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Honestly, Why Can't Leaders See That The Truth Really Doesn't Hurt?

Not for the first time, Google has got itself into a communications mess. According to widespread reports, its bosses are stifling internal debate and open discourse to try to keep the troops in line. After a series of messages on internal platforms, employees are going to be disciplined if they issue political ‘statements that insult, demean and humiliate’. How ironic that the chief enabler of our digitised open democracy should be censoring internal debate about Google policy, culture an...

Paywalls - If You Build It They Will Come

The other night I asked my teenage son to plough through his mountain of homework and finish it by the time I got home. Asked being the crucial word here. That I found him on the PS4 when I returned will come as no surprise to any parent of a teenag...

Here's How CEOs Can Truly Find Purpose

This morning I had a long conversation with my friend about purpose and it made me think about Michelle Obama. The former First Lady, writing in her new memoir, Becoming, talks about how she struggled to find 'purpose' when her husband became Presid...

Why Journalists Perpetuate The Male Bias In Business

I loved that recent image of an entirely female panel on the newly launched BBC daytime show, Politics Live. Few commentators thought it was a coincidence. Indeed, it was more like a pointed statement from the (male) editor of the programme: If y...

In An Era Of Fake News, Editors Can't Serve Two Masters

A few months ago I was thrown off a jury. Not because I am an argumentative pain in the backside, which I am. But because I knew one of the barristers. A group of us was being assessed for jury suitability and he and I both immediately made it clear...

If Brands Truly Believe In Values, They Must Practise What They Preach

Many years ago when I worked at the Daily Mail, I made the dreadful mistake of expressing my thoughts. Well, one thought in particular. Richard Branson, I pleaded in conference, was a ‘good thing’. A dynamic, swashbuckling entrepreneur who lit...

How Bias Became Essential To Today's Content Industry

There are endless quotes from journalists about what working on a newspaper represents but this is one of my favourites, from Joseph Pulitzer who transformed America’s media and whose name is synonymous with great writing: ‘What a newspaper needs...

Double Standards, Betrayal And Why Bell Pottinger Deserves To Survive

I have a confession to make. For many years I have done business with an international financial organisation that has been involved in money laundering. This same shameless company has been investigated for illegally manipulating the markets to maxi...

A Lesson In Leadership: Never Go Easy

So it turns out that travel really does broaden the mind. I’ve just returned from a business trip to South East Asia and a chance encounter in a hotel bar with a young teacher who unwittingly gave me a lesson in how to be a better consultant.I have...

The Lost Ingredient Of Great Leadership: Improvisation

There is a fascinating similarity between Theresa May’s lackluster election campaign and the fall-out from the British Airways ‘glitch’ that grounded almost its entire fleet over the Bank Holiday weekend. In this era of instantaneous disruption...

The Art Of The CEO Apology

We all make mistakes, some more costly than others. Mine, fingers crossed, have so far been either dumb and inconsequential or even dumber with fortuitous results (I am a freelance consultant now, after all).But when you’re a CEO, crossing fingers ...

Osborne Is An Editor Who Simply Can't Make Decisions Without Fear Or Favour

First, the good news. George Osborne will make a fine editor of London's Evening Standard. He’s supremely well connected, intelligent, has a wide array of interests, will bring in great guest columnists and is supported by a brilliant team of journ...

Does This Prove The Media Has A Problem With Unconscious Bias?

I lost a £50 bet last week and I must say that I couldn’t be happier. I have Hyeonseo Lee to thank. Now 36, she’s a bestselling author, inspirational speaker and tireless campaigner for the plight of North Koreans. Aged 17 she made a daring esca...

The One Person Every Newspaper Has To Hire in 2017

All newspapers essentially publish the same news, they just dress it up in different ways. But there are three vital pages that make a good newspaper great, that set the tone of the entire publication, that make it unique and engender deep loyalties ...

Why All The News That's Fit To Print Is Flawed - We're In The Age Of Niche

Recently, the former Prime Minister, Tony Blair, attempted to relaunch himself and his sometimes toxic personal brand to a British public still deeply sceptical about his reputation and motivation. He did so by writing an article for a newspaper abou...

When The More Profit You Make Means The Less Influence You Have

What matters more, profit or influence? For small media enterprises like mine, it’s difficult to choose as both are reliant on each other. For established, iconic multi-nationals, however, the question has just become even more relevant – if diff...

Ian Botham And The Secret To Turning Your Product Into Effective Content Marketing

We’re used to famous people plugging products within the features sections of newspapers – and increasingly on the sports pages - but is it right for them to do so in front-page splashes?On Sunday, The Sun touted a remarkable exclusive interview ...

How The Brexit Crisis Showed Content Can Profit From Paywalls

There’s opportunity in every crisis. Just look at Brexit. While most of us have been told to sit tight and not do anything too impetuous until the initial storm passes, some of Britain’s top executives have been – as the City likes to call it ...

Why Data Journalism Can't Always Be Trusted

Data can tell us two stories – the one its creators want to tell us and the one they’d prefer to ignore. So when a politician boasts that, for instance, 70 per cent of business leaders say the economy is better than it was 10 years ago when the l...

Guess How Many Content Experts Facebook Employs? One!

Here’s a completely unscientific experiment I tried this morning. I admit my algorithm may not quite be up to the standards that tech companies such as Facebook demand but, well, maths is not my strong suit.I’ve become fascinated by those compani...

At Last, The Evening Standard Has An Enemy

Purpose is not a word often used when discussing a media outlet’s identity. Yet two recent experiences in the U.K. – where two different newspapers humiliated themselves by not engaging with their core audiences – expose why purpose must define...

How Wonderful If Old Media Came To The Rescue Of Ailing New

The internet, I’ve learned recently, is about to be turned into the 'worst kind of tabloid'. Assuming, of course, that that hasn’t already happened.It’s rumored that the ailing internet company Yahoo, which has been in trouble for a number of y...

Proof That When It Comes To Content, Journalists Have The X Factor

I have something of an existential dilemma. Since leaving newspapers and starting up my own media company, I don’t know what to call myself. Media consultant is too vague, business director too grandiose, journalist too dated, copy and ghostwriter ...

It's Time To Break Free From The Cult Of Free

The future of one of Britain’s most successful newspapers is on the line, and all I can think of is William Goldman’s immortal line about the secret of success. In Hollywood, he admits, there isn’t one because even though he was one of the 20th...

Why 'Make Me Famous' Should Be The New CEO Mantra

There is perhaps an aspect of the ‘sharing economy’ that has been overlooked. This hitherto-ignored element isn’t about providing consumer goods and services, or even simplifying our lives. It’s about our identities. More especially, the iden...

The 17 Rules For A Perfect Blog

One of my many talents – aside from an unerringly accurate double-handed backhand – is, to my surprise, blogging. Not necessarily my own but others’, their ghosted blogs.Decades in journalism have given me the tools to make blogging work. It’...

Paywalls May Fail But Micropayments Can Work

One of my parents’ favourite restaurants in the North London suburb where we lived was way ahead of its time. And its core business model - derided then as now - is about to be tested by one of Britain’s finest orchestras. Who knows, it could eve...

This Is How Personalisation Could Really Work

I do everything possible to protect my online privacy partly because I’m not overly-keen on algorithms guessing the sort of person I am, based on my wildly divergent tastes and behaviour. I like being unpredictable.There is one invasion of my priva...

If Ben Affleck Can Have A Second Act, Then So Can I

Allow me a little self-indulgence. In the unlikely event of anyone who doesn’t know me coming to this blog, this is where it started in 2013. I went back to it recently fully intending to delete it but then realised the person I am is partly made u...

I Rejected Amy Winehouse – And It Was The Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me

Everyone seems to have an Amy Winehouse story. Not always a terribly inspiring one. As the release nears of Asif Kapadia’s controversial new documentary about her short life and painful death, friends are crawling out of the woodwork to speak of ho...

How Brands Like Coca-Cola Can Cure FIFA Of Corruption

As undemocratic dictatorships go, Sepp Blatter’s FIFA is pretty much the perfect model. Yes, North Korea has a formidable set-up but it lacks the financial clout of the Swiss. And I suppose Isis is trying hard to be the planet’s most feared organ...

Blame Cameron For Reinventing The Kitchen

There are not quite Iago’s ‘wild cats’ in my kitchen but, to be honest, things are pretty feral.There is a foul-smelling muddy pair of trainers to my right, the detritus of breakfast is still laid out in splendour in front of me, the coffee-sta...

Vinyl and the art of storytelling

A vinyl collection, according to Nick Hornby in his brilliant novel High Fidelity, is a metaphor for relationships. Filled with precious moments and a fair few forgettable ones too, to be obsessed over and treasured for their authenticity.And now I...

Ignore Helen Mirren – she’s just old, right?

I went to a conference recently where the head of BBC Radio 2 announced that ‘middle age is the new youth’. I’d add that it’s the new power too.A survey this month suggested the age of 60 should be the new marker for middle age because averag...

The revolution will be journalised

This is a story about an old-fashioned coup. One planned with ruthless efficiency, with scant regard for the authority of once-formidable foes and with a determination to inspire a revolution.It has been perpetrated by some of the most powerful forc...

Why we need to fake authenticity

I always wanted to be in a band but an inability to sing, play an instrument, dance or disguise my lack of stage presence held me back. Which is why I’ve always so admired Celine Dion.So whenever a more gifted friend of mine holds a gig in a stick...

Social media is a dictatorship

This week I finally achieved what I have been secretly craving for about three years now. Someone blocked me on Twitter. I consider it a badge of honour, a digital ASBO – although I wasn’t exactly being anti-social, just honest.It strikes me, ho...

Content marketing IS journalism

One of the best holidays I ever had cost just under £7,000 and I didn't pay a penny. Our family of four were privileged enough to enjoy an idyllic holiday in Mauritius and no expense was spared by our obliging hosts and the PR company that had been ...