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England

What are you talking about on the train? Giving up secrets?

How many of us have been on a train journey and had to listen to someone talking loudly on their phone?

Can this be harmful? Is this something we should be careful about?

Most of these calls involve talking to someone to tell them we’re on our way home, or we’ve just left or we’re going to be a bit late. No harm there. Normal everyday chit chat.

However two weeks ago on a trip to Manchester, I realised the dangers of sharing information about your business on a mobile phone while on a train. It can be very bad for a company’s image.

Be careful what you say...

Be careful what you say…

Countless times I’ve heard people say ‘well, I can catch up with some work’. This is true but doing business over the phone where other people can listen in, can be very bad pr. You just don’t know who’s listening.

Let me tell you why. I listened to a man take several phone calls in connection with his job. I now know he works for a major sports brand retailer selling clothing – I was able to work out which company too. I know he’s the sales manager for that business and does a lot of travelling. I also know that this company is owed a lot of money – more than a million pounds – by a large British football club.

I now know which club apparently owes the money and I know this company is concerned about whether or not it will get that bill paid. I also know that while this man talks professionally and enjoys jargon in his conversations, there’s a female colleague who calls and his tone changes completely. The phrase used was along the lines of ‘I’ll always do that for you Emily?”. At which point I almost threw up.

Did he think for one minute that there was a journalist sitting in front of him who could write a story about such-and-such football club owing a large amount of money for kit?

If I know this amount of detail, how many other people on the train know this too? And where do these people work? Who do these people work for? Would this major sports brand want that kind of information bandied around?

As I was leaving the same train, I listened to a separate man talking loudly on the phone telling someone on the end of the line that a customer was ‘a right royal pain in the arse’. How lovely. What does that say about that man and his lack of respect for sharing his personal view about a third party in so public a way.

Top Tip – be careful what you say about third parties on the phone while on a train. Sooner or later, you could regret it.

Who’s watching your business video? Disney? Virgin?

Have you ever considered having a film made about you and your business? Showcasing your ability as a guest speaker, as a workshop leader, describing your service or product?

Have you thought about what you’ll say, how you’ll say it, what you’ll wear, the tone, the feel, the look?

Forget the idea of corporate videos – films should tell a story, and there are many ways they can do that.

For some businesses, this should be part of your marketing. If you are your business Рif you want to be a thought-leader, an expert, a public speaker, a teacher Рthen position yourself through video. Be out there to be  found, locally and globally.

Showcase what you do - especially if YOU are your business....

Showcase what you do – especially if YOU are your business….

I’m passionate about film and programme making because it’s been a large part of what I do – I can make a little money go a long way. Enough! No hard sell here! Consider this….

I suspect I can think of three reasons why you haven’t gone down this route:

1. I don’t need it.

2. I don’t want it.

3. It’s too expensive.

Here are five reasons why you should:

1. YouTube has 610 million views EVERY DAY and it’s still growing.

2. There are more high quality, HD videos on this site than on any other website in the world.

3. It’s a great way to be very visible, very quickly.

4. Netflix is has something like 33 million subscribers in the US.

5. Video, films, series – the moving image – is coming at you more than ever before and it’s going to get bigger and bigger – think Cheaters, think Dog The Bounty Hunter…

I predict that in the future,this medium will become even more important. It will become essential to be out there. Doing it now, in the UK, puts you in the position of a pioneer.

We are only just getting this in business. But you only have to think of singers like Jessie J, Gabrielle Aplin and others for whom video has been the defining factor.

I want to give you three examples of videos on YouTube which have really worked, all unexpectedly:

Anyone know Simon’s Cat? – fantastic little animations about a man and his cat, based around his experiences. Gained a gradual following which grew and grew (pets always pull in viewers). Now the brand is owned by Disney, you can buy Simon’s Cat merchandise such as coasters, mugs etc. All from a man animating the funny things his cat did at home.

Have you heard of Convos With My 2-Year-Old? – a similar and even funnier idea than above. A man records those bizarre talks we all have with our toddlers. He then recreates them with another man playing his daughter. It’s hilarious. They’ve produced five videos so far, the fifth came out in the UK today. Already they’ve been bought by Virgin to play on their planes to passengers. Who would have predicted that?

What about Steve’s CCTV film? Never heard of it. Didn’t think so. This is much closer to home but shows the same thing. My hubby made a film about a CCTV camera he ordered from the internet. As a details kinda of man, he made a film about how to set it up from opening the box to turning it on. It was over 10 mins which is a longish film and put it on You Tube. It was of reasonable quality as we do have gadgetry at home. No one would find it unless they bought that particular product with that particular name. They would have to have searched under that name or under CCTV. It was there but not highly visible.

Last week I checked it out and he had 20,000 views. If I said to you, I can get 20,000 people in a room focussing on this aspect of you and your business for ten minutes – would you say yes?

In our case, this was nothing like the millions of views of my other two examples. Just 20,000. Yesterday an American company contacted him to ask if he’d do the same for their new product. He’s talking terms now.

Video is the future for many businesses – be ready. Put the cash aside. You never know when Disney, Virgin et al will come calling.

Should younger teenagers get the vote?

As I watch BBC’s Question Time tonight, I rejoice in an audience packed with young people.

These days that’s a great sight to see – many young people taking part in the country’s top political discussion programme. Politics frankly is such a turn-off to most young people today.

I’ve always thought my children know a lot about politics as we discuss issues at home frequently. My smugness about this was quickly dispersed this week when one of my children asked me first – what is democracy? And second – how do you get to become an MP? The fact was that she hadn’t even grasped the one key feature in the answer to both of these questions – the vote.

What messages have your family given you about voting?

What messages have your family given you about voting?

I have always voted – I’m not going to tell you who I’ve voted for, except to say I’ve not always voted for the same political party. I was brought up in a family where it would have been absolutely scandalous not to use that right. The view was always – don’t complain about the government if you’ve not bothered to cast your vote.

My grandad, who passed away in 1994 at the age of 88, went further. He used to tell me that people died for the vote for women and we should honour that fact. He lived through times of political turmoil and horror – WW1, the 1926 General Strike and WW2. He worked in a dangerous and vital industry – coal mining. He was a big, generous-hearted, hard drinking man who could barely read. But it was him who took his bass drum around the local villages in Somerset to let them know that WW2 was over. (His drum is now in Radstock Museum).

Back to the vote. I don’t live in Somerset any more but my adopted home of Wiltshire boasts a proud heritage around the suffragettes who marched through Marlborough. One of the leading suffragettes, Edith New, was a school teacher from Swindon. She was the first person to protest by chaining herself to railings. She went to prison and went on hunger strike to defend her beliefs.

Scotland is allowing 16 and 17 year olds to vote when residents vote for or against independence next year. I think this is a good thing – capturing people’s imagination over politics as early as possible is important. I have some suspicion about why this is going to happen – is it because the Scottish government really want more people to vote or do they hope it will swing the vote one way or the other? Maybe that’s just the cynic in me.

We’ll see. However the day that anyone aged 16 or over can be represented will be a good day for democracy.

 

 

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