Welcome to my blog. I may write copy here that I would not present elsewhere. This blog allows me to comment while reporting for clients which can include subscription-only platforms. I use it to take a sideways look at running stories, and all views presented here are my own.

Interested parties are invited to comment.

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Sunday, 20 July 2014

UK-Based Indian Diplomats Becoming More Media-Friendly

There's definitely a warmer, more inclusive approach to journalists from India House these days- at least those journalists who regularly report on matters Indian. There are more media briefings being organised, with the High Commissioner making himself more available to answer questions.

I've noticed that some senior officers have their favourites amongst the Indian  journalists.

There is also a seeming increase in events these days, though that could be due to the time of the year (Delhi is hot these days) and a new government in place. One such happening was a talk by former Indian Chief Election Commissioner SY Quraishi. The grand Gandhi Hall was packed out and Quraishi held the audience with a kind of magnetism. His personality and delivery  lifted this event away from the normal standard and made it fun.

Report here; Quraishi does good interviews, too.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Greenwich School of Management; Exec MBAs with a Difference

I regularly interact with business and management schools in some sort of speaking capacity at various conferences, and some of them have stand out features.

The independent higher education provider, GSM London opened up in the former GlaxoSmithKline building in Greenford, west London, not long ago and I was invited by our MP to a dinner to meet with its senior team . One of them is Brian Buckley, one of the school’s directors and heading up different departments; Recruitment, the Executive MBAs, Executive Masters, etc. He invited me over to the Greenwich campus one recent Saturday and as I jauntily sat on the theme- park like Docklands Light Railway for the last part of my journey, I noticed two glamorous Qatari ladies in my carriage. I discovered that they were coming to the GSM too; they had travelled across from the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane for the purpose. That set the tone; as among the delegates I later discovered a bishop, a psychiatrist, and interesting others.
Brian showed me round the excellent facilities and lecture rooms with names like “Admiralty Theatre” reflecting the fact that we were in the vicinity of the Royal Naval College.

The Executive MBA and postgraduate courses attract senior managers and professionals and GSM has constructed courses to fit with those at that level who are probably working much of the week. In a rare composite, the executive courses happen on weekends. People travel in from all over the world and the UK to study for three days with first class tutors in small classes. Different courses converge during lunch and break times for networking and I certainly broke my calorie count on chocolate brownies that day. I sat in on Dr Jag Kundi’s entertaining talk on accountancy and finance and learnt about cash flows. GSM is able to leverage visiting faculties from other universities so makes sure that he gets some hot talent. Jag was flown in from the University of Hong Kong and Brian regularly calls on Stirling Management School and St Andrews.

I also sat in on David Schofield talking about leadership styles. Clearly the level of debate is high with key decision makers from public and private programmes engaging with GSM. Sometimes the delegates know more than the tutors so there is learning on both sides.

It’s a way of sharing best practise. The school is rapidly gaining in popularity just on word of mouth.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Anniversary of suffragette Emily Davison; Why #Emilymatters

Actress/Writer Kate Willoughby

Today is the 101st anniversary of Emily Davison's most famous protest at the Epsom Derby. Actress Kate Willoughby wrote a play that has the relationship between Emily and her mother at its heart.

On Epsom Derby Day, 1913, Emily was gravely injured during her protest and her mother pointed out that whereas Emily was passionate about the suffragette cause, she also suffered for it. She wrote a letter to Emily about this that Kate discovered and this is what opened up the story for her:

"I cannot believe that you could have done such a dreadful act. Even for the Cause, which I know you have given up your whole heart & soul to & it has done so little in return for you."

The public perception of Emily was of an austere person but in reality, Kate told me, she was big-hearted, larger than life and had a great sense of humour.

Emily Davison campaigned for a serious cause but used inventive tactics and public correspondence with detractors.

Kate created #Emilymatters to highlight and support gender equality campaigns, such as No More Page 3, which use creativity as a means to communicate and has had great success.

She wrote a play called "To Freedom's Cause" which played at the House of Commons earlier this year. as part of a special event sponsored by Emily Thornberry MP, founder of the Emily Davison statue campaign. Kate starred in this five hander, which was directed by Brian Astbury.

Kate is a dab hand at social media and I'm learning a thing or two from her.  She uses social media to promote the missions that she is involved with and is focusing hard on gender equality. She gets high profile support from people like BBC broadcaster Jane Garvey and Helen Pankhurst (great granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the militant suffragette movement).

Kate is building on a campaign she worked on for the May elections about voting and is now working on an expanded project for the 2015 general election.

For more info see http://www.katewilloughby.co.uk/

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Susheela Raman at the Alchemy Festival on the South Bank

I was excited about attending Susheela Rama's concert at the Purcell  Rooms last Thursday 22nd May 2014. I had interviewed the lady and listened to her music but never before had the opportunity to see her perform live. 

You know Susheela because her first album, Salt Rain, was  shortlisted for a Mercury Prize.
She has always been a brave and confident performer, striking out with a style that is gently connected with her Tamil roots. 
Susheela's work is universal and the fact that she has lived in Australia and the UK is clear; she takes and gives to a host of cultures and disciplines and doesn't seem trammelled by any narrow boxes or definitions that critics would like to place her in.  It doesn't take any time to warm to her or for her to warm up; audiences engage and are mesmerised instantly. 
While she is the star performer and we go to see her, she blends with her band members and seems seemlessly tied in with them, so that the strength and power can emanate from any part of the whole ensemble during the evening. It makes for a surprising and delicious musical event; vocals and a virtuoso drum solo  can take you to the edge of your seat. And back again!
It also shows a remarkable absence of ego. In fact, when I first met her, she was more interested in talking about my book than herself!

I know Susheela is an utterly committed performer because my first interview with her happened over several days when she was in intense rehearsal preparing for another concert and I could feel the creative electricity being given off through her work with her fellow artist, an accomplished guitarist, at the time. I could feel the dedication every time I spoke with her. 

What I find exciting about Susheela is that it is impossible to compartmentalise her. She blends jazz, folk, Indian classical and African styles and deserves her place in the sun. 
The Purcell Rooms was the perfect homore to show Susheela Raman at her best, and the packed audience thoroughly enjoyed the performance. It was an eclectic mix and I was very pleased to see so many Asian faces in this bastion of white man's culture. 

The concert was part of the Alchemy Festival at Southbank Centre, and was an intimate preview of Susheela Raman's new disc Queen Between, which is currently world wide available in strictly limited number via the Songlines CD shop -  http://songlinescdshop.co.uk/ . Please catch a concert if you can and meantime, the CD is a beautiful and evocative listen. 

Sunday, 25 May 2014

More from Chris Kosovich and the Astana Economic Forum, Kazakhstan

After Chris landed back in the US, he hotfooted to an interview with me to tell me more.
The title of the session he participated in was called "The Place of Social Media in Journalism" and more information is at the http://g-globalmediasummit.org/index.php?id=2&lang=en website.

The First International Summit of Journalism was held within the framework of the VII Astana Economic Forum with a main goal of creating an information platform to further enhance collaboration between global journalism and media, the economic sector and latest technological achievements.

The event included media workers, bloggers, experts, academics, veteran journalists, international media companies.

The summit was organized by the government of Kazakhstan, G-Global Communication Platform, the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists Association, and the Success K Media Agency.

Chris told me,

"This was an exciting opportunity to be a part of this first International Summit of Journalism because it was a chance to showcase how media can begin to establish a definitive, factual quantitative data about social media impact."

"Social Media Benchmarking will continue to become a critical data point for businesses in many sectors including media, banking, retail, industrial, and even among non-profits and non-governmental agencies."

"It is important for every organization to not only disseminate and seek to advance their messages through social media, but to measure the effectiveness of these tools so they can be more successful and begin to find ways of articulating their return on investment."

"Kosovich Media Group has been working diligently at refining the technical processes to quantify measurable outcomes with social media. I think what really differentiates what we do is with the contextualization of the quantitative data with actual unique business processes as it relates to social media and communication plans of our clients."

"It is one thing to have a mountain of quantitative data about one's own social media, but quite another to turn that data into solid communication and business process interventions that helps the organization to become stronger overall."

"It was an honor to be a part of the First International Journalism Summit at the VII Astana Economic Forum. I have a lot of respect for the vision the organizers, the government of Kazakhstan, G-Global Communication Platform, the Eurasian Economic Club of Scientists Association, and the Success K Media Agency have had with their implementation of the Summit and the Astana Economic Forum overall."

Chris's talk had the snappy title "Social Media Benchmarking, Journalism, and Media Distribution: Assessing and Adapting Behaviors Among Content Consumers and Producers."

Inside the Mind of Assessor and Communications Expert Chris Kosovich

Founder and president of Kosovich Media Group, Chris Kosovich has been working on a brand new service and told me this week that he is excited about the effects it can have for business. As I write this he is on his way home from  the Astana Economic Forum in Kazakhstan having given a presentation on how social media benchmarking can be used within the journalism industry to identify the most interactive content...he said that the goals are to identify measurable outcomes in context to help shape more highly engaging content. Can you put that more simply, please Chris?

At Astana, Chris’s talk was for a special segment involving the International Journalism Summit.
I first met Chris on Rhodes Island with Youth Time 2013. He was one of the expert assessors at the summit and is the first person to dance his way into an interview with me by heightening my awareness of him with his moves (he had just swept me onto the dance floor at the time) as well as his intellectual skills. He combines a techie background with communications expertise and has a really good way with Youth Time candidates applying for grants. He mostly reviews projects and has a special interest in internet media ones.
Seeking to help strengthen confidence, Chris makes sure that competitors recognise their strengths and focus on processes. Drawing on his own experience with non profits, he told me that he makes his decisions to grant or not grant awards by asking himself, “Would I fund this project with my own money?”

He helps candidates to balance out their ideas by asking them, “How are you measuring what you are doing? Who are the partners? How are they helping you build your project? How are you leveraging your strengths?”
Chris said that he likes to see the detail of budget proposals, as well as partnership and time schedule definitions.
He revealed that the more mature projects tend to win because “they think about their strengths.”
He supports anxious pitchers by saying, “I’m excited about your passion. I want you to shift your energy to the detail. It’s fun and challenging to be critical, tell me what you think about this?”
 Chris’s winners tend to be more evolved with measurable outcomes, defined times and dates. So this year’s Youth Time candidates, use these tips if you’re being assessed by Chris Kosovich!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Hot Tips from Christie's Head of Islamic and Indian Art, Sara Plumbly

This week my Leading Light column interviewee is Sara Plumbly, Head of Islamic and Indian Art at Christie's. Their twice yearly Islamic and Indian Art sale happens this week. Sara drew my attention to Lot 145, described below, so I'm passing the tip onto readers; watch the price go through the roof on this one. Also noteworthy is Lot 130. Get your bids in!

Lot 130
Of drop shape, the jade surface carved with 7ll. of extremely elegant nasta'liq with occasional floral flourishes, the final line dated, pinned through the centre to a 19th century gold mount decorated in repoussé with a floral spray issuing flowerheads and fleshy leaves
2¼in. (6cm.) high; 2 3/8in. (6.4cm.) wide
Estimate £15,000 - £20,000 
Lot 145
The slightly recurved double-edged watered-steel blade with medial ridge and armour piercing point, the pistol-grip pale jade hilt elegantly set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds, yellow sapphires and coloured gemstones with a bold floral spray rising from the base, the spine decorated with an emerald leaf motif issuing floral vine that curls around the end of the hilt, the original sheath covered with yellow velvet and with jade locket and chape simialrly inset with elegant floral sprays
14 3/8in. (36.6cm.) long (without sheath)
Estimate £100,000 - £150,000