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Archive for November, 2009

Remembering Danielle Fleming

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

It’s been a year since the death of Danielle Fleming, director of Birmingham branding agency Positive K and a sunny, smiley face on the Midlands business scene. I just wanted to write something here, for everyone who remembers her, to say that I’m remembering her this week - and thinking of her loved ones.

I met Danielle in my very first week of trading with Good As Gold, at a seminar organised by the Black Country Chamber of Commerce. Danielle could see I was nervous and unsure of myself as I twiddled my thumbs by the coat rack, and she immediately took me under her wing. She told me my business cards were rubbish (yes, I started out with those flimsy free ones offered by an online printing company) and proceeded to rattle off a dozen useful design and networking tips before we were called to our seats.

We met for coffee the following week - and I joined Danielle at a 4Networking breakfast meeting on another occasion. I also attended a branding seminar at Positive K’s premises at The Bond in Digbeth, and she commissioned me to write a feature about Positive K for a local magazine. We only met five or six times in total, but I’d like to think we were becoming friends. Danielle was certainly an inspiration for me: she was less than two years older but had achieved so much, had boundless energy and a clear, authoritative (but friendly) voice that made me in turn feel more confident.

Danielle was killed in a helicopter crash on Saturday 1 November 2008, aged just 27. She’d won a big contract and been invited out for a flight with her new client, but something went tragically wrong and the helicopter came down over a field in Gloucestershire. When I heard the news I couldn’t speak for an hour, and I was just someone on the very periphery of her life. It must’ve been - and surely still is - a dreadful time  for her family and friends.

So this little blog post is for Danielle, to say thank you for all the inspiration and encouragement she gave me. I think she’d be proud of how I’m doing now, and I’d love to tell her that I’m thinking of getting my business cards updated for a second time. Danielle will never be forgotten.

Why big organisations shouldn’t ignore Twitter

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Less than two weeks ago, I posted a grumbly tweet on Twitter, complaining that my phone line was down and blaming BT. Within a few minutes, someone from the BT Care team had posted a friendly reply:

BTtweetI think the operative word here is ’someone’ - a real person! She sympathised with my situation (”Not so good”) and encouraged me to contact her privately (DM = Direct Message in Twitterland) to explain the situation. No waiting ‘on hold’ for hours; no being passed from one gruff person to another and having to explain the problem over and over again. Nope! She phoned my mobile straight away and offered to send out an engineer, keeping closely in touch until the problem was solved. 

I’ve had run-ins with BT in the past. It took my partner and me six months to get a phone line when we first bought our apartment. We suffered from missing equipment, wrong bills, rude call-centre staff, crossed wires (metaphorically and literally)  … I won’t tell you what we decided the initials BT stood for. But thanks to a forward-thinking approach to Twitter, the organisation has gone a long way towards redeeming itself in my eyes. Just as I used to moan about BT to anyone bored enough to listen, I will now tell the story of how it used Twitter to fix my phone line.

Big companies just cannot afford not to monitor what people are saying about them, in real time and in the real world (well, the Twitter world). Those that use online social networking wisely may get publicity far more valuable than any quirky advertising campaign: genuine praise from happy customers.  

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