Be the radiator, not the drain, says Twitter's Lawrence
A view from Helen Lawrence

Be the radiator, not the drain, says Twitter's Lawrence

Helen Lawrence is head of creative agency development, Twitter UK. Lawrence was featured in Media Week's 30 Under 30 in 2010.

Let’s rewind a couple of decades. My mum, at her wits’ end getting me to do homework, is shouting at me to "turn off MTV and get off the internet".

Rewind to a decade ago. I’m working at MTV on digital ideas. Felt pretty smug about that one… MTV to Holler to Dare to Bartle Bogle Hegarty to Twitter.

My career looks a bit scattergun, but there’s a thread that runs through it. I’m interested in that intersection of new technologies and communities.

At Holler, we built communities on MySpace for bands based on content and access. We took that to Channel 4 for Skins, offering exclusive content and sneak peeks, and perhaps kicked off the whole "social and brands" thing.

Since then, I’ve been helping creative agencies with new technologies and communities, whether that was heading social teams at agencies or helping creative agencies generally in my current job.

I’ve worked on British Airways, Google, the Guardian, KFC, Sony, Vodafone… I even got to write a short script for Doctor Who.

Six years after Media Week kindly popped me into its 30 Under 30 list, I’m at my dream job. I love Twitter. It has a purpose in the world. Not a day goes by without someone doing something incredible on it.

Even the smallest community can have impact by using Twitter. Brands do brilliant work on Twitter, and now we’re looking at live TV.

I was asked to put some lessons in this piece. Even as a total narcissist who accepts any opportunity to get up on stage, writing these feels awkward and uncomfortable. I really have no idea what I’m doing. I guess none of us do. So here goes.

Be the positive person

To steal from David Wilding, always try to be the radiator, not the drain. It’s really easy to be a drain and it’s also really easy to spot a drain. I love the idea of people being radiators instead.

Embrace virtual reality

Until recently, I thought Universal Music was right not to buy my idea for a Second Life office space many years ago. But now virtual reality is making a comeback, I’m ready to dig out my "I told you so" T-shirt.

Perhaps all those hours refining my Second Life avatar paid off? I’m really excited about where virtual reality is headed, not just for gaming and entertainment but for proper utility.

We need to stop hiring from only red brick universities

The lack of diversity in advertising and media isn’t acceptable. We all have a huge responsibility to change it and to ensure that our workplaces not only offer opportunity but also better reflect a varied society and mindset.

I’m so fed up of seeing the same old advertising press photos of staff; each and every photo looks the same. The line-up never changes.

Storytelling isn't anything new

I have no idea why we think it is. Haven’t we been doing it for ages? Stories are brilliant. I thought we found that out a very long time ago?

Perhaps there was a year when we all forgot how to do it, hence why we’re all trumpeting the return of storytelling. I don’t remember that year. Maybe that’s the point.

Helen Lawrence is head of creative agency development, Twitter UK. Lawrence was featured in Media Week's 30 Under 30 in 2010.

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