Pun blogger and Guardian Press Officer, Hayley Dunlop
Tell me about your Blog?
I started www.punlimited.co.uk simply because I’m obsessed with puns and I came up with a good name for a pun website! I had no idea when I started the blog which direction it would take (you could say I was pundecided) but I knew that I wanted people to interact with it somehow, and use it as a shameless vehicle for me to exercise my regular urge to pun. So I began by choosing my favourite pun headline each day, coming up with my own version for the same story, and encouraging others to attempt to beat my efforts. It’s quite simple really, but the downside is that puns are definitely not very SEO-friendly! Saying that, it’s the kind of site that I would want people to discover for themselves and to spread the word about it. It’s still early days, but one day I hope that when someone types the word ‘pun’ into Google, Punlimited is somewhere near the top!
What was your first blog?
I first started blogging a couple of years ago when I first moved to London (www.hayleydunlop.blogspot.com). The impact of moving here was immediate and I wanted to record all my experiences somehow, as well as share all of the exciting stuff I was getting up to with my friends and family back home. I’ve always loved writing and have kept a diary since I was a teenager, so starting a blog was a natural step for me really.
What is the biggest tip you would give to a newbie blogger?
Not long after I started my first blog I was invited along to a London Bloggers Meet-up with a friend of mine. I felt a bit cheeky for being there as at that stage I’d only written a few random bits and bobs, but I had a fantastic night and met some brilliant people, and it also planted the seed in my head to start a pun-based website. So my advice to new bloggers would be – if possible – to get to know other bloggers in person. It’s all to easy to get sucked into the online world and never meet the people who read your blog, or who you chat with on Twitter. I think living in London helps as there are always meet-ups and social events going on for the online community where we can all share ideas and contacts, but it really does make a huge difference and spurs me on to keep writing.
What do bloggers do that you wish they wouldn’t?
I’m not necessarily saying that I wish bloggers wouldn’t do it, but personally I try not to moan too much online; not on my blog, on Twitter or on Facebook. I’m generally a happy and positive person anyway, but if I’m having a bad day or if something’s stressing me out, I can’t see how sharing my negativity with the world is going to help me. I think there’s a danger that if I started to rely on virtual sympathy from people I barely know, then when I’m feeling truly awful and no one happens to react or respond when I need it the most, it could make me feel even worse. It’s just a little pact I’ve made with myself and everybody’s different; indeed, some people make a living out of posting up every intimate detail of their lives online. But I’d much rather call my mum.
What do you do to improve the world?
Hopefully I put a few smiles on a few people’s faces as a result of my puns.
What do you do that is green?
I don’t have a car, but then no one really needs a car in London. I’ve no idea why people moan about the public transport so much here; it’s amazing! I’ve lived in a few cities where you simply can’t get from A to B without a car. I also recycle to the very max.
What is one thing about you that not many people know?
My Great Uncle was the second Doctor Who (Patrick Troughton).
What’s your favourite book?
I make a (stubborn!) point to never read the same book twice as I always think that there’s so many millions of books out there that it would be a waste of time to fill it with a story of which I already know the outcome. I absolutely LOVE Philip Pullman as an author, in particular the His Dark Materials trilogy, as the characters are so compelling. Pullman’s imagination to create an alternative world that is so similar to ours, yet so different in loads of subtle little ways, is phenomenal. If you haven’t read any of his books, do it! I also love a good crime thriller, in particular anything by Mark Billingham. He’s a great plain-English writer who sets his books in contemporary London, with loads of pop culture references weaved into the dark, murder-ridden storylines, which makes me feel as if the stories are actually taking place on the streets around me as I read them. *Mark Billingham fact* He’s also an awesome stand-up comedian and used to play the character Gary in ‘Maid Marian and her Merry Men’.
What is on your iPod?
If only I had one! Mine died a few months ago and I still haven’t got round to replacing it. But my iTunes is rammed with rock basically! I play drums in a band (Witness To The Beard) and we’re quite rocky / grungy, which represents my musical leanings. Shamefully my knowledge of current music is rubbish, but my favourite band at the moment is Biffy Clyro.
What are your contact details (email, company, blog, Facebook, MySpace, forums, etc)?
You can also find me on LinkedIn.
What events do you go to?
I work for the Guardian News & Media Press Office, so I’m hugely lucky as I get to go to such a wide range of events through work as I work for all departments across the company. Since I started the job I’ve been to the MediaGuardian Innovation Awards, the Observer Ethical Awards at Kensington Roof Gardens (yes – there are flamingos up there!) and I also went to Glastonbury. Soon I’m heading to the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences to help out with the Guardian / Observer fringe events; so from Glastonbury to high-end politics, I do get around! In my spare time I go to various blogging events – most recently Twestival, lots of pubs (ideally the old-man variety) and enjoy the odd gig every now and again.
How do you prefer to communicate?
I like nothing more than sitting in a cosy pub and having a chat over a glass of wine or a mug of hot chocolate, but more and more I find myself communicating and networking with people online. I find Twitter incredibly useful for work, but I’ve also met some good friends as a result of it. I once heard someone say that Facebook is for people you used to know, and Twitter is for people who you want to know, which I think is a pretty good summary.
Who would you recommend, and why?
Gary Andrews: We both went to Cardiff Uni, but it wasn’t until we both lived in London that we became firm pals. He first introduced me to Twitter and the London Bloggers Meet-Up Group, and I can hand-on-heart say that without his enthusiasm for – and knowledge of – social media, I wouldn’t be where I am today in terms of my career. He’s also a brilliant football writer and has one of the most well-written blogs I’ve ever come across.
Domestic Sluttery: One of my favourite websites, edited by the lovely Sian Meades and written by here and her team of domestic sluts. An endless treasure trove of all the things I love: cake, cocktails, and things that sparkle to make my flat look pretty…and all without having to go to too much effort (I don’t have the patience – or the time – to make things, and this website encapsulates this attitude perfectly).
Someone Once Told Me: An inspirational site where people share a nugget of wisdom or amusing anecdote through the medium of (beautiful) photography. I’m having my picture taken for the site very soon by the site’s creator, Mario Cacciottolo; can’t wait.
Andy Bargery: He coordinates the monthly London Blogger Meet-ups, and always manages to find amazing sponsors for the events. For example, the latest one was sponsored by eBay and I won a netbook! He is also the man behind the LondonBloggers.net site
Shell Plant: She’s the most stylish person I know and has a great fashion blog (which I love, despite knowing sod all about fashion!)
Meaghan Fitzgerald: Meg is an American living in London, but deep down I think she has a British soul 😉 She works for Spoonfed and always seems to be attending some random funky event. She’s a great Twitterer and also has cool blog, thetopfloorflat.com
Dan Worth: I met him ‘IRL’ very recently and he’s as funny in person as he is on Twitter. Plus he loves puns as much as me. His eclectic musings can be found on his blog here.
MediaGuardian Innovation Awards: A little work plug now, but I bet lots of people reading this would be eligible to enter the 2010 Megas. The emphasis of these awards has shifted slightly this year, with more categories for online / tech innovation, alongside those for offline marketing and PR. Feel free to get in touch with me for more information.
Witness To The Beard: And another shameless plug, this time for my band. If the name alone doesn’t win you over, you can follow us on Twitter to find out when we’re next playing live in London. We’ve also got a Facebook page. We used to have a MySpace page too but that’s strangely vanished… What is one thing people can do for you?
Come and join the Punlimited community and join in with the joyful groaning!