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On the Campaign couch

Dear Jeremy, I feel it's time for a title uplift and, since I'm surrounded by rivals I can't consult, I'm turning to you for feedback on two alternatives that reflect the new snappy, funky style of leaders such as David Buttress, Just Eat's 'chief executive and anti-cooking activist'. My current title, which I gave myself a couple of years ago, is 'executive director at communications crossroads challenge and director of marketing and reputation management'. Now I want to move on to either 'executive director, take no prisoners' or 'director in charge, great leap forward'. I like the determination of the former but I wonder if the latter would be more motivating for my team?

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I’m hoping your question is satirical. I wish the BBC’s management structure was as well. The recent mini-series W1A failed to ignite because the fictional characters and their fictional job titles were a lot less ridiculous than the real-life characters and real-life job titles they were supposed to be ridiculing. It shouldn’t have been Ian Fletcher’s role to represent sanity and common sense.

There is, of course, the possibility that your question has been presented with a straight face; that you’re seriously wondering whether being known as executive director, take no prisoners will make you more or less heroic in the eyes of your team than director in charge, great leap forward.

With rare confidence, I’m able to advise you. Whimsical titles of this sort, while just about excusable for 17-year-old entreprenerds, are instantly absurd when adopted by grown-ups. Only merciful time lends them a sort of expended neutrality. Your team may just have forgiven you for "communications crossroads challenge". Don’t provoke them again.


What’s the difference between a blog and an article?

Any question that starts with the question "What’s the difference between…" is getting harder and harder to answer every day. What’s the difference between an ad, an advertorial, branded content and editorial? Particularly when the writer of the editorial has been inspired to write it by a press release? Even the difference between owned and earned can get fairly fuzzy. So I’m not going to tell you what the difference between a blog and an article is. I’m going to tell you what I’d like the difference between a blog and an article to be.

I’d like an article, in all cases and in all media, to have been submitted for inclusion to an editor, to carry the writer’s real name and for the writer to have been paid money for having written it. I’d apply no such restrictions to blogs and bloggers. As far as I’m concerned, bloggers can continue to choose to hide behind anonymity and write about anything while being paid nothing.

The greatest problem the internet has presented us with is the preservation of editorial standards. When access to all media was guarded by a quality controller called an editor, most rubbish never saw the light of day. Since editors were human and fallible, some good stuff never saw the light of day either; at least initially. But there were always other editors and other publications. And since writers expected to be paid, editors refrained from publishing rubbish simply because it was free.

Now everyone can publish – and it’s increasingly evident that everyone does. Most of it is what the book trade used to call vanity publishing. Most of it is of interest only to the perpetrator. Sifting the rare gem from the mountains of ordure is an unpleasant and extremely time-consuming task.

Blogging gives people who think they have something to say an entirely new and welcome freedom: to demonstrate, in public, what they can do. But no true writer should be content with that for very long. It should be every blogger’s ambition to be promoted; to be invited to write articles rather than blogs; to write under their own proud name; and to be paid to do so. When anybody can write anything at whatever length, the lazy and the undisciplined go unpunished. So only bloggers who are driven to cut, scrap, edit and start again will be invited to join the premier league; and we’ll all know where to go.

Both blogs and articles probably need new names, but I don’t suppose they’ll get them.

‘Ask Jeremy’, a collection of Jeremy Bullmore’s Campaign columns, is available from Haymarket, priced £10.Telephone (020) 8267 4919
Jeremy Bullmore welcomes questions via campaign@haymarket.com or Campaign, Teddington Studios, Broom Road, Teddington, TW11 9BE

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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