Freeman

Albert is one of the most knowledgeable, passionate, innovative, and generally nicest comms people out there, and he’s had incredible success in using email to drive engagement and outcomes in Bradford. Well worth checking out.

All That we go through - by Leanne Ehren

Leanne is another brilliant communicator whom I’ve come to know (and work with) recently. In this presentation, Leanne tackles the difficult subject of mental health in the comms profession; talking really candidly and with great empathy about the pressures that are unique to comms people. Being pulled in a million (non-comms related) directions, being on the frontline of dealing with online trolls, never being able to switch off, and dealing with real tragedies; are all covered. Leanne argues that we need to do more to look after ourselves, recognise that “it’s OK to not be OK”, and presents some really practical solutions that organisations should be putting in place to help comms people to be healthier, happier and better supported in work. An essential watch.

NHS 70 - People Partnerships, Tea and Cake - by Antony Tiernan

I’ve known Antony for a few years and he is a true force of nature that the NHS is very lucky to have evangelising for them. In this presentation he talks about the approach he took to leading the national comms for the 70th anniversary of the NHS this year. You will not have been able to ignore the incredible coverage that campaign gained on TV, the national press, online and just about everywhere. If you were wondering where that all came from, watch Antony’s presentation.

3. Blog post of the week

Not technically a blog post - more just a regular article, but a really interesting read.

And, in the spirit of freelance love, I have to thank Kate Vogelsang for posting this on Twitter.

Obviously, no product launch that Apple do will ever match the majestic brilliance of the Windows 95 launch by Microsoft.

That said, this article details something really fascinating about Apple’s product launches. You may (or may not) have noticed that every time the launch a new iPhone, iPad, or Mac the clock always has a particular time on it.

This is not a coincidence. 

I’m sort of a big picture type of person, but I absolutely love this level of detail and thinking. Super interesting reading.

4. Podcast of the week

If I get to the point where I’m handing out awards for this regular category, the Talking Comms Podcast is likely to be a pretty safe bet.

In this new special episode, Adrian and Darren document their time at what sounds like an amazing experience: Comms Unplugged, which happened in Dorset in September.

They really bring the campfire and the comms camaraderie into your earphones and it’s a genuinely lovely thing to listen to.

The final 15 minutes or so is a real time recording of Darren dropping Adrian off at the station in his hired VW camper van. And trust me, this is far funnier, and more interesting than I’ve probably made it sound here.

Also, as I said on Twitter this week, I think it has the makings of a winning new podcast format.

Listen, laugh, enjoy and be inspired.