News Flash! Old People Are Invisible!

So true need to take more time

Beyond Halfway

Roger Angell. Photo: The New Yorker. Roger Angell. Photo: The New Yorker.

In his excellent article in the New Yorker about the rigors and rewards of growing old, Roger Angell, who at age 93 certainly knows something about the subject, describes what it’s like to be treated as if he is irrelevant:

“Here I am in a conversation with some trusty friends—old friends but actually not all that old: they’re in their sixties—and we’re finishing the wine and in serious converse about global warming in Nyack or Virginia Woolf the cross-dresser. There’s a pause, and I chime in with a couple of sentences. The others look at me politely, then resume the talk exactly at the point where they’ve just left it. What? Hello? Didn’t I just say something? Have I left the room? Have I experienced what neurologists call a TIA—a transient ischemic attack? I didn’t expect to take over the chat but did…

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You’re Doing It Wrong: 4 Tips For Better Social Media Engagement


ChrisCo Media

You’re Doing It Wrong: 4 Tips For Better Social Media Engagement

You’re Doing It Wrong: 4 Tips For Better Social Media Engagement image social engagement 4of51

Did you know only 1 out of 5 customer inquiries on Twitter and Facebook receives a response from a brand or business? Even when they are answered, the average response time is a dreadful 11 hours.

What a shame.

So many missing major opportunities – for new business, to save business, and to learn what your customers want.

I’m always surprised when I hear of businesses that ignore their customers on social media.

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The first monthly @GuardianSocEnt podcast is here!

Great excite!

I wrote last time on this blog that I was making a podcast for The Guardian.

Well I did it and you can read about it if you click the link below.

Go to the Guardian website here.

I am proud to be working with The Guardian and Social Enterprise 2011 was a very friendly and professional event in a lovely oasis of a building in central London.

Thanks to the Editor David Mills and Gines for giving me the opportunity.

Join the Social Enterprise Network if you want to find out more about social enterprises.

One more word of thanks to my bosses at BBC Radio Lancashire from whom I never stop learning.

Here’s what went on The Guardian website.

Welcome to the Guardian social enterprise network podcast – a new, monthly podcast about social enterprise. Over the coming months, we’ll be speaking to social entepreneurs and those who fund them, buy from them and work with them, and exploring the issues that social enterprises face as they do good through doing business

This inaugural podcast was recorded at the Guardian Social Enterprise Summit on 8 November.

Sean McGinty, a radio journalist and social entrepreneur from Lancashire, presents and produces this podcast.

In this podcast this month

The winner of the Guardian Social Enterprise Award – Peter Cousins MBE from Brighter Future Workshop

Murtaza Jessa from haysmacintyre, one of the judges of The Guardian Social Enterprise Award 2011

The minister for civil society Nick Hurd MP on why government support for social enterprise can’t be ‘top-down’

Jonathan Jenkins from the Social Investment Business and NatWest’s Phillip Hall and their mission to invest in social enterprise

Paul Drechsler chairman and chief executive from the privately owned construction and property company Wates explains why his company is committed to working with social enterprises

Social Enterprise UK’s business director Nick Temple on why social enterprise needs a much wider stage

Our next podcast will be published in early December. If you’ve got any ideas for features, get in touch with Sean McGinty or social enterprise network editor David Mills.

The Guardian Podcast


It turns out I’m presenting a new podcast for The Guardian this week and a very happy and proud man I am too.

It’s their Social Enterprise 2011 summit on Tuesday at The H.A.C. Armoury House in London. I’ll be there to find out where the sector is now and where it might head across a whole range of different subject areas. From funding to regulation. New markets to growth strategies.

And the winner is…

We’ll also hear from the winner (to be announced at the summit) of The Guardian Social Enterprise Award 2011. They will receive all kinds of goodies but we’ll get to that on the podcast or click here if you want to see now. You can check out the finalists too here.

Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society

Speakers and stuff

I’ll try to grab some keynote speakers <– they are there… and ask them some searching and intelligent questions. Well I’ll try.

If you have any questions you might want to ask Nick Hurd The Minister for Civil Society then please fire them my way on twitter. You can find me here – @seanamcginty

You probably do so already but if not please follow @guardiansocent too.

Where will I find this podcast?

Good question at the back there… well it will be on The Guardian Social Enterprise Network

You’ll be able to subscribe through iTunes and other places as yet unheard of probably.

Hope you can find the time to have a listen and if you’re running a social enterprise or thinking of setting one up please get in touch I am really interested in hearing from lots of new people about their experiences.

The BBC, DQF and the lost opportunity

D.Q.F. (delivering quality first) was announced last week across the BBC.

A man with a beard um’d and er’d, told us some bad things then chortled inexplicably. Our local boss then had to, through reluctant if not quite gritted teeth, break the news.

There’s a lot of people going to have to leave, all but one of the specialist programmes are being axed and for 12 hours a day BBC local radio stations will be empty. The new times will be 6am to 6pm apart from sport while it lasts. We were reminded, rightly, that alot of private and public sector organisations are going through the same pain.

The biggest social enterprise in the world?

The BBC IS defacto a social enterprise. It trades through a poll tax and worldwide sales but it is the “social good” element that is lacking. Yes it could be argued that the BBC does social action programmes, investigates wrongdoing, gives us impartial news, entertainment, weather, a huge hulking website, iPlayer etc etc. But the commercial sector do most of that now anyway with less resources.

But what does the BBC really do to further social good in local communities? A good station like ours is out there in the community and we throw open our doors every day to licence fee payers. But this is because of an energetic and passionate management and staff not a BBC wide directive, not a BBC culture of openness (there isn’t one) and not because they give us a budget.

No, all the things my station does locally in the field happen only because of the management and staff going the extra mile to connect with people locally on behalf of the BBC. How could any BBC top manager know what we do? So they assume all they get for their BBC buck is some (in their view no doubt) programmes that don’t meet the “quality threshold.” Don’t misunderstand me here. There are some parts of our output threatened that I don’t understand and can’t really listen to. That in some ways maybe fail a quality threshold BUT as part of an eclectic mix on the station they are all important. One person’s Sony Award Winner is another person’s switch off moment.


So here’s the numbers. 86% of BBC local radio “reach” (how many listen) is between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. No surprise there then. So we can ditch the other 14% right? NO! They are the most vulnerable group of listeners. I am not going to patronise our audience but I sometimes answer the phone calls from people just calling for a chat, to tell you something happening on their street or to ask for a song or some advice. People of all ages who through circumstance and fate live alone and like the company of their local radio station.

These changes to local radio (the ditching of local evening programmes etc) will save a pittance relatively… click here to see the BBC’s accounts for 2010 and 2011. The savings planned in BBC local TV and Radio are equal to less than 20% of the GROWTH in BBC commercial income in 2011. Yes that’s right. One FIFTH of the GROWTH in INCOME!!!

So what the hell is going on here?

The BBC is cutting back on funding to the ONLY area of their business that actually deals with licence fee payers every day in a human and real way. We go and talk to them, they come in and talk to us, we retweet them, we chat on facebook with them. There is no other part of the BBC that does anything like the engagement we do. These proposed changes are taking away that last remaining human part of the BBC.

Why oh why oh why

How come that (probably) the biggest social enterprise in the world doesn’t look closely at the opportunities right in front of it’s eyes in local radio. The partnerships are there for the taking that could change people’s lives. Widen their horizons and aspirations. It’s not just young people either. Older people who are not well served by the media (other than in local radi0) could be a part of it.

They could use the BBC to improve their skills or just to get involved. Instead of leaving 40 plus stations empty 12 hours a day why not use those facilities for the greater good? This requires vision which funnily enough you don’t find alot of when you are talking to tele people. (Joke alert.)

What are you going on about again?

The one place that most people can see their BBC pound being spent and affecting their lives is BBC local radio. Where I work, a huge amount is done to engage and assist local community groups and the public sector too. This work could run so much deeper and it’s impact be so much wider but the lack of vision in today’s announcement for BBC local radio kills even what we do now stone dead.

Local radio also is the one place at the BBC where an open minded management team (we have that but many don’t) can give someone a chance to create content, challenge themselves and possibly contribute to output in some way. How many people got their first taste of the media in local radio? Slamming this door shut on so many young people at this time, for this amount of money is just crazy. No other word for it. I would spend more now, open our doors, reach out to social enterprises with a real vision of what a future BBC could look like.

A big massive lever

The BBC through local radio could act as an enabler, as a bringer together and a big massive lever to help communities come together and solve their problems. It’s an organisation that’s funded by everybody and it has (in my view) a responsibility to do this.

It’s like Lord Beard of the BBC manor has decided that he doesn’t want the peasants coming into his grounds anymore so he builds a fence and keeps them out. As an aside it does seem depressingly obvious why the poorer, unconnected people who listen to BBC local radio get their services cut while Radio 4 who’s listeners are wealthier, better connected and very able to complain remain largely untouched in budget terms.

Are you bored yet?

One example that’s close to home. A few months ago there was a meeting in Preston called Unconvention. Creative peeps, musos, the public sector all met up and talked about how they could help Lancashire improve the creative economy here. I posted a blog asking if anyone wanted to continue the conversation at BBC Radio Lancashire. Two days later 60 or 70 people showed up. We are still working on some of the ideas we discussed that night but those connections and those people are only there because I am happy to do the work in my own time along with an amazing group of young people that help me on BBC Introducing.

So you gather I could go on and on here.

To close, just take a look at the BBC Accounts and be gobsmacked at just how much money there is sloshing around.

A lack of vision, a lack of ideas and a lack of social responsibility is not something I would expect from the BBC.

That’s why I ask you and anyone who cares about keeping the BBC vibrant and open locally should contact these people in as many ways as they can… just click here. or call 0800-0680-116 … calls are free from most landlines … however, some networks and mobile operators will charge for these calls.

Post this and retweet as much as you can please… not only should the cuts not happen but someone should look at what the BBC is locally and get some real vision and energy in there.

The Guardian Social Enterprise Award 2011

So I check my twitter this morning and The Guardian’s Social Enterprise people are running The Guardian Social Enterprise Award.

Nice one. It’s great to see The Guardian putting time and resources into their social enterprise content and a new award.

I run SPACE Blackpool CIC so am interested in entering but also want to see an improved understanding of what a social enterprise is across the media. So it is as they say a win/win type scenario. Or so I thought.

Oh crap!

Here are the published entry requirements:

Entrants must meet the following criteria:

– The award is open to residents of the UK aged 18 (on or before 22   August 2011) and over

– The entry must come from the founder, co-founder, managing director or   chief executive of the enterprise

– Enterprises wishing to enter should have a turnover in excess of £200K   and or will have raised £200k plus via equity or loans.  If you have   secured significant contracts this may also enable you to qualify for   entry

– Businesses entering the awards should employ between 3-500 staff

– If you’re working in collaboration with another enterprise we will accept   joint entries

The judges are looking for projects that aim to improve services for communities, and working more effectively with health and public, voluntary and private sectors.

So what’s wrong with that?

Two things in my opinion:

Firstly, the turnover threshold of £200k. Why have one? Could it not be that a social enterprise turning over £50k has a brilliant and sustainable idea that would change lives if it won a prestigious award?

Secondly, the same old presumption that bidding for contracts with the public sector is the be all and end all of what a socent does. This is just not getting it to me.

Bidding for contracts

I could write pages about this but in brief here are some of the questions I ask myself when I decide not to look at bidding for contracts locally.

Why would I want to bid for contracts to deliver services in a way I believe hasn’t worked? Having watched and tried to engage with the public sector for 5 years now I have seen the good times. I have watched money get hurled around on one off events and unsustainable, badly designed “schemes” and “projects.” Often, they just seem to work for the people employed within the public and quasi-public bodies concerned and their political, PR or empire building objectives.

Why would I give our ideas and expertise to a public body that in the past has just nicked them, spent alot of public money without even considering if they have a clue what they are doing and then unsurprisingly, delivered little? It is like they think public money is to just be spent once, on something nice. They say woohoo aren’t we clever, put a piece in the local rag then move on to another bidding opportunity for central government money.

That’s a bit negative

That sounds like I am narky about this. Well that’s because I am bloody fuming to be honest. Raging about the way this so called “social enterprise friendly” public sector is working now.

Do I need to become an expert bidder for public money to be successful? Or wouldn’t it be better if the public sector saw socents like us as being a resource that will make innovative things happen. They should give us buildings that are empty, co-bid with us to central government on sustainable business models not one offs. They should see that the young people we engage with could be the very ones that make a change in the health choices and life aspirations of many of their friends too.

Most socents doff their caps to their public sector purse holders and end up delivering the same old crap that hasn’t worked. I would like to see that change. I want socents to be emboldened by a central government that revolutionises the delivery of health and social services. To make business plans that don’t need hand outs and to try to get the public sector to engage properly not just throw out contracts for services when they find they haven’t got any money left.

Positive stuff

At the weekend SPACE Music along with Visit Blackpool put on an event in the newly tarted up St. John’s Square in Blackpool. A huge thank you to the people from Visit Blackpool. They worked with us to deliver something that we can replicate again and again relatively inexpensively. Offering opportunities for work experience, volunteering and to promote artists music in the centre of Blackpool. It improved traffic to the square and created a really nice atmosphere in a town that sometimes on a Saturday afternoon can be er… interesting. Pictures to follow soon.

We now hope we can move inside The Winter Gardens and make some sustainable events happen for young people there too.

Locally more people within the council are getting this and I sense a thawing of the old public sector mentality. As soon as the decision makers and councillors get to understand that socents do more than just deliver the services they want delivering we will have made progress.

Central government has a huge part to play though now. When we return to long waited growth in the economy and the belt tightening slackens ever so slightly… then will be the test and the time to let us social enterprises really deliver some sustainable youth and other services.

Thanks for reading.