Coronavirus in Hull.

At a time when the North East city of Hull has become one of the highest rate of COVID in the Uk, – Amelia Grace, leading young blogger in East Yorks in the UK, gives a first hand assessment of where it is going wrong – and where does that leave the uk?

Coronavirus has been a common part of life for close to a year now. It’s plastered all over the news, it’s a massive topic of conversation and it’s all anyone seems to talk about. What do you think about the pandemic? Has the government handled it in the right way? When will we have a vaccine and will it have an impact? Will life ever be normal again?

These are some of the things I’ve discussed with people and I have wondered since March and the first lockdown.

More recently, the government has tackled the situation with a tiered approach, categorising places into medium, high or very high in terms of covid alert level. I’m a resident of Hull, a city in Yorkshire which started off in tier 1 and entered tier 2 just before the whole country was thrust into a lockdown on 5 November. Now, we have the most cases out of the whole of the UK and are set to enter tier 3 once we are released from lockdown. What went wrong in Hull?

Complacency. In my opinion, that is how Hull’s cases have suddenly projected so high. Starting off in tier 1, many of us were holding our breath, waiting and expecting to be moved up to tier 2 because our number of covid cases were closer to that of towns and cities in tier 2. Since tier 1 has the least amount of restrictions, people could still meet up in groups of 6 indoors and outdoors, visit cafes, restaurants and shops and basically live their lives in a fairly normal fashion. The fact Hull spent so long in tier 1 meant some of its people became more relaxed as you would if you were in the bottom tier and abandoned their more cautious attitude towards the virus. From my perspective, I typified this stereotype, spending much of my time in September and October, meeting up with my friends and family in a mixture of indoor and outdoor settings. Towards the end of October, I did start to get more anxious about having to isolate or catching the virus but it didn’t stop me from carrying on with life as normal.

Then all of a sudden, we were in tier 2. But it wasn’t all of a sudden. The truth was Hull had needed to be in the middle of the three tiers for a while. The citizens of Hull turned to outdoor gatherings as opposed to indoor ones and had their Halloween and Bonfire night parties before the 31st October when we were still under tier 1 rules. Was it a little too late though? The cases were already rising and had been ever since September. Alas, we will never know because the day that we moved into tier 2 was the day Boris Johnson announced a lockdown for the whole country. We spent less than a week enduring those tighter restrictions trying to get everything done for Christmas before we were locked back up in our homes.

Could the problem even be tracked back to March? Evidence shows that the first wave of the virus didn’t hit people in Hull nearly as badly as it did in other places. After the first lockdown, I could only name people who I had a very distant social connection to who had contracted the virus. Now, in November, I can name many. My teacher. My classmate. A member of my church. The personal connection to the virus that wasn’t there previously is now in full effect and it’s frightening to know that people you’ve seen recently have experienced the virus. It causes you to worry for your friends and family in a way you didn’t in the first wave and it proves it’s authenticity. It’s real. And it’s not going away.

The virus has affected me in a personal way as I am now isolating for two weeks after being in contact with someone at college who has contracted the virus. All things considered, it may be a blessing in disguise with the rapidly growing amount of cases in Hull. Even before our year group was sent home for this reason, some of my friends were already isolating due to being in contact with the virus. It has been spreading for a while and the hope of the city is that this lockdown will serve to break the chain in terms of infections and stop more people from overwhelming the NHS and ultimately dying from it.

Some positivity that has shone through all the bleakness is the way that the local media have handled the second wave as of recent times. Look North, our local news for East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire, have covered stories where they have spoken to people with the virus and hospital staff. Their aim is to spread awareness about the virus and the effects it can have and it is so refreshing to see this sector of the media using their influence for good. Instead of scaremongering or downplaying the virus, they have presented it as it is and are trying their best to help with the worsening situation.

Can Hull turn it around? Only time will tell. With this current lockdown and the tightened tier 3 measures this city could potentially face in December, it looks achievable. However, after the cases in Hull fall again, another area will assume the top spot of the most covid cases in England list. This cycle will continue over and over again until one day we beat the virus. Hopefully, that day will come soon.

 

ARE SHORT STORIES THE WAY FORWARD, INSTEAD OF BOOKS?

The announcement today by The Washington Post, that it is making available its “important election information” free to all readers – should be a wake up call, to anybody who has doubted that the age of giving away your advice, information, expertise online – for free – is already over.

The question is – what are the key markets where this can benefit you?  The answer is not so much in the Content, but in the ease of accessing said Content, and seamlessly paying for it.   Up to now, the market has been addressed by the more corporate players – market leader being The Futureshapers (www.thefutureshapers.com) based in London, whose readership is up to  six figures of serious corporate decision-makers.

But there are newcomers on the block, and leading that entry is Uppsala, Sweden based EXODOX, (www.exodox.link), whose simple link and payment process, is a natural gateway for the personal reading market, in particular, their focus on upcoming authors and bloggers. It is a clever way of maximising revenues for the authors that are published. Articles cost just a few pence or euros to read – but social media gives them great outreach.

Typical examples are: https://unfuckwithable.blog/goodness-grace-great-thoughts-on-fire-chapters/1-perfect-just-as-you-are/ – and more UK based – the recent “the Libraries” (www.thelibraries.co.uk).

The choice is interesting because neither platform require any subscription. You pay only for the specific info or article.

In corporate terms, this is a simple and great way to get brand visibility over a sustained period;  and air a personal level, a great way at pretty much little cost – for authors to get their name out there before moving to the larger book publishing houses.

 

 

NEW DEVELOPMENTS FROM SCANDINAVIA

We are well used to Scandi businesses being ahead of the rast of EU and even globally in key verticals of healthcare, IT development and so forth. But what about general management?

We interview Steffen Conradsen, CEO of the Calm Water start-up in Denmark, and ask him – since his reticent beginnings and company launch just a year ago – well – how has it been?

It’s a stupid question. I am sitting in the empty bar area of the Copenhagen Towers. I am struggling with my mask. The day before, I had my first COVID Test as I sauntered through CPH Airport. It took less time to queue and take the test than I would normally spend in line at my local supermarket.

These are not normal times. Steffen is silver haired, smiling, and saunters towards me, he is comfortable in his own skin, and we find a seat at the adjacent coffee bar. Steffen has seen crises all before from his time as VP at Ericsson Denmark. If anybody knows how to launch a Consulting firm offering crisis-management in troubled times it is he.

Clear Water Consulting was not born out of any mid life desire to launch a new business. It was a simple choice of expediency. The downsizing of Ericsson in Denmark, left Steffen with choices – one of which was – where is the work/life balance now, and how best to offer his consulting skills.

And at a time over the last six months of continual crisis for so many large and small companies, in a variety of vertical disciplines, this has already turned out to be the best moment, rather than the worst.

Steffen leans forward and sips his cafe latte. We have moved on from the preliminary pleasantries. What he says is; “these COVID times are not going anywhere any time soon. If companies want to stay relevant in this new world and very different environment, then there has to be a process, a strict methodology – to cope with what will be unexpected situations, quite apart from the need to define what is a go to market plan for the next 12 to 60 months.

Clear Water has a pre-defined process that he has set out graphically, as well as list the four of five key points that govern his thinking. The strategy is explained in English. It is similar to Danish thinking, and their approach to life, the being very methodical and clear, and with no deviation. Reading the corporate blurb, there is little by way of philosophic al and conceptual discussion – apart from on the last page, where Steffen talks about being relevant in society.

Steffen continues; “Sure, things have been tough, but Clear Water is already profitable, and demand is high”. We are meeting mid-afternoon, and Steffen has already had three meetings around the Copenhagen suburbs .

I am expecting to see him any time soon passing through London – but was if to prove a point – Denmark goes into lockdown the day after I return to the UK.

Steffen Conradsen can be contacted at; +45 2812 7445

 

Is it time we change the way we reach out to our clients? We have some better ways to boldly go…

It is a simple truth rarely understood, that if you are going to start sending out and relying on, written communication, to keep in touch with your customer-base; then at least make  it easy to read, and interesting.  That’s not too much to ask, is it?

The recent months of lockdown have seen a plethora, an avalanche of offers of Seminars, Webinars, online Discussion, in our inboxes every day, and all of these announcements have two things in common.  They are worthwhile and could well be helpful.  And they are absolutely boring and do not reach out to grab us and hold our attention.

Which is why the attached Image that accompanies this Article, is so key. It is a standout piece of graphic art commissioned by one of clients, The Futureshapers (www.thefutureshapers.com) – that our Team member, Ben, designed – with the aim of saying “look, it is time to go in a new direction, out of your comfort zone, and don’t be afraid to do that, if you want to stay successful in 2020… and of course beyond”.

There are two keys to this new process. First, your technical quality of delivery, be it a graphic (as above, say), or an Article, .. or a Video Interview, whatever… has to be spot on. It can seem “rough around the edges” but that in itself needs care to deliver that level of insouciance. And it has to be different.

That is because life itself is now different, for all of us. People are questioning what they did the things they did before, and coming up with new ways of working, and of keeping in touch.  Which means that – whatever is your size of company – you too have to recognise that, and act accordingly. Sometimes, you are too close to your own business, to see the broader or more varied options.

It is very rare that  in these pages we talk about our own business – but at ProfoMedia, we focus on original communication, and we can deliver this for you. Our numbers are on our Contact pages, do take a moment to call and have a chat.

 

Shall we forget about 2020? Not at all.

We take a moment to take a pause, and ask;  is it that we have two choices: either we accept that this year the cards were just stacked against us, and we   accept the doom prophesies. Or we don’t.   This article is a sequel to our earlier comment about humans and recessions. Sometimes, you have to be careful what you wish for.

It is fashionable to be pessimistic these days. God knows we have enough right to be.  According to the mainstream media, the “economy” will tank both this year and next. But in the same pages, we learn that in the UK, house prices have reached their highest level since, well, the last time they reached that level. It’s all very confusing.

So conventional wisdom is to assume the worst.  Put what little money we have under the mattress. And do nothing.  In doing “nothing”, we create the very downturn and recession  we have been guarding against.  For some reason, we just love bad news, – and we pay the consequences for that.

The answer – is to do “something”. In fact, it is to do more than “something”. It is to take the view that you carry on as you had originally planned. Surprisingly, if you are that single minded and determined, things are likely to work out.

So what is the secret, of doing “something”?  There are five simple points of understanding.

First – by doing nothing or firing your people – you will not return  to the same place that you left; you will have less people, less experience, less competence, and your market will have less money. It’s a spiral; to the bottom.

Second – your pipeline is your future success. Cherish it, go after it. Silver linings will come back sooner rather than later.

Third – be innovative. Life indeed is not the same as it was. But it is unlikely that there is no demand for your solutions and competences. You just have to phrase it a different way.

Fourth – change your outreach. Forget sending emails, we all get too many, but do invest in video, Seeing is believing and virtual meetings do work.

And Finally – things never were easy. But as we come out of the darkness of COVID – now is the time to reap the rewards while others are still asleep.

RECESSIONS ARE NOT CAUSED BY VIRUSES. RECESSIONS ARE CAUSED BY HUMANS.

We look at the concept that battening down the hatches in difficult times, is good for our corporate health, and ask; maybe it’s not so good for our health… We give an alternative RoadMap.

My good colleagues in our Insurance Clients, show me the data, and it goes something like this – those companies who abandon their marketing and sales ship in any ensuing storm – will lose around 23% of their revenues that year. And it will take them a further two years to recover.

I do “get” that the above scenario is tempting. Our Press and Media do not get our attention by publishing good news stories. The constant doom and gloom which populate all of our news feeds and Inboxes, gives the end of the world impression of reality.

Except that it is not reality. Our experience over the past two months, in monitoring our corporate colleagues and clients, is that it is a true case of “be careful what you wish for”. Maybe you haven’t thought this through…

The fact is that, how you proceed now – is a choice that you yourself will make. Your reaction to events is the same as any other business decision.

So…. This is how it is.

If you persist in treating your sales and marketing facility as a discretionary spend as opposed to an essential lifeline, then you cannot be surprised if your revenues shrink in the immediate and long term.

What we have found is that those companies that continue to go develop their business, do continue to build up their pipeline, and continue to get new business, come what may. We have seen an increase in Meetings, and very little difference between face/face meetings; and Virtual Meetings. Surprisingly, there is actually quite a positive buzz. Our own clients tell us  they have continued to win new projects.

The evidence we have, is that those companies who suddenly stop – will not be perceived as “serious” when the sun comes out and all this darkness goes away.

So what is the answer? We have a RoadMap which you might like  to consider:

1. Keep your marketing and direct sales efforts alive. People do understand the global situation, but they still want to see you and hear from you.

2. Don’t let your people go. The good people will not be there for you when you come back.

3. The longer you leave things, the more difficult it will be to ramp up again. This is because there will be exponentially more competition not necessarily in your space, but in the availability of your customer to see you.

4. Your excuse of using this period for “planning” – does not fly. The same pressures will soon apply as before, when you restart – expect that you will be in a worse state to achieve the results you need to get. You still have the office rent to pay, after all.

5. Remember that your key asset – as we are frequently told – are your people. They will indeed continue to be that – but you have to do your part too.

We Are What We Eat

We catch up with Nutrition Consultant Olga Preston, about how what we eat, impacts how we behave.

We are not talking about getting tetchy in the morning, – although that may be the case. This is serious stuff. We are at the sharp end of solving and reducing symptoms of, serious mental health issues, by understanding, analysing, and even rejecting, the food that we have queued for at the supermarket just a few days before.

And it’s not that Olga does not have experience of these issues. As a former nutrition specialist with the Brain Bio Centre in Putney London – and now branching out on her own, with her own portfolio of patients, Olga is convincing as she talks to me by phone.

“You know that sugar makes you anxious?” She says.

I didn’t know that. Neither did I know that my favourite pasta carbonara is also less than ideal.

“You need some chicken and steamed vegetables”.

I demurred asking her about my glass of Chardonnay in the evening. But what is clear is that, once you get beneath the recipe and menu level of conversation, there is an increasing awareness by all of us at a community level, that by just changing a few things in our diet, we can reduce the mental issues that also seem to be on the increase. And these are the issues that conventional medicine, with its dumbing down side effects, seems powerless to handle.

Apparently, NHS GPs do not normally refer patients who they feel have mental issues, – to a Nutritional Therapist Nutritional Therapist, despite the latter qualifications.

Olga’s patients are referred by private clinics. She specialises in children issues, particularly autism and ADHD, with a small reserve area for adults with depression and psychosis. She will shortly have a separate facility at the ION Clinic in Richmond. We talk about other influences, the use of Music to stimulate people with brain issues, etc, and what she says is that people are now comfortable and accepting that there are different therapeutic tools, to do different jobs.

Olga is an an accomplished Seminar speaker – and I don’t want to delay her any longer. I think about grabbing a large sandwich at the train station, but apparently too much bread is not great for me either.

Olga can be contacted directly at; olgaprestonnutrition@gmail.com

Do Virtual Conferences Work?

We review the latest CX Conference from the team at IQPC London, and ask; who needs hotels when you can join in from your own bedroom?

It’s not quite what it  seems. And it may not be a case of “either/OR”…. Angela Johnson, Speaker at past Data conferences, messaged us to say that “she likes to do both, as  both have relevance”. So that’s clear then; you get a lot from just listening to Speakers and delegate questions online, from the sanctity off your office desk or home study; and you get the benefit of impromptu conversations and competitor information, from the essential face/face conference format that we all know.

But life is different now. The Virtual Conference by necessity, will become the de rigeur essential format for any conference company from, now on, for two reasons. First, conference companies have to survive, and there remains an appetite from interested corporates in accessing experience and information, even if remotely. And second – this is too good an opportunity for additional revenues, at a time when all of us are increasingly habitualised into doing everything from our homes. Why travel to a conference, when we don’t even travel any more to our own office? Ha!

The trick, is to bring together the same expert elements, regardless. And this Telco CX, Customer Experience, event, – does not disappoint.

Speakers from some of the world’s most well known corporates, including BT, T-Mobile, and delegates from equally visible brands, exchange questions and answers.

At a time when my home WIFI is intermittent at best, I found the technology to bring people together, was seamless; I had easy access from my MacBook to the presentation screens, I could hear the speakers responses. And if I popped out to walk my dog, or make a cup of tea – well, I could always go online tomorrow and revisit the whole thing.

This conference, despite its apparent customers focus – was designed around the technology to deliver benefit, or the corporate process for delivering a consumer success. It differed from earlier events, which tended to be more HR oriented.

But unlike the more conventional personal conferences, I found that there are no distractions. You log onto a Virtual conference for a reason, and I found myself listening intently to each speaker.

I missed the opportunity to chat to vendors – but I saw this as a work in progress. There are substantial avenues for Content delivery and vendor outreach and I am sure that IQPC will be developing that in due course. I have already registered for the next one in May.

SO YOU’VE DECIDED TO START A BUSINESS. WISH YOU LUCK WITH THAT!

We look at the essential step of creating a website, and why it pays to do it properly. We talk to Steph Haskell, CEO of the Catchlight Design in New Zealand and approved WIX Developer, to get her take on well, frankly, what does it take – to create the right website for you.

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It’s an interesting thing. Are websites a true barometer of a company? No. Do they accurately reflect the competences of the organisation? Only possibly. And how can you tell? You can’t.

And ironically, the more tech savvy, and the more detailed, the website is at a “product” level – the less commercially aware or even relevant the company itself may be.

So maybe it’s not an interesting thing.  Maybe it’s become a tricky thing instead.  Or maybe it’s not.

Because the fact is, if you are starting a business in not just these troubled  times, but in any times, there is no shortage of  ready to go, stick in the oven, templates and themes and packaged designs, where all you have to do is change the colour from pink to your favourite blue, add your logo (oh yes I forgot – you need one of those first) – write some blurb about YOU, – and and you are good to go. The Web App will pick up your location, contact details from your address book, add a nice little Map of where you are. What is there not to love?

Actually, quite a lot.

But as newbie, you – and myself included – don’t know that yet. It is only when we see the results of our first efforts, and you just find adding an Ecommerce platform is SO complicated, or even a Blog page really tricky… that you think, maybe I need a bit of help.

Steph Haskell is a charming young lady, with a young family, who develops websites for a living, She knows how to do the complicated big corporate stuff. She also knows how to rescue people like me and you when we get so far and realise we need someone who actually nows how to do the bits that matter. And she is based, in New Zealand. And I am in the UK. I don’t think you can get any further away.

Steph decided almost by accident, to become a developer, an accredited Partner so to say, for the Wix website organisation in the USA, at a time when Wix was starting a Partner programme. She is self deprecating.

“They took me into their programme probably because they would take on anybody at the time”. She says. That clearly is not true. Steph talks in simple language and understands the commercial drivers when you explain your vision, and smiles when you say that you d not know what a plugin is.

I found Steph when I went on the Wix website, and asked for help. They posted a number of interested applicants to me, and I liaised with a few. I chose Steph because she was down to earth, but knew what she was talking about.

She looked at my own first attempts at creating a bloggy thing – did not make me feel entirely stupid, sent me a proposal which was inexpensive to say the least – and I left it to her. My finished website came back a couple of weeks later – and every evening for a days, we would talk on Skype, somehow navigating the 11 hour time difference, to fine tune the finished version.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Steph asking if all was Ok, she would tidy up anything for free, if something had gone adrift.

My take away from this? In the same way as you would never go try to build a house yourself, never go do things that matter, but that are outside your level of competence. It makes sense to spend money with people who know, and with whom you feel comfortable.

And the website? Well, it was about me, and my Dog. Worth every penny.

Steph can be contacted at; steph@catchlight.co.nz.

Medical Grade Wearable Devices for vital signs Continuous Monitoring

The need for a mobile and wearable clinical device – to take the pressure off our clinics and hospitals – has never been greater. It’s not like  there is no need.  The problem, so to say has been twofold; the reluctance of hospitals and staff to embrace a new technology that appears to reduce their personal involvement; and the lack of absolute clinical quality.  Sure, we have our Apple Watches, but that does not make us all doctors.

But things are changing. We look at the new wearable watch from CardiacSense, and ask, has the time now come for clinical grade solutions in the palm of our hand or on our wrist?  Eyal Copitt, COO of CardiacSense, latest manufacturer of a watch and wristband within the heart monitoring space,  explains what they do in these difficult times. This is what he says;

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Rapid expansion of the Coronavirus emphasizes the immediate need for long-term continuous remote monitoring of vital signs to closely monitor the conditions of those infected with the Corona virus.

Coronavirus patients suffer from high core temperature, high respiratory rate, high heart rate and low Oxygen saturation

The need for monitoring is at hospital for badly ill patients as well as at home for lightly ill people.
Devices with wireless communication allows hospital and home monitoring without the need for direct contact of medical staff and patients.

The CardiacSense watch and wristband have them all,  – core temperature, highest accuracy measurement of heart rate, respiratory rate, SpO2as well as absolute cuff-less blood pressure and arrythmia detection and wireless communication.

The above turns CardiacSense watch and wristband to be the ultimate affordable continuous monitoring solution for inpatients and outpatients, sending real-time measurements to the nurses station and receiving back written instructions from the medical staff through the device screen whether the patient being in the hospital or at home.

Using the CardiacSense watch and wristband medical grade continuous monitoring enables better monitoring and communication for isolated inpatients reducing staff infection risk and allows light coronavirus patients stay at home, while the monitored data being auto sent to the hospital’s monitoring center.

Eyal can be contacted at; Eyal@cardiacsense.com.