Be Nice: Why the IndyRef campaign needs a ‘Señor Love Daddy’
We all have a breaking point. Mine came when I heard that Scotland ‘may’ have to reapply to the Commonwealth in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote. On hearing this I started flailing like a kid in the cereal aisle because (however you feel compelled to vote) search your soul and ask, ‘who cares about being a member of the Commonwealth?’. It’s right up there with, ‘are we eating enough lemons as a nation?’.
Both IndyRef campaigns are throwing a ton of cash at political advisors and marketing experts to swing the votes their way, but the debate thus far simply hasn’t been had in a way that’s conducive for point and counter point to be aired in a fair way. Instead what we’ve heard, read and watched in the conventional outlets can be classed as a political bunfight between Edinburgh lawyers; polite, snooty and with all the emotional impact of a weak handshake.
Meanwhile over in Twitter-shire, holy good christ, things have gone mental. You only have to mention ‘Indy’, ‘Cameron’, ‘Salmond’ and receive enough abuse that would make a troll blush. So unless the campaigns plan to hand out goats to combat the trolls I have a few suggestions. I’m not an expert in marketing, politics or even media for that matter. I am however a consumer, a voter and a producer so I know enough. I’m also a practitioner of the now dark art that is ‘Common Sense’, so read on.
What follows is a couple of ideas for both camps. I felt compelled to do my bit as the way you’re both acting is driving me to drink; and with pub prices as they are, I’ll soon be skint. So lets begin:
Like my gran used to say, “if you haven’t got anything nice to say then keep your mouth shut”. The language being used by the official campaigns and their respective supporters taints the air, so stop it.
Why use derogatory terms to describe someone you disagree with? Or even worse, use a tone which is laced with insincerity and arrogance? It just undermines your point, so be nice. Kill with kindness. If someone is disagreeing with you respect their opinion and simply redirect voters to use Google to discover whether or not they’re accurate or talking nonsense. Trust us to decide for ourselves.
And stop acting like there’s ‘a dog in the playground’ every time the other side says or does something. Trust us to recognise who and what makes sense. We’re more than capable of deciphering if there’s a whiff of mince in the air.
Be fair and don’t patronize. Please realize that whatever the outcome we’ll have to live here afterwards. There’s been far too much ‘we know what’s best for you’ towards voters, which is like someone sneezing and not covering their mouth. It’s mingin’. But we’ll get to that in a bit.
Control the fanbase
One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard didn’t come from a media guru or a political mastermind but rather, a mum who (shouting at another mum for the unruly behaviour of her kids) uttered: “Get yer bloody wanes under control!”. If you take anything away from this piece PLEASE let it be those six words! It hits home in such a concise way that it’s refreshing to hear when uttered aloud.
So campaign managers please, HAUL IN THE WANES!!
You know who I mean: over-exuberant, twitchy typists who will happily fire abuse at anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Folk, who instead of constructing an argument or counterpoint will happily sit behind a keyboard and post mince masquerading as ‘truth’. This guys and gals does nothing to win over floating voters and only entrenches the other-side into thinking what a howling shit you are, so stop it. If you can’t formulate a construction of words into a coherent line of 140 characters then please stop.
I want a debate, an argument (in the old sense of the word; opposing positions trading points to further our understanding and development) but in a respectful manner with a bit of character. The faces of the campaigns wouldn’t persuade me to buy a secondhand Volvo from them let alone my vote in favour of their cause. Their armchair but enthusiastic supporters described above have the same effect. At times, whether I’m watching the news or reading comments online, I feel like Señor Love Daddy, shouting at folk to relax and take a minute to think. It’s a Spike Lee thing.
Who gets the ice cube tray?
In terms of policy so far I know, that we ‘may’ have to apply for NATO membership, that we ‘could’ be forced to take the Euro if we join the EU and that is ‘if’ we have to apply for membership. Basically I know nothing because nothing has been decided and agreed upon because neither side(s) wishes to show their ‘hands’ for fear of tipping an advantage to the opposing side.
This arrogance with our decision and our future is danced by both campaigns and both governments, which is disgusting. Cameron refuses to enter into final stage discussions on what a future Scotland would look like and Salmond won’t unless Cameron does. So where does that leave you and I? Sandwiched and confused between two opposing forces that simply refuse to divulge the full facts. It’s a circle of misdirection and half-truths that needs to be smashed.
So, as it’s deer season, I propose a cull. Not of politicians (although if such a license was granted I’d imagine that the system which would allocate such permits would crash from the sheer volume of applications) but of evasive language. Words like ‘could’, ‘maybe’ and ‘possibly’ need disposed of as they carry the same amount of currency and weight as a drachma. They provide nothing but uncertainty and a void with which to fill suggestion, so lets get shot of them.
Use: ‘will’, ‘guarantee’, ‘promise’ and ‘deliver’. Don’t ask me what it is about ‘deliver’ that makes me smile, it just does. These are all hopeful, confidence inspiring words that demonstrate that you (campaigns) have a grasp of facts. If my life would be better enhanced within the UK then tell me how? If my life would be better enhanced outside the UK then tell me how? It’s not rocket science. Tell me the facts, dress it up a bit if you want to make it look pretty but give me numbers, I can take it. But in terms of the guess work and the evasive language outlined above, stop it.
The ‘Shuggy’ Factor
Both campaigns are based in Glasgow but your running them, and therefore the vote, like its a by-election in Trumpton. Both of you need someone who can speak to two types: that fabled ‘man in the street’ and the Governor of the Bank of England, in equal measure.
Basically you both need a ‘Shuggy’. What do I mean by a Shuggy? Simple: someone who is down to earth, approachable and would be able to order you a pint without uttering, “Excuse me my goodman”. A guy or a gal from the street. Someone who has passion, intelligence and experience that can be conveyed to people with ease. Unlike the current batch of mouthpieces that have no interest except their own career within party politics.
If such a person exists in your campaign then put them to work explaining your case. It’s embarrassing to watch the current batch of spokes folk/supporters stating your case as they have all the warmth of Pingus boaby; and trying to get a fact from them is like nailing jelly to a wall.
Coordinate campaign releases. If you choked on an oatcake while reading that my apologies, but think about it. What happens when (X) puts out a press release? You counter with a boilerplate release and the voter just sits and stays entrenched in their already decided position. And, please, if you think that a voter will be swayed by a press release on a Friday afternoon that (I don’t know) GRAIN prices would increase in the result of a Yes vote OR we’ll have domestic leprechauns in the event of a No vote, then please, pass whatever you’ve been smoking as I’d like a hit.
Coordinating a release will allow each side to counter with a measured, calculated and articulate response that contains facts. All in all please do something different, both of you, cause the way it’s going is not intelligent, constructive and quite frankly not Scottish.
Nontraditional avenues into media work. Or, ‘how to get a gig’.
If you’re aged 18 to 30, then according to Gordon Gekko, we’re the “NINJA Generation”. That being that we have: no income, no job and no assets. Few would argue with this view.
Jobs are scarce and opportunities for paid training in media are thin on the ground. Add into this already saturated jobs market a stream of graduates leaving the protection of university, and it only gets worse.
On the surface it looks all doom and gloom and without much cause to get excited, but actually, there’s never been a better time to exercise a bit of that old punk ethos of DIY and create your own work.
I’ve outlined 4 areas that could be handy if you want to get yourself and your ideas noticed. They’re not foolproof but each of them does possess a modicum of common sense, which is always the best place to start. Sound good? Read on..
This will depend upon the idea and/or service you can offer a company. But knowing WHO to strike up a conversation with is key; no point asking the Head of Human Resources if your idea/service is for a commercial application. This is where social media comes in handy so pay attention 007. Search for a company on Twitter/Linkedin. Once they appear, drill down into the results and you’ll be amazed at the amount of job profiles and names that appear! And if just one of them is the chap or chap-ess you’re after, then it was worth it.
At this point, getting yourself a decent email address might be handy, as emailing the Head of TimeWarner with the email address ‘spankxmarcel@emaildotcom probably won’t land you a return! I recommend Gmail.
This is still, hands down, the best way to get yourself noticed and it helps keep your writing, editing, publishing and marketing skills sharp. Make anything but make something. A podcast, a 3 minute interview on camera, a short blog, a cake, whatever. Just go through the motions of making something that can be enjoyed by an audience. Cakes in particular!
Editing software for both audio and video are pretty cheap and some phones now come with software already installed, so there’s no excuse. Outside of that, talk to your local college of further education about gaining access to facilities; the worst they can say is no. For sound editing the best freebie out there is still Audacity BUT if you want the best DAW (digital audio workstation) available then check out Reaper.
The guys who made it operate a ‘goodwill box’ at checkout; so if you’re a student you pay about $60 and if you’re a professional then it’ll set you back about $225. It doesn’t get any fairer than that. For visuals there’s a myriad of editing platforms so shop around for the cheapest.
In terms of platforms to hold your content, iTunes is still the best ‘window’, but, you will need to find and set up a ‘host site’; basically an online storage site that will work with iTunes. I use PodBean which sets me back about $16 a month, but shop around. There’s also Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Audioboo all of which come with pay and upgrade options but are free at entry, and of course there’s YouTube too.
If no one knows about you, what you do and what your products are, then the battle is half lost. You have to be able to get your ‘stuff’ to market. For this, again, social media is invaluable but don’t exclude traditional methods too. Business cards, badges and stickers are just as popular as sending a tweet, and I’d argue, more effective in making a connection. In 54 weeks of trading I’ve ordered badges and stickers 3 times and business cards only once. Free badges. Always a winner!
Network (or as it used to be known, talk to folk)
As buzzwords and jargon go, the application of the term ‘to network’ has been used to such a degree that the sheer utterance of the word makes me pull a face similar to the one I pull when someone scrapes their nails on a chalkboard! My own grumble aside, you have to do it. Although call it what it is: talking to people at events. Simples, as the meerkat in the rather jaunty house coat would say.
At media events you’ll realize two things: (1) people behind titles ACTUALLY have faces and are quite personable and (2) they’re always up for talking and drinking. The latter particularly!
If you can’t talk to folk whether they be strangers or friends then you’re pretty much snookered in the media industry; and your only hope for employment will be reserved to such human friendly endeavors as driving buses. You have been warned!
Aside from that, just be yourself and keep your chin up. Whatever happens just remember that worse things happen at sea. Proof? That phrase came from an incident of cannibalism in a life-raft in the North Atlantic. See what I mean?
Snow. Blackouts. Slow response from Radio Scotland.
That pretty much describes the past week.
Instead of writing a new blog I thought I’d dust off something I wrote last year that sadly addresses the same problems: snow, blackouts and the slow response from Radio Scotland.
“Its been an interesting couple of days for radio. A huge low pressure moved in from the west and with it came winds in excess of 100mph. Roofs were blown off, wheelie bins emigrated and my neighbours cat joined the Paras. The electricity supply to my island and 99,999 other homes was ‘disrupted’ for over three days.
This presented some problems for those affected, but living on an island presents two major problems unique from the mainland experience; communication and logistics. When the power went off, it stayed off. Just like our ferry after 8:30pm at night, after that we were on our own. Kinda cool, but also kinda scary.
The only source of timely, relevant and up to date info I had came not from my Mac or iPhone (no lightbulb juice = no charge), but my battery powered radio. Yes, such things still exist!
Picture the scene: First Night Of The Cut – dark room but for a red light glowing from a Sony battery powered radio. Alas, salvation! Information on what happened, information on when it’ll be back on and god forbid some tunes in between….hazzar!
Well not quite.
At this point I should say that my island, surprise, surprise is at sea level, and doesn’t receive a lot of signal above 99 on the dial; so no commercial content, just the beeb.
“Not to worry though” Andy thought, Radio Scotland will be on the ball with live content, a guy in the hills with the engineers working on the leccy supply. Maybe another bloke at the council office reassuring folk that all is well and that you’re not cut off. But no. Nothing. Just the same schedule and the same prerecords.
Now, I enjoy hearing about early ninetieth century chin fiddle designs in Nova Scotia just as much as the next chap (this wasn’t actually on but you know what I mean) and I love hearing midmorning chats on how to prevent baldness. But when 100,000 homes are experiencing the worse blackout for over 40 years it may be an idea to cut to live and shake up the schedule to mirror the events.
Our local shops overnight stripped their window displays and put out front their candles, blankets and torches. What people needed to have. They adapted. So when radio comes into the fore as the only accessible medium for communication with the outside world it would have been a comfort to all if Radio Scotland had followed suit.
When parents have no hot water to wash their wanes (Scottish kids), or when the elderly living on their own have no means of communicating with the outside world cause the TV is dead, radio should and must come to the fore to inform people as to what is happening.
Connection is our business. Intimacy is our business. If we don’t deliver on it we’re doing something wrong.
Radio Scotland had an enormous opportunity to educate, entertain and inform (I’m sure I read that somewhere). And while my comments here and on Twitter may land me in stick when it comes time to apply for a gig at PQ, I stand by them.
My three nights in the dark with very little communication with the outside world made me think quite clearly about what radio should be.
If I wasn’t committed enough before the blackout to work in the industry, I am today.”
Why Scottish football needs a bartender from South Philly
I think we can all agree that Scottish football is in a bit of a state. I wrote this last year and thought with the current debacles of clubs going under, financial blackholes et al. I thought I’d dust it off.
Admittedly it’s not media/radio/stuff but I had a thought, so I blogged.
Have a swatch..
So here we are.
Having been away from the game for 14 years I’m coming back to this with fresh eyes. And from what I can see, things haven’t changed. In fact cathartically the tumor of riches, mixed results and relying on foreign mercenaries (which was malignant when I was a child) has finally crippled the patient. It simply beggars belief that you can try and run a business when you’re paying a team six figure salaries per week, when you don’t have anywhere near that revenue coming through the gates. Regardless of the ever increasing cost to the faithful supporter who, each weekend, drags himself through a turnstile and forks out a fortune to see a half filled stadium, viewing a team of non-locals play a tepid game with another batch of foreigners for 3 points.
Now this piece isn’t about foreign players.
They’ve brought plenty to the Scottish game, but with their inclusion on the team sheet, for 3 times the cost, the local talent, and believe me its out there, hasn’t got a hope in hells chance of breaking through. And yeah I know there’s ‘recruitment drives’ and ‘youth teams’ but we all know that in a starting line up an O’Connor or Smith won’t be picked over an Argento or Vlaskov.
Back in the NFL during the 70‘s.
The Philadelphia Eagles were at rock bottom as was the country. Strikes and recession were the norm (sound familiar?). The team brought in a new coach who decided to open up training to locals, a team try out kind a thing, as a way of reinvesting local enthusiasm for the team.
From that a single player was chosen.
A 30 year old bartender called Vince Papale. He was fast. I mean really fast. He wasn’t a pro, he didn’t necessarily have the same experience as the other players but he had something that the rest didn’t. Heart. He along with the coach united the team and the fans and they found their soul again; to play not necessarily great football, but their best and to let the chips fall where they may.
What’s the NFL got in common with the SPL?
Not much. Their league works and every fan of a respective team is a passionate die hard who will cheer and fight for their teams in rain, hail and snow. The Eagles stadium has a jail in it. THATS how passionate these fans are!
Okay get to the point Andrew.
Football is more than trophies in the cabinet and owning prima donna players who’s surnames end in vowels. Its about four jumpers on a pitch of grass or on a slab of chipped tarmac in front of a council estate garage. Its about getting together with your mates and playing. Running till your lungs burn and your legs ache with tiredness. Tackling till your trousers are greens with grass stains and hacking till your shins are gashed and bloodied. Playing in the warm afternoon sun or the cool darkening evenings, football connects.
In those 90 minutes it doesn’t matter who you are.
You could be the rich kid or the poor kid. A catholic or a protestant. When you’re with your mates smacking ten colours of shit out of an apposing team its glorious and accepting. Somewhere along the line, the clubs lost that. They got seduced with the money, the promise of outside investment and the promise of outside talent. With this the fans got outside prices and outside stadium views as they’ve been priced out of the games.
So here’s what I propose.
For each team in the SPL not just Rangers or Celtic but all of them. Find YOUR Vince Papale cause he’s out there. Find someone from the community and bring together your team and the fans. Bring the passion back to the game. Bring the unpredictability back to the game.
Cut wages and cut prices.
Only when a working man can take his kid to a game and still have change for an ice cream on the way home can you call yourself a team that serves a community; your original modus of operandi. Your very reason for being.
If you do this maybe we won’t get the same style of football that hired guns on six figures a week can give and maybe the quality could suffer. But in return you’ll have what all businesses need, a consumer. A dedicated, committed, passionate soul who’ll bring his kid through a turnstile every single week.
At this stage its worth a punt.
And, we’re in!
For the next six months Crabbit, along with several other creative startups, will be sharing a beautiful wee nook of The Hub, thanks to those wonderful people at Digital Enterprise Glasgow.
Right next to BBC Scotland, STV, the Science Centre, Capital FM and Film City, The Hub, is an excellent opportunity for us all to operate within the city limits and be at the heart of Scotland’s creative sector.
We’re all new, we’re all here and we’re all working away on day one already. Opportunities like this are very few and far between and I’m sure we all know just how bloody lucky we are to be here.
So, coffee down, tools up and in my best Govanese, ‘lets gee this a wack!’.
I decided to implement an idea that’s been rattling around my head for long and weary; creating an audio trail of the island.
Basically short audio clips that tourists can access on their phones and hear brief historical information about a certain location.
It’s only a prototype at this stage but any future revisions could have sound effects, higher production values; as it is, I simply researched, recorded, edited and published it all in a few hours.
As such I’m really keen to hear your views on it all. Good idea, bad idea, like or not like, other areas of interest to cover etc. if you’ve got a view on it let me know!
That said, this approach is an innovative way of delivering historical information in a consumable fashion and could be an asset to the island.
Here’s a link to our audio account on Soundcloud if you’d like to hear the audio, https://soundcloud.com/crabbit-sparra
Orange Jumpsuits and RT’s
Good news. I’m not getting sued!
Lord McAlpine has decided not to sue Twitter users (with under 500 followers) who retweeted Sally Bercows tweet concerning him. Not my smartest move and one which I forgot until a nice gentleman from The Times contacted me looking for my thoughts on it.
Have you ever dropped an Irn Bru bottle? They make a distinctive noise when hitting concrete as the shards fly left, right and upwards towards the otherwise occupied ceiling fan. That’s what I heard in my head when my bottle dropped and I started thinking about what I had done.
It was brief, it lasted for all of five minutes and consisted of me trying to visualize a brief stint at H.er M.ajesties P.leasure Greenock and the realization that I look hellish in orange, let alone an entire jumpsuit.
That soon past though for two reasons.
One: my inner Clash fan who adorned with mohawk, looks forward to challenging authority, reassured me that with hundreds of folk retweeting the tweet, there was safety in numbers.
How can you sue hundreds of people? It just didn’t make sense!
And two: I’ve always been a responsible Twitter user, I’ve had legal training on using such platforms and as such surely I wouldn’t, couldn’t, have tweeted something which could have broken the law? “Inconceivable” as the man says!
I thought then I still do that her tweet was cheeky. But criminal? No. Hence why I retweeted it.
That said, it now looks as though that’ll be for a judge to decide and as such, I should shut up.
But it got me thinking, as all good lessons should, with regards to how we’re held to account over what we say, do and conduct ourselves over electronic communications. It may be characters on a screen but it’s a publishing platform with a global audience and as such it should be used responsibly.
I’m not for a second suggesting a charter of conduct but rather we should always employ that near extinct instinct: common sense.
A good rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t say anything on Twitter that you wouldn’t say in front of your Nan. A friend of mine also compared it to being on mic in a radio studio. Either way they both serve as a valuable momentary pause before you hit ‘Tweet’.
What comes of the case and what the ramifications are only time will tell. For me (with all the training I thought I had to stop me from doing such a thing!) it’s been a valuable warning shot across the bow on how I use social media.
I’ve learned my lesson, have you?
Procedure Exists For A Reason: The 2DayFM ‘Prank Call’
So here’s what we know: a call was made from a radio station to a hospital and medical information was given to the presenters who were pretending to be someone they weren’t.
The result? The usual media introspection and scoffing that what they did was daft, not really funny, but it was successful in that it got them publicity and a lead in every news outlet from Lerwick to Jersey.
Then, tragedy. A nurse who gave medical information over the phone was found to have committed suicide. To call this horrific would be a gross understatement.
Now the fallout. Was her suicide as a result of the phone call? Should the two presenters be stripped of their show and promptly fired? And was procedure followed?
Firstly, a confession. I work in media and I’m the son of a nurse, so whatever opinion I give it could be suggested that my view is skewed. But, it also gives me a perspective of understanding the emotional baggage they take home daily from the ward and how deeply they care and respect their patients.
My mum takes phone calls all the time from the family members of her patients and if I thought for a second that one was from a radio station aiming for a cheap laugh at my mums expense, I’d need bail money!
That said, was the call the cause of this tragic turn of events? I’ll let you decide that. Suffice to say the pitchfork mentality (rightly or wrongly) is in full swing now.
Over the weekend it was interesting to see the split in radio bod opinion on this as it seemed to be along the grounds of age and experience. The backroom staff of my age and younger, by in large, felt that the station and presenters weren’t at fault as they couldn’t possibly have seen how events would have unfolded. Whereas the older more experienced radio bods, by in large, felt that regs and procedure hadn’t been followed, that the call itself was more to humiliate than to entertain and as such, the presenters should be getting their jotters.
So, my view.
Should they get the sack? Yes.
Should they be made to wear a card around their necks from now on explaining what happened? No.
Why should they be fired? Simple. Procedure and paperwork wasn’t followed.
Following procedures, codes of practice, terms of broadcasting et al. is a must. It’s not something to airbrush over with comments that you tried to get approval “5 times” and then go ahead with a piece of content which is unsound. And it’s not the first time the station has aired content without conducting basic production work prior to broadcast.
To call it sloppy, piss poor production would be a compliment.
That said, they shouldn’t be hounded the way they are, they shouldn’t be bullied the way they are but they should be moved off mic permanently and either sacked (along with the legal advisers) or be kept on in a purely backroom production capacity.
Whatever the outcome neither side of the argument currently raging will be satisfied and as such there’s no conclusion in sight.
The whole thing is terribly sad.