Closing comment – 18 July – crowdfunded carbs cause for concern?

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In the spirit of this week’s Bastille Day: bienvenue à cellophane!

That’s where our French begins and ends unfortunately. And to save you the pain of opening Google Translate, we’ll keep the rest of this post in English.

Now, how much would you pay for a potato salad? $5? $10? $40? How about $40k?

That’s right, an American potato salad connoisseur has used crowdfunding site Kickstarter to raise more than $40,000 to make a potato salad. Now that’s a recipe we should all follow!

For $40k he’s offering cashed up carb enthusiasts the recipe along with a carb inspired concert and a potato salad party. While the ‘crowd’ of funders is getting ready to overload on potato salad, others are asking: has crowdfunding gone too far?

Crowdfunding is an alternative financing vehicle that has gone from strength to strength across the world. Normally it involves accessing finance from the “crowd” to fund an initiative and it’s all done via the web.

The potato salad and other recent examples, such as funding a movie of Veronica Mars, have demonstrated it could be funding for pretty much anything. It could be a nonprofit, political, charitable, community or commercial initiative. What’s your next big idea?

Closer to home, crowdfunding is being used by a Perth entrepreneur for far more altruistic reasons. Local DJ David Green came up with the idea for ‘hopeful packs’ while buying a bottle of water on a hot summer day.

Even better, new research has revealed that crowdfunding is likely to be more successful for women than men! That’s a coup for any female entrepreneurs or non-profit fundraisers looking for new avenues of fundraising.

While there are plenty of inspiring success stories of crowdfunding there are also a number of controversies, and it’s critical that any organisation or individual looks at their crowdfunding project from all angles.

For a little additional inspiration, here are some more examples of crowdfunding in action:

Cheers,

Jack & the c word crew

Cherish complaints & criticism – cut the negative connotations

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Do you get the impression most people don’t like feedback?

What’s to like about being told that you’re not doing something well enough or behaving in a way that is unacceptable?

Complaints and criticism come with plenty of negative connotations, so what if you look at it from another point of view? Say, for example that the information someone is giving you is steering you in a way that can help you improve. Or, if taking on your manager’s advice actually helps you do your job more effectively or help you relate to your fellow co-workers more empathetically.

As a manager and as an employee you’re going to have to give and receive feedback regularly. You can’t chose how people respond to your feedback. What you can control the way you chose to give feedback and how you respond to negative feedback (complaints or criticism).

Giving constructive feedback

There’s power in delivering constructive feedback. Again, most people will avoid seeking out feedback. Growth is difficult, painful and often involves giving up something in order to get something else. Goodbyes are never easy and people will resist change, even if not on a conscious level. So, delivering feedback must be done honestly and sensitively.

For more read Forbes’ in depth article on how to foster employee trust through constructive feedback.

Responding to negative feedback

Let’s start with responding to the negative stuff. Even if you loathe it, negative feedback is a source of vital information to help you and your business improve. So much so, seeking out constant feedback will create a culture of inclusion and your team will feel as though they can be honest—and that you care about their needs. Whether it’s through an organised feedback process or one-on-one, regular feedback will help both you and your organisation grow.

Here are 5 steps for getting better employee feedback from Entrepreneur.com if you’re keen to read more.

There are definitively a couple of ways to look at feedback, and we are advocating putting yourself in the mindset to learn from and not react to criticism or complaints in a negative way.

You’ll see. It will empower you and your team.

And perhaps don’t follow the Veep’s feedback process …

 

Closing out on top – 5 tips for getting your comms in order

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Calendar images

If you’re like us, when 30 June arrives we like to take some time and reflect on the year gone by. We look at our achievements, areas to improve on and strategies necessary to reach our goals.

Here are some tips:

 

1. Review your communication channels – what’s going out to who and when?

Conducting an audit will give you a whole picture of your communications and you’ll be able to see any gaps and cut any channels that are ineffective. Do you really still need the hardcopy newsletter? If you have employees working offline and not digitally savvy, the answer might be yes! For those working online remotely do they feel engaged with the current intranet or online updates? Ask them. You don’t need to wait for the annual survey to come around to get some feedback, and it’ll give you the data you need to make any tweaks.

2. Tweak your communication plan – it’s a work in progress not a final product.

Usually once a year, maybe not even that, you’ll get together with all the right people and develop a strategic communication plan. This document isn’t a finished masterpiece but rather a work in progress and a working document to be reviewed frequently to see how you’re tracking against the targets you’ve set. Interestingly, lots of organisations do not even have a comms plan! So, if you’re feeling bad about not doing a refresh often enough don’t—you’re ahead already if you have a plan.

3. Campaign review – what’s worked and what hasn’t?

Looking at each campaign critically doesn’t mean you have to be hard on yourself about what hasn’t worked or cover up your failings. It’s an opportunity to grow and learn from the attempts to improve. As the saying goes, ‘if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not making anything’—thanks John Wooden for the quote we agree. Picking apart the program of a recent campaign can set you up with valuable insights otherwise undiscovered.

4. Make of list of influencers – get time in the diary to meet them.

Within your organisation, there are people who have the power to get things done. And, with their help you can get your job done with ease. Earmark the influencers, naysayers and fence sitting plotters—it’s good to know where everyone fits in—and figure out how to spend more time in the ear of the influencers.

5. Make a list of the year’s comms achievements – enjoy the successes.

Sometimes we tend to focus on what we’re not doing well and forgot to pat ourselves on the back for our achievements. Take the time to make a list of all the things that you have done well through your comms efforts and reflect on why things worked and celebrate the successes.

Happy end of financial year (well almost)!

Calling all writers, if you have the Galle to write.

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Templeberg-2This unique opportunity is open to writers from around Australia to apply for the Templeberg Residential Writing Fellowship and spend up to four weeks on Sri Lanka’s south coast, in the town of Galle.

Galle is home to a literary festival and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, providing the perfect destination for Australian writers to be creative.

“Writers like Michelle deKrester, winner of the 2013 Miles Franklin Award, and Paul Bowes have previously called Sri Lanka their home, finding inspiration in the mix of cultures, the tropical scenery and the incomparable sunsets for their works,” said Templeberg Villa co-owner Christopher Shields. “Hosting a writer at Templeberg Villa is our way to support great Australian and Sri Lankan writing.”

The fellowship will be judged by winner of last year’s fellowship Michelle Wright acclaimed Sri Lankan-based author Royston Ellis, Victorian travel writer Michelle Aung Thin, and the owners of Templeberg Villa, Brent Carey and Shields.

Michelle Wright is an award-winning short story and flash fiction writer. Her first short story was shortlisted for The Age Short Story competition in 2011 and her second Maggot won in 2012. In 2013 she won the Grace Marion Wilson Emerging Writers competition and was runner up in the Bridport Prize (UK).

For Wright, “ last year’s residency was a month of seeing, of noticing, of taking the time that I needed to write. Retracing my own Sri Lankan origins, it was a month of searching for stories in a land where I am already, in a small and inconsequential way, a part of the story myself.”

Royston Ellis is the author of more than 60 published books (Bradt Guide to Sri Lanka, novels, biographies, and volumes of poetry). Originally from England, Royston began his literary career age 17 as a poet performing his poems to rock musicians such as Cliff Richard and The Beetles (with whom he urged to put Beat into Beetles). He was the British representative of the Beat Generation. His seminal book, ‘The Beat Scene’, was first published in 1961. Royston has been living in Sri Lanka for 34 years.

For Ellis, “the stories that best appeal to him are those with passion. Sri Lanka is the perfect place to write, especially at Templeberg, because of the solitude and solace of being on this resplendent island, where everyone is a colourful character”.

Michelle Aung Thin is the author of the novel ‘The Monsoon Bride’. She has also written essays, short fiction and advertising. Michelle was born in Burma during the year of the military coup d’état but now calls Melbourne home. Her novel is set during the infancy of the nationalist movement in colonial Rangoon. Michelle is running a workshop on Travelling Places at Writers Victoria in 2014.

The Fellowship will cover one economy return airfare from Melbourne to Colombo in Sri Lanka, a 30-day tourist visa, internal transfer costs, accommodation, full board (all meals) and A$1,000 spending allowance.

Applications are invited from emerging and established writers who have been employed for a minimum of two years in the fields of journalism, creative writing (fiction and non-fiction, performing arts or poetry) or online communications (like blogging). The Fellowship should be used to develop and prepare a new or existing work for publication.

Applications must be submitted online by Friday 27 June 2014. For more information and to apply click here.

School’s back for winter and the modern communicator

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Human head with comms roles_v3I’m thrilled to be part of PRIA’s Winter School program in Melbourne from 16-18 June. It’s an event for both experienced and emerging communication practitioners, where industry professionals will share their insights, strategies and tools for the modern communicator.

First up, and leading the charge, it’s my job to set the scene for a stellar line up of speakers across the three days and get the room energised.

I’ll be covering trends in the industry including the converging landscape and what the shrinking industry means to those within it with journos moving into pr roles, ad agencies dabbling in public relations as well as social, brand and marketing campaigns.

Here’s a peak behind the curtain …

What does the modern communicator do?

As well as being exemplar writers, bloggers and Tweeters we also need to be expert strategic planners, stakeholder engagement specialists, community and media managers, and the list goes on.

So, how are we coping with all the demands of the modern communication landscape?

Although the pressure to be constantly ‘on’ is wreaking havoc with the posture of the modern day PR professional, we are incredibly adaptive and as such can meet the needs of today’s landscape, learning a range of diverse skills and sharing them with our clients and organisations.

And, what’s next for the industry?

As an industry we’re moving away from the term ‘PR’ and the reputation it has developed. Today’s communication professionals can be involved in a range of areas within an organisation from traditional activities such as investor relations, media relations and internal communications to emerging areas such as corporate social responsibility and digital storytelling. I’ll explore these trends and give you the numbers that support a move towards building employee brand advocates and trust, both internally and externally.

It’s an incredibly exciting time for communication professionals, with social media bringing about real feedback for organisations and an opportunity to build relationships with customers and clients.

So, for anyone looking to sharpen their skills, connect with industry professionals and broaden their understanding of the industry the PRIA Winter School event is not to be missed.

See you there.

Have a great long weekend everyone!

Cheers, Jack

Cocktail of the week: The Boston Spirit

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MBSCACwordcrewWe love our city and we love the city of Boston … so what’s better than the combination of the two!

Last night, the c word crew of communicators gathered at the Athenaeum Club for a celebration of Melbourne and Boston’s sister cities relationship.

We thought we’d share some of our Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs inspired pics – thanks Atika, Briar and Helen for dressing to the nines.

All washed down with the cocktail of the week: the Boston Spirit created by the Melbourne Gin Company.

The gala dinner also saw the launch of the Hugh Rogers Fellowships which are now open for outstanding leaders to travel to Boston and further their education.

Head off & enjoy your weekend with a little Melbourne Gin and this delicious recipe:

  • 1 part cold brewed Earl Grey Tea
  • 1 part Lillet Blanc
  • 3 parts Melbourne Gin Company gin
  • Shaken
  • Garnished with an orange twist.

 

Instant feedback boosts engagement

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When you plan your next event, don’t forget to include a Twitter hashtag to ensure the conversation continues long after the last guest has departed.

We have been in event planning mode for the past few months to celebrate our client veski’s significant milestone – 10 years of inspiring innovation – and make it as memorable and as momentous as possible.

Last week was chock-a-block full of events, media and celebrations, culminating in a gala dinner over the weekend on the evening of the actual anniversary. More to come on these events in upcoming blog posts!

It has involved a plethora of plans, run sheets, speech notes, venue theming, collateral writing and design and to top it all off ensuring there’s a Twitter hashtag for audience participation and to capture the conversation.

Among the events to celebrate the milestone was an industry symposium: Smart Australia 2030 at Federation Square.

When you bring an engaged audience and leading minds together to talk about the future of the country you’re going to get lots of involvement.

So, if you don’t have the right hashtag you’re going to miss out on all the valuable comments and ideas from the audience.

 

Here are some of the tweets from the #veski2030 symposium

veski live tweets_FA

 

Listen to your audience

When you listen to your audience you get instant and valuable feedback.

The next time you’re planning an event, don’t forget to include social media as part of your engagement strategy—what’s your hashtag, how are you going to manage the comments during the events and how will you ensure all participates by know how to follow the conversation.