Are you linked in or out?

At my most recent CIPR Social Media Panel ‘csuite podcast’ recording, I had the pleasure of welcoming Ketchum’s Stephen Waddington to the studio as one of my guests on the show.
Before we sat down in front of the mic, we got chatting about the pros and cons of LinkedIn, as you do, with me being a fan of the platform and Wadds arguing that it’s just become very noisy and full of spam.
As a result, Wadds asked me to write a guest post for his blog highlighting a few tips on how to get some true value from this particular social network.
Without justifying anything with user stats or how important your personal social media profiles have become in terms of social selling (let’s take it as read that that is the case) here are the ten suggestions I shared for why you should be LinkedIn and not LinkedOut.

  1. Share knowledge

If you blog, you may find you get far more engagement to your posts if you publish them on LinkedIn, and you never know who might end up reading them.  Over Christmas, my family visited Disneyland Paris, and I wrote a post about why I thought the park needed a sprinkle of pixie dust on my return.  The post has been read 490 times to date, but interestingly, it found its way to a number of employees of Disneyland Paris, which led me to now be connected with the company’s Senior CRM manager.  Having discussed this with Wadds, on his birthday last week, he published his first post on the platform – 45 lessons at age 45 – which I’m proud to take some credit for as he commented that he followed his own rule No. 36 after our discussion – ‘Knowledge is power’, which stated ‘Never stop learning and develop an openness and enthusiasm about the world. Curiosity wouldn’t have killed the cat if it had read more books.’   In the space of one weekend, his post had 550 views, 64 likes and 32 comments (Wadds has a little more influence than me!)

  1. Plan your travels

If you are heading anywhere for the day, whether in the UK or further afield, and have time in your diary to fill, search on LinkedIn for the destination you are visiting and see who you know there.  You can do a more detailed search using the ‘Advanced’ search feature and typing in the post code or city that you are travelling to.  This does rely on whether users type in their home postcode or work post code when they first register of course, and often (myself included) may forget to update it when they move jobs.

  1. Reconnect

In the 20+ years I’ve been working since graduating, I’ve picked up just a few business cards and every now and then, I do a cull of the ones I’ve not been in contact with for years, or can’t even remember where I met them.  But not before I do a quick search on LinkedIn to see where they are now and so try to reconnect with them if relevant.

  1. Welcome visitors

Look under your Profile tab to see who is viewing your profile? There could be a whole bunch of reasons for people visiting your LinkedIn page, including some going to the wrong person with the same name of course, but wouldn’t it be good to know why?  Send them a note, thank them for stopping by and ask how you can help.

  1. Don’t be afraid to network

That doesn’t mean spam people. The LinkedIn mobile app doesn’t currently allow you to personalise invites, so I only ever send them via my desktop, using the ‘Personalise invitation’ option, as that way I can introduce myself and give a summary of why I want to connect.  There is nothing more frustrating than getting an invite, accepting it, and then getting hit by a standard sales email.

  1. Say who you are.  

I hate the fact that when I look to see who has viewed my profile, I see the following:
linekdin
The clue to getting the best out of Social Network like LinkedIn are in those two key words, i.e. being  sociable and using it to network.  You wouldn’t go up to someone in the real world at a conference, for example, ask them to explain who they are, but not introduce yourself, so why do it here?  What do you have to hide, even if you are a competitor?

  1. Join Groups

This, again, is a great way to find new people to connect with.  I am off to an industry conference in Seville this month, and so have joined the specific organisation’s group to start my networking early and see if I can set up meetings during the breaks at the conference. Being in a group also helps when you send out invites as it gives you more reason to connect with someone new, again enabling you to personalise invite further by saying you share x many connections and y number of groups, so you obviously have quite a bit in common.

  1. Give feedback

I’ll admit that I don’t tend to read many of the updates that appear in my home page stream – I often browse through the top few when I go on the site but that’s all – with over 2000 contacts, it’s impossible to read everything.  But if you’ve connected with likeminded individuals in a similar field to yours, then the chances are a lot of the updates will be relevant to your work, so it’s worth scrolling through every now and then and picking out the odd article to read that has been shared that catches your eye.  Similarly, if someone has taken the trouble to publish a post, and you liked it, or had something to add, tell them and share it too (feel free to do both to this).

  1. Keep your profile updated

Many people see LinkedIn as a dynamic CV to help find their next job and don’t appreciate that people/companies may be using it to seek you out for your expertise in your current role.  So keep your profile updated.  Let people know what you’ve been up to and what you do for a living.  Share your expertise by embedding your presentations from Slideshare, or if, like me, you record podcasts, you can embed those from Soundcloud.

  1. It’s not Facebook

And finally, just a polite reminder, this is a business social network, not a personal one.  Whilst I was flattered that 0.35% (8 people) of my LinkedIn network liked my new photo when I updated my profile recently, I also found it a little strange, but perhaps that’s just me.  Thanks all the same though!
 
There are lots more tips and ways to benefit from LinkedIn and these were just the first few that came to mind.  Of course, if you want to find out more, you can always connect with me and ask – I’m at uk.linkedin.com/in/russellgoldsmith

CPD Done!

Back in August last year I decided to stand for the CIPR Council elections and through that process I realised that in all the time I had been a member, I had never been questioned about what I do for my Continuing Professional Development (CPD), something I now believe every member should have to commit to.
The topic of ‘Professionalism’ was highlighted by Stephen Waddington.  As one of his 10 pledges when he was CIPR President in 2014, he stated that we need to ‘Recognise that the public relations industry must shift from a craft to a profession by putting Continuing Professional Development (CPD) at its core’, and therefore he wanted to ‘Set a roadmap to ensure that CPD is recognised and seen as a key CIPR member benefit’.
In his Handover report in Q4 (see slide 4), Wadds talked about how work is now underway on scoping the development of an enhanced CPD offer for mid-career and senior practitioners. He confirmed that CPD completion rates in the 2014 to 2015 cycle have continued to increase year-on-year and that increasing this number will be a key focus for 2015.
Whilst I didn’t win my seat on the Council, I have seen through my commitment to complete my CPD this year.  It was easy, provided me with a bit of needed focus, was educational and surprisingly, it was actually quite enjoyable.
Inspired by Stuart Bruce’s blog post over the weekend, I’m sharing my CPD report below:
cpdreport
I’ve actually been lazy in that I haven’t recorded anything like the number of CPD activities I’ve attended, downloaded, read, watched or been involved in myself in terms of supporting others.  I intend to improve this next year to ensure I keep a note of more than is required just to reach my 60 points.  However, having finally gotten involved, I do believe the system needs improving.  60 points isn’t a hard total to reach, especially as two thirds of that was achieved through my participation on the CIPR’s Social Media Panel (CIPRSM), and attending and presenting at the Festival of Marketing.  I also claimed an easy 5 points by listing the csuite Podcast series that I produce.  So in effect, the main bulk of my points are in me providing support, although to be fair, I’ve actually found this is the best way I learn new things too.  For example, the Festival of Marketing had a really high quality of delegates and the presentations that I managed to sit in on whilst there were excellent, especially the one by my fellow CIPRSM member Dom Burch who discussed how Asda have engaged with YouTubers for their Mum’s Eye View YouTube channel (this was a good review of it on Econsultancy).   Another great presentation was by Philip Byrne, creative director at Buzzfeed who talked about shareable content (again, another good review here on Econsultancy)
Similarly, being an active member of the CIPRSM has enabled me to meet some inspiring minds in our industry and I always come away from those meetings enthused and full of new ideas and I encourage members to get actively involved in other panels that are of interest to them, plus I won’t lie in that by doing so helps your business development as well as personal development too.  Finally, producing the Podcast series gives me access to some great guests.  I have committed to write up each interview as a blog post too and I can honestly say I have taken away some great learnings from each of the interviews I have carried out so far.
But I do feel that improvements can be made to the CPD process.  It will be interesting to see how many people, like me, are frantically completing their report this week ahead of the deadline – nothing changes really, from doing your homework on the bus, to calling your accountant on the last day that you can submit your tax returns!
So perhaps we need to encourage better participation and learning throughout the year.  Maybe there needs to be a monthly or quarterly target to reach, plus a commitment to participate in something from a number of different disciplines or different activities, just to show you have a commitment to learning more about our profession, rather than simply taking an easy route to reaching your target points.
In the meantime, however, I really do encourage all members to take part.  You can still reach your 60 points this week, even if you haven’t started yet, but if not, at least make a commitment to do so for 2015/16.  You never know, you might learn something!

Why Disneyland Paris needs a sprinkle of pixie dust

Having recenlty returned from a Christmas family trip to Disneyland Paris, it was no surprise to read that the theme park had been reported to have received a €1 billion bail out a few months ago.
Don’t get me wrong, we had a great few days away and there is, without doubt, a magical feeling you get when you walk through the entrance, which is still the case for my 17 and 14 year old too.  However, the park looks tired and clearly shows a lack of investment and it’s therefore no suprise to read that it’s been losing money for years.
I can’t pretend to know how to run a theme park, nor do I have any idea of the cost of building rides and maintaining them, but here are my ten very simple observations as to where that huge investment could be spent to help restore my faith in the Magic Kingdom.

  1. It’s time for Michael Jackson to Beat It

In Discoveryland you will find what’s described as ‘A fantastic 3D film relating the adventures of Captain EO, alias Michael Jackson, featuring a rhythm-packed musical soundtrack and a whole host of dazzling special effects’

This film was made in 1986.   At the time, it was the most expensive film ever produced on a per-minute basis, averaging out at $1.76 million per minute and starred the biggest pop sensation directed by the guy that brought us Star Wars.  It didn’t get any better.  But what does that mean to kids of today? Michael Jackson sadly passed away over five years ago now and I understand the reasons that this attraction was brought back to the park as a tribute to him, but it’s time to move it on.  The film couldn’t look more dated and the ‘dazzling special effects’ look so basic compared to what we’ve come to expect with films such as Avatar and Gravity its almost embarrassing to watch.

  1. Did they not wanna build a snowman?

Wandering around the park are of course the famous five of Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto but you’ll also spot the likes of Chip & Dale and … Mr Smee.  Where are the new heroes like Olaf, the snowman who stole the show in Frozen?  Disney need to stop living in the past.  The choice of characters you can meet still seems to be based on the ‘trying to live your childhood through your kids’ theory.

  1. Time to update the rides, Savvy?

I get that Pirates of the Caribbean was a ride before it was a blockbuster film, but would most kids going to the park know that?  So when you get to the ride, it makes no sense to me and must surely be huge disappointment to many not to see any reference to Captain Jack Sparrow.  Time to have a facelift.

  1. The not so Fastpass®

‘You can save time with Fastpass’, except that when you read your small print, ‘you may only have one Fastpass ticket at a time’ and despite Disney Hotel guests being able to enter the parks early, the Fastpass machines don’t open until 10am.  So choose wisely which one you want, because within minutes you are already only able to get into that ride say about an hour later.  By the time you have then used your Fastpass, the next one you try to use isn’t available until about 2-3pm, after which you’ll be lucky to get another one.  The system simply doesn’t work

  1. #nohashtagorwifi

Disneyland Paris has had over 14.2m visits in 2014, and almost every one of those must have been taking photos just as we were. So with the amount of pictures that were no doubt being uploaded to social media, the park could be trending online pretty much every day if they simply offered free wifi throughout it, which is not currently available, and perhaps ran competitions encouraging you to tag your photos with a hashtag where the best photos won Disney related prizes.

  1. Figaro Figaro Figaro

Far be it from me to tell Disney how to sell product, but I do find it odd that you come off a ride, say in Fantasyland, such as Pinocchio, and in the store you can buy a Lilo and Stitch toy.  I may have a vested interest in this one as my favourite Disney character is Figaro, Mister Geppeto’s cat.  I know, an odd choice out of all the characters there have ever been. But my point is, would there not be more chance of selling more product if, when you finished the ride you could perhaps buy a bigger selection of toys from that particular film?  After all, there are stores all over the two parks and in the Disney Village area where you can buy all the other stuff.   FYI, there was no Figaro on sale, and surprisingly, neither could we find a cuddly Olaf.

  1. Early Starts, but not for all the workers

Guests of the Disney Hotels benefit from being allowed into the park earlier than the general public, which is great, if all the rides were open.  But they are not.  For example, we made a bee-line for the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster in Walt Disney Studios, but that didn’t open until 10am, so instead made the long walk back to the main park to go on Space Mountain, except that ride had ‘technical problems’ and was therefore closed at the time.  Unlucky I guess, so instead we went to the Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, but by 9.30am, it was already at a 30min queue, and of course you couldn’t use a FastPass at it was too early!  Open all the rides and make it a true benefit to the guests to get up early.

  1. These are not the rides you are looking for

Disney paid over $4bn for LucasFilm, so I get that it wants to see an ROI out of Star Wars.  But still having the original Star Tours simulator, which like the Captain EO film, is almost 30 years old, is just simply not worth queuing for, when your time can be better spent on amazing new and original rides like Ratatouille, which opened earlied this year.  Star Wars also seems an odd choice to show on the screens in the Videopolis area which, despite having a stage, had no live show on it.  Instead, across the screens they were showing clips from the animated series Star Wars Rebels.  This seemed strange, especially at Christmas time.  Surely kids would prefer to see the songs of Frozen playing whilst they are having their lunch, or something from Mickey’s Christmas Carol.  I don’t have the stats, and haven’t done the research, but I can’t believe too many kids under 10 would get excited by Star Wars Rebels whilst at Disney.

  1. Interactive Queuing

We were lucky in that the longest queue we had was 45mins, but the timing of many queues were shown as 70 minutes or more.  So how hard can it be to make that time pass a little faster by giving something for you to do whilst standing in the freezing December cold.  The impressive ‘Crush’s Coaster’ ride did get it right by offering a local wifi link enabling you to download a game onto your smartphone, which certainly helps.  So why can’t they do something similar on all the rides, or why not have screens above the queues showing scenes from the films, or the characters walking along the queue giving the kids a chance to take a selfie with Snow White, for example.  How difficult could that last one be?

  1. Disney on-demand

And finally, when you do crash out in your room, why not offer the chance to watch a Disney movie of your choice on your TV.  I’ve never understood why, in this age of Netflix, which does indeed have Disney films on it menu, why the Disney Hotels don’t offer an on-demand service of all the films available to show.
 
So there you have it.  My 10 simple marketing tips (and I had plenty more) for the people at Disneyland Paris on where to start spending their billion Euros.
In summary, as I said, we had a great time away, but perhaps Disney need to take a leaf out of their own song that has driven just about everyone mad in 2014 and that I can’t get out of my head since returning from my trip:

“the past is in the past! Let it go, let it go.”

Do you speak Human?

Theories suggest that the myriad of global languages might one day die out – spelling the decline of translation and localisation services. But for now, these businesses provide critical support to CROs engaged in trials, although technology is changing the stakes.
The 50th Drug Information Association (DIA) conference that took place recently in San Diego, California, encouraged delegates to ‘celebrate the past and invent the future’. But by inventing the future, could we be consigning ourselves to the past?
Invention is what drives the human race forward. It is what sets us apart from other species and brings with it untold benefits.  Yet, for some, invention also creates fear for their own basic needs – there is concern that new technologies, for example, will replace their jobs and livelihoods.
This dilemma is, of course, nothing new. Some 50 years ago, when the first-ever DIA conference was being planned, the same concern was highlighted on the cover of LIFE magazine (July 1963), with the headline ‘Point of no return for everybody’ stating that ‘Automation’s really here; jobs go scarce’.
However, according to industry trend-spotter and futurologist, Magnus Lindkvist, the ‘will our jobs disappear?’ question is not necessarily something that should be tied to technology, but perhaps more to the underlying economic climate of the time.  Lindkvist believes that, while technology will replace the jobs that are highly repetitive and consist of boring tasks that can easily be automated, it can also be viewed as an enabler and empowerer. So it may be accused of stealing some jobs, but other roles will emerge in its wake.
Language Prediction
One such industry that has seen huge changes over the last 50 years is that of translation and localisation. According to applied futurist, Tom Cheesewright, the emergence of tools such as Google Translate could see a lingua franca – a bridge language – begin to emerge. He takes the view that as new words are created, they will spread like memes across the connected globe, becoming established in each language before local equivalents can be created.
But could we ever see a future where, if aliens landed on our planet 100 years from now, they could find us speaking only one language, Human? This is Cheesewright’s prediction, arguing that technology – in particular, the internet – is helping to break down the barriers, such as language and currencies, that once divided people.
He says that, just as disruptive finance businesses like PayPal have made the movement of money across borders easier – enabling everyone to forget what currency their partner was dealing in – languages will follow the same path.
Similarly to national currencies, Cheesewright believes that different languages will disappear from our daily lives over the next century. While they will not stop being used altogether, as technology abstracts us away from the complexity of translation, we will begin to forget that such great differences ever existed.
Business Impact
Exciting? Far fetched? Whichever way you look at it, it could be worrying for a business that services the CRO sector by supplying translation and localisation services. The implication is that such companies might become obsolete.
However, Gary Muddyman, Chief Executive Officer of Conversis Medical, is reassured that Cheesewright’s prediction means there is still a market for companies such as his, for the short to medium term at least. This confidence is, in part, because of the industry’s ongoing focus on emerging markets such as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, where the population is expected to reach 598 million by 2050. More than 1,000 different languages are spoken in Africa alone, and it is estimated that up to 7,000 languages are spoken around the world.
A recent white paper published by Quintiles stated that, while the MENA region (excluding Israel) currently hosts only about 0.4% of clinical trial sites and patients, its percentage of global clinical trial patient-related R&D spend could increase by a factor of 8-10 in the next decade – building an annual market of around $1 billion.
Translation and localisation therefore becomes a vital part of the clinical trial process. As Ann Van Dessel, Head of Global Clinical Operations at Janssen Research & Development, explains: “It is very important that we provide high-quality translations so the information is understandable and clear for patients participating in the study. As required, we submit the translations to regulatory authorities and independent ethics committees for review. These steps help ensure patients have appropriate information to guide their decisions.”
Human Survival
Muddyman also believes that, while the process of converting content from one language to another will get more automated, it will never completely replace humans. “Things will evolve, they will change, and faster, more accurate, effective and cheaper translations will always be the challenge. But humans and machines will continue to co-exist, and I think we will continue to have a viable business for the foreseeable future,” he says.
Tahar Bouhafs, Chief Executive Officer of Common Sense Advisory, agrees. “Machine translation can be used as a pre-translation step to help speed up the work of human translators, but there is no evidence that the technology will ever eliminate the need for human editing or translation.” Bouhafs adds that: “No information publisher can afford the business risk of unedited machine output. The financial and brand damage that ensues from mistranslation is already a significant liability, even with fully vetted human translation.”
Matthew McCarty, Senior Director, Health Engagement and Communications at Quintiles, thinks that use of language is only part of the challenge when localising information for a clinical trial, all of which is vital to help accelerate the study’s timeline. The visuals used in patient recruitment materials, for instance, can be just as crucial in ensuring the right image is used in context of the cultural characteristics within the region you are working.
He uses differences in healthcare in the US and India as an example: the latter is much more about a relationship with your doctor who may have looked after your family for years, compared to what could be seen as the competitive nature of how medical advice is provided in the US.
Specialist Roles
But what of the future of language and translation services in particular? Muddyman disagrees with the notion that languages will continue to die out and that global communications will become homogenised. In his view, technology will allow us to protect and evolve minority languages, like many of those spoken in certain MENA countries. However, Cheesewright states that “the intermediaries will come first, who will insulate us from each other’s languages, seamlessly translating one to another”. Of course, technologies will only get faster and more nuanced as the inexorable, exponential advance of computing power continues.
There is, however, room for optimism. Lindkvist believes jobs will simply evolve. He says there will be fragmentation of roles that will include specialist translators within the medical industry. Such a move has already been taken by Conversis, which has recently employed a scientist, Dr Mark Hooper, to oversee translation projects specific to the pharmaceutical market. This optimises workflow by ensuring that medical terminology is translated correctly – something that machines can only do a certain percentage of, and that human translators would, understandably, not be aware of, being language experts rather than medical specialists.
Dion Wiggins, Asia Online CEO, believes it is ‘smart’ of Conversis to have recruited Dr Hooper.  He said that having someone who can optimise the workflow and understand the issues is key, as that will then enable you to do things you would otherwise not be able to do.  It’s the same reason he brought in Professor Phillip Koehn as his company’s Chief Scientist.   Koehn was the 2013 European Patent Office European Inventor of the Year Runner Up with his advanced method of automated computer translation.
Different Thinking
With all this thought about how technology can improve our lives, it is also important to remember how new inventions come about. Lindkvist uses the example of the aeroplane. He explains that for a long time in the late 1800s, we tried to make machines fly by imitating birds – but, of course, the flapping mechanical ‘wings’ did not work as they were unable to generate the lift required. It was only when looking at other dynamics that the likes of the Wright Brothers started to see progress, eventually leading to their first flight in 1903.
Lindvkvist therefore says that when we ask the question whether technology can do human activity ‘x’, we are usually posing the wrong question. Arguably, it does not need to be done in the same way. So, in terms of translation, perhaps we should stop trying to teach machines to ‘flap their wings’. Lindkvist also reminds us that some of our most valuable discoveries, particularly in the pharma industry, are the results of mistakes or by-products, citing penicillin and Viagra as two classic examples.
While the pharma industry cannot afford any mistakes, Lindkvist makes an important point that language is often about interpretation and ensuring we engage the audience who is reading or listening to us. McCarty stresses, for example, that when Quintiles prepares materials for adult patients in a clinical trial, it aims for a reading age of 10-12 years old so as not to exclude people. Similarly, it would not look to make its visuals too scientific as otherwise potential patients will not understand them, which would ultimately impact on patient safety.
Local Delivery
But it is not always about literal translation, as Angela Radcliffe, Vice President and Director of Clinical Trials at Vio Global, advises. She believes that localisation is just as important in the delivery of a project; without foregoing quality, this can mean a difference of millions of dollars to the pharma company developing a new drug. You cannot translate conceptual nuances, she says. Similar to McCarty’s view, Radcliffe makes the point that we need to take account of cultural differences when presenting information in different territories.
One area where this is becoming increasingly important is social media, where consumers – in particular, patients or sufferers of diseases – look to pharma companies for immediate information. Radcliffe says that while the public may tolerate some mistakes on social media, the pharma industry simply cannot afford to make any. According to Van Dessel, the important message her company’s founder, Dr Paul Janssen, gave was “the patients are waiting”.
She adds: “That sense of urgency inspires us to get our medicines to patients, regardless of where they are, as fast as we can. Bringing a medicine to market faster can have a significant financial impact for our company, but what is most important is the difference it can make in the life of a patient.”
Evolving Approach
According to Wiggins, at present 50-70% of machine-translated documents will not be changed by humans, but to get to a point where humans are not needed to translate at all, we will need machines to understand and think. At the moment, machines learn patterns and then repeat them.
Automation is a must for companies translating huge documents. One of Asia Online’s clients has 1.1 billion words translated every day, and Wiggins predicts that leading language service providers to CROs, such as Conversis Medical, will soon be translating more content in one year than in the previous five years combined.
However, even as technology develops over the next 30-50 years, Wiggins still believes humans will do a better job in many areas – machines will not out-think a human. In addition, Muddyman agrees that companies like his will need to evolve with better segmentations and analysis of the roles of humans and machines in their processes. It may therefore be some time before Cheesewright’s prediction of one global human language comes true.
This article first appeared in International Clinical Trials, November 2014.

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