Anne-Marie Kruk has Something on the Brain and insists we should be talking about it. She's working hard to break down barriers, shift preconceptions and get more people talking openly about it. She says a lot of harm is done by people feeling uncomfortable about it, being coy, brushing the issue under the carpet and avoiding discussing it directly. This is exactly how misconceptions about it are perpetuated she says. And what is this elephant in the room? Epilepsy.
"There are so many assumptions made about epilepsy - that sufferers can't ever drive to name just one. That it is totally incapacitating so impossible to live a normal life if you have it, to name another. This is so unhelpful and can be a real block to ordinary people being included in activities - even disadvantaging them in the jobs market. These misconceptions can stop epilepsy sufferers leading fulfilled lives and that's such a shame.
"It's a simple step forward, but I really think that by starting to speak out about epilepsy, some of the stigma and misconceptions around the condition will disappear." Anne-Marie has started a campaign aimed at doing just this: Something on the Brain - speaking out about epilepsy. "We want to get people talking about epilepsy, connecting with new people and sharing their own experiences with the condition. In particular we want to take this message onto the streets, into schools and universities etc, so we have a chance to make a real impact on lives that are still forming. The aim is not only to change the way people think of epilepsy, but be a friend to those with epilepsy too." Given she is targeting the next generation, it's no surprise her awareness raising campaign focusses on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest as well as a website.
"We also want to re-write the checklist of what to do when someone has a seizure, because the list of first-aid pointers we've all grown up with just isn't that helpful - eg making sure the individual doesn't swallow their tongue. It's now known to be a physical impossibility to swallow your own tongue!"
In the nicest possible way, Anne-Marie ambushed me into a photo-opportunity when we met, thrusting an inflatable microphone (the symbol of her campaign) into my hand and snapping me to add to her online photo-board. "My hope is to get the microphone pictured everywhere with people from around the world, and start an epilepsy awareness revolution!" she enthuses.
You know, seeing her passion about the subject this week, and the wonderful creativity she is putting in to her campaign, I believe she will.
If you would like to have your picture taken with Anne-Marie's inflatable mike, appear on her photo-board and do your bit to raise awareness of the truth about epilepsy, you can drop her an email.
Law firm branding: look how far we've come! Lucy Burton's feature (The Age of Marketing) in the current edition of The Lawyer magazine sparked a lot of discussion in the marketplace. At least half a dozen people brought it up in conversation spontaneously as we went about our normal business this week. The Lawyer does have a knack for writing the features that everyone else talks about... If you haven't had the chance to get to read beyond the headlines and get to the detail of the piece, do make time to have another, more thorough read. The "Colour Me Legal" wheel particularly caught my eye, showing the distribution of Top 50 law firm branding across the colour spectrum and the number of firms clustered in the blue zone (11 firms, discounting those favouring turquoise) and the black (9 firms).
Takes me back to the earliest days of law firm marketing, when the first brochures appeared after the Law Society restrictions on marketing were relaxed in 1987. (Yes I've been around that long - you're too kind saying I don't look old enough!) Satirical cartoonist Ken Pyne drew this wonderful cartoon for The Times (above left) depicting the new dialogue emerging between design agencies and law firms. As you'll see the colour palette of choice in those days shows how lawyers simply weren't ready to step on to the colour wheel at all: "dependable grey", "solid grey", "honest grey", "long and established grey" preferred over "untrustworthy and bent cerise". There really were a lot of grey brochures around in those days! As I say, in 25 years we've come a long way...
My beef with the ranking though is that it's hardly definitive. For example how can these ladies have missed the heartthrob QC who sent one jury member so a-quiver during one of the top murder trials in recent years that she sent him a love note... which of course had to be declared to the judge as she could hardly be considered independent, given her emotional proclivities. The jury had to be disbanded and a new one sworn in. Our QC was more than a little embarrassed and of course he was ribbed mercilessly by his fellow members. I won't name him as he has clearly worked hard to keep himself off the Hotties list. Just think how many others have done the same. Remember, in the world of PR, sometimes the busiest jobs are keeping people out of the news.