Help Save Darfur

Due to the war, over 2.5 million displaced people face starvation and disease in Darfur.

A UN sanctioned peacekeeping force is yet to be deployed and the African Union force already on the ground is woefully inadequate.

There are more statistics and information available … but these don’t save lives. Action does. Register your protest here. And if you don’t believe me … listen to these other voices.

Via Lewis Green.

200 Kids

Originally uploaded by riaskiff.

Dan over at RedAnt points to a good works campaign by The aim of the campaign was to use outdoor advertising to generate 100,000 clicks through to a URL that encourages us to "do something for kids" — specifically, to take on one of the 200 foster kids that need a safe home this Christmas.

If the 100,000 target was achieved, then the company would donate the remaining billboard space to this promotion.

Dan has a number of points about whether this promotion was successful or not — but what struck me most was the lost opportunity. Now I live in Sydney and keep an ear out for viral projects and good works … but the first time I hear about this particular campaign is when it is over.

Luckily, have continued to support this cause — but I can’t help but think, that with a little extra strategic thinking, much greater traction could have ensued. Surely 100,000 clicks is a small target — and the potential to impact young lives is a worth more than a karma credit or two.

So if you live in Sydney and are interested in becoming a foster carer, take a look at this site.


Don’t Get Mad, Get Blogged

Originally uploaded by Semblables.

Normally I like the rants on this site to be my own … but I have to now admit my amatuer status when it comes to ranting. I duff my hat to Angryman and his site, youpissedmeoffyoubastard.

You may have already seen this site, but if not, it is contains fantastic diatribes on all manner of topics.

One of my personal favourites is this post. Got to love the sheer power of invective.

Introducing the Audience

There has been a great and spirited debate going on today over at Paul Coleman’s blog. It all centres around the video below that has received almost 1.5 million views on YouTube. I don’t want to discuss the merits or otherwise of the video … there is plenty of that in the comments to Paul’s original post — but what this video DOES do is introduce us to the YouTube audience. It shows us the WAY that the members of this audience ACT upon and engage with the technology, and the way that it has been invited into the lives of millions of people. What is the future of the web? Or web 2.0? It is people … and here they all are.

How Old Are You in Blog Years?

Old and Slow
Originally uploaded by bartmaguire.

Tim Jackson, the MasiGuy and Chief Kool-Aid Dispenser, is celebrating a year of blogging. Yesterday, Tim left a comment that got me thinking. He said, "Don’t you feel like an old hand now? I know I do … ok, just old maybe."

So with a smile on my face, I started to write this entry up. I was thinking about how blogging is like ACCELERATED experience … or it can be if you are open to learning. I am thinking of something akin to "dog years" — where what you learn from a year of blogging is the equivalent to FIVE years of "normal" experience (like I know anything about being normal ;)).

When you start blogging it is easy to get carried away, to post every day or more and to ramble on. But then, after a month or so, you start to get a sense of your own VOICE … you start to write from a certain, consistent perspective. David Armano mentioned talks a little about this process in his Blogs Eye View video.

For me, there was definitely a shift. My first month was about establishing a rhythm to my writing … I wanted to commit myself to writing something … anything … but the most important aspect was discipline.

From there, my writing began to take shape — mostly driven by my interests. I read widely and weirdly, collected items for my blogroll, studied my very small traffic statistics and commented far and wide. I looked back on posts and realised that I was really interested in marketing and storytelling — it was the underlying theme that was coming through in everything that I wrote.

I tried for a while to attract new readers … I participated in some carnivals and so on, but could see no great readership spikes. I went off on a tangent for a while, focusing on readers rather than writing and watched as the stats dropped off. Luckily I saw the error of my ways, and came back to being true to my writing and my readers — and both of you came back! Thanks!

Since then, I have been very clear in my thinking about what I write here. The only really strange challenge came when Ann Handley asked me to contribute to MarketingProfs Daily Fix. Suddenly I was going to step into a whole different realm … in writing my first post I was more nervous than commenting on Russell Davies’ blog. How would it be received? How should I write it? And then there was the question of authorship …

I had focused on writing this blog under the name Servant of Chaos … and I still sign-off most of my posts with the letter S. In many ways, I see these posts as letters to my anonymous and not so anonymous friends — like an asynchronous conversation delayed by hours, but sometimes by weeks or months. And over the last few months particularly, I have been pleased to see these friendships grow — with comments and emails containing insight, analysis, FUN and some silliness.

So it has been a year … but it is only a year. Thanks to all those who read and comment. The NEXT year should be even more interesting!


Missed One

Birthday Candle
Originally uploaded by alex.macdonald.

You have got to congratulate Christina Kerley (CK) on reaching a blog milestone … her first 100 posts! As other bloggers will know, maintaining a focused and disciplined writing style is a real challenge — especially when you are first getting started.

Not only has CK reached 100 posts on her own site, she has also created quite a stir over at Ann Handley’s MarketingProfs Daily Fix, regularly coming up with catchy, provocative posts that keep the community humming for days. Best of all … this is the FIRST 100 posts … there are bound to be more in the same vein (notice the feint allusion to Buffy?)!

On a similar point, I noticed tonight that Servant of Chaos has been going for just over one year now. I remembered starting around November last year, only to find that it was, in fact, October 2005. (And woah … were there some bad posts back then!) It has been fun and I have learned a lot … and still have plenty of learning to go. My aim for the next year is to grow my readership to 10 😉

As always, thanks for reading!


Fleck is out there

Fleck is out there
Originally uploaded by Patrick de Laive.

This evening I got an invitation to play with Fleck. Unfortunately, at the moment it only works with Firefox … but if you DO have Firefox (or want to install it), check out this link.

Following on from yesterday’s post on giving creative feedback creatively, there is a great cartoon on Jon Howard’s livingbrands blog — on how NOT to give creative feedback.

For those who don’t have Firefox, Fleck allows you to leave small notes, bullets and so on on another website. You can also send a link, complete with those comments and notes on the site.

Actually, it strikes me as a GREAT way of providing creative feedback on websites … in a very creative way. Hmmm … wonder if it works with Flash? Might just have to test it out. I am off to leave little comments all over the web … look out, the servant of chaos will be coming to a blog near you (probably your own)!.


Does your business plan stand out from the crowd

Business plan
Originally uploaded by mindgutter.

We all know that it is important to write a business plan. It helps with bank loans, venture capital and all the financial aspects of your business. But it also helps you think through and plan out the "how" and "why" aspects of your business … a business plan is NOT just the facts and figures — it is also the heart and energy of it.

Guy Kawasaki has some great posts on how to build a business plan and the elements to include in it. BUT it is important to remember that business plans are not archive documents, but living and breathing documents. And the more you work them and work through them, the more you will get out of them. Sound ridiculous?

There are obvious links between business and brand strategic planning. In fact, I believe that the two are inter-twined — and if you put all your focus and effort into the financial side and neglect the marketing, branding and consumer side, then you will end up in serious trouble. But there are serious challenges in bridging the gaps …

On a fundamental level it comes down to language. The accountants will have a certain expectation — they will be listening for key words, turns of phrase, and of course, numbers. The marketers, sitting there in the second row will be sleeping through the numbers, baffled by the taxation implications and benefits of offshoring and perk up only when it comes to brands, reach and above the line ad spend. The thing is, we all want the same thing.

Collaboration is the key … and those clever Decisive Flow folks across the lake have come up with a rather neat new online application. Now your business plan can have multiple authors, different levels of responsibility and a level of cohesiveness that most of us only dream about.

Not only that, with PlanHQ, you can make sure that your business plan is not "just" a strategy, but something that is ACTIONABLE. Will that make you stand out from the crowd?

Now, if only I had a business idea …


Giving creative feedback to creative work

Emily and Russell talk about "creative" not being a department but more a responsibility. One that we all share. Of course, this also includes clients.

One of the often overlooked creative challenges is providing feedback on creative work. And if you are involved in any type of creative process, then you know that everyone has to provide feedback … your friends will ask you for your opinion, your colleagues will expect your input and your staff will EXPECT you to provide them with CONSTRUCTIVE responeses.

If you are on the client side, it can be difficult to provide the type of feedback that your agency would like. Clients are necessarily a step removed from the inner workings of an agency … and no matter how inclusive or engaged you may feel with an agency, there are thousands of small creative decisions that are made in the development of a piece of work … and client feedback or response to each of these is almost impossible … until things start to come together.

So as I was considering all this, looking over some work today, I found this great post by Paul Colman. He has some excellent insight into the creative review process. So in a fit of inspiration, and channelling CK, I decided to turn this into a reviewing checklist and see how it works in practice.

Hope this is ok with you, Paul. Anyone who wants it can grab it below. Please share your additions with the rest of us!


Download creative_review_checklist.doc

Darmano Gold

I am sitting here watching David Armano’s Blog’s Eye View video presentation and a few of my colleagues are gathering around to watch. As with his writing, David has an easy style that mixes personal anecdote with real-world experience … and I can see the penny dropping on the faces around me.

From an agency point of view, blogging is a great unknown … and one of the greatest barriers to entry is lack of understanding. And … as we always say, and as David reiterates, to get a feel for blogging, you need to participate.

You can download the video from David’s site, and I would encourage you to do so … or you can watch the embedded version below. Grab a box of popcorn and enjoy!

In watching this video, I was reminded of the evolution of David’s "Influence Ripples" graphic. There is a great section where David explains the way this came about and what came before it … and as I was watching, it occurred to me that the next extension to this would be to add in the BSP element … where the ripples just became dotted lines. But then, I reckon DA has already picked up on this one.