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Things of note for the week ending Friday, June 14th, 2019. 

Newsletter #300: Introduction 


Hello and welcome to issue #300 of Five things on Friday.

The keen-eyed among you would have perhaps noticed that this did not go out last week, as originally promised. Alas, it was a long week (of illness recovery) and weekend (went to Manchester to Muse, more on that later) and when it came to sitting down to write the latest effort, given the significant number, I figured it deserved a more considered approach... over and above my standard last minute Sunday night rushing - AMIRITE? 

Exactly. 

Truth be told I hadn't noticed the number sneaking up.

Most weeks, I draft this thing in TextEdit, copy and paste it all over into MailChimp, add links, and then update the numbers before hitting send. It was only when a handful of you (you know who you are) wrote back after like, issue 295-7ish, saying how much you were looking forward to the 300th edition did I then realise...

'WHAT WILL YOU DO TO CELEBRATE?' They asked. 
'Celebrate?' I replied. 'I've no idea'

A few suggestions came back and I put it to a poll.
This entirely scientific (representative of about 5% of readers) said 'Buy Whatley a pint' - which is super lovely of you. No, really - thank you. 
 
So what do you do when people say they want to buy you a pint? 

Three things. 

First, I looked at Ko-Fi (a platform that I use to buy coffees/pints for devs that I like (hello Ishtar Commander and Braytech). I tried that and while I now have a Ko-Fi page where you can legit buy me a coffee, it turns out that, upon testing it, we realised that PayPal takes a good 50p or so before that coffee gets to me. So we're looking at a single espresso... tops. So that's out of the window. 

Next, I found out this week that you can set up monetary contribution pages via Monzo. I got a Monzo account forever ago but rarely (read: never) use it. But, thanks to a collection for a leaver at the office this week, I found out that I have a page that you can just throw money at. That page is right here. AFAIK no one takes a cut of this one. So if you wanted to buy me a pint to say thanks for the newsletters, here is another way to do this. 

NOTE: if a lot of you do this, I'll probably buy one pint out of the pot then give the rest to CALM

Third, and finally, I figured that maybe, if you're in the UK then maybe you might want to grab a pint IN PERSON. If that sounds like something you might like to do then hit reply to this email and we'll get something in the diary.

NOTE: this might be in Q3/Q4 (breakfast is better). 

So there we are.

That is about as much as I'm going to do for FToF #300.

You can: 

- Buy me a pint (and give to PayPal). Or don't.
- Buy me a pint (and give to charity). Or don't.
- Buy me a pint/breakfast/breakfast in person. Or don't.

Or just passively read this newsletter and enjoy the free fun as much as you like (this was never part of the value exchange in the first place anyway) :) 

Thanks for reading, thanks for subscribing, thanks for replying (to those that do). I guess here's to the next 300 issues.


Right, enough faff (for now at least), let's crack on...

WITH THE THINGS!
1. THIS WEEK AT FACEBOOK

Another week, another negative story about Facebook.

This time rumours ABOUND that the reason why Facebook is so keen to get a deal settled with the Federal Trade Commission is that there is a concern that perhaps the FTC has got its hands on some emails which might, as the Wall Street Journal states 'would be harmful to Facebook' 
This is interesting for a few reasons.

1. Facebook's earlier behaviour coming back to bite itself on the backside again? Shock. Horror.

2. I pitched a piece about Facebook and how the feed is changing forever (when the new version rolls out in the next few months) but within a few days of getting the nod, the fire went away because I just went off the idea of writing about Facebook-for-brands completely. It's a bit 'Are we the baddies?'. Y'know?

3. It reminds me, again, of how the politicians are coming for the platforms and I wonder if on this occasion at least, the FTC might be minded to not chase the easy settlement and instead make life difficult for the Zuck-machine instead.

One to watch.

 
2. BIRKENSTOCK IS NOT INTERESTED IN YOUR COLLABORATIONS

Let's talk about long-lasting brand value. 
To be clear, I am not a fan of ugly-chic shoes like these - the first part of their descriptor should tell you why... but!

This collection of points from multiple stories/interviews with Birkenstock really is a gold mind of excellence.

This one is particularly on point.  

"As [they] told the Financial Times just this month, “What most [brands] do is create short-term buzz by putting logos on commercial products.” It’s prudent to be picky, he argues. So, the company turns brands down … big name brands like Vetements, for example, the pet project of Balenciaga creative director Demna Gvasalia. Birkenstock also turned down a collaboration with Supreme, which could very well be the buzziest streetwear brand in the world, with its bouncer-flanked stores and incessantly sold-out wares.


“It was never about function for them, just logos,” Klaus Baumann, Birkenstock’s chief sales officer, speaking about Supreme, which regularly draws long lines of consumers outside of its store every week on Thursday when it “drops” new products, including collaborations. “These were not product people.”

Birkenstock’s management is seemingly unimpressed by such antics. 

Not mincing words Baumann states, “If I put a bouncer outside our doors on Saturday and regulate letting people in, I too could have a queue outside.”  


Wonderful. 
3. SUBMITTED WITHOUT COMMENT

Almost.
The first poster for WONDER WOMAN 1984.

HOOK IT INTO MY VEINS.

IT IS GLORIOUS.

Bring it, Patty
4. GOOGLE STADIA 

Google announced its first proper and meaningful foray into gaming, Stadia, back in March. Last week however we got an in-depth look at what to truly expect, a release date was punted, a price point was dropped, pre-orders opened and well, the thing is actually real now. 
It promises a lot. And for not much initial layout at all.

And I am FASCINATED by it. 

The newly announced 'Founder's Edition', gets you three months of Stadia Pro (think of this like Netflix but you have to pay for the movies as well as rent the streaming to get them - an interesting proposition that may or may not work, we'll see), a three-month buddy pass to share Stadia with a friend, the controller, a Chromecast Ultra... oh, and the complete version of Destiny 2 (including Shadowkeep, for those paying attention at the back).

Let's review:

The game and the Chromecast Ultra on its own is just shy of £100. The Stadia Pro founder's edition is £119. That's the controller, the three months of streaming, and whatever other goodies come with it when it launches for £19. Not effing bad. 

If you've a passing interest in gaming and (most importantly) have a decent internet connection, then I'd strongly recommend taking a look at this.

Worst case, it ends up in the Google Graveyard.

Best case, it turns out to be amazing AND gives the incumbents a kick up the backside to truly deliver when it comes to next gen. So far so good...

OH, and in case you're wondering - yes of course I've pre-ordered.

I'll be on Stadia in November. Come find me. 


PS. You can find out more about the whole thing on this 30min 'Stadia Direct' video.

PPS. I'm in the midst of writing another piece about total brand experience, Google, Destiny, and Sony PlayStation - I'm 1500 words in and I don't think I've cracked it yet - expect a link to it here at some point.
5. LESSONS FROM A NEWSLETTER WRITER
What? Did you think I was going to get to THE END OF ISSUE THREE HUNDRED without actually doing some self-indulgent w@nkery?! HA! What do you take me for?

Right, here be (as requested by at least four of you) three things of advice for budding newsletter writers. 

THING OF ADVICE #1:

If you only take one piece of advice from this one section make it be this: just bloody do it already. It sounds so obvious. It is. But I know - TRUST ME I know - what it is like to think of a project and then just SIT on it forever and ever and ever and ever and never really get around to actually doing it because X didn't happen or I couldn't find time for Y or what if Z doesn't like it... all of it is rubbish.

The number of meetings, coffees, 'quick chats' I've had with people who are all like 'Y'know James, I'd really like to start a newsletter about [topic]' - and my response is always 'Go on then'.  Just get it written.

If you're reading this then you KNOW that this thing is never perfect when it goes out. EVER. Some weeks there are typos, links missing, once I forgot an ENTIRE section. Did anyone kick off? NO. Did I kick myself? Of course. But ultimately... IT DOESN'T MATTER.

Just get the thing out.

Writing is thinking is writing is thinking. So write it. Send it. Learn from it. Write another. And another and another and another.  

 
For what it's worth, Five things on Friday started off as a blogging project. Something that would keep me writing - and thinking (again, writing is thinking - did I mention?) - every week. It keeps me sharp. That's where this has come from. So yeah, thing 2...

THING OF ADVICE #2: 

What is your why?

Sorry to get all Simon Sinek on yo molasses but for real: what is your WHY?

Why do you want to start a newsletter?
What's in it for you?
Why why why why why?

Keep yourself honest. You know my why.

What's yours?

Know this and you can't really ever go wrong.

THING OF ADVICE #3: 

What was thing three? Oh. Yeah. Don't give yourself a hard time over it. I mean this could be true of just about anything. BUT when it comes to newsletters, it doesn't matter.

If you've signed up to this via the signup form, then you know I have small print. Hell, it's even baked into the header image of every edition, it says:

"FIVE THINGS ON FRIDAY*

*It doesn't always come on Friday but there's always more than five"


Scroll up and check, you'll see.

The point is, this whole thing is written within made up rules I've made for myself. I make, I break 'em. I want to take a week off? I take a week off. So relax. It doesn't matter. Truth be told: what really does? If it's not life and death then none of it really matters. 

So thing 2. Then thing 1. Then thing 3. In that order. 

And good luck.

Want more advice than the above?

HIT THAT REPLY BUTTON YO.  

THE ESSENTIALS: 

The Essentials are the weekly links to the #MeToo movement. Any article. Any press. Any story. Any white male firing. If it happens, it's here. 

THE BONUS SECTION OF BONUS LINKS FOR YOUR BONUS EYES TO CONSUME. BONUS.  

THERE'S A LOT HERE. BUT THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I TAKE A WEEK OFF. BUT DON'T SKIP A THING. BECAUSE I TELL YOU SOMETHING, THERE BE SOME MAD CRAZY LINKS DOWN HERE AND YOU WON'T WANNA MISS ANY OF IT.

SHALL WE?

LET'S. 

 

CONGRATULATIONS!

You are nearing the end of the newsletter!

Here's a thing. Do you ever, when writing up your own notes,  do you ever find yourself rewriting sentence structure only to discover that you had the point you were making in your notes all along and end up switching back again?

It's an oddity I find myself repeating on occasion. 'What idiot wrote this?' (me), 'Surely I meant this point instead' (that is the point, you just haven't got there yet) 'Oh, I see, you made the point - fine, I'll just rewrite it ...again.' 

Anyone? No? Just me? OK. 

Well, that's a thing I noticed this week that I wanted to share.

The other thing that I've been meaning to share with you ALL for a while now is that you are ALL really bad at writing Out of Office responses. Sending an email on Fridays (let's face it, it's usually over the weekend) means I get at somewhere in the region of 50-150 OoOs back every week. Especially this time of year. 99.99% of them are boring AF. 

So if you take one thing out of FToF #300, make it this: write better auto-responders for your inbox. 

OK, what else did I want to say? 

OH. I remember. 

Thank you

To pretty much all of you who read, write, subscribe, reply, share... all of it. Thank you. Without you, I'd be screaming into the gaping void. With you, I'm doing the same but there are eyes and ears on the other end quietly judging (and occasionally responding).

It makes the futility of it all much less overbearing ;) 

I'm kidding. 

You're amazing. And genuinely, your readership means so much to me. 

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. 

And with that, I'm signing off. 

Have a great weekend, 

Whatley out x
Copyright © 2019 James Whatley, All rights reserved.


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