The Hebrides – Things You Have to Do and See

I spent three days working in the Hebrides this week. I’ve not visited in the summer before, only the winter, and what a fantastic place Lewis and Harris are in the glorious light of the sun. After doing a couple of digital consultations with some clients, talking websites, social media, cloud storage, mobile and tablet devices and the merits of having a mac or a pc, I got to take some time to explore the North Uists for the first time. So I’ve compiled a list of the things which I reckon are not to be missed if you ever find yourself over on these sunny isles.

1. Harris Tweed

There are so many amazing designers now making the most beautiful items from Harris Tweed these days, it has become a fashion must have for sure. Although I wasn’t able to get the jacket I really fancied (it was about £500), I was able to take a good look around some of the stores in Stornoway and around Tarbert.

Harris Tweed

Harris Tweed

Recommended Harris Tweed Outlets:

2. Firstfruit Tearooms

I had the most wonderful tea and scone, lunch and afternoon hangouts at the Firstfruit tearoom in Tarbert. It’s a fantastic family run summer joint where you can chill in the croft space or bathe yourself in the sun outside in their garden. It’s a fab place to meet other tourists and chat about travels around the island. Great value for money too.

First Fruits tearoom

First Fruits tearoom

3. Callanish Standing Stones

These amazing stones were pulled and heaved into place about 4,000 years ago by the inhabitants of the Hebrides. No one is certain why they were put there and for what purpose, but I imagine they would draw people in from all over the island as a place to come together as a community, for shared experiences, and perhaps even some form of worship – in someways its not changed all that much! There is a great little visitors centre there too with an exhibition, unfortunately the weather wasn’t that great when I went and two enormous coaches of tourists arrived just as I did, but it is definitely worth the visit and for a wonder around, it’s not too far outside of Stornoway either.

Calanish Stones

Calanish Stones, JM Barries Signature from the Harris Hotel, and looking over Tarbert

4. Hebrides Art Cafe

Hebrides Art Cafe

Hebrides Art Cafe

If you like your art, or colour, then a trip to Seilebost to see the Hebrides Art Cafe is an absolutely must. Not only is it an exquisite drive down to the South end of Harris, but the cakes and paintings are to die for. I would rank this gallery as one of my favourite of all time. It was relaxed, friendly, the location was amazing, and the talent of the artists and maker’s on display was incredible. All art in the gallery has to be inspired by the Hebrides and about 50% of the exhibits are from local artists. I was overcome by the beautiful colours on display – always have been a sucker for the colours of the sea. Will be saving my pennies for a piece from there soon (managed to buy a couple of postcards as a reminder!)

Hebrides Art, Seilebost, Isle of Harris, HS3 3HP.

5. Stornoway Black Pudding

If you are going to take a trip to Harris or Lewis then you absolutely have to stop and pick up some original Stornoway Black Pudding. The butcher who made the original pudding is based in Stornoway, not far from the high st. It is perhaps the most delicious piece of blood and guts I’ve had to date, it just melts in your mouth – we’re saving the piece I brought home for some Sunday black puddin’ rolls! Yummm.

Stornoway Black Pudding

Stornoway Black Pudding

Make Works Tour in Inverness #thisismakeworks

This morning I got out and about to attend the Make Works Tour and Creative Industries Information Day at Cowan House in Inverness.

The day was hosted by HIE and emergents, and led by the lovely Fi and Vana from Make Works.  Fi Scott founded Make Works during her final year studying product design at Glasgow School of Art, after an internship in Brooklyn Fi returned with a realisation that it’s not that easy to find the practical means  to get things made here. She found after talking to a number of designers, makers, artists, craftspeople, architects, creative practices and manufactures in Scotland, they also expressed a need to be more closely connected with industry, machines, materials and the whole design to production process.  And Make Works was born.

Make Works Tour in Inverness

Make Works Tour in Inverness

The organisation itself is independent and design-led, it aims to celebrate and debate making, manufacture and materials, while connecting design with local industry. Their big project is the Make Works directory. The goal is to create a digital platform providing practical and relevant information about how to get things made in Scotland – from prototype to wholesale manufacture, this would be a directory for makers, manufacturers, factories, specific machinery, material suppliers and workshop or studio space.

Fi and Vana spoke very passionately about their vision to see Scotland’s craft and design industry, whether small cottage industries to large-scale manufacturing plants, showcased, documented and utilised by skilled designers and makers up and down the country.

I myself have come across a number of maker’s in the past who are looking to outsource or have products manufactured for them and simply can’t find, with ease, the right factories or companies in Scotland with the tools and know-how to do what they require. In one instance a maker ended up using an Indian based company despite her best efforts to want to use a Scottish company.

In some ways the Make Works directory will become our very own product design and producing online dating service. We want to be able, as makers and designer, to know who to approach, how to approach them and how to strike deals with manufacturers or people with the tools/skills we need to realise our design dreams.

Bashing out ideas for Make Works

Bashing out ideas for Make Works

What make’s the Make Works directory unique is its approach to collecting and displaying the data they are gathering at the moment while on their tour of Scotland. Instead of your bog standard name and contact details, Fi and Vana are visiting and meeting with the people who run these businesses, interviewing them, and producing short 90 second videos to accompany each entry into the database so we, the users of said directory, can actually see who the business is, what they do and how they do it.

The session today at HIE was looking at what our experiences are with production in Scotland and how we might want to use a directory like this. One of the things which was very much supported by all designers, makers and other interested parties at the session, was that we want to be able to say that our products are ‘Made in Scotland’ – completely. Not just that the company is  based in Scotland, that the materials might be from Scotland, but that the whole production process and therefore the making of the products are 100% Scottish.

Encouragingly Fi and Vana said they have been surprised and delighted by the number of creative businesses and manufacturers out there, and that there really isn’t any obvious gaps in the market. Which is fantastic for us makers, it’s just a matter of connecting the two together and making some beautiful work together.

The Make Works tour is currently under way, as Fi and Vana travel around the whole of Scotland in their Tartan VW camper called Rhubarb – you can follow the tour on their website and by following #makeworkstour

The aim is to launch the directory next April – so watch their space!

Social Networks

Navigating Social Media

Social media is a hot topic for businesses around the globe and has been for the last few years. It enables us connect in more interactive ways with our customers, clients, colleagues and of course our family and friends, in ways unlike traditional online media such as email and websites. Its fundamentally changed the way that we all engage with online content, letting us comment, share and interact, and this has been reflective in the ways that we now view our online presence and marketing.

Social media appears in many different guises, as blogs, micro-blogs, forums, message boards, social networks, wikis, virtual worlds, social bookmarking, tagging, digital storytelling, scrapbooking, data, content, image and video sharing, podcasts and collective intelligence. The most well-known sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Youtube, Flickr, WordPress, Blogger and Wikipedia have all enhanced our online experience and have become influential social forces in both the online and offline world. With people now using Facebook and Youtube as a search engines, some digital marketer’s argue that without a social presence your business reputation will suffer, as increasingly more people are looking for your business on Facebook or Twitter before they visit your website.

It was back in 1971 when the first ever email was sent, and seven years later two Chicago computer hobbyists invented the bulletin board system (BBS) to inform friends of meetings, make announcements and share information through postings, this can be seen as the rudimentary beginnings of virtual communities. But it wasn’t until 1997 that blogging first began and AOL Instant Messenger hit the screens letting users from around the globe chat with one another. In the following two years Google opened as a major internet search engine and index and Friends Reunited was founded in the UK. In the early Noughties (2002) Friendster, probably the first social networking site, was opened to the US public and in its first three months attracted 3 million users. The following year saw the birth of MySpace and LinkedIn set up as a professional social networking site. At this time there were about 3 million web pages indexed on the world wide web.

It wasn’t until 2004 that Facebook made its debut on the web, started by Mark Zuckerberg while studying at Harvard College, initially it was designed to be a closed college network, and we all know where it went from there. From then on there has been a proliferation of social media sites, with YouTube storing and retrieving its first videos in 2005, and Bebo (an acronym for Blog Early, Blog Often) was started as a rival to Facebook. At this time there were now 8 billion web pages. When Twitter launched in 2006 as a microblogging site  Google indexed 25 billion web pages and 400 million queries (or searches) a day.

Now in 2013, only 9 years after the launch of Facebook at Harvard, the site has 1.11 billion users, and if it were a country it would be the third largest in the world, behind China and India. It overtook the US three years ago.  YouTube topped the one billion monthly user mark and 4 billion views per day this year. Twitter has 500 million registered users with more than 200 million active users. LinkedIn has grown to amass 225 million accounts, while MySpace somewhat dawdles with 25 million users. Pinterest, one of the newest sites to hit the scene as a social scrapbooking network has approximately 49 million users, while WordPress now accounts for 16% of the worlds top websites with 74 million hosted blogs. Social media has become such an ingrained part of our daily lives that even Astronauts aboard the International Space Station regularly tweeted and posted videos to Youtube live from space!

Mobile is now playing a massive role in how we check up on our favourite social networks, with more than half of us regularly accessing Facebook and Twitter from our smart phones while on the move. People living in cities spend the most time on social media, and women tend to spend about 10% more time on social networking sites than men.

In the UK 33 million of us are on Facebook, this is up 3 million on the last year, that’s over half of the entire population, in fact proportionally there are more people using Facebook in the UK than in the US. Overall the highest proportion of users are between the ages of 25 and 34 (26%), with 18 to 24 years old’s the next largest group (23%), but the demographic for people over the age of 55 using social media has grown significantly in the last year.

As for Twitter, its estimated that around 34 million of us have live accounts in the UK, which is a huge jump from last years estimate of 26 million. It’s suggested that the heavy coverage and discussions around big events like the Olympics and Jubilee may have been the driver in recruiting new Twitter users. Twitter seems to attract a slightly older grouping of people with 60% being aged between 25 and 54 years old.

Then there’s LinkedIn, the total number of UK users passed the 10 million mark back in 2012, it is now around 11 million. This is about 11% of the population, for a niche networking site this is pretty astounding. Pinterest, although it’s one of the most talked about social networks this year there is only an estimated 200,000 of us using Pinterest here in the UK, and most of these are women.

And these are just the UK stats, when you begin to look at the global usage of social media, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine your message will be seen at all. Which is why it is becoming increasingly more important to really think about what you want your social media to do for you, who you want to be talking to, and how you want them to interact with you. As a marketer it comes relatively easy to me to talk about strategy planning, implementation and monitoring, but for people running small or medium businesses, when you have everything to consider from creating your products or services to running the financial and administration sides of your business, you’d be forgiven for not thinking too strategically about your use of social media. But as more and more people start to look to social networks, blogs and microblogs not only to talk to their friends and family but to get advice or seek out products and services they want and need, we have to think somewhat realistically about how social media fits into our overall marketing and promotion.

It was said to me a few years back that if a business didn’t have a Facebook or a Twitter account (or if they did and there were no postings or interaction on the profiles) that potential customers would be turned off the business all together. Although I can’t prove how accurate that statement is for every customer out there, it did make me think that I do prefer to see a business with a social side (whether done well or not) then none at all. Ultimately social media has helped put ‘people’ and ‘customer service’ back into business. So what are you doing to put the ‘social’ into your business?

And here’s a little something which makes me smile, and probably encapsulates why I genuinely do love how Social Media is changing the world;

Sian provides Social Media training, consultancy and strategy development for businesses across the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. If you’re interested in finding out what she can do for you then please get in touch with her via;

Facebook LinkedIn Twitter

The fantastic online sources used to inform this piece:

New Favourite Thing: Infographics

Information graphics or infographics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge designed to present information quickly and clearly. Although infographics have been around for many years the recent proliferation of easy-to-use, free tools, have made the creation of infographics available to anyone.

What is an infographic?

an infographic is

Infographic to explain what an Infographic is by Hot Butter Studio

According to Inforgaphics Archive the history of infographics data back to early prehistory, where humans created graphics through cave paintings and later maps. One of the earliest maps to be recorded is the map at Catalhoyuk  which dates back to 7500 BCE. In 3000 BC ancient Egyptians used heiroglyphic symbols to tell stories depicting their lives, work and religion and perhaps one of the most recognisable infographic in the UK is the 1st tube map of London in 1933 showing only the lines of transit routes and stations.

First London tube map 1933

First London tube map 1933

In the 2000s and 2010s we now have access to web based infographic creators such as:

I’ve been experimenting with easel.ly for the last couple of months, it’s currently a beta site, but it is really easy to use and I can see the long term potential. The main downside to this site and I would imagine others is the database of  graphics and visuals you have available to you. Easel.ly is limited but as a beta site this is understandable. There is  the ability  to upload your own graphics or images, however these are imported as a solid block image, so if you want to overlay your own graphics without a white background onto your carefully selected infographic background this can be difficult. However with a bit of creativity you can work around the limitations to produce some pretty cool inforgraphics of your own.

Before the doors closed on the organisation I previously worked for I was able to pull together three infographics of the projects I was involved with. These were not only great at demonstrating to collegeues and potential business contacts what it is that I have done over the last four years, but it provided me with a real sense of achievement when I saw four years of hard work laid out in a easily understood pictorial.

HI-Arts Audience Development

HI-Arts Audience Development: Marketing, Research and Audience Development support for the cultural, creative and heritage sector

HI-Arts Craft Development

HI-Arts Craft Development Programmes for Craft Makers and Designers in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland

Growing Audiences North East Infographic

Growing Audiences North East: Audience Development for the Cultural Sector in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire

If you are interested in designing your own infographic I would definitely recommend easel.ly and here are a couple of tips to get you going:

  • The Purpose; what do you want your infographic to depict? What is the point of it?  And who do you envisage reading it?
  • The Data; you need a good assortment of data and information to be able to present and to make it interesting. Look at your diary, your accounting, your social media, your website stats, the number of people you have worked with  or met, the places you have visited… the data you choose will depend on the reason you are creating the infographic in the first place.
  • The Theme; when picking your background or theme (colour scheme, background image, the graphics)  think about how these relate to the data you are trying to represent graphically. If your going to depict the number of miles you’ve travelled say, then you might want to use a graphic of a car or public transport.
  • It’s not always about the percentages; I will admit that I can overdose on percentages, they’re neat and tidy, but over use of a percentage can be a bit uninteresting, so try to mix it up. So if you know 25%  of the people who visit your website also visit your blog then why not express it as 1 in 4 people visit your blog.
  • Less is more; it can be tempting to fit in as much information as you can, but sometimes less definitely is more, especially if you are trying to get across a particular point. With the infographics I designed I started out with twice as much data as I ended up displaying.
  • Get someone else to check it makes sense; because we understand our data and know what it means to us doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone else will too. It’s good then to get someone who is not as closely related to the information to read it over and see if they come to the conclusions or understand your graphic the way you intended.

If you are interested in having your own infographic made for you then do get in touch with me by leaving a comment below.

Inverness Castle and Ness River

New Beginnings

As of June HI-Arts, the cultural development agency for the Highlands and Islands, closed its doors after 20 years of providing support to the cultural and creative sectors of the Highlands, Islands, North East and beyond. I was privileged enough to work there for four years, where I was able to hone my skills, develop my knowledge and work with a talented group of individuals across Scotland.

This month I have set out on my own, as a freelancer based in Inverness, I aim to continue to work with the cultural and creative sector, as well as the tourism sector and with small businesses or all persuasions. My focus will be on marketing, promotion and audience (or customer) development, and after working so closely with numerous small businesses in the creative field on making the most of the digital and online world, there will be a slant towards taking advantage of the world wide web.

I’ve since started a 9 month contract with Strathpeffer Pavilion, a beautiful 19th century spa building in the lovely little village of Strathepeffer, about 30 minutes away from Inverness. The Pavilion is the UK’s most northerly Spa and now runs as a multi-purpose venue for the community, the Ross and Cromarty area, Inverness and beyond. The Pavilion puts on live music events, theatre, classical concerts, craft and food, arts and photography fairs, weddings and conferences. In the last couple of months it has doubled it’s staff members and has an eye to becoming the provider of choice for all types of entertainment and events in the Highlands.

I’ve been brought on board with Kris Reid to assist the team in developing and improving their branding, marketing and promotion, press and media relations, programming, sales and income generation, audience development, sponsorship and friends schemes – so quite a bit to do.

I’ll also be continuing to work with Pamela Conacher and Avril Souter on their crafts development programme, which has now joined with Peter Urpeth’s writing programme to form a new organisation; emergents. I am delighted to be able to continue to provide marketing and development support and advice to the many makers on the Making Progress and Made to Measure schemes over the next year.

To top all this off, I’m going to continue to work with HIE on their IT Engagement Programme, as a specialist advisor and trainer, specifically in social media. In the last year I’ve delivered workshops in Dornoch, Orkney, Oban and Caithness.

Over the next couple of months I’m also working on setting up a social media marketing  business – so watch this space!

If anyone is interested in finding out more about the services I can offer please do get in touch sian.jamieson@gmail.com

Top 10 Viral Videos

Viral video marketing basically puts the hard work of promotion into the hands of your audience, web visitors and social networking friends and followers. It’s revolutionising the way large businesses are able to market themselves, engage their customers in a fun and exciting way, and communicate important messages.

The beauty of viral is that it could reach anyone, anywhere, at anytime. You just don’t know you might end up watching your viral video just because it made their friend laugh.

Goviral, a video content distributor published their list of top 10 viral videos for June 2010. Watch them below and let me know what you think.

Adidas – ‘Star Wars’ Cantina 2010

Volkswagen – ‘The Slide (Driven by Fun)

Head – ‘Andy Murray Street Magic in London’

Iceland – ‘Visit Iceland’

Coca-Cola Zero & Mentos – ‘The Coke Zero & Mentos Rocket Car

Orbit Gum – ‘The Prom Date’

McDonald’s & Coca-Cola – ‘T-Shirt Wars 2′

GMC – ‘Dude Perfect: The Cliff Jump Shot’

Sapporo – ‘Legendary Biru’

Lynx Rise – ‘Jessica Jane Clement – Her Best Bits’

A World of Opportunity

 
There are a wide range of support mechanisms out there in the funding world, including grants, loans, investments, award schemes and many more to suit your organisation, group or project. While governmental bodies sort out how and where their public funding cuts will take place, we are actively sourcing and investigating alternative funding streams such as the Big Lottery Fund and trusts and foundations providing grants for cultural projects.

Below is a snapshot of some of the funding opportunities that are available for the cultural sector that may benefit your project or give you some inspiration for a future project.

The Big Lottery Fund – Investing in Communities

Area: Scotland

Application open/close dates: 30 June 2010 – 30 June 2015

Min/Max – £10,000 – £1 million

Investing in Communities focus on three investment areas:

  • Growing Community Assets – aims to help communities take more control and have more influence over their own future through ownership of assets.
  • Life Transitions – aims to support projects that help people at key times of change, helping them to make their lives better for the future.
  • Supporting 21st Century Life – aims to support projects that build stronger families and stronger communities.

The fund seeks to fund projects which will bring about lasting change, with equalities, environment and empowerment at the heart of the projects they will support.

Please click on this link to view the full guidance notes for the fund.

Awards for All Scotland

Area: Scotland

Min/Max – £500 – £10,000

Awards for All Scotland aims to help people become more actively involved in projects that make a positive difference to their local communities. They aim to fund projects that meet one or more of the following outcomes:

  • People have better chances in life – i.e. trying out new activities, volunteering, learning new skills or playing a more active role in their community.
  • Communities are safer, stronger and more able to work together to tackle inequalities – i.e. by enabling different communities or younger and older people to tackle common issues together.
  • People have better and more sustainable services and environments – i.e. by improving community spaces or increasing recycling.
  • People and communities are healthier – i.e. by enabling more people to take part in activities that improve their health and well being.

For more information and guidance please click on this link for the full Awards for All Scotland Guide.

Trusts and Foundations

Below are just a snapshot of the trusts and foundations that fund arts and culture.

Esmee Fairbairn Foundation– The foundation aims to improve the quality of life throughout the UK. Their primary interests are in the cultural life of the UK, education and learning, the natural environment and enabling disadvantaged people to participate more fully in society.

Clore Duffield Foundation– A grant-making organisation that concentrates its support on education, the arts, museum and gallery education, cultural leadership training, health and social care.

Foyle Foundation– Is an independent grantmaking trust that distributes grants to UK charities. The Main Grants Scheme for the Arts supports applications with a strong artistic case for support in either the performing or visual arts. The Arts Programme aims to help sustain the arts and to support projects that particularly help to deliver artistic vision.

The Macrobert Trust– The trust was established by Lady MacRobert during World War II. The Trust’s categories of interest include: science and technology, youth, services and sea, education, disabled and handicapped, community welfare, and their minor categories include agriculture and horticulture, arts and music, and medical care. The MacRobert Trust gives preference to organisations based in Scotland. 

The Robertson Trust– An independent Scottish grant-making Trust, this exists to provide financial support to charities in Scotland. Their four main priority areas are care, health, education and training, community art and sport.

Other Support

Scottish Community Foundation Grants 

The Scottish Community Foundation aims to improve the quality of life and chances for the people of Scotland. Their work covers a wide range of social welfare and community development activities through a number of different grant programmes.

The two grant programmes open to groups throughout Scotland are:

  • Community Grants – grants of up to £5,000
  • Woman’s Fund for Scotland – grants of up to £5,000.

Community Grants are one off grants directed at locally based work carried out, and often initiated by, members of that local community.

Please click on the following link for more information about the Scottish Community Foundation and the grant making programming.

In-Kind Advertsing for non-profit organisastions from Google

Google Grants offers an in-kind donation programme awarding free AdWords advertsing to select charitable organisations. Google supports organisations sharing their philosophy of community service to help the world in areas such as science and technology, education, global public health, the environment, youth advocacy and the arts.

The Conundrum of the Workshops

When the flush of a new-born sun fell first on Eden’s green and gold,
Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould;
And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart,
Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves, “It’s pretty, but is it Art ?”

Wherefore he called to his wife, and fled to fashion his work anew -
The first of his race who cared a fig for the first, most dread review;
And he left his lore to the use of his sons — and that was a glorious gain
When the Devil chuckled “Is it Art ?” in the ear of the branded Cain.

They fought and they talked in the North and the South, they talked and
they fought in the West,
Till the waters rose on the pitiful land, and the poor Red Clay had rest -
Had rest till that dank blank-canvas dawn when the dove was preened to start,
And the Devil bubbled below the keel: “It’s human, but is it Art ?”

They builded a tower to shiver the sky and wrench the stars apart,
Till the Devil grunted behind the bricks: “It’s striking, but is it Art ?”
The stone was dropped at the quarry-side and the idle derrick swung,
While each man talked of the aims of Art, and each in an alien tongue.

The tale is as old as the Eden Tree – and new as the new-cut tooth -
For each man knows ere his lip-thatch grows he is master of Art and Truth;
And each man hears as the twilight nears, to the beat of his dying heart,
The Devil drum on the darkened pane: “You did it, but was it Art ?”

We have learned to whittle the Eden Tree to the shape of a surplice-peg,
We have learned to bottle our parents twain in the yolk of an addled egg,
We know that the tail must wag the dog, for the horse is drawn by the cart;
But the Devil whoops, as he whooped of old: “It’s clever, but is it Art ?”

When the flicker of London sun falls faint on the Club-room’s green and gold,
The sons of Adam sit them down and scratch with their pens in the mould -
They scratch with their pens in the mould of their graves, and the ink and the anguish start,
For the Devil mutters behind the leaves: “It’s pretty, but is it Art ?”

Now, if we could win to the Eden Tree where the Four Great Rivers flow,
And the Wreath of Eve is red on the turf as she left it long ago,
And if we could come when the sentry slept and softly scurry through,
By the favour of God we might know as much – as our father Adam knew!

Rudyard Kipling — 1890

How to Use Twitter

To follow on from ‘How to Use Facebook’ check out these excellent videos for using Twitter.

Twitter in Plain English

Getting Started with Twitter

Twitter Lists in a Nutshell

Twitter Tools Explained

How to Create an Attractive Profile

Finding Followers

How to Tweet from your Phone

How to use Twitter for your Business