How A Stag Do Can Be Vegan-Friendly, Alcohol-Free and Stripper-Free

I have just returned from an indulgent vegan-friendly, jazzy-vibe, alcohol-free, stripper-free stag do. My brothers set up a semi-surprise priceless night out.

Just 48 hours earlier, Kavit asked me if I’d like to have a stag do on Friday night.  I said no thanks.  The wedding’s minimalist and low-key, and I didn’t really feel like having a stag do which involved getting drunk and ogling nude women.  Turns out he convinced me to have one, with a twist.  Kavit and Sawan took care of everything.

Vegan-friendly

I’ve been following a vegan diet since April (over 8 months now), so they made arrangements to have dinner at one of the best vegan-friendly restaurants in Britain.  The customer service was excellent, and everyone was really impressed with the food.  The next time you’re in London, make a special effort to visit Mildreds in Soho.  Although they have a no booking policy (other than for the private dining room), and they’re always busy, it’s well worth arriving early and waiting to be seated.

Alcohol-free

Following an intention to be more alert and aware of my surroundings and take considered action, I have been keeping away from consuming alcohol for the last couple of months.  I decided to drink no beer, wine or spirits all evening, which everyone around me kindly supported (following a little stubborn-ness from from my side).

Stripper-free… but I’m up for some jazz

There’s a certain level of respect I have for women and see no reason to spend part of my pre-marriage time pleasing my visual senses and igniting my passions at the sight of luscious curves on a stranger’s body.

Instead I diverted my sensual pleasures to that of vibrant jazz music.  The boys had made reservations at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in Soho, one of the UK’s foremost jazz venues.  Not only that, but they had unknowingly booked seats at the venue for the multi-award-winning trombonist Dennis Rollins – someone who bassist Darren Taylor of Jazzreloaded has highly recommended over the last few years. 

The perfect stag night

So it turns out that I had manifested the perfect stag-night: vegan-friendly, alcohol-free (for me at least), immersed in jazz music which I love, and not a single stripper or hooker in sight (even though we were in the heart of Soho)!

At the drop of a hat, my dear brothers and friends who could make it decided that they will be there.  Sawan, Kavit, Sagar, Deep, Amit & Ash – blessings to each of you for making the night so special.

Rap Video by UK Visa Services Informing and Encouraging Indian Students

The British High Commission in New Delhi, India, have produced a rap music video to encourage students in India to consider the UK as a destination to study.  It explains the right way to apply for a student visa.

Indian students represent the second largest number of international students in higher education in Britain, and the number of student visas issued in India have been increasing year on year.

The video was launched by the UK Visa Services in association with the British Council to capitalise on this growing demand, and has been placed on YouTube so that it may be shared with it’s target market.

 

There are mixed-views of the video, but overall it’s receiving the thumbs up from students in India.  Responses to the rap video include “this video is great stuff for us Indian students. it’s simple and encoraging. shows that UK welcomes students from India. good stuff”, and “I’m a creative arts student and this is brilliant! the way by which such a complicated message has been convayed seamlessly is quite refreshing.”

Take a look at the Indian Student Visa video for yourself and leave a comment below indicating where you are based (UK/India/other part of the world), whether you are a student or not, and what your views are on the video.

Focus on Key Responsibilities

During the bus journey home this evening, it occured to me how serious I have recently become.

Do I really need to get overwhelmed and stressed by the number of emails in by inbox?  Pathetic, really.

For many people, their businesses are suffering in this current economic climate.

While the business suffers, am I suffering?  While this body suffers, am I suffering?

The answer is of course “No”, so why do I consume so much energy stressing over the situations outside of myself?  I must be a fool!  🙂

Let me define and focus on my key responsibilities.  That is all.

Benefits of a Raw Diet

A 17 year old from New York shares with me his sources of inspiration and guidance, and benefits of following a raw food diet already for over 5 months:

Suraj (15:19:07): so anyway, you were saying about Raw…
Ankit (15:19:43): yeah — i’d say it was mainly dhru’s welikeitraw.com site in addition to the raw community website, giveittomeraw.com (kind of like a facebook for raw foodies/people that want to be raw)
Ankit (15:20:19): also, rawmodel.com is a blog run by this model, anthony anderson, who blogs rather frequently about raw foods, fitness and sustainable living
Ankit (15:20:31): i kind of went through almost the entire archives
Ankit (15:20:37): and founds TONS of great pointers
Suraj (15:21:51): what’s been YOUR motivation for being 100% raw?  What benefit have you seen already?  Perhaps there’s a blog post you’ve written about this already?
Ankit (15:22:14): i’ve thrown in bits and pieces throughout my blogs
Ankit (15:22:40): you could probably ctrl+F “raw” in my blog posts from march onwards if you want to check that out
Ankit (15:22:50): but really — it’s just a feeling of purity
Ankit (15:22:58): you feel good, all the time
Ankit (15:23:03): your mind is clear
Ankit (15:23:08): you don’t find yourself thinking about food
Ankit (15:23:12): you detach yourself from it
Ankit (15:24:00): on top of that, on a more superficial note, it clears acne (mostly from the loss of dairy, but even more so from eating unprocessed, uncooked in oil foods)
Ankit (15:25:03): and it sheds any undesired fat. i wasn’t actually heavyset prior to going raw, but i had a negligible bit of fat on my stomach. after going raw, however, that just burned right off and the sixpack abs i never thought would come reveal themselves
Ankit (15:25:40): in addition to that, however, you just open yourself up to a world of good, delicious, healthy foods
Ankit (15:25:51): it’s wild what you can do with naturally occurring foods
Suraj (15:26:23): this sounds great – I’m really inspired to explore the raw route – thank so much for your guidance Ankit
Ankit (15:27:02): not a problem. i’m always down to help a friend out

According to his blog, Ankit Shah is a “kid that cares for little more than open minds, strong opinions, passion, genuinity, a good laugh and conscious living for the people and the world around me. Into raw living, mother nature, awareness, fitness, honesty and international music.”

Check out Ankit Shah’s blog at ankittt.blogspot.com

Svatantrya Divas – Independence Day

This morning I received a beautiful message from a friend about the relation betwen the celebration of India’s independence and our own inner journey to freedom…


Jai Jinendra
Jai Satgurudev Vandan

Today India, the Mother country, celebrates independence, the end of an era of foreign rule which arguably began more than a eight hundred years ago for North India.

As the country modernises and westernises, there is a great challenge to the innate spirituality, the soul, if you will, in her culture.

But then the king within is also dominated by foreign matter – both gross external objects and subtle karmic matter.

At the heart of the Satyagraha of Gandhiji lies the idea that we are letting ourselves be suppressed and we can rise against this, resist it, not co-operate with it, for without our help, the oppressor can do oppress us, as we are providing the means.

Just as this insight freed 470mm from foreign domination, by a handful of rulers, so this great majestic soul can throw of the shakles of its own bondage by becoming awake and arising.

With the blessings, guidance, example and living presence of a True Guru all this is easy.

Happy Independence Day
Happy journey to Independence!

How To Manage Your Online Reputation

Chameleon Net: Full-service Web Solutions Agency

When you offer a service or sell a product, either people are talking about you, or no-one is. If they’re talking about your brand, it may be positive or it may be negative. If no-one’s talking about you, perhaps they should be.

There are many examples where a brand’s reputation has been massively damaged, simply because a negative mention of a brand snowballed and was not spotted in time.

One such example is when a blogger from America bought a computer from the large computer manufacturer Dell in 2005 and paid for a four year home service support plan. Soon after, when the machine needed seeing to, Dell told him to return the computer, which left him without the machine for 10 days. When he wrote a short blog post about the poor service, it generated over 200 comments within a few days. This then resulted in 10 follow up posts and over 2500 comments that sparked so much opinion that it led to the phrase “Dell Hell” becoming a household term. Imagine is this post had been spotted in time – perhaps the massive damage that the brand received could have been limited.

Following an internal training session on Brand Identity Tracking run by our Head of Online Marketing, Drew Davies, I thought I’d write and share a few notes about how to discover what people are saying about a particular brand, how that can be tracked over time, and how the information can be used to improve brand identity.

Why Do Companies Choose To Track Their Brands?

Companies generally want their brand tracked for predominantly one of four reasons:

  1. New product / service: The company is launching a new product in the marketplace and wants to see the attention the brand will be getting online over time.
  2. Bad reviews: A brand has been getting bad reviews on the web, and the company would like to see the extent of that damage done to the brand.
  3. Good reviews: The brand is already receiving positive reviews on the web, and the company would like to see what is being said and use it to create more products and engage with the happy consumers.
  4. No reviews: The brand has been around for a while, but the company feels that nobody’s talking about it, and so that company wants to see where their competitors are being talked about and work out how to enter those forums.

How To Benchmark Your Online Reputation

We use a three step process here at Chameleon Net to benchmark the online reputation of our clients’ brands:

Step #1: GATHER – scouting the web for mentions of specific keywords relating to the brand in question, and recording how positive or negative the conversations are about the brand. Keywords here would include variations of the brand name, categories, and competitor brand names where appropriate.
Step #2: ANALYSE – working out what the comments mean according to pre-defined metrics, and benchmarking this information over time and against competitors.
Step #3: ENGAGE – making amends where there are grievances about the brand, and reinforcing positive comments about the brand on behalf of the client.

Tracking Your Online Brand Identity – For Free!

There are already a number of free tools that companies can use to find out what people are saying about their brand online. Tools offered by Google include:

  • Google Search: visit http://www.google.co.uk, type in the name of the brand into the search box, and see a list of the websites that mention your brand.
  • Google Blog Search: visit http://blogsearch.google.com, type in the name of the brand in the search box, and see a list of the blogs that mention your brand, along with the date of when it was mentioned.
  • Google Alerts: visit http://www.google.com/alerts and sign up for alerts that will notify you by email about the latest web and news pages that mention your brand.

Limitations of using these free tools for tracking your online brand identity

If you have a good internal team who have plenty of time on their hands, information on conversations about the brand can be gathered fairly simply using the free tools listed above.

However, although the tools are good for finding the raw data, that’s where it stops. The next step is to analyse the gathered data with metrics to make sense of it, which requires a natural human touch.

Recently we tracked the brand identity of one of our clients in the not-for-profit sector who wanted to see how they are perceived online. We benchmarked our findings over time, and against similar charities in the sector.

Engaging: handling negative comments

So what happens if you discover negatives comments about your brand? What can you do to recover from an online reputation crisis?

The article at http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2008/01/five-steps-for-recovering-from-an-online-reputation-crisis.html suggests the following steps:

  1. Respond from the top
  2. Admit your mistakes and apologise
  3. Host the conversation
  4. Seek resolution
  5. Turn detractors into evangelists

To recover from even the severest of mistakes, base your crisis communication on sincerity, transparency, and consistency.

Engaging: encouraging more positive comments

Suppose you find positive mentions of your brand at the websites and blogs that you find, how do you leverage that?

Simply go to those websites and say “thank you” in the comments section. Then suggest other innovative ways that your product or service can be used.

Engaging: starting a conversation

Sometimes, you’ll look around the web and find that no-one’s talking about your brand. What can you do there to create positive exposure?

Well first highlight where you want to be mentioned, and then build an innovative ePR campaign to get more people talking about your brand.

Chameleon Net ran an ePR campaign to launch ‘The Survival Kit’ – a cookware kit developed in a collaboration between Jamie Oliver and Tefal. Get in touch with us to request our ePR case studies.

Is ‘Online Reputation Management’ ethical?

Some may refer to this process as controlling their message, while others may look upon it as ‘gaming the system’. What do you think? Is online reputation management ethical?

Source: Chameleon Net blog article: How to Manage Your Online Reputation by Suraj Shah