• Category:Ideas

    How does ideas consulting work? And can I afford it?

    I recognise that simply having ideas is a job that some people just do not get. And that includes clients. Not the best record for someone in communications, you may think…

    The truth is that having ideas for business, charity or campaign groups for a living comes under the ‘it’s complicated’ category of relationships. It is whatever you want to make it. And by ‘you’ I mean the (potential) client.

    To avoid a TL;dr situation, I shall break down the most basic way in which I work with a business. This is often the introductory piece of work. It may be the only piece of work, or it may lead to an ongoing relationship that involves anything from copywriting to re-branding, tone-of-voice to user experience, essays, features, publicity or blogs.

    It goes like this. You hire me for two days.

    Day one is me finding out everything I can about you, your company/campaign, your ethos, your needs, your lacks, your strengths, your appeal.

    Day two is me, sat with a notepad , having ideas. Now, these could be ideas for how to improve copy, how to get publicity for next-to-nothing, how to make a team work more efficiently, how to re-brand or how to get your product or campaign noticed more. You can have it as a brain dump or something tied up with a bow. You can have the unexpurgated, dirty version, or a clean one, with the expletives and dangerous ideas excised.

    Obviously, the whole thing is a moveable feast. You can add days to the research of the ideas part. But those are the basics. Get in touch to find out how this could work for you, your business or your campaign.

    I can provide you with a long list of those who have done just that and not regretted it. Email me…

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  • Category:Ideas

    Being a maverick isn’t about comedy socks

    It’s hard work making it look this easy. Well, that’s what I tell my clients, anyway. But the truth is that having ideas for money is a joy. People often ask me how they can do this too. My answer is always the same: “If you need to ask, then no you can’t”.

    I have ideas for a huge variety of clients across all kinds of industries. From start-ups to blue-chips and from charities to art galleries. Magazines, shoemakers, quangos moisturiser-mixers and PR companies have all felt the benefit of some time with me. They all know it is something of a punt, but none have ever been disappointed.

    Time with me and my ideas can be in person – brainstorming for PR campaigns or new markets – or it can involve me (alone) sitting in the bath or walking in the park with my headphones on. Socially-distanced working before it was a thing.

    It helps to be a bit outside of everything. Being something of an introvert can actually help here. Having something of a left-field imagination helps even more. Those who know culture beyond the mainstream excel when it comes to out-thinking those who follow more traditional career and cultural paths.

    How does having ideas for other people work? Well, mostly it begins with a combination of walking a mile in another’s shoes and being a fresh set of eyes. It involves empathy and, at times, a brutal overview of a business, campaign or need. It could be being handed a blank sheet of paper and being asked to re-imagine an established brand, or it may involve working within the bounds of an existing image, campaign or product. One day you’re thinking outside the box, the next you’re advising clients to close the lid.

    I’ve not met anyone who is great at idea creation and brainstorming that is not also good at humour. It is part of the process. For some clients, I start with the most outrageous or outlandish ideas and reign them in until they start being achievable and/or stop being illegal. With others, I start at a dull baseline and see how far we can push things together.

    All of that needs funny at some point. What it doesn’t need is wacky, joke-bloke, dress-down Friday funny. Your business, charity or start-up is not going to get far on cracker jokes and sitcom standards. You need someone not afraid to throw a spanner in the works and a smokebomb into the boardroom.

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  • Category:Ideas

    Six months more of lockdown – as WFH extends to March 2021

    WFH image by https://www.instagram.com/__dahc/

    Work from home in the UK has now been extended to March 2021, following a statement in the Commons and an evening address to the nation from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. This came as quite a surprise to all those who had been told to get back to the office or risk losing their jobs.

    Of course, Work From Home does not work for all jobs or posts, as you can’t be a WFH nurse, factory worker or building contractor (unless you are doing up your own bathroom). But those who do have now been left to ponder the logistics and the practicalities of the home office, be it a spare room, kitchen table or bed.

    Work from home native

    As someone who has effectively worked from home for the last 20+ years, I have been helping some employers re-imagine how their teams can work from home effectively, safely and enjoyably. Many bosses were surprised at the lack of fall-off in productivity during the initial UK lockdown. But these numbers did start to wane in month three or four. This is where ideas, new thinking and experience came in.

    So, what was the problem? Well, familiarity and lockdown fatigue were two factors. But the increased freedoms and summer weather also had an impact. Those who managed most successfully were able to replicate aspects of office life that are not often thought about, but which tie teams together.

    In short, those who tried to manage their business or teams across the web as they had across the floor of an office block failed hard. It was only through re-thinking and re-imagining the working day or working systems that teams managed to re-unite and workplaces managed to become efficient.

    Turning around a business with WFH problems

    Working from home consultations begin with an examination of how the company works now, and how it worked before Covid-19. How important was team working? Is everyone a team player? And does EVERYONE need to be on that Zoom call? Results have been great so far. So do get in touch to discuss how new ideas and innovation can improve the way you and your teams are working.



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  • Category:Ideas

    Advising the advisers and expert-whispering

    image: you are not alone poster. https://unsplash.com/@dmey503?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText

    Confidence is an acquired skill. Despite what you may be told, no one is born with it.

    Yes, some people are extroverts. But that does not mean they are confident. It comes with wealth, education, experience and status. But it does not come free with every first breath and smack on the backside.

    It is also something that you can easily lose down the back of the sofa. This is something that is often hard to admit. Especially if you are seen as an alpha-male/female in your field and in your life. This, somewhat surprisingly for me, is where I come in.

    Now, I’m not that hot on Latin. Wrong school. But I do know the phrase Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, or ‘who watches the watchmen/who guards the guards’. I have become the one who advises the advisers (or advisors, if you prefer). Never something I set out to do, but becoming trusted counsel is a journey rather than a destination.

    I have sometimes tried to figure out why experts hire me to offer my inexpert opinion on their field, or why industry-leading names get me to calm their nerves and help plan their next move. It is not a service that I have ever advertised. It is just something that happens. Sometimes it is word-of-mouth, others it is the evolution of an existing work relationship.

    I know that a lot of people are currently doubting everything, re-planning their career (often in their 40s/50s/60s) and looking at how their work can, erm, work now. So, I’m outing myself as someone who has been everything from alpha male shoulder to cry on to someone who can focus on re-invigorating your offer with you. Imagination, future-focus and ideas are a part of it. But openness on both sides is paramount.

    It is not counselling, but it can involve some tough love. And no, I can’t tell you who my clients are. If you think this may be for you, then please do get in touch on iain@thisidea.co.uk.

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  • Category:Ideas

    An idea for Keir – take over the daily press briefing

    Nature abhors a vacuum. Rolling news channels abhor one even more. Yet, during the last week of the pandemic one has been allowed to exist.

    Midweek, the government abandoned its daily press conference. This was an odd piece of timing, coinciding as it did with the easing of lockdown, a mini-heatwave and the continuing Robert Jenrick scandal.

    With this in mind, the Labour Party could do worse than take on this slot themselves. Like him or not, Keir Starmer is topping polls as a potential Prime Minister and this could be a chance to cement that position. Throw in health, home office, education and business/treasury shadows and you have a five-day schedule that will raise awareness of policy, present a leadership model and expose shadow ministers to the nation.

    Now, there is no obligation upon broadcasters to take such a conference (and indeed they probably won’t take every one). But it allows a daily voice as well as the chance to react to government policy and current events.

    The slot would offer a daily rebuttal of any government-announced or -leaked stories, as well as a chance to present the daily Covid-19 figures, from infections to deaths. It presents the official opposition as in control and would allow them to present policy and at last answer the question of what they would do better. This was a real problem under the press office of Seumas Milne, with the leader then (one J Corbyn) hardly being allowed out of his allotment shed.

    Starmer et al could, for a time at least, present the most harsh and even outrageous critique of the government, with the PM’s only option to be reactive or to slowly reintroduce the daily press sessions, complete with journalists in the room. It’s a win-win.

    Starmer is famously ‘forensic’ (although this is not always apparent from his responses at PMQs beyond some performative shows of lawyering) and this would give him the chance to dig into figures, stats, policy and personality.

    It would certainly beat a push-up contest with the PM (who I doubt can get past five).

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