Tag Archives: PR Week

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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Aflac duck ruffles feathers after riding the subway

25 Sep

Ey up duck! I’ve got to hand it to Aflac for using a duck to promote its insurance business by letting it do its thing in New York, including riding the subway.

The Aflac duck has been part of the company’s brand identity since 1999, after an advertising executive walking around Central Park muttering the business name realised it sounded a lot like a duck’s ‘quack’. After that, the Aflac duck became the star of TV adverts, but never before has the brand used a live one to promote the business.

And it might not get the chance again after the news of a duck on the loose ruffled feathers. MTA spokesperson Adam Lisberg stressed that ‘ducks don’t belong on the subway… especially waddling through stations’, obviously.

I do like a rebel stunt and the fact that a risk averse insurance client signed this off is simply brilliant. Live animals spotted in unusual settings will always get tongues wagging, and Aflac’s achieved just that with the New York Post and the Huffington Post having its say.

So the stunt’s paid off and no cringe-worthy branding was needed because the duck has so much history with the company. But I doubt they’ll be able to smuggle a duck on the subway again. Adam’s got his beady eye Aflac now. But, what’s a duck meant to do?

According to PR Week, he’d come straight from a recording session with N Sync’s Lance Bass and Joey Fatone.

Good PR by Aflac or has it just been spun a tale by the quack doctors?

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Ignite my fire for PR

2 Jan

It’s the 2nd January 2013. New year, new resolutions and new outlooks for life are officially in place.

Today I got comfortable in my desk chair for the first time in two weeks, opened my to-do list and taught myself how to touch type all over again. I’m in PR. I can do anything and be anything.

Well, so I thought. But, as a 25-year old mixed race female in food and drink B2B PR, it seems that no one is ‘backing’ me as I read this evening that Ignite PR – the voluntary networking group that seeks to lobby for diversity within the communications industry – is set to close after just four years.

Bieneosa Ebite, chairman and co-founder of Ignite, has blamed lack of time for the group folding, but makes clear that the network has achieved more than she imagined since launching – by releasing manifestos and building a database of more than 400 individuals. From gender and ethnic equality to fair work ethics and advice on recruiting, Ignite fired on all cylinders.

A group like this has to. Especially when PR Week and PRCA’s last census revealed last year that less than 5,000 professionals (from a pool of 61,000 working in our industry) are from black and minority ethnic heritages.

But, sadly these figures aren’t shocking; just off-puttingly accurate, which adds weight to the great shame of Ignite extinguishing.

In my view, I don’t think time would be a factor for the founding team if the membership and engagement levels were right; the website looks and feels stagnant. But, perhaps this news will jolt more people – myself included – to be more aware and become proactive in sustaining the momentum that Ignite began.

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