15 Nov 2013
As we struggle with our hangovers after the 20th Channel Awards, I truly feel proud of the event that I have watched evolve over my 14 years working on CRN.
Last night around 1,650 people packed into the Battersea Events Arena to celebrate our industry's achievements, and it truly was a night to remember.
We had comedian Omid Djalili as our compere for the evening and he certainly sailed quite close to the wind in his comedy, but certainly seemed to go down a storm on the night.
We even had the official voice of Siri as our voice of God for the evening - now that is exciting!
With 24 Awards to give out, the ceremony went as smoothly as can be expected and I'd like to say a huge congratulations to all our winners.
Contrary to belief, the judging process is extremely strict and all our judges take their duties very seriously, reading through each and every entry in their assigned category and scoring each entry on quality.
I will reiterate again that it is entry quality that wins these awards. NOT who is the bigger player or as some might believe - who spends advertising money with CRN.
That belief is frankly an insult to the whole judging panel and is a personal slight to me because I put a lot of work into ensuring the two-tier judging process is fair and impartial.
It certainly beats the old 'voting' method, where anyone could vote for a company multiple times, and bribe random people to vote for them with the promise of winning a shiny prize. To win a Channel Award, it has to be earned.
I genuinely think people are beginning to apreciate the system more now and not one person complained to me on the night - something that has never happened before and I'm very happy about that.
So I'd like to say a huge thank you on behalf of CRN - to all of you who came along on the night.
Thank you for entering, thank you for cheering even if you didn't win and thank you for your continuing support.
It means a lot to us and we do appreciate it.
I look forward to seeing all the entries next year. The slate is once again wiped clean and the 2014 Channel Awards could be won by anyone.
Until then though, well done to our winners.
To see the list of winners, click here.
And to see some of the pictures from the night - go to our Facebook page. Don't forget to like it!
11 Sep 2013
Now I'm not someone who enjoys seeing themself on screen - so if you relish the thought of me cringing - please do watch the video below.
On a serious note, I have spent a huge chunk of August writing a report based on some exciting research we have done questioning financial directors, IT managers and VARs about the IT buying process. I can guarantee the findings will prove interesting to both VARs and vendors.
Find out exactly what IT managers and FDs think of the channel during their procurement process and where they think things are going wrong and also what some of the biggest bugbears are from their point of view.
But to hear more about the report - have a look at the video. More tasty snippets will be revealed in the coming weeks.
09 Sep 2013
A while ago I wrote a blog post on how PR firms really need to do their research when it comes to dealing with journalists.
I really would like to speak to a roomful of PR bosses and ask them exactly WHY they think their strategy of blindly spamming journalists with rubbish, or phoning to ask if a press release can be sent, is so favoured in their training methods.
Let me update you all here and now. IT IS BLOODY ANNOYING and IT DOESN'T WORK.
So here are my five top tips for really annoying journalists - just so you can insert them in your training manuals.
1. Call and ask if "I have five minutes to talk through a press release" before sending it anyway. No. I don't. That is the beauty of email. if it is of interest, rest assured I or the editorial team will be in touch pretty sharpish.
2. Call and ask "if I got your press release last week" and whether "it was of any use". Clearly if it was sent a week ago, and you haven't heard anything, then no. It was not of interest.
3. Get the jounalist's name wrong. The clue is in the email address. For example, my name is SARA, but the amount of people that write 'Dear Sarah' are too many to list. I couldn't care less if IBM had just bought Microsoft - anyone that gets my name wrong is instantly deleted.
4. Call and launch straight into a press release pitch - basically reading off a sheet and not actually trying to put it into context for the publication/website you are calling. Then when being asked the relevance, make something up and hope for the best. Seriously. DO SOME RESEARCH.
5. Finally, and this is the best one. When there is something of interest, make sure either there is no-one in the office to answer questions/arrange interviews. And ALWAYS make sure you NEVER have a headshot of the spokesperson from the company in question.
As I've said before, I know people are just doing their jobs, but the methods being employed are outdated, unhelpful and just succeed in winding most journalists up.
Give me another six months, and I'll probably be writing something very similar again.
27 Aug 2013
So that time is here at last.
The Channel Awards shortlist has been released and can be found here.
We had a record number of entries, and as the article points out - some of the shortlists are quite long. This is because there were so many entries for those particular categories that we felt cutting them by two-thirds was more than enough.
Also I know a lot of companies will be disappointed that they haven't made it this year.
Please don't despair and don't give up. The standard was extremely high, and the judges were forced to be extremely harsh on all the entries - any that didn't meet the criteria were simply not included in the running.
I cannot stress enough the importance of getting to the point, including hard facts and figures and actually explaining WHY a particular company is entering a certain category - setting the scene may seem basic, but it really does help. Demonstrate growth and investment - it can only work in your favour.
Also with vendors, too much talking about product and not enough about what it actually does for its channel partners will also lose it points.
As I've said before I am not giving individual feedback for every entry as no other awards ceremony does that - but I hope the above has been helpful.
I spend a long time writing out the criteria and top tips for entry - but it seems a few people haven't read those before writing their entries - they are only there as a guide and I will be adding bits for next year that will hopefully make them even more helpful.
Congratulations to all our shortlisters and I look forward to seeing all those that didn't make it this year harden their resolve and go for it again next year.
31 Jul 2013
I'm not going to be around that much in August.
There I said it.
Sadly I'm not taking an extended holiday, although a girl can dream, nor am I hiding under the desk like the guy in the picture, but instead I'm writing a top secret new report for CRN and it is going to be exciting.But it is a long report. Probably longer than anything I have written before in my entire life! And I thought my dissertation was long 18 years ago!
We have been busy asking lots of opinions for this research piece and it is going to be something that has never been done before.
So please if I don't answer an email don't take it personally, but email is the biggest distraction I can possibly think of so I am trying to ignore it wherever possible and only answer urgent queries out of working hours. I will be checking, but only in the evening.
Then in the same month there is the small matter of reading every single entry for the CRN Channel Awards. And with a record number of entries, I certainly have my work cut out - I roughly estimate I will have read 500,000 words worth of entries by the third week of August. It makes my eyes water just thinking about it. But I'm looking forward to seeing what firms have been up to as well.
Have a great August and I'll see you all the other side!
24 Jul 2013
I'm not sure why I was sent a press release about a talking teddy bear, but there you go.
Having seen the film Ted for the first time this year (and loved it - perhaps because it not only featured a talking bear, but the original Flash Gordon as well), it certainly captured my interest.
Named 'Supertoy', this furry creature is described as a teddy bear with a mind of its own and the ability to hold 'real conversations' with those who speak to it.
A real conversation with a teddy bear? Is that just not a little creepy?
According to the press release, the robotic tedy 'mimics awareness' and has his own 'autonomous thoughts'. His mouth also moves in synchronisation with what he says apparently.
What on earth could a teddy be thinking? Do we actually want to know what our teddies are thinking? Particularly when they are dragged around by the arm or an ear by their young owners most of the time. I can't imagine their thoughts are that nice.
Something like: "OW! That hurts! Not my ear! No, that doesn't come off! Put me down! Don't chew that! Noooo, not the scissors! I'm going to get you back for this! You are going to SUFFER kid!"
Reading further into the release it emerges that you will need a smartphone to really get the best out of the bear. It features a handy compartment to place said smarthphone, after you have downloaded a special talking teddy App. Probably priced at about a gazillion pounds.
How many teddy age children own a smartphone? Possibly more than I think, but surely not that many.
To make matters worse, the technology is described as a 'sort of Siri for children'.
Let's stop right there.
As an iPhone user the thought of having to deal with Siri again fills me with dread.
I don't speak with an American accent - so immediately I was on the wrong foot, and it just got progressively more rubbish, until I finally turned it off.
So if this toy takes off, we could see hoardes of UK children speaking with faux American accents just so they can have a conversation with their talking bear.
Welcome to the workforce of tomorrow!
22 Jul 2013
Going on holiday is always a double-edged sword.
While there is no doubt about it - taking time away from the office and from the ever increasing mountain of email is much needed, coming back is also very difficult.
The first day back always leaves you feeling a little disorientated and unsure of what is going on! Well it does with me anyway.
Have I missed anything? Or is everyone on holiday now? August is known for being a traditionally quiet time of year, when news dies down and everyone's out of office goes into overdrive. I wonder if that will be the case this year?
I understand we have had a record number of Channel Awards entries, so that is very encouraging news, and I am the only person that reads every single one of them - they are divided between the judges to ensure each gets as much attention as possible.
Being the 20th anniversary of the Channel Awards, it is going to be a year to remember and I'm looking forward to reading about all the great achievements over the past year.
I will also be starting work on a brand new CRN report due out later this year and starting to send out invites to the CRN A-list. I'll stress that this is something that is invite only and the aim is to have as many VAR bosses on it as possible. This means I cannot feature many vendors as I am limited in space.
We have lots of exciting things coming up in the Autumn at CRN, so it is not going to be a quiet summer for us at all.
However if you have any news stories that you are holding onto - now is the time to send them to us - don't be shy!
08 Jul 2013
Up until now the only vendor events I've been on have been the kind where you fly to a nice location, stay in a plush hotel, eat posh food and cover press keynote after press keynote.
And then party in the evening after frantically filing as much copy as possible to keep up the kudos with your colleagues and remind the whippersnappers that you still have what it takes.
Until last weekend.
Acer took a group of tech journalists (including me) and pushed them further than ever before by challenging them to complete the UK Three Peaks challenge in three days. All in the name of charity.
That involves climbing Ben Nevis in Scotland, Scafell Pike in England, and Snowdon in Wales.
Some crazy cats attempt it in 24 hours - but luckily for us we had some rest inbetween.
The first two - Scotland and England went well for me - strangely I found it 10 times easier to come down a mountain than go up it - and while lagging behind on the ascent - I found myself in the front pack on the way down.
Inbetween mountains we were crammed into two minibuses and ferried from one end of the country to another for a welcome short rest in a hotel - as we tried to stretch aching joints and keep muscles from stiffening up.
On day two when we went for an evening meal, we were all walking like weebles and getting very strange looks from people in the pub we stopped in.
However for me it was day three when it all went wrong. We arrived at Snowdon and my legs were absolutely killing me - but I was in a determined mood. I had done two, what was one more?
As we climbed higher it got hotter and hotter. There was no breeze whatsoever and no shade. It was the hottest day of the year so far and I was trying to scale a huge mountain. What was I thinking?
Those of you who know me well will understand how much I detest being out in the sun. I can't bear to be in it when I'm just sitting around doing nothing - let alone trying to do five hours of intense physical exercise.
Time was against me because we had to be back down in a certain time to catch a train, and it was that, combined with utter heat exhaustion that caused me to admit defeat. Just 300 feet from the peak. I could see it, but I had nothing left to give, and I still had to get back down.
It may as well have been 3,000 more feet. If the sun had gone in for a bit and I'd had an extra hour, I know I could have done it, but these things happen. Knowing when to stop is often more difficult that bumbling blindly on.
So I apologise to all those of you who sponsored me because I didn't quite complete it - but I'm hoping you will let me off because I almost did, and because it was to raise money for a fantastic cause. Mountain Rescue.
There was even a rescue going on when we were two-thirds of the way down the mountain in Snowdon - absolutely vital work, most often done by volunteers.
So with that in mind, and with a teeny bit of disappointment in my heart I bring you my Three Peaks roundup.I hope you still think I have earnt my sponsorship money.
Despite not quite beating all three mountains - I beat two, and so very nearly beat the last one.
I also have a whole load of memories that I will never forget and met some fantastic people.
Thanks Acer and Honcho PR for a great weekend and for pushing me to limits that I never even knew I had!
I don't think many press trips will top that one I have to say.
Views - both channel related and everyday life observations - from CRN Editor Sara Yirrell. If you have any gossip that you would like to share with me please do get in touch and also we would love to see your comments at the end of the blog.
Browse posts by date