Six years ago I entered the doors of Millbank Tower to be greeted by a cacophony of people talking loudly on phones, blaring TV screens, and iMacs aplenty. I remember thinking, ‘wow so this is what a PR agency is like.’
Within a week I’d been lemonpartied (I’m not linking to that), told I’d never ‘make it’ at the agency due to being an Arsenal fan (thanks Nick) and got pissed with the CEO who warned me about the then marketing manager scaring new recruits with requests to ‘nosh him off’ (anyone who worked at LEWIS pre-2007 will know who I mean). Thanks Chris.
I knew then I’d have lots of fun and learn a lot about the industry. And that’s exactly what happened. From the infamous LMC parties to countless nights at the Muppet, the last six years have been a blast. I’ve also managed to learn one to two things about this thing the kids are calling social media, work with some brilliant characters and on some great (not too mention challenging) clients.
However as they say all good things come to an end and from next week I’ll be joining Ogilvy’s 360 digital influence team. For some time, I’ve admired Ogilvy’s approach to social marketing; from creating a blogger outreach code of ethics to some very smart thinking around influencer marketing. So at a time when there’s a lot of talk about how social media is bringing a convergence of marketing disciplines (my own thoughts on the matter here) the opportunity to work right at the heart of this was just too good to pass up.
I’m told the ethos for my new team is fun, fame and fortune so looks like I’m going to be doing a lot more schmoozing, helping the agency pick up more of these and making a ton of cash in the process. I just hope they also feed my Mac addiction.
Earlier this week, I chaired the latest instalment in the LEWIS digital dinner series held at the Great John Street Hotel in Manchester. The forum allows us to explore ideas and views from business local business leaders and influencers on how social media affects them. The discussions tend to be a mix of personal opinion, professional curiosity and stimulating thought. And this discussion was no different. One of the hot topics of debate was how social media really does allow the local element of a community feel local. As observed by one attendee, social media can really help a community retain its essence particularly in an age where news and the flow of information is global.
In a week where the antics of the BNP and Question Time dominated the headlines and thoughts of the nation, I believe social media affords the chance for everyone to have a say and have their say counted irrespective of where they live or from what background they are from.
Last Wednesday saw LEWIS London host its second digital dinner – a session where we invite a mixture of clients, journalists, bloggers and PR people to share their thoughts and views on all things digital.
The dinner was particularly exquisite and the discussion offered plenty of food for thought. Fitting that as the Telegraph ran a piece on London being the social media capital of the world, the group discussion took on a different approach to the usual conversations that come with talking about social media such as “Will Twitter replace email?” and “What’s the best social network to sign up to?”
It appears that as a consequence of the avalanche of slides, tweets, LinkedIn groups, blogs etc about social media, there is a growing concern that much of what is said amounts to ‘vapour ware’ (the corporate way of saying hot air).
The last eighteen months have seen such an explosion in what people hear about social media, it is easy to forget that its adoption is still relatively low in the vast majority of businesses out there. By and large companies are still unsure about how social media will actually help them over and above just having 1,000 followers on Twitter or a Facebook fanpage. While there are currently hundreds of PR firms offering to help companies talk the social media talk, judging by the discussion many are fed up of hearing the talk and now want to start walking the walk.
(This post also appears on the LEWIS 360 blog)