C is for celebration

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Today. Thursday, 24 November – the last Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States, officially kicking off the holiday season. In fact, more people in the US celebrate Thanksgiving than Christmas – making it the country’s most loved holiday.

In 1939, during the Great Depression, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to create a boost to retailers before Christmas. The precursor to what is now known as “Black Friday” – the biggest shopping day of the year.

If you are interested in the history of this holiday check out Melanie Kirkpatrick’s fascinating book, “Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience”.

But if pop culture is more your thing, you can read all about what the late Joan Rivers served up as a thanksgiving feast.

Many celebrities get involved and share their thanksgiving stories and time.

And in New York there’s the annual and colourful Macy’s Parade.

Wherever you are, however your year has been, take time today to be reflective and give thanks for the things important to you.

Happy celebrations from all of us at the c word.

Digital disruption creating new digital reality – even for lawyers

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6560824157_9868a5037e_oLast week, Victoria University’s Sir Zelman Cowen Centre  hosted an excellent conference exploring themes of digital disruption in the legal profession.

It follows a recent Wired article which put the case that “the practice of law is one area of expertise that has remained stubbornly resistant to disruption”.

As a generalisation,  lawyers do tend to be conservative and risk-averse. Their quest for perfection is at odds with the experimental approach that sees failure as a necessary part of development and innovation.

However, at last weeks conference many innovative themes and ideas emerged. There were lots of positive indications that the legal industry is ripe for disruption.

In 1965, Gordon Moore made a prediction that would set the pace for our modern digital revolution. From careful observation of an emerging trend, Moore foresaw that computing would dramatically increase in power, and decrease in relative cost, at an exponential pace.

Today, a proliferation of technology is influencing consumer interactions and expectations.

Customers are becoming far less accepting of rigid processes when dealing with businesses, and legal firms are no exception to this. Many new startup law firms like Nest Legal are putting customers at the core of everything they do. In the process, they are redefining the customer experience.

Technology is driving significant changes in the way businesses operate and create products.

Organisations – even law firms and our legal system –  are re-engineering and disrupting their own business model through innovation to keep up with the velocity of change, while continuing to create value.

This digital era has also created challenges and risks that didn’t exist two decades ago.

When assessing the implications of digital disruption, consider the fact that new digital business models are the principal reason why just over half of the names of companies on the Fortune 500 have disappeared since the year 2000 – just 16 years ago!

There has also been a paradigm shift in the definition of disruption, and yet, we are only at the beginning of what the World Economic Forum calls the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, characterised not only by mass adoption of digital technologies.

The conference highlighted that many law firms will increasingly be using predictive analytics and see a lot of focus on technology, in areas such as blockchain, contract automation and artificial intelligence.

In the meantime, digital innovation is enabling an exciting wave of change for  legal professionals willing to risk the ride.

Briar Lloyd in the #CommsCorner

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This week, we revisit this post because our official c-word correspondent Briar Lloyd is in the US to bring us live coverage from the 2016 Election … and to have a holiday! But mostly to bring us live coverage!

This week we chat with @briarlloyd who is the Project Coordinator for our client the Shared Value Project. Briar moved across the Tasman from New Zealand and completed a degree at the University of Melbourne before forging a career in corporate social responsibility, communications and technology. When she’s not working, Briar can be found working on independent Australian films, or participating in conversations at the Henley Club. Briar is particularly interested in digital and new economies, cities and urban development, mobile banking technologies and access to services, and intraprenership and advocating for younger generations.

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I’m a hard working and determined third-culture kid working as part of the Shared Value Project team to change the role of business in society, and drive adoption and implementation of shared value strategies among leading companies, civil society and government organisations.

I love meeting new people and building strong relationships, often need to restrain myself from joining committees in my spare time, and am an enthusiast for arts and culture, international relations, reading, writing, cooking for my annoying food intolerances, working on my calendar al la Leslie Knope, and the Oxford comma.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

I’m definitely a morning person so like to get straight into things – first up checking for any urgent emails, news stories, or social media issues or conversations that need addressing, and then straight into some big ticket important tasks that might need a lot of clear-headed energy like writing copy, reports, project plans, or really important emails that might need some thoughtful words. I try to get any big important things over and done with first and then the rest of the day I’ll work on a range of tasks from managing events and campaigns, liaising with our member organisations, scheduling social media, meeting and liaising with media, writing briefings, managing our website, and other day to day tasks for the organisation, and then plan my next day. However it can be completely different when a lot of energy needs to be going into a big campaign or project, or when those days pop up where you need to be really reactive and responsive to unexpected issues or occurrences. Classic comms.

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

Growing up I was always obsessed with any form of media, whether it be magazines, books, TV, film, current affairs and pop culture, or just the internet in general. When I was studying media and communications, journalism, and politics and international studies at university, I really came to understand the importance of media and communications as a means to transfer information and knowledge, and shape society. From then on I knew it was important to be able to be to utilise communications in my work in some way, as it’s something than is relevant and important to all industries and sectors.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

I really admire/enjoy career stalking: Audrey Gelman – CEO and Co-founder of The Wing, previous press secretary to New York Comptroller Scott Stringer and champion on his campaign, re-launcher of the Downtown 4 Democracy political action committee, and spokesperson for Rock the Vote amongst many other things. Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr – co-founders and co-CEOs of Clique Media. Zoe Foster-Blake – author of books and columns, of which Channel Ten is adapting her book The Wrong Girl, Founder of Go-To Skincare, and general sassy social media extraordinaire. Mia Freedman – co-founder and Creative Director of Mamamia for her leadership, no filter, and the suite of excellent Mamamia podcasts. I am also really loving what Chelsea Handler is doing a the moment with her show Chelsea on Netflix, combining politics, current affairs, comedy, pop culture, and learning in an accessible, ‘big picture’ way.

Which tools can’t you live without?

My Apple Calendar synced across my various devises, can’t operate without it, I am crazy for planning and scheduling so that I can get the most out of each day.

Hootsuite for scheduling and planning social media content ahead of time across numerous channels.

The Skimm, a fantastic app, as they say definitely making it easer to be smarter by breaking down current affairs and what’s going on in the world into fresh daily editorial content, along with excellent recommendations into the latest books and long form articles to read.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

I think finding the balance between being strategic and reactive is always a challenge, so it’s a matter of being conscious of it and trying the best you can.

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

Apart from my current work, a really stand out opportunity I was lucky to have early on in my career as an intern, was working on the ‘This is GREAT Britain’ campaign. This was an amazing global campaign initiated in 2012 around the timing of the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and I really enjoyed the international relations component, which is one of my major interest areas. It was great to see this play out in an Australian context working on one of the events here around the Grand Prix. I really enjoyed the mix of stakeholders involved in the occasion where you had British Minister’s next to Hamish and Andy, Russel Howcroft, Jackie Stewart, British Consulate representatives, along with a British rock bank. I think this is what made it such an engaging campaign that is still continuing today.

 Which campaign do you most admire?

I am fascinated with Obsessee at the moment, developed by the aforementioned Clique Media targeted at Gen Z, and exists solely on social media as a content brand and community, no website. I’m older than the target market but really enjoy all the Snapchat content, and seeing how the model works for monetising branded social media content is incredibly interesting.

Locally I think Zoe Foster-Blake has been amazing with Go-To skin care. Not only a sensational product, but every step of customer interaction has incredibly witty messaging from their website, social media, packaging, and delivery notifications. It’s only available online, but the brand is fantastic at building relationship with customers.

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

There are so many more channels to navigate especially with social media. When I started there was a huge emphasis around Twitter and ‘words’ still, and now we have evolved to so much more imagery, video, and interactive based content such as with Instagram and Snapchat, and then completely new things like virtual reality which one of the organisations I work with is trialing to engage with customers. There has also been a similar change for journalists who are now expected not just to write articles but also various other forms of content such as videos and click-worthy images for social media, so if you are working in PR it’s a matter of being conscious of how you can really package a story or pitch. On a side note I’ve also really enjoyed the return of the podcast.

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

I think it’s incredibly important to carve out time and budget to make the effort to spend time with key stakeholders and meet them in person. Meet an important media contact for lunch or coffee. You can’t beat real life relationship building.

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

Someone who takes initiative, is interested and willing to build their knowledge, a good researcher, knows how to target the appropriate audience, enthusiastic, and is willing to go the extra mile.

What’s your favourite brand?

Uniqlo, Vanity Fair, Monocle, Wholefoods, Honest Company, and I really like how Go-To and Glossier have really evolved the beauty industry to focus more on real women in real life and customers giving life to products not the other way around, which is what the beauty industry has been based on for a long time.

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

Someone once prescribed me ‘Politics and the English Language’ by George Orwell which is worth the read, and re-read. I also highly recommend Contagious: Why Things Catch On, anything relevant to the industry or clients you are working with, and something hard copy like a magazine once and while as you can come across new information and content that you might not otherwise online.

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

A proper night’s sleeps makes all the difference to your ability to do good work – something applicable to all fields.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

…a means transfer knowledge and connect with others.

Creative storytelling – why we’re afraid of those unexplained noises at night

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“Some of these things are true and some of them lies. But they are all good stories.” ― Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall

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With the passing of Halloween it has got us thinking a lot about ghost stories. How powerful is that image of a ghost or demon that lingers in the back of our minds? Put there in our youth by stories read under the blanket with a flashlight or around a shadowy camp fire.

 

As humans we are drawn to stories and the emotions they contain. This is because we are social creatures and we want to be able to relate to others. Good stories surprise us, they make us think, they make us feel. We cheer for the hero and have empathy  for characters.

We are scared of the ghosts. They stick in our minds and make us think.

That’s why at the c word we spend a lot of time telling folk “that it is all about the narrative”. Getting the content and construct right is paramount to any good story. There’s a difference between Casper and the Flying Dutchman.

Storytelling may seem like an old fashioned tool – because it is. However, creative  storytelling is being used more frequently by corporates, brands and individuals in order to be distinctive and competitive. Coming up with a compelling story is no easy task.

How often do we struggle with that question “so what do you do?”. That 30 second elevator pitch is so important. It needs to be clear, concise and creative. You need to provide something memorable and leave the audience wanting more.

The same can be said for corporate storytelling. While data is important, a story can help us remember ideas and concepts in a way that numbers and graphs cannot. Stories make ideas stick. When telling a longer story the adage “less is more” applies (especially in horror stories).

So where to begin? A story using Freytag’s Pyramid — a dramatic structure that can be traced back to Aristotle – can be incredibly effective. It was used in five acts by Shakespeare and in Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein”.

Even science tells us about the importance of emotion and the story. Stories provoke a strong neurological response according to Paul Zak’s great piece for the Harvard Business Review.

Life happens in the narrative we tell one another. Make sure you have a powerful one to share (hopefully it’s not too scary) but is one, that fires the imagination, is vivid and memorable.

Cheers from the c word

Creativity and the art of successful communication

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2084669164_f531120bf7_oPop quiz: Which of these do you agree with?

A. Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality
B. Communication is not something I equate with creativity
C. Creativity in communication is prized and hard to obtain
D. Creativity in communication is best left to artisans
E. Creativity is just a trendy buzzword and grab-bag term that I tend to ignore

Picasso, whose birthday was on 25 October, became one of the most influential artists of the early 20th century, and has a lasting legacy that got us thinking about creativity – particularly the role it plays in creating effective and engaging communication.

One of the reasons Picasso’s skills are so vital when it comes to communication is because visualisation is paramount in our communication schema. In fact, you have likely heard the findings of Dr Albert Mehrabian’s 1950’s study: only 7 per cent of communications is verbal, while 38 per cent is tonal and 55 per cent is visual – body language and facial expression. This why creativity is such an important component in how we communicate.

At the c word we think the key to successful communication comes from being creative. Though we acknowledge being creative is no easy task. Not all of us have the skill of Picasso!

So what is creativity?

Richard Foster, a lecturer in management at Yale and director of McKinsey attempts to answer this question in an excellent article titled “What Is Creativity?

“Creative solutions are insightful, they’re novel, they’re simple, they’re elegant, and they’re generative,” he says. “When you find one creative idea, more often than not it triggers other ideas in the same fashion.”

When crafting communication, your key messages should be:

  • Visual
  • Insightful
  • Novel
  • Simple
  • Elegant

Simply put, they should be creative. Do your communication objects deliver you clear, concise and creative communication?

The American poet, Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote:

“To create one must be able to respond. Creativity is the ability to respond to all that goes on around us, to choose from the hundreds of possibilities of though, feeling, action, and reaction and to put these together in a unique response, expression or message that carries moment, passion and meaning. In this sense, loss of our creative milieu means finding ourselves limited to only one choice, divested of, suppressing, or censoring feelings and thoughts, not acting, not saying, doing or being,”

So how do you become more creative in your communication?

Start by reading:

Next week: creative storytelling

Shared value helping Australian organisations become purpose-driven

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30191967971_012e4107f1_zthe c word is delighted to be working closely with the Shared Value Project in Australia. Last week we were in Sydney for the announcement of their inaugural Shared Value Awards and inspired by the incredible work that was recognised.

The Shared Value Project provides a framework that creates new opportunities for companies. It brings together leaders to build a strong and engaged global community around shared value, knowledge and practice. The concept has grown rapidly from a global idea to a form of business practicing at its best, adopted by leading global and Australasian companies.

Becoming purpose-driven is now becoming the norm.

What is shared value?

The shared value concept was defined in ‘Creating Shared Value’, an article by Prof Michael Porter and Mark Kramer in the Harvard Business Review (January/February 2011).

In this article they outline the need for organisations, and governments to leverage the power of market-based competition in addressing social problems.

The New York Times recently wrote a piece that helps to illustrate shared value in practice. Neil Irwin implies that if companies like Walmart spend more to pay and train their workers, it could create gains for the economy – and ultimately better for the businesses that make the investment.

Who won the 2016 Shared Value Awards?

The Shared Value Awards, presented annually by the Shared Value Project and media partner AFR BOSS, recognise new or existing efforts to address complex social challenges impacting society while creating measurable economic benefits and enhancing competitiveness.

They also recognise the adoption of shared value as a broader business strategy, and leaders who are championing this way of doing business.

Last week Australia’s Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP was named the inaugural Shared Value Champion, while IAG was named as the corporate organisation leading through shared value. The awards recognise commitment to the concept of shared value and leadership in Australia encouraging businesses, government and community organisations to work together to solve key social issues.

Chair of the Shared Value Project Peter Yates AM said shared value and the organisations in Australia pursuing a shared value strategy continue to benefit from the support of great leaders such as Minister Bishop and the leadership of companies such as IAG and others recognised through the awards.

“The continued adoption of shared value by organisations across Australia is in no small part due to champions such as the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and I recognise the important role each of them play in helping advance the shared value movement in our region,” Mr Yates said.

For more information visit the Shared Value Project website or follow them on Twitter @sharedvalueaust

Cute owls attract crowds

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img_1646Next week’s c-word is counting as we take part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, helping our client BirdLife Australia count 1.5 million birds in 7 days.

On Wednesday, we helped BirdLife Australia bring a pop-up backyard, complete with a very cute owl, to Sydney’s urban backyard, Martin Place. Serena the owl certainly knew how to draw a crowd.

BirdLife Australia is calling on all Australians to head into their favourite outdoor spaces and join the count from Monday 17 October.

We’re calling on all c-words to embrace their inner #BirdNerd and join the count … come on it’s a c-word!

Whether you count in your own backyard, local park or botanic gardens, in a group, with a friend or by yourself, everyone who joins the count will help BirdLife Australia reach its target of counting 1.5 million birds in 7 days. It’s fun, but it has a bigger purpose: it provides a picture of how Australian birds are faring across the country.

No matter where you are, there are birds all around you. It doesn’t matter if you live in the suburbs, in the city, by the sea or in the country; our Australian birds live in all different types of habitats. Sometimes you just need to look up!

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count really is for everyone, and anyone can take part anywhere in Australia.

Download the FREE app or head to the website to get started and become a part of this huge citizen science event.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew