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Friday, 26 February 2010

Edinburgh's Inspiring Hi-Tech Breakfast Network

word cloud of Edinburgh Science Triangle
Edinburgh Science

Just back from the first of what I'm sure will be many "last Friday of the month" business breakfast networking sessions, bringing together Edinburgh’s inspiring hi-tech people, organisations and their support communities.

Emulating a successful project in Cheshire, the Edinburgh Science Triangle team have started pulling together Edinburgh’s most dynamic hi-tech individuals from all sectors.

25 people turned up for this first meeting and the level of buzz around the room was palpable. Apparently the Cheshire initiative grew from 20 and now over 100 regularly attend and it is the network of choice for anyone in the IT and technology sectors in the area. Major collaborations have spun out of that network and it's hoped that this will happen in Edinburgh.

There was a real spread of technologies there today, everything from opto electronics to pharma and life sciences, through to IT. Plus key support players.

They meet at Heriot-Watt University at 8-9.30am on the last Friday of the month for relaxed but high-intensity knowledge sharing. Breakfast and the event are free but places are limited, so registration is essential - see the new website - it's in beta and you may have to scroll down for the events. They include a whole series of events to make more of Edinburgh's leading position in science and technology research and innovation, such as:

March 11, Innovation Workshop 6: How business relationships help or hinder innovation at Pentlands Science Park

March 12, Innovation Workshop 7: The Accidental Leader at Heriot-Watt Research Park

March 15, Technology Strategy Board: Investing in Scottish Innovation, George Hotel.

March 15, Beermat Entrepreneur Masterclass with Mike Southon, Pentlands Science Park

March 17, Life Sciences Regional Roadshow, Our Dynamic Earth

March 26, Business Breakfast at Heriot Watt

March 29, Start-up Creation in the Field of Microsystems, Heriot-Watt Research Park

April 13, Edinburgh Science Triangle at the Festival: Edinburgh Firsts, Appleton Tower, University of Edinburgh

April 30, Business Breakfast at Heriot Watt

The events series involves:

  • The City of Edinburgh Council
  • Edinburgh International Science Festival
  • Edinburgh Science Triangle
  • Institute for System Level Integration
  • Nexxus Edinburgh hub in partnership with Edinburgh Science Triangle
  • Office for Life Sciences
  • Technology Strategy Board
  • UK Trade & Investment

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Wednesday, 24 February 2010

How to be Interesting On-line

word cloud of people and online PR
People Power Online

Seth Liss,'s news community manager has some good tips for those of us who have noticed less feedback from social media activity recently. More people have piled into social media with varying levels of communications skills, muddying the waters for us all.

Time was, being on social media was novel and we all reacted to each other. Now everyone's at it, the boring get blanked out. So Seth's advice starts with the obvious: drop the minutiae of everyday living. We've all un-followed Tweeters who are obsessed by their everyday existence.

But I do agree that when you do post a newsworthy event, it's the details you bring out that make it more interesting. Every PR person and reporter knows this - and we are all occasional reporters now. As he says, 'I want to read more than: "My child took his first steps today." I want to know how it came about, where did it happen, how many steps, and how it made you feel.' Hard to do in 140 characters, I know, but whoever said good communications skills are easy?

He also reminds us to clear off to a private space if we are start engaging in a 1-2-1 conversation. I think it's a bit like talking loudly during a film in the cinema.

Seth's really nailed it when he suggests putting posts with links into context. There's no point in recommending something without giving us a clue so we can judge for ourselves whether we might agree with you. As he points out: "That approach makes it easier to agree or disagree and open the conversation up to others in your network."

Seth recruits good PR research to make a point. If you're thinking of going for the promotional jugular in your posts, you may want to consider that Edelman's Trust Barometer survey showed that "the number of people who view their friends and peers as credible sources of information about a company has dropped from 45 percent to 25 percent since 2008." (Edelman is the world's largest PR company and their annual Trust Barometer survey is based on nearly 5,000 25-minute interviews with informed people aged 24-60 in 20 countries)

So, if being promotional and your day-to-day wanderings are a no-no: what does work? As ever in PR, sharing good information is the key to being worth reading or listened to. He counsels us to develop expertise and share learnings if we want to be valued sources of interesting material.

His next observation is harder to do, but it makes a lot of sense: timing is key. Most people dip into their social media accounts so: "Know when to post." I'm going to start noting when people I admire are posting so we're more likely to deepen the connection. That's the whole point of social media.

Finally he repeats advice given by everyone I respect in the on-line PR game: listen first, then comment. "If people know you are interested in what they have to say, they will most likely be curious about what you have to say as well."

That's why following people you're interested in often produces a reciprocal response.

I'd say it pays to listen well before you speak, then you stand to engage with the best in your field. And that further builds your on line reputation. And boosting reputation is what PR is all about on and offline.

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