Author Archives: Ben Black

About Ben Black

I write the blog Cwmbran Life http://www.cwmbranlife.co.uk and the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CwmbranLife

How a Facebook page helps my #hyperlocal blog Cwmbran Life #OiConf13

The Cwmbran Life Facebook page has given my WordPress blog a new lease of life and helped me pick up some quirky stories. The Cwmbran Life blog was set up in August 2011 but I only set up a Facebook page in January.

Forget the stories you read about Facebook use declining. Statistics are meaningless when you can see results (also called red Facebook notifications), in front of your eyes.

It’s helped me think differently about content as a hyperlocal blogger. I love using WordPress  but on times the short and snappy updates I want to share seem a bit out of place.

You get to try writing in a different tone of voice on Facebook and be human. I’m friendly and informal and sometimes a WordPress post left me feeling a bit removed from the quirky stories I was picking up.

Mark Schaefer said at yesterday’s OiConf event in Cardiff that content has to “meaningful, targeted and authentic”.

Facebook has really made me feel like I’m helping people. Everything I post is about the town so it’s definitely targeted and as for authentic well if I was brave enough to have a tattoo it would feature the word Cwmbran.

Here are some examples of how I’ve used Facebook :

Robbie Kennedy appeared on Britain’s Got Talent and this simple photo and caption got shared 76 times. He didn’t win it but certainly hit the spot with a lot of people helping to share the fact the town was so proud of him.

Vote for Robbie Kennedy

Vote for Robbie Kennedy

Any videos I’ve done have had to be uploaded to YouTube and then embedded in post. This is fine but sometimes you get a spark of an idea that you just want to share quickly. I was walking around Cwmbran Boating Lake and remembered how as a kid I used to jump over the channel between the small ponds.

I thought ‘can I do it as a 36 year-old?’. The answer was yes and click here to watch the death defying leap 🙂. This went a bit crazy and got  762 likes and a reach of just under 40,000.

Boating Lake leap

Boating Lake leap

This question posted on Facebook helped me track down my singing postman. There can’t be too many of them in Cwmbran and judging by the comments other people like to hear him as well. I now need to persuade him to be interviewed.

Cwmbran's singing postman

Cwmbran’s singing postman

For as long as I can remember this has been known as the ‘mushroom house’. A few days ago I  grabbed this quick photo that led to loads of comments and over 250 likes. Next plan is to interview the person who trims it.

The Mushroom Tree

The Mushroom Tree

This quirky job in Cwmbran has come up on Facebook. I posted one hour ago that anyone who is interested can contact me if they want to talk about social media and already one person has sent a message.

Social media job in Cwmbran

Social media job in Cwmbran

Cwmbran Community Council said on Facebook they were looking for ‘seven more likes to reach 100 and the 100th person would get a Cwmbran goodie bag’. A quick share on the Cwmbran Life Facebook page saw them reach 100 in under five minutes.

Help Cwmbran Community Council

Help Cwmbran Community Council

I love Cwmbran. I love Facebook. It’s a good mix.

Do you use Facebook as part of your hyperlocal blog? Do you find it useful? 

My attempt to become paperless

Four notepads and eight pens in my top drawer

Four notepads and eight pens in my top drawer

Websites, tweets and emails, iPads, laptops and smartphones. All of these things have been daring to kill off paper yet look around your desk right now or open up your work bag. I bet you will find scraps of paper along with notepads and PDF print outs.

The top drawer of my home desk contains four notebooks and eight pens. That’s a lot of thoughts and notes in different places.

The last time I felt organised with a notebook was when I worked as journalist. Spiral bound pads were tagged with the start and end date along with a summary of the stories they contained. Then they were popped in a box for safe-keeping. This was something to do with your notepad possibly being used in court one day. Gulp.

Since then a mixture of bad handwriting and a habit of writing in whatever notepad I pick up meant things are a bit all over the place.

The paperless office is pretty unlikely but how about a paperless person? Can you make changes to your day to day work to cut out the paper?

To me being paperless doesn’t mean:

1) never carrying a pen and paper.

2) refusing to use paper.

3) reading everything online.

To me it means:

1) having a system for dealing with paper (I haven’t got one yet but expect it to be along the lines of keep, recycle, shred, read, action, share etc).

2) setting aside time every day to follow this system at home and in work.

3) having fun trying out different ways of working until you find a system that works for you.

This is my first post on going paperless.

To help I’ve stumped up £35 for a year’s premium subscription to Evernote. This seemed like a reasonable investment for this experiment. The free Evernote product is very good but it felt right to put my money where my mouth is.

Here is a quick video on Evernote.

Lego using a girl to advertise in 1981 with a girl and Morrisons putting Lego in its ‘boys’ toys’ section’ in 2013

This isn’t a post with a well thought out start, middle and end. It’s just something that has bugged me since seeing this photo above yesterday. It was tweeted by Jake Wallis Simons and shows a Lego advert using a girl in 1981.

My six-year-old daughter loves Lego but even she was put out when we looked up and spotted this sign in Morrisons in Cwmbran this afternoon.

The 'boys' toys' section in Cwmbran Morrisons

The ‘boys’ toys’ section in Cwmbran Morrisons

A ‘boys’ toy’ section in supermarket? I’ve shopped here before and looked at the toys but had not noticed this sign. Of course as a parent you spot the dolls and the footballs in a toy aisle but just let your kids choose what they want. A big sign hanging down off the ceiling telling shoppers ‘this is just for boys’ is a bit annoying.

Advertisers will probably talk about targeting specific customers to maximise profit.

My daughter said it was ‘really annoying’.

As I pushed the trolley around the shop I told her the best thing she could do is spend her pocket money on Lego in another shop. She replied ‘nah. I still want to buy stuff’. So my attempt at getting her to protest with her money failed. She didn’t buy anything today by the way. I’ll see if the Lego section in WHSmiths can tempt her next time we are in town.

I tweeted Morrisons the photo and this is the reply.

The 7 pubs that have appeared in every Good Beer Guide on a Google Map

The Good Beer Guide 2013

The Good Beer Guide 2013

Google Maps is a clever tool that I use to save places I visit or want to visit. I recently found out you can create your own maps which can then be shared. I’m a Google Maps novice so this was my first attempt.

In this month’s What’s Brewing newsletter from CAMRA a story appeared about the seven pubs that have appeared in every Good Beer Guide. Colin Valentine, the chair of CAMRA, has set himself the challenge of visiting all of them to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Good Beer Guide.

If you have managed to drink in all of them email tom.stainer@camra.org.uk from CAMRA and tell him your story.

The only I’ve visited is The Star Tavern in Belgravia. This was where the Great Train Robbery was planned.

Here is a link to take you to a public Google Map I’ve created so you can find them.

“Strong messages.Strong campaigns”.Advice from Peter Carroll who led the Gurkha justice campaign #nhfcomms13

Gordon Brown told Peter Carroll and Joanna Lumley: “It has been a great campaign. I’m going to give you what you want.”

This was the culmination of the Gurkha Justice Campaign to change the rules so any ex-Gurkha who has served over four years in the British Army would be allowed to settle in the UK.

At yesterday’s National Housing Federation Communications and Marketing conference Peter was the top speaker of the day. In 30 minutes he shared his advice for running a campaign. Here are some of his soundbites.

“Campaign are driven and born in emotion because we want to get that buzz in the end.”

“Campaigning for column inches is fine but campaigning to change lives is better.”

“It matters what you are doing. If you always keep that in your heart and mind you will get that buzz that you have made a difference.”

“At the heart of every campaign, small or big , there has got to be belief you can win.”

“Joanna Lumley is going to be on College Green at 4pm and she is really angry.” This was the simple one-sentence press release he sent to the Press Association.

“Don’t strangle a campaign with committees. Go with the moment. It should be small, loose and highly reactive.

“It was exhilarating. It was thrilling. There are 60,000 people whose lives are better because of the campaign.”

Love infographics? Love football? See how Swansea Council make the most of Swansea FC being in the Premier League

Swansea in Europe

Swansea in Europe

 

The best Swansea hat-trick scored since May 2011 for the local council was using PR, online media and outdoor media to put the spotlight on the area as a place to visit for football fans.

At yesterday's CIPR Cymru's annual general meeting the guest speaker was Steve Hopkins, marketing services and tourism manager for the city and council of Swansea.

He said that when the goal went during the 2010/11 play off final to take the team to the Premier League he did not know what happen. During a 20 minute chat he explained how focusing on tactics around the 'hat-trick' strategy had been used to show-off the best the area has to offer.

The key messages for the campaign:

– More than a 90 minute kind of place

-Stay for extra time

-Make the call

-Where the grass meets the sea

Steve said some journalists had arrived at their hotel late on a Friday evening and opened their curtains in the morning to be blown away by being so close to the sea.

The council worked with Working Word PR on the campaign. Infographics were part of the tactics and were shared and talked about online by national and regional journalists.

A number of brilliant infographics produced by Working Word and the council are on the Visit Swansea Bay website . Here are three of my favourites.

Used when Man Utd came to Swansea

Used when Man Utd came to Swansea

Used when Aston Villa came to Swansea

Used when Aston Villa came to Swansea

Used when Stoke came to Swansea

Used when Stoke came to Swansea

Since May 2011 visits to the Visit Swansea Bay website have gone up 23%.

The Visit Swansea Bay facebook page now has over 28,800 likes.

The Visit Swansea Bay twitter page now has on twitter 3,800 follower.

 

Councillor holds his monthly ward surgery in a pub. I like this.

Councillor Hazel's ward surgery poster

Councillor Hazel’s ward surgery poster

Does your local councillor hold a ward surgery where you can go along and chat? The chances are they do and I bet the chances are it is held in a community hall.

I was in the Three Tuns pub in Gosport last night and spotted this poster. Councillor Craig Hazel, who represents the Elson Ward in Gosport, hold his ward surgery in the pub.

On the first Wednesday of every month at 7pm you can chew his ear off talking about your problems.

Why don’t you suggest to your local councillor that they do something similar?

The Three Tuns in Gosport

The Three Tuns in Gosport