Sunday, February 27, 2011

A stressful week, a special video or rather a film, a press release, 23rd February 30 years ago, time to rest, 60.000 readers and other things.

Outside Bea's house where our press conference took place.  

Hello my friends

This week has been the culmination of two months of hard work and the week couldn’t have been more stressful. Now it’s time to relax, something I am not good at, as you can probably guess from reading about my hyperactive life in this blog. In fact today, Sunday, I should have been relaxing but I took the opportunity to do a huge clean out of my walk in closet. I finally decided to say goodbye to the past and chuck out my “fat” clothes as well as others I had been hoarding for donkey’s years. The result is fantastic. And now, of course, there is loads of room for all the new clothes I keep buying, hahaha.

So why has it been stressful you may want to know? Let me start from the beginning as usual as I am a stickler for chronological order in this blog and in my life as you may be aware.

The week started with something very mundane but awfully important. I had an appointment at my dentist for a hygiene session, something I had not done for years and was in dire need of. As I put lipstick on afterwards  for my next appointment that day, the contrast between the red and the white of my teeth was much improved. You might not know but teeth have colours ranging from A1 (the whitest) to D something, probably dark grey. Well my teeth used to be A1 but certainly didn’t look like that before the hygiene session. They may not be A1 anymore but they do  look a whole lot better now.

My next appointment was with QuintaEsencia, our events agency in the centre of Madrid and it was to film me, once again, for the film about the story of Yoigo we were finalising. And here  is another little secret about me. I am a PR professional, but, like most people, do not really like speaking in public or being on camera. Once I’m into the throes of it I think I do it quite well and can even be photogenic but when I am stressed or pushed for time, I generally perform badly. And that is what happened in the first filming. Worried I would express myself badly, I decided to read the text for the two appearances in the video and the result was awful. I knew it but never really had the time or the energy to repeat it but certainly wish I had before showing it to our Swedish colleagues in a mini premiere at the MWC in Barcelona ten days before. But repeat it I had to this Monday as the video was being shown to the employees this Thursday for the first time. Eladio who is my harshest judge was happy with the result this time, as was I and I know now that the video is fine, if not fantastic. It is 30 minutes of the story of Yoigo and is called “The story of the no tricks operator, the story of Yoigo” and is dedicated to all those who believed that a no tricks mobile phone operator was possible. It is full of emotion and passion, is fast paced and I think it is as engaging as it can be, for  a corporate video. The film is a story, where a book opens and out of the book come the people who talk and the images. The content is the chronological sequence of events that have brought Yoigo from being just a promise in the market in 2006 to having over 2 million customers and becoming profitable in 2010, with all the ups and downs that meant. One day I will post it on You Tube but only when we have a version with library music as we don’t have the rights for the music we have used.

The film about Yoigo that we have made and which I worked so hard on.
We finally showed the video to some 120 employees and consultants at the Yoigo Morning (an information sharing and mingling session) on Thursday and people’s reactions were just what we were looking for when we set the objectives of this short film. The emotion on their faces was tangible and some confessed to me they felt goose pimples on many occasions. They also laughed on others and many told me they just loved it. I must say that it has been one of the most challenging projects I have ever worked on but also one of the most satisfying. It was a pleasure to work with Bea, Angel, Ramón and Mariana. Thank you guys, I have learned so much from you.

Monday though seemed never ending. Not only did I have the dentist and the filming to do, I was also responsible that day for a press release on the extension of an agreement with Telefónica on using their networks where we still don’t have our own (don’t worry, we soon will. Now we have 67% of the territory in Spain and at the end of the year we will reach 74%). A press release is always stressful, because it’s not only about writing and approving the text internally (lawyers, product people, technical people, etc) and externally (Telefónica’s people: their lawyers, etc), or even sending it to the press. It’s the ringing or emailing the key journalists in the hope that they will publish it the next day; something you can never rely on for many reasons. Also these days there is far less coverage of corporate information in the written media as this is fast being taken over by internet. Even so, the perception is that if you haven’t achieved any written clippings you haven’t done a good job. I even think this myself, so still strive for the latter which is proving more and more difficult in this digital age. The work on a press release doesn’t stop there either. You also have to inform the employees with an internal news release but first you must get it published on the press section of your website to provide them with the link because you mustn’t flood their email with files! Finally you must publish it on the company FB and Twitter pages as well as the employee FB page. Even then the job is not over as you have to start collecting the clippings on internet and wait until the next day for the written clippings if any and then make a report on all the coverage. Luckily the next day we had 4 written clippings in El País, Expansión, Negocio and El Economista with which I was quite pleased. So now you know all there is behind a simple press release. A lot of people don’t understand what or how a press release works and mix it up with advertising, even thinking you have to pay for what gets published when actually what does get published is far more valuable. That’s why I laughed on Friday when one of our partners sent me an email saying they would like to publish the new agreement with them in the media. Only journalists can publish, not people who work in companies. But how can I explain that to him I wonder? Or should I even bother? Maybe I should just direct him to my blog? Don’t think, by the way, that I do this all alone. I outsource a lot of the job to both my PR agency, Ketchum and my events agency QuintaEsencia without whom I would find it impossible to work as I am a one woman show at Yoigo. Here, if you are interested and can read Spanish, is the press release we issued on Monday.

If Monday was never ending, Tuesday was busy too as I was working on preparations for two big events on Thursday. It was spent on both these as well as last minute changes to the video. That night though I was able to relax at home with the family and all four of us watched Real Madrid only draw with Olympique de Lyons in the last eight of the Champions League. Coincidentally Benzama, the new striker for the Spanish team, and who is actually from Lyons in France, scored their only goal. I must confess I wasn’t that interested in the match and just wanted to relax on the sofa in the lounge with my family who, owing to the stress of my job in the last two months, have been rather abandoned by me I’m afraid.

Wednesday came and it was the middle of the week. It brought also a burst pipe under the floor of our study on the ground floor and we had to call the insurance company. We had noticed damp for a while and this is what the floor looked like when the plumber came that day!  Thank goodness Eladio is always at home to take care of these sort of things.  Thank you Eladio.

The burst pipe in our study, very inconvenient I must say

But Wednesday was not just a normal day in the middle of the week in February. It was the 23rd February and the 30th anniversary of the Spanish coup d’etat or “golpe de estado” which happened in 1981 and which I mentioned last week. It is now known as “23F”. It happened during the transition from Franco’s dictatorship to democracy and was a very critical moment in the history of recent Spain. A group of military men got together and planned a coup to form a military junta government similar to that of Franco’s times, hoping or thinking they had the support of the young King of Spain, Juan Carlos I which it turned out they didn’t. The now very famous and extremely right wing military activist, the Lt. Col. Tejero, together with a group of civil guards, assaulted the Spanish parliament just after 18h that day, armed with guns. Amazingly the assault, or at least the beginning of it, was seen on television as the Spanish TV cameras were there filming the parliamentary investiture of Leopoldo Calvo Sotelo after Adolfo Suarez resigned as Prime Minister. You can see the video here if you have not seen it before. So on Wednesday this week, the event was commemorated and radios and TV stations throughout the nation debated on the events of 30 years ago which could well have lead Spain to another dictatorship. If you lived through that event, especially in Spain, you will always remember what you were doing when it happened. As I told you last week I first heard about the coup whilst watching the 9 o’clock BBC news in England and couldn’t believe my eyes. I rushed to the phone to ring Eladio who was a young priest at the time in a seminary in Leon in Spain and of course I couldn’t get through as the telephone lines were either down or constantly engaged. But that of course is history now, although I, like many people, will never forget it.

The Coup d'Etat in the Spanish Parliament on 23rd Feb 1981, this week was the 30th anniversary

The next day was my big day and I had to be at work early for the Yoigo morning I mentioned earlier. That would have been enough on my plate for one day but on Thursday we had another and even bigger event. We were to launch a great new smartphone tariff for heavy users called “La del cuatro” at a press conference just afterwards.

If a press release is complicated, a press conference is a lot more complicated but I won’t go into the details here. Suffice it to say the reason for holding one is if you have big news to communicate. Of course you just never know what the outcome in media coverage is going to be. That’s the big difference between PR and marketing and my speciality is the former. You don’t pay for media coverage so you can’t guarantee what will get published whereas you pay for advertising and you decide what gets published. I far prefer the former which is much more exciting, risky, satisfying and at the same time more credible for the reader.

Well Yoigo is not a conventional operator or company and neither am I a conventional person.  Thus my PR events are not conventional either. The press conference on Thursday, took place at someone’s house believe it or not and in our invitation we described the venue as “a friend’s house”. It happened to be Bea’s from QuintaEsencia. She showed me her home recently and I loved it and she offered it to me for whenever I wanted to do an event there, so when we had to think of place for last week, I jumped at the offer. It’s a big spacious and light flat in the Madrid architectural style of the beginning of the last century which I love and of course it’s in the centre of town.

The invitation to our press conference this week. 

Coincidentally it is where parts of the very popular Spanish TV series about a family during the transition from dictatorship to democracy, called Cuentame, are filmed. As this is a series I love and watch and Suzy too, we had our photo taken at the entrance after the press conference was over which is the one illsutrating this blog.  By the way you can see the rest of the photos of the event here.

The press conference went well with quite a good turn out and my stress should have ended there but it didn’t. Afterwards I had to go and pick up my new car and Suzy was coming too as I hate driving a new car and need some time to adapt, unlike her who is afraid of nothing. The afternoon turned out to be a bit of a nightmare because of time and traffic. We were supposed to pick up the car at 16.30. Suzy had a lesson to give far away at 17.30 and I had an appointment at 19.30 or so I thought and equally far away with a colleague, Juan Manuel, to go over a presentation we had to give the next day. It turned out he had understood 18.30. Picking up of the car should have been a pleasure. I mean we were going to get a wonderful new BMW but you know what? I didn’t enjoy it at all because I was forever looking at my watch and was not able to concentrate on what the lovely sales lady was explaining about the car which looked more to me like a very complicated tank with endless buttons and controls I was not familiar with. The whole process took over two hours which meant that Susana missed her lesson. I thought I would be on time to meet Juan Manuel but ended up arriving an hour late because we took the wrong motorway and were stuck in traffic most of the way. Thus I got home very late, stressed, frustrated, tired and hungry and a bit worried about not having practised my presentation enough for the next day. In fact I wasn’t going to enjoy the new car at all until the weekend when I had the time and patience to master how everything works. Now I love it.

The new car on the left, the old car on the right. 

My busy and stressful week didn’t come to an end until Friday lunch time. But first I had to go through the final event of the week, the presentation of Yoigo 2015 to our strategic partners. Thus I got up at 6 o’clock to leave the house and get to work early and be able to practise with Juan Manuel on our joint presentation which we did in the form of a dynamic interview. Amazingly I was there earlier than I thought, at 8.15 and was able to check the media coverage from the press conference the day before: not bad, 3 written clippings and loads on internet of course. At the event tt was good to see many familiar faces amongst our suppliers, not least Ilkka, a Finn who reads my blog. Poor Ilkka had to listen to everything in Spanish. But I hope the rest enjoyed our presentations.

The presentation of Yoigo 2015 to our suppliers on Friday, the last event of this stressful week

The event finished at midday and I was able to go home and enjoy lunch with my family. I was looking forward to a well deserved rest and time to unwind after the hectic last two months. I found myself still working in the afternoon until I said stop. I then decided to go offline, go for a walk with Eladio and Norah, start reading a new book and then in the evening to go to the cinema. We went to see the new film, 23F which we were very interested to see of course. We went to the big cinema complex we usually go to in Majadahonda called Quinoccio and I am telling you this because we just couldn’t believe that when we got there we were alone in the cinema watching the film. That has never ever happened to us. Did I like it? I did, although it seemed to me to be more like a documentary and I am afraid to admit I fell asleep at the end. To give credit to the film I think this was more because of my acute tiredness. Afterwards we had acute hunger too as it was after ten o’clock, so we went to fill our stomachs to La Alpargateria, one of our favourites as you know and, to note, the only meal out this week.

The film 23F which we saw alone at the cinema on Friday!

The weekend came and I was able to continue resting and actually we didn’t do that much. Eladio’s brother, Isidro and his wife, Yoli were coming to Madrid to bring their daughter and my god daughter, Alicia to take her flight to London where she will be working as an au pair for the coming six months. They were going to stay at another brother’s house, Jose Antonio’s, but because of lack of communication or organisation or whatever, very annoyingly we weren’t going to see them which rather bothered me. Fortunately when I was doing the big spring cleaning in my walk in closet this morning, Yoli called to say they were on their way back to Leon but would call in to see us as they had brought us some air dried beef, called “cecina”. Thus they paid us a nice but very brief and surprise visit this morning where all we could offer them was a cup of coffee which is a bit sad actually as they are family and we hardly ever see them.

A very flying and surprise visit from Isidro and Yoli this morning

So yes today I did some spring cleaning which is very appropriate as spring is definitely in the air and the weather is getting better these days. You can see the buds on the trees and even some of our wild plum trees are blossoming as you can see in this picture I took this afternoon.

There is blossom in our garden which means that spring is on its way

We didn’t do much else today. Of note we took the old Volvo XC90 back to the office and sadly said goodbye to it. But we weren’t upset really as we are going to enjoy the new BMW much more. Of that I am sure. What did upset us, though, was a call from Susana on our way back. She rang to tell us that “Abu” had died. Abu, short for “abuelo” which means “grandpa” in Spanish, was the girls’ childhood friend, Carmen’s grandfather with whom she has always lived. He used to be our neighbour when we lived in the previous house and I will always remember him because he was a real character. He used to wear a cowboy hat and drive a green open estate car and would spend most mornings and afternoons at the nearby club. Goodbye Abu, rest in peace. I am very sorry for your family, especially Carmen or “Curry” as we always call her.

And here I am now at the end of this week’s blog. I cannot end before I tell you that I now have 60.000 readers which I think is an awful lot of people to read an anonymous person’s blog. I have access to see which countries my readers come from, but of course do not know who you are. The top four countries where my readers come from are always the same; the USA, Spain, India and the UK. Thank you all for reading it  and I hope you enjoy this week’s post as much as the others.

Until next week, your friend,


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