Plumbers love social media

Plumbers seem to be chef among the trades I see on social media, with locksmiths a close second (though that’s based entirely anecdotally on the evidence of my admittedly biased Twitter timeline. I do love a good lock!)

The figures speak for themselves, as this infographic shows:


So, there’s no denying, plumbers are all over social media and using it using it (Twitter in particular) for more than football chat. They are using it to learn about new products, make connections in the trade, and improve their skills.

Here’s two examples I found just today of plumbers using Twitter to network in the trade (giving the lie to the myth that social media is making business less personal)…

Why Plumbers love Social Media

… and to improve and show off their burgeoning skills:

Why Plumbers love Social Media2

If you make, sell, or distribute plumbing products, can you afford not to be talking to the nearly 30,000 plumbers on twitter? Or connecting with the 1.9m UK Facebook users who list plumbing as an interest?

Inspiration Schminspiration

So, inspirational quotes on social media. How do you feel about them?

You know the kind of stuff I mean about meeting challenges, and finding opportunity in adversity, never accepting failure and being an inspiring leader. That kind of stuff. If they are in quotation marks, then they are mostly by people I’ve never heard of.

The problem with most quotes found on the internet is that they are not trueWhen you encounter them on social media, what is your reaction? If you are like me, you may roll your eyes and scroll on past. But still they keep coming. Day in, day out.

So this got me to wondering. Why do people keep on posting them? Do others really get something out of them that I am missing? Or are we all secretly hating them but saying nothing out of politeness?

A straw poll amongst my social media contacts revealed a categorically negative response to the question: How do you feel about motivational quotes on social media? Some responses included:

  • “I wish to stab the poster with my pen”
  • “Show me stuff! Support me! Give me guidelines. Look at my work and tell me what I’m doing well/need to work on. Don’t fob me off with silly platitudes”
  • “It just seems so fake to me. I’d rather practical, usable examples than waffly bulls**t nonsense!”

Trust me – those are the printable ones!

And it seems we are not alone. A recent study by PhD candidate Gordon Pennycook indicates that these quotes are not effective in hitting the right spot with the right people (read more about his study here ) and that their impact can often be negative.

The trick to great social media content is to present your audience with engaging information that gives them something that is relevant to them, that they can use, think about and respond to. Even if it’s something they don’t agree with, at least they have engaged with it. Surely a quote from a stranger with vague platitudes is the antithesis of that – bland, generic and ignorable.

So next time you read one of these quotes and wonder why you are not as deep and meaningful as you’d like to be, just remember,

aXm1734xjU  Deep isn’t it? It’s an inspirational quote. By me. You’re welcome!  You can make your own deep and meaningfuls on the website IspiroBot. You’re welcome!

Fire doors must play central role

Even without the shocking and tragic events at Grenfell Tower in the equation, the amount of people dying in fire incidents in the UK is shocking.

5.5 people in every million people in England died in fires in 2015-16. That rises to a horrifying 19.5 in the over 80 age bracket. Yet still not every home in the country has a working smoke alarm.

Perhaps most shocking of all is that people living in shared and rented accommodation are 7 times more likely to die in a fire. A chilling statistic in the light of the events at Grenfell.

Fire Door Safety Week (25 Sep – 1 Oct 2017) aims to highlight the importance of fire doors in preventing the spread of fire, protecting escape routes and aiding fire fighters. The organisation, set up to train and certify qualified fire door inspectors, found that over 61% of the doors it inspected had fire or smoke seals either missing, installed incorrectly or not filling perimeter gaps correctly. Almost a fifth had unsuitable hinges. Over a third had excessive gaps between the door and its frame. And those figures don’t even include doors which had been wedged open illegally or whose closer had been disabled.

As the inquiry into the Grenfell disaster gets underway, it is vital to maintain pressure on Responsible Persons (under the RRO) to take the important role of fire doors seriously and to increase budgets for their specification, installation and maintenance.

Fire Statistics

Maybe I’m having a grumpy day. But these LinkedIn annoyances give me the rage

Yes it’s autumn. Yes the nights are drawing in. And I’m on a diet. And doing Septemperence. So there’s a teeny tiny chance I could be being a tad touchy today. But here’s 10 things that get on my last nerve on LinkedIn and put me off connecting or doing business with someone:

  1. Hashtags. This isn’t Twitter. In fact, just don’t share every Twitter update on LinkedIn. Different platforms, different audiences, different messages. I know LinkedIn are keen to get us hashtagging. But I am resisting.
  2. I don’t want to help you choose your profile picture – especially when it’s just an excuse to get compliments or show off your cleavage.
  3. I don’t want to hear your political views on LinkedIn. Chances are I don’t want to hear them at all. Ever.
  4. I don’t want God’s blessings or your religious views on LinkedIn either.
  5. It’s. Its. There. Their. They’re. Accept. Except. Passed. Past. Get your grammar right. And your spelling while you’re at it!
  6. Wacky job titles. You’re not a ‘Thought leader’ or a ‘Brand Evangelist’ or a ‘Marketing Rock Star’. You’re a consultant, brand manager or marketing manager. Don’t even start me on the gurus, ninjas and trailblazers. Apart from being totally eye roll-worthy, they will make you hard to find in LinkedIn searches. Unless someone is specifically looking for a Change Magician.
  7. ‘Inspirational’ quotes and memes. This isn’t facebook! Find out why I loathe these in particular
  8. Too much, too often. Once a day is pushing it. More than one update a day has me reaching for the “remove Connection” button.
  9. Stop being proud. I don’t mean you shouldn’t be proud of your successes. Far from it. Pride is great. But starting every update with “Proud to be associated…” or “proud to be specified…” starts to grate.
  10. Changed your profile picture? Added a first aid certificate you gained in 1987? Updating your A-Level grades? Lovely! I don’t need to know about every change you make to your profile. I’m happy to hear about big changes like a new job, but I don’t need to know when you correct a typo in your Summary.

So please, for the love of Pete, change your settings so I don’t see it. Here’s how: Privacy and settings –> Privacy –> Sharing Profile Edits –> Toggle the button to “no”.

Oh that feels better. Sometimes it’s good to get things off your chest isn’t it? Now, don’t say I didn’t tell you!


The prize that no architect wants to win

Very few things divide opinion more readily than architecture. Ask Prince Charles. The Carbuncle Cup, awarded (and only reluctantly accepted I’m sure) to the year’s ugliest building, is named after his famous comment about a proposed extension to the National Gallery being a “monstrous carbuncle”. It is awarded each year by architectural magazine Building Design to the building that is considered by a panel of experts to be “the ugliest building in the United Kingdom completed in the last 12 months”.

This year’s winning (losing?) carbuncle was announced last week. It is Nova Victoria, a mixed-use scheme in London’s Victoria designed by PLP Architecture. The design is based on a triangular arrangement which, as a non-architect myself, would seem to be a spectacularly awkward shape to work with and to work in. I certainly wouldn’t want the office on the top floor of the main red-clad fin like structure – it looks like it would be hardly wide enough to fit a desk in.

carbuncle cup

The design is based on a triangular arrangement which, as a non-architect myself, would seem to be a spectacularly awkward shape to work with and to work in.

Nova bagged this award against strong (weak?) opposition including a new entrance for Preston station that looks like it was designed by someone whose set square had gone wrong, and an extension to a beautiful brick-built period house that could pass muster as a nuclear bunker built of Lego bricks.

Of course, this criticism of contemporary architecture began long before the Carbuncle Cup was launched in 2006. The Eiffel tower – “that hideous tower” – was widely derided in the 19th century as ruining Haussmann’s elegant low-rise city vision. And Gaudi’s masterpiece la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has been derided and criticised since building began on it in 1882. Doubtless Rome’s Colosseum and Athens’s Parthenon had their detractors when they were built. Fewer branches of the contemporary arts is as public – and therefore open to widespread criticism – as architecture. Much of architectural design is subjective and one person’s carbuncle is another’s beauty spot. So, while the Carbuncle Cup is perhaps meant in the slightly tongue-in-cheek tone that its title suggests, let’s hope it doesn’t deter architects – particularly young ones – from taking risks and building innovative new buildings.

Read more about the Carbuncle Cup here: Building Design Carbuncle Cup

Fire door lessons must be learned

Fire Door

The terrible tragedy of the fire at Grenfell Tower has once again highlighted the importance of fire prevention design and products in our buildings, both private and public.

My particular interest in this field is in fire doors. A correctly fitted and functioning fire door can help to suppress a fire by restricting the amount of oxygen available to it and will restrict the spread of fire – a closed fire-resisting door is designed to endure direct attack by fire for a specified period of time. This should slow and check the spread of fire through the building, gaining time for active fire protection resources to perform. It will also protect escape and continue to provide some protection for fire fighters entering the building.

In the immediate aftermath of the blaze, it has been reported that literally hundreds of fire doors are missing from tower blocks evacuated as a safety precaution in Camden alone.( To be honest this doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Too often I see examples of fire doors which are either inappropriate or not fit for purpose, often as a result of lowest tender purchasing policies but often as a consequence of ignorance. And that doesn’t include the fire doors that are wedged and propped open that I see regularly on my travels.

It seems that the lessons of the last major fire in a social housing setting in London at Lakanal House in 2009 have not been learned. In that case – where six people tragically died in a blaze in a 14-story block – missing, faulty, ineffective and propped-open fire doors played a major role in the spread of the fire

It seems that the lessons of the last major fire in a social housing setting in London at Lakanal House in 2009 have not been learned.

After the trial of Southwark Council in the aftermath of the Lakanal House fire, Dan Daly, LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, said: “All landlords, including large housing providers, such as councils and housing associations, have a clear responsibility under the law that their premises meet all fire safety requirements and are effectively maintained to provide protection in the event of a fire and keep their residents safe. We want them to take the opportunity provided by this court case to remind themselves of exactly what their fire safety responsibilities are under the law and to ensure that everyone in their premises is safe from the risk of fire.”

Since 2006, responsibility for maintaining fire and escape doors has been placed firmly with the building owners and operators since the introduction of the RRO (Regulatory Reform Order) which came into effect in October of that year. The RRO – which applies to England and Wales – covers the fire safety duties required to protect the “relevant person” – visitors, residents, staff etc. Building owners must show that they have carried out a risk assessment on their premises – and this includes ensuring that fire and escape doors have been specced and fitted correctly and, importantly, appropriately maintained. They must also be able to produce the documentation to show that the products are suitable for their application, proving that all parties have exercised due diligence in fulfilling their duty of care.

As the enquiries into this terrible tragedy at Grenfell Tower progress, the role that fire doors did or did not play in the fire will doubtless emerge and the importance of correctly specified, installed and maintained fire doors in saving lives will, without question, once more become apparent.

Ten golden rules for your LinkedIn profile picture

(Or “You Don’t Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression”)


Remember that old dandruff shampoo ad? The one about making a first impression? Well research shows that first time visitors to your LinkedIn profile page will spend 19% of their time looking at your picture. So make sure it does you and your professional image justice.

Here are 10 easy rules to make sure your picture says the right thousand words about you:

  1. Actually have a picture. Nothing more off-putting than a half baked, half complete profile – especially one with the grey silhouette of doom. This is especially vital if your name is common. There are more than 50 Helen Currys on LinkedIn – I’d like to think you’ve got the one you were looking for!
  2. Use a professional shot. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune but the difference that a photographer can make to how professional you look is immense. Plus, they will always get your best side!
  3. Head and shoulders please (back to that dandruff shampoo!) – not just your eyes. Or so far away I can hardly see you. On LinkedIn I’m less interested in your six pack and more interested in being able to recognise you at a networking event.
  4. Use a neutral background. You want to you be the star of this show, not the background.
  5. Be in a professional setting – not the pub. Or the beach. Or your bathroom. That’s for dating sites and maybe Facebook, not a professional networking site
  6. No selfies please! It’s not just my teenage daughters who find the selfie to be “soooo embarrassing!”
  7. Be alone in your picture – not with your partner, or kids or dog. I don’t want to have to work out by a process of elimination which one is you!
  8. Smile. Go on. You want to look approachable, friendly, and connectable.
  9. Make it a picture of you – not a beach, or a building, or, worse still, an avatar. Your company logo won’t cut the mustard either. LinkedIn is about personal connections (unless it’s a company page of course!)
  10. Make it current. Come on! Who are you kidding?

If you don’t believe me, have a scroll down your suggested LinkedIn connections. Take a long hard look at the pictures and ask yourself: is that a picture of a person I want to do business with? Then apply the same scrutiny to your own picture. If you don’t like what you see, change it!

If you want to help make you LinkedIn profile All-Star then call 01268 655541 and ask us how

If you want to talk to UK architects, you HAVE to be on Twitter

Want to talk to architects

I remember that the first PR agency boss I ever worked for said that architects were among the three most sold-to professions in the UK – have a guess who he reckoned the other two are…more on that later.

If your business relies on talking to architects then nowadays you have to talk to them where they are hanging out – and that’s Twitter.

Many construction products companies I talk to are sceptical. “Isn’t twitter just full of footballers and pop stars?” they say. But that’s simply not the case. It’s not all about David Beckham and Taylor Swift. Twitter is the place to engage with architects in a positive and proactive way.

Architects have always been a tricky group to target and nobody is arguing that the more established ways of interacting with them should be abandoned. But in the same way that the traditional paper catalogue has largely been superseded by digital versions and web sites, it’s vital to move with the times and interact on social media.

Nowadays architects are all over social media – like a rash. Predominantly Twitter but Instagram is also popular. Su Butcher, perhaps one of the leading experts on social media in the construction industry, often quotes research which says that 44% of architects are using Twitter for work. Not, as Su points out AT work to check the latest on the Kardashians’ love lives, but FOR work. (Incidentally, if you are on Twitter yourself, you could do worse than follow Su @SuButcher).

44% of architects are using Twitter for work. Not, AT work, but FOR work.

Think of it this way. Twitter is only a different platform for doing things that you are already doing in your business. It is brilliant for:

  • Building your brand and getting it in front of the right people (PR)

  • Searching for and engaging with potential customers (prospecting)

  • Engaging with existing contacts (customer service)

  • Driving traffic to your businesses and its web sites (marketing)

So don’t dismiss Twitter if your business relies on talking to architects. It’s here to stay. Embrace it.

And for those of you interested in the other two highly marketed professions…my old boss said it was doctors and farmers but I’m not sure how much science there was behind that assertion!

To find out how you can get started on twitter and engage with architects and other key target markets, give me a call on 07932332331

Helen Curry, Director, Foundation Media