Tag Archives: read

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 Β£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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Ad slogan ‘Christians make better lovers’ causes underground frenzy

10 Jan

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Take a seat eHarmony, Match.com and Uniform Dating, there’s a new matchmaker in town, Christian Connection, and it’s wasted no time in making itself known in 2014.

The religious dating website may have been around since the millennium but outside of Christian circles, we can assume it’s not had much attention recently.

Launching across the London Underground, it plastered platforms with fun, vibrant slogans such as: ‘Another dating agency? Thank God!’, ‘God knew you would see this’ and ‘Christians make better lovers’ – and it’s certainly got a reaction.

Not only has it featured in The Telegraph, Huffington Post and Christian Today (so cliche) but Twitter is all a flutter with the advertising campaign too. It’s a great PR story in itself! I can’t say I’m surprised – it’s brilliant.

Created by Chas Bayfield, creative director at integrated agency Noah, he’s done what Christians everywhere have been waiting for – a fun, cheeky campaign which says ‘we can take a joke too’.

Of course we know that the term ‘lovers’ has connotations with sex, but hey we don’t have to take it too seriously because we know how to read between the lines and take it to another level. Needless to say Chas has done a great job on this because it instantly invites others – of all faiths – to have a laugh before actually thinking a bit harder about what they want in a partner.

And why has he done such a good job? It’s because Chas isn’t guessing or portraying what he thinks will work well. He’s heavily involved in Cricklewood Baptist Church in London. To me, that’s exciting and very inspiring, and will hopefully encourage more Christian businesses to partner with agencies that know their stuff and won’t shy away from the issue in hand. I know it’s something I aspire to do more of.

It just goes to show that if you have a brave client who has faith in their agency, and both believe in something far bigger than the campaign itself, then it’s definitely going places.

It’s early doors but this could definitely be a contender for the Prime Time Awards in the ‘Worth every penny category’.

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lastminute.com is behind the times with copycat campaign

9 Nov

Competitions are PR gold because they drive engagement with your target market. I’ve launched a few of them in my micro career – from the Best British Roast Dinner to the Best Dressed Pub – and it’s safe to say there’s no campaign that won’t allow you to bring out consumers’ competitive streak.

But the one that the PR industry remembers – which broke all the rules, offered a top prize, won awards and international coverage – was Queensland’s 2009 ‘Best Job in the World‘. So, when I saw the lastminute.com was looking for a ‘spontaneity champion‘, to indulge in luxury mini breaks across the world and share their experiences with the brand, I was a little disappointed.

There’s no shame in being inspired by other campaigns, but if it doesn’t take it to another level then have you really done your job? (#JustSaying)

lastminute.com’s competition has already been talked about by almost every UK national newspaper, but to add some extra sparkle, I’d promote it in the following ways:

Pack a suitcase
Package the competition up as part of a wider feature with top tips for frequent travellers; travel blogger profiles; and ‘how to…’ articles on spending 24hours in the most popular cities. The content can be run as part of an advertorial within a magazine like Time Out or pitched into a range of websites.

Pin it to win it
lastminute.com is on the right track when it comes to social media, by encouraging the eventual champion to share their experiences, but it could take it one step further by utilising Pinterest.

This story is great, but there’s nothing worse than reading about a competition you didn’t win, so why not continue the celebrations by giving people a chance to win a trip to the destination on a picture they ‘re-pin’?

Talk to the experts
If you’re sending someone on a ‘trip of a lifetime’ every weekend for a year, they’re going to become experts in destination hotspots, hidden culture and emerging trends. So leverage their expertise by hosting a press event at the end the year for a campaign round-up. lastminute.com could go it alone, if they have the budget, or partner with a well-known travel conference and secure a speaking opportunity as part of a sponsorship package.

By inviting journalists and bloggers to hear the stories, and also do a ‘big reveal’ for next year’s campaign, they can keep the brand in the news.

So, there it is. Three ideas to better organise the campaign around the spontaneity champion. Are you up to the challenge?

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