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Social media as a tool for the diplomatic community

Elizabeth Rust : January 24, 2014 3:50 pm : Blog

FlagsHow can social media help an embassy increase their country’s profile so that tourists and other nations understand what they offer? This is just one of the many questions discussed when I attended a networking event hosted by the London Press Club and the Diplomatic Press Attaches Association London on 23 January at the Embassy of Brazil.

Social media has changed the way people around the world interact with each other and how the mainstream media find news stories and relate to their readers. It’s far more direct than what it was even five years ago. For that reason, diplomats have an opportunity to use social media to educate and engage with other nations, tourists and residents. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office for example, are using digital tools to improve every aspect of what they do, especially when it comes to policy making.

Social media also allows ‘institutions’ and large corporate buildings to seem more human. Posting pictures and answering questions about visas is a non-threatening way for diplomats to interact with people on a much larger scale than what used to be possible. In addition, smaller nations, such as Denmark, Sweden and Iceland are using social media to increase their political voice around the world.

I met some fascinating people, including representatives from Jamaica and Paraguay, and also got to sample some delicious Brazilian food. I’m definetly looking forward to seeing and learning more about how these diplomats will use social media to connect with their audiences.

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Review: The Weir

Elizabeth Rust : January 22, 2014 3:46 pm : Blog

Photograph by Helen Warner
Photograph by Helen Warner

Last night I had the pleasure of being invited to see The Weir at the Wyndham’s Theatre in Leicester Square.

A play about loneliness and loss, with a bit of dark humour thrown in, what makes this play worth seeing is just how these ‘characters’ support each other and ‘stay for just one more’ in the midst of a lonely rural setting where most people would move to for the seemingly ‘good-life’ in the country.

All five of them show us that we need to connect, in some way, with people. Three ghost stories are told, and during them we learn how each of them have been hurt by someone in their past. Perhaps this explains their need for rural salvation?

Yes, in some way, you do feel pity of these ‘characters’ who seem to have nothing else to do but drink in a pub and tell each other stories about incidents that happened years before. However, they genuinely enjoy each other’s company. And tomorrow night they’ll probably tell the same stories, but at the end of the day, these stories connect them.

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Elizabeth Rust : January 20, 2014 3:40 pm : Blog

One of my favourite websites is Notonthehighstreet.com Whenever I need a bit of inspiration, I turn to it to see what new creative businesses have been added. Sophie Cornish is co-founder of the online retailer. After working in advertising,  she wanted a “working life on [her] own terms that worked towards the great good.” She now writes small business advice articles for the Daily Telegraph. This except has been pulled from an article she wrote in 2012. In the article she explains that women need to think about the bigger picture when starting a business and not fuss about the small details as an excuse for not launching.

“While I know a number of women already delivering on their ambitious plans, in my experience, men generally have the edge on thinking big. I define this as meaning that they tend to go for it and rely on working out some of the details as they go along. A risky strategy, for sure, but one that can be effective, so long as you know that some details matter more than others – getting the right bank account is a bigger detail than a website font. So you should definitely prioritise on the decisions that need to be made but then – make it happen. It’s probably also true that men are generally better at behaving with confidence, talking up big plans to go with their big vision.

“For those around them, this can mean more clarity in their plans, more action and less procrastination. Rather like that theory that men look in the mirror and believe they are better looking than they really are, whereas women believe they are less attractive than they really are. I’d like more women to have faith in their own ability and trust that they will build their business, even if things aren’t exactly as they hoped they’d be at the start. After all, we need to teach our daughters to forge ahead with confidence and hope, too.”

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You can grow when there is dialogue with your customers

Elizabeth Rust : January 16, 2014 3:37 pm : Blog

New Rules book jacketJust the other day I decided to pick up David Meerman Scott’s book The new rules of marketing and pr which had been recommended to me several months ago. What he does best in this ‘self-help’ book is explain how important it is to have a conversation with customers rather than sending one-way ‘advert’s to them.

My favourite passage is his conversation with Kevin Flynn who worked on the Obama campaign’s New Media Blogging Team. He was part of a Chicago-based core group of online campaigners. Kevin sums up the importance of having a conversation with potential customers, or in his case potential voters, when he tells David:

“I was part of the blogging team, and in the midst of the new media brain trust. I ended up working on the social media efforts of 15 states. Each state had their own blog, which had localised content, and I built contacts with people in each state who sent me stories, photos, and other information for the blogs. People were excited to have someone in the organisation who wanted to help, so they all fed me great content. Once they saw their photos on the national campaign pages, they got even more excited. With blogging, it creates a conversation and the campaign gets feedback. If there is interest in a topic, then the campaign can change quickly. People can get involved because it is two-way instead of just one direction. You can grow when there is a dialogue.”

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Connect with your customers to make them long term customers

Elizabeth Rust : January 14, 2014 3:34 pm : Blog

Screen Shot 2014-01-14 at 10.51.08 AMI’ve always been passionate about using film to tell a powerful story. I’ve used this skill several times when producing corporate videos. There’s something incredibly fulfilling about capturing someone’s personality, understanding how they work and learning more about their values – that’s how people come across as human – and that’s how people connect to products and become long term customers.

Here’s a short documentary style film made about a fabric store in London’s East End.

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