BT Sport launches in style

Last week I was invited to return to the scene of our amazing London 2012 Games, on the anniversary of the Opening Ceremony.

I headed to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London for the launch of the new BT Sport television channels, whose studios are based in the media centre there. The channels go live tomorrow (1st August 2013) and aim to finally give Sky a bit of competition.

Where Setanta and ESPN might have failed with this football and rugby content, BT has pulled out the big guns with a huge marketing campaign and some well-known pundits from the sporting world like Clare Balding and Jake Humphrey.

I recently wrote about how BT is using social media to generate interest in the channels here.

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We took a studio tour at the event, are were shown the fabulously impressive rooms at the media centre which are now covered in BT branding. BT are the first major company to invest in the building, and only moved in 3 weeks ago!

Jake Humphrey and Clare Balding took to the stage to give a welcome speech. Jake said he wants the channel to be fun and approachable, in a laid back style. Michael Owen was wondering around the party, as he takes a commentator role in the new channels.

The great evening also included music from Jessie Ware, sampling the finest Portobello gin and having a good F1 chat with Jake. It will be interesting to see of BT pull this off – but so far they are looking confident.


How to be your own boss (and then take over the world) by innocent and friends

innocent smoothies sure do put on a good event. As part of their innocent inspires series, I was invited to Fruit Towers to attend the ‘be your own boss’ evening. The evening promised to be a good one – with speakers such as Richard Reed (one of my heroes), Sophie Cornish of, Martin Morales owner of hot new London restaurant Ceviche, and many more!

In a typically innocent laid back affair, each speaker was invited to chat about their experiences in starting their own business from scratch and share anecdotes and lessons from their journeys. The room was full of budding entrepreneurs – from people who have started their own businesses to those with just an itch to work for themselves, but no business ideas as yet.

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One thing that struck me about each speaker is the passion they each had for sticking with their ideas, not giving up and doing whatever it takes to get that business going.

Sophie Cornish said she wanted to be her own boss because she wanted a great working life on her own terms.

Martin Morales confessed he pitched the Peruvian restaurant idea 300 times, and had to sell his house before he could purchase the space for Ceviche on Frith Street in Soho.

All clearly had a strong desire to make a success of their ideas. Richard Reed said it is definitely worth setting up your own business, and you can do it, even when it gets tough.


Eben Upton of Raspberry Pi said focus on what you do well – and agreed with jewellery designer Bec Astley Clarke that it’s all about the implementation of your business not necessarily the idea.

‘You need the will and the skill, but the will must be stronger than the skill’ added Morales.


A theme that came up a few times, particularly after questions from the audience, was that there is never a right time to start your own business. Like many things in life, you will always be able to think of hundreds of excuses. All the business owners advised the audience to just do it – as there will never be a right time. Even if it’s just a side project while you are working full time.

innocent actually encourage this too, and a few of the current employees were promoting their side-businesses on stands in a marketplace area of Fruit Towers, including the yummy Sweetcheeks cakes. Infact, some innocent employees have left the business to start their own ventures, something which Reed and co are proud of and encourage. The likes of Popchips, Peppersmiths and Scandikitchen all worked at innocent at some time in the careers, and obviously build enough confidence and skills to venture into the big world themselves.

The founding guys behind innocent are set to start their own venture fund Jam Jar Investments this year.  £2 million is initially being set aside, with an aim to invest £50,000 to £250,000 in each start-up they pick.

Reed is obviously a huge fan of entrepreneurialism – and rightly so, judging by the enthusiasm and excitement for new business in that room at Fruit Towers last week!



Thanks to Felicity for the photo, and to Richard for signing my innocent book.

On Board the StartUp Britain Tour Bus

Working with small to medium-sized businesses embarking into the world of digital marketing is something that I am hugely passionate about.

This is why I was excited to be asked to take part in the StartUp Britain Summer Bus Tour 2011 this week. I attended the tour bus in Birmingham on Tuesday and had a great time!

The StartUp Britain Bus

The tour, which is visiting 14 locations across the country, is on an ongoing pursuit to encourage budding entrepreneurs in all areas of Britain to start up their own businesses.

I was on board in Victoria Square in Birmingham speaking to all kinds of people; from established businesses wondering how to grow their customer base, to people with an initial enterprise idea looking for online marketing advice to help kick-start their company.

I had a hugely varied day on the StartUp Britain Bus Tour. There was a good variety of people in the Square ready to get advice in how to start up their businesses, or how to grow them.

There was a really good turnout of interesting speakers and experts on the bus including Melody Hossaini – Apprentice 2011 candidate, Intel, Microsoft, a European patenting expert who had helped get candidates onto Dragon’s Den, and plenty of financial advisors including Barclays.

Alongside all of the other business experts, i I spoke to accountants, university students, beauty consultants, wedding planners, and travel website owners – offering them advice in digital marketing, particularly around blogging, Facebook and Twitter. A lot of people were interested in how to network using LinkedIn, and also how to set up a website and get going.

For most people who were in the early stages of their business, I recommended setting up a free Wordpress blog, so that they could begin to get some traction online and gain some customer insights without having to break the bank on a website.

It was an inspiring experience to see people with so much confidence and passion behind their ideas, and with other experts from Barclays, Microsoft, Intel and RSM Tenon on board the bus – it really was a worthwhile experience for entrepreneurs to attend. I would strongly recommend anyone with an idea, business or an interest in enterprise to attend the rest of the Tour – which runs into September.

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders

A great talk from COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg at TEDWomen. With three main powerful pieces of advice, Sheryl mixes personal experiences from her way to the top with interesting statistics to create this inspirational talk.

Did you know that 57% of men negotiate their starting salary in their first job compared with just 7% of women?

Worth a watch.

Climate Camp: Impressions from an outsider

Since my brush with the Commons Five last year, I have followed the movements of similar young campaigners, reading about the many protests and projects they get involved with.

Climate Camp hit the headlines last week, when hundreds of environmental activists “swooped” on Blackheath from meeting points across Central London. The site was chosen for its legacy; notably it was the location for the Peasants Revolt of 1381. The heath also provides a poignant view over The City, where buildings making crucial climate decisions, such as Canary Wharf and The Gherkin, can be seen.

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On Saturday, I jumped at the chance to go and have a look at Climate Camp (officially, Camp for Climate Action) for myself. I wanted to know what was going on there, and didn’t have a clue what to expect. Would groups of environmental protesters be gathered round shouting, holding up boards with angry messages on? Would it be a huge sit-in, with campaigners lazing around in the sun, discussing what they each do to help the planet? After the drama of the “swooping” and the secret location of the camp, press coverage had become very sparse, with only the Guardian giving updates of activity down at Blackheath. The questions rolling in my head certainly needed to be answered.

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Approaching the Camp, I was unsure as to whether visitors were even allowed on site. Campers had decorated the perimeter fence with bold slogans, bright coloured climate warnings and messages to multimillion pound companies. Over the entrance, a banner read “Capitalism is Crisis” and campers gathered on hay bales, welcoming visitors.  As Climate Rush campaigner Tamsin Omond wrote in the Standard, “The idea is that you join in.”

We were directed to a site map, and given a guide to the camp – which included an itinerary of every single event planned for the week. The first, and lasting, impression we all got from the camp was the huge amount of things there were to do there.  There were workshops giving campers a chance to share stories, swap tips about reducing carbon footprints, debate issues such as the Copenhagen summit, learn about how to stage a protest, and get multimedia training in how to set up a camera on a tripod. As well as all that, there was evening entertainment, huge communal meals, yoga classes and morning camp meetings. The camp also catered well for children, offering activities such as bread-making, arts and games.

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The whole camp worked on a voluntary rota, with a jobs board at the front of the site and people putting themselves forward every day for different roles, included serving dinner and cleaning the toilets.

As we wandered round the bright coloured tents, I felt as if we had stumbled upon a self-sufficient community. Everything within the camp was built all together and there was a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere about the place. Not quite the violent Climate Camp the Daily Mail predicted, eh?

I saw Leila Deen, the campaigner who threw green custard in Lord Mandleson’s face earlier this year, enjoying herself around the camp. We were offered fruit smoothies – which had been made by cycle-powered blenders, and invited to sit in on some of the workshops. I chose ‘How to Communicate Climate Science’ which was a brilliant back to basics chat by two young guys, explaining the basics behind climate change. Some of the workshops were a bit more heated, but the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere meant you could chop and change between tipis.

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There didn’t seem to be much police presence, apart from two officers who did quiet a lap around the perimeter of the camp in the late afternoon. The police had set up a cherry picker with CCTV to watch over the camp. One commentator on Twitter, denny, said: “Wondering how @CO11MetPolice reconcile the phrase ‘neighbourhood style policing’ with spotlights and CCTV on a cherry picker. #ClimateCamp

For me, Climate Camp was hugely inspiring. Not only has the camp proved that you don’t need  to make a huge song and dance to get people talking about an issue, (although a few protesters have been up to some antics today around London) but it also proves that people can get along living in a simple, low-carbon lifestyle. The main focus of the camp was educational, and it wasn’t organised to cause mayhem and disruption.

As we left the camp before sunset on Saturday night, I looked back at the large-scale police CCTV watching the camp prepare their dinner, and couldn’t help but feel like the campaigners were sticking two fingers up back.

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Daily Telegraph says MPs expenses story is not over yet

The story of the MPs expenses has not yet drawn to a close, the Daily Telegraph revealed last night.

Andrew Pierce, assistant editor of the newspaper that broke the milestone story, said that journalists were still working with the data.

Referring to the team working on the scoop, Piece said: “They are still in the bunker, if that gives you a clue.”

The story, which according to Piece covered 240 broadsheet pages of the Daily Telegraph, took a close working team of journalists to produce, based away from the newsroom in what was known as “the bunker”.

“They were working morning noon and night. Only a handful of people knew what was going to be in the newspaper the next day.”

He added that it was old fashioned journalism at its finest and that the newspaper and website had benefitted significantly during the four weeks the story ran.


(L-R) Pierce, Alton, Greenslade, Brooke and Tall at Frontline Club, courtesy of Priyal Sanghvi.

Speaking to an audience in London last night, Pierce said that the task of going through the data was hard work but it paid off.

“It was our job to go through the lot, and I’m glad we did look at every single person.”

The newspaper decided to go through the unorganised information systematically, and each splash coordinated with a different theme.

“We started with the cabinet, then the shadow big hitters and then husbands and wives, where we discovered the term flipping.”

“Then we discovered the accountancy fees which gave us extraordinary momentum.”

Pierce said the team were shocked to discover some of the items the MPs had been claiming for.

“When the Daily Telegraph acquired this information, we had no comprehension of the level of abuses.”

Pierce defended claims that the Daily Telegraph had been involved in a bribe, saying, “Fleet Street has survived on leaks for years.”

Media commentator and Guardian blogger, Roy Greenslade, chaired the panel and speculated that the newspaper had paid their source £75,000.

Pierce refused to confirm any sum, denying that money had been involved. He also insisted that he wasn’t involved in this stage of the process.

Roger Alton, editor of The Independent congratulated the Daily Telegraph on their “flawless job”, and said the paper was setting the agenda for every other news organisation in the country.

The panel speculated that the story could expand to expenses of the European Commission and the salaries of the BBC.

Heather Brooke, FOI campaigner and Stephen Tall, Lib Dem activitst, also attended the event which took place at the Frontline Club in London.

Everyone will be a multimedia journalist, says ex Bloomberg editor

For Bloomberg’s former multimedia editor, Abhik Sen, the debate is redundant.

“In five years time pretty much everyone will have to be a multimedia journalist.”

As the times change, news organisations are increasing and expanding their multimedia coverage of big stories. Journalists’ skills are improving and graphics are becoming more sophisticated, so much so that the most substantial part of a news story can now be found online.

Abhik gave the recent example of  the swine flu story:

“Online there was a comprehensive 360 degree view of the story. There were interactive maps, pictures, figures, videos, first person accounts and graphics. This holds true for pretty much every big story now.”

BBC mapping the outbreak

The BBC’s ‘Swine Flu: mapping the outbreak’ interactive graphic.

There are a good five or six multimedia packages or reports that can be done by news organisations. Abhik talked us through the main ones at a talk at City University this week:

The first is the news driven package. This involves a quick turnaround that can fit into a rolling news agenda. It is the most basic form of a media package. Links and tagging in these packages are very important so readers can quickly access all of the material on offer.

This BBC news story is a basic example of this type of package. The turnaround on this video must have been relatively quick, as there is only one location and one subject in the film.

The evergreen package is designed to stand the test of time; it may still be relevant in years to come. There will be no sell by date on the package. It is usually a piece that requires thought and deliberation.

Detroit Free Press’ 40 Years of Respect tribute to Aretha Franklin is a great example of an evergreen package.

Interactive graphics are great for transforming chunks of dry or difficult information into a good piece of journalism. It saves readers the bother of trying to interpret the statistics themselves and you can make important subjects come alive.

The Guardian’s interactive package on Obama’s 100 Days in office is a fantastic example of a good graphic illustration of a story. It includes all of the elements that only a multimedia piece could.


Calendar and diary based reports are great for being a bit creative. You can find a way of covering an event in a original and refreshing way, and you can complement other reports by building on what has already been done.

The G20 Summit reporting is a great example of this type of package.

Abhik said that the planning stage is the most important when creating a multimedia report. The most important questions to ask is ‘What do I really want to communicate through this work?’.

Having a specialism is key, says Rory Cellan-Jones

“There are jobs out there and there will be jobs”, said Rory Cellan-Jones, the BBC’s technology correspondent.

What a refreshing talk he gave to postgraduate students at City University today.

Rory admitted that nowadays journalists are expected to be able to do a lot more than when he graduated, but he said that having a specialist interest may be key to landing a job.

“If you are interesting and passionate about something then there will be opportunities out there.”

He said that there is now tremendous pressure on journalism graduates to be able to do “everything under the sun”, but he said that if you have one or two really good skills then it is just as important.  

Image taken from BBC

The self-confessed Twitter obsessive was just as tech-savvy as I expected him to be, opening his backpack to reveal not only an iPhone, but a BlackBerry and a gorgeous little Flip Meno Camera. Using his Apple Mac, he showed us a number of tools he uses in order to keep on track of technology news, including reading websites TechCrunch, GigaOM and Techmeme.

During the lecture he also posted part of his talk onto AudioBoo and, of course, took a Twitpic of us all listening intently. (Link to follow later, depending on how the shot looks!)

Rory said that he became interested in the internet in the mid-90’s, after being a business correspondent at the BBC. He said that he was even awarded the title “Internet Correspondent” for a few months in 2000, before the BBC decided that the internet was over and he went back to his old job.

But he insisted that the internet was bringing exciting change and was finally made Technology Correspondent in 2007.

Rory’s blog on BBC

Thinking about my specialism, I would definitely say the internet and new media really interest me.

Luckily this blog has been a really good platform to demonstrate my skills and help get myself noticed. The more I discover online, the more I want to know!

But I don’t feel like I know quite enough yet to be able to call it my ‘specialism’. What do others think? How much of an expert in a field do you have to be before you can call it your specialism?

Rory admitted that he still doesn’t know everything about technology, and would have no idea how to “defrag a hard drive”, but that doesn’t matter.

Once I have gained more hands-on experience in web development and new media I will be at a better position, but for the moment I am going to have to stick to the line “I am willing to learn.”

Westminster and New Media

With all the scandal over “smeargate” recently I thought it would be interesting to hear the political commentators’ views on journalism through new forms of media like blogging.

So yesterday I attended the Foreign Press Association event “Westminster and New Media” where bloggers such as Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale were on the panel.

I wrote the event up for

Journalists should have reported the Damien McBride affair earlier, political blogger Iain Dale, told an industry gathering yesterday.

The system where journalists have close relationships with spin doctors has to end, added Dale, citing the case of former Prime Minister’s aide McBride, whose emails containing unfounded rumours about Conservative politicians were exposed by blogger Paul Staines, better known as Guido Fawkes.

“Paul’s blog is important in setting this – he has no interest in relationships with MPs,” Dale told an audience at the Foreign Press Association.

Dale said he had no doubt that Derek Draper’s planned, anti-Conservative gossip site, Red Rag, would have gone live had Staines not broken the story: “It would have only lasted a matter of days though.”


Online media, in particular blogs and newsgathering using mobile, is breaking down traditional news models, panellists at the event agreed.

“It is now possible for anyone to get a scoop,” said Staines.

“Citizen journalism is tremendously exciting. Ten years ago, these people had no influence and now, since they have got mobile phones or digital cameras, they are empowered,” added Dale,

But, while new media is changing traditional newsgathering and publishing processes, there remains the issue of making money from blogging, said Dale.

“The news hasn’t quite cottoned on to them yet and advertisers are nervous about them,” said Dale, who claimed his site attracts more traffic than The Spectator’s website.

“There is a lot more comment around [on blogs] than newsgathering, as it’s cheaper. News gathering takes time too,” said Staines, who ran his blog for free for the first four years.

According to Dale, there is not yet an established economic model to make a living out of blogging, but there soon will be: “I think we are at the stage where five or six blogs in the UK could make a living.”

The panel was asked how readers are expected to know if stories written on low cost blogs are true.

“If I find out that a story is wrong I will hold my hands up. If people don’t trust me then they won’t read my blog, so I care about what I write,” said Dale.

Staines agreed: “People trust your brand, and you have a reputation. I am a lot more careful now when I get a story. I’ve done 6,000 stories now, and which are wrong? They are few and far between.”

Dale admitted he had been been threatened on three occasions for things written on his site: “It has all been resolved now though. I have no doubt that it will happen again at some point.”

At the end of the talk I asked Guido aka Paul Staines whether he was familiar with the fake Luke Akehurst blog. He said he had read it yes, but he wasn’t aware of the recent update – caused by me. Oops.

Guido Fawkes aka Paul Staines

Guido Fawkes aka Paul Staines

Greenslade Vs Meyer on regulation

Yesterday City University professor of journalism, Roy Greenslade appeared on the Daily Politics Show. I wrote up his appearance for

In the latest public debate surrounding regulation of the UK press, Sir Christopher Meyer, former chairman of the UK Press Complaints Commission (PCC), today argued that the current self-regulatory system was ‘robust, quick and satisfying.’


Meyer, who has now been replaced as PCC chair by Peta Buscombe, was a guest on yesterday’s Daily Politics show on BBC Two, and said that the process worked for many reasons – the body’s discreet handling of complaints was just one, he said.

Meyer defended the PCC’s role, using the fact that they received a record number of complaints from newspaper readers last year as evidence that the principle of self-regulation was firmly established in the industry.

He added that the number of complaints to the PCC had doubled during his tenure. During the debate, however, Roy Greenslade, professor of journalism at City University in London, said that the body was not advertised widely enough.

He said: “Most of the public aren’t aware of the PCC, and the newspapers certainly don’t publicise it.” The show’s presenter, Andrew Neil, asked Meyer where the PCC was during the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

Neil also asked why the body didn’t do more to protect Kate and Gerry McCann from the accusations made by newspapers. Meyer said that Gerry McCann felt that the publicity and coverage of his daughter’s disappearance would aid the search for his daughter. “We told them we were there for them if they wanted help, but they were too busy,” Meyer said.

He added that the McCanns were focused on finding Madeleine at the time.

Greenslade argued that a PCC statement should have been issued at the time, warning the newspapers to adhere to the PCC code of practice.