Tackling comment spam (for free!)

My own website and a number of other websites I have built for clients are powered by the lovely WordPress. I find WordPress can give pretty much everything a small business needs from a website, especially if all you require is a simple set of information pages. I also love the fact that using WordPress makes it feel unnatural to have a static website. By putting blogging front and centre, it leads us away from the information dump website of the past, and towards a resource one that actually communicates what we’re doing right now and how our business is evolving.

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There’s one fly in my WordPress ointment though, and that’s spam comments on blog posts. A website I manage for a small local business is overrun with comments, ranging from the tedious to the offensive. Spam referring to prescription drugs, the sex trade and racially-aggravated abuse of anyone and everyone is frequent. Thankfully the site is already set up so that comments require manual approval before they appear, so this is an admin issue rather than a reputational one – but it’s an issue all the same as the number of comments runs into the hundreds each week. I hate that my client is having to pay me just to press ‘Mark as Spam’ and ‘Apply’ repeatedly for ten minutes before I actually do any work to promote their business.

Today I’ve been researching how to tackle this, but with an exciting element added to the mix – I have zero budget! This puts Akismet, the WordPress plugin commonly considered to be spam’s number one enemy, out of my sphere. So I thought I’d record my no-cost attempts so I can track their success and report that back – I’ll try a couple of things at a time so I can track their success.

Attempt number one comprises three basic tricks which I hope will dramatically reduce the volume of comments that I have to address each week. All of these settings are accessible via Settings / Discussion. 

  1. Automatically close comments on articles older than 30 days
    It’s not just new posts – many older articles are attracting hundreds of spam comments. Anyone with a genuine interest in an older article can still use the Contacts page.
  2. Blacklist some of the worst offenders
    I’ve listed the IP addresses of some of the worst repeat spammers in the Comment Blacklist box – this means comments from those IPs will go straight to the Bin. I’m sure they’ll just switch IPs, but it’s worth a try.
  3. Blacklist some words that commonly appear in spam comments
    No one with a genuine interest in my client’s work is going to be talking about viagra (it’s just not that kind of business!) Prescription drug ads make up a good proportion of the spam comments we receive. Blocking some of these words and brand names might kill some of the spam.

Over the last month I have had 200-300 spam comments per week. Implementing these simple measures has taken me about half an hour. Let’s see whether they make any difference to that total next week!

Thank you to WPBeginner for their very useful article 12 Vital Tips and Tools to Combat Comment Spam in WordPress which I used as the starting point for all my reading. More specific to my situation was Digging into WordPress’s article You Don’t Need Any Plugins to Stop Comment Spam.

Photo credit: Robert Hruzek at https://www.flickr.com/people/rhruzek 

What should I do about my unloved Facebook and Twitter presences?

Yellow footsteps on sidewalk towards Follow Me message

Social media sometimes feels like the be-all-and-end-all of marketing and communications nowadays, but really it’s still in its infancy. In my last post I talked about the immaturity of society’s relationship with social media, and recently I’ve been thinking more specifically about our professional obsession with it. People often talk about Facebook and Twitter in particular as something you ‘have to do’, especially to get a new business off the ground. I have a great example in mind for this – myself!

When I set up Start Talking last Christmas I (of course) set up Facebook and Twitter accounts to accompany my sparkly new website. The idea: connect with potential clients; drive traffic to my website; make interesting, informative posts to build a community around my business; showcase my awesome communications skills. Very nice.

Except that really I haven’t had much engagement on these two channels at all. I had a good go in the spring – I sourced links to blogs and articles, I created a free consultation offer, I pointed out interesting bits of my website, and I posted on local community pages and business forums. I kept up a regular stream of posts and I put as much effort in as I could afford to spend.

Between Christmas and early summer, I saw no more than a handful of likes, and all from my personal friends.

Inevitably, I stopped investing my time in Facebook and Twitter and directed it instead to my website and to LinkedIn. Lo and behold, these two channels have secured me business and potential client connections, both through former professional contacts and organically. Since early summer, I’ve had next to no activity on Facebook and Twitter, and I’ve seen no resultant slowdown in business or engagement. The conclusion? My audience is not on Facebook and Twitter. That’s not how they want to find my services.

So, what should we do when Facebook and Twitter aren’t working for us? People expect to see a presence on these two channels so it seems a pity to close the accounts down, especially as they’re up and running, and double-especially given the nature of my business. On the other hand it serves no one to have two dead accounts, out of date and contributing nothing, cluttering up the Twittersphere (and the Facebooksphere). They make me look bad as a Communications Consultant (!) but as a small business owner I can’t justify spending the time on something that’s not paying me back. That’s what I would tell a client and it’s what I’m telling myself.

The solution? I’m not sure yet. Over the next few weeks I’m going to work on building a Facebook presence that’s worthwhile and interesting and drives traffic to my website if anyone should happen upon it, but that doesn’t require any maintenance from me! If I get anywhere with this I’ll let you know. Meanwhile I’d love to hear your ideas via the comments box below. Never let it be said that there’s nothing left to learn!

 

Web 2.0 hits maturity: hope for a de-social-media-ification of the web

Web 2.0 is one of those terms that everyone uses but no one like to define. It’s been around for a long time (in popular use since 2004) and it’s time we understood that it’s not just one kind internet conceptof use for the web: it is the web.

Web 2.0 is the web made by us, the ordinary user, as opposed to being a repository of static information placed online by an organisation or authority. Wikipedia, blogs, eBay, YouTube – if this is the kind of place where you usually go to find information, entertainment and services online then Web 2.0 is your web.

Writing on the news and information website Lifewire, Daniel Nations sums up his broad definition of Web 2.0 as follows:

Most people generally have some idea that Web 2.0 is an interactive and social web facilitating collaboration between people.

This is distinct from the early, original state of the web (Web 1.0) which was a static information dump where people read websites but rarely interacted with them.

It’s hard to think of pure ‘Web 1.0’ sites nowadays. Small businesses with a very small online presence might still have a simple, non-interactive web page giving information and offline contact details, but they won’t be getting much business from that: if you want to attract custom online you need to involve existing and potential customers in the fabric of the purchase. I just bought my daughter a £2.50 t-shirt from the Marks and Spencer website and there are 40 reviews telling me how it fits, how it washes, and how the price compares to other retailers. Even the simplest business websites (like mine!) can incorporate user-generated comment, reviews and information online by including their Facebook or Twitter feeds.

This brings us on to social media in general – the behemoth of Web 2.0. Facebook and Twitter in particular have played, in my mind, the biggest role in revolutionising our relationship with the web and in making user-generated content central to how we operate online. This is because they are based on conversation – words, rather than visual media, were their original backbone, which gives them depth and diversity of use for different audiences and purposes (I’ll come back to YouTube and company later).

Online news sites show how integral this conversation has become. A quick look at the BBC news homepage today reveals a high proportion of front page stories born entirely from online conversations. These range from traditional reporting of old problems with a modern context (“Facebook ‘failed to remove sexualised images of children’“) to very modern stories being reported in the news but which have already unfolded entirely on social media (“Celine’s depression: ‘My selfies tell a story’“, “‘Say My Name’: The Chinese students fighting racism“).

Even more interesting is the story about Emma’s Watson’s controversial Vanity Fair cover, “Is Emma Watson anti-feminist for exposing her breasts?“. This is an article about a debate which was born on social media – a debate which would never have arisen without social media’s facilitation. The journalist picks up the issue and gives it academic analysis with comment by feminism researchers, but many of the quotes are still drawn from Twitter and the article finishes by asking for comment: “Are you a feminist? Has someone challenged whether you are a feminist because of something you’ve said, done or worn? Tell us about your experiences.” The user creates, then reads, then creates some more.

This kind of use of social media isn’t the problem – however important you think Emma Watson’s cleavage is (or isn’t), it’s an amazing thing that we can be so enmeshed with cultural debate, if we choose to be. The problem is that we mainly use social media for much more trivial purposes – for chats and arguments and logistical arrangements that should be conducted in private, whether online or in our living rooms.

Social media is no longer an add-on to what’s happening online. It is what’s happening. We need to realise that our online conversations are part of the great public conversation, and take our public chatting out of that. Where we engage in debate, we should do so knowing that we are contributing to public information on the topic – whether it be a product review, a comment on a news article, or this blog post!

I am no enemy of social media, but what I hate is the fact that it’s seen as a separate entity, rather than just a part of our online lives. As its integration into retail, news and everything else becomes cemented, my hope is that social media will lose the glamour of novelty, separate itself from our obsession with self-publication and become a channel for real public conversation once more.

This is happening to some extent. Snapchat, the channel of choice amongst young adults, doesn’t store information – it’s just for private chatting. I don’t use it – I’m far too old and uncool – but I like its immediacy and so do teenagers, who generally care less about posterity than they do about this Saturday night. YouTube and Flickr, meanwhile, are the grandparents of Snapchat – the old guard of Web 2.0. No one really uses them for conversation any more and that’s fine by me, because they have instead become directories, encyclopaedias of media.

Can we even use social media as an umbrella term any more? I’m not sure it’s useful when the purposes and potentials of these channels are so different.

Anyway, I hope the rise of Snapchat points the way we’re going, with personal and private conversation taken out of the public arena, leaving user-generated content in its rightful place – informing us and giving us access to free media and rich, diverse content. As Web 2.0 reaches maturity maybe we can all grow up too, and small talk can stay where it should have been all along – in private.

‘Social media’ is (I hope) dead – long live Web 2.0.

 

 

 

Telling the ‘story’: communicating emotion as well as information

I had a real success with my little daughter this week, and all because of a story.

She started nursery school for the first time a few weeks ago and although she loves being there and talks about it happily, the first 30 seconds where she has to leave me are hard for her (and for me too, to be honest). Each morning she’s been crying, clinging to me and begging me to come in and play too. I realised that she simply didn’t understand why she had to be there on her own.
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So I wrote her a story. The story described her arriving at her school, feeling sad, and then listening to Mummy explaining how school can be a special place. It showed her having a good day, being busy both with friends and all by herself, and then us being together again afterwards. It wasn’t complicated or lengthy and I’m no Julia Donaldson. But when I showed it to my daughter she loved it – she wanted to read it over and over again.

And then – here’s the magical bit – this morning when we went to school she acted it out! She did all the things she does in my story, saying, “Just like the story!” while she did them, and I played my parts too. We hung up her coat and backpack and she gave me a big kiss – just like in the story – and she went inside with no tears. It was fantastic.

We (and by ‘we’ I mean grown-ups) tend to use the word ‘story’ in two distinct circumstances: to mean either a piece of factual news journalism or a fictional tale told to children (check out the lengthy definition in the OED). Actually there can be a lot of crossover between the two, and some of the most powerful and persuasive communication can emerge from that crossover. In my story, I reported the facts of my daughter’s school life but then I added to that base from my imagination to make it interesting enough to engage her attention. A lot of what I described her doing was fiction – I don’t know the intricacies of what she does during the day, or the names of all the children she plays with – but the setting and the principles were real and this made the story experience real to her, so she was able to use it to get some perspective on her big feelings.

When writing marketing copy or creating an advertising campaign, if you start with the real ‘story’ of your product – the hard facts – then you’ve put down good, true foundations. You can build on those foundations to illustrate your product and create the imagined ‘story’ of how it works in the real world. When truth pervades your marketing, then everything, from stock photography right up to a big advertising campaign using actors, becomes illustration, rather than fabrication. It is this illustration which makes a product appealing to your audience’s emotions, and engages their attention.

I don’t think this is wishful thinking – I’m not trying to wriggle out of some of the criticisms levelled at marketing and advertising professionals. Instead I’m explaining how, in my opinion, sincerity can include fiction, not preclude it, if you start from honest foundations.

Creativity is so often lacking in marketing. I think we as communications professionals have got a lot to learn about storytelling, and where stories are concerned children are a great place to start.

What’s the difference between communications and marketing?

I really hate the term ‘marcomms’. I’m not even sure about ‘marketing communications’. Of course they go hand in hand for much of the time but I like there to be a little ‘and’ in the middle of those words, and this is why – while there are many points of intersection, I don’t think ‘marketing’ as a concept has any space for genuine disinterestedness, while ‘communications’ does.

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Marketing is about working out how to sell your product or service. You need to figure out who might want to buy it, how much they would be willing pay, and how to present both the product and your company really well to those people, in order to persuade them to do so. Words like audience and brand and targets and  product development start flying about and making small business owners quake in their boots. Marketing is a pretty technical thing – it follows set principles and firm ideas which anybody can follow but which can seem impenetrable and mired in jargon.

Implementing a marketing plan then involves good communications – deploying well-written copy and engaging images and/or design, maintaining a website and social media channels that provide interesting and useful content, and so on depending on your business type. Communications is about presenting your product in the way that your marketing planning suggests will be fruitful, and a good communications strategy is about working out how best to do this.

Marketing strategy must run in parallel with communications implementation in order for a marketing strategy to be effective – we have to communicate with our market. But I think this is the crux of the problem – a ‘market’ fundamentally implies commerce and therefore ‘marketing’ does too (it is, according to the OED, “The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising“). Communications doesn’t imply that: it is “The imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium“. These differences are subtle but I think they make the ‘marcomms’ portmanteau a little uncomfortable.

In the past year I have managed three Facebook pages on behalf of organisations that have no ‘selling’ intention at all – both (as well as the organisations behind them) have a pure communications function, simply to let people know what’s happening and tell them how they can be involved in a community. They have an information market but not a commercial one. The desire is there to build an audience and build conversations, but for genuinely altruistic reasons – education, community interaction, fitness – and the hard business of marketing isn’t necessary as they operate within contained communities. I think they demonstrate that good communications without marketing is possible, while marketing without good communications is pointless.

Communications can be pure and without self-interest. It can be motivated by the simple desire to talk and to get in touch. Of course I am in no way anti-marketing – even the smallest businesses depend upon the guidance of marketing principles to make much progress – but the creative, human side of what we term ‘communications’ is the bit I enjoy. It’s the bit where you forget that you’re trying to sell something and enjoy the process of exchanging and informing – the process, via whatever medium, of talking.

 

Live tweeting an event: creating a content narrative

One of my clients has a really cool event happening next week and when I met him today he was wondering how to maximise its coverage on social media. I suggested that we live tweet the event, and I was excited to have the opportunity because, to me, live tweeting epitomises the best things about social media as a tool to show your work in action and to connect people around a common experience.

If you’re not sure what live tweeting is, let’s start with the Oxford English Dictionary which defines it as:

VERB (WITH OBJECT): Post comments about (an event) on Twitter while the event is taking place.

Essentially it’s a way of reporting an event in snippets – you turn up armed with your smartphone, and you tweet about what’s happening at very regular intervals either throughout the event or for a defined period of time. Each time something interesting happens, someone says something noteworthy, or you take a great picture, you tweet it. You retweet what others are posting too – speakers, event Smart Phone with Blank Screenparticipants, audience members. You ask and answer questions. All those tweets – both yours and those posted by others – are connected together by a hashtag which you’ve predetermined, so you and everybody else can easily find the conversation and join in.

The most obvious example is a conference. Let’s say it’s about rabbits (I love bunnies). We’ll call it Rabbits International 2017. All your publicity material in advance includes the conference hashtag, #RabbitConf2017, and your delegates’ packs include a flyer asking them to tweet comments and questions using the hashtag, before, during and after the event. Then you might choose to live tweet the opening talk by a world rabbit expert, with photos of him speaking, quotes, and lots of retweets of others’ comments. You would definitely live tweet the talk where they bring out all the adorable bunnies, because, yes, photos of cute animals really do rule the internet. I’d be really surprised if a strategy like this didn’t generate some good conversations that wouldn’t otherwise have taken place or, more significantly, that would have taken place without your involvement in them.

Here’s a less obvious example. You’re a hotel and you’re holding a wedding fair. You write in advance to all the businesses attending and ask them to use your hashtag, and you include it on a flyer in the pack you’ll hand out to couples who attend the fair. With luck and encouragement some of the businesses attending might tweet about their preparations for the event and post their own photos of their stalls, while you post your own preparations at the hotel. On the day itself, you go along and take photos (with their consent!) of couples visiting the fair, telling their lovely engagement stories and getting their wedding ideas. You tweet about the stalls on offer and mention the Twitter handles of any of the attending businesses, especially the ones making use of your hashtag! You include useful wedding planning tips (and you can schedule these in advance). Of course you make sure there are lots of photos of your lovely hotel.

Both these examples show how intensive use of Twitter over a short period can enrich your event by spreading its message to those who couldn’t come, and making it linger in the memories of those were there. But there’s a more important reason to go to the extra effort of live tweeting: it creates rich, unique content, a content narrative, which you can repurpose when the event itself is long over. It’s easy to compile your tweets into a blog post, or a Storify story (although this depends on consistent hashtag use so don’t neglect publicising your hashtag!). You turn the photos into a gallery on Facebook. You edit the video snippets and put them on your YouTube channel. Real people are involved in the story of your business. This content shows your business in action rather than in its ‘marketing’ mode.

Live tweeting allows you to be your own journalist. Not every event is important enough to attract the ‘real’ press, but we can use Twitter to recreate the same effect and make a story out of the day-to-day. To me, Twitter has its natural home in journalism and using it in this context unleashes its most valuable powers.

Social media doesn’t have to be crackers

Here is a photo that spoilt my day recently. It’s a picture of the side of a box of nice crackers I bought, made by a well-known company. The crackers were really unusual, healthy and very tasty. crackersBut have a read of the text on the box!

There are so many things about this box of crackers that make me want to cry. Let’s start with the things that bother me as a person who loves food. Why do I have to have my nice cracker with weird things like kimchi that no one actually likes? Why can’t I have it with something normal like cheese? Then there are the missed opportunities for some nice writing. Why are my nose and eyes mentioned but not my taste buds – and if we’re going down the ‘all five senses’ road why am I not being told about the cracker’s satisfying crunchy sound and nice rough texture?

But those problems are overshadowed by the fact that I am being told how to ‘style’ my cracker for extra Instagram likes. I don’t hate food styling – I do like my meals to look nice and I recognise that the way food looks is part of the experience. If it was telling me how to make the cracker look really appealing on a plate I might be OK with that. But instead it’s telling me how best to take a photo of my cracker for Instagram! Not for my enjoyment or my family’s enjoyment, for my health or to make it really tasty. Not even to win a free box of crackers. Nope – just so I can supposedly get some more people to press ‘like’ on my photo of my lunch.

The thing which really annoys me about this is social media can be so great for actually talking to stakeholders directly – whether customers or your community or whoever else you want to reach. It’s a wonderful way of sharing your activities and how you operate. Instead, the cracker box is social media as a tick box exercise. They could have done so much better: “Inspire your fellow cracker fans – show us your favourite toppings on Instagram” plus a useful hashtag. Or: “Visit us on Instagram @XXX to see our trendiest cracker combinations”. Those are both pretty cheesy but then we are talking about crackers. The point is, they could have used this huge bit of cracker-box real estate to try to get people talking about these genuinely nice crackers and how they like to eat them. It might even have worked if they had someone on board who could think about crackers in a really creative way.

It’s just really lazy – the social media equivalent of namedropping (“Hey – we’ve heard of Instagram!”). They don’t even give their Instagram handle on the box so even if you do want to send them a photo of your cracker you have to hunt them out.

There’s a conclusion to this rant. If you’re going to use social media do it because you really want to share things with your community. Of course you want them to buy your products or sign up for your activity, but if you use social media honestly and helpfully, they will see why they should put their trust in you. Otherwise they’ll just think you’re, well, crackers.

If you haven’t got time to think about marketing, your marketing will be easy!

As you’ll know if you’ve read the ‘About Us’ page, I’m a mum. I love having my own
business because it gives me the flexibility to be with my gorgeous and amazing daughter
untitledall the time when she isn’t at pre-school, and I feel really fortunate to be able to work in this way. But in reality, like pretty much every other working parent in the world, my family commitments still mean that business admin falls to the bottom of the list of priorities.

Lots of people see good communications and good marketing as part of their business admin – a boring and annoying part. And here’s the funny bit – I kind of agree with you! I only concentrate on building my business after everything else is done.

I even think this attitude is healthy. Marketing people often talk about the amount of time business owners should devote to marketing and communications, and nowadays especially to social media. The reality is that it can be counterproductive to do that. If you’re a builder and you have work, you get on with it. Are you really going to turn down a job one afternoon because it’s time to do some marketing? Nope. Your website, your Facebook page or your new leaflet ends up at the back of the queue. People often find marketing annoying and stressful. I don’t think that’s a failing and I aim to build strategies which understand this.

One of the principles that I’ve based my business on is that marketing and communications is a servant to your business or organisation. Whatever you do, that work is your priority, and your dedication to it is what will bring you success. Of course a good social media presence or a well-written, informative leaflet (or whatever else will work for what you do) will help get you noticed by new customers, but it’s what you do in your day job that’s the real winner. It’s often the people who struggle to make time to think about marketing during the course of their working day who have the best businesses to sell and the strongest ideas for how to sell it. They have interesting content and they understand their audience – they just don’t know it yet! I love working with them!

In conclusion, if you think you haven’t got time for marketing and communications you will probably find that a small investment of time and effort will reap huge rewards. Don’t think of it as ‘marketing’ – all you are doing is presenting the work you do to people that might be interested in it. I’d love to help you do this!

Proofreading – what skills does it really involve?

The best proofreader I know is my Dad. He’s not a journalist or an English graduate or a writer or anything like that – he’s a solicitor.

My Dad is good at proofreading because he has unbelievable attention to detail, honed by a career spent checking facts and spotting loopholes. Of course he’s a good writer and a img_3133prolific reader, which means words are a comfortable stomping ground for him, but thinking about his skill set made me think about what really makes a good proofreader. I think it’s about finding someone you can trust to care about the tiny, seemingly insignificant details. Because it’s those tiny details that turn into the biggest confusions – or the biggest embarrassments!

To illustrate this I’m going to give you a run down of my two funniest proofreading fails – one my very own and one by a colleague. I realise this might be impolitic if you’re considering using my proofreading services – but I’m sharing them because they taught me important lessons!

Some background first! My first real job was editing the undergraduate prospectus at a university in London. This basically involved collating a gigantic amount of information from dozens of academics and admin staff, and turning it into a consistent directory of all the courses and services offered by the university.

I used to say that it was just a massive, complex admin job, but in retrospect it was in fact a three month proofreading fest. In a 250-page document the occasional error inevitably made it through our team’s proofreading efforts, but two stand out in my memory for the lessons I learnt from them.

The first was in the section about accommodation – for each Hall of Residence there was some smallprint that read something like: “Heating and water rates are included in your rent.” For one of the Halls – only one! – it read: “Heating and water rates are included in your tent.” Well, I can’t imagine many people applied for the camping option that year. The lesson – always check every bit of text, even if it’s something repeated on 15 other pages!

The second was worse – we managed to call the Dean of Students the Dead of Students. Not really the image he wanted to convey – luckily he had a sense of humour. The lesson – we see people’s names so often that we assume we’ve got them right, but names and job titles are one of the most important checks to make.

The trouble is that it’s really easy to lose concentration when you’re proofreading – to read what your eye expects to see, rather than what’s there. The best proofreaders put their preconceptions to one side and really read each word, each phrase, for its own sake, even if they’ve read it a hundred times. When you get into the zone it’s quite zen-like!

That’s why I’ll continue to take inspiration from my Dad, whose proofreading is founded on good old-fashioned attention to detail. Meanwhile I’ll get back to my tent.

Building a children’s play area (and what it’s got to do with communications)

I’ll admit before we start that there is a communications-related moral to this story.

As part of my work as a Parish Councillor in Watlington, I recently led a project to replace the play equipment in one of our parks. It was old and rotting, and was inviting vandalism. We live round the corner from this little park, and my little girl and her Daddy go there most nights when he gets home from work, so it was a labour of love for me to work on getting some lovely new play equipment.

We got a 50% grant from South Oxfordshire District Council, but I still found myself in a position where I needed to raise £10,000 in four months. In a town of just 2,500 people, this looked like no mean feat, but (and this is ironic given my business name) I underestimated the power of talking. I organised an Easter Egg Hunt, a wine tasting and a bouncy castle party, each of which raised a few hundred pounds but also attracted a lot of people (both actual attendees and passers by). I posted a lot on the town Facebook noticeboard. I put up some posters. I spent a couple of hours one Saturday morning standing outside the Town Hall collaring people and telling them all about the lovely new play area we could have.

And suddenly, people were offering things to the cause right, left and centre – donations of both time and money, event ideas, grant suggestions. I made it over the fundraising finish line months before I realistically expected to do so. Here’s my girl playing in the playground I built for her.

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It’s only now that I realise this was, in fact, a communications project. All I did was tell people (both in person and through various digital and print media) what was happening, what was possible, and how we could get from A to B. It was pretty simple, but it worked because I was talking to the right people.

This is how easy communications can be. Maybe the channels are a little different (I’m probably not going to offer to stand in the cold on a Saturday morning and advertise your business for you, I’m afraid) but the fundamentals are the same – get your message to the people who want it, in a way they can access it, and in a language they understand.

I had a lot of fun getting the play area. But not as much fun as I’m having with our new slide and log cabin house!