About Jo

I work for the University of Sussex Students’ Union where I’m responsible for our communications and digital channels. I also do freelance work for charities and students' unions, helping them communicate better

#ourSUday – a day of students’ union tweeting

On Thursday 30th January I’ll be coordinating a 24 hour tweeting project for students’ unions across the UK to showcase what they do.

The project, using the #ourSUday hashtag, aims to highlight the variety of things we do.

Students’ unions, associations and guilds across the UK will be tweeting a running commentary of our day to day activities. This is based on similar ‘tweetathons’ by councils, police forces and the UK housing sector.

I was originally planning to do this for the University of Sussex Students’ Union where I work to try to give an insight into what we do and how we operate. I realised it would be fairly easy to get other students’ unions involved to and that it would be a good way to show what we do across the sector.

Often people at our own universities aren’t aware of what students’ unions do (and sometimes, that they even exist!). I’m hoping that #ourSUday will help correct this.

On the day, I’m expecting tweets like this:

  • Officer team meet to discuss the proposed new cycle lanes #oursuday
  • A student has visited the Advice Centre to get their housing tenancy agreement checked to ensure it is fair #oursuday
  • Emily, Shop Supervisor, adds more hoodies to the shop’s display – they’ve been very popular recently! #oursuday
  • The evening team take over in our bar. They’re just some of the hundreds of students we employ #oursuday
  • The hockey team have just started warming up for their weekly fitness training session #oursuday
  • Another busy day in our Finance Office as they send out cheques for the stuff we’ve bought this week #oursuday

I plan to sift through and collect some of them using Storify.

You can search for #oursuday tweets via Twitter’s search function.

If you have any questions or your students’ union would like to take part please email

January 26th, 2014|Digital|0 Comments|

‘Reading the internet’ – some of my favourite blogs

I was recently asked what my hobbies are and answered ‘reading the internet’. It is how I spend a lot of my free time and I love filling my brain up with new things to ponder (as well as the less highbrow stuff I read!) so I thought I’d share some of my favourite blogs and ask you for your suggestions of other blogs to try.

I read my blogs via an RSS reader which brings everything into one place so I don’t have to remember to visit lots of websites. I use Feedly as it has lots of keyboard shortcuts so I can blitz through my feeds on my computer and a great iPhone app so I can read anywhere. I sort most of these into categories (including one helpfully called ‘blogs’) to help me find particular things or focus on particular topics.

These are just some of the blogs I read regularly. Feedly makes it easy to skip through the headlines of my ridiculously large blog collection so I don’t read every post from every blog but I pretty much read the ones below from cover to cover (there doesn’t seem to be a digital equivalent for that term!)

Why so many blogs? Why so much reading? When I run training sessions about writing for the web I tell people one of the best ways to write better is to read a lot. Reading good (and bad!) stuff online has taught me so much about how to structure my writing, what makes something compelling and the importance of having a clear and consistent voice.

I also love reading and learning new things. Growing up I’d read a book a day (and still can if I have enough time) and would turn the cereal box round on the table so I had something to read while I ate breakfast.

What else should I be reading? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments or on Twitter where I’m @jowalters

Content marketing blogs

Copyblogger@copyblogger – “Solutions for smarter content marketing – Since January 2006, Copyblogger has been teaching people how to create killer online content. Not bland corporate crap created to fill up a company webpage.Valuable information that attracts attention, drives traffic, and builds your business.” – A good focus on the writing side of communications.

Econsultancy@econsultancy – Do you know what is a good idea if your business is about selling content marketing services? Doing content marketing. These guys do it really well with lots of really useful stuff including posts by and featuring my good friend Kelvin Newman.

Email Marketing Tips@aweber – Another example of people who sell stuff for content marketers (in this case, a newsletter system which I’ve blogged about using) using content marketing to sell their stuff. They’ve also featured a post written by me (lucky them!)

The Guardian: Blogging – This feed picks out all Guardian articles tagged with ‘blogging’ so it is a good mix of techie geek stuff and current affairs.

HubSpot’s Inbound Hub@hubspot – Practising what they preach these guys post all the time so you have to sift through to find the stuff that is relevant to you but their posts are really useful, use a mix of formats and are really easy to read (as you’d expect when you describe yourselves as pioneers of inbound marketing!)

Men With Pens@menwithpens – “World class websites and copywriting – Enjoy 1,000+ articles geared to your content-marketing, writing, freelancing or small business endeavors” – More writing stuff including writing books.

ProBlogger@problogger – “Blog Tips to Help You Make Money Blogging – In 2002 I stumbled upon an article about ‘Blogging’. I didn’t know it at the time but that moment changed my life.” Frequent posts on a variety of blogging topics focused on making money from blogging. My favourite posts are by site founder, Darren.

Unmarketing@unmarketing – “Scott Stratten is the President of Un-Marketing. He is an expert in Viral, Social, and Authentic Marketing which he calls Un-Marketing. It’s all about positioning yourself as a trusted expert in front of your target market, so when they have the need, they choose you.” – Sometimes snarky, always useful. I’ve blogged previously about his book of the same name which I totally love.

Charity communications blogs

Charity Chap@charitychap – “I help charities use the internet to change the world through social media coaching and training, digital campaigning, and writing inspiring words”

comms2point0@comms2point0 – “comms2point0 is a free online resource for creative communicators in public, private, third sector and HE comms & PR” – Focuses on local government stuff but is really transferable to charities and students’ unions. Definitely worth following on Twitter as they share lots of good stuff from around the web. Also use fabulous vintage images to illustrate their posts.

The Democratic Society@demsoc – “The Democratic Society is an independent membership organisation. We promote democracy and new forms of governance through citizen participation, debate and building bridges between those who ‘know’ and those who ‘do’” – Whilst not directly relevant for every charity (though definitely useful for people working in students’ unions) there are some interesting themes relating to engagement and participation which are broadly transferable.

Higher Education Network: The Guardian – @@GdnHigherEd – “Ideas, insight and debate from the global higher education community” – Obviously this one is for a fairly specific sector but the Guardian’s networks highlight the benefits of having a clearly identified niche and of pulling together lots of different contributors.

The Non-Profit Marketing Blog@Network4Good – “The Nonprofit Marketing Blog is managed by the nonprofit marketing and advisory teams at Network for Good. Our goal is to bring you the best in nonprofit marketing trends, fundraising techniques, technology developments and amazing nonprofit examples to help, encourage and inspire the do-gooders of the world. We’re here to help you effectively engage your communities and win hearts and minds—and donations.”

Voluntary Sector Network: The Guardian – @GdnVoluntary – “Insight, advice and best practice from the community”

Feminist blogs

Feministe@Feministe – “In defense of the sanctimonious women’s studies set – Feministe is one of the oldest feminist blogs online designed by and run by women from the ground up.”

Feministing@Feministing – “Young feminists blogging, organising, kicking ass”

Jezebel@Jezebel – “Celebrity, Sex, Fashion for Women. Without Airbrushing” – Definitely one of my favourite sites due to the range of topics they cover and high sarcasm content (and the fact they talked about the random bus thing I was involved in). Their headlines are some of my favourite on the internet. They also post cute animal pics which scores points with me.

Lifestyle & interiors blogs

Apartment Therapy@AptTherapy‎ – “Helping people make their homes more beautiful, organized and healthy by connecting them to a wealth of resources, ideas and community online”  – Beautiful beautiful houses, DIY and design things.

Carolina Charm – @C_Marcellino – Christina blogs about her life, house, dog, family, parties and holidays.

House*Tweaking@housetweaking – “Because home doesn’t happen overnight” – One of my top three not work-related blogs (along with Young House Love & Manhattan Nest). Dana writes about doing up her house, blogging and her super cute family.

Manhattan Nest@danielkanter – Daniel blogs (amongst other things) about doing up his newly purchased old house and his dogs with a healthy dose of friendly sarcasm. Essentially the trifecta for my recreational blog-reading.

The Planned Adventure@ruthlgarner – my friend Ruth writes about her adventures and beautiful things.

RedneckModern – “a mid-century modern restoration resource” – I love mid-century modern style and these guys share some amazing houses, interiors and furniture.

Young House Love@younghouselove – “Wut up. We’re Sherry & John. Just your average married couple with a lively three year old, a moody chihuahua, and a love of all things home. Here’s where we chat about transforming our house, living in it, and all the random bits in between.” – YHL ooooooozes Sherry & John. I’ve never met them but feel like I know them as their site has such a consistent and distinct tone that feels completely authentic. They also share family stuff at Young House Life.

Productivity blogs

The first blogs I really got into were about productivity stuff, largely Getting Things Done, but these days they are just part of my sprawling feed collection.

Lifehacker@lifehacker‎ – “Tips, tricks, and downloads for getting things done” – I love Lifehacker’s mix of topics which ranges from DIY to tech stuff and their concise writing style. A tip I emailed in even featured in one of their round-ups. Basically a productivity expert.

Unclutterer@unclutterer – “Unclutterer is the blog about getting and staying organized. A place for everything, and everything in its place is our gospel” – Appeals to my organising/list-making side.

Other blogs

Various Google blogs including Google Analytics, Gmail, Google for non-profits for updates on the Google things I use. I also read blogs for other tools I use including Remember the Milk.

Mind Your Language@guardianstyle – The blog of the Guardian’s style guide editors. A must for grammar and writing nerds and particularly great on Twitter

The Obvious by Euan Semple@euan – “I called it The Obvious? when I wrote anonymously and chose the name to reflect the fact I have to overcome my inhibitions about stating the obvious!” – One of the most recent additions to my collection after reading Euan’s great book, ‘Organizations Don’t Tweet, People Do‘. Euan writes about the power of digital and social tools for people and organisations.

This column will change your life – @oliverburkeman– “Oliver Burkeman investigates routes to mental wellbeing” – Interesting and funny insights into psychology and lifestyle theories.

I’ve also subscribed to the Guardian feeds for David Mitchell, Laurie Penny, Charlie Brooker, Rebecca Front and Mark Thomas as they write funny and/or interesting and/or thought-provoking stuff.

Silly blogs

Some of the more random stuff I follow…

ANIMALS TALKING IN ALL CAPS – “It’s just what it sounds like” – Yes it is.

BuzzFeed@BuzzFeed – I pretend I read this so I can be up to date on youth culture and internet trends for work purposes. Really I just like lists of animal gifs. Actually though I’ve been experimenting with Buzzfeed style ‘list posts’ in my writing for Sussex Students’ Union which seem to be going down well.

Clients From Hell@clientsfh – “A collection of anonymously contributed client horror stories from designers”

What have I missed out?

Don’t forget to let me know what else I should be reading online in the comments or on Twitter – @jowalters


Data-driven decision-making

Ashamed of having to write ‘blogs sporadically at’ in a few profiles recently I am determined to blog more regularly about the thoughts floating around my head.

This is a somewhat cop-out blog post however as it is just pointing to a conference session I ran at Students’ Unions 2013 – a national conference for students’ union staff and officers.

I pitched several sessions (never shy about waffling on in front of a room of strangers who are bound by social norms to stay until the end then clap) and was asked to talk about how we can use data to help with communications decision-making. You can view slides from the presentation on SlideShare though my presentation style means they’re quite light on text and heavy on random images!

I will endeavour to write a more lengthy post including my thoughts on some of the topics I covered but for now just enjoy the colourful pictures and imagine how long it took me to find them all on Flickr…



July 3rd, 2013|Digital|1 Comment|

A tiny little love letter to social media

A tale told largely via screenshots (aka lazy blogging)…

Facebook picture of Brighton map

The map I posted on Facebook

I put this picture (right) up on the Students’ Union’s Facebook page to highlight changes proposed by the local council which are likely to have an impact on housing for students and graduates in the local area…

… and it was soon shared by students and attracted lots of comments (not all favourable!) I then got this message (below) from Tom, a former elected Communications Officer for the Students’ Union (back in the glory days when I was the Activities Officer);

The Brighton picture sums up the impact of social media on membership engagement

and it highlighted to me too the difference that social media has made for membership engagement.

Pre-social media it would’ve taken longer for the message to get out, we wouldn’t have been able to see and respond to people’s comments and they wouldn’t have been able to pass it on so easily.

I <3 social media (and not just because 90% of it is cat-based)



July 13th, 2012|Engagement|0 Comments|

… and it so it continues…

My response to the whole ‘bus babe’ thing is now online at the Guardian. Sadly when I submitted it I was warned the comments might get a bit heated and it looks like they are. Contrary to some of them I wasn’t paid for my response.

This is my original submission:

In the past week I’ve been to the cinema twice (The Artist & The Descendants – both fairly good), stocked up my fridge (meatballs & pizza on the menu this week) and arranged to catch up with friends. Oh and been called “an irate woman”, “a daft woman”, a “silly, silly woman” told I “must look [like] the old back of a bus”, to “GET A LIFE” and that “I need an operation, to remove the chip from [my] shoulder” – all by people I don’t know and have never met.

What is my crime? Just politely contacting my local bus company to let them know that I don’t like it when their bus drivers use terms such as ‘love’, ‘darling’ and ‘babe’. I pointed out that I generally find their drivers friendly and courteous but that when some of them use that language I find it demeaning. I wasn’t angry, I didn’t ask to make a formal complaint, I wasn’t trying to get anyone into trouble, I’m not trying to get anyone fired, I didn’t threaten legal action – I just thought they might like to know how the actions of some of their staff made me feel.

I received a prompt and friendly response agreeing that it wasn’t really appropriate language and not something the company would condone. They promised to let drivers know that this sort of language isn’t appreciated and I didn’t really think much more of it until my local radio station mentioned on Facebook that drivers had been asked not to call people babe. From there I spotted it in our local newspaper, the Metro, the Mail Online, found it was discussed on Loose Women and various local radio stations.

The thing I find weird is that I don’t really think this is news; I just sent some feedback to a company. It seems that people find the idea that language can affect others a bizarre concept and that it is ‘just political correctness gone mad’ (that gem came up a few times). Much of the coverage and comments paints me as some angry woman who should be grateful for the apparent compliment. I didn’t make it a gender issue, the coverage and comments created a gendered issue.

Thing is though, I personally find terms like ‘babe’ coming from men over-familiar, sexist and patronising. I’m allowed to interpret their words in that way, it doesn’t make me irrational or over-sensitive. It doesn’t mean I don’t have a sense of humour or that I should be grateful for the attention. It is interesting to note that lots of the critical comments are from men.

I’ve had lots of feedback from other women saying that they feel the same on this issue and that they’re glad that I bought it up. I’ve also been insulted by complete strangers online. When considering my response to the issue and coverage I was worried that I might be the target for further criticism and insults. There is a sense in some of the comments that I should just shut up and ignore it when people use language I don’t consider appropriate. I wonder how much of this is because I am a woman and am expected to ‘get over it’ because it is ‘just banter’.

I’m not suggesting that bus drivers or other men who say babe to women they don’t know are evil misogynistic women-haters and I’m equally not saying that all women should be furious if it happens to them. I am suggesting however that language changes over time – there are words in common use 20 years ago that wouldn’t be accepted now – and that, as a woman, I should not be expected to meekly accept words from men that make me feel uncomfortable. I should also be happy to provide this feedback without being attacked.

I’m not expecting to change the language and behaviour of everyone, just as when I contacted the bus company I didn’t expect (or want) them to issue a list of ‘approved’ words and turn the drivers into robots (the latter is an accusation levelled at me by an unnamed driver). I just hoped it might make some people reconsider how their words might be interpreted by others.

You can join in the conversation about this on Twitter using the #dontcallmebabe hashtag

And now for something completely different

So today was a fairly normal until my email to my local bus company went slightly viral in the news. I basically took the afternoon off work to respond to it and watch bemusedly as it grew and travelled online. I certainly didn’t expect to be searching Twitter for ‘bus babe’ when I woke up this morning.

When I thought it was just my local paper that was covering the ‘story’ I thought about sending them a response and maybe creating a jokey hashtag but as it spread further than that I set up a tumblr to keep track of the coverage – and a hashtag #dontcallmebabe. My response will be posted on the Guardian website tomorrow (so now I’m basically Charlie Brooker right?)

I guess that some of this isn’t that unrelated to things I blog about; customer service and the internet. Normal (sporadic) digital marketing posting will resume shortly but for now I just thought I’d post about my (very very small) brush with internet fame.

Clandon Wood – branching out into digital marketing

Clandon Wood is a 31 acre area of new native woodland, wildflower meadows, lake and wetland in Surrey due to open in May 2012. It will be planted and landscaped to attract wildlife, accommodate natural burials and provide new habitats for people to explore. They aim to appeal to nature lovers, school groups, people looking for natural burials and people who just want to enjoy the beautiful woodland.

As a relatively new project, Clandon Wood are keen to learn how they could use social media to attract and involve people. With lots of planning and action required to develop the site and their services, they are after some quick, easy and effective solutions that won’t take any more than 30 minutes per day.

These are some of my suggestions for them to consider. They’re super brief at the moment to give them some ideas about what they want to focus on…


Their temporary website is online now at and a new one is on the way.

It’ll need to contain relevant keywords to help people find it via search engines. These should cover all of the aspects of the project – burials, nature, woodland – as well as local keywords such as Clandon, Guildford and Surrey.

They should follow basic SEO principles such as getting links from relevant, quality sites and producing regular effective content. They might want to use a blog format to update visitors on the development of the site and day to day activities once it is up and running.

They can integrate Facebook & Twitter to their site, either through clickable icons or with embedded content featuring their latest posts.

They could make use of a free Adwords voucher which are available from time to time. This would allow them to experiment with Google’s paid search to see if they should continue to use it in the future to drive visitors to their website.


If they’re looking to build a community of like-minded and/or local people, Clandon Wood should consider setting up an email newsletter. This could be segmented to allow people to subscribe to different aspects of the business or follow the development of the site.


Clandon Wood are already on Twitter – @clandonwood – and chatting to people but a quick look over some Twitter basics might be useful to get to grips with how mentions work (where you put someone else’s username first in a message mostly to them to avoid clogging up people’s feed with conversations). They could also change the name on the profile from an individual staff member to the organisation’s name.

They can search for relevant people to follow based on the different areas of what they do. This could include local organisations, nature organisations and those related to death and burials. This will also help by finding useful and interesting information to retweet from others to add variety to their Twitter output.

They could set up searches for keywords on Twitter to find people talking about relevant topics and local issues. This can be easily done using software such as Tweetdeck. There are plenty of apps for smartphones too which allow you to keep an eye on things on the go and easily respond.


I’d suggest Clandon Wood set up a Facebook page which is the best format for businesses (rather than Facebook groups or personal profiles). This can be used to post updates and photos and gather people interested in what they’re doing.

I always recommend not auto-posting between Facebook and Twitter if possible as posting separately allows you to make the most of each format, e.g. posting photos directly to Facebook and keeping within Twitter’s character limit.

Other ideas

Clandon Wood could think about using Pinterest to share beautiful images of the woodland and collate images that are relevant to what they do. More and more brands are experimenting with Pinterest (and I personally spend faaaaar too much time looking at beautiful images there)

They can set up Google Alerts to keep an eye on people talking about them (with a [Clandon Woods] search) and other relevant search terms if they want to stay updated on other relevant topics too.

They should set up a Google Places entry to help people find them via location-based searching.

It sounds like video and photos could be used to showcase the location and services on offer.


In terms of a routine for Clandon Wood, this is what I’d suggest initially;


  • Check Facebook & Twitter for people requiring a response (and respond!)

A few times per week

  • Post interesting, relevant information to Facebook & Twitter
  • Keep an eye on Google Alerts and saved Twitter searches for mentions of Clandon Wood/related topics


  • Post a blog update

Final thoughts

Clandon Wood’s plan will depend on their objectives and the amount of time they have available to sustain their digital marketing activities.

Once their activities are more developed they can branch out (no woodland pun intended!) and measure the impact of their activities to test what is working best and where to focus their efforts.

January 24th, 2012|Digital|1 Comment|

Twitter + Choir = Awesome


I totally love this video by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra Chorus. They asked, via Twitter, for tips to keep warm in Calgary and turned them into a song.

A great way to promote themselves by doing something a bit different…

December 11th, 2011|Digital|0 Comments|