Author’s Archive: Ellie Lovell Page 2

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Today I added a new bird to our list of garden visitors – the Jay. And not just one, but two.

In our old flat, we would regularly see Jays in the tall Beech tree outside the window. But our visitor today was exploring the garden footpath and even jumped up on to the bird feeder to see what was available.

Jay (Luc Viatour /

Jay (Luc Viatour /

That takes the current species count up to 23:

  1. Robin
  2. Wren
  3. Dunnock
  4. House Sparrow
  5. Blue Tit
  6. Great Tit
  7. Coal Tit
  8. Long-tailed Tit
  9. Blackbird
  10. Starling
  11. Goldfinch
  12. Chaffinch
  13. Greenfinch
  14. Blackcap
  15. Chiffchaff
  16. Willow Warbler
  17. Bullfinch
  18. Great Spotted Woodpecker
  19. Magpie
  20. Wood Pigeon
  21. Jackdaw
  22. Sparrowhawk
  23. Jay

I’ve always been a bird-lover.

As a child, my parents took me on lots of walks with the binoculars and the bird book. I didn’t realise at the time that I was learning so much, and I am now quite proud of my ability to tell a Blackbird from a Blackcap.

I get a lot of enjoyment from seeing my feathered-friends in the garden, and whilst as a teenager I used to hide my bird knowledge, I am now happy to embrace and share it with others.

I’m so lucky that we have a lot of bird visitors to our garden in Sutton Coldfield. By my reckoning, we’ve had over 20 different species of bird in our back garden since we moved in at the start of February 2015.

Firstly, the usual garden suspects – the Robin, Wren, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, and Starling.

A pair of Goldfinches

A pair of Goldfinches

Next up, the slightly less usual suspects… The Goldfinches are a daily visitor to our nyger seed feeders – one day I counted as many as 11. We’ve also had the Chaffinch, Greenfinches and a Blackcap. Just today, I was sat at the top of the garden beneath our blossom trees and the Blackcap was just metres over-head, checking out the flowers for insects.

The Chiffchaff and the Willow Warbler are the next on the list. The Chiffchaff (recognisable by it’s call) has been spotted once, but it’s hard to distinguish from some of the less common warblers. So when I saw what I assumed was a Chiffchaff but without any chiffing or chaffing I had to look it up online. I’m pretty sure it was the Willow Warbler.

Next up, my best spots – the Bullfinch and the Great Spotted Woodpecker. The bold and bright Bullfinch visited the garden on 24th March. I assumed it was a one-off, but I have seen it a couple more times since, along with the female (recognisable from it’s more muted colours). The male recently visited the bird feeders whilst we were pottering around in the garden. Obviously not quite as shy as I thought.

And perhaps the visitor who bought the most excitement – the Great Spotted Woodpecker. On Easter Sunday (5th April), my parents were visiting for dinner, and Mom spotted it enjoying it’s Sunday lunch on the fat ball feeder. It’s visited a couple more times since and one day visited three times for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Finally, the bigger birds – the Magpie, Wood Pigeon and Jackdaws. Our house has three chimneys, and two of them have Jackdaws nests (as do many of the other chimneys in the road)! I’ve also seen a male Sparrowhawk sitting on the garden fence – as beautiful as he is, I hope he’s not a regular visitor!

Last but not least, one of my favourite birds – the Buzzard. There’s a nature reserve not far away so we often see up to three Buzzards circling high above the garden. And sometimes they are much lower in the sky, at which point the Jackdaws mob them and chase them from their territory.

I think that makes 22 in total. I haven’t included the Buzzard in my bird count since it’s not technically in my garden. Maybe one day it will be (but I doubt it).

So it’s my third week at Pickle Jar Communications and the first two weeks have been very busy and exciting! Here are some of the things i’ve been doing…

  • I flew up to Newcastle and spent two days in the office getting to know my colleagues and familiarising myself with client projects, systems and processes
  • I attended a workshop with clients in Oxford to help explore different content formats, content values, persona development, customer journey planning
  • I attended a workshop with City University in London to help inform the Social Media Strategy that we are preparing for them
  • I went to the Content Marketing Show in London and heard lots of different organisations, brands and agencies talking about how they are using content marketing and best practise.

And i’ve spent 5 whole days working from home without going mad! I’ve been analysing audience and stakeholder research, preparing a social media strategy, writing up findings from workshops, and writing website copy for an international school in America!

It’s involved a few calls on Skype and GoToMeeting and lots of collaboration on sites such as Realtimeboard, Slickplan, and Gathercontent!

Any tips for remote working gratefully received! Or if anyone wants to pop around for a “meeting” and a cup of tea, visitors to my “office” are always welcome!

It’s been a busy month or so with lots of new and exciting beginnings and changes in my life:

  • I left my role at Birmingham Metropolitan College
  • I got married and became a wife (the word “wife” still sounds weird!)
  • I got a husband (as above!)
  • I went from Miss Lovell to Mrs Lovell (yes, I kept the Lovell bit!)
  • I went on honeymoon to Kefalonia
  • I started work as Head of Content Strategy and Social Media Planning at Pickle Jar Communications!

Here’s to new beginnings…

A little while ago I was visiting a friend and playing with her two children, aged 8 and 4. They introduced me to an iPad/iPhone game called “Dumb Ways to Die” – a great app from Melbourne Metro who have created a simple, fun addictive game with a public safety message!


It was obviously a big hit with the kids, and it didn’t take long for the catchy song/video that was part of the app to get stuck in my head.

The public safety campaign was launched back in 2012 so the song my be familiar to many and at the time of writing, it has had almost 56 million views on YouTube but the game was only launched in May 2013 (according to Wikipedia).

Melbourne Metro did well to capitalise on the popular campaign with a truly engaging mobile app!

An earlier version of the app also included a safety pledge, to reinforce the public safety message but unfortunately this has been removed from the most recent version!


I recommend that you check the game out, not just because it’s fun, but because it’s a great example of how to make a seemingly dull, difficult message, engaging and captivating! So engaging in fact that it has spawned many parodies on YouTube!

You can also see a Case Study about the campaign on YouTube from Australian Brand News:

Who knew train safety could be so much fun?! Have you seen any other examples of seemingly dull messages being made engaging through awesome content?

Freebie in-flight magazines – you reluctantly take one from the air-hostess as you know you will be in the air for at least an hour or two and you might flick through the bland pages of advertising and duty free to pass the time. But what a pleasant surprise when you find a magazine that connects you to a community whilst you are flying through the air.

Let’s Go, the in-flight magazine from Ryan Air, manages to connect you to ideas and people at the perfect time when you are in holiday-mode and thinking about your future adventures. If you’re like me, when booking a holiday you want to know who else has been there, what they thought and any tips for places to visit, eat or drink. Let’s Go gives you all of these things, including the tips from readers. I was very pleasantly surprised.


Want to know what to do whilst in Malta? Where’s the best place to do scuba diving? Which pubs should you visit in Dublin? As you browse the articles, you realise The Let’s Go community are talking about it on Twitter and Facebook and you can join in!


Back on the ground however, I realised that whilst the social media content is very well integrated to the magazine publication, when you explore the Twitter and Facebook presence there is definitely more room for growth and development.  With just over 1500 Facebook fans and 1100 followers on Twitter (at time of publication), they are yet to reach the critical mass needed for a thriving, interactive community, but the potential is certainly there.

With a more conversational tone of voice (including more questions to the community), more regular updates, and some more images of beautiful destinations (who doesn’t want to see photos of beautiful places!) I am sure they will grow their community – particularly over the summer months when we’re all off on our holidays!

I will be following them to see how the community develops (and to ask for some advice on my next holiday!)

So last week I was in Austin, Texas for my second SXSW Interactive experience. I’m not going to go into much detail just now, but thought it would be useful to share a list of the sessions I attended so that I can reflect and elaborate on them at a later stage…

Day One – Friday March 11th

Day Two – Saturday March 12th
Day Three – Sunday March 13th
Day Four – Monday March 14th
Day Five – Tuesday March 15th

That might seem a reasonably impressive list (it’s pretty intense going to so many sessions over five days as there is just so much to learn and see) but to give you some sense of the scale of SXSW for those who haven’t been – the number of sessions that I wanted to see vs. the number of places I was physically able to be at any one time made for some difficult choices. These are the ones I was interested in but couldn’t make it to:

Day One – Friday March 11th
  • My Kindergartner Markets Better Than You #kidsmarket
  • Education 2.0: How Media Drives Your Child’s Success #teenedu
  • Not My Job: The Ultimate Content Strategy Smackdown #notmyjob
  • The Potential of Augmented Reality for Education #eduar
Day Two – Saturday March 12th
  • How Many Rungs? Social Change and the Engagement Ladder #howmanyrungs
  • Using Twitter to Improve College Student Engagement #twesearch
  • Marketing in the Moment #mktgmoment
  • Are Your Customers a Crowd or a Community? #zappos
  • Coming of Age Social: Opportunity of Teens Online #comingofage
  • Social Media Data Visualizations: Mapping the World’s Conversations
  • Bloggers vs Journalists: It’s a Psychologial Thing #bvj
  • All These Worlds Are Yours: Visualizing Space Data #realspace
  • Web Anywhere: Mobile Optimisation with HTML5, CSS3 and Javascript #html5mobile
  • Welcome to the EGOsystem: How Much are You Worth? Brian Solis
  • The Secret Lives of Content Sites #skimlinks
Day Three – Sunday March 13th
  • Too Small, Too Open: Correcting Wikipedia’s Local Failure #localwiki
  • The Science of Influence
  • Influencers Will Inherit The Earth. Quick, Market Them!
  • Media Tomorrow: The Message is the Messenger #personalbrand
  • Recommendation Engines: Going Beyond The Social Graph #discoverytalk
Day Four – Monday March 14th
  • Method Tweeting for Non Profits (and Other Players) #methodtweet
  • I’m So Productive I Never Get Anything Done
  • Everyone’s Wrong About Influence. Except your Customers #sxsw-influence
  • Curation Nation #curationnation
  • OAuth, Open ID, Facebook Connect: Authentication Design Best Practices #authenticatoindesign
  • Visualizing Our Future: Space, Media and Web Exploration
  • The Future of Content is Personal
Day Five – Tuesday March 15th
  • Innovating and Developing with Libraries, Archives and Museums #sxswlam
  • Branded Entertainment: Do Brands Hurt Good Storytelling #brandsvsstories
  • Flexible Morality of User Engagement and User Behaviour #moralflex
  • Real-time Marketing in a Connected World #sxswrealtime
  • The Death of the Brand Website #sxsworgbrandsites
  • Steve Krug Explains It All for You #skrugsxsw

Hopefully I will hunt down some info from the sessions I missed to post here also. If you went to SXSW and attended any of the sessions I didn’t make it to, please do post a link to your notes and let me know your thoughts!

And just for a bit of filtering… my highlights were:

Being surrounded by clever, inspirational, fun people made me feel so alive and highlighted for me how much I like to live by the “work hard, play hard” philosophy. There isn’t really any other option in Austin!

Ok, so a year ago I “found my blogging mojo” at SXSWi in Austin, Texas. A year later, and it hasn’t surfaced much! I think i’m going to just have to admit that I don’t blog any more! But I do tweet (quite a lot!).

I’m heading back out to Texas tomorrow for my second SXSWi and i’m really looking forward to it! You can see an early attempt at my schedule here but you will notice that I currently need to be in about 6 places at once to go to all the talks that I consider to be interesting or useful.

To see which ones I do end up at, follow me @ellielovell or wait for a blog post when I return (although I can’t promise that!).

So it seems that a while ago I lost my blogging mojo – turns out it was just on holiday… in Austin! It’s now back in my possession (for the time being) and over the next few days, I hope to have a few SXSW related blog posts for you.

SXSW is a massive festival in Austin, Texas which includes interactive, film and music events. I was there for the interactive element (12th – 16th March) with a great gang of people from the West Midlands and have come back with a few things to say about the experience. I thought a good place to start would be a list of the sessions I attended (with links to the event details on the SXSW website)…


  1. The Young and The Digital (Book Reading), S. Craig Watkins (details)
  2. Content Strategy: What’s in it for You?, Margot Bloomstein (details)
  3. DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education (Book Reading), Anya Kamenetz
  4. Understanding Content: The Stuff We Design For, Rachel Lovinger, Karen McGrane (details)
  5. Wave and Communication’s (R)Evolution: Better Than Being There, Jay Cuthrell, Daniel Raffel, Jared Goralnick, Casey Whitelaw (details)


  1. The Era of Crowdsourcing: Guiding Principles, Jeffrey Kalmikoff, Scott Belsky (details)
  2. Universities in the “Free” Era, Glenn Platt, Peg Faimon (details)
  3. Mind Control: Psychology for the Web, Ben Scofield (details)
  4. Opening Remarks: Privacy and Publicity, Danah Boyd (details)
  5. BBC Digital Planet Live, Gareth Mitchell, Michelle Martin, Bill Thompson (details)
  6. New Publishing and Web Content, Jeffrey Zedelman, Erin Kissane, Lisa Holton, Mandy Brown, Paul Ford (details)


  1. Africa 3.0: A Look at the Future of a Connected Africa (details)
  2. Influence and Innovate: Transforming Media Education, Cindy Royal, Tyson Evans (details)
  3. CrowdControl: Changing The Face of Media or Hype, Lila King, Pete Cashmore, Randi Zuckerberg, Joseph Kingsbury, Jason Rzepka (details)
  4. Sunday Keynote with Valerie Casey (details)
  5. Fans, Friends and Followers: Creating Your Own Cult (of the Non-Apocalyptic Variety), Scott Kirsner, Gary Hustwit (details)
  6. Improving Social Media with Live Streaming Video, Brad Hunstable USTREAM (details)


  1. Open Science: Create, Collaborate, Communicate, Tantek Celik, Natalie Villalobos, Ariel Waldman, Jessy Cowan-Sharp, Kirsten Sanford (details)
  2. Indirect Collaboration: Collective Creativity on the Web, Tom Lillis, Joe Alterio, Andrea Grover, Joshua Glenn, Riley Crane (details)
  3. Student Start-Ups: Entrepreneurship in the University, Hung Truong, Ellen Chisa, Ben Congleton, Rishi Naryan (details)
  4. Gary Vaynerchuk Presentation (details)


  1. UKTI Digital Mission Great British Breakfast
  2. Pervasive Games and Playful Experiences: Rendering the Real World, Simon Johnson, Clare Reddington, Nina Steiger, Duncan Speakman, Toby Barnes (details)
  3. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, Nicholas Carr (Book Reading) (details)
  4. Interactive Infographics, Eric Rodenbeck, Casey Caplowe, Ben Fry, Shan Carter (details)

(The ones in italics were the most enjoyable/relevant to me and I hope to elaborate on them in a future blog post)

It was a rather packed schedule with so many sessions to choose from for each time slot that it was often hard to narrow it down. Sometimes I would find myself sat in a presentation watching the tweets from another session and having a bit of session-envy! Fortunately much of the content should be available online for me to look up but it doesn’t compare to actually being there!

Anyway, I hope to spend a bit of time over the next couple of days hunting for links to presentations online, reflecting on some of the things I learnt, and writing a few things down including the social aspects and some general comments on SXSW and things I would do differently next time… so please visit again in a couple of days (and hope that my blogging mojo is still with me!)

“The show begins with voices, soft at first then louder, it ends with applause and between these two there is love, laughter, a letter opened, a gun concealed, a joke that runs and runs and after the banquet there’s a ghost and a voice that sings and a soft light and a loud whisper and a kiss that’s just a kiss and a long, long, very long silence that turns into sound and a party and a question and a curtain that closes and there’s history, memories, forgetting, dream and celebration and a fading light in colours that you could never name”

This quote appears in EAT restaurant at Warwick Arts Centre and I love it. I don’t know if it describes a particular play (any suggestions?) but I like to think it summarises life a bit too.

I will try and find out who wrote it as I forgot to write it down last time!

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