Overseas Email

PR, Social Media, Travel

I’m flying to the US tomorrow to spend the next week with clients Reality Digital and for a couple of new business meetings. Given the time difference and the inevitable conversations with the UK, it’s always a long day – but one of the interesting elements that I’ve noticed the last few times I’ve been away is that I manage email completely differently whilst abroad. Once over the jetlag and living relatively normally in the local time zone, when I pick up emails I tend to download most, if not the entire contents of a days worth of mail in one go, and then manage it all in one relatively short sitting.

Obviously this makes perfect sense from a time-management perspective but the nature of PR is simply given to being as permanently available as possible which lends itself to being on email all day every day, although I know it’s in some ways more time-consuming that necessary and therefore counter productive.

Still, if only for a week or so, I’m looking forward to enjoying the increased thinking/talking/doing time and being a little less email centric. Perhaps this time when I come back I may be able to put into practice a new ‘twice a day’ regime. Somehow, I doubt it…

Cabs vs Tube


I’ve never been one for taking cabs when I can catch the tubes but in the last few weeks I seem to be jumping from one meeting to the next, both for timekeeping reasons and to keep on top of things inbetween meetings.

Despite being busy enough to warrant this it still feels hugely indulgent and more than a little bit weird.

I guess my ration gene must have kicked in but to be honest, even though it’s clearly not the cheapest option, I’m loving the addiiomal productivity and lack of wear and tear on walking up and down escalators…

Caffeine & A Very Long Week

Health, SEO, Travel

Lots has been made of Google’s new algorithm Caffeine this week, with the forthcoming changes making ripples to the online search community to the forthcoming changes (which can be trialled). I picked up on an interesting piece from a blog yesterday in which we were mentioned, commented and only later realised that it was Australian.

It’s been a killer week – on the plus side, it’s been hugely positive, several new business conversations have been initiated and a couple of new relationships kicked off. I’ve not actually counted but it’s been at least a 60 hour special and possibly even 75+. So, it’s Friday night and I find myself going home to see if I can set a new record for hours slept through continuously…

A Transatlantic Cultural Dichotomy

Tech, Travel

So, I’ve finally lasted out my Vodafone contract and have made the switch over to 02, a move which I assume many continue to make despite Vodafone’s best yet failing efforts to the contrary, simply on the basis of demand for the iPhone. Despite the fact that it clearly looks beautiful and I’m pretty keen to put the abuse I’ve had from certain clients in particular about my clunky Nokia E61i behind me, I’ve run both phones in tandem for a week or so, to ensure that I can go back to old faithful if needs be.

In other words, despite clearly wanting to have one for some time, I’ve tried to remain as aloof and objective as possible once the initial product lust has been slaked, to try and make a decision based on functionality not hype.

Consequently, aside from a worse-than-expected battery life which does concern me given the 18 month contract, I’m actually really pleased with it. Typing remains something of a challenge – I guess I’ve mastered typing on the Nokia that I’ve had for several years as it has raised keys and the touch-screen seems to be slowing things done considerably – but I assume that’s just going to improve with increased usage.

Interestingly, I’ve had several conversations with friends, contacts and clients recently about whether to buy an iPhone case and seem to have stumbled upon an apparently hitherto unnoticed source of transatlantic disagreement. Almost without exception in my experience, the iPhone users that I know in California have theirs loving shielded from the outside world somehow, yet Europeans seem almost enraged at the prospect of covering up their phone. I blithely sent out a tweet which copied across to Facebook and collectively received numerous responses from European friends (UK and Germany) telling me that I was most definitely not to buy a case under any circumstances – and yet recall a recent conversation with a US colleague who couldn’t understand why anyone would want to protect it. Strange. I’m sure there must be a deeper meaning there somewhere.

What Happens When You’re Permanently Out of Office?

Social Media, Travel

It’s been a long week this week, having trawled the country, from London Monday to Leicester then Liverpool, on to Birmingham and then London again Friday. OK, so I had a day in the office on Wednesday and therefore shouldn’t complain but it has literally been a week of shooting from one meeting to the next – which of course means that everything else is done on the fly, or out of hours.

Normally, I pride myself on being able to work pretty much anywhere at any time but I guess there is a limit and, highly unusually for me, I found myself on the train home at 6pm yesterday, unable to turn outlook on for the first time in a while. I’ve spent an hour catching up this morning – so normal service has quickly resumed – but this has made me think about what the optimum time out of the office actually is.

Should I try to spend at least 2 days per week in the office? Should I be content if I’m out 5 days per week, knowing that we’re busy which is ‘good’? I strongly suspect that time management gurus would take great issue with the latter. However, that does imply that some of my appointments this week were less valuable than others – which I don’t believe was the case.

So, I’m looking forward to a weekend with the family and more time in the office next week, along with a couple of days pitching and with clients respectively. Hopefully that should make for more of a balance and I think I might have to become a little stricter with myself in terms of diary management moving forwards.

I see that Facebook has finally got around to launching vanity urls this week. Must get around to that before the landgrab gets out of hand…

A Real Out Of Office Message

Books & Comics, Parenting, Travel

Delighted to be putting my actual out of office message on for the first time in a while as I’m flying to Spain with my girls for a week this weekend. It’s been a crazy start to 2009, we have another new person joining on Monday and are recruiting again.

The great thing is that for the first time since we started the process of building the business, I’m able to head off with some conviction, knowing that I don’t need to check in or take my laptop – which was of course one of the main drivers for building the team in the first instance.

I’m yet to even think about packing (obviously) as this week’s been unbelievable – one 3am finish, two 7am starts and about eight meetings. Looking forward to a return to normality when I get back as the diary’s looking much clearer. The main issue’s going to be recruitment in the short term, so if anyone is looking for PR jobs, please do get in touch (pete at punchcomms dot com).

Not sure whether taking two books with me is ambitious or just pointless – suspect the latter. Am going to try to read the God Delusion finally and am 50 pages into the second Flashman, having recently finished the first.

An early night to bed methinks for the final Herculian push to get the girls to our destination in one piece…

New Look, New Home

Books & Comics, Films, Games, Health, Music, Nonsense, Parenting, PR, Rugby, SEO, Social Media, Surf, Tech, Travel

So, a few weeks ago I moved this blog from it’s former home to this new location, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the software I was using, from a site called ‘edublogs’ was proving extremely painful to use despite being based on WordPress, resisting updates on a seemingly arbitrary basis. Secondly I also wanted this to be more personal and less a blog about Punch (we have one of those already – here), which takes up most every waking moment outside family life anyway. Hence, this blog’s new name – Out of Office Messages.

Much of what I had written previously is actually still relevant, so I’ve imported the content here – but really, this is more about my personal point of view and perspective which, increasingly, as Punch is now growing (we’re on the point of appointing two more people, taking us to ten) is happily just one facet of the whole picture during the working day.

I’ve also changed the look and feel a couple of times in recent weeks and have finally settled on this layout. Whilst the ability to choose templates on wordpress is undoubtedly fun and designed to ensure that there’s something for everyone, I’ve found that most of the templates feel very old very quickly – and in some cases even quite amateurish – the blog equivalent of clipart. So, the simplicity of this particular layout suits me perfectly.

I have wrestled a little with the extent to which I make this about my interests – which has made me reflect on what my interests actually are. As anyone that knows me personally will, I’m sure, testify, I’m very fortunate in that I’m hugely passionate about my working life. So, whilst it is clearly work related, it’s fair to say that one of my interests is technology and moreover, at present, how technology is effecting sociological change – with innovative web applications breeding new means of personal interaction, for example.

Similarly, it’s interesting to me that reputation management is becoming ever-more relevant, with the current shift towards personal reputation management through web 2.0 and the trend for execs constantly having an eye towards their next opportunity. I suspect this is likely to crop up fairly regularly.

I love the fact that this post may be read by no-one or hundreds+, based on a number of factors, not least merit – but also context/distribution. As per my recent post referencing a couple of bloggers that apparently hadn’t grasped that their entry may in some way have a detrimental effect on their careers, it’s hugely interesting to me that the traditional ‘rules’ of PR still very much apply here – it’s just that the distribution landscape is dramatically different.

Finally, on this, I’m also hugely interested by the prospect of how ‘PR2.0’ can be integrated with (note, not a substitute for) traditional PR techniques, meaning that all reputation campaigns can benefit from a coordinated approach to search engine optimisation, social media and bloggers/blogging, for example.

So, on a different note entirely, outside work my life is really almost entirely devoted to three girls – my wife and two daughters. We’ve had an extended period of intensity at work, dating back to September ’07 when we our first employee joined us to work alongside myself, meaning that I rarely have too much time for anything else.

With a set of golf clubs in the garage now gathering dust having not been used since the birth of my daughter 4+ years ago, I think that can safely be discounted as a likely regular subject. However, as a season ticket holder at Leicester Tigers (having just bought two more for my two daughters for next year) I try to go as often as possible – although that has meant about five times a year for the past two seasons, which is criminal really.

Finally, the last subject which is likely to crop up regularly is my love of the water. Again, swimming has suffered in the last 18 months but it’s something that I do love with a passion. Moreover, I try to get a surf at least a couple of times a year – which dates back to when I was first taken into the sea with my Dad and his board when I was about four.

So, that’s a wrap as far as I’m concerned. My main issue with blogs is that they are frequently too self absorbed so my aim is to always avoid that – but I did want to somehow mark what feels like a significant shift, if only in terms of intentions as opposed to output.

Accidental Fatigue Management

Health, Travel

It’s been a strange ten days. I anticipated having sufficient time on my hands to blog throughout the trip to San Francisco but aside from three trips to the pool and a party on the Friday night, I don’t think I had a non-work related waking moment. Which is not to say that was a problem – it was a hugely enjoyable trip, which meant that work didn’t seem like work at all much of the time.

On the Wednesday night I attended the inaugural ‘new media drinkup’, which was arranged by Wes Barrow, one of Reality Digital’s locally based business development team. The event was extremely well attended and we met some terrific people, many of which were Wes’ friends and contacts, from the world’s biggest video sharing site (the big Y), to a number of local start ups spanning web apps, clean tech etc. We also managed to find a weird hybrid of beer and champagne that night at a late night debrief in The Mission district of town.

On Thursday we held the Reality Digital Social Media Building Blocks event, from which the team at Perkett, Reality Digital’s US agency, and I liveblogged and posted the news that was unveiled that day to social media sites throughout, whilst also meeting more great people, including the head of news for the largest youth music broadcaster (the big M) in the world and the founder of digital agency, Type3 Digital, which has just set up a San Francisco office.

On the Friday, we headed to Napa Valley for some wine tasting in what was beautiful, glorious sunshine – which was certainly one of the most enjoyable days at work that I’ve spent in recent memory and that night I hooked up again with Wes and another PR contact, Vanessa Camones, founder of The Mix Agency, where we headed to Randi Zuckerberg’s private birthday party (Randi being the sister of Mark, founder of the big F). It’s fair to say that this was a pretty stellar event, with Tim Ferriss in attendance, along with numerous people from the big F and also the big G, along with many others, including the local tech journalists and bloggers, who were all actually very nice, despite some reputations to the contrary.

So, having gotten up early to hop in a cab across town to join hundreds of angry Irishmen and watch the rugby, I spent the remainder of Saturday catching up with the numerous people I had met on the trip via Twitter and Linked In. Somehow, end-of-month related work didn’t seem to stop until the early hours and then I managed to work through the flight home too. It’s fair to say that the last week’s been fairly productive as a result.

Interestingly, I haven’t really been struck (yet) by jetlag from the return journey. Having not slept through the foreshortened night on the trip and managed to keep up until about 8pm on the Monday night and then slept through, I may have pulled off the unexpected and defied the usual shocking levels of east-bound fatigue, if only by accident (through extensive workload) rather than design.

Heading To Napa Valley

PR, Social Media, Tech, Travel

After a long day yesterday at the hugely successful Reality Digital Social Building Blocks ’09 conference, we’re heading out to Napa Valley today for some wine tasting. Just working with colleagues in the UK to put some finishing touches to the frthcming  Social Networking World Forum event that is taking place in London in a week or so and then heading out.

There’s a party tonight being held by Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, Randi – and currently much anticipation in San Francisco that it’s going to be huge.

So, I’m looking forward to watching England v Ireland in a bleary eyed state with Rob at 8am PST tomorrow…

Sleep Deprivation – Meet Jetlag…

Health, Travel

I just landed yesterday in San Francisco with Reality Digital for a conference later this week – flight was terrific and managed to get through a heap of work. Rob Proctor (Head of EMEA) and I landed and headed straight out to a terrific restaurant called the Franciscan, overlooking Alcatraz. It’s been raining something terrible and the fog was super think but obviously still terrific to look out over the bay. Think we’re going to head out on Saturday for a look around Alcatraz, before we head back on Sunday.

So, we saw a little of the Oscars – and much mirth was had with the locals over Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle and Kate Winslet (ie 3 ‘Brits’) winning three of the four big gongs.

I’ve managed to sleep through a little longer than usual, which is great as I’ve been shattered through a combination of late nights and early starts in recent weeks. I guess it’ll kick in around midday again today – which is perfectly timed to coincide with our first meeting, to discuss global PR strategy with Reality Digital’s new US PR Agency…

I think an early morning swim is called for.