Here's a question: can a city be a nobody, or should that be nowhere? Having moved from working in the creative sector in London during the dotcom boom to jumping ship just before the bubble burst to make camp in the Midlands, I've certainly noticed a similarity between the 'London' attitude and the so-called somebodies, the A-listers in the blogosphere.
Like many provincial cities in the UK, Birmingham has a thriving creative scene that produces some of the country's top visual, musical and multimedia work. Initiatives like the Custard Factory and the Big Peg (supported by the Chamber of Commerce) foster up and coming talent and sit in the city alongside established arts and media players such as the BBC and Channel 4's Ideas Factory. So why do businesses still gravitate towards London when they are looking to commission creative work?
Reputation is the obvious answer, although much the work being produced in Birmingham can lay claim to being as well-known and widely seen as work produced in many of London's Soho-based studios. Image, is the key. The Midlands and specifically Birmingham suffer from a public image problem that seems to be the polar opposite to that of London. Funny sounding accents aside (although the Birmingham/Black Country accent has been consistently voted as one of the least liked/respected accents in the UK), the city itself is still widely perceived as the concrete jungle that it was 40 years ago. As part of a major redevelopment scheme, the city has rebuilt itself and is now a vibrant, attractive place to live and work. But the majority of the country still perceives Birmingham through the stereotype of the concrete and the 'yam-yam' accent. Conversely, London is still seen as 'swinging London' of the sixties, a place of edgy cool and Michael Caine movie charm despite having turned into an expensive, inhospitable tourist trap.
Fed-up with being on the wrong side of this image problem, Birmingham's creatives have banded together to create an industry run and led forum with the aim of changing these perceptions and getting the work Birmingham's creative industries (and hopefully as a result, the city itself) recognised. Much like the I.A.N, they've produced a blog and are even looking into getting a wiki and a squidoo lens (although I don't think they have coffee cups and t-shirts printed yet).
So, I urge you, even if you have no plans to visit Birmingham or the UK, take a look at what this nobody/nowhere city is producing and if it doesn't change your mind, at least leave them a comment or some professional advice.
Here's the comment I posted in reply to Steve Crescenzo's post.
" Interesting post, and I thank Eric Eggertson for bringing it to my attention.
Steve, you misrepresent me in your post, but I am sure it's friendly hyperbole. But I'd like to clear up a couple of points for your readers who don't know me.
First, while I responded tartly to David Murray on my blog, the message should be clear: I know of no credible communicator who sees social media as immediately revolutionary, but I know a hundred who are fitfully working toward an idea of what it will mean for internal communication over five to ten years.. In short, I answered "We don't know what it means, yet, but you are welcome to come out and help."
Ragan Communication could, if it wanted, help that discussion. As Robert French points out, the Global PR Blog Week could be an inspiration.
Second, I know of no credible communication blogger who disses any medium for conveying a message effectively. There may be bloggers out there who claim "print is dead", but not anyone I know. I challenge you or your readers to find a professional communicator who writes anything close to that on their blog.
Instead, the professional communicators I know embrace any medium that helps their client send a message effectively and listen to the audience. If we focus on social media in our blog posts, it is because they are new media -- the first textbooks are just now being written. Our interest in new media is not a dismissal of old media.
Third, as others have pointed out, I didn't come up with the "Nobodies" idea. But, if nothing else, 25 communication professionals linked up to share ideas. IABC Fellows, Gold Quill winners, PRSA leaders, Ragan Seminar speakers -- these are all somebodies who are happy to be nobodies in David's book if it suits him. But if you are are communicator on a budget, just read those blogs... saves you the price of a conference, and it's free.
Finally, Steve, I apologize unreservedly for any offense I caused you in my post. I have edited the paragraph in question, and inserted a "mea culpa."
I better buy Steve and David a button.
(Cross-posted from my blog.)
Ragan Communications blogger Steve Crescenzo watched a colleague get crapped upon by what he and some others perceived to be a horde of rabid, hysterial bloggers. He has learned several things from the episode:
Which is too bad, because I hoped he and others would learn these truths instead:
Steve has a great sense of humour. If not for a personal attack on his reputation by Nobody Allan Jenkins, I'm sure Steve would have found something funny and enlightening about this situation to share with his readers. Instead, he launched a counterattack, slamming Allan for bringing up, out of the blue, an incident from years ago that suggested Steve once acted like a drunken boor.
I'm with Steve on this one. Even Nobodies can be insensitive, and
even mainstream media can feel unfairly attacked and personally
An apology for the original Nobody comment
by David Murray would have been nice, but I didn't expect it. I'm not
holding my breath for Allan to offer an apology for slinging mud in
Steve's direction, either.
Assuming no apologies are forthcoming, what else do we learn? In the comments to Steve's post, Ragan Communications' Mark Ragan misses the point about the Nobody movement. He asks for a future report on progress, metrics, and sales.
The Nobody thing wasn't about sales, or site traffic or performance objectives, so don't ask for them. Our lofty goal was to bring people together and try something different. To follow a sense of indignation to its logical conclusion, and see where that took us once we got past the initial slam at an arrogant offhand comment by a trade magazine editor.
It was a bit of agitprop street drama, acted out in the blogosphere instead of at the corporate offices of its target. It was a social thing, where creative people who barely knew each other beforehand had some fun, made some statements about personal dignity, and showed how a group can quickly coalesce around an idea.
Our goals were achieved when we first extended a hand to others, and got a response. Everything else is gravy.
If no one writes another word about the Nobody thing, we will have exceeded our expectations. A bunch of people who I used to think of as competitors for audience are now acquaintances, maybe even friends, thanks to an experiment in satirical blogging.
I've learned that it's better to reach out with an open hand than a closed fist.
And that is a good lesson to learn.
Update: Comments on Steve's blog and a new post to the Nobody blog renew my faith in people. Apologies all around (well, David Murray seems uinable to actually apologize, but he makes cheery noises), and promises to get together for beers at the IABC international conference this June in Vancouver. Now if somebody could strum a guitar, we can sing a round of Kumbaya and put the nastiness behind us.
Of late, I've been a nobody with nothing much to say. Mostly because I have been nose to the grindstone clearing away work before next week's vacation to "the happiest place on earth" (r) [sic].
Then finally, inspiration. I want to let all the nobodies know about a conference this July that is in the same spirit of the I.A.N. -- BlogHer. If you aren't familiar with the event, it started last year in response to the question, where are all the women bloggers? But it is far more than that, and I urge nobodies, male and female alike, to consider attending. You won't find the same old, same old sessions. Or the same speakers that you saw at the last few conferences you attended.
You will find a different kind of conference. More structure than an unconference, but a freshness and a spirit of cooperation unlike any I have ever experienced at a typical industry conference. Yes, you'll see a few "somebodies" on the program, but everyone acts like a nobody! Which is why it is one of the few events that I will spend my own money and travel cross-country to attend.
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A new service was launched just a couple of days ago. The service is called seconds11.com. Basically it is a grid of 11 x 11 squares where you can have your podcast listed. The beauty of the service is that when you move the mouse over any of the podcast icons, the (supposedly) best 11 seconds of the last issue of that podcast are automatically played. It’s like a sneak preview. Depending on the number of clicks a podcast receives, it is positioned more prominently in the grid and might even have a chance to enter the hall of fame. When the Nobody Podcast sees the light, this might be a way of letting other no- and/or somebodies know about it...
Craig Jolley, our nobody for the Southern Ohio district, has put us Nobodies on Frappr. Graciously, he has given "somebodies" a chance to mark themselves, too.
The BBC News front page highlights today (Tuesday 11 May) a piece on its Business pages titled Business Bites the Blogging Bullet. For most of us in the Communications industry, it won't say anything that we haven't already heard a hundred times before in similar articles (that savvy businesses are starting to wake up to the 'army of online commentators' in the blogosphere and that engaging with them 'can [result in an] amazing piece of market research that you can get for free' - Matthew Yeomans, Custom Communication).
For me, the key phrase in the article comes from Hugh Macleod when he says 'It's all virgin snow and we're still dealing in unknown quantities, but that's what makes it exciting.' Whatever your take on the Edelman/Walmart situation, it goes to show that even the big fish, the 'somebodies' don't have a magic formula when it comes to harnessing the blogosphere for PR purposes. Countless bloggers offered their opinions and no doubt some of them will have got it right, at least in part. My point is simply that nobody has the answer but together, as Nobodies, hopefully we might be able to get a bit closer. Vive la nobody.
just to map up the past, present and tata.. future..
any ideas ? I will post it shortly...
any other ideas to grasp this as fully as possible - in the smallest ammount of time ?
Nobodies don’t fear that sharing knowledge and experience will diminish them.
Nobodies must impress only clients.
Nobodies pause to learn the why so the how is successful.
Nobodies move easily with the currents of change because change doesn’t threaten.
Nobodies take clients personally as well as seriously.
Nobodies take risks so clients reap the rewards.
Nobodies are writing the case studies, while others are waiting to read them.
Nobodies embrace the wisdom of crowds (there are a lot of nobodies).
Nobodies build the companies somebodies buy (Flickr, MySpace, Weblogs.com come immediately to mind).
Nobodies get to decide who is a somebody.
Such is the gift of insignificance.