Why FIR is so important

by Lee Hopkins on December 25, 2006 · 9 comments

in miscellaneous

For Immediate ReleaseFor Immediate Release, the premier podcast for the PR/Comms community, has been incredibly influential.

Now that Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson have 200 episodes under their belt, perhaps it is a good time to outline why I believe it to be fundamental listening, even after all this time.

  • Shel and Neville have paved the way for so many of us. My erstwhile fellow contributor Dan York had it absolutely right when he suggested we create a ‘family tree’ of podcasts that have launched as a result of FIR, either directly (aka his and mine) or indirectly (those podcasts that have launched as a result of the efforts of the ‘first followers’ of FIR); the tree would be huge (from a tiny acorn…)
  • Shel and Neville have always been incredibly supportive of anyone who wished to ‘join the conversation’ they were trying to start
  • Shel and Neville have been a model of ‘co-opertition’ not ‘competition’
  • Shel and Neville have tested the tools, learnt the tricks, made the mistakes and most importantly passed the information on to the community they have grown around them so that we didn’t have to replicate their errors and time lost to catastrophe and technical misadventure
  • Shel and Neville are not scared to listen to their community — in fact, they welcome robust conversation and ideas
  • Shel and Neville are constantly testing and trying out new ways of engaging their audience — we all could only wish that more companies would do the same
  • Shel and Neville continue to provide incredibly apt ‘this is what it means’ commentary to the latest business communication news.

And it is the last item, above, that is the reason I continue to listen — even, frustratingly, if it is only irregularly because of time constraints.

There is more ‘protein’ packed into one episode of their show than is often heard across the entire Marcomms podscape in any week. It may sometimes be too long to digest in one sitting (and they themselves are the first to recognise and acknowledge this), but it is STILL fundamental listening. To miss something is to lament the loss.

If you haven’t listened to them before, may I humbly suggest you subscribe to their feed or download their latest interview with Steve Rubel. You will not be disappointed, trust me. You will become a fan and join a legion of us who are similarly in awe of their commitment to helping their fellow business communicators, we who are trying to bridge the gap between faceless businesses and those human individuals the faceless businesses are seeking to serve.


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  • Sam Grant

    … and just to demonstrate how these things pass on from one to another…

    Dear Lee, what an eloquent and generous post. I don’t want to start a barrage of blogger backslapping and podcaster praising but – as yet – I’m neither blogger nor podcaster, so I can write this safe in the knowledge that it will stop here.

    So Mr. Hopkins, yours was the first blog I subscribed to when I wanted to bring myself up-to-date with what was happening in the world of business communications before returning to work from a year’s maternity leave early this year.

    That quickly led me to your podcast and the snowball effect began. I’m now a podcast junkie and a frequent contributor to several shows and blogs, not just in our field of work.

    Until recently, I realise that I and some of my colleagues have been, what David Phillips termed in one of his recent contributions to FIR, a ‘stranded evangelist’. Working within large blue chip corporations as an internal communications specialist and selling the benefits of social media to your leadership teams is an exciting experience, but it can be frustrating too.

    So, I hope you’ll permit me to tell you why I think what you and your podcasting partner Allan Jenkins do is also very important!

    * Finding Lee and Allan’s podcast was like finding two ‘virtual’ allies. Their commitment and honesty has provided the information and support I and my communications colleagues have needed to get the social media discussions started at the companies we’ve worked with

    * Lee and Allan are never afraid to be controversial, always provoking stimulating dialogue and lively exchange

    * Lee and Allan take what they do seriously, but are never too serious about it. In fact their warmth, good humour and sense of fun are what keep me tuned in

    * Lee and Allan are always quick to credit others when they have learned something new from them, directing listeners/readers to other useful resources

    * Lee and Allan actively seek input from their community, don’t appear to moderate contributions and respond graciously and intelligently – even to the odd discourteous comment!

    * Lee and Allan have never introduced a whiff of ‘plugging’ into their conversations. Every post and every podcast is delivered in a genuine spirit of openness and cooperation

    * Lee and Allan’s websites are truly outstanding and they have introduced me to some fantastic web tools that, as a business communicator and busy working mum who likes to stay connected, have proved to be absolutely invaluable. Among many others these include: GreatNews RSS Reader, Second Life and Skypecasting

    * Lee and Allan have also introduced me (though they don’t know this yet) to a global network of incredibly smart marketers, communicators, bloggers, podcasters and thought leaders from whom I have drawn great inspiration and encouragement, either on or off-line. Fantastic blogrolls guys!

    So, Lee and Allan, in case you’re still wondering whether your audience reach is “small”, as you discussed on one of your recent podcasts, here is some evidence to the contrary.

    Even reaching just one or two of us means ‘touching’ many more. For example, though only a few of the many communicators I associate with are regular subscribers to your feeds (the others are missing out say I), we are the ones taking the lead in bringing our network together in small groups over a series of lunches to share what we’ve learned from you.

    After that, we hope you’ll see some of us ‘joining the conversation’ on a more regular and interactive basis, whatever form this takes.

    So, Lee and Allan, for your encouragement and for inspiring us to action…

    Thank you, thank you and thank you again!

    Samantha (London, UK)

  • Sam Grant

    … and just to demonstrate how these things pass on from one to another…

    Dear Lee, what an eloquent and generous post. I don’t want to start a barrage of blogger backslapping and podcaster praising but – as yet – I’m neither blogger nor podcaster, so I can write this safe in the knowledge that it will stop here.

    So Mr. Hopkins, yours was the first blog I subscribed to when I wanted to bring myself up-to-date with what was happening in the world of business communications before returning to work from a year’s maternity leave early this year.

    That quickly led me to your podcast and the snowball effect began. I’m now a podcast junkie and a frequent contributor to several shows and blogs, not just in our field of work.

    Until recently, I realise that I and some of my colleagues have been, what David Phillips termed in one of his recent contributions to FIR, a ‘stranded evangelist’. Working within large blue chip corporations as an internal communications specialist and selling the benefits of social media to your leadership teams is an exciting experience, but it can be frustrating too.

    So, I hope you’ll permit me to tell you why I think what you and your podcasting partner Allan Jenkins do is also very important!

    * Finding Lee and Allan’s podcast was like finding two ‘virtual’ allies. Their commitment and honesty has provided the information and support I and my communications colleagues have needed to get the social media discussions started at the companies we’ve worked with

    * Lee and Allan are never afraid to be controversial, always provoking stimulating dialogue and lively exchange

    * Lee and Allan take what they do seriously, but are never too serious about it. In fact their warmth, good humour and sense of fun are what keep me tuned in

    * Lee and Allan are always quick to credit others when they have learned something new from them, directing listeners/readers to other useful resources

    * Lee and Allan actively seek input from their community, don’t appear to moderate contributions and respond graciously and intelligently – even to the odd discourteous comment!

    * Lee and Allan have never introduced a whiff of ‘plugging’ into their conversations. Every post and every podcast is delivered in a genuine spirit of openness and cooperation

    * Lee and Allan’s websites are truly outstanding and they have introduced me to some fantastic web tools that, as a business communicator and busy working mum who likes to stay connected, have proved to be absolutely invaluable. Among many others these include: GreatNews RSS Reader, Second Life and Skypecasting

    * Lee and Allan have also introduced me (though they don’t know this yet) to a global network of incredibly smart marketers, communicators, bloggers, podcasters and thought leaders from whom I have drawn great inspiration and encouragement, either on or off-line. Fantastic blogrolls guys!

    So, Lee and Allan, in case you’re still wondering whether your audience reach is “small”, as you discussed on one of your recent podcasts, here is some evidence to the contrary.

    Even reaching just one or two of us means ‘touching’ many more. For example, though only a few of the many communicators I associate with are regular subscribers to your feeds (the others are missing out say I), we are the ones taking the lead in bringing our network together in small groups over a series of lunches to share what we’ve learned from you.

    After that, we hope you’ll see some of us ‘joining the conversation’ on a more regular and interactive basis, whatever form this takes.

    So, Lee and Allan, for your encouragement and for inspiring us to action…

    Thank you, thank you and thank you again!

    Samantha (London, UK)

  • http://leehopkins.net/ Lee Hopkins

    Oh Sam!

    I am TRULY flummoxed and flabbergasted! Me – speechless?? Hard to believe but true!

    Thank you SOOOO much for your unbelievably kind comments; I am so proud I am going to print them out and hang them on my wall for the next time I’m wondering if the effort is worth the trouble. You have convinced me it is — thank you!

    Wishing you and your colleagues a phenomenal 2007.

  • http://leehopkins.net Lee Hopkins

    Oh Sam!

    I am TRULY flummoxed and flabbergasted! Me – speechless?? Hard to believe but true!

    Thank you SOOOO much for your unbelievably kind comments; I am so proud I am going to print them out and hang them on my wall for the next time I’m wondering if the effort is worth the trouble. You have convinced me it is — thank you!

    Wishing you and your colleagues a phenomenal 2007.

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