A passion for for photography and digital communication with a background at the BBC and ITV.
Currently director at the School Media Club making cinema films for schools and working for Oblong Leeds a community development organisation. Also a member of All Saints Church in Ilkley and involved with communications in the parish.
This blog features posts about photography including some of my photos, while the media posts will include thoughts about filmmaking and online media - particularly to do with PR activities.
School Media Club
Category Archives: Tips
I’m sure that journaling our stories through images consistently and over the long term will lead to an invaluable resource. A catalogue of images that truly reflect our organisation’s values and activities can help celebrate achievements and protect our future.
I’ve been working with the Woodhouse Community Centre in Leeds and a number of local churches in Bradford to improve the presentation of their communities online.
The one big stumbling block, it seems to me, is the availability of decent images. Community organisations are about people, what they do and how they relate to each other. The use of images can show who you are and what you do much more powerfully than endless paragraphs of explanation.
Text heavy websites or magazines are simply not going to be engaging enough for the majority of people these days. Of course we do our best to find images we can use but they are often of poor quality and don’t represent the range of people and activities in our communities.
The safeguarding issues around children often mean that children are not represented on websites at all, or at least very little. The photos we use rarely represent smaller groups where the presence of a camera may be intrusive.
The absence of images can make us invisible – for example whenever my wife an I go on holiday you’d think she went on her own by the absence of photos of me! Our churches may seem to be populated by older people who stand in rows smiling and looking towards the camera but not actually doing anything.
If we are going to do this properly we’ll need three things in place.
- A policy for obtaining photos and using them online. This means understanding what we can and can’t show, how we obtain permission and what the copyright rules are, among other things.
- People who know what they are doing – i.e. photographers who understand the rules, the needs of the website and how to take a decent photo. Publishers who know the history of the photos and can make good decisions about how they are used.
- A place to store and catalogue the photos so they can be accessed by the people who need them.
Here I’m going to suggest that we use Flickr to store and catalogue images. It’s only a suggestion and I’m open to any other thoughts about how to manage an accessible library of images for use on the web and other publications.
Heres a video. To see it properly you may need to use the ‘full screen’ button bottom right of the player.
For anyone devising a social media campaign you can do worse that re-visit Social Pulpit Barak Obama’s Social Media Toolkit. I know that maybe you’re not running for world domination just yet but there are a few pearls in it.
This ancient toolkit is well documented and discussed, and maybe you’re already familiar with it but if not here’s the gist.
Laddering support through tiers of engagement
They become a follower, engage with the discussion, join a group, then become an advocate.
Offering further support to the committed advocates – the connectors
Providing source materials for user-generated content
Videos, speeches, photos and how-to guides
Going where the people are
Concentrate on the most influential networks and use tools and language people are familiar with.
Ensuring that people can find your content
Making the content discoverable.
Mobilising supporters through mobile devices
Mobile is now an even more essential part of the mix.
Constantly listening and improving outreach materials.
Essentially it’s about giving people on the ground the resources and tools, and trusting them to spread the word.
I’m writing these notes because I’ve been having discussions with our media volunteers in Woodhouse about sourcing images on the internet, so I hope this will be helpful.
Finding great images for the website or for other publications is, of course, really important. excellent visual content can engage, inspire and communicate in a very powerful way.
Many websites are let down by the choice and presentation of images. If you don’t gave the confidence or opportunity to take great images yourself, then there are free resources you may be able to use.
Downloading image from the internet is easy to do but stealing work and breaking copyright is quite wrong. However there are many high quality images you can download for free under Creative Commons licensing. This means the owner is giving you some rights to use the image – perhaps in a non commercial setting or with a credit. You will need to be aware of what rights the creator is offering. Otherwise other people’s images can only be used with their permission.
For a full explanation of Creative Commons and a search tool for finding images and other media you can use here is a link to -
Creative Commons Search
At Oblong Leeds where I spend half my time, we were having an email crisis. The number of emails circulating takes more time to deal with that the time available. We discussed possible solutions and I’ve produced a digest of some of the points.
We each receive about 5o emails a week – all of which have a reasonable level of importance. My other business activities probably double the amount and so this is a very real issue. Not only is the volume of emails frustrating, but you can actually put a financial cost on the amount of time these things consume. It seems reasonable therefore that we should all make an effort to write emails with care and see them as costly.
or read them here…
Do you need to send an email at all?
- Reduce the number of emails you send.
- Speak to the the person/group instead.
- Can the issue wait until the staff meeting?
- Would other communication tools be more appropriate or effective? Google doc, text message, facebook, the website?
Who actually needs to read the email?
- Only send an email if it is relevant to every recipient.
Will they immediately get what you’re on about?
- Put the most important information in the first paragraph.
- Make clear whether the email is sent for action or information.
- Make it clear what action is required – make bold of different colour.
- Avoid abbreviations and assumptions about what readers will understand.
- Structure is important so give it some thought.
Is the subject and nature of the email really clear?
- A clear topic line and a short opening paragraph which makes the topic clear and what is being expected of the recipient. Position important information like this at the beginning of the message.
- Use short paragraphs to make them more readable. Stick to an economical business style as much as possible.
- One topic per email.
- Avoid multiple topics in one email.
- Use the subject line effectively.
- Think of flags in the subject line ACTION, URGENT, KEEP (don’t over use).
- For short messages just use the subject line ending with EOM (end of message).
Can you find the email by searching for it?
- Make the subject searchable – use key words, project titles etc.
- Cut the clutter
- Discussion strings can be confusing with information buried a long way down. Edit if this makes it clearer.
- Take time to check and edit down the email.
Tone of voice and style
- Anger and emotion should be avoided in an email. Use neutral, professional language and tone. Don’t use email to tell someone off.
- Try not to mix styles of email. An email for factual reference need not be cluttered with a chatty opening.
- Do this for clarity even if you are busy, it’ll save other people’s time.
- Avoid answering emails immediately, build in thinking time.
- Do not expect recipients to deal with an email straight away.
- We might, though, expect a short acknowledgement of receipt.
- Get closure on email discussions as quickly as possible.
- Check emails at regular intervals across the week.