Claire Dunford Speaks… Social Media and Bloggers… ROCK!

The lovely Claire Dunford is a Social Media Consultant for BOTTLE, and blogs professionally at BOTTLE Uncorked and personally at Scratching That Creative Itch.  When she’s not working on social media campaigns or performing in local theatre productions, she’s often to be found nattering away on Twitter at @rainbowclaire and @BOTTLE_PR. Personally I think she is a little crazy, but in the best kind of way! Enjoy her post! Nicki x

When I was first asked to guest blog for Curly&Candid I had planned to pull together  a piece on the “Day In the Life of a PR.”   But when I was chatting with my friends after a hard week in the office I realized that listening to other people natter about their working day was actually just really dull.

You know the feeling.  Try as you might your interest slips, your mind wanders and slowly you start tuning out…

When I tell people that I’m a Social Media Consultant, their eyes light up.  Within seconds I’m bombarded with “Wow, you mean you actually get paid to be on Facebook,” or “So you can help me understand Twitter,” often followed by “I wish I had your job.”  But I know that if I went into the details of the competitions that I get to create or the profiles that I manage their shining eyes would start to glaze over.  No matter how interesting your job may seem to others, if you live and breathe a role 9 to 5, five days a week when you start talking about it, it won’t be long before you get bogged down in the details.

I’m so lucky I’m part of a really energetic and vibrant team at BOTTLE, but the very best thing about my job are the relationships that I get to build outside of the office.  I’m encouraged to read blogs, chat on Twitter and build relationships throughout the social web and to me that’s fantastic.  No matter how stressful my day has been , through blogging, I can always plunge head first into someone else’s life – laugh at their adventures, extend my sympathy during troubled times, or get involved in an active debate.

And to me that’s what really social media is all about.  It’s not about Klout scores or Wikio rankings (although those shiny badges are lovely), relationships are not something that can simply be boiled down into a statistic – although with my professional hat on they are fantastic for reporting back to clients.

Ultimately ‘interaction’ and ‘engagement’ are just the tip of tip of the iceberg.  The reason blogging is so great is that it allows everyday people a voice, you don’t need to be a trained journalist to write with passion and I’d no sooner instruct someone on how to fill in their diary than dictate what a blogger should write, or how they write it.

So I’d like to say thank you to all the bloggers that brighten my days.  Everyone is an individual, with a diverse range of blogs and styles – which is something to whole-heartedly celebrate.


Don’t rain on my (baby) parade! – the sequel

I’m very pleased to have the second guest-post, or rather the sequel for you, to the first post Don’t Rain On My (Baby) Parade by the lovelies at Mummy Central (who can also be found on Twitter). A brilliant post! Have you ever been made to feel awkward or “freakish” in this way? Enjoy and if you get a moment, do leave them a comment and tell them what you think!


photo by m kasahara via PhotoRee

Don’t rain on my (baby) parade! – the sequel

I was sad and just a little frustrated at a recent blog post I read entitled Please don’t bring your baby to work

The gist of it was that, in an office atmosphere, showing off your newborn to colleagues while on maternity leave is inappropriate and shouldn’t happen.

The writer said: “I just couldn’t inflict it on them, particularly the lady I knew who was desperate to conceive but had been trying unsuccessfully for years and the man who’d had an acrimonious split from his wife who was denying him access to his kids”.

It’s as if you’re saying ‘look at me, I’ve reproduced, aren’t I clever!’, how insensitive can you get?

Well it would seem I’m very insensitive.

Because I fail to see why having a baby is becoming the one happy occasion in life which has to be suppressed at all costs.

Why do those who don’t have children, but claim to be happy with their choice, have to rain on everyone else’s baby parade?

And now it seems even the ones who do reproduce are being shamed into playing it down.

Mother’s are actually nodding in agreement and insisting they wouldn’t be so silly as to even mention their children in front of colleagues.

If we all need to be super sensitive towards those who can’t have kids, or who are fighting over their offspring in their divorce, how do you think they’re going to feel sitting across the office from a pregnant lady for eight months?

Should we conceal the pregnant workers behind a screen? How far do we go?

It’s called the circle of life. It happens in front of you, whether you like it or not.

Before we had our two sons, my husband and I suffered two miscarriages. And faced the possibility something was wrong and we’d never be parents.

I remember the fear, the sadness… and the poor pregnant girl in the office who felt she had to hide her happy news from me, in case she ruined my life.

Even in my misery, I didn’t see why she had to conceal her delight, and when I found out, I congratulated her on her happy condition.

Yes, there are levels of sensitivity and I’m sure pushing a baby into my arms at that time in my distress might have been a step too far.

But that’s the thing about baby visits

Mothers generally wait for people to come and coo over the baby, they read others’ reactions to find out who wants to see the child and who doesn’t.

They don’t march from desk to desk, pulling out photographs of their placenta and insisting everyone sniffs the infant’s nappy to judge whether he needs a change.

My original post on this topic, also here on Curly & Candid was called Don’t rain on my (baby) parade!

The general theme was how women are made to feel like idiots, nutters, baby-obsessed freaks even, for showing off their newborn. Or even referring to motherhood in general conversation.

I was inspired to write about this by friends and colleagues who spent a good amount of time banging on about their precious dogs, their wedding plans, their diets and what they’d eaten that day.

But the mere mention of how your child was settling in at nursery prompted a series of knowing looks and eye-rolling.

I was supportive, I oohed and aaaahed over the perfect Jimmy Choo wedding shoes, I joined discussions on which biscuit had the most calories. I’d even nod and coo over pictures of their pug, while they chose to ignore pictures of my two sons.

(I kid you not, one conversation actually revolved around how a colleague’s precious dog would eat, then take a sh** straight afterwards).

Does the soon-to-be-married woman in an office come under criticism that she might upset her spinster colleague?

Or the girls loudly comparing calories. Do they have to show concern for the desperately thin worker who might be on the verge of an eating disorder?

No – and nobody would expect them to.

We live our lives, celebrating our choices and not meaning to hurt others.

So why do mothers get put under the microscope? Why are our actions branded insensitive, or over-the-top – even when they’re not?

Office colleagues all over the country take fag breaks, spend time on Facebook, on Twitter, on personal calls, without a hint of complaint from others.

But perish the thought a mother and baby might visit and cause a bit of a distraction for half an hour.

In the end, after complaints about just that, new mums where I used to work began bringing their babies into the staff canteen.

Once word got round they were in the building, colleagues could decide whether they had time to pop in for five minutes, to say hello.

What’s wrong with that? Nothing.

OK, so we all know a mum who goes on a bit too much about her little ones, who insists that women aren’t complete unless they experience motherhood.

But why can’t we ignore her? The baby bores don’t have to spoil it for the rest of us.

We don’t allow bridezillas to put us off weddings.

The post which started all of this – the one warning new mums not to take their babies into an office – featured a picture of a frazzled woman sitting at her desk, child on her lap.

As if that would happen – ever.

We’re not talking about running a department, while simultaneously breastfeeding an infant, here.

We’re talking about visiting colleagues who are genuinely interested in seeing what our bump turned into.

And as long as there is an interested audience, I say show that baby off – with pride.