Friday, February 27, 2009

things that have been keeping me busy

1. i changed the width of my blog, sidebar and header wrappings. now my youtube videos do not get cut at the edges, and i learned that the body wrapping of my blog is 500pts, my sidebar is 230pts and the buffer is 10pts. my header also has a width of 740pts so it's flushed. Read This to do the same.

2. i changed my blog header, and i edited the image using Picnik. the image i used was an old photo i took when i was in Melbourne in 2005. it looked like this:

Overcome and Overstep The Mark

to this.

Overcome and Overstep The Mark

i think it gives the blog a bit more character, soul and creative direction about what it's all about.

3. Busy uploading Leeson tracks to a secret project

4. Watching 1938media. visionary who sees past the "social media" echo chamber.

5. Jamming with Suchness re-incarnation tentatively called "Shelves". Training the ability to play bass and sing backup at the same time.

6. observing a Twitter revival in Singapore. Possibly due to the prediction i made in May 2008 about the iPhone.

7. discovered "Technoviking" and youshouldhaveseenthis

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The New Public Relations Agency

originally posted on The Open Room

Here's an interesting report done up by ZDNet, a news site / blog that covers the beat in the Technology industry. It's called "Is Social PR For Real? Which Agencies Get It?"

A timely article, with some great research insights from internal PR directors / managers followed by chief marketing officers / vice presidents of marketing and small business owners as some of the world's major economies start slowing down and anybody in a decision making position is held even more accountable on the budgets that they spend.

More than ever, Return On Investment (ROI) will be a deal breaker and a key tenet to effect real change to any business or organisation.

Do good communications practices ultimately affect your bottom line? You bet it does! In today's increasingly mass commodified and audience fragmented world, reaching your audience and having a relationship that transcends transactions builds customer loyalty, advocacy for them to tell others about you. You want to be that 'go-to' resource when a customer has a need, and you want to sell them the best possible product that you have to better their lives.

But this isn't really about that.. we're going to talk more about some of the insights found in the ZDNet article.

These were some of the key points i picked out from the report:

1. Agencies do not fully follow through with what was promised during a new business pitch.
Only 20% strongly agreed and 18% agreed that their agencies achieved this. A vast majority 30% somewhat agreed and a good 26% agreed with the claim.



I suspect this also comes from the 'fluid' nature of social media, or perhaps a lot of it comes from over-promising and making unrealistic strategies and tactics. While everyone is hungry for new business in these times, more should be done to keep both clients and agencies accountable on deliverables with accountable measurement.

2. Agencies do not necessarily understand how their communications work past getting news coverage and actually affecting a client's business
Yes, something we can all be guilty about. Good public relations is more than just generating news coverage (quantitative), but it is about projecting a positive image of the clients you represent (qualitative)



In our line of work, both qualitative and quantitative share equal importance. But as audiences become extremely fragmented, it's harder to see media as mass communications anymore. I think a smart move any of us can do, is to think very strategically and produce quality content to the publics that matter first and foremost, before trying to reach the world. Pool your resources together to communicate the things that matter, to the people that matter.

3. Clients really expect agencies to know social media

This is great! 78.8% of clients understand the importance of having a social media campaign and expect their agencies to know it as well! While I hesitate to say that agencies should know more about social media than their clients, I'd like to think that it's not the knowledge gap in a new medium that allows an agency to work with its clients, but MORE about how the agency is a valued partner and comes up with workable social media campaigns that understands the industry their client is in, what drives their clients business and then HOW social media can work for them and their customers.



4. Clients know enough about social media to get by
This is another good sign. About two years ago, clients and agencies were starting to experiment with social media. Today, a good 39.8% know enough to get by, and 37% have a good grasp about how social media will contribute to their business. Nothing gets me more excited when I speak to clients who do not just name drop social media buzzwords, but are actually talking about strategy, credibility, transparency and forming relationships with their people that matter.



5. Clients would like free social media training
A good 46.5% said they would attend if they didn't have to pay for it, and a good 35.4% said they would attend regardless.



While ZDNet recommends it would be in our best interest to not charge for training sessions, from an agency point of view, media training for clients usually comes at a cost. I believe social media training is equally important. Public image isn't nurtured overnight, same thing as a social presence. Your avatar can be considered your public image on the social net, and such training is a worthwhile investment and accelerator if you don't have time to pore through all the myriad of "How-To" posts from blogs.

But, i'm willing to see the flipside to this. It's just one more thing to pay for isn't it? Perhaps possible ways forward is to package this as part of a programme, keeping costs lower. In business, I guess most things are negotiable.

(And who says we don't give away anything for free? Check out Ogilvy On Recession, a free resource of insights and thought igniters on how to work smart in the downtime.)

6. Most agencies recommend the tools to drive social media
Worrying. 29% of clients agree somewhat that agencies make the tools the centerstage when it comes to social media / PR campaigns. Add 14% that agree and 8% that strongly agree, that's almost a total of 51% of agencies who are trying to pull a fast one with shiny, free applications created by other people to get new business.



Once again, it's not the tools that drive social media, they are the means to an end. What ultimately makes a campaign successful is the strategy and content that netizens get, and perhaps a close second, the relationships that at least get you into the door to pitch a story or idea.

In closing, it's great to see more clients stepping up and understanding social media. Having that knowledge allows you to see through an agency's smokescreen of buzzwords, fancy charts and overwhelming statistics.

Then it's the agency's turn to show clients just why we're so great to work with. Whether it's through strategic acumen, industry knowledge, media relations, creative ideas, professionalism and accountability. A working relationship doesn't have to be purely transactional, but a valued relationship that sees both parties growing as our audiences continue to grow as well. Y'see PR2.0 isn't about the social media, it's about the culture adopted by both clients and agencies responding to a changing audience.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

time, all the long red lines

So my bass playing duties have seen me going back in time. one playing with the ever excellent kevin mathews whose past work included the watchmen and popland. now if you didn't know, Kevin's an accomplished songwriter who was at the forefront of Singapore's english music scene in the nineties, and the best thing is that he still pursues it after all these years.

he currently plays with his band "The Groovy People", of which i share bass duties.. and i think it's a great privilege and honour to be a part of this group, where we get to listen to Kevin's stories about the scene before, and his extensive knowledge of pop culture.

donald so kindly took pictures of the gig we played last saturday, and more can be found at his multiply site.

And since we're on the subject of Singapore music from the nineties. i recently started jamming with a guy called Noel who used to be in a band called Suchness.

We're forming a sort of re-incarnation of that band, and are currently rehearsing a bunch of songs that have not been recorded for more than ten years. it doesn't sound like any of today's music, but probably closer to the alternative music scene of the nineties. it's nice, i grew up listening to such music, and.. i feel like i'm a teenager again, helping to write and arrange songs that are representative of that era.

and so.. some people wonder why i busy myself with playing in so many different projects? do i get paid? where's the reward in pouring yourself into projects like these?

the reward my friends, is meeting and befriending you wouldn't otherwise meet.. speaking a certain musical language and ultimately contributing just a little bit more to history and writing some bits of it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

slow down idiot, slow down

the weekend's finally here! i'm so happy.. perhaps it's got something to do with playing a gig with kevin mathews tomorrow at the Esplanade Outdoor Theater. and although i've played a fair amount of shows and this one should be no more different or special (because they all are), i'm looking forward to it for the simple reason that we've been practicing as a band for about six weeks now, and playing a show is almost like giving birth (or so i imagine).

the birth of ideas, the fruition of your labour.. in a simple life these things do give me some element of joy, and i want to look forward to things like that.

Who: Kevin Mathews and the Groovy People
Where: Esplanade Outdoor Theater
Date: 21 Feb'09
When: 8:45PM

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Listen, Listen, Listen

And even if the words don't sound right,
I will love you till the day my heart dies,
till the day my heart dies.

And even if this ain't the right light,
you're prettier than anything,
you're prettier than anything that I'd
prettier than anything that I'd write.

There's something in the way our lips touch,
there's something in the way we're stuck together
and they don't build love like that no more.

You said you'd like it when the thunderstorms came,
said you'd like if the thunderstorm just
pulled you piece by piece away.

- wintersleep

Video: Thesis by gotfuji
Music: Listen Listen Listen by wintersleep

Sunday, February 15, 2009

artificial lights

the sun is setting, and i was just staring out my window. i don't get a view of the sunset, but if i turn my head to the right, i can make out its brief shape as it sets over the highway that sits outside my room.

in the distance, there are children playing, and they remind me of my childhood, when i used to play with my cousins and parents.

we don't do that much these days.

we're all grown up. my cousins, my parents and myself. i don't know if i miss it. i have my toys, i have my friends, but they're such brief moments of respite because i know the responsibility of adulthood is still out there, out of my room, out of the gate that protects my apartment. it's out there.

and as the sun starts to set and i finish looking out the window, i crawl back into my room filled with artificial light, music playing from the iPod. a momentary reminder of a band that recorded some brilliant music in a studio somewhere in the world, yet i've never seen them perform live.

i do wonder what this world holds in store for me, and i do wonder if i'll ever grow up to be what i was supposed to be.

supposed to be. that's a bit of a conundrum isn't it? it reveals that i don't think i'm doing what i'm supposed to be doing. perhaps so, but life is getting shorter and shorter for second chances, and society isn't too forgiving of people who haven't really found their place in life.

i suspect a lot of us feel this way, yet we give in to what present society expects of us. but what do we expect of ourselves? for some of us, there is a higher calling, or some of us are our own gods. but at the end of the day, we tend to give in to self-preservation.. but i'm beginning to wonder if there's something in sacrifice.

if we were to sacrifice the safety and predictability of those that have gone before us, and best practices, and all the things that made our societies great and followed our own path.. where would we end up? how far does this rabbit hole go?

oh, and if i fall asleep, never wake me up..

comfort in the sound

i've been playing bass for more than ten years now, and if you know me enough, i've got quite a collection on my hands. none of the rare stuff, but enough to let you know that i take this hobby very seriously.

some of that joy stems from rendering my services to multiple people. whether it's with leeson, my main band, i am involved with church, Kevin Mathews and his groovy people, and quite recently, a power-pop band called 'Shelves'. i think more than ever, in the last 5 years, bassplaying has allowed me to meet some very awesome people, and it doesn't look like it's gonna let up.

a lot of that joy comes from playing with these folks.

Live N Loaded Auditions

Live N Loaded Auditions

Live N Loaded Auditions

Live N Loaded Auditions

They're my band mates since 2004, some of them i've known since 1998.

if music defined my life, then these guys have played an integral part in allowing me to express myself.

music is a strange wonderful thing. for some, it's in the background, for others it's identifying with what's coming out through the words and lyrics. for me.. well, it's all that, and more. it's friendship, catharsis and discontent all rolled into one. i won't say it's given me reason and purpose in life, but it's at least offered direction, and a lot of joy. and maybe that's enough.

Friday, February 13, 2009

different and not the same

it's a warm stuffy night in Singapore today, but i have the air conditioner running. it feels good, sitting on my bed, typing this out while listening to Ryan Adams. i'm only doing this because i have to, before the clock strikes midnight and everything falls apart.

it's been a massive week, with work and picking up my bass for three consecutive days that started on thursday and ending tomorrow. just glad i finally have a day to sleep in, recharge and feel better when the week starts again on monday.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

defining moments x worthy of love.

we all have something that defines us. i guess this became apparent after i did that "25 things" meme, because in some sense, i was trying to find stories that would help define who i was to you.

but i guess we're all trying to do that in the things we do. if i were to think of a few things that would help define me to you, if say you met me for the first time, i'd say something like:

"i play bass in a local band, leeson. i also have a job with Ogilvy 360 Digital Influence Singapore. i think media, technology and design and three key elements to a more enlightened future. i'm interested in the tension between digital and analog, and here are some pictures to show you what i mean."

First Weekend of February 2009

and so you see what i mean. what happens when you take all that away.. do i still have any value to this world, this society, this group of people i call my friends and family? is my intrinsic value any different if i had a different set of interests that defines me?

i'd like to think that we're all worthy of love, despite how we choose to define ourselves, despite what the world says we are, despite the perceptions that people heap on us when they meet us, despite who turns the other cheek or who loves us back.

i'd like to think we're all worthy of love, because it's the only way we can let love in, and define our response.

First Weekend of February 2009

Sunday, February 8, 2009

making sense of it all.

did you ever get the feeling that this world was stark raving mad?

suddenly i am envious of my parents, and the people from that generation.. as they get closer to retirement, i wonder if there are less things they worry about. they've earned their keep, they have a home to nest in, they're covered by insurance.. by all accounts.. life begins after you're sixty.

but those of us here.. it's just beginning. we're starting to leave the nest, we're fending for ourselves. we're slaving to the machine just so we can build toward a future that is uncertain.

there's so much doom and gloom with the recession, with what everybody's saying about the future. everyone's so concerned about the markets, where the next opportunities are, where we should invest in, where we should commit our time. i'm starring as they rush past me.. i'm deciding too where the next big thing will be.

and we shuffle on, whisking our feet into the concrete pavement, keep spinning with the world, yet the world itself is oblivious to us.

how did it end up like this?

Monday, February 2, 2009

Rehashed - Twenty Five Quirks

Seeing that there's a content drought on my blog, i decided to rehash a meme i did on facebook last night.

1. I have 4 basses. One's called Oren Ishii, and another is called Isobel. Then I stopped naming them because it felt weird giving names to my instruments and I was afraid of being labeled a loser.

2. I actually started playing guitar first, but was asked my my church leader to switch to bass because I couldn't keep time with the guitar. Yes.. it's ironic.

3. The first non-worship song i learnt was Wonderwall by Oasis. I think the Ryan Adams version is so much better.

4. I'm such a tech geek now because i grew up without broadband or a console after the Sega Megadrive. I think I'm either overcompensating or making up for lost time.

5. I've always had a thing for thick glasses and checkered shirts way before any of this became popular.

6. I secretly wished I were a cowboy who could play really good country music.

7. I studied science all the way till university, where i switched to an arts major in media studies. I think that's why i have such an empirical approach toward humanities based theories.

8. i believe that art cannot be created or destroyed, and can only be transferred from one form to the other. Another piece of evidence toward my science based education.

9. I still haven't written a complete song. They're all just bits and pieces of guitar riffs, chords and lyrics in different parts

10. I used to be 10KG lighter

11. I used to swim in Junior College

12. I finished my SOC in 9:35 after i fractured my toe at the balance beam.

13. I've been out of course from OCS twice. I eventually became a signaler.

14. I really like Hardcore music, and i might have gotten full sleeves if I didn't rebel against rebelling. (like how you rebel against the status quo by being alternative, i rebelled against rebellion by sort of being part of the status quo with very subversive thinking and ethos.. break the system from the inside.)

15. i really wished there were giant robots.

16. i would be a giant robot pilot.

17. have i mentioned that i love giant robots?

18. Regardless of the medium, i tend to choke up whenever i see planes fly off into the horizon. Especially if they're war birds.

19. i also choke up when the cavalry arrives just in time.

20. John 17 is my favorite passage in the Bible.

21. My dream is to open a little Italian restaurant with red checkered tables and 7 tables of 4. Business would be constant and self sustaining.. and i'll form a jazz band in my retirement and write great songs like Joe Henry and Ryan Adams.

22. I came close to trying Acid when i was in Perth because my singer asked me if i wanted some. I told him I was driving that night.

23. Reading "Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy" changed my life and the way i viewed literature.

24. I have a very low brow sense of humor which is very very very dry. It's my big up yours to pretentious farts who only believe in laughing at intellectual jokes.

25. Two statements i've taken on as mantras in my approach to music. Both were mentioned at a SubC 2000 gig during the Anaconda set.
- "You don't have to dress punk to be punk!"
- "Less talk, MORE ROCK!"