Are we all news reporters?

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I was having a chat with my wife the other night about what news had become in the modern day. It made me slightly sad about what we have come to, when it comes to what we deem as news or newsworthy and how news stories are created these days.

What has the word ‘news’ become?

I can’t remember how we got on to the topic of conversation that we did the other night, but it made me think a lot about how we use the word ‘news’. The word ‘news’ used to have a gravitas about it, but now it seems social media has stolen the word news by referring to collections of friends posts on social media, as a ‘newsfeed.’ As a society now we seem to be more interested in what is happening on our ‘newsfeed’ than what is actually happening in the news.

I also can’t stand the way that a lot of news has changed now. Many articles seem to be written in order to be social media friendly or to appeal to the social media community. Even worse than this though, is how many news stories are being based on things people like you and I have been posting on Facebook. Somehow now what we post has been deemed ‘newsworthy.’

Social media runs the news

The news stories that seem to get better placed online are the ones people are posting about the most on social media. Rather than reading or watching the news and deciding what we think the big issues of the day are, the social media community are really stirring what we are having our eyes and ears drawn to.

All of this means is that in todays world, we are all news reporters. If you have a blog, a social media page etc. you can break news. What you write has as much chance of being news as everything else. What is for sure, is that in some ways it is not a good time to be a journalist. Well thought out articles are being lost against a tide of irrelevance. We are now in a quantity over quality situation, where it comes to things to read on the Internet. Sadly there is so much vying for our time and attention that we can’t find and read all the good stuff. I just hope as many people as possible continue to write clever and informative pieces and that one day they win out.

The Great British Bake Off

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Now as many of you are aware, not only do I work in TV but I am also a huge fan of TV. Something my wife and I look forward to every year on the BBC, is The Great British Bake Off. Now the License Fee gets questioned a lot over here in the UK but I would pay it for this programme alone, let alone all the other amazing BBC services. I was saying the same thing last week about the BBC’s coverage of the Olympics; I would pay the fee for just that as well.

With everything that happens in the world, news and entertainment the Great British Bake off is just something I think is very much needed. It is just a nice mixture of comedy, food, inspiration, joy and heart warmingness (I know that isn’t a word) that I never tire of watching. The programme always encourages me to bake, gives me ideas and always puts me in awe of some of the amazing home bakers we have in this country.

A phenomenon

The show is a phenomenon, not only is one of the most watched shows over here every year, but it has since had many off spin off shows produced in other countries and in the UK. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood have become national institutions because of the show and Mel & Sue have been taken in to hearts of millions.

The show needs these 4 people as they just make the show work. Every year the contestants are different, sometimes better, sometimes worse but that doesn’t always matter. The show is more about how Paul, Mary, Sue and Mel interact with the contestants, than the contestants themselves, although there have been many memorable contestants over the year.

The journey

The series progresses until they determine the champion and star baker of the series. The competition element though isn’t what is most important, which is why I like it. It’s not about everyone out to win at all costs; the winner doesn’t get a huge amount of money and a huge contract to do something. It is just more about the honour of being voted the best. Although this sounds cliché the show is about the journey we go on with all of them.

If you haven’t seen it before, where have you been? Hope you will all be tuning in at 8pm tonight on BBC One, for what I am sure will be another great series.

You will be amazed what happens next

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One thing I can’t stand online, is when articles or video descriptions have the words “you will be amazed what happens next” in the title. If this is in the title of something, I know that it is clickbait. The phrase just sums up what is wrong with SEO, copywriting for web and the rise of clickbait.

It seems that the web has turned in to a place where everything is the same. Where there is one right headline to make sure you get the most clicks and reads, so everyone sticks to it and does the same thing. It’s like there are magical words and phrases.

Maximizing impact

If something has a title that I can see has been written to maximize impact and encourage you to click, the more it makes me not want to click it. When I see a title like that, I know that the writer/website just wants me to click the link and what I link through to has a very low chance of actually being something of quality.

Titles and headlines like “you will be amazed what happens next” seem to have been written after someone has done some basic reading on psychology. The writers are trying to use words and phrases that they think will make you want to click. Words and phrases that still make you click even though you know you are being had and that you know that it is clickbait. Some may call it very clever, I just call it unimaginative.

If you can’t beat them, join them

I will be amazed when and/or if this way of writing ever ends, as I think we are doomed to it for quite some time. The pressure to get you the viewer on to a website for that website to make money is fierce and most companies are going with the adage – “If you can’t beat them, join them.” It seems everyone is so worried about losing out on a potential click that they are willing to sacrifice any standards in order not to miss them.

I know in all forms of art it is so hard to be new and different, as so much has been done before but it doesn’t mean we should just all copy what each other are doing. I want to read quality, I want to enjoy what I am reading and I want my time spent visiting a website to be good and worthwhile not an experience where I feel like I have been duped in to and one that I wish I hadn’t wasted my time on.

Gilmore Girls

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My wife introduced me to the TV show ‘Gilmore Girls’ the other day. I knew it has been a show she has loved for years but I had never watched an episode. Now that it is on Netflix I caught her watching an episode a few days ago and sat and watched with her. I am a big TV fan, especially of drama and comedy, so am always on the lookout for new shows and although I am probably not the usual demographic that watches the show or the demographic it was written for, I found myself really enjoying it.

The show drew me in

To me, great TV shows are based on fantastically written characters. I am in awe of writers who can write characters that draw you in to a show. A great show and great characters are those that don’t need big events to happen all the time to keep the attention of the audience. I don’t watch shows for events and situations that the characters find themselves in, I watch them, to go on a journey with the characters I like.

When I heard the title ‘Gilmore Girls’ it conjured up an image in my head that was different to the show I actually sat down to watch. The show is based around a mother and daughter doing life together, battling the complexity of growing up, family and relationships. I found the two main characters to be real and funny but the main thing that drew me in was their relationship, which is expertly acted and written.

Good dialogue

After every episode of the “Gilmore Girls’ I want to watch another. In many episodes nothing groundbreaking actually happens, but I want to get to know the characters better and learn more about them. I think the show would be a great one to watch for any aspiring TV writer. Dialogue can be one of the hardest things to get right, but in ‘Gilmore Girls’ they nail it. The focus on character is just brilliant as well and is a reminder to any wannabe writer to really make sure you know your characters inside and out, before attempting writing dialogue or story arcs.

So this show would be my Netflix tip of the week. I have got quite a few shows on the go already but this one has drawn me in and jumped the queue. Give it a go and I think it might become regular viewing. After a hard day it is not a taxing watch and is great to watch to unwind.

Only be swayed by the truth

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One thing that annoys me a lot at the moment, is how people seem to be so easily swayed and impacted by the way news companies frame news stories. You could see stories about the same event on 5 different news websites and each will be framed differently.

Framing

Framing means the way people present something. The actual event that happened doesn’t change, just a news company will write about that event in a certain way that they think will a) appeal to their audience b) grab attention and c) tie in with the political views of the news company as a whole.

It’s like the coverage of the murder of Jo Cox last week. The facts of the event were – Jo Cox went to work, was walking in public and was murdered. You can argue all day long about the motives, the reasoning’s and what led it to happen but to try and explain it away is just plain wrong. Lets start talking about events and news stories for what actually happened, lets not try and sanitize it or use it to push an agenda.

Reporting

Murder is illegal and wrong. A person being killed is sad. It is so hard for the truth to out these days in situations and that is mainly because there are so many half-truths and out right lies out there, which are being reported on as if they were facts. If something bad happened to you or I, I would want the truth to out. I wouldn’t want my death to be used to benefit a political agenda.

Scare mongering and fear in this country has been created out of nothing by the media. The way the media reports news (especially in the last few weeks) has just fuelled hatred within our society, made a society of angry people and caused division. If news were just about facts rather than opinion and agenda, society would be in a much better place than it is today.

I hope that we become wise to what the news is doing to us soon and that a campaign is started again for real news and factual news. The news has too much power in our world; it shapes the way we think and how we react to things. The news knows how much power it has; we just need to find a way to lessen the power it has over our lives.

Media relations

At the moment I am doing the media rounds for my book “Unbreakable Bond.” So over the space of 5 days, I have 3 radio interviews with prominent local stations across the South West of England.

My first interview was yesterday on BBC Radio Cornwall, then this Saturday I am on Phonic FM in Exeter and then finishing up on Monday on CHBN in Truro. This is the busiest little media patch I have had in a little while and I am very much enjoying it.

You never know who is listening

The thing with being interviewed on radio is you never know who is listening. A five-minute interview could lead to lots of new interest for my book, or it might not do anything for it. The question I have to ask myself then is – are doing radio interviews worthwhile if it doesn’t lead to further sales of the book?

Through my printing and distribution companies I can track every time someone purchases my book and where they purchase it. Sadly the thing I can’t find out is what triggered the person to buy the book. If a book is sold just after a radio interview – is it coincidence or was someone listening? If a book is purchased a month after a radio interview – was it because someone just remembered about that interview they listened to with me or listened to it again on a catch-up service?

Don’t be disheartened

It can be disheartening when you invest your time to do a bit of media and it doesn’t seem to have a knock on effect on sales. As this is what you want from the media exposure, you want more people to be reading the book. I think though that no matter if everyone or no one is listening, it is still worthwhile as I believe every piece of media you do contributes to the brand. Being on a TV show, Radio programme, newspaper or website gives your voice more of an authority and might lead you to getting another chance on another platform to talk about your product.

Being on a TV show or Radio programme gets people excited for you and gives you something to talk about and hype on your own social media feeds and websites. You don’t always want to be just continuously posting about your book, so posting about being on a TV show or Radio programme gives you an indirect way and a different way of promoting your book.

If you don’t say yes to opportunities you will never know where they might lead. Even if they lead nowhere at least you now know that, you have gained experience along the way and you may have made a contact or two.

Keeping the ball rolling

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It is now over a year since the launch of my book “Unbreakable Bond.” I am still as passionate as I was on launch day to get this book in to the hands of many people as possible. This has meant since early 2015 I have been keeping the ball rolling on the promotion of the book.

I have no promotion team or advertising budget, so every bit of attention I have to scrap for and I am willing to scrap. Every week I try to set aside a small manageable amount of time to dedicate to spreading the word about the book. It would have been so easy for me to just blitz the promotion at the start and then do nothing, but I think this slow and steady approach has paid dividends. I am seeing constant sales of the book and regular new avenues of promotion opening up.

Mental Health Foundation

It’s like this week the Mental Health Foundation featured a piece on my book, which was seen by thousands thanks to their social media promotion:

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/stories/my-mum-and-i-unbreakable-bond

This has lead to the book getting back inside the Top 10 on Amazon for its category, which is amazing. With my hard work and the support of others this book isn’t fizzling out or going away, which I am immensely proud of.

Features

I also have features coming up later this year in the Dementia Care Journal (a leading Dementia publication) and some local radio stations. Even though each week there isn’t a new article somewhere about my book, there is always something going on behind the scenes.

At the moment I am building some great relationships with important and influential people in the dementia world, which I hope will lead to great fruit in the months and years to come. Publicising something is a game that you have to keep the right mind to each week. Some weeks you get lots of support and activity because of your work and some weeks you don’t but you need to work your hardest each week regardless of what the outcome is, as it is only by doing this that great results come.

I am forever thinking of and finding new ways to promote the book and I hope that for years to come that this book continues to be a relevant and a used tool to help people currently caring for people with dementia.

To buy my book or find out more about it go to www.unbreakablebond.co.uk

Trying to promote something for Plymouth

As I have blogged about in the past, I am currently helping out with a company called Plymouth Wrestling Association. This April on the 17th we have our biggest show of the year, featuring a main event that will see a world title defended for the first time in Plymouth and the first time an active world champion has come to perform in Plymouth. This I believe is big news for the city and a history-making event.

Sadly so far the press has been slow to respond to it. My motivation for wanting everyone in the city to know about this event is not just about numbers through the door, it is about getting big events, big stars and history making nights happening in the city of Plymouth more regularly. Without the support of the press and the people, this will not happen.

Growing the entertainment scene in Plymouth

I am proud of the city and to be part of the city. I want the entertainment scene in this city to be vibrant across all ranges of entertainment. I want to be able to go on the Internet and find interesting things to do in Plymouth every night, not just some nights. I think sometimes people just expect things to happen and to keep on happening, but the problem is they wont without our support. This is why I do my best where I can to support and attend events happening in our community.

Wrestling may not be your cup of tea or you may not know anything about wrestling but I assure you, if you give us a chance and come to our show, you will go home after being thoroughly entertained. For our show at the Plymouth Guildhall on the 17th of April not only are we bringing in world champion Drew Galloway but we are also bringing in the best wrestlers from around the UK. The caliber of talent on the show will not be matched anywhere else in the city or the surrounding areas.

A big investment for Plymouth

Unlike a comedy night or a concert where there is just one or a few entertainers this show will feature 15+ entertainers and you get this all from £10 a ticket, which is extraordinarily good value. The show is a big investment to put on for the city and is coming out of the pockets of Plymouth people to do it, so I would love people to come and show their support for the efforts that local people are putting in.

At Plymouth Wrestling Association we want to be a company the city can be proud of. We want to bring regular, affordable, entertainment to the city, which is produced with excellence in mind. We are proud of the city we are in and we hope to be a company that the city continues to be proud of.

To find out more about Plymouth Wrestling Association and to buy tickets to our super show go to: www.plymouthwrestling.co.uk

Dealing with expectations

Recently I have watched as we have evolved in to a world and society where we have the highest expectations of what everything needs to be but less chance of things actually meeting those expectations. We all think we could do better than others and deserve more than we have. We all think we could do a better job than our boss or would run the company that we work for differently. When something or someone fails to meet our expectations we start to chastise or give up on the thing or person who has failed to meet our self-created expectations.

The problem with choice

Take TV for instance, because there are so many shows now available to us at the push of a button, that choice has made us picky and expect more. No longer is it ok for a show to be good and entertaining, it has to be better or different than anything else out there. It is a shame because not many people actually take the time to sit down and invest in anything, which people aren’t raving about. Don’t get me wrong it is good that there is that push for shows to be better but who decides what is better or best? Who decides what is a good programme for someone to watch?

Next take football for instance and for this I would like to look at my favourite team, Arsenal. This year the normal top teams in the league aren’t doing as well as in previous seasons like Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, this had led to many fans thinking Arsenal should be winning the league but they aren’t. Arsenal have no more right to win the league than any other but currently seem to be under more pressure than any because of the expectations.

Trying to succeed

Trying to succeed in a more expectant society is very difficult. It’s even harder when it is coupled with a world of people who seem to want to complain more than they praise and now they have many more ways to do it thanks to Smartphones, social media and so on.

I could sadly see a world one day where people stop trying to create or achieve because the weight of expectations and negativity is crippling. You don’t want to make success easy because then it’s not worth anything but the worst thing this world could do is stop people from trying.

Building something with honesty

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I started this blog in the summer of 2014, in the hope to build a place where people would come to be inspired, stirred, provoked and to make people think about many different facets of life. Two years on and over 150 blog posts later I am still here trying to do the same things that I started doing two years ago.

Is this blog an Internet sensation with millions of hits – no! Is it doing as well as I hope it would – probably not. Do I still enjoy what I do and believe in what I do – 100% yes.

Fake it to make it

I could come on here and lie and say it is going great guns, put a spin on it using fancy words or not mention anything about how many people the blog is reaching. To me doing any of that wouldn’t be real and would be lying. So many people sign up to the ‘fake it to make it’ philosophy in life and it makes me sad. What have I got to gain by trying to say this is a blog, which is visited by millions? Everyone with an Internet connection has the possibility of one day stumbling across this blog and I really hope they do, but until they do I am just going to keep writing, keep hoping and keep smiling.

The people who have to talk about their audience and numbers are normally the ones that are disappointed by their numbers, whereas I am proud of the 6 people who read this blog yesterday. Yes 6, I’ll admit it, but I am so thankful that those 6 people did, as thankful as if 6 million people had. Things that have a big following normally don’t need to talk about their audience and people just know.

Not worrying about numbers

I would rather just focus on putting out content that I am happy with and proud of than worrying about writing for numbers. Like on Monday I wrote about the extra day we get every four years, not expecting much response at all and I got 4 likes which blew me away.

I could pay for advertising but I just don’t see paying for an audience as a success. I want people to read what I write and be touched by it. I want to feel great when I see people reading and interacting with my blog, not just think that people only came became because I paid for them to come, where is the success in that?

Foundation blocks

I see every blog post as a foundation block. My house may take 500 blocks to build, it may take 50,000 but what I am going to do is invest time in each one and build each one as strong as the last. My advice to every blogger out there is be proud of the content you produce, as good content is the only thing you can control and the only thing you should need to be proud of.

Never stop writing or blogging because the size of your audience wasn’t what you were hoping it would be. Keep writing because your content is what you hoped it would be.