Can I borrow a biro? I just want to jot down my google results


Google has changed its name, creating Alphabet as a parent company for Google and many others, and now changed its logo – all in the space of a month. Haven’t seen it? Just google it. Notice I didn’t use a capital ‘G’ in the case of the word Google? That’s because it’s not just one of the world’s biggest brands, synonymous with web search, mobile browsing, email, photos and other tech startups. But also it’s now used as a pure verb – meaning to search the web.

There is a beautifully written piece from the New York Times in 2009 that explores brands as verbs. It focuses on Google and its Micosoft rival Bing. The use of brands as verbs is a good thing and the positives far outweigh the negatives. According to the article: “The risk of becoming generic is so low, and the benefits of being on the top of someone’s mind are so high”.

Take Xerox as an example. A large percentage of people (particularly Americans) use the word “Xerox” interchangeably for photocopy. This was frowned upon at first by the ‘big-wigs’ of the company, who thought it would pigeon hole them into a market and forever associate them with the good, the bad and the ugly of office photocopiers (who hasn’t wanted to kick a photocopier before?). However, the use of the word is marketing of its own, and far outweighs any negative connotations.

Google as a company has a rich 17-year history, evolving from a simple search engine to so much more: Google Maps (the only way I can find a restaurant), Gmail, Android, Chrome, YouTube and the list goes on. “The name of the company has now become its own verb in the dictionary,” the Today Show announced in the US back in 2007.

When we logged onto our computers on the first day of Spring, Google had done something different again. To our shock they changed their logo. Using the classic Google colours, simplifying the typeface, and moving to simply being G. On the day, Google teased us with a Google Doodle of the old logo being wiped away by an animated hand, probably using our tears as a lubricant, before replacing it with the new one.

While some people hate change, we love it. It’s a c-word after all. The new look for Google, a simple, sleek recognisable design seems in line with its parent company Alphabet. You’ll get used to it. And we bet, if you haven’t already you’ll google something later today.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

PS. What other brands have become verbs – add your own in the comments below :)

#CommsCorner – Travel, trains and teaching with Philippa Brear


This week in the #CommsCorner we sit down with Ms Philippa Brear. She is a senior lecturer in the Bachelor of Communication (Public Relations) based at RMIT. She has also been a Fellow of the PRIA since 2012 and served alongside our CEO on the Victorian Council of the PRIA from 2010–2013.

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

p brear proper
I’m an educator and a communicator. I’m a debater, a questioner, a strategist and an analyst. I’m a feminist. I have a good sense of humour. I’m Australia-born with a strong tinge of Welsh. I’ve been married for 20 years. I lived in Sydney and London for a long time, and sometimes I wonder if I will ever completely settle back into Melbourne. I’m a traveller, currently enamoured with India.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

My role is about knowledge creation and skills building – for me and for my students. I’ve been working in Higher Education for ten years and the big difference, compared with industry, is the cyclical nature of the environment. But it changes all time, depending on the student cohort, the subjects I’m teaching, and the semester timetable. So it’s teaching, administration, meetings and more meetings. And, on a more solitary level, it’s my own research: my current PhD studies look at asbestos activism in Australia. Higher Education is heavily regulated – many policies and guidelines – and my industry background in law firm communication definitely sensitised me to working in an environment where compliance looms large.

When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?

It was the recession of the early 1990s and I was an analyst at Westpac. I was approached to work in media relations and said yes, convinced by the challenges and opportunities on offer. In hindsight, I think the media relations manager – with whom I’d worked on a few projects – saw that I was well suited to the work: I was interested in the media, had good current affairs and general knowledge, as well as strong communication and analytical skills. It was a steep learning curve but I soon discovered I could combine my skills, knowledge and interests to play an important professional role in a challenging environment.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

I don’t have one but since returning to Melbourne I’ve met some terrific communicators, including … Haydn Park – the consummate professional; Jamie Perrott – positivity and energy personified; Chriss Mannix – low on affectation, big on work ethic and a good business brain.

Which tools can’t you live without?

I like to think I can live without any tool, but the Cloud has been great for my PhD and managing my files.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Working with students to help shape their futures; getting my PhD done while working at RMIT University

Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?

My work hasn’t involved many campaigns, as such, but I developed the model for – and project managed – the first stakeholder roadshows for the newly-privatised UK passenger rail industry. Rail is a big part of life in the UK and the privatisation was controversial. So the roadshows presented a great challenge, and I loved working in a greenfield site.

Which campaign do you most admire?

Life. Be in it.

What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?

Without a doubt, social media 

If you had to cut/keep something in your communication budget, what would it be?

Cut: travel expenses – too much unnecessary anti-environmental travel in the age of Skype

Keep: CSR related social investments

What quality do you look for in your communication team members?

Good communication skills, not as common as you think

What’s your favourite brand?

Currently, Elk

What book/blog do you think every communicator should read?

Works of Charles Dickens – great storytelling and social critique – Bleak House, in particular.

What tips do you wish you’d known starting out in communications?

Not many people write well.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’ something I do without thinking and something I think about a lot.

Centre stage: #QandA, again


You wouldn’t think it would be possible, but there is another crisis brewing (or perhaps brewed) at the ABC’s Q&A office. With staff just recovering from the controversy involving Zaky Mallah, accusations of being terrorist sympathisers and a government-ordered inquiry into the program, producers are now facing criticism over the tweets they choose to flash up on screen on Monday night.

Article Lead - wide999688241gj6rjrimage.related.articleLeadwide.729x410.gj6sdt.png1440460642172.jpg-620x349All was forgiven, and the questions and answers were flowing again, until some (opposite of a genius) decided to tweet under the Twitter handle @AbbottLovesAnal, which slipped through ABC’s moderators mouse clicks and landed Q&A back in hot water. The content of the tweet itself was not offensive (although an insult to the English language), it was the crude tone of the @handle.

With the right use, an appropriate handle and a “normal” person behind a smart phone, Twitter can really come into its own, especially when wanting to interact at a networking or professional development event.

The skill involved in live tweeting is common sense, a good use of language in 140 characters or less, and keeping content clear and precise. Here are our top five tips when attending a corporate event and using the tool.

  1. Make sure you’re using the correct hashtag – if it’s trending you want to be involved. There’s no point tweeting for the sake of it –unless you’re Kim Kardashian then you can do whatever you like.
  2. Engage with people prior to the event. Get Twitter handles of speakers in advance. Connecting with people before the event is the perfect opportunity to learn more about them, set up meetings and learn about their companies (and what they can do for you – or more importantly what you can do for them).
  1. Quote speakers correctly. Always add their Twitter handles to attribute their authorship. If they’re not on Twitter, simply include their name in the Tweet so you don’t confuse their ideas with yours.
  2. Add  visual content
    1. There is so much more to tweeting than just text. Add pictures of the speakers and the venue. This is engaging and shows your audience what you’re talking about. The quality of pictures taken by our smartphones is more than adequate for the budding photographer.
    2. People love seeing themselves in pictures. Take a selfie with your new “friends” and tag them to enforce your new connections and get more retweets.
  1. Live tweeting from an event is a great way to get high number of followers in a very short time. Be generous, retweet and favourite other posts to increase your social footprint. Using the event hashtag, your tweets will appear in the live stream and people will start following you. Make sure you follow them back so the newly created connections can extend to offline meetings too. Tweet consistently but wisely – keep your “digital footprint” out during the event to keep appearing in the tweet stream. This keeps your brand out there for everyone to see. More and more events are holding live streaming of tweets during the day which allows your content to be displayed. So if you don’t want it out there don’t tweet it. Think of it like a live campaign for your company and what you say reflects on you.

Lastly, if you are the moderator of the tweets. Set the ground rules, block any content that shouldn’t be displayed and be thorough. Make sure your hashtag is prominent and the audience knows it.

The moderators at Q&A blamed the large volume of tweets coming through for this recent mishap. It’s critical that you arrange a small bundle of tweets and sort through these. Avoid any anal abbott outbursts or any other overtly political statement for that matter.

Happy tweeting!


Jack and the c word crew

Communicator’s Corner: Meg Rayner


MEG RAYNER green copyThis week we chat with @MegRayner who is the Communications Advisor for Metropolitan Fire Brigade focused on community engagement. 

Meg has always had a passion for working in the media and communications industry, and her experience stems back to her second year at university as the Activities Co-ordinator. Meg has had a range of other jobs in media, from court reporter at a daily newspaper to an Associate Producer for Channel 7. Her current role in emergency services communications means she has strong relationships with journalists and chiefs of staff at all Melbourne media outlets. She is also super active on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and her content is of a high calibre. On the side she is a co-founder of Prahran based charity Walk-in Wardrobe, which has raised more than $10,000 for Australian charities. The event has gained national media attention and sponsorship through her role as publicist .

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I am a dyed-in-the-wool Melbournite passionate about media, social responsibility and community engagement.

I love working in the media and communications industry, as I am engaging and enthusiastic about storytelling. I’ve worked in print, television and public relations, and am currently working in emergency services communications.

I’m a prolific tweeter and my Twitter feed is a mix of reality TV observations and public transport gripes. I’m a new home owner and dream of owning a pet platypus.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

On the train to work I read our media clips and Google alerts and browse Twitter to see what is in the news that morning. I jump straight on social media when I get to my desk to moderate any comments or respond to enquiries.

If there have been any fires or incidents overnight I take the media release written by our operational communications team, finesse it and upload it to our website and social media channels. I might call around a few media outlets and pitch angles to them if they’re not already covering it.

Every day is different. If I’m not writing communications strategies and developing our campaigns, I’m media training firefighters, organising photo shoots, responding to media enquiries, writing Ministerial briefings, planning events or even responding to incidents to manage media at the scene.

The diversity in my days is what keeps me coming back to work every day and the people are fantastic.

When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?

I always wanted to be a writer and I loved knowing everything before anyone else – so I became a journalist! I wrote for a daily paper for almost four years, and then produced television for six months before I saw my current role advertised. It was the dream combination of writing, event management and autonomy I’d been craving.

 Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?

Definitely the Safe Mistake Zone campaign we launched last winter with the CFA. After a few years of unsuccessful traditional fire safety campaigns that flopped when they hit the market we decided we wanted to do something different and impactful. We wanted to use social media and humour, a combination that hadn’t been done in the fire sector in Australia before.

We engaged a creative team who analysed all our fire data and determined that trying to scare people was not working, but engaging them in a fun message would lead to increased fire safety behaviour.

Our campaign hinged on the concept that mistakes at home caused most preventable house fires, and we urged people to visit our website and make a #safemistake instead. The content was shareable and engaging, we developed a website, we held a media launch at Fed Square and we sent out personalised #safemistake content to journalists and media personalities.

The post campaign evaluation in 2014 found 79% of people who saw the campaign took fire safety actions in their home and we won the 2015 APCO Australasia Communications Award.

The 2015 Safe Mistake Zone campaign has just recently concluded and I’m eager to see how it fared this year!

What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?

I was the first reporter at my newspaper to get an iPhone and I remember going to a car crash and emailing photos and my story back to the news desk; they had the story online before I got back.

The other big change is the role social media plays in how emergency management communicates with the public. I’ve been working with Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) on a social media strategy for how agencies can use the tools to better engage with the community during an emergency AND conversely, how incident managers can draw information from the community to help better inform their decisions at an incident – exciting times!

What quality do you look for in your communication team members?

Initiative! We work in a fast-paced, exciting and (sometimes) life-threatening environment and you need to be tenacious and confident in your communication skills to quickly and effectively communicate key messages and warnings to our audience – which is most commonly communities at risk.

We want people who can look at the firefighter jargon and turn it into easy to consume messages across a number of mediums (our website, for media and on social media).

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’ something people think just happens with no idea how much thought and strategy goes on behind the scenes!

Columns, cats, celebrities and cash


ausnewsNews making news this week, The Huffington Post has launched an Australian version, with co-host of Today Lisa Wilkinson appointed as its editor-at-large.

Supported by Fairfax Media, HuffPost Australia appears to be a positive addition to burgeoning local online media
landscape. Other players in the competitive field include the Guardian Australia, Buzzfeed and the Daily Mail Australia. In addition there are traditional players including, Fairfax digital mastheads and ABC News online. The combination of players brings a range of content for a diverse readership – all easily accessible for the ever-growing audience.

And to give you a sense of the growing audience: HuffPost AU’s twitter following has almost reached 5,000.

The Huffington Post has a massive following in the US and sets its own political agenda (watch out Donald Trump). It allows readers to comment on the columns and have their say. How will the Huffington Post survive in the sunburnt country?

HuffPost Australia has outlined a goal to be profitable within three years, but it has already sparked controversy over its practice not to pay all of its contributors to its blog. It’s something also done by Buzzfeed; offering those who contribute ‘exposure’ rather than ‘cash’.

With the overwhelming success of platforms like Buzzed our crew at the c word thinks the Huffington Post with its broad range of content and opinion pieces has a great chance of survival in the local market and will be a great addition to the digital media we can get our hands on.

“HuffPost Australia will be dedicated to producing great original reporting about the critical issues that Australians face, and to telling stories that focus on helping Australians live more fulfilling lives, while opening up our blogging platform to voices from all across the country to start a conversation on the topics that matter to Australians most,” said the Queen of The Huffington Post Arianna Huffington.

To celebrate the arrival of the local version of the Huffington Post, we took a look at the c word sections that this online medium contains in its columns, including a whole area dedicated to cats (we know this is popular after channel 7’s TV show last week).

Here are our top five c word picks from the original US version:

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew



#CommsCorner – Joel Carnegie’s courage & creativity


This week we chat to @joelcarnegie, a professional storyteller, facilitator/speaker and creative industry & media consultant. He has produced stories on screen and on radio for various media outlets in Australia and overseas – hosting and producing a variety of talks, music based and live-to-air shows. Listen out for him on ABC RN and other places around the country.JoelCarnegie_CellophaneBlog

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

Hey, I’m Joel Carnegie – I’m the Executive Producer of international media production house, The Space Company. I’m passionate about exploring concepts and ideas in the form of features & documentaries. I’m also an actor/musician. I have been to Mongolia.

Tell us about your typical workday?

Every day is different. It depends on which part of the storytelling cycle you find yourself in. You might be pitching ideas, developing stories, following leads, rehearsing scripts or having an acting lesson, heading out into the field to record interviews, or back in the studio behind the microphone on a live broadcast.

When did you first know you wanted to work in media?

I’ve always followed a life in performance, so it was a natural step from being a musician, to being a presenter/producer/actor/storyteller/etc. I made my first radio program when I was seven, so I guess; I’ve had this in my blood for a while!

Which tools can’t you live without?

laptop, portable microphone, a bottle of kombucha and my yoga mat.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Keeping on top of the admin!

What’s been the biggest change to radio since you began your career?

Podcasting and social media has revolutionised the way people access the medium. However, people still want to listen to interesting content, it’s just the way it’s delivered that has changed.

What quality do you look for in your team members?

Dedication, courage, respect, creativity, loyalty.

Community corporate collaboration critical: survey of ASX100 reveals


the c word has always believed: companies are at their best when they have a competitive-edge, creative-thinkers,  community collaborations and a focus on making a positive impact on society. That’s how we’ve always run our business, and that’s how our clients also operate.

Shared value, a term officially coined in the Harvard Business Review in 2011, has given business, government and non-profits a name to use.

Today our client The Shared Value Project released the results from the 2015 ‘State of Shared Value Survey’ with a panel discussion hosted by NAB along with media partner AFR Boss Magazine. You may have also seen details of the survey in your Friday morning copy of AFR’s Boss Magazine.

We’ve just left the panel discussion and we can report that while the global movement might be strong, Australian businesses are making shared value their own. It can be seen in companies across the nation from insurers to banks to FMCGs.

You may already recognise the concept within your own organisation. If so, you should join the community of Australian business leaders committed to advancing shared value in Australia.

The results of the survey, which are now available online or in the latest issue of AFR’s Boss Magazine, present an impressive picture of shared value in Australia. The survey targeted a combination of ASX100 companies and other organisations with demonstrable experience or interest in creating shared value.

And it’s not only Australians who are impressed by the results. International shared value trailblazer Mark Kramer has said he is “deeply impressed by the enthusiasm for shared value in Australia.”

The report also includes some great examples of shared value in Australia, and provides evidence of the challenges facing companies wishing to pursue a shared value strategy.

Whatever business you’re in, we encourage you to pick up a copy of the survey results and find out more about shared value.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew