Tag Archives: profit

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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A child Picasso gives Waitrose a helping hand

26 Aug

20140430-231008.jpgThey say the ‘kids are all right’. But, the phrase should be the kids are always right. Earlier this year a little girl wrote a letter to Lego complaining that boys had all the fun because they got the chance to play the hero, whereas female figures had limited prospects sunbathing on the beach or relaxing at the beauty parlour. Lego listened and promptly launched a limited edition set of inspirational female scientists that have sold out in stores in the US.

Now, seven-year old Harry Deverill, from Dorset, has taken it upon himself to redesign Waitrose’s bottle of brown sauce. He couldn’t work out what the current picture was meant to be, so supplied the supermarket chain with three alternatives. And, as a result, it’s replaced its essential range’s brown sauce label with one of his images.

It was always going to be a success.

Up-market supermarket Waitrose, which previously slid to PR success, has not only shown that it listens to its customers’ suggestions (note suggestion, not complaint), but that it’s also open to change. And, in doing so, has proved that it understands good PR.

I’m sorry Harry but, in the foodservice industry, updating packaging that has existed from the beginning of time is not high on its list of priorities. After all, it’s got shelf space, profit margins and new products – such as Curiosity Cola, Birds Eye Mas#Tags and Warburtons – to contend with. But, in spite of all this, it knows that putting a call into its printing factory is worth generating content for its own publications (Waitrose Kitchen and Waitrose Weekend) and national consumer titles such as the Daily Mail, Daily Express and the Metro.

Although, this wouldn’t be Prime Time if I couldn’t find a way to critique the perfect PR stunt.

Taking a proper look at the previous label’s artwork I can conclude that it’s bad – really bad. Why Waitrose has been precious about it for so long is beyond me. So, why not extend the opportunity and launch a competition for other children to submit their designs for its essentials range? I appreciate that redesigning the entire collection might be a bit much, but it could start with the condiments and table sauces and work it’s way through the shop slowly.

This will generate even more content for the brand to roll out across its:

a) Social media channels
Competition entry galleries where fans are encouraged to vote for their favourite image.

b) Marketing magazines
Features on the children behind the winning designs.

c) TV shows
PR through cookery demonstration discussions.

A competition would also lend itself to a local PR campaign in hotspot areas, with the results transitioning into advertising slogans.

It’s come this farand I salute Waitrose for its willing gesture. But, it doesn’t have to be a one-hit wonder. Keep the momentum going by involving more customers and sit back and enjoy the results.

What do you think?

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Dancing on ice for Children in Need

13 Nov

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All brands get to a stage where they have to stop and think of others by running, what we call in the industry, a ‘charidee’ campaign.

One of my favourites this week is the Tower of London’s link up with Children in Need. To celebrate the BBC’s corporate charity – that helps more than 2,600 projects in the UK to provide support to millions of young people – it’s donating up to £7.50 per person from three skating sessions. My guesstimate is that it’ll raise well over £1,500. And, it’s a partnership that’s obviously beneficial to both parties because it’s the second year in a row that they’ve done this.

It’s topped my list for three reasons:

a) – This is pounds, not pence, being donated which makes a difference to charity and the media
b) – The Tower of London Ice Rink gets to launch its skating season with a bang with some TV coverage that’ll deliver a strong ROI
c) – Someone’s going to have to dress in a Pudsey costume and skate at the same time so the chances of that person falling over, making for s classic live TV moment, is high

Celebrities are also backing the charity’s 34th appeal – which is set to raise the bar by topping last year’s £26m fundraising total – in various ways. From Ellie Goulding’s charity single, which’ll donate 20p from each downloaded track, to Sir Paul McCartney designing his own Pudsey Bear, the campaign’s approach is evolving all the time.

What are your top charity campaigns?

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