Diana Gibson in the #CommsCorner


From e-waste to fair-trade to Australian birdlife, Diana Gibson has held a range of marketing and communication roles across a diverse range of industries. We work closely with Diana in her role as Head of Membership Development and Communications at BirdLife Australia (four National Bird Week campaigns to date!) and this week she joins us in the #CommsCorner.

My elevator statement?

If you think it can work, step out of your comfort zone and give it a go….if it doesn’t, the sun will still rise tomorrow and you can try again with that learning behind you.

A Typical Day?

My day starts with checking in with team members to see how they are travelling, checking in on media exposure and bird and conservation stories of the day, and tracking how our supporter and new member campaigns are going. Then it gets diverse…it might be running a consultation on strategic directions for BirdLife Australia’s two scholarly journals, finalising a partnership with the likes of Aurora Expeditions and arranging for a project staffer to accompany their passengers on an Antarctic adventure, working with our scientists to select icon birds to headline a campaign, talking priorities with a volunteer branch committee member.. and on the odd occasion I might even get out to a BirdLife Australia observatory or project, spot some local birds (with lots of help…I’m no expert!!) and see firsthand  what is so important about bird conservation.

Which tools can’t you live without?

My tablet (funny how I could live without one a couple of years back!) … and the phone – so much better to talk than email. Oh, and Raisers Edge, our Supporter Relationship Management system!

What are the biggest challenges in your  role?

The diversity of audiences BirdLife Australia needs to reach… from the general backyard bird lover to the conservation advocate , the professional / academic whose life-work is birds and conservation and of course, the twitcher, or bird-enthusiast. And of course making the not-for-profit dollar work really hard for bird conservation.

Best Campaign you’ve ever worked on?

I have to say BirdLife Australia’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count, of course! Nearly 50,000 participants and we’re only two years into this annual event! Its been a big shift for BirdLife Australia to focus on reaching the average punter with no or little experience of birds and get them active, discovering what’s in their own backyards! Mark it in your diary now for October 2016.

And can I have another ‘best’? It goes back about 15 years now – Oxfam International’s Make Trade Fair campaign and the fun of being part of planning a launch in Trafalgar Square in London, with Chris Martin on stage! All for a very serious issue – the market disadvantages faced by many workers and producers around the world.

What has been the biggest change to communications since beginning my career? 

The Digital Age! Not only do you need to understand enough about the technology to know what is possible, it’s the accompanying shift from ‘push’ communications to ‘conversation’ that is still challenging people.

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

The dream of having sufficient funds to invest in the ‘Holy Grail’ – a fully integrated, dynamic  supporter engagement /intelligence system. Raisers Edge is great –but  there is still so much further we could go.

Fully integrated engagement/intelligence systems are out of reach of the small NFP, but central  to really getting the best out of relations with supporters, donors, volunteers, campaigners.

What quality do I look for in communications team members?

Can do, will try, will persevere and will take the initiative. And a great ‘stakeholder’ influencer!

Coffee capsules, Clooney and copycats


Copycats are nothing new in the coffee capsule game, but a copycat Clooney – now that’s a new one.

George Clooney has been the face of Nespresso for a decade now. That means I’ve been addicted to those shiny little coffee pods for 10 years. Time to celebrate by cracking another pod of caffeine … my 2000th??.

This week, George Clooney’s doppelgänger became the star of an Israeli competitor’s “espresso club” ad. Nespresso wants the look-alike ads to cease and wants the company to pay up: compensation.

The humble coffee pod has become big business, with many companies managing to sneak around Nespresso’s patented machines and make their eco-friendly, sustainable coffee with a hint of Brazil fit the Nespresso machines.

Coffee quality aside, how does brand imitation affect the original brands?

We’ve all seen it: two similar-looking products sitting side by side on the supermarket shelf. The packaging aesthetics almost identical, generally one from a no name or store-owned brand, and cheaper than the national brand.

Although we see many no-name colas on the shelves – none are “the real thing”. No one wants Pepsi if they’ve ordered a Coke! Companies like Coca-Cola, and Nespresso have invested time and resources into creative packaging, advertising and branding to create an image in the consumers mind only to have another brand ride the coattails of those investments. Bring in the celebrity ambassadors and like Clooney they are so important. They make people want to buy a certain brand, become loyal to it and ultimately stick with it.

Clooney’s Nespresso ads are brilliant Being turned down by a series of beautiful women who are more interested in the coffee machine and its colourful single-use pods than him. We love that he pokes fun at himself, and the ads contradict his public persona: the suave, ladies-man who is a little bit smug.

The ads play with the idea of Nespresso being more important than ‘George Who?’ as one of the Nespresso films is entitled. Clooney is shown being out-attracted by a fine cup of Nespresso or mistaken for a valet by Club members. The print and billboard ads show the star as a Nespresso drinker and simply affirm ‘What Else?’ or zoom him out to focus on the cup of espresso he holds in his hand, instead.  The consistent and confident message: Nespresso is more suave and sexier than one of the sexiest men alive. It makes you think of the brand as smooth and irresistible.

Next time you’re in the area, pop on into the c word office & let’s have a chat about copycats and communications over a capsule of coffee: a nespresso.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Communication classes & corporate chill out


IMG_4190.jpgWhat does success mean to you?

That was the question I had to consider yesterday as the final presenter for PRIA’s Summer Masterclass in Melbourne.

So how do you kick off a discussion on a topic that means something different to every single person? Open it up to the floor, that’s how!

I started by asking the class of communicators to share some of their recent successes. The response was amazing with some truly remarkable personal and professional success stories.

While each story was different, they were all underpinned by key characteristics that had helped them achieve that success. SUCCESS, we had reach a great point to jump into Richard St John’s 8 Secrets of Success.

If you haven’t watched this short video or read about the 8 traits of great, then do yourself a favour and check out the Ted.

With Australia Day almost here, meaning the official start of the working year for many, it’s important to reflect on what success will look like in 2016 for you. And also take the time to celebrate your successes from 2015 – and work out how you achieved them.

After a hectic week of speaking engagements, multi-tasking and running from meeting to meeting, we were in desperate need of a chill out. Luckily for us we got to try our first yoga session this morning. An early start was the perfect way to set ourselves up for success personally and professionally – and a good opportunity to start practicing some mindfulness.

According to The Harvard Business Review, “As a leadership strategy, mindfulness helps people to be more effective by directing focus to the most pertinent task at hand. Deprogramming multitasking tendencies and intentionally focusing with full attention results in higher quality interactions and decisions. Mindful decision makers take the time to consider all of their options, and therefore make more-informed decisions. Managers who model and promote mindful practices with their teams create an environment of engagement.” In the world of smartphones and always being “on”, taking time out to make important decisions can lead to better results in business.

David Gelles, a reporter for The New York Times, first reported on the rise of corporate mindfulness programs in 2012 for The Financial Times, when he described a novel but promising initiative at General Mills. Since then, similar training programs have been introduced at Ford, Google, Target, Adobe  – so bring on more corporate yoga.

namaste and Happy Australia Day,

Jack and the c word crew.

Nicole Sultana in the #CommsCorner


This week in the #CommsCorner we are chatting with documentary photographer & social commentator Nicole Sultana. When she’s not working on assignment, she is Marketing Director at Insight Consultancy Solutions in New York City. We met Nicole a few years back working on a ‘Festival of Ideas’ for Consumer Affairs Victoria, and even though she left us for NYC (jealous much!), we have continued to watch Nicole innovate in the marketing field with an insatiable curiosity and a desire to share what she learns.  She has edited consumer and trade magazines, created iPhone and android apps, breathed life and functionality into tired websites, developed marketing strategies for corporate and government clients and accepted many photographic assignments. Check out her Instagram here.

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

A spiritual being, who believes the key to living in harmony is being able to communicate more freely and without fear.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

Is there a typical day? Lol ;P

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

Since I was very little, I was always writing stories and wanting to share these with others.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

Mother Theresa. She communicated through words, actions and humility. She communicated the truth through her words, people believed what she said through her actions and she gained respect through her humility.

Which tools can’t you live without?

None. I believe the moment we ‘rely’ on any one tool, we then limit our potential, our creativity and we become lazy and complacent. I do my best work when I have the rug pulled from beneath me and when I am forced to get out of my comfort zone.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Keeping up with the ever-changing communications channels / trends while also remaining true to the traditional key elements of great and successful communication.

Which campaign do you most admire?

The latest Australian University advert promoting its Law degree – for its emotive brilliance, intelligence, believability and timeliness.

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

The speed at which communicating can now occur – it’s instant.

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

Cut = paid advertising. Keep = talented staff, freelancers, writers, designers, photographers etc… you are only as good as your people.

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

Open-minded, flexible, left-of-centre thinkers and people who are genuinely nice people with good morals and a good sense of humour – I need my days to include laughter.

What’s your favourite brand?

Weird as it sounds, since I am in the field of communications / marketing, but I am not personally into ‘brands’ but rather choose things and experiences based on quality, my desires, my actual needs and value.   

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

The book I am currently editing, lol… Designing a Strategy that Works, by Sarah Thrift – Successful communication is underpinned by a robust strategy.

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

Keep it simple. Or the other age-old favourite; Always have someone proof read your work before you publish it (no matter how brilliant of a writer you think you are, it’s so easy to miss mistakes in your own writing).

Finish this sentence: *Great ‘Communication is…’ imperative to living in a harmonious society.

Natalie Collard in the #CommsCorner


FTA4dairyThis week we chat with Natalie Collard AKA @nrcollard who we met sitting on a panel with our client veski. From a start as an Army reservist, Natalie is now Corporate Affairs Manager Victoria & Tasmania, Telstra and still makes time for a number of causes.

Who are you professionally and personally?

I’m values-driven and passionate about making a difference. A Director of Landcare Australia, I’m committed to sharing experiences, networks and time to support causes and people, in particular young women.

A former Army reservist, I’ve gravitated towards roles of high impact and national importance. I managed an emergency post-September 11 arms control meeting in Paris, addressed the UN in Geneva on Biological Weapons and negotiated Australia’s first bilateral treaty with the international organisation, called NATO.  As CEO of Australian Dairy Farmers Ltd, I had the freedom to innovate which led to a doubling of income and nationally-recognised sustainability improvements.  I was awarded NAB Women’s Agenda Emerging Leader and Telstra Business Woman of the Year for Victoria in 2013. This created a pathway to my current role as Telstra’s Corporate Affairs Manager for Victoria and Tasmania.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

Meet with MPs and government stakeholders, manage resolution of constituent issues, internal cross-BU strategy input and execution and CEO visit planning and attendance, internal cross-functional Board meetings and that left-field thing that keeps me on my toes.

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

I’ve always loved the relationships side of business, I just didn’t know what it was called!

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

I admire Ariana Huffington for her tenacity and courage in backing herself.  She has many simple messages which I find helpful for everyday life – such as the importance of a good night’s sleep!

My best mentors have been my team members – I’ve learnt so much from them and together we’ve done amazing things.

Which tools can’t you live without?

Twitter!  Great news source as well as means of direct communication.  Google is also my friend.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

The threat of taking complaints to media, public domain or escalating internally is common in consumer markets.  As well as resolving the matter, communicating with empathy is a must and appreciated by the stakeholder.

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

My favourite campaign was in my role as CEO of Australian Dairy Farmers. We used twitter to call for a dairy positive free trade agreement with China.  It was successful, leading to television, front page newspaper and international exposure.  It also led to political commitments on the day.

Which campaign do you most admire?

I love brands like Lululemon Athletica that sell philosophies not just products.

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

The fact that everyone can publish media is a game changer, social media is legitimate and often becomes the story in itself.  Not all sectors are agile enough to deal with this.

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

Cut – creative consultants.  While an external consultant view can keep things fresh, the creative power and left-field insights of team members can always be better harnessed.

Keep – investing in your profile.  Whether this is brand, marketing or advocacy you need to stay in the frame.

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

Genuine passion and empathy.  With those two elements in place work is going to be fun, constantly evolving and always about the customer or stakeholder.

What’s your favourite brand?

Lululemon Athletica.  I love that they sell a lifestyle, philosophy and mindset, allowing them to double the previous high price point for yoga pants.

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

Start with Why, Simon Sinek.

“Two ways to influence human behaviour: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
― Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

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

Be bold and aspirational, as long as you have a comprehensive plan you’re in a great position to identify and manage risks while achieving something amazing.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is judged by the visceral, not the intellect.  Authenticity is not negotiable.

C for Casting our eyes back over the year. In hindsight…


It’s that time of year again. The Kris Kringle presents are getting swapped and it’s time to reflect on another 12 months of c-words, and we as you know love communications and all things that go with it. So many c-words to look back on from the past 12 months. Wow 2015 you have been truly amazing!

The 1989 movie Back to the Future, Part II gave the world a fictitious view of what 2015 might look like through the eyes of Marty McFly, predicting things like flying cars and portable fusion power. the c word doesn’t yet have a time machine, but as the new year winds down, here’s a look at some of the real events that helped shape the communications landscape and the world in 2015.

There were no flying cars but we did have a chopper crisis in Canberra, a new royal cherub, Bruce Jenner transformed herself into Caitlyn, and Hillary Clinton continues to sprint towards the WhiteHouse!

Now sit back & catch up on our commentary:

And how could we forget the final moments of Mad Men … Coke or coastal contemplation?

Twitter has also released its top trends of 2015 – which highlighted the top 10 topics that people discussed. From Caitlyn Jenner to One Direction (all the really important stuff). Some did come as a bit of a surprise. https://2015.twitter.com/retweeted

Social Media as usual was on top of all the breaking news. Here’s a look at their top trends for 2015. https://2015.twitter.com/top-trends – a truly engaging platform!

And YouTube released its lookback at 2015 through a musical video of course. Take a look here: https://youtu.be/KK9bwTlAvgo

YouTube has been doing these types of video summaries for a few years now. But 2015 is the brands 10th birthday – a special occasion.

Facebook has been so kind to let their members create a “year in review”. Who wouldn’t want to look at a years worth of selfies?

Now here’s the the final countdown to 2016. What will the year ahead bring?

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Cinema, customers and creativity – catch up on #CommsCorner from 2015



It’s been a great year in the #CommsCorner with a wide range of communicators sharing what communication means to them.

Pour yourself a cuppa, treat yourself to an extra one of the advent calendar chocolates and spend some time in the #CommsCorner.

Cheers to all of these amazing communicators for spending some time in the #CommsCorner in 2015.

Watch out for the next round of #CommsCorner starting in mid January 2016.