How to restart your life and get FU money by David Sawyer: review

In the 2013 Coen brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis the eponymous central character stumbles through a difficult week, wondering where his life is going and why he can’t make a success of his music career despite talent and self-belief.

The struggling folk singer can’t do right for doing wrong and it’s hard to point to any single reason why. There’s a grudging melancholy at the heart of the film with the anti-hero battling the odds but always knowing that he won’t overcome them and never really understanding why.

I was reminded of Llewyn Davis reading the first few chapters of this excellent book aimed at midlife careerists looking to find fulfilment. Continue reading


How blogging helped to tell our local NHS story

BeFunky-collage (2)

Blogs are pretty simple and have been around for ages, so while ours is nothing shiny or especially new it has helped us talk about everything from dementia and falls, to sign making and nutrition.

Last year we launched a new blog space for sharing stories about the NHS in Gateshead and so far an incredible 28,000 people have taken the time to read them. Continue reading

The power of simple stories


“I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all Hell,” William Tecumseh Sherman

In an era of visual innovation, virtual reality, second screening and social engagement it was a documentary series from 1990 that reminded me that simple storytelling, using the rules that have always stood true, is still one of the most powerful ways of communicating with an audience.  Continue reading

Exploring the importance of internal comms

cb922f501e5ef4fb7efc681e2addeeb0Internal comms can often feel like the poor relation to PR in the public sector, but with the current workforce challenges facing the NHS it’s becoming more important than ever before.

The always excellent NHS provider comms network focused on internal communications this time around and it’s clear that this is something at the top of the agenda for colleagues right across the country. Continue reading

The Art of perception: A leaf from Bob’s PR book

The cover of Bob Leaf’s book on a life in PR will come as a blessing to all fans of the seminal TV show Mad Men, with the author silhouetted against the cover in true Don Draper style.

I was fortunate enough to meet Bob and get a copy of his book – The Art of Perception, memoirs of a life in PR – at the CIPR Northern conference earlier this summer as part of a session with President Sarah Hall.

Dubbed ‘the father of public relations’ with a 50 year career in the industry, the Mad Men comparisons proved irresistible to this diehard fan (with even the title of this blog based on a quote from the show). Continue reading

CIPR visits friends in the north

“How do you prepare for the unexpected and are you really ready if the very worst happens?”

England had just gone out of the World Cup, the Prime Minister was under extreme pressure, two leading cabinet ministers had just resigned, Donald Trump was visiting the UK and it was Friday the 13th. The perfect day for the CIPR Northern Conference which started with a striking question posed by Laurie Bell, who has been working at the heart of the Salisbury poisoning incident. Continue reading

Some comms rules of the road

I’ve been travelling around a bit recently which has inspired me to rewatch what is probably one of the best films ever made – Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

Released before Christmas in 1987 it stars John Candy and the legendary Steve Martin (whose autobiography is also a fantastic read) trying desperately to get back to Chicago for thanksgiving, against the odds and all the various gods of public transport. Continue reading