Posts Tagged ‘#smc_mcr’

Social media cafe Manchester – smc_mcr – logging out

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 by Jon Clements

Social Media Cafe Manchester – or smc-mcr as it morphed into – came along at the right time to meet a ravenous appetite for digital communications.

But now, it’s no more.

I’m grateful to Tom Mason for bringing the news to my attention and for his affectionate “eulogy” to this rather modest and yet highly influential fixture in Manchester’s calendar of digital creativity. For the definitive insight into why smc_mcr is logging out, check out co-founder, Martin Bryant’s post on the smc_mcr website itself.

So, what made it special?

In the digital sector – one that has now become big business for learning seminars, training courses, day-long conferences, etc – smc_mcr offered collective insight from real-life practitioners (often early adopters of digital technologies and communications platforms) at no cost to the participants whatsoever. All those great brains in one room, willing to pass on their knowledge because, well, they were passionate about their subject and the sharing ethos seemed to meld well with the social media milieu.

At times, smc_mcr was unapologetically and hilariously shambolic in its structure and organisation. But that was more than compensated for by the wealth of interesting people and topics you could expect to encounter over a couple of hours on a Tuesday night, once a month.

On a simplistic level, it was networking with people you also had a relationship with online; but it was really so much more than that.

And, it supplied a regular flow of great material for PR Media Blog which, at the time, was itself trying to make sense of the ever-quickening revolution in digital communications.

Normally, an institution coming to an end is a sad affair. But smc_mcr has done its job, if ever it had a “job description”. It wasn’t its style to have some sort of “manifesto”; that would be far too bloody organised.


About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Social media manchester turns two

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010 by Jon Clements


The freewheeling, one-time social media transit van-turned juggernaut, the Social Media Cafe Manchester, was two years old last night.

Organised, yet endearingly chaotic, it has become the unostentatious hub for sharing social media savvy and collaboration in the city.

Though itinerant – moving between venues diverse as BBC North and MadLab – #smc_mcr has maintained the momentum initially fired up by people including Martin Bryant, Julian Tait and Sarah Hartley on a similarly inclement November night in 2008. For history buffs, PR Media Blog captured the spirit of that first happening here and here.

Social media activity springing from Manchester’s most creative communicators reached a new zenith recently: its city police force used a 24-hour Twitter-thon to simultaneously publish every police enquiry in that period, demonstrate the scope of police work that’s, in fact, social work and gain several thousand new and engaged Twitter followers in the process.

So, it was apt that Kevin Hoy and Amanda Coleman of Greater Manchester Police provided the main attraction for this milestone in Manchester’s social media evolution.

Equally, the Manchester Social Media Surgery – an off-shoot of the cafe designed to hand out free social media advice to organisations new to the medium – has gained traction in the past year, mainly due to the hard work of organiser, Chi-chi Ekweozor.

And so, two years on, what do the unconference-like organisers of #smc_mcr – past and present – think about it now?

Listen here to Martin Bryant and Josh, aka @technicalfault, summing up its impact.


About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Social Media Cafe Manchester goes hopping mad

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 by Jon Clements


How do you convert a piece of social media-driven awareness raising to a real-life, bodies on the ground, event? The answer is this: with a certain amount of difficulty.  

But given that was the challenge Manchester-based web company, Cahoona, teamed up with events agency, Ear to the Ground, to put Cutting Room Square – a redeveloped part of city district, Ancoats – on the map.

As they described at last night’s Social Media Cafe Manchester meeting at the BBC, (#smc_mcr) with no budget for big names or attractions to stimulate interest in the place, the plan hatched was to create a user-generated event – The Cutting Room Experiment – in which the public became the curators, participants and audience for it.

Using social media channels including Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and others, the public was encouraged to take ownership of the ideas while promoting them to their online social connections. Using the campaign website as a destination, the activity generated more than 100 ideas and attracted 10,000 unique visitors in 10 weeks. The Facebook group amassed more than 500 members – not bad for a highly niche area of interest.

And the ideas themselves culminated in a live event, involving activites such as the “world’s smallest festival” (comprising three girls, a busker and a tent), a clothes swapping event and Space Hopper race.

Cutting Room Experiment: Space Hopper Race from Ben Holden on Vimeo.

The team hit its various targets for online engagement and turnout on the day – as well as generating £100k in media coverage. But, as David Norris of Ear to the Ground said: “It’s hard to turn a devoted online audience into vibrant offline one”.

Though some questioned the validity of using global social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook to promote a highly localised event, the results suggest that global can be local too, especially as people in the same geographical area are often already talking to each other across the same social media platforms.

And how can you argue with a Space Hopper race – as long as the Health and Safety Executive isn’t watching.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

Twitter ye do for Comic Relief

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009 by Jon Clements


Be you an aspiring writer or publisher, could you imagine producing a real, living and breathing book in a month?

Well, the team which brought us comedy writing collection, Twitter Titters, did just that – thanks to the medium of Twitter. Two of the organisers, Louise Bolotin and Christina McDermott, explained at last night’s Social Media Cafe Manchester (#smc_mcr) how the book, produced to raise money for Red Nose Day, wiped out a month of their lives in a good cause.

The idea was getting aspiring comic writers to send their work via Twitter to be judged by a panel (also sourced via Twitter) for a book that would be downloadable online (and promoted via Twitter), with all proceeds going to Children in Need.

The virtual collaboration also included writers, Craig McGinty and Guy Clapperton, who helped to keep the project’s blog updated through the process.

In the end, the judges, including Sci-fi writer, Martin Millar, had to select from 70 comic submissions for the book – including exclusive new writing from Phoenix Nights co-creator, Dave Spikey, which was made available either as a download or “print on demand”.

Christina, who lent production expertise to the job, said: “If anybody else plans to do something like this, then whatever time you think you need, double it! But despite all the heartache it was worth it – we made a book.” Since then sales of the book have raised £700 for Comic Relief.

But in the midst of being charitable, a rogue Twitterer was being distinctly uncharitable, accusing the team of “spamming” on Twitter, not being “transparent” and generally slating the project. Though experienced social networkers, the team was unprepared for a negative backlash – a potential by-product of the social medium that needs to be managed.

The book remains on sale at least until the end of April. Go on, have a laugh while assuaging your charity conscience.

Update: for an in-depth analysis of the Twitter Titters project, visit Real Fresh TV’s blog.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

A geek-sters paradise

Tuesday, December 9th, 2008 by Jon Clements

As a – primarily – “social media for business” resource, PR Media Blog was transported to a parallel universe at last night’s Social Media Cafe Manchester (#smc_mcr).

The brave new online worlds of artistic endeavour shared by Heather Corcoran, curator of Liverpool’s media arts centre, FACT, seemed a heady mix of Heath Robinson and the crazy cartoon inventor, Clunk, in “Dastardly and Mutley”.

The collection of “innovation communities” included artists’ collective, Dorkbot describing itself, worryingly, as “people doing strange things with electricity”,  while Node London – an “independent net art collective, exploring new creative territories that straddle between the virtual and the real” was an experiment in open working where nobody was in charge and the result was, according to Corcoran (pictured below), a “crazy nightmare that happened only once”.

But behind the art-for-art’s-sake lunacy was an interesting concept of loosely associated groups of people working together – and blending online and offline activity – to share knowledge and create something new. An example of this is the School of Everything where those wanting to learn and those wanting to teach can find one another.

So, an interesting and unexpected tangent for the #smc_mcr. But does this mean that it’s now “sexy to be a geek”, as somebody mused? Think “Bill Gates” before you answer that one.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''

The social media pool – just dive in?

Friday, November 14th, 2008 by Jon Clements


“Hungrier, less complacent and more willing to embrace new media” for business.

That’s just one view why the US’s fastest-growing private companies – The Inc.500 – are giving the Fortune 500 a beating in terms of social media uptake, including use of blogs, online video and podcasting.

The findings come from what The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth claims to be the first statistically significant reseach into the use of social media in companies.

Comparing last year with this, 11.6% of the Fortune 500 have a public blog against 39% of the Inc.500.  Only 3.6% more of the largest US corporations joined the blogosphere in the period, while 20% of private firms signed up. Now, nearly half (44%) of the Inc.500 companies reckon social media is “very important” to their marketing/business strategy – up nearly 20% on last year.

So, what’s bugging the bigger beasts in the forest about social media? And if this is the case in the States, where does that leave the biggest UK companies? The topic surfaced at this week’s Social Media Cafe launch (#smc_mcr) in Manchester, where it was agreed that large businesses tend to baulk at what they see as the uncontrollable world of social media.

Craig McGinty, with typical candour, told the assembled bloggers and social media-ites at the #smc_mcr: “It needs someone with the cahunas to get things going. But that means taking small steps, dipping their toe in and using a small team which can begin to feel comfortable with it.”

This suggests that despite the fears among gatekeepers, lawyers, compliance departments and whatnot within the larger organisations, the communications world is moving that way and companies run the risk of being left behind. 

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR. Connect at: JonClements ''