4 tenets of job satisfaction

job satisf

No idea if I made this up or stole it off someone (if so, apologies.) But I reckon these are four things that make work worth getting up for. And I’d add: if you don’t tick at least 2 out of 4, do something about it..

Europeans and Obama (not another post on Obama?!)

As if enough hadn’t been said or written already (and I don’t profess to be an expert, by any stretch). An interesting thought nonetheless: why are we Europeans still so enamoured of Obama?

A mix of some of the following perhaps.

To many, he’s still a rockstar

The US and Obama are always big news, but not that big compared to what’s happening here, and the fact is, he’s miles away and can’t by nature have as much impact on our day to day as our own politicians. The freshness and star appeal of 2008 thus hasn’t waned as much as it might have done if we’d seen him dominate the headlines night after night or if we could realistically blame him for our own ills. So as trite and sensationalist as it may seem, as far as we can tell, he still nearly looks and sounds the part – just as he did when he captivated the world back in 2007-08.

If not a rockstar, he’s the sort of American we feel most comfortable with

Right or wrong, we see him as professorial, smart, honest, engaging without being overbearing, seemingly willing to listen rather than act on instinct. This contrasts with the type of American some of us feel slightly uncomfortable with i.e. unashamedly brash, impulsive and unselfconscious.


Despite his relative disinterest in our continent, we still think his values are European in nature: his penchant for soft power, universal healthcare, wanting at least in principle to shut down Guantanamo, gay rights, women’s rights et al. Sure, Guantanamo remains open, the healthcare bill has no public option, the use of drone attacks under his watch has been boosted, his support of gay marriage is a fairly recent development BUT we assume that these are compromise measures, not his personal predilection.

We don’t care about his supposed biggest failure (and in any case it’s not entirely his fault and it seems piffling compared to our mess)

The recovery has been slow and unemployment remains too high? Big deal, that’s their issue, and in any case, the US is doing better than we are; frankly their woes seem piffling compared to the Eurozone travails.

The Republicans partly got us into this mess in the first place

Most of all, the reason many Europeans remain keen on Obama is the other guys. True or not, the 2008 collapse which then led to all sorts of other troubles, none more so than the Eurozone crisis, is blamed on Obama’s predecessor and his party.

The Republicans are creepy

A lot of us still view the Republicans as a sinister lot: virtual pantomime villains; certainly not the responsible party of smaller government and sensible regulation. Rumsfeld’s eerie glare into the camera as he said Old Europe didn’t matter and the subsequent cataclysm that was Iraq still grates. As does – to many – their view on universal healthcare, climate change, abortion, progressive taxation, guns, the death penalty and gay rights, as well as their hawkishness on foreign relations. More than belief, it’s perhaps the tone used by many in the party: the visceral hatred and virtual foaming at the mouth at the mere mention of another opinion on the aforementioned issues makes us feel as tad uncomfortable as this sort of belligerence is usually reserved for extreme fringe parties on this side of the Atlantic. Couple that with many Republicans’ endorsement and continual espousal of their particular notion of American exceptionalism which we would dispute, to put it mildly, and it’s perhaps no wonder that most Europeans – left and right – were pleased with the outcome on November 6th.

Am I forgetting anything?

My new blog on Italy

Some readers may remember a number of angry, annoyingly righteous and humourless posts I wrote about Italy a few years back. After a couple of people I know and trust told me that the posts were annoyingly righteous and humourless – and made me appear a bit angry and odd – I got rid of them.

They’re now back in a more appropriate setting: a new blog entitled Occasional Italian, where I’ll write about Italian stuff once in a while. I’m not trying to be an authority on Italy and the Italians but I love the subject matter and enjoy writing, and sometimes getting things off my chest is rather therapeutic.

So to any Italophiles out there, feel free to visit Occasional Italian and if it takes your fancy, comment.

Digital, comms, Brussels: some old posts revisited

I’ve dug up a few posts from before I even started at Fleishman-Hillard which may be interesting to anyone into digital, comms, issues and agency life in Brussels.

It’s personally been interesting to revisit stuff I’d even forgotten I’d written: plenty of naive remarks, lots of things which I’d now think were to bleedin’ obvious to even mention, lots of stuff that really hasn’t changed, and other stuff that has (e.g. I mention at one point that access to content remains search-centric but I’d now say that access to content is driven more by referrals.)

Anyway, here goes:

Shaping the debate: 1999 vs. 2009

Why the Brussels PA bubble isn’t embracing the web

Don’t listen to smug online consultants

Agencies and the commodity temptation

Reaching a legislator before and now

Being an online communications consultant in Brussels: annoying conversations

Can an eCampaign alone shift public opinion?

What to do about angry commenting trolls: ignore them

Replicating the marketing journey in issues communication

The bane of the online communications consultant

Countering fragmentation in Brussels by integrating and aggregating

A joke about a goat (and a reflection)

Nick told us a joke yesterday:

A scraggly old Greek man in a dusty village speaks to a group of strangers.

“See that school? I built that school – with my own hands. Ten years it took, and thousands of children have been schooled there, but nobody talks about Stavros the school-builder. Nobody!

See that hospital? I built it with these very hands. Fifteen years it took. Countless lives have been saved there, children born, the sick cured, but nobody ever talks about Stavros the man who built the hospital. Nobody!

But f*** just one goat…”

Now for the reflective bit. Great men and women are often remembered for one soundbite, one event, or like Stavros, one faux-pas. In the Internet age, how is the latter affected, if at all? Are people or organisations more or less likely to be tarnished by a one-off occurrence which reflects poorly on them?

Half-glass empty Steff would say the risk is even greater, considering the ease with which events, soundbites etc. can hit the public domain. There are countless examples of individuals or companies that have suffered at the hands of simple publication and viral, as only available in the Internet age. Domino’s Pizza anyone?

Half-glass full Steff would say the risk is diminished. Given that it is so easy to publish online and build a profile across multiple online channels, it’s also surely easier to create a positive impression or persona. Public profile-building does not need to rely on unpredictable, one-off 3rd party output anymore (primarily by media) but can be conducted by the person or organisation itself, and their networks, over time. Perhaps not just yet, but certainly down the line, will web-natives (which we’ll all be by then) not have developed into creatures who shun soundbites and spin and are more likely to believe an ongoing narrative by the person/organisation in question, assuming their online network backs them up? I’d like to think so.

Which is it really? Probably a bit of both; currently more half-glass empty, but in time, more of the half-glass full version perhaps?

Quality and quantity? No, quality AND quantity

How many times have you heard the old maxim: quality NOT quantity. Thing is, in communications at least, you can’t get away with just quality.

Two reasons:

  • People need to hear something 3-5 times to believe it.
  • The multitude of channels means you can’t reach critical mass (even if your target audience is relatively small) unless you’re communicating in multiple spaces.

By all means, quality of content needs to be exceptional to get through the clutter; but it will need to do so again and again and again. There’s no escaping it: perseverance is a key quality of the successful communicator (along with creativity, a strategic mindset and a knack for understanding audiences.)