How To Get A Job In B2B PR

If you’re looking to take your first step onto the PR career ladder, you’ve hopefully already got an idea (no matter how vague) of the area you’re interested in. If you’ve chosen B2B PR, congratulations! You’re going to join a very select club of PR professionals, who are as proud of their ability to write interesting copy on literally anything (from a piece of pipe to a sewage pump) as they are passionate about every part of their client’s business.

If this description inspires you to read further, here are my top tips on how to score a job in B2B PR:

1.      Be proactive.

With vacancies few and far between, it’s a good idea to make connections using LinkedIn and social media. The majority of our B2B team did work experience when we had no vacancies and were so great that we couldn’t let them go.

2.     Prove your skills.

B2B PR is great if you love writing and want to learn how to craft lengthy articles on almost anything under the sun. Interviews usually include a writing test, but why wait to see if you’re called in? Choose a B2B topic or issue and show us your skills.

3.     Research is everything.

Stand out from the crowd by showing us you’ve done your homework. Research the type of clients or sectors you might be interested in, tell us which B2B PR story you’ve seen recently and loved, and even look at the magazines you might be working with if you get the job.

4.     Finally, if you’re set on becoming part of the B2B club then tell us.

I know this sounds obvious but you’d be shocked at the amount of interviewees who list consumer clients as their dream accounts or don’t reference B2B aspirations once in their interview answers. What we’re really looking for is someone to share our love for all things B2B, aspire to work on the fantastic clients we have, and join our crusade to make even the most obscure products fascinating!

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Google to restructure under Alphabet

We woke up to a surprising announcement this morning. Tech giant and household name, Google, is to restructure creating a new parent company called Alphabet.

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin broke the news in an official blog post, in which they reiterated that “Google is not a conventional company. We do not intend to become one”. They also made the point that several of their self-confessed ‘crazy ideas’ have turned out to be hugely successful, for example Android, YouTube and Google Maps. It is apparently examples like these that have spurred Brin and Page on to keep pushing themselves out of their comfort zone and take more risks.

As an umbrella company, Alphabet will own a collection of smaller companies, the largest of which will be Google. So, what will its structure look like? There are whispers that the structure will be similar to that of Berkshire Hathaway. (Berkshire Hathaway is an American multi-national conglomerate holding company, owning the likes of Fruit of the Loom, GEICO, Dairy Queen and Flight Safety International, and with minority holdings in companies including Wells Fargo, The Coca Cola Company and American Express).

According to Brin and Page, Google itself (the core internet business) will be slightly slimmed down, but mainly remain unchanged under its new CEO, Sundar Pichai. Services such as Google Maps, YouTube and Chrome will continue to operate as normal.

It is the non-internet elements of the business that will move under Alphabet, such as Life Sciences, Calico, X Lab and Wing. It makes sense to separate the bread and butter from the slightly more ambitious projects and, as Page pointed out, “Fundamentally, we believe this allows us more management scale, as we can run independently things that aren’t very related”.

This added transparency seems to have been well received so far (particularly with investors who can now assess each area of the company more clearly) with many hailing the move as a positive step.

It’s also pleasing to see that Google’s core values are still shining through; when explaining why the name Alphabet was chosen, Page said “it means a collection of letters that represent language, one of humanity’s most important innovations, and is the core of how we index with Google search!”

The new structure is set to roll out later this year, with Alphabet Inc replacing Google Inc as the public traded entity. It’s going to be interesting to see how it works in reality, and whether the lesser known arms of the business start to stand out on their own.

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The Revealing Media Reaction To The Swift-Minaj Twitter ‘Debate’

It seems that no matter what stance you take on the Taylor Swift-Nicki Minaj exchange, someone has a counter-opinion to show that your argument is racist, anti-feminist or in some way unbalanced.

In light of this, the media reaction was always going to be interesting – when the media must be seen to be fair and yet in touch with popular opinion, how is best to proceed? Whose ‘side’ should you take and what language should be used to detail the incident? Personally I found the views of most media outlets telling and in many ways disappointing.

In case you’re not clued up, Minaj expressed frustration about the lack of appreciation for her contribution to music in a not-so-subtle tweet aimed at her perceived systematic racism in the music industry: “If I was a different ‘kind’ of artist, Anaconda would be nominated for best choreo and vid of the year as well”, she tweeted.

Swift took this to be a personal attack and questioned Minaj’s support for other female artists: “I’ve done nothing but love & support you. It’s unlike you to pit women against each other. Maybe one of the men took your slot.” After being heavily criticised for becoming involved in a conversation that was about bigger things than individual artists, Swift apologised: “I thought I was being called out. I missed the point, I misunderstood, then misspoke. I’m sorry, Nicki.”

The media reaction to the above drama says as much about society’s stance on such issues as racism and feminism as the initial tweets did. The immediate media narrative was typically reductionist: Hollywood Life referred to ‘FURIOUS’ Nicki’s ‘rant, Heatworld headlined their article: ‘Nicki CALLED Taylor Swift to squash Twitter beef!’ Glamour magazine described how Swift ‘shut down’ Minaj ‘and it was ‘WONDERFUL’ in a tweet that was then hastily deleted. C0nversely, the Independent’s Yomi Adegoke writes: ‘Minaj is simply another black woman being accused of divisiveness by a white feminist for pointing out racial inequality.’

Just like Swift’s tonedeaf response to Minaj missed the point, so too did these journalists. The sensationalist media indicated that this was just a ‘catfight’, language which helps neither the feminist or the anti-racial marginalisation agenda. Adegoke scrutinised Swift’s immediate reaction and elaborated on its meaning to an inordinate degree, whilst failing to point out that Swift retracted her comment and apologised once she saw she has misunderstood– is it racist to misinterpret a subtly-written tweet?  The media debate focused on extremes of who is right and who is wrong without problematizing the finer details, and these arguments in themselves offer damaging messages to readers.

Yes, Swift missed the point: feminism does not mean all women must agree with one another – as Ellen E Jones points out, “They just have to use what power they have to safeguard other women’s opportunities to be heard.” Minaj has certainly been heard, but that doesn’t mean that what she has to say is right, just as Swift isn’t necessarily wrong. Minaj claims that the video for her song, Anaconda, ‘impacted on society’ and thus deserves a nomination, but the crucial detail – that she hasn’t necessarily impacted on society for good – is missed.  A glance at the music video is revealing – it’s crass, semi-pornographic and eye-catching, it has certainly impacted on culture in the ways that Minaj listed. Does this make it award-winning? Many people impact on society, and not necessarily for the better. Whist Minaj has succeeded in tackling the notion that only a slim body type is beautiful (whilst ironically castigating thinner girls in no uncertain terms), she has also contributed to the very real and damaging notion that women are sex objects to be valued for their pleasing body type.

Not one article I have read points out that whilst Minaj is happy to call out the music industry for sidelining her, she also sees no problem with body-shaming artists with equal vigour.  ‘If your video celebrates women with very slim bodies, you will be nominated for vid of the year’, she tweeted. Her case isn’t helped by the lyrics of Anaconda: “F*ck those skinny b****es, skinny b****es in the club –f**k you if you skinny b****es”. She is seen cavorting and dancing for a man who appraises her before she walks away from him at the end of the video, in what some have deemed an empowering finale.  In the age when feminism is having its moment, (that is, is deemed socially, culturally and politically salient), the media’s responsibility to take a look at how it represents conversations, and the implications of setting racism against feminism, Minaj against Swift, is more relevant than ever before.

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FA Scores an Own Goal

Poor James Callow. Did he have any idea that a simple desire to set the scene for the poignant homecoming of the women’s England football team would cause so much trouble? On Monday he tweeted from the Football Association’s account an unfortunate and seemingly sexist post that has been widely criticised in the past few days:

Callow, the content editor at the FA, maintains that the tweet was intended as a tribute to the team within the context of players being reunited with their families. The FA also released a statement: “The full story was a wider homecoming feature … However, we understand that an element of the story appears to have been taken out of context.”

I can’t help but feel sorry for Callow, as the flawed logic behind such a well-meaning sentiment is striking to anyone who works in communications – and evidently, to the wider public. Who could possibly have signed off such a misjudged post? Don’t even get me started on the grammar error (heroines not heroes!).

The idea that context was assumed is probably the most glaring issue – Twitter gives you 140 characters for a reason, and your tweet will inevitably be taken at face value. My gut reaction on seeing it was disbelieving outrage, and this wasn’t tempered by the explanation that it’s part of a wider article. Different platforms perform different jobs, and Twitter is designed to share a summary of a whole piece of content – whereas here it shares a summary of a constituent part. It’s just the wrong medium, and it has cost the FA dear.

What struck me immediately on viewing the tweet (and maybe this is a relic of studying gender history at uni) was the categorisation of women -reminiscent of the Victorian ideals of women as either ‘virgin’, ‘mother’ or ‘widow’ – and perhaps this is why the message felt so uncomfortable. Callow seemed to suggest both that members of the team had stopped being mothers, partners and daughters during their time in the World Cup — and that they’d somehow stopped being footballers after the competition was over.
This categorisation forms part of a larger conversation about the gendered nuances of women in sports and everyday sexism in general. These issues were highlighted just a few days earlier in the semi-final of the Cup on Wednesday when the England captain Laura Bassett scored an own goal. She was understandably devastated, but the response she received has been criticised as patronising after she was delivered an outpouring of support by the Twittersphere and lauded as a heroine. Some compared this reaction to the treatment of David Beckham , for whom there was little sympathy when he received a red card in the 1998 World Cup loss to Argentina and headlines read: “Beck-home” (The Sun) and “10 heroic lions, one stupid boy” (The Mirror). Of course, there is a big difference between a red card and an own goal, so perhaps this isn’t a fair comparison – but one can’t help but wonder if a woman would have been so rudely and roundly castigated in the same circumstances. Claire Cohen of the Telegraph makes a good point when she says: “The outpouring of support after Laura Bassett’s own goal is only right…But can you imagine the men’s team getting anywhere near the same level of commiseration?”

The feeling in the office about the whole debate was somewhat divided, with some feeling that if it hadn’t have been such a gendered sport, it would be difficult to draw such distinct parallels. The lesson from this debate is an unpalatable one – when stripped back to its essentials, it can be argued that the message is that men are headstrong and dominant and women are emotional and in need of saving. When women do try something outside the role of ‘wife, partner and mother’, they are to be applauded, but still called out on their normal roles and on their ‘heroic’ antics for having a go. When Gazza cried in 1990, it was remarkable only for its hugely anomalous nature in the sporting world. Why can’t men cry? Why are men not dads, partners and husbands before, during and after the World Cup?  Of course, thousands of years of misogyny won’t be combatted in a few decades, but for all the good the FA did in raising the profile of, and thus normalising, women in football, I can’t help but feel they undid an awful lot with one tweet.

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Bing to Encrypt Search Data by Default

I’ve read a few blogs recently that challenge the importance of keyword strategy, some even arguing that this sort of strategy is now obsolete in the world of search engine marketing.

Whilst practices such as keyword stuffing are inarguably out of date, black hat and generally a big no-no, keyword data is still of huge value to online strategy. Knowing what attracts your customers to you site, however you have built that strategy, be it through links or content, is crucial information when developing a search strategy.

That’s what makes the latest announcement from Bing even more frustrating. The search engine has announced that it is to encrypt its search data, meaning web traffic reports will no longer show all keyword data entered by users. They’ve been allowing users to encrypt their data for the last 18 months or so, but in the summer this is set to become default.

As a search marketer, one of the aspects of Google’s analytics I find most frustrating is the (not provided) row that appears every time I access a traffic report. How am I expected to know what’s making my customers tick if you hide the data? Yes there are other ways of getting to the bottom of this by exploring other reports in analytics, and we need plenty of additional data to determine what our users are doing once they’re onsite, but nevertheless it’s all making the process longer.

Bing has already got an uphill struggle competing against the behemoth that is Google, but this was one of the features that set them apart.

Much the same as Google, the official line from Bing’s Senior Project Manager, Duane Forrester is that this latest move will serve to protect user privacy. There is always going to be a question mark around whether this is actually the case, or whether search engines are now trying to push brands towards paid search instead. Sure enough, the first suggestion from Bing on accessing user data after the roll out is to access the Search Terms Query Report. This is found in the Bing Ads UI which will show keywords that, yep you guessed it, triggered your paid for ads.

Some might ask we care about this? After all Bing drives little web traffic in comparison to Google, even to sites who rank well there. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, in the announcement blog it is apparent that Bing cares more about its users than webmasters, but I do find it strange they have gotten rid of one of their plus points.

It will be interesting to see if this works in Bing’s favour in any way, or whether it pushes them further behind Google.

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Google Buy – A New Marketplace Player

Google’s new ‘Buy’ button feature will appear on mobile devices in a matter of weeks. First reported in the Wall Street Journal, the button will allow the online giant to compete with the likes of Amazon and eBay through their Google Shopping advertisers.

The new button essentially turns Google into a marketplace, as users will not have to click through the site to complete purchase. Quite the side step, for a business based on driving clicks to other website.

Google’s chief business officer, Omid Kordestani, who announced the new feature, said the goal is to reduce “friction” making it simpler to complete online purchases.

In terms of user experience we can see the clear benefits of a reduced conversion path, and some retailers will see this as a great chance to increase mobile conversions, which can be a fiddly process. It can’t be ignored however that Google is creating an ecommerce middle-man and essentially downgrading retailers to logistics companies. This will reduce traffic to websites, decrease opportunities to up-sell and diminish chances to create brand advocates. There’s also the notion that competing with Amazon and eBay will be so price driven, smaller retailers won’t survive the game.

Stepping in the right direction for users or impeding retailer/customer relationships? Either way, the announcement has ruffled some feathers.

The same question arises with Google displaying answers to particular question queries in the results pages. Great for the user, who gets the information they are after quickly, not so great for the site Google scraped this answer from, who now isn’t getting the associated web traffic.

It is likely Google will continue to gain revenue from the clicks, rather than taking a commission from the transaction. This could appeal to larger retailers who have resisted the likes of Amazon and eBay so far due to potential hefty fees.

Kevin Dallas, chief product officer at Worldpay eCommerce, said “With Google Buy set to only be available on mobile devices and the search giant recently changing its algorithm to favour mobile optimised sites, it’s clear Google believes that smartphones and tablets are the way forward for ecommerce.”

I’m not entirely convinced that Google it doing this because it sees it as ‘the way forward’. Rather conversions on mobile are simply not corresponding with traffic volumes. While we know mobile searches over took desktop recently in certain sectors, ecommerce rates are still frequently higher on desktop – it’s Google trying to close that gap and make it the ‘way forward’.

Motivations aside, it’s a fair point that if Search behaviour evolves, we (us and Google!) ought to be evolving our approaches and campaigns to fit the new demand. It’s just easier for Google to keep up with.

It will be interesting if Google Buy eventually rolls out to desktop – watch this space!

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Russell Brand: The PM misquoted and that’s not all he got wrong!

When something is attacked it is a sure sign that the attacker is worried, I mean why attack if you’re not bothered? The news that Ed Miliband has been interviewed by Russell Brand for the comedian’s YouTube channel has been met with derision from the Tories and many media commentators.

With his sleeves rolled up and tie off (how very Blairite) the PM ridiculed Ed Miliband’s decision to be interviewed by declaring it a ‘joke’ and referencing Brand’s previous stance of non-voting. In fact, the PM was misquoting the title of one of my favourite books by right wing (yes right wing!) US political satirist PJ O’Rourke first published in 2010 called, “Don’t vote: it just encourages the bastards”. They don’t write titles like that anymore.

There is a wider point here. Like him or not, Brand is followed, liked and watched by a lot of the young electorate. At the last count there was 10 million Twitter followers and his YouTube interviews or rants, call them what you will, are regularly watched by hundreds of thousands. That is cut-through and engagement well beyond traditional media channels.

Much as I enjoyed Andrew Neil de-constructing David Gauke, Financial Secretary to the Treasury on the Daily Politics on Monday about the ‘letter’ from 5000 small businesses backing the Tories (if you haven’t seen it click here, sit back and enjoy) only 4000 people have viewed it so far on YouTube. Whenever this interview between Brand and Miliband surfaces, best guess is sometime in the next 48 hours, the numbers will blow this out of the water – that is a guarantee.

The PM’s stance is a mistake. When you ridicule one of the leaders of the YouTube generation you ridicule his fans, followers and even his occasional viewers. What’s more, fair play to Ed Miliband for doing it, presumably without prior sight of the questions. He was willing to go toe to toe with a very bright and witty comedian. It could easily blow up in his face but I suspect it will achieve levels of engagement that dozens of interviews on Andrew Marr’s sofa will never achieve.

All views expressed in this text are my own and not necessarily the views of the agency. 

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Milifans – the chasm between mainstream and social media grows ever wider

What is going on? Ed Miliband has a fan club on Twitter. He has teenage girls, only just getting over Zayn Malik leaving One Direction, all flustered.

Apparently, ‘Milifans’ as they are now known, have been describing him as ‘cool’ and changing the photos on their Twitter feeds.

And it’s not only teenage girls. After Michael Fallon’s intervention ten days ago describing Ed as a backstabber for knifing his brother, closely followed by Daily Mail revelations about his ‘tangled’ love life, their mothers are joining in too. I noticed one of them on Twitter describing him as sounding ‘rather dashing’ like some sort of latter day Mr Darcy.

Will the madness never end? I know we all love an underdog, but this is ridiculous! Haven’t these people seen the weird hand movements?

There is another point here, namely an ever-widening gap between mainstream and social media that is being magnified by this election. The more the mainstream attacks, the more sceptical the public gets. The old levers no longer work.

Ed Miliband is described as a backstabber and bed-hopper and his ratings go up.

Nicola Sturgeon is described as “The most dangerous woman in Britain” and her ratings go up.

Leanne Wood is described as naïve and ‘leftie’ and her ratings go up.

The truth of the matter is that the mainstream media is throwing everything but the kitchen sink at this, but the electorate is not responding – at least not in the way that is wanted. The response the mainstream media is getting is, at best, being ignored or, at worst, treated with contempt and/or ridicule.

Has the public cottoned onto media ownership/bias in the UK? Has Leveson had an effect? Or is it just that the attacks are so ridiculous, and there are so many other avenues for collecting and disseminating information, we are freer to make up our own minds?

I don’t know, just like I don’t know who is going to win this election, but one thing is becoming clearer. Unlike in 1992 we won’t be saying, “It’s the Sun wot won it.”

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Mobilegeddon: What should we expect?

On April 21, Google is set to roll out its latest, and potentially most impactful, algorithm update. With a somewhat less friendly name than the Panda and Penguin updates of the past, ‘Mobilegeddon’, as it’s been dubbed by SEO experts, could see rankings plummet for brands who do not have mobile friendly websites.

Historically Google has been fairly secretive when it comes to roll out dates. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to pick up on a hint dropped at a conference; sometimes they don’t confirm an update until after it’s happened. This latest update is a little different in the sense that Google has been warning us for a little while now that a change is imminent. They first made this announcement in February, which should have been plenty of time for Webmasters to start taking action. However, I anticipate it will come as a shock to many businesses, especially those in the SME sector who perhaps do not have the resources to a) be made aware of what’s to come, and b) to tackle it when it does happen.

What does ‘mobile friendly’ mean?

Mobile friendly simply means the site renders to fit within any mobile or tablet device. However, if your website contains lots of text or links too close together, this could still prove to be a poor user experience. What businesses should ultimately be aiming for is a mobile optimised or responsive site, where the site reformats itself to provide a better experience.

You can find out if your site is mobile friendly (and what you can do to improve it) by inputting your website’s URL in the Google Developer Mobile Friendly Test.

What will happen if my site isn’t mobile friendly?

First of all, try not to panic. You will not be removed from Google entirely for not having a mobile friendly site. However, sites that do adhere to the update will be ranked higher, meaning your site will slip down the rankings resulting in less traffic. Fortunately taking steps to making your site mobile friendly is fairly straight forward and should be actioned as and when your business is ready.

When will I see the effects?

Experts are predicting that the roll out will take anywhere from a couple of days to a week, so if you don’t see an immediate impact, you should still keep an eye on your rankings for a few more days to check for a slip in rankings.

What if I survive Mobilegeddon?

In the event your website stays mobile un-friendly and you manage to retain your search rankings, don’t be tempted to sit on your laurels. Search engine aside, websites that are not mobile friendly provide a far inferior user experience, and with so many saturated markets out there, can you really afford to deter your customers with something that you have the power to fix?

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The British electorate is not ‘engaged’!

Did anybody else see the photo of the little girl sitting next to David Cameron with her head on the desk and think, “I know how you feel.”

Like the little girl, I suspect most of the electorate are sick of being talked at. You see there is a huge difference between talking at people and talking to them.

Since the start of the election campaign the leaders of all parties have talked at people via a series of soundbites or bribes depending on your level of cynicism.

The first week of the campaign will be remembered for a soundbite, namely “long term economic plan”. Now, I’m all for applying key messages, but there is a difference between focused messaging and repeating the exact same statement over and over again. One offers definition and clarity, the other is just irritating.

This was followed by a series of promises. “Guaranteed one-to-one care from a midwife”; the “Right to buy housing association properties at discounted prices”; “Guaranteed thirty hours of free nursery care for families”. To me these just sounded like bribes flung out to grab a headline, not thought-through policies designed to be questioned or substantiated.

And that is what is wrong with this campaign so far, there is no questioning as the electorate is not engaged, because it is being talked at, not encouraged to take part.

It should go like this:

Politician: “We will guarantee thirty hours of free nursery care for working families.”

Voter: “Really? How will that work exactly? Will it be for all families or will it be means-tested?”

Which, of course, is the crux of the matter, because despite what The Sun ran on its front page yesterday, I personally don’t believe for a moment that all working families are going to get thirty hours of free childcare. The problem is that this election has become so sanitised that we aren’t able to ask the clarifying questions.

Communication is two-way, but our politicians seem to have forgotten this. We spend a lot of time at WPR telling clients not to just issue releases, post Tweets, put content on Facebook or LinkedIn, without trying to engage your audience. Because if you do just chuck out content, there is every chance that nobody will be listening, which is where I suspect most of the British electorate is currently at.

Only another three weeks to go though!

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What this election needs is a good old-fashioned husting!

Yesterday, the Prime Minister met a voter, a proper voter not one with a press badge.

He went for a walkabout (my god the daring!) in Alnwick. Now, admittedly, it was 3pm on a Monday afternoon in a small Northumbrian market town, hardly Oxford Street on a Saturday morning, but it’s a start.

Will it catch on? I doubt it. The biggest problem with what is turning out to be one of the most boring campaigns in modern history is that our politicians and their advisers are so fearful of a Gillian Duffy or Sharon Storer moment that all life has been sucked out of the campaign.

Instead we get a succession of set-piece speeches and hi-vis photoshoots with no engagement from the public. When a politician does go onto a building site, workers and tradesmen (the great unwashed) are kept at arms-length. How I long for an electrician to interrupt all this nonsense and say, loud enough for the microphones to pick up, “Excuse me Prime Minister, could you just move a little to your left I need to put some cable trunking there.”

Quelle surprise, there is no movement in the polls. But why would there be when everything we see on our TVs is so insipid.

However, there is hope. Despairing of any political engagement in my own safe Tory constituency (the election effort so far stands at one small poster on the A38 and a leaflet) I went to the marginal Worcester seat (2010 result: Conservative majority 3,000) for a terrific evening of political debate in the Cap ‘n’ Gown pub.

Enterprising landlord Ted has invited all the candidates every Monday of the campaign to a good old-fashioned political husting, each time on a specific subject. Last night was the NHS.

Ably moderated by Ted himself (at one point I wanted to vote for Ted so detailed was his grasp of German GDP to health spending ratios) we hit all the big issues, both national and local, from euthanasia through to extortionate PFI contracts, the closure of a local walk-in medical centre and overcrowded A&E departments.

The night had it all, heckling from the public; a flash of anger from a nurse; despair from an overworked young doctor, with the debate ebbing back and forth as the candidates slugged it out and voters helped themselves to the Hook Norton beer.

This is politics as it was meant to be, real democracy in action for over two hours and pub was packed! The candidates in particular deserve great respect for taking part, putting themselves out there without the safety net of an invited audience or advance sight of the questions.

There is a lesson here. I suspect voters were swayed last night. Minds were changed or made up. It mattered, which is more than another insipid speech to a hand-picked audience will ever do.

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Jeremy Clarkson and the Cult of Celebrity

“There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank or commercial considerations.”

So said BBC Director General Tony Hall yesterday, in the only acceptable outcome of the inquiry into Jeremy Clarkson’s behaviour. The BBC investigation found that Oisin Tymon was “subject to an unprovoked physical and verbal attack by Jeremy Clarkson”. It said the attack lasted around 30 seconds and only stopped when a witness intervened. Some of the abuse was racial in content and the victim drove himself to hospital with a bloodied face.

A number of heavy weight influencers supported Clarkson – albeit when the details of the assault were still not fully clarified – but there’s a measure of irresponsibility from David Cameron, who supported the ‘huge talent’ and claimed My children will be heartbroken if Top Gear is taken off air’. Talented he may be, but his credentials as a TV presenter are irrelevant. Cameron also told the BBC that his 11 year old daughter “has threatened to go on hunger strike unless Jeremy Clarkson is restored.” Of course he is joking, but again the sentiment feels uncomfortable.

I was surprised that BBC Newsround entertained the idea that Clarkson’s removal from Top Gear should be questioned in an article this morning: ‘Should Jeremy Clarkson have been dropped from Top Gear?‘ As children’s news outlet they have a responsibility to deliver fair messages – yes they should be balanced and of course encourage people to question – but the only answer to the headline is a firm yes.

Where celebrities are concerned, people seem to forget the fundamental values of common humanity – which includes the freedom to feel safe, and to see justice upheld when this is abused – and instead enjoy the theatre of a great hero being ignominiously called to account, and then championed.

A huge backlash greeted the news that, God forbid, Clarkson should answer for his racial and physical assault of a colleague. A million people signed a petition called “Bring Back Jeremy Clarkson” which was delivered via a tank to the BBC with the Stig atop it and a #BringBackClarkson banner on the side. Did I mention a love of theatrics?

The cult of celebrity is not a new thing – fascination with those elevated above the ordinary person is as old as time, be it the rise of gladiators to athletic superstardom in ancient Rome, or the scandal of a king abdicating for an American lover in the 1930s. People love a good spectacle, and the fact that the verdict on Clarkson is headline news today above the air tragedy in the French Alps speaks volumes.

There seems to be little sympathy for the victim of the attack (if anything Clarkson is seen as the victim) and where celebrities have commented, such as Gary Lineker and Dara O Briain, it is to joke about the Top Gear replacement. It seems to be unpopular to reduce the situation to its bare essentials: a man has been sacked for punching a colleague in the face. The Huffington Post reported the story as such, and has received 36,000 Facebook likes to date – paltry in contrast to the hundreds of thousands of retweets for #BringBackClarkson.

If someone in the office hit someone else there would immediately be calls to fire said person: why should the violence and the gravity of the situation be diluted by the popularity of the perpetrator?

The BBC is allegedly set to lose as much as £67million a year following the removal of Clarkson from Top Gear – but they would have lost a whole lot more in integrity if they had not.

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