Cinema & comms in the #CommsCorner with Lauren Zoric

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This week we with spoke with Lauren Zoric (@laurenzoric), the Marketing & Communications Manager for the renowned Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). The festival is one of the oldest and respected of its kind, and Lauren manages its marketing and communications. A self-confessed music lover, and with a work history of music and arts journalism, Lauren has found a job she loves at MIFF.

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I grew up in Melbourne, and started out in music journalism and community radio. I was utterly consumed by music and writing, so I moved to London in 1999, where I worked in publicity at two cult indie record labels, Warp Records and The Leaf Label, and started writing for publications like i-D, The Face and The Guardian. In London I also co-founded a publicity agency, Dog Day Press, with an international roster of music artists. I returned home to Melbourne, and found the perfect role at MIFF in 2012. My local community is important to me, and I serve as a volunteer Board Member on the Clifton Hill/North Fitzroy Community Branch of the Bendigo Bank.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

The MIFF year is divided into the planning stage, and the doing stage. Half LaurenZMiffthe year I’m working with our agency McCann Melbourne on the forthcoming campaign strategy, meeting and negotiating with potential or current festival sponsors and partners, talking about activations and events at the festival, as well as keeping the regular MIFF comms ticking over across eNews and social media, producing a podcast and video content, maintaining the website and overseeing the MIFF Members program. Then there’s the doing part – implementing the huge campaign, delivering on the benefits to our partners, and selling-in about 350+ films on offer each year. Sometimes I even get to watch a film! During the festival, I’m glued to Twitter, checking out all the reactions, and focusing on sales reports and making sure our comms are meaningful and relevant.

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

I was so besotted with music as a teenager, I read all the music magazines and thought being a rock journalist was the life for me! I studied RMIT Media Studies, starting getting published as a music journo, and worked in community radio at Triple R. I fell into music publicity in London and learned on the job about campaigns, pitching stories, writing press releases – communicating the story of bands and songwriters to persuade journalists to listen and write about them. It was such a competitive environment – so much music, so many media outlets, and the culture was very neophile and trend-driven. I loved the scale of the music industry in London. Similarly now, I love the scale of MIFF – it takes over the whole city. It’s beautiful that it’s an event that is owned and loved by the community. You overhear people talking about the festival on the tram. I still get a kick out of that.

Which tools can’t you live without?

I am addicted to my phone, like everyone else. Social media, for finding, communicating with and listening to audiences. Social media scheduling tools. Google docs!

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Managing the workload in the key months of the year when the program is launched and tickets are on sale. Marketing and Comms is a bottomless pit, there is no end to how much work you could put in or ideas you could develop, especially when you have as much rich content as we do at MIFF. Having a clear strategy, prioritising the most effective channels and making sure the sales results are where they need to be keeps me on track.

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

The last one, of course! I loved the #MIFF2015 key art illustration by We Buy Your Kids, the focus on the audience experience, developing the campaign experiential and working with more video content.

My favourite music PR campaign was working with the Gossip on their Standing In The Way of Control album. Their front woman Beth Ditto is a powerful punk rock singer, feminist and activist for gay rights. The campaign started out with grassroots media, but Ditto is such a compelling performer and media talent, the story took off – suddenly she was being dressed in Dior couture for 8 page fashion magazine shoots, and by the end of the year NME named her #1 on their 2006 Cool List. The impact was huge. The Guardian Weekend magazine supplement put her on the cover and gave her a weekly advice column: What Would Beth Ditto Do? You couldn’t dream up a campaign like that!

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

The disruption of digital. The importance of video. The ability for the audience to communicate directly with an organisation through social media, and get an immediate response.

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

Paying for print advertising is increasingly hard to justify.

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

Integrity, initiative, humour, willingness to keep learning, resilience for when hours are long and problems need solving. Ideas and solutions. Organisation and coordination skills. A fine way with words. Photo and video editing skills.

What’s your favourite brand?

In the arts space, I adore MONA in Hobart and the associated festivals, in winter Dark Mofo, and in summer MOFO (MonaFoma). I love the design aesthetic, the risky programming – it’s razor-sharp style that delivers must-see art, music and culture. Not only have they become a significant international art destination, the Tasmanian community has gone along on the journey. I heart them so much!

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

I mainly read fiction, or non-fiction history when it comes to books. As for blogs, everyone should read Jon Loomer to know what to do about Facebook this week, hbr.org for strategy & management pick-me-ups, and Aeon Magazine for thoughtful reflection. I’ve been getting a lot out of http://contently.com on the content marketing front, and I read everything by Eaon Pritchard – punk rock marketing science. I subscribe to http://www.theaudienceagency.org for audience development insights.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is… the best way to solve problems, and prevent them from happening in the first place.

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