When I was writing the press release for a talk the museum director was giving as part of the Old Cyder House Talks, I was really captured by her subject. Sarah had spent ten years at the Historic Royal Palaces where for much of her time she was a curator at Hampton Court Palace. She curated Suffragettes, Soldiers & Servants: Behind the Scenes of the Hampton Court Palace Community, an exhibition “ethereally” located in a former Grace & Favour apartment that I marketed as The militant Sikh Princess and other secret stars of Hampton Court Palace. The idea of secret stars really excited me and I enjoyed the stories she shared in her talk. I had no idea that the palace that was used by knights, courtiers, cardinals and kings from 1236 was occupied from the mid 18th century (when George II decided not to live there) by an eclectic mix of palace residents including Michael Faraday, the chemist and physicist who discovered electromagnetic induction and the militant Indian suffragette Princess Sophia, daughter of Maharajah Duleep Singh who moved into a series of apartments granted to those who found favour after services rendered to crown or country. There is always more to the story.

Two things on the web caught my attention this week. The first was the Nestle “fan page” on Facebook. The other was #CashGordon on twitter. Both have been touted as how not to do social media and I myself referred to #CashGordon today as the negative correlative of excellence in web 2.0. Olivier Blanchard has summed up the Nestle “fan page” story brilliantly here and Daniel Ashcroft (yes my brother but I’d follow him even if he wasn’t) has summed up the #CashGordon succinctly here. The conclusions of Aren and Daniel are ultimately the same.

Olivier: This isn't amateur hour. Social Media management requires rigorous training and razor-sharp focus: Having a Social Media presence for your company and brand(s) is serious business. It isn’t an afterthought. It isn’t something you can afford to assign to interns*. It isn’t something you can afford to completely hire out to a digital shop, a “social media” firm or an ad agency. You have to take the space seriously. This requires planning, preparation, training and focus.

Daniel: This has been a tough lesson on how Social Media is not just a medium that can spread the word and create positive results with minimal effort. It requires strategy, especially in anticipating and handling the inevitable mudslinging that will accompany activities such as this.

What caught the part of my imagination that was stimulated by Sarah’s talk was captured by these stories. There is so much more to them than the mere facts; the communication of the facts and the interpretation of them becomes bigger than the stories themselves. Sarah conceptualised a vast wealth of data to produce Suffragettes, Soldiers & Servants: Behind the Scenes of the Hampton Court Palace Community just as Olivier and Daniel have used the case studies of Nestle vs. Greenpeace and #CashGordon to explain the complexity of social media.

It is my belief that there is always more to the story and I’m fascinated by how collaboration can see ideas swell. This week I got the green light to run an event at the museum which is very close to my heart. The Creative Writing Workshop will take place on Saturday the 26th of June and will bring archive material to the eyes of Gloucestershire’s creative writers (obviously everyone is welcome and since Google Alerts has informed me of visitors from Sri Lanka to this website I’d like to stress all are welcome and if you fly to the UK for my workshop then hell, I’ll pick you up from the airport myself!**). I’m eager to see what a room full of creative people will make of the exciting and largely unseen material that the museum is privileged to have collected.

It’s why after participating twice in the 4am Project I contacted Karen Strunks this week to ask whether I could get more involved. Karen has kindly leant her support to my organising a Gloucester at night walk on the 4th of April in association with her fantastic idea. Since moving to Gloucester nearly a year ago (the first 4am Project coincided with the day I moved), I’ve developed a deep affection for my city and am keen for other people to see what secrets it holds. There’s a magic in the air at 4am and I’m sure my love of my home town is linked to my special first day here. But I still only have the bare bones of my story and hope that the photographers on the 4th of April 2010 will help me flesh it out.

I think it’s important that when we look at a situation, we look at it from a number of different angles and ask questions of its significance. Often this requires collaboration and I like Olivier’s idea of Nestle and Greenpeace actually working together. There’s a real risk that comes with failing to anticipate the needs and motivations of others (as the Tories demonstrated) and whether it is public or private, your story or someone else’s it is key to learn from it. I don’t always display great empathy but it is something I continually work at and see it as a lifetime’s work of refinement. I’m keen to see what the writers want and need (the workshop is arguably a pilot) and what the photographers see at 4am. Of course I hope to help build the creative community in my area and I have plans to film the walk through Gloucester at night but it’s important to step back from my own motivations lest I am blinded to what more there is to the story.

* This blog was brought to you by the marketing intern at the Edward Jenner Museum ;)

** No luggage, I drive an MX5!
8/2/2017 09:17:09 am

There are so many stories you have shared! Actually, I've had a difficult time knowing what topic to prioritize first because some topics are worth knowing, while there are some worth ignoring. If you are going to present different topics in one post, make sure that you have organized it properly so that your readers will not get confused. I am hoping that you got my point.


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