Author Archives: thecwordblog

Let the games begin

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Have you ever raced to answer a question on Facebook? Ever booked a flight just to keep that little plane in your frequent flyer profile flying? Or perhaps you were one of the many Australian households that collected those mini plastic grocery items?

Guilty? So are we! It’s all part of playing the game, or the gamification of life as it’s become.

People love a little friendly competition, which is why gamification has become a common part of marketing, loyalty programs, employee engagement and many more aspects of modern business.

So what is gamification?

While you might assume that gamification is a recent trend, it was actually stems from the community building and coupon-focused advertising created by 1950s Mad Men Howard Luck Gossage.

Gamification is the act of employing lessons from your favourite games (well, game theory in general) to non-game related endeavours.

Whether you’re seeking to improve productivity in your organisation, increase community engagement or change behaviours, think about how you can apply lessons from your favourite game. Monopoly? Guess Who?

Here are some simple ideas to start playing today:

  1. Ask questions of your social media community and feed their desire to be part of the solution
  2. Introduce a rewards component into your next internal communications campaign
  3. Leave breadcrumbs for readers of your e-newsletter or website to find and collect
  4. Add a little game to your next brainstorming session … it’s the perfect idea generator
  5. Add a quiz to your next communications piece, to engage and test people’s understanding.

Let the fun begin!

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

PS. Even Bill & Melinda love games!

Changing face of the communications profession

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The newspaper boxes were (and continue to be) the blogs of yesteryear – providing targeted news in many cases for free with the support of advertising (photo from Harvard Square)

For the past few months, people have been sharing their 10-year images on social media. So, we thought today we’d share some insights from past Communicator’s Corners about how the communications profession has changed over the years.

Daniel Tisch, the President and CEO for Argyle Public Relationshipsin Canada said: “When I started out working for a minister in the Canadian government in the early 1990s, PR was all about ‘staying on message’ and delivering that message mainly through news media channels. We had the luxury of long news cycles: we would prepare the message, do the interview, and not see or feel much impact until the evening television news and the next morning’s dailies. Today, communicators have less control over the message than ever before, as it is adapted, influenced and spread by many voices; so, communication has become even more about the building of relationships with stakeholders and influencers, and stewarding those relationships both in person and online.  To do well in the long term, you need a higher level of transparency and authenticity – plus an ability to know when you’re wrong, to say so quickly, and to back up your apology with tangible, measurable action. And whatever you say or do, it’s on the internet forever. The higher stakes, higher speed and eternal legacy of communication have changed the business forever – and generally for the better.”

Meghan Loneragan, one half of the creative duo behind the lifestyle blog Citizens of the World, said: “We can’t believe how much social media following has influenced how brands select their spokespeople. It feels like people are chosen on how large their digital footprint is rather that their expertise. In some ways it has levelled the playing field and opened up the world but in other ways we feel for ‘old school’ talent that didn’t embrace digital so much. Maybe the pendulum will swing? I say this knowing that we really appreciate having a large social following but there has to be more depth there, a skill or an educated opinion.”

Corporate communicator and travel writer Diane Squires said: “The internet has made it both easier and harder to reach audiences – easier because anyone can publish their messages, but harder because there are so many more channels vying for people’s attention. When I started out in a media role, we sent a release, rang the journalist to check it they’d received it and wrote for internal and stakeholder specific publications. Now we have so many social media channels, online blogs and websites to write for, as well as publications and of course, we still regularly pitch to media – but not always via a media release.”

And last week Dr Karen Sutherland from the University of the Sunshine Coast told us the biggest change she has noticed is: “Keeping up with technology and the increasing flow of and demand for information. The fundamental communication, PR and marketing principles will not really change, but how we facilitate them is constantly changing. Also, information (and misinformation) can spread around the globe in a matter of minutes. Being across this and ready to respond can be challenging. Social media does not sleep, so monitoring what is happening and being ready to manage any crises and issues 24 hours a day is definitely a challenge; so too, is the constant hunger for new content and producing high quality pieces to keep up with this demand.”

Discover more changes in the communications sector by exploring past interviews in our Communicator’s Corner.

Toilets, mobile phones and at-home DNA tests surprised Bill and Melinda Gates in 2018

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51902523_10156009969561961_166770036755660800_nTalk about surprise and delight. Bill and Melinda Gates have delivered another inspiring letter to the world outlining key areas for action for philanthropists, business, government and anyone interested in improving the world. It’s also an excellent example of creative communications in action!

I always look forward to reading the dynamic duo’s annual letter and was delighted to see it pop up in my LinkedIn feed during a late-night social media trawl. What first caught my attention was a video featuring a surprise game of “Guess this word” between Bill and Melinda.

So, before I jump into the letter, I wanted to highlight this creative use of video on LinkedIn with a surprise “guess this phrase” game between the couple. They used the game as a gateway to converse about a range of social issues including improving women’s lives around the world and the grand challenges of climate change. Watch out dinner party guests: I’ll be expecting cute card games at our next round-table!

While this creative approach may not suit every situation, it’s worthwhile considering the next time you’re launching a new initiative or even just releasing your company’s latest annual report and getting your senior leaders to play a game!

Now back to the compelling content of this latest correspondence from Bill and Melinda. In their ‘his and her’ style letter, the well-known philanthropists share some of the things that have inspired them over the years and how these surprises are moving them to action.

From the opportunity to use at-home DNA tests to help prevent premature birth, to the desperate need to find an economical and environmentally-friendly solution to the toilet, the letter outlines a range of opportunities for the world to begin solving major social issues.

While I encourage everyone to take a few minutes to read the letter, I’ve also curated a couple of the most interesting points below:

  • Connectivity is a solution to marginalisation and mobile phones are most powerful in the hands of the poorest women, including millions of Indonesians making a living through Go-Jek, a popular mobile platform for rides, food deliveries, and other services AND the country’s first Unicorn company!
  • An entire NYC will be built around the world every month and if we’re going to solve climate change, we need to get to near-zero emissions on all the things that drive it—agriculture, electricity, manufacturing, transportation, and buildings
  • A project involving at-home DNA tests has led to a simple blood test that could be the answer to minimising the risks associated with premature births; but what’s most surprising is why is there so little attention given to something that impacts 10% of the people in every part of the world?

There are nine surprises in total and each gives cause to pause and reflect. As well as inspiring plenty of action, the letter also includes some excellent ‘explainers’ and simple evidence to begin discussions with colleagues, friends and family.

Once you’ve had a chance to read the letter, let us know what surprised you the most  by leaving a comment below.

Going online for offline engagement

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DrKaren2019What does it take to educate the next generation of communicators about social media? Find out in this week’s Communicator’s Corner with Dr Karen Sutherland from the University of the Sunshine Coast. When she’s not helping local businesses and non profits maximise their social media engagement, she’s educating students as the Lecturer, Program Coordinator and Discipline Lead – Social Media and Public Relations at USC.

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

Helping others is my objective, professionally and personally. I aim to achieve this by educating and/or connecting others. I would describe myself as a Social Media Educator, Researcher and Consultant. My background is in marketing and PR. I began my career 20 years ago and have worked in a range of sectors and roles over the years. Currently, I am a Lecturer at the University of the Sunshine Coast where I lecture and coordinate the Bachelor of Communication (Social Media) (new for 2019) and lead public relations as a discipline. My research is focused on social media in the non-profit sector, in Higher Education pedagogy, as a tool for offline engagement, and explores its impact on employability. I love delivering social media workshops within my community and I also provide social media consulting and coaching services to businesses in Australia and overseas.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

It always begins early. After my daily yoga practice, I catch up on the developments that I have missed while I have been asleep. I have some amazing contacts in the U.S. and U.K. so I like to see what they are up to and answer any emails. My days are usually spent working on research, course development, helping students and clients and doing pro bono work. I also create my own social media content. I am a firm believer in leading by example. I can’t expect my students to take my advice when I don’t follow it myself.

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

I have had a love of reading, writing and storytelling from a very young age. It was never a conscious decision to work in communications. I think it has always been part of who I am and it all unfolded for me naturally.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

I have a few: Dr Joy Chia, Assoc Prof Karen Freberg, Dennis Yu, Madalyn Sklar, and Gary Vaynerchuk. There are many others who have helped me over the years who I am deeply grateful to for their support.

Which tools can’t you live without?

The internet (of course), my iPhone, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram, WordPress, WeVideo and Canva. These all make communication and content production so simple.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Most of my social media courses involve students working directly with real clients and with enrolment numbers growing steadily, managing these student/client relationships can be challenging. It adds a lot of extra work in terms of administration and liaison than the regular courses that I coordinate, but the results are worth it. The students can include practical work experience on their CVs and include real-world examples in their portfolios to show prospective employers. The clients receive fresh ideas, strategies, social media content and recommendations based on their social media performance data to assist their organisations. Some clients hire their assigned student as a freelancer at the end of the course, which is the best outcome possible.

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

Every campaign that I worked on during my time at the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. These campaigns literally helped to save lives.

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

Keeping up with technology and the increasing flow of and demand for information. The fundamental communication, PR and marketing principles will not really change, but how we facilitate them is constantly changing. Also, information (and misinformation) can spread around the globe in a matter of minutes. Being across this and ready to respond can be challenging. Social media does not sleep, so monitoring what is happening and being ready to manage any crises and issues 24 hours a day is definitely a challenge; so too, is the constant hunger for new content and producing high quality pieces to keep up with this demand.

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

That’s a tough one. It would all depend on specific goals and objectives. Working in academia means that I don’t have a budget to cut. 🙂

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

Highly developed interpersonal and writing skills, passion, enthusiasm and integrity.

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

Associate Professor Karen Freberg’s Social Media for Strategic Communication.

It’s a shameless plug but I’m currently writing a book called Strategic Social Media Management – Marketing, Advertising & PR, which should be released next year.

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

Communication is rarely glamorous, but deeply rewarding.
Communication is a process not a product.
Clients can often tell you what they don’t want more easily than they can tell you what they really want.
Sometimes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

an ongoing respectful collaboration.

Courts, crime and communication

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AmberWilsonIt would be criminal if we didn’t share this fantastic interview with AAP crime and court reporter Amber Wilson; so we’re proud to share her responses in our first Communicator’s Corner for 2019. Discover why Amber believes communication is an art form!

What’s your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I’m a journalist covering courts and crime in Melbourne’s CBD.

Tell us about a typical day working in the media?

We keep a hawk eye on the news and court lists to find out what cases might be happening on a given day. The early part of the morning is dedicated to planning and then from 9.30am, we’re generally in and out of the Supreme, County, Magistrates and Federal courts chasing stories. We file over lunch, then we’re at it again until the court system wraps up for the day. We could be chasing anything from a high-profile terrorist plot to the murder of a beloved mother to chasing gangland figures in front of the magistrates court. Throughout the day, we’re in contact with our bosses at the bureaus in Melbourne and Rhodes, while liaising with lawyers and associates to find out details of the cases we’re following. Then we’re back at our desks meticulously combing through court lists after COB.

When did you first know you wanted to be a journalist?

I think I knew I wanted to be a writer first – from a very early age – and then I found my direction while I was at uni. It hasn’t been a linear ride though – I’ve segued and branched out – mainly into corporate communications and at one stage even into yoga teaching, before really finding my calling.

What communication tools can’t you live without?

I’m old fashioned. I love using my notepad and pen in my daily work life. Like everyone, I rely on email and social media and quick access to information on my phone. But as far as my mental processing and day-to-day organisation, I can’t go past a real life notepad, a real life diary, and a pen with freely-flowing ink.

What are the biggest challenges you face? And what are the biggest opportunities?

The media is under a huge amount of pressure in the current climate. That makes a lot of us journalists fearful of the future, preparing for the next five years with an “exit strategy”.

But of course the world is evolving, and the way we access news and information will hopefully catch up with the changes in the way we’re living. I think there’s a change in the perception of journalists as a representative of their masthead to being the product itself, and the news organisation the client. That shift in thinking makes reporters their own “small business” and a unique product, which makes them valuable beyond whatever their current job description is.

Tell us about the news coverage that you’re proudest of?

I enjoyed covering the Rebel Wilson defamation case against Bauer Media. Covering the murder case of Melton mother Simone Quinlan was another big one for me – it was deeply sad and a shocking look into domestic violence and the everyday tragedy and violence that surrounds us.

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

When I started off as a news cadet, we filed stories in centimetres to a print edition that was the cornerstone of life in that little Tasmanian community. We’d file by 6pm and the locals would read the paper over their Vegemite and coffee at 7am the following morning. It’s just not like that anymore – news is immediate. As soon as an event breaks, we need to file digitally from the scene and update as the day progresses.

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

Documentaries really inspire me – they’re such an in-depth look into issues, and the medium of long-form video is so powerful. A lot of my friends are crazy about podcasts, but for me there’s nothing like delving deeply for hours into a fascinating, intriguing documentary and the issues of social justice that they explore.

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

The best advice I ever received when I was young, and still as an adult believe now: stick at it. Perseverance is powerful.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

…an art form.

Content clusters

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Our collaborators at Burning House wrote this great article about content and content clusters, with some great inspiration to get your video content out to a wider audience.

You can read the original article here.

Content Clusters recognise that the content you create, is in itself an opportunity for multiple content ‘events’ across your channels, extending the life cycle of your marketing beyond a single content execution.

Take for example a client creating a single piece of video content (as seen in the diagram above). Naturally the release of the video is a content event, but there is a micro-system of other opportunities that can be explored for promotion and cross promotion around the video.

Prior to the shooting, an announcement can be made on Twitter creating expectation of intended shoot and content.

On the shoot day itself social post of On-set stills, Gif’s or video snippets can be shared as Teasers, building on the momentum of expectation.

When the content is published, short promotional cut downs should be released across social platforms, essentially acting as advertising for the audience to view the longer content, extending the reach and promotion of video.

Finally, in the period after the content has been released and consumed, a ‘Behind the Scenes’ video can further prolong the audience engagement.

This Cluster approach is ultimately an amplification of your content efforts and should assist in bolstering your content calendar.

To learn more about how you can leverage Content Clusters in your next campaign, contact Charlie Porter at Burninghouse.

Who’s your comms mentor?

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Who is your communications mentor? It’s a question we ask communicators from around the world when they sit in our #CommsCorner. Here are some of the answers we have received over the past 8 years.

 

Paul Price, Group CEO, CoCreative

PAULfinalI love film so I think of some great directors. Orson Welles was amazing – he created masterpieces in every medium he had access to. He was a great creative director, probably the greatest. Likewise Stanley Kubrick who made a masterpiece in every major genre.

I had the privilege of working for DDB when it was awarded the world’s most creative agency network three years in a row and we all believed in Bill Bernbach’s vision as one of the first great admen.

Sally Branson

Sally Branson

I’ve been blessed to work with many amazing people. I like to think I have taken lessons from each person I have worked with – even if the working relationship was a challenging one.

I have a long term mentor Hayley – she works in education and community development in a rural area. No matter what she does, she recognises the importance of thoughtful interaction. Each and every communication she makes is considered and timely. Even down to the post-it notes.

A “mentoring” experience I enjoyed was the Australian Rural Leadership Program. I spent two years studying with a group of 28 people from the extremes of rural and regional interest. The lessons I learnt about communications from an agronomist, a CSIRO scientist, a Doctor of Marine Science, an aboriginal community worker and a manager of an abattoir are ones that influence me each day I work. During a presentation I remember once thinking “as if I can learn from someone with two PhD’s in science…” and then shocked when he did it a) better and b) in a new way than I had. I was witnessing something new to me; who knew? It was humbling, and reminded me to always respect and surround myself with people with different skills, values, ideas and methods than mine.

Del Irani, ABC News

DelHeadshotI really admire Christiane Amanpour who has worked her way up from an entry level desk position to being the Chief International Correspondent for CNN.

Emily Passer, Quartz’s director of communications

Emily5Hard to choose here. I admire a lot of what Judy Smith has done. And Hilary Rosen as well.