Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Das & Xander do the Tate Britain

I spent the day at the Tate Britain with my much taller (and probably wiser) cousin. We, together with the OAPs, groups of school children being shepharded through the halls by weary teacher-folk and university art students, meandered through the exhibitions of works by Turner, Rubens and Titian.

The first piece we came upon was this mixed media sculpture by Bill Woodrow, an ironic homage to the classic nursery rhyme, Humpty Dumpty. The title of the piece: 'English Heritage - Humpty Fucking Dumpty', dated 1987 serves to represent what Woodrow calls 'a section through history'. The artist aims to make his audience question British heritage by highlighting, in a seemingly innocent way, the brute force the country uses against other countries or groups of people in order to protect what it perceives to be its national interests. Woodrow's sculpture, made from discarded objects and materials found on the streets of South London, was originally created as an observation of the British jingoism of the 1980s, however, it seems ever more poignant today following the rise of Islamaphobia in response to terrorism. How far will Britain, and its government, go in order to dislodge what it believes to be a threat to its national identity? And is it focussing on the right one?

Continuing on the theme of using art to question political and cultural issues, this photographic work by Carey Young, explores the impact of globalised capitalism on artistic production. This piece is among a series of eight photographs entitled Body Techniques that aims to address the interrelationship between art and commerce.

Young is shown within the context of the rapidly growing corporate landscapes of Dubai and Sharjah. The ambiguity of whether we are supposed to perceive her as trying to fit herself into the changing landscape or resist it provides the key dilemma to her work. The spectator is left pondering whether the answer is to beat 'em or indeed join 'em. The world is constantly changing, both aesthetically and physically, and whether we choose to oppose it or accept it, the changes are going to affect us so what comes next, is up to us...

JMW Turner's 'Apollo and Python' (exhibited 1811) takes inspiration from the 'Hymn to Apollo' by the Greek poet, Callimacchus, which tells of Apollo's necessary defeat of the giant dragon, Python, before being able to build a temple for his oracle Delphi.

Turner's artistic interpretation of the tale is the traditional manifestation of good over evil, however, his inclusion of a smaller snake emerging from the dragon's fatal wound suggests another layer. Is Turner presenting the idea that no matter how hard we try to overcome the bad in the world, there is an inescapable cycle of good versus evil? Perhaps the world cannot survive unless one is balanced by the other. It is my belief that we need the bad in order to appreciate the good.

And, to finish on a romantic note, this beautiful painting by John Everett Millais, entitled 'Hearts are Trumps' reveals three sisters playing cards. The title refers not only to the act itself, but also to the hoped-for suitors who may come to claim the hearts of these young girls. Maybe if the girls of today put a bit more thought and strategy into their "game plan" than listening to faddy relationship columnists and Hollywood ideals, they would find suitors lining up down the street??!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

A Romance Recession

Talking the other day to one of my girlfriends, Jo, about the real rarity of eligible men got me thinking. Conversations currently (as in circa 2010!) tend to centre on two issues - jobs and relationships - and there seems to be a common theme running through these dialogues, they are both increasingly difficult to come by.

We all know the world economy has taken a hit over the past two years or so, but are we also in a "romance recession"? As a "smug married" I'll admit, I have not been having first-hand experience of the dating market, however, living vicariously through my single friends (guys and gals) I have been keeping note of the patterns evolving. Pre-recession there seemed to be a great deal more opportunity for two people to meet and fall in love, however with the drop in employment, love's stock also seems to have suffered a crash.

Are the recession and subsequent unemployment mutually exclusive with the state of modern dating? Looking at it stastically, unemployment and frugality hardly encourage grand gestures, hope or the carefree attitude habitually related to finding "the one". How many relationships develop in the office, or via work-engineered events? Without these the adult social scene becomes rather depleted and therefore opportunities for meeting people are minimised.

The negativity that can ensue upon being made redundant or being out of work for a prolonged duration does little for one's emotional well-being and as a result, this state of mind is unlikely to create the right atmosphere geared towards inviting romance in.

So, okay it's not exactly ever easy to find love, but does a bad economy hinder the process even more? Without an occupation of some kind, plus the rejectionary feelings one may be experiencing following a "company restructure" individuals are likely to find their conversational topics dwindle and the signals they're unintentionally sending out repelling potential mates. Although among my friends there is an equal(ish) proportion of couples to singles, the majority of the couples have been together for 4 or more years. So the 'singletons' have been left by the wayside and the next wave of 'hook-ups' has been put on a wait-list as a result of the recession.

Moving onto the subject of dating sites, whose popularity has increased two-fold as digital transcends everything we know, Jo has a theory that some of the men on these sites are using these portals as a way to meet and dump women in order to regain some control having previously been the dumpee. The rest are, according to her, not really worth mentioning on the whole. Finding the right one is like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack, and involves weeding out the unmentionables in the process.

Perhaps, as the financial upturn becomes more pronounced, the romance recession will finally start to experience an upturn of its own and the cycle will start again. But it is an interesting idea, and once we realise that the state of our country's finances and its impact on our changing habits and lifestyles, maybe we can overcome the situation and turn it to our advantage and in so doing beat the romance recession...

The saying does go, "love will conquer all".

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Political Tweets

US governors are joining the ranks of tweeters as they recognise the value in utilising the micro-blogging site to enhance their reputations and maintain an online presence with voters.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is currently the top tweeter with 1,609, 285 followers, relishing the ability to have direct communication with the people.

Thirty-two of the nation's 50 governors, including Bobby Jindal, Louisiana Republican and Jennifer Granholm, Michigan Democrat, are using Twitter to alert followers about anything from what was on their breakfast plate to the latest travel news. But more importantly, the social networking site is allowing them a greater deal of control over their own sound bites.

Tweeting, as part of the contemporary fabric of our growing obsession with celebrity, has become another source for delving deeper into the lives of public figures. Senior lecturer at the University of Washington, Kathy Gill who has studied Twitter since 2007 (speaking to USA Today) explained: "What a governor can do (with Twitter) is shed some light behind the curtain."

However, like any political message, the tweets of US governors are censored and aided by press secretaries and media relations specialists - though are directed by the governors themselves. This is pretty much par for the course, particularly when sensitive matters are likely to be included, Jennifer Granholm tweeted to her constituents that she'd signed legislation banning smoking in Michigan bars and restaurants.

Being able to raise awareness, not only of matters of importance but also of one's personal profile is central to any political success story. Twitter provides free advertising and communication, as well as a means of maintaining a strong digital reputation which is all important in this digital age.

The success of President Obama's election campaign, which employed online media, has persuaded campaign professionals that social media and networking sites have real potential in securing political victory. What remains to be seen, according to Charles Franklin, professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is whether Twitter alone can generate the kind of voter contact needed for a strong campaign, without the added bolster of online blogging and other web activity.

Gill does warn that for politicians, Twitter can be a "double-edged sword" as the temptation to 'over-share' can sneak in under the cover of letting your constituents-cum-followers see a bit more of the 'real you'. Ultimately, politicians, like the rest of us, must stay 'up-to-the-minute' if they are to continue securing votes - one wonders whether this might change the face of voting. Will the next presidential election be won by the number of followers or balloted votes?

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Social networking to the rescue...

Facebook and Twitter are proving their worth in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake as survivors use the social networking sites to let their loved ones know that their okay.

With phones not working and e-mail being down, people are using social networking sites to share news and photos, as well as posting alerts to help with the search for those still missing or to request donations for the Haiti relief.

A spokesman for Facebook, Andrew Noyes, spoke to USA Today saying there have been more than 1,500 status updates per minute containing the word "Haiti" since the quake. This disaster has really brought into focus the power of social media as people find the need to truly engage with it.
  • Twitter: People are using it to share firsthand accounts and photos of the earthquake. Celebrities are also getting involved, using the site to raise money themselves for the cause.
  • Facebook: Charities including Oxfam America and Catholic Relief Services have been raising money through dedicated Facebook pages and using Twitter and Skype as well to share updates and communicate with relief workers and family members.
  • Blogs: People are using blogs written by others as online message boards to track down missing people.

In this new technological age the world is becoming a much smaller place, easier to navigate as the lines of communication cut across new boundaries and deliver a faster and more effective dialogue.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

SATC Addict in NY: In Remembrance

I just enjoyed my second trip to the Big Apple - the main thing I noticed as I trailed my suitcase down 23rd Street toward the Chelsea International hostel was the number of shops bearing signs for Psychics and Tarot Card readers for $5 and such... tempting to pop in and get a forecast for the week I had in lie for me... or not.

Spent my first afternoon in the city in the near vicinity of the hostel; was so cold, and realised that in my overly-thought preparation for 'meeting-wear' I had totally underestimated the need for general daywear, so made a beeline for the nearest store - American Apparel (my favourite US import but a rather pricey one - but, needs must) - I bought a whole outfit, and newly bedecked in my considerably warmer gear I headed for a Tasti D Lite-cum-internet cafe and settled in for a couple of hours. Spent the first night halfway between asleep and awake as the comings-and-goings of my roommates made for a restless night...

First day of meetings went very well - hyped up on not much sleep but gallons of enthusiasm and excitement, I headed over to Lure on the corner of Prince and Mercer, navigating the Subway like a pro! Discussed my NY PR prospects over a delicious sushi/sashimi platter... Then headed over to Herald Square for a black and white cookie (fyi: Carrie Bradshaw is seen devouring one in the park with Charlotte in Season 6: Catch-38 as she debates whether motherhood is for her) and a meeting with a Publicis PR sweetie!!

Made a quick stop in Macy's and fought the urge to snatch up a sequinned pink purse... the fort knox-like security tags hindered my magpie urges thankfully. Travelled the Long Island Rail Road down to Malverne to stay with my adopted family for the week and spent a warmer and more sleep-filled night. Woke early the next morning eager to explore the city...

Wearing my coveted pair of black patent Stella McCartney wedge ankle boots I attracted a number of unwanted advances from some rather questionable New York City "gentlemen"... hmm, should I rethink the boots??

Arrived at Penn station and made my way from 34th street to City Bakery on East 18th street for my first SATC devotee tribute. Obsessed with trying their infamous brownies (as seen in Season 5: Critical Condition) I was momentarily disappointed to discover there were no brownies but a melting chocolate chip cookie replacement - I got over it quickly!! Lunch over, I walked what felt like the length of Manhattan to Park Avenue for my 2pm meeting with a PR recruiter.

Remember: When you know what you want, never give up, keep pushing, keep networking, tell anyone and everyone you meet what you want because you never know who you'll meet.

Meeting went well, even picked up a contact for my fiance! With a couple of hours to kill, I found myself in Times Square and beyond excited phoned my Mum to broadcast the fact that I was indeed, in Times Square!! Spotted a giant Elmo and Square Pants Sponge Bob outside Planet Hollywood! Dove into American Eagle and made friends with a shop assistant before spending an obscene amount and leaving contented! Then from the dazzle of Times Square to the squalor of Hell's Kitchen and 11th Avenue I escaped to my 5.30pm meeting at Ogilvy where I met a fellow Brit who advised me on the necessities required for obtaining a visa to work in the States, and the various options at my disposal.

Then it was onto dinner at Pete's Tavern with a new friend - I of course had to have a Cosmopolitan with my burger and fries - we ended the evening with a stroll around Gramercy Park, a beautiful, if cold night!

Thursday morning began with a rather unhelpful meeting on Hudson street, but one that put me in a great vantage point to walk up to Perry street where I gleefully sat on Carrie's stoop, while simultaneously avoiding an onslaught of pigeons circa Tippi Hedren in Hitchcock's 'Birds'... Had a pizza on Bleecker street and then headed over to Canal street where I encountered an onslaught of black market-esque vendors surrepticiously attempting to pawn knock-off "designer" handbags. Not what I'd expected I cast a hasty retreat finding myself at the front door to an Ugg store - notably I did not leave empty-handed (oops!). Trawled the length of 6th Avenue in search of a Tasti D Lite and an internet connection as I was expecting to hear from a couple of other potential leads... found internet but no low cal ice cream, though Google advised me to taxi it to 75th and 1st Avenue where I enjoyed a cup of Creme Brulee and Chocolate Pudding whipped flavoured air!! (to quote Harry!)

Arrived back in Malverne laden down with bags and exhausted.

My last day in NYC (still wearing the boots... still attracting comments... oh well, what you gonna do?!) - arrived at Grand Central Station at 8.30am. Had to fit in three meetings before 1.30pm: starting off on Park Avenue and 45th street - a great meeting with another recruiter, greatly impressed her with my articulation and resume - then rode the Subway to Canal street to meet with some lovely ladies at Digennaro Communications - back on the Subway to Penn and (now in high-heel inflicted pain) sprinted over to West 36th street for my final interview. With only 30 minutes to spare before I needed to return to Penn, I awaited Miss Fashion PR... 15 minutes later, Miss Patronizing Fashion PR Bitch (with a capital B) sauntered in and in no uncertain terms made me feel 15 again with her condescending air and empty offer of an unpaid internship... thank you but NO!!

Got to Penn just in the nick of time and headed back to JFK for my flight home to London - so sad to leave. New York is my spiritual home... I know I'll be back for good one day...

NYC & Social Media

Having spent a week in New York meeting a variety of PR and ad agency folk, it would appear that the importance of social media in securing the success of current marketing campaigns is high on the agenda, however they are crying out for people with these digital skills.

Moving further into 2010 the internet will continue to provide brands and companies with free and essential advertising opportunities. Digital marketing is central to any PR and marketing strategy and for most people nowadays, the web is their first port of call for information and research. Twitter is the most powerful form of free marketing, so companies utilising it to full effect in this current digital media climate will thrive. For example, Stephen Fry has been using it to promote his new book in time for the Christmas season and subsequently driving people to his website. For PR agencies and their clients Twitter has become the most effective way of spreading the word about what a PR agency is doing for its client, but also what the client itself is doing. The online visibility afforded via social digital media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and their synergy in working together to create a widespread and dynamic network gives agencies and clients a portal through which to generate new business and effectively maintain existing clientele by staying current and ahead of competitors. The iPhone and Blackberry and other social networking mobiles, including the new Samsung Genio, have become integral in assisting the functionality and success of social media and digital marketing. The Compare the Market front-animal, Aleksandr the Meerkat is another great example of digital media worked at its best, with almost 6.000 fans on Facebook and hordes of followers on Twitter. Understanding how these networks work and exploiting them effectively will play an important part towards the success of PR agencies and their clients in 2010.
Related Posts with Thumbnails