I’m really keen that more people spread the word about pension. One of the ways to do this is to do it yourself.
I appreciate that many who read this will not have the independence that I enjoy (thanks to my fantastic employer First Actuarial) but perhaps you have,
I have never planned to speak out for pensions but I’m increasingly being asked to speak on the radio and TV and to contribute to a variety of publications (digital and print).
This is very rewarding personally – it does not make me or my employers any money – but I hope that the connection between my work and my employer’s enlightened attitude is not lost on anyone! I hope that my work will benefit my employer but it will be extremely difficult to measure whether it does.
So, for people who’d like to spend some time speaking out for pensions, here are some things I’ve done (mostly by accident) that have helped me , and could help you.
- Blog hard and regularly – even if no-one is reading you. Looking at my blog-stats for 2009, I find i get more reads in a week than I did that whole year (9,780).
- Publish your blogs on a good site like word press or BlogSpot that allows you to spread the word across social media
- Build an audience on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. As with blogging this is hard to start with but gets easier. You need readers and these will be your regulars.
- Speak with journalists and offer them a quote whenever they need one, if you are good to your word and answer your calls, you will soon be in demand!
- Treat people who comment on your blogs, RT and like you with respect, they are your champions – even if they criticise what you do!
- Be prepared to go the extra mile to get on any public media you can find- this can mean early starts and travel – your efforts will be rewarded
- Thank everyone who gives you a break – it is generous of them to share the limelight!
- Listen, watch and steal. My publishing heroes are Jo Cumbo, Paul Lewis, Ros Altmann, Steve Bee and yes John Ralfe. I don’t agree with a lot of what they say, but they’re all carving out a path for people with lesser talent (me) to follow.
- When challenged, accept you are probably wrong, it is not worth your livelihood for a heroic stand
- Don’t stop! When you think you’re established you are over the hill,
There are hundreds of new ways to make a difference. We have yet to see our first pension vlogger, snapchat is pension-free as is instagram. If you want to be the first that ever burst into those silent seas..go for it!
Last night around 6pm , someone who claimed to work for the BBC but who I’d never heard of , called me on the phone and asked me what I thought of speaking on the changes to the state pension age the following morning at 5.40. I just said “I’ll do it”. The rest was easy.
We need to liberate our talented and self-confident staff to do just this. Why did I get the call? Well the chances are I was the fourth or fifth person the BBC had tried and the rest said “no”. But I was on the list because I’ve done the 10 things I set out above.
You cannot stop to think about it, you cannot come back on an offer like this when you have got your employer’s permission, thought out your storyline or even worked out the logistics.
I loved appearing on Wake Up to Money this morning , even if I was half dead having worried all night. There is nothing glamorous about doing this, you get yourself to the studio and back, you sit in BBC reception on your own, you forget your notes, you spill your tea, forget to turn off your phone and at the end of it, you get some awkward thanks and are escorted off the premises.
But you know you’ve spoken to more people in a few minutes than you could have spoken to in a month any other way. If you really need to make a difference, you need to talk with large numbers of people. Take my advice, become an independent blogger and work for an employer who is prepared to trust you.
Whether that employer is you, or a super-special firm like First Actuarial, in the end – this is up to you.