What do you do with a redundant Eurostar terminal? The obvious answer may not be "turn it into a theatre", but as many of you will know, that's exactly what has happened to the old Eurostar platforms at Waterloo station in London. To be more specific, the platforms have been turned into the setting for "The Railway Children", a much-loved book by E Nesbit, which became an award-winning film starring Bernard Cribbins, Sally Thomsett and Jenny Agutter. I went to see the production this week with my family, and found it to be absolutely wonderful. The setting is unique, the atmosphere beautifully evoked, and the whole experience unforgettable. If you haven't already, I urge you to go and see it
Someone who may soon be catching a train out of London is the defence minister, Liam Fox. At the time of writing this, he's still in the cabinet. However, I suspect he will soon be spending more time with his family. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the issues surrounding him, when any politician dominates the news for a week or more with rumours about their conduct. it becomes increasingly impossible for them to do their job. There's no sign of the story subsiding, and I suspect that very soon indeed, David Cameron will call him to number 10 and say something like "Look, old chap, we hate to lose you, but it would be for the best if you stepped aside". I will be very surprised if Dr Fox is still in post this time next week.
This week, the news you may have missed could be re-titled "the news you wished you'd missed". 1990s popsters Steps have reformed for a 14-date tour next year (no "Tragedy" jokes, please). I expect dancers at Christmas parties across the land will be doing the moves again. Apparently the album they've just released could go to number one this week. Remarkable. I wish them well.
I've mentioned Andy Lopata's brilliant book "Recommended" before. You can hear my chat with the author himself in this week's Media Coach Radio Show, which also features a terrific song from Simon Kirke, drummer from Bad Company (he's very good).
In all the media hype surrounding the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, one voice has been clear and sensible in press conferences. Warren Gatland, the Welsh coach, has been calm and disarmingly honest when dealing with probing questions from journalists. He also sympathised with England's media image when told reporters "I know what it's like to be on the wrong side of the media in the past. As a fellow coach, there are a lot of good friends of mine in the England set-up. I don't take any pleasure - and I'm sure the Welsh team don't take any pleasure - on all that criticism that has been heaped on England." More importantly, he's led Wales to the semi-finals. My Welsh grandmother would have been proud of this week's MediaMaster. Here's something to put him, and you, in the mood for Saturday's game.
Life can be tough in the mobile phone market, and it's certainly become tougher for RIM, the providers of the Blackberry. Users across Europe, Middle East and Africa have suffered a series of outages for as much as twelve hours at a time, causing an outbreak of "blackberry crumble' jokes on Twitter. They've completely failed to manage the crisis in PR terms, firstly by keeping silent, and then issuing a statement which read "Some users in EMEA are experiencing issues. We're investigating, and we apologize for any inconvenience." That's not too helpful is it? For a start, few users know what EMEA means, and there's not much clue as to when the problem might be fixed. It's a classic example of a global company assuming that they're in control of the message, when anyone on social media can see that they are not. RIM wins the MediaMug award easily this week.
ADVICE FROM OLD BILL
William Shakespeare gives Hamlet a speech (Act 3, Scene 2) which provides advice to those about to go on stage. It's become known as "Speak the speech". His advice holds good today. Here are a few extracts:
"Speak the speech I pray you as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue"
"Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature".
"And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that will themselves laugh, to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too"
CAN I CHECK IT BEFORE YOU PRINT IT?
If you ask a hundred reporters whether you can check their copy before it goes to print, ninety-nine will say no. On a rare occasion, you may be offered the chance to look over a piece to check for accuracy. However, in all my time in the media, I have never seen a piece re-written by the person it is about. It's about objectivity. A reporter is an impartial observer, telling the story to the reader. If there is any suggestion that their independence has been compromised, the reader will no longer trust them, or their publication.
That doesn't mean that you should never speak to a reporter after an interview. it is perfectly acceptable to send them some more detailed information, or an update on the position. However, you will have no control over the finished article.
When the piece is published, you may well find inaccuracies. You need to ask yourself whether it is worth calling for a correction, or even an apology. Minor details, such as a mis-spelling of your name, or adding a year to your age, are not worth commenting on. If there is a clear factual error that could be damaging, you should challenge it, in a communication to both the reporter and the editor. They may offer a correction in a later edition, or the next issue. Alas, it is usually far less prominent than the original story, and it may be better to simply write to the editor in the hope of publication on their site or pages.
I generally advise overlooking errors unless they are grave. The chances are that no-one will see the correction anyway, and it may damage your relationship with the reporter. It's better to make yourself as clear as possible in the interview, and provide the reporter with a written fact sheet, including quotes from you about the issue.
BECOME A TWITTER CHATMEISTER
Twitter chats are a great way if engaging an audience and building your reputation, particularly if you become known as a source of great advice. Here are a few tips about how you can establish yourself as a Twitter chat organiser.
1) Claim your topic. Decide what subject you want to discuss, which is preferably something to do with your business. Create the hashtag (hint: just make one up). Let people know that you are hosting a chat, and when it will occur. Talk about it on your favourite social media channels, not forgetting to mention the time and time zone.
2) Get help. It's a good idea to bring in other experts, at least in the early days. For one thing, they will make the twitter chat look busier, and for another, it will provide chatters with more helpful responses. Make sure that you all use the hashtag when you tweet, and encourage all participants to do so too. Ensure that you are online five minutes before the advertised start time, and just go with it.
3) Keep records. Tweets disappear after a couple of weeks. so use a service like Tweetdoc. to record your chats in a form that can be studied and searched later.
The X Factor is back. It's a shame Cheryl Cole has departed, especially since a video has now emerged of her greatest discovery on the show.
Need a speaker or facilitator?
The information in this ezine may be freely re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line - "This information was written by Alan Stevens, and originally appeared in "The MediaCoach", his free weekly ezine, available at www.mediacoach.co.uk."