Tag Archives: editor

How Decoded is on a mission to make everyone feel comfortable with coding

6 Sep

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I don’t tend to make a habit of being in Central London before 9am on a Saturday, but I chose to break my own rules as part of my quest on learning how to code.

International technology school Decoded has generated a bit of a buzz in recent months. From Brand Republic‘s Editor in Chief Danny Rogers giving it a thumbs up to founder Kathryn Parsons ‘selling it’ in Stylist, my colleague and I were eager to check it out. On a Saturday. Have I mentioned that already?

Wooed by the appeal of a continental breakfast, we made our way there. But, on the way, I made a mental note of what I wanted to get out of the day. After all, at more than £400 a pop (and that’s just the weekend rate), Decoded needs to deliver results.

So, how did it do?

1) I’ll be able to read code well enough to understand when, and where, there is a problem within the text
Going through the fundamental principles of HTML, CSS and Java Script, in theory I should be able to read and write in code. It helped that Decoded’s system underlined errors in red, but going forward this is a case of practice makes perfect. If I keep at it, and focus just as much on the coding – opposed to just the visuals – it won’t be long before I’m fluent.

2) I’ll be able to simplify the fundamentals in order to make recommendations or flag issues to clients
The demonstrators did a great job of breaking the complex content down for us. And, like the above, if I can truly understand the basics then I’ll be well-equipped to explain it to others. But, in the meantime, I can always rely on Decoded’s follow-up resources pack to ensure I become a savvy wordsmith.

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3) I’ll get to know what elements generate the best call to actions and how to input these into my projects
Because this is a starter course, we didn’t delve into techniques that manipulate websites to increase engagement, interaction or sales etc.

Instead, we spent the day working on an app that allowed customers to check-in from a single geographical location, in order to collect rewards. That in itself was definitely more than I bargained for – teaching me the ‘not so subtle’ differences between the front and back end of websites.

4) I’ll be able to code an aspect of the projects I work on without simply rewriting existing templates
Yes and no. Using the foundations of coding, technically I can create content from scratch. But, whether I could do this within my company’s house style is yet to be tested. We remained very much in the safe territory of Decoded’s web design editing system. And, after nine hours of intense learning, I was grateful for that.

Overall, I was highly impressed by the professionalism of the course. It was relaxed and informal, but very effective. It’s definitely empowered me to carry on pushing myself to learn new things. After all, I can’t have primary school pupils showing me up in a few years time now that coding is on the curriculum.

Having these skills now will help a budding brand storyteller like myself profit in the future.

And, I must admit, it felt darn good to be sat around a big table carving out a digital masterpiece on a MacBook Air.
Very New York.

Have you been ‘Decoded’? What did you make of it?

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PRs: How to host the perfect journalist meeting

24 Jan

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There’s no doubt about it. When you’ve been in the PR game for a while, you get lazy. There’s no one turning point as to when this happens, but it’s not too long after you’ve found the gem of a journalist that will put something online moments after you’ve sent it – and they’re nice enough to send you the link. When you have relationships like this, why try?

The answer’s simple: to produce results that go beyond simple coverage cuttings.

With many clients cutting back on PR and marketing budgets, it’s vital that teams show they’re adding the type of value to clients that shows up on their bottom line. That, my friends, is platinum PR (nothing fluffy about it).

Today, I met with a trade journalist to better understand how I can improve my clients’ share of voice within the magazine and connect with its readers.

Don’t take these meetings for granted.
Here’s some tips on how PRs can host the perfect journalist meeting:

1. Make them feel special
It’s not always effective to take time out of the office to meet with just one journalist, but the editor of this B2B title felt flattered that I’d gone out of my way to find out how I can meet her editorial needs. She was so charmed, she bought the coffee for me!

2. Go to their neck of the woods
It’s obvious, but meet in the place that’s most convenient for them. They tend to be more relaxed knowing they’re close to HQ.

3. Come prepared
However well you think they know your client, bring a press pack full of details about the business, along with information on projects and case studies they’ll be interested in. If it’s not relevant to them now, it will be later.

The editor was also touched that the information was personalised for her. Again, a small gesture that goes a long way in showing that you’re genuinely interested in developing a longstanding relationship with the title.

Also have a latest copy of the magazine with you. Think of it as a shield. You wouldn’t go into battle without one, would you?

4. Share the floor
The best PR/journalist meeting is where both parties have something to gain. Talk a bit, listen a lot and talk again to ensure you’re sharing the conversation.

5. Don’t think you know it all
Bounce ideas off each other and discuss the sorts of things the editor and the client would be interested in pursuing. I’d never have thought from my meeting, she’d be offering my client space on a table at an influential industry event. Or, willing to do an industry profile on the business I’m representing (a spot that’s normally reserved for advertisers.)

A little bit of thought goes a long way – and pays plenty in PR value.

What are your tips for when dealing with journalists?

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