Pilot Light

Inferno is a PR consultancy. This is not. This is Inferno’s blog.

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Email – is there a saturation point?

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Inbox overload

 When email was invented it became a driver for business efficiency. No more memos to hand out, no more documents to print out and pass to a colleague or courier to a client/supplier. Hey presto, everything became instant which meant we could all react to requests or opportunities much more quickly. Over a relatively short period of time – as the technology improved and dial-up became broadband – we could all achieve alot more in the same amount of time. Businesses, particularly service industries, needed this efficiency to fuel demands for growth.

But how efficient has email really become. We cc far more people – unnecessarily in many cases – into email than we ever used to copy into memos, let alone when we used to talk to each other. We send quirky amusing emails around the office and to our friends (btw, I’m not suggesting cutting out fun at work!). We get spam, in some cases quite clever looking spam, that we think might be real so we take a look. All of these require our attention and time even if it’s a fleeting glance. We’ll also interrupt the flow of what we’re doing to look at that email that we see has just popped in to our inbox, read it and deal with it, often forwarding it on or cc’ing more people  into the mix!

So is email intrusive and increasingly becoming a barrier to efficiency? How do we make better use of it? Should there be a better discipline? I don’t have an obvious answer to these questions and I realise that a good amount of email helps us do our jobs well but, if businesses don’t figure out a discipline and email etiquette we could  reach a point where, one day, we come into the office and all we manage to do is read and answer our emails

And that’s before we deal with twittering, facebook, blogs and the like.

Oh – and another thing? What is it with Arsene Wenger? He wins a match, taking his side through to the FA Cup semi-final, gets a dodgy refereeing decision in his favour to boot yet doesn’t smile or have the good grace to shake hands with his opposing manager. Even Fergie and Rafa managed to do that!

Greg B


Written by pilotlight

30/03/2009 at 3:37 pm

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Jukebox Friday 27.02

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This week’s theme – The Weather

Click on “pop-out player”

Written by pilotlight

27/02/2009 at 5:32 pm

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Jukebox Friday – 20 Feb

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Click on “Pop-Out Player”

Theme Furniture

Written by pilotlight

20/02/2009 at 6:05 pm

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Precipitating Disaster

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The UK Technology Journalists and PR Facebook group (@UKTJPR for the twits amongst you) asked the snowbound media world a simple question: Do you prefer working at home or in the office. Well, the dimpled chads have been recounted and the results show that 38% of us prefer working at home, 21% don’t and 40% like it sometimes. MORI researchers are sleeping safely in their beds, I’m sure.

What struck me about this poll, however, was the one-in-five people (like myself) who would much rather work in an office environment. The reason for this is blindingly obvious to anyone with children – trying to work with the strains of MarioKart drifting upstairs, or writing a whitepaper in the midst of an argument about lost library books, is the sort of test that should be reserved for cosmonauts and applicants for a double-O number.

Frankly, even on the most stressful of workdays, going to the office is like a holiday – it gives me focus, allows me to socialise with people who don’t need help going to the toilet and allows me to differentiate between professional and personal.

You can imagine that with two days off school (soon to be three) and a faulty train network, the Berry household is approaching something akin to Lord of the Flies.

During an enforced wii cold turkey session this afternoon, William (for he is five years old) struck up a very odd conversation with my seven-year old Henry. The topic of discussion was our new daughter Elizabeth. “Do you think Elizabeth will get fat?” asked William. “Maybe,” replies Henry “But she might also die in a road accident or during childbirth.” Much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued – mostly from Mrs Me.

I only hope that in between building snowmen, watching daytime TV and making sense of the insane ramblings of their own school-starved children, the magnificent employees of Southern Railways can get back to work, clear the lines and make it possible for me to return to sanity.

Elizabeth, put down that WD40…

Tom B

Written by pilotlight

04/02/2009 at 9:41 am

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There’s snow business like Tech PR

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London under snow

I have officially succumbed to the snow.

Who would have thought that a little bit of snow could cause the severe disruptions of this frightfully cold Monday? I woke up this morning to a plethora of white stretching for as far as I could see. This took me back to my childhood memories of my local radio station announcing the school closures. A rush to the garage and there you would find me, dusting off my pink sleigh and setting off down the rolling hills of Hindhead.

Today, I was not so lucky. Having spent a gruelling 20 minutes attempting to get my car out of the car park, which resulted in severe wheel spinning and my car getting engulfed in a cloud of snow, I resigned to the fact that I would in fact have to work from home. Great, I thought: the perfect opportunity for me to practice what we preach. Being a Web 2.0 agency and advocates of flexible working practices, I opened my laptop and checked my email. Instead of cancelling meetings because of a bit of bad weather, why not set up a video conference? Ah, the wonders of technology. This did of course mean I have now had to pull myself from the warmth of my bed to make myself look half decent for people I am likely to never meet. As it so happened though, fortunately or unfortunately, my journalist colleagues did not seem so keen on this idea, it seemed ‘too complicated’ – oh well, onwards and upwards as they say.

The damning fact is this: no matter how much we strive for a day away from the office, technology has meant that we are always accessible to our peers and hence, a culture devoted to our jobs. Is this a blessing, a time when people, across continents can be brought together to exchange thoughts and ideas which, years ago would have been a scene in a movie? We should welcome and accept the flexibility that has made the lives of those unable to get into work on a daily basis so much simpler. I think of my colleagues who have young children, kids who may have never seen snow like today and am happy that they get to spend today together; all be it amongst responding to emails and receiving phone calls. Yes, a play in the snow would be fun, but losing out on a day’s work – well then that’s twice as much to do tomorrow. Instead I think we should be balancing the two, and to that end, I am now off to build a snowman.


Written by pilotlight

03/02/2009 at 9:27 am

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Prince Harry and the Racist Remarks

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I was reading Mark Borkowski’s blog today and as I’m an ex-serviceman I thought I had a good take on Harry’s remarks:

The armed forces hierarchy have allowed the use of words like ‘raghead’ to demonize the enemy and officers like Harry are encouraged to do this.

During my time in the first Gulf conflict when I spoke with officers, many worried that the lower ranks needed to feel hatred towards the enemy and stupidly didn’t consider it racist behavior. The problem is when some come back from the Gulf conflict they don’t realize, but luckily there are many who I served with would never use the word ‘paki’.

The worry is officers like Harry are in charge and when lower ranks are caught abusing prisoners the officers who have stirred up a hornet’s nest of hatred are never brought to account.

Love to know what the rest of the world thinks

– Michael

Written by pilotlight

12/01/2009 at 6:09 pm

Suitably clad

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It’s always a bit of a struggle, but finally we’ve got our new website up and running.

I’ve always found picking the theme, the tone, the style – even the colour of the hyperlinks – a bit like picking what to wear when going out somewhere new. Say, to a bar that you’ve not been to before, where people could be in jeans, havaianas and t-shirts – but could just as likely be doing the ‘jacket and jeans’ look that men of a certain age (yep, author included) and Will Young cling desperately to.

In the case of the sparkly new InfernoPR.com, we knew we wanted the ‘look’ of the site to demonstrate a step change from the previous site. Which is a grandiose way of saying we briefed the design team to ‘get rid of the fire pictures’. We also wanted to ‘broaden our palate’ (= ‘be more interesting than grey, black and orange’). Additionally, we wanted the site to show off our most important asset: our people. So rather than just having bland biographies of the management team, the new site contains quirky and, in some cases, rather worrying photographic insights into what makes every single Infernal click – from the lady that hits us around the head for not submitting our expense claims on time to the managing director, who hits us around the head for different reasons.

Anyway…it’s live now. Hopefully we’ve clothed our brand in a suitable way for those outside that will be looking in – either to see what we’ve done for clients past and present, or to weigh up what kind of crowd we might be to work with. Let us know what you think – outfit horror or jolly well dressed. We’re proud but thick skinned, and everyone loves constructive criticism on the way they look, don’t they.

Matt S.

Written by pilotlight

28/08/2008 at 8:39 am