Dawdling to the pavilion

Here’s an overdue update on the career situation – in May 2015 I left New Zealand Cricket for Fonterra. I wanted to wrap up the two years before it all disappears in a fond, summery haze.

Working in cricket was a bit of a dream come true – I thoroughly enjoyed being part of it and was constantly pinching myself that I was in the thick of it for a remarkable couple of years, comfortably two of our best ever, culminating in that world cup.

I was Digital Manager at NZC for that time, basically looking after the website and social media, as well as helping with PR and comms as required, including media management for the team on a couple of overseas tours and a handful of games in New Zealand.

Professionally, the highlights were:

Overhauling blackcaps.co.nz, both the front and back ends over the two seasons. We did the front end first, making the site mobile responsive and stripping it all back to make the content, text and words, the stars. Then in the second off season (the off season is when you do the ‘proper work’ in sport team!) we moved the CMS from a bespoke but vintage system we used to Umbraco, and went onto the new Microsoft Azure hosting, for all that sweet CWC traffic – there were a hair under a million page views on the site during the six weeks of the cup.

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Being part of the online cricket community. People on Twitter love cricket, it’s the ideal sport to watch with the phone or the laptop. I wanted the national team’s account to be part of the conversation and show we were prepared to use Twitter as it’s meant to be, with personality, genuine engagement and to show off our fan’s love for the game (we used Storify to bring the social stuff into the website, hopefully to good effect.) It’s meant to be fun and I hope that my enjoyment came through.

There’s too many people to mention that helped make the BLACKCAPS community what it was – special mention to Jamie Bell at the NZC Museum, who tirelessly brought stats and history to life, as well as Jess, Ruth, Graeme, Andrew(s), Moog, Aotearoa XI, Toby, … it was a privilege to get to meet everyone at the ‘tweet ups’ and at the grounds.

Vine went really well for us, cricket kind of lent itself to the six second clips – here’s one from training before the CWC quarter final at the Basin, I was sifting around taking photos as per usual, when I was instructed to stand in the umpire’s position to see if any of the bowlers overstepped – and so got to see Kyle Mills, Grant Elliott, Corey Anderson and Dan Vettori bowl close up. Seeing professional athletes do their thing so close up was quite  an experience.

I got to know one end of a video camera from the other, and how to edit. Kind of. I have much respect for the skill it takes to do this properly.

Launching the NZC mobile app – full credit  for the technical stuff goes to Tim McConnell, Gus Pickering and team at NV Interactive’s Christchurch office, I highly recommend them and their work.

Cricket-wise, where do you start? How about

  • The drawn Test against England at Eden Park in 2013
  • Somehow ending up in a taxi from Dunedin airport wedged between Darren Sammy and Richie Richardson in late 2013
  • Beating India at Eden Park in the first Test in 2014 – then being at the Basin for Brendon’s 302. The drawn ODI v India was tremendous too
  • Being at the Basin for Kane Williamson’s first double century in the second Test v Sri Lanka in early 2015, and seeing the team come from way behind to win that one
  • CWC15 – Hagley, beating Australia at Eden Park, the Guptill quarter final, THAT BLOODY SEMI FINAL WIN and going to Melbourne for the final

In terms of results, the two trips to Bangladesh were not highlights, but the experience of traveling with the group and being part of it all will stick with me for a long time. Believe everything you read about the team being made of good people. It’s extremely well lead by Brendon and Mikes Hesson and Sandle and I was made to feel very welcome on those trips and whenever I was with the team back in NZ. I’ll miss that a lot.

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Couple of snaps from Bangladesh – I was pretty green, but luckily these guys are real pros.

If you haven’t had enough of What I Did, you can read a review of summer 2013Bangladesh trip one, Bangladesh trip two, a review of summer 2014a photo review of 2014, and the Cricket World Cup report.

Cricket in New Zealand is run by some incredibly enthusiastic people, who give up their summers to bring you this magnificent game. It was very hard to leave the dream job, but the time was right to move on for me, it was nice to go out on the high of the world cup.

I would like to thank NZC’s James, Callum, Richard, Joanne and David, the cool kids at the back of the office-bus (and Nicki!) and everyone else there for putting up with me, as well as the support and opportunities. See you at the grounds in the summer. 

How I live-tweet cricket for the BLACKCAPS

As a twitter nerd, and a cricket nerd, when I got a job at New Zealand Cricket, getting to live-tweet BLACKCAPS matches was a bit of a nerd explosion. I’ve been at it a couple of years now, and have covered our matches from the office, my couch and cricket grounds around New Zealand and the world. Not to mention off the phone at a Kindy Trike-A-Thon. Ahem. Here’s a bit of a run down on what I’m trying to do with live-tweeting BLACKCAPS matches.

Being there
Ideally, you’re giving your fans something they can’t get somewhere else, like the team news first, early news on the pitch, the scene in the shed, what have you. It is hot? Is there a dirty great rain cloud on its way? Is there a rowdy section in the crowd making all the atmosphere? I want to tell you about anything you can’t see on the telly.

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Find the right rhythm
I’m aiming to keep folk on Twitter up to date, without annoying them. Some people are watching on TV, some are at the ground, some are following live scorecards and some are in the office or our and about following on Twitter.

With all that in mind, I want you to be able to follow the game through our account, alongside all the other people you follow on Twitter, with the tempo of the game in mind. We generally tweet about wickets, fours, milestones (50s, 100s, partnerships etc) and between all that, that’s usually plenty. Obviously if something happens you need to know about we’ll tell you, but there’s no minimum number of tweets.

If it’s a dull session, I’m not going to give you the blow by blow. But at the same time, if we need 12 to win in the last over to make our first World Cup final, you bet your arse I’ll let you know what’s happening in lengthy and in vivid.


Tone
I’m aiming for impartial, but at the same time, we’re the @BLACKCAPS account. If someone makes a tremendous catch, takes a wicket, scores 300 etc, we’re going to celebrate it. At the same time, if we mess up, we’ll tell you but probably not go to town on it.

An example – I use our players Twitter handles when they come out to bat or bowl and take wickets / score milestones, but if they drop a catch or get out, I just type their name out, they don’t need to see that.

Apart from that, I think it’s OK to use humour, but not too much. I’m aiming for pithy.

Aim for first-ish
When a wicket goes, you need to have the score, batsmen’s score, method of dismissal, bowler, catcher, etc, etc, etc at your fingertips in seconds. That’s a bit to get in a hurry.

You want to be swift, but I don’t put pressure on myself to be first with the news. There’s ALWAYS someone faster on the internet, and people at the ground / watching or listening at home can see what’s happened for themselves after all. It’s better to be near the front of the pack and right than first and wrong.

Also, you want to apologise and fix things when you stuff up. Our fans have saved me a number of times, I find it’s best to embrace and make friends with correctors, in general (!).

2014-02-03 16.41.14The crowd is better than you
The internet is funnier than we are, has great photos and better stats. It’s a team sport, Twitter, and we can cover what’s happening better as a group, recognise and reward our loyal fans and have some fun together, so we embrace and hit the retweet button a lot.

It makes our feed better and hopefully our fans get a kick out of it. If your gameday tweet deck doesn’t have mentions, match and team hashtags and Twitter lists of your fans handy for retweeting, you should set that shit up now.

Don’t forget to look up
Right? No matter if you’re sat in the media box, or in front of the TV, with the laptop open it’s easy to get distracted by Twitter, updating the website, the news, etc etc etc. While keeping everything ticking on your channels is what you’re there for, you do your best job by being very aware of what’s happening on the park. I can be bad at this, to be fair.

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(Sports) Geeking out

You can listen to me on Sean Callahan’s Sports Geek podcast, talking blackcaps.co.nz, our social media stuff and wot’s coming up for the world cup.

Sean’s based in Melbourne and works with a heap of teams and leagues with their digital and social efforts, as well as producing a cottage industry in podcasts. When I started my current role I found the pods (casts?) a treasure trove of tips and ideas, so I was stoked to be asked on.

All the Sports Geek podcasts are well worth a listen – if you want to dive in, three that’ve resonated with me are:

Finn Bradshaw from cricket.com.au – I’ve listened to this a few times in fairness, good history of how they’ve got to where they are, and the reasoning behind what they do.

Richard Clarke from Arsenal. Shit football team, but worthwhile listening on sports and digital. Channels galore and a new one every year felt about right to me.

Josh Tucker from the LA Dodgers. I thought Josh’s approach was not a million miles away from what we’re trying to do at NZC in terms of simply talking to fans online.

Also check out Beers, Blokes and Business, which covers a wide variety of business topics, tending digital, in a fairly relaxed fashion.

2013 in mobile phone pictures

Third instalment of mobile phone photos of the year, here’s 2011 and 2012. Big year this year, with new job and a big work trip, and trying to fit everything in.

You can click all the pictures to make them bigger.

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I changed jobs in February…

Ibanez Talman

…and turned 40 in February also. Quite a month. I had a lovely party with friends and family all in attendance. This axe was my mid-life crisis acquisition – it’s been loads of fun.

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The new job’s offices had a pretty different vibe to the last one, in fairness.

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I spent a lot of time this year watching cricket and tweeting about it, happy days.

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This is a traffic light that looks like a TIE fighter.

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Straight to the pool room.

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Wee fella.

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Wee fella and wee girl. Family is going great.

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So this was dinner

I tried to lay off the bad food photography this year, but… you know.

Fire walk with me.

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Most bad-ass birthday cake awardee here.

We got serious about lego this year.

Quick selfie

I got right on board the selfie boom.

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So I went to Bangladesh with the BLACKCAPS. This was Chittagong.

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I never get tired of posting this – signing a bat at Hotel Agrabad over breakfast.

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I saw a number of cool modes of transport in Bangladesh.

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Dhaka.

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This was my last meal in Bangladesh. Bloody good it was too.

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Someone did some pretty sweet burnouts on our street.

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Colleague sorts out hipster DJ at Christmas party.

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Watching the Ashes while BBQing was a bit of a highlight. Merry 2014 all!

What’s In Your Bag, Bangladesh edition

I’m a big fan of features like The Verge’s What’s In Your Bag? and The Setup, where folk share the stuff they use everyday in a cheerfully narcissistic fashion.

[Get the full run down on the Bangladesh trip over at sportreview.net.nz]

For the last month I’ve been in Bangladesh with the BLACKCAPS, writing for our website, live-tweeting matches and taking photos and video. This is what I’ve been using – click the picture to see the full size version.

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A – Timbuk2 Messenger. These are bullet proof. I’ve had mine for almost ten years, in which time it’s seen regular use as a cycle-commute bag, and it’s only just starting to show wear now. It’s roomy, it has not-too-many and not-too-few pockets and it has a well-padded shoulder strap, handy when you’re lugging a whole lot of heavy crap around. Recommended.

B – Power board. Plug local adapter into power board. Plug your phones / cameras / computer / iPad into power board. Charge all the things.

C – 3rd generation iPad. It’s an iPad, you know the deal. This is my personal one, and it’s 16GB, WiFi only and white. Mail, Tweetbot, Twitter, Facebook Pages Manager, Chrome, Dropbox, PlainText, CricInfo and Instapaper are the go-tos.

D – 5th generation 120GB iPod classic. I like to take all my music with me. It also holds podcasts and full-res copies of  all my iPhotos as a backup. Comes with in-ear Sennheiser headphones and ancient neoprene Body Glove Palm III case.

E – Cables n USBs n stuff. USB – mini USB, USB – Samsung charger, USB – iPad, iPad wall socket, 2 x 8GB USB drives, Bluetooth headset and a Mac – Monitor adapter which I haven’t used. All these go in a handy neoprene pouch, which it appears I have a thing for.

F – Samsung Galaxy S3. Bloody good phone this, I’ve used this as my main personal and work phone for the last 18 months. Camera, Twitter, Carbon, Instapaper, the Camera, Dropbox, Mail, Chrome, CricInfo, Voice Recorder and pictures of my kids are what get used the most.

G – Samsung Galaxy Mini. Work phone with local sim card. Gets used the most for hot-spotting data.

H – 320 GB Western Digital hard drive. Nothing special. Contains Time Machine backup files and TV and film entertainment.

I – Fossil Blue watch. Nothing special. One thing with cricket is that using phones is banned in the dressing room and viewing areas during matches. Considering I use my phone as my watch normally, the wrist watch has made a come back.

J – Apple Magic Mouse and no-name mouse pad. Nothing like your own mouse and pad to make you feel at home. Good mouse this, and a good size. Say no to painful-to-use ‘travel’ mice.

K – MacBook Power cable and carry case. No matter how carefully you put a power cable inside your bag, when you open it up at the end of your journey, it will have unravelled and tangled itself throughout all your crap and take 15 minutes to pull out. If you take anything from this whole naval-gazing exercise, my tip to you is to find an appropriate carry case for your power cable if you go mobile a lot, it will make your life at least 4% better. You’re welcome.

L – Pens and a notepad. My #1 pen is a Pilot Dr Grip ballpoint with the fine blue refills and my backups are Pilot SuperGrip ballpoints in the fine blue versions. Not anal at all about this stuff, ah har.

M – Panasonic AG – HMC41E and Sony mic. I’m new to shooting video, but this camera does a really solid job.  I don’t really put it in my bag, it has its own one on wheels, plus the tripod.

N – 15″ MacBook Pro. 2.6GHz with Intel Core i7.  Work laptop. I love everything about this machine, with the weight the only quibble. Chrome, Opera, VLC, Text Wrangler, iMovie, PhotoShop, Dreamweaver, Audacity, Dropbox and Quicksilver are the most-often-most-recently-used.

O – Canon Digital Rebel EOS 40oD with 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses. My personal one. Like video, I am only a very amateur photographer. Luckily the pros stepped in for this tour, but I managed to get some OK shots in the meantime.

 

That’s about it – not pictured are hand sanitiser, insect repellent  and bottles of water, all of which I’m going through like nobody’s business. The only thing I think I’m missing is some kind of bluetooth speaker arrangement for the hotel room.

Luckily, not all of this gets humped around at once, on match days I take the laptop and training days the iPad comes instead etc. It’s been a lot of fun figuring out what is needed when and working completely mobile. The WiFi has been excellent at the grounds and everything has worked, no tech disasters so far, touch wood.

Some guy on the NZ Digital Podcast

A couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to chat to Paul Spain and Sim Ahmed on the New Zealand Digital Podcast.

We talked about the new role and the old role, tools of the trade, advice for folk and businesses thinking about getting into social media and the separation between yer professional and personal activity online. Sim complimented my eyebrows at one point, which was extremely gracious of him.

Recording the show was a lot of fun – thanks to Paul and Sim for having me on, this new off shoot of the popular NZ Tech Podcast looks like it’ll be a worthwhile listen if you’re into This Kind Of Thing.

You can listen to my episode in a variety of fashions here.

You can’t troll a troll

On Wednesday, I was lucky enough to be on Social Media Club Auckland’s When communities go bad panel, along with Anna Connell, Mike Kooge and Chris Keall.

 
The panel. Photo filched from SMCAKL site

Some brief thoughts:

Being trolled is part of the territory for doing corporate social media. Of course, social media is just people. And some people can be dicks, bluntly.

Basically, someone has to be prepared to cop it, and it’s kind of up to you to develop a range of coping mechanisms (hence my ‘harden up’ comment). It gets easier over time! Caring a lot is a bit of a pre-req for doing the job well and properly, but the downside of that is taking the nastier comments to heart and wanting to throw things against things so they break.

The solution? Realise it’s not you, take breaks, make sure you’re well supported by your company. Easier said than done sometimes, but what’s the point of doing a job that’s easy, hey?

Anna definitely  kicked the crap out of me at pithy tweet-able soundbites. Nice work. And Mike showed there’s some excellent thinking and different knowledge out there beyond the usual voices. Well done.

I was most impressed by Chris Keall’s ‘take panel questions from your phone’ paradigm. Typical innovation incubation on the fly by our top tech scribe.

I realise I talked mainly about Telecom examples, rather than the new job (which is going really well BTW). That’s because I honestly haven’t been trolled very much at all in the new role – which is a nice change! The team going well is obviously a big factor, but even so, the ‘other distractions’ don’t seem to have generated much heat online.

I haven’t been to SMCAKL for a while, but it seems to be on the right track, by the evidence presented on Tuesday night. Fair play and all the best to the organisers and sponsors, it isn’t easy putting something like this on.

 
This is the first time I was trolled on the @telecomnz account, about a day after I took the job.