Laura Crowden in the #CommsCorner

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Five years after speaking with our colleague Laura Crowden live from London, we catch up with her back in Melbourne. From government to councils to non-profits and now corporates, Laura has carved out a career creating coverage for a range of organisations.

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 11.28.42 amYou can find her on LinkedIn or perhaps catch up with her myriad of TV and newspaper appearances from this week’s Sydney Morning Herald to Today Show and A Current Affair.

Now over to @LauraCrowden, the Public Relations Manager, iSelect.

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

Is it cheating to copy this straight from LinkedIn: An enthusiastic, confident and creative public relations and corporate communications professional with more than eight years’ experience in external media relations, stakeholder management, and corporate affairs.

Personally, in no particular order: reformed backpacker, loyal friend, G&T devotee, owner of a feisty feline, loving fiancée, sweet tooth and list-making tragic (see below).

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

Since joining iSelect, my scope has broadened out from just media/public relations to a more diverse corporate affairs role encompassing internal communications and CSR.  There is no typical day.  One day I’m pitching to media or filming a TV interview and the next I’m working on the development of our intranet and asking staff to obey parking restrictions!

Do you still count Jana Wendt and Lois Lane among your comms heroes? And have you added anyone to the list.

Yes, it would be cruel to give up on your childhood idols. Since moving back home I’ve been in awe of Waleed Aly. He ads so much gravity and logic to what is too often an emotionally charged media debate.

Which tools can’t you live without?

It occurred to me that when I last completed this questionnaire, I didn’t own a smart phone. Sadly, that is almost incomprehensible! But the one thing I really couldn’t live without both professionally and personally are lists. I hand write them, have a special app on my phone and have them on my computers too. I generally have around ten lists on the go at any one time. I have no idea how anyone ever gets anything done without a to-do-list!

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

One of the biggest challenges for me is moving from a not-for-profit into a corporate environment – it has definitely been a learning curve!  So many numbers – not my strong point!  At a not-for-profit, even if journalists aren’t interested in a story they are generally much more polite.  One of the challenges in a corporate role is to convince journalists of the credibility of your story and that it is more than just an advertisement/sales plug.

Tell us about the best campaign you’ve worked on in the past five years?

Upon returning to Melbourne I joined Breast Cancer Network Australia as their Media Manger. During my three and a half years, I had the incredible opportunity to manage the media and promotional campaign for their iconic Field of Women event in 2013.  Working closely with key stakeholders and partners including the AFL, Melbourne Football Club, MCG and Channel Seven, I achieved over 200 media hits reaching an audience of over 29 million with an ASR value of more than $4.2 million. The event itself raised valuable dollars, and invaluable awareness, for women affected by breast cancer.

Which campaign do you most admire?

Campaigns that have caught my attention lately are Domain’s ‘Australia’s best property app’ and Mount Franklin’s Nation Hydration.  I love that Domain are taking RealEstate.com on so obviously and just declaring themselves ‘the best’.  Despite no evidence to prove it, it is definitely strangely convincing.  And Mount Franklin have proved themselves unafraid of doing something different with the hilarious Josh Lawson/Jennifer Hawkins add.  Props must also go to Aldi for their ‘like brands only cheaper’ campaign.  Coles and Woolworths are so boring and annoying in their advertising so it’s nice to see a supermarket trying to make you laugh.

What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/PR since you returned to Australia?

When I left Australia in early 2009, social media was really just only starting to be embraced by companies and organisations. Now it’s everywhere and there is absolutely no choice but to embrace it – whether you like it or not!  A less positive change has been the ongoing contraction of the media industry – particularly print – with less journalists than ever to pitch to and a greater fragmentation of the industry.

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

Somehow figure out how to spend less on media monitoring. Can’t live without it but why is it so expensive?

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

A desire to push boundaries and constantly look for new and improved ways of doing things. A love of a good brainstorm session and also, love of gossip.

What’s your favourite brand of 2015?

My all-time favourite brand is Deutsche Bahn, the German railway company because I adore their efficiency and I also love the romanticism of train travel (so exotic for Antipodeans).  From a communications perspective, my favourite brand of 2015 is Victoria Beckham. She should be knighted for her incredible transformation from a Spice Girl then WAG into Glamour’s Woman of the Year 2015 and the UK’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2014!  Fascinatintly, back in her Posh Spice days, VB declared she wanted to be as famous as ‘Persil Automatic’ (the most popular UK washing powder).  Even then her ambition was to be a brand, not just a singer.

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

Suri’s Burn Book.  Okay, it’s got nothing to do with communication but everyone should read it.  Life changing, honestly. More seriously, listen to ABC News Radio. It cancels out reading OK! and Who.

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

Journalists earn a lot less than those working on the dark side!

Do you still agree: ‘Communication is getting your point across while keeping your audience interested’.

Yes, absolutely!  But to expand on that in light of the shift towards more two-way communication, it’s also getting your point across while making sure your audience feels their point of view has been understood.

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