Another excellent article I edited for the CAMUS Blog

The Official British Army Blog

Musician Emma Peacock plays flute and piccolo in The Band and Bugles of The Rifles, Corps of Army Music.

Our biggest engagement this year (and some would say since the formation of The Rifles) was the “Swift and Bold” concert in the Royal Albert Hall. This was an amazing experience, for an amazing cause, and the result of many months of preparation.

The Big Event

The event was in aid of The Rifles charity, Care for Casualties, and was a celebration of The Rifles two hundred year history. The Massed Band and Bugles of The Rifles were playing together for the first time since formation and consisted of The Regular Band of The Rifles, made up of soldiers from the Corps of Army Music, The Territorial Salamanca Band of the 6th Battalion and The Territorial Waterloo Band of the 7thBattalion. Also joining us were two cadet…

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Social Media where to run and where to hide

So apparently Facebook has hit a billion ‘active users’ when will it end? The answer to that is not for a few years yet, the bubble may burst at some point when we all wake up and realise we are wasting our lifes on Facebook, or is this the way we will communicate in the future and the platform develops and moves forward.The word active user may be a bit misleading. There are those of us to live on Facebook 24/7 and those who pop by once or twice a year. This can be related to those that live in Starbucks and those that don’t and only pop in when they are caught in the rain or waiting for a train at Waterloo station.Add to that the fact that Facebook has changed its EdgeRank algorithm, they has been many complaints by page managers of a decrease in reach.

The Facebook solution to this is to use paid enhancement tools. This would be fine if budgets were not being cut and CEOs actually believed in Social Media for business growth in the same way that us Social Media advocates do.

So what next do we accept where we are with Facebook? Probably yes and probably not. Facebook has shown many times it will not bow to pressure to return to things of it’s past and it will stick with plans and features until complete fail occurs or we all accept it. The probably not approach will be to test other platforms more such as Google+, now that would make Google happy but they are the same and will find ways to make us pay for features.
Enter the world of Twitter. The simple idea platform of 140 characters is good but it can take some work to make it pay for business growth, but companies are achieving it. Its not as simple as just posting content we have to generate content that people want to engage in conversation in.
Some of us are still coming to terms with the statement ‘conversations’ in an online world.
Conversations are something that happen in real time in person, on the telephone, or perhaps Messenger, right? No comments and replies and sharing content which lead to further comments and replies is where conversation in this cyber world take place and we have to be apart of that. Monitor you interactions daily and see who is talking about you and about what. Test and track different types of content post to see what works best for you and your audiences.
The various Apps and sidekicks related to Twitter mean is it so much more than a quick comment tool and you can build a large and reliable following very quickly. 2 years ago on a conference my advice to the room for recruiting was only dabble if you have time. Since that statement my advice is use it and use it well and keep using it. At least until something better comes along.
ROI?? Well depending on why you are using social media will depend on what you term as return of investment. Is it the money, the time, the results, the brand awareness.  For most all of these are important but sometimes brand awareness is enough and this should lead to growth or interest in your company or product.
So we are where we are in business with social media we must keep pushing the boundaries and achieving success to show the people in charge that this is the way forward for advertising, growth and development of brands. It is believe me I believe in it and so do 1 billion+ others.

Working with my Nikon D3S

I am lucky to have a Nikon D3S camera at my disposable. I would love to upgrade it to the latest professional Nikon the D4 but can I justify the costs? In simple terms no.

The D3S is an amazing piece of equipment, my only issue is it is rather heavy. Add a good telephoto lens to it and you don’t need a trip to the gym for an upper body work out. It’s a big camera and robustly built. The tough chassis should survive most knocks and conditions and the Army Professionals abuse this kit in the most extreme locations including Afghanistan.

The AF system is fast! The image quality is excellent especially in regards to the noise reduction which eliminates noise without sacrificing detail and sharpness. The D3 produces virtually noise-free images at low ISOs. and even over ISO 800+ the effects are insignificant and acceptable over many other cameras.

Overall, the D3S is an extremely well-specified camera with fantastic performance across the board. The AF system, the speed, and the superb image quality that can be achieved, even at high ISOs. In short, the D3 is pretty dam good.

I have used this camera in some difficult shots, including several Rock concerts and from the back of a Chinook helicopter while flying over London. If your serious about your photography don’t muck around the lesser Nikon camera such as the D3 or even the D80 to name but two. If your a Canon user as I was and have an abundance of Canon lenses, make the leap and get hold of a Nikon D3 you won’t look back.

I cannot speak about the D4 yet. I am considering hiring one but that could be fatal and force me to upgrade. The bottom line is this camera does everything and everything extremely well, if you know how to use it. Experiment with it on a shot at a crucial time could be a costly mistake. You may be able to pick one of these up for reasonable money now on eBay. It still won’t be cheap but it will be worth every penny. 

I am currently using the D3S for a series of photo shoots at the Concerts in the Park, Kneller Hall. A selection of the photographs for the last concert can be found on thisFacebook page.

The Official British Army Blog

Lance Corporal Damian Dunphy is a trombonist with the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band (HC&C Band), part of the Corps of Army Music based in Catterick, North Yorkshire. Prior to joining the HC&C Band on its formation in 2006 he was a member of the King’s Division Waterloo Band, and prior to that the Regimental Band of the Green Howards. He plays for a number of orchestras in the North East in addition to a number of brass bands; he is also the Musical Director of a local brass band and has conducted a number of other bands in the area.

Historic city of York – twenty one gun royal salute fired

Whilst the World’s gaze was firmly focused on London over the Jubilee weekend and on the fantastic spectacle of pomp and pageantry that graced the nation’s capital city, one might be forgiven for being unaware that Royal events…

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A shift in Social Media – our voices

In today’s society we have 3 new elements; co-creation of online content through online conversation and dialogue, searching for authenticity and the consumers now have power in their speech and actions.

The world has been changing rapidly since the late 1940s but the growth of the internet has speeded up this process dramatically.

Everyone can have a voice now with the internet. There are Blogs and webpages encouraging you to reply and respond and social networking where we spend all day telling our friends but what we are going to buy, have purchased and what or who we are seeing.

Facebook would like us to share everything and the temptation is to do that, we all want a part of this revolution.

So we have several problems as social media managers and marketeers. We want to engage our customers and clients to engage and give us live feedback but risk negative feedback for all to see! The trick is to convert that negative feedback in to a positive spin should it occur.

If your article, webpage, comments are taken and initially destroyed and all comers comment again in a negative way, at least your stats will be booming and then comes the trick, attack and respond while the attention is upon you. Don’t go all defensive but develop your strategy and look to convert the negativity to leads and positive actions.

Then of course we have to deal with senior managers who are not really sure about all this Web 2.0 stuff. The call comes, explain what is the ROI in social media, how do you mean engage in conversation online with our potential customers?

Demonstrating the powers of social media to the company top brass with there is negativity from the client base is going to be difficult, but turn it around and they will be impressed.

All very easy to state and in reality it could all take time, but worth it.

A Royal Fanfare

Excellent insights

The Official British Army Blog

Paul Johnson is a musician in the Band of the Irish Guards based at Wellington Barracks in central London. The Irish Guards band is one of the five foot guards bands that make up the Household Division.

This year is a very special year for the Bands of the Household Division, with a once in a lifetime celebration of the Queen’s 60 year Reign.

Armed Forces Muster Parade

With the a strong link between the Royal Family and the Armed Forces, it was only fitting that as part of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations, there would be a Tri-Service Armed Forces Parade. The Bands of the Irish and Welsh Guards were invited to form a Massed Band to be a part of the Army Contingents.

With over 2,500 personnel on parade, it was certainly a challenge for the Brigade Major and the Garrison Sergeant Major to get everyone together to rehearse…

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Some would say a hotel review should be on Tripadvisor, and they are probably right but I thought I would enlighten those of you who know nothing about this amazing Forces orientated Hotel in Central London near Marble Arch. 
The Victory Club Hotel is located 5 minutes walk from Marble and in order to get the great rates of a 4 star room in central London you have to be a member, ex member or family connection to the MOD. You sign up as a free member if you are still serving or pay a very low fee if you ave left the forces.  Open to all ranks, that never used to be the case, the hotel lobby, bars and restaurant are light and modern and very welcoming. Good prices again for central London with excellent warm and welcoming staff.

Last weekend my girlfriend and I spent a few hours in the bar before setting off in the cold to see Shakespeare in the Open Air Theatre – refer to my last blog. We checked in arranged a late check out – I’m not good in the mornings and we had wine ready for the theatre.


Great beds nice bathroom, TV etc and tea making facilities something I have noticed is dying off especially on the continent by the way. If you book ask for a room at the rear of the hotel unless you really want to view the road. There may not be a view of anything but it is quieter after all this is central London!

In the basement is a library/ reading room, all the papers and many magazines are available here plus a array of military books from novels to autobiographies. The Bar area is so nice you could spend all day in it, some months back we sat in there with 5 children of various ages for hours while they read or watched a movie on the iPad.

Breakfast has the full options on offer and is extremely well presented and tasty. We have not ate in the Restaurant for Dinner or Lunch yet but the menu looks great and again the room is light and airy.

We checked out on the Saturday morning eventually and someone decided we should walk back to Vauxhall station to catch our train. We grabbed a full breakfast in the Weatherspoons bar just around the corner – always a god safe and cheap option in most areas, and then set off down Mayfair, round the back of Buckingham Palace where we were some weeks back for a garden party – just name dropping there. Past Victoria station and over the river and then after 3 pleasant miles we reached Vauxhall, not such a nice area but they are trying.

So as you can tell I recommend using the Victory Services Club and we will be again soon.