Tag Archives: language

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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Royal Mail fails as brands attempt to cash in on World Cup buzz

12 Jun

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Call me naive (although I’d prefer it if you called me Donna*), but I didn’t even realise until this week that postal officers could refuse to deliver mail that they deemed offensive. But they can, and they did, when they were handed the latest issue of marketing magazine The Drum.

The front cover included the F-bomb, in large font, as part of a creative design tying in with the World Cup which kicks off today. (Go Belgium, thanks to my sweep stake pick). But, context aside, according to the Royal Mail, the subscription-only trade publication failed to comply with the company’s T&Cs of avoiding ‘offensive, obscene or threatening language’.

So, knowing what I know now, I’m not sure why I was surprised to read again today that there are reports of postal staff – possibly Royal Mail, possibly not – refusing to deliver a special edition of The Sun in the North West. A blow to the UK’s largest newspaper after it invested in creating a one-off paper celebrating ‘Englishness’ to celebrate the launch of that football tournament. There’s a pattern emerging here, don’t you think?

Reaching 22 million people across the UK and not a Page 3 model in sight, The Sun had already pre-empted a negative reaction from Liverpool, so decided against distributing there, as a result of the newspaper’s Hillsborough football disaster coverage. But, reports are circulating that elsewhere in the North of England – including Runcorn, St Helens, Skelmersdale and Ellesmere Port – that postal staff wouldn’t agree to deliver in these areas if asked.

At a time when the print journalism industry is struggling to stay alive, because consumers are choosing to eat their news and views in more convenient digital bites, I’m surprised that delivery companies like the Royal Mail are turning their back on print partners. Surely, these corporate contracts – whether they’re one-off projects on long-term – are their bread and butter. And, without them they’ll just go hungry! Particularly if their hunger pangs come down to language preference, like in The Drum’s case.

It’s for the end consumer to make the complaint and, if they’re offended, the issue (no pun intended) should be taken up with the company responsible: the publisher, not the carrier.

FIFA has enough PR problems to deal with around this global event, besides whether its ‘brand’ can even be delivered to the right people. It needs to focus on protecting its image against rumours that half-built stadiums will be half empty, as well as the news that the Brazilian army has been asked to drive lingering drug lords out of local favelas.

Let’s hope these latest Royal Mail fails don’t reflect too badly on the tournament.

*That bad joke proves I am my mother’s child, just in case anyone was wondering.

The Drum editor says 'F@£! It' to Royal Mail over F-bomb front cover

The Drum editor says ‘F@£! It’ to Royal Mail over F-bomb front cover

Coca-Cola loses its fizz after insulting customer

22 Sep

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Have you heard the one about Coca-Cola calling one of its customers a ‘retard‘ via its latest promotion?

Ok, maybe you haven’t because it happened in Canada. But here’s what happened:

Blake Loates bought home a bottle of Coca-Cola’s Vitamin Water earlier this week and she was in for a shock when she unscrewed the cap, which read ‘You Retard’ on the inside. Some people may have found it funny (personally I don’t, and even less so coming from a global brand) but Blake certainly didn’t because her sister suffers from cerebral palsy.

Her father wrote a letter of disgust forcing Coca-Cola to own up to its politically incorrect mistake – which it did quite well. But the reason the brand manager (or PR) cited for the inappropriate wording was a language mix up (‘retard’ meaning ‘delayed’ or ‘late’ in French), which relates a wider promotion the brand was running.

The fact that more people may have or will continue to open up the phrase before the manufacturing process is discontinued is shocking – and the fact that Coca-Cola has undone its apology to the family, by not noticing the mistake long before it went public, is dumb.

There’s some small-scale crisis management to be done now, in my opinion, because consumers won’t remember the story being a water bottle lid ‘lost in translation’, it’ll become ‘Coca-Cola calls cerebral palsy teenager a retard’. But for some reason the drinks company has put this issue to the bottom of its ‘to do’ list as it looks to push ahead with its international obesity campaign.

Of course a stunt like this won’t damage a brand like that, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t show empathy. I’d have liked to have seen Coca-Cola show some personality by making the Loates family feel like a valued customer and sending some freebies. Essentially, the company needs the family to publicly say the right things to override the negative comments so everyone can see that the situation was dealt with.

This time, Coca-Cola might not have lost its bottle with the complaint, but it’s certainly lost its fizz.

Would this bad PR put you off your favourite soft drink?

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