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Shipped in 2013

A year ago Ian Sanders wrote a post listing what he'd shipped in the past year. Seth Godin has done a similar thing before now. I rather like the idea of doing this. It's a chance to step back from the rush of the day-to-day and pause to reflect on what you've spent your time doing, what you've accomplished and to see the shape of things. So, here are some of the major things that I've enjoyed working on and have shipped this year:

  • I really enjoyed the perspective given by two assignments this year where I worked with the senior editorial teams of two big national newspapers to help them transition to more 'digitally-native' thinking, approaches and processes. It was also a very positive experience working with Adam Tinworth on one of them.
  • Google Firestarters continues to build momentum and this year we reached our tenth event. We ran three Firestarters in 2013: one on innovation in agencies; an event at Campus curated by the Google Squared alumni on the theme of Creativity is Not A Department; one on Planning For Good. We also ran another SearchFirestarters which was a fascinating look at what could constitute the great search marketing campaigns of the future. The speaker provocations have been excellent at all of them.
  • Organisational agility and content were two significant areas of focus, and I got to incorporate both of them in a series of sessions for the senior management team of a large pharmaceutical business
  • Working with Jeremy Hill on a series of digital workshops with a large media agency, a continuation of a very enjoyable long-term project
  • Digital skills has also been a theme in a number of pieces of work. I did a couple of broad based skills assessment consultancy projects with two large global media owners which were both fascinating
  • As always Econsultancy were great to work with in 2013. A smart bunch of folk doing really smart things. Amongst a number of projects I worked with them on, I researched and wrote best practice guides to Digital Marketing Structures & Resourcing, on Agility & Innovation, and one on Securing Board Buy-in for Digital Investment. I learned a lot in the process.
  • And I also helped develop a new digital marketing trends service with Econsultancy. We called it Digital Shift. That involved three reports and associated webinars which went out to a global audience and has built some nice momentum.
  • I really enjoyed my speaking gigs this year and this continues to be a valued part of what I do. This year I spoke at Phare in Gent, the IPABMBGoogle Squared, MediaCom Engage, an Econsultancy run Content Strategy event in Singapore, The Future of Digital Marketing Conferences in London & Kuala Lumpur, a reframing PR event also in KL, Direct Line Group, an AdaptiveLab event on harnessing disruption, BNY Mellon, and the Econsultancy Digital Transformation Leaders Conference
  • A series of Digital Innovation sessions with a large book publisher
  • An assignment to run workshops building digital marketing skills and knowledge with B2B and B2C marketers within a large services orientated organisation, and a similar one for the marketing team of a global mobile and appliances manufacturer
  • A project focused on digital creativity for a specialist B2B focused digital agency
  • Some work with the board of another national newspaper group to stimulate different thinking, and identify opportunity
  • An assignment with a telecoms operator to define what 'digital culture' looks like for their organisation and how that translates through to organisational change
  • This year I also worked with the guys at AdaptiveLab to launch Fraggl, a brand new Twitter curation app founded on the belief that combining human, social and algorithmic curation can surface great content from the stream. I'm really happy with how our beta launch has gone so watch this space for more on Fraggl in the new year.
  • 42 newsletters of curated digital goodness. My weekly Fish Food email has gone from strength to strength this year, with the list growing beyond my expectations. It's been difficult to quantify the return I get from the effort that goes in to producing it, but that's not the only reason I do it and I know that people get a lot of value from it.
  • 165 blog posts. It has at times been a struggle to find the time to blog regularly this year but the effort has paid back in spades. Particularly in helping to capture, organise and develop thoughts and ideas, make associations and gain feedback. It's always worth it.

There was other stuff around the edges of this of-course, but I count myself fortunate in enjoying a significant variety of work again this year. A real mix of consultancy, events, speaking and writing. There's much commonality in the fundamental challenges and opportunities in different parts of the advertising, media and marketing industry (for example, as Mel Exon once observed, between journalists and strategists), and I count it as a strength that I can take learnings and approaches from one area and apply them in the right context to solving problems in another. That has really worked for me. 

When people ask what I do for a living, I find it one of the hardest questions to answer. I'm fortunate in that since I started out four years ago I have not been short of interesting work of enormous variety, and interesting and smart people to work with. The flexibility has this year enabled me to spend time on projects like the development of Fraggl and we have some great ideas about where that could go. For the coming year there are some things I'd like to do more of, and some other ideas I'd like to pursue, but four years in it still feels full of possibility and it's great to be able to say that.

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