Category Archives: Communications

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.

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.

A global celebration of women

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This time last week, we joined millions of people around the world celebrating International Women’s Day.

From social media conversations to powerful storytelling at events, here are some highlights of how women and organisations around the world marked this important day in 2018.

Companies #PressforProgress with featured content

Companies of all sizes celebrated International Women’s Day around the world, and many used it as an opportunity to engage their female customers. From curated content by companies like LinkedIn, to the launch of special initiatives like #InspiredbyHer by M Gallery Hotels, companies played an important role in raising awareness of #IWD.

Celebrities #PressforProgress at events and on social

Movie stars, talk show hosts, authors, singers and politicians all joined the global conversation on International Women’s Day. Their social media channels were full of updates celebrating inspiring women and raising the profile of important issues around the world.

And we couldn’t forget this little controversy….

Clean-up controversy at Oxford

A tweet from the UK spread around the world, when a female cleaner was photographed cleaning up IWD graffiti at Oxford.

How will you celebrate International Women’s Day in 2019? And how will you celebrate stories of inspiration women throughout the year?

Bird brainstorming – an internship with a difference

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As 2017 draws to a close, we thought we’d share this story of collaboration … and birds … to end the year!

the entire team

“The Nest”: Courtesy of Ross: L-R: Stacey Maden, Vanessa Ambler, Liz Thompson, Jack Walden, Yulia Zaytseva, Dominique Queivana, Charlie Osborne, Mavis Boamah

In October 2017, BirdLife Australia and the c word collaborated with Deakin University to deliver a unique internship opportunity for Deakin PR and communication students. The students worked alongside staff from both organisations in a ‘Communications Command Centre’ at Deakin Downtown to develop and deliver a comprehensive national communications campaign for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, one of Australia’s largest citizen scientist projects.

Chief of Staff Liz Thompson shares highlights from the program as Deakin University students discovered their inner twitchers.

Senior Lecturer Ross Monaghan’s Twitter channel, @TheMediaPod has generated dynamic and interesting Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities for Deakin students. Earlier this year, Jack Walden, of the c word agency, was so impressed by the student projects he had seen via @TheMediaPod, that he approached Ross with an internship proposal. This ultimately brought Deakin University, BirdLife Australia, the c word agency and six Deakin students together for an intensive two week internship collaboration.

The internship brief was to create a team of communications students to coordinate the promotion of BirdLife Australia’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count. The students were allocated roles according to areas of interest – media and social media co-ordinators, content creators, and a chief of staff – to create the Aussie Backyard Bird Count Communications Team. This team worked under the guidance of Stacey Maden, BirdLife Australia’s Communications and Events Coordinator, and Jack Walden, CEO of the c word.

Nesters R Monaghan

During the two weeks, students developed short movie-clips, blog and social media posts and popular Instagram polls that generated lively engagement with followers. The students also developed and circulated partner program collateral that successfully promoted engagement with universities, schools and libraries. Media releases were prepared and circulated to media outlets which generated a schedule of interviews that the students also coordinated. One of the students attended the filming of an interview for ABC News Breakfast with BirdLife Australia talent at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.

ABC botanic gardens jack 3

The work-ready learning opportunities extended beyond the implementation of the communications campaign. They included challenges such as administrative and information management procedures, daily schedules, and even the creation of the actual workspace. Given that the team included students from four different continents, a large map of Australia was the first of many documents that adorned the walls of the “Communications Command Centre” AKA, “The Nest” at Deakin Downtown.

nesters

Ross negotiated to use the space at Deakin Downtown, which he says is a fabulous resource for industry-based projects such as this.

bird watching Julia

The benefits for students are numerous and well known, and WIL also keeps staff up to date with industry needs.  Ross said: “I encourage other staff to get involved in these projects for first-hand knowledge of what industry is looking for with graduates. The bonus is that industry gets to see the great work that our students are doing. There is no better PR for Deakin.”

nesters at lunch - julia

Jack Walden also reflected upon the success of this internship from an industry perspective: “The collaboration between BirdLife Australia, the c word communications agency and Deakin University not only delivered a great learning opportunity for a group of talented communications students, it also provided a significant boost in coverage for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count via traditional media and social media. Two million birds counted – what a great result”.

Harry & Meghan: PR dream come true?

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HarryxMeghanHis Royal Highness Prince Harry is about to get hitched to American actress Ms Meghan Markle, in what promises to be a global wedding extravaganza. The future Duchess of Sussex is a 36-year-old biracial American divorcee previously best known for acting in lightweight television fare.

But don’t compare her to the last divorcee to rock the royal family. Back in the 1930s, King Edward VII, as head of the Church of England, could not marry divorcee Wallis Simpson. The looming constitutional debacle resulted in the ‘The Abdication’, which saw the king renounce his throne, handing the reigns to his brother, who became George VI (father to QEII).

Even Harry’s own great Aunt, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, who fell in love with the married Captain Peter Townsend, was at the mercy of harsh religious and royal strictures. Margaret faced the choice of forfeiting her royal title and income and leaving the country for five years, or breaking it off with Cpt Townsend. Under significant familial and social pressure she ultimately chose the latter.

How things have changed. Kensington Palace sources have already confirmed that Harry and Meghan will have a full church wedding. In fact, the Archbishop of Canterbury has given his blessing and while no date has yet been announced, the nuptials will most likely take place before June next year.

So it bears mentioning that this most stuffy and conservative of institutions has done a remarkable job of modernising itself in recent years. Prince William’s 2011 marriage to C= ‘commoner’ Kate Middleton, was one huge step away from the stricture for royals to marry from their own class. Although, let’s face it, Kate with her glossy hair and svelte silhouette, isn’t a massive imaginative leap from well-to-do upper middle-class to princess.

Ms Markle is yet another step in the direction towards modernity. Not only is she divorced and American, but she’s also had that most un-aristocratic of things, *gasp* a career. Yet, despite all that atypical background, this future royal is a PR’s dream. Obviously the brains of the operation, she’s beautiful, stylish and poised, as well as possessing serious philanthropic and feminist bona fides. It’s almost as if she’s been auditioning for this role for years.

It seems former wild child Harry could not have picked a more suitable applicant to re-inforce that modern cool prince vibe thing he has going. In fact, his choice of bride is almost a savant level manoeuvre. She ticks all the boxes required to conform to Modern Royals™ house brand, while gently bringing some totally on trend social justice flavour to the party.  It’s a transatlantic marketing masterpiece.

So while we all await the next season of The Crown (to find out what happens to Princess Margaret), we can all have a bit of fun squealing about the latest royal dream couple.

Comms Corner with Emily Martyn

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In our latest #CommsCorner we chat with Emily Martyn, Corporate Affairs Lead at Hostplus. She shares her favourite c-words and explains how she got “hooked” on communication!

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

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The day we brought dairy to Canberra

From cars to cows; chocolate to competitive investment returns; I am passionate about many c words – most of all, communications! I’m an energetic and constantly curious PR practitioner with experience across in-house corporate and government affairs, not-for-profit and agency communications roles. I enjoy being kept on my toes, trying new things, immersing myself in different industries, meeting new people, learning new skills and taking my infinitely transferable ‘comms toolkit’ with me along the way.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

I roll over to my 6am alarm and check the day’s latest news clippings – what’s being said about the business, our industry, the sectors we serve and our competitors. I’ll identify if there are any opportunities to leverage coverage and promote the business; or potential risks to manage and protect its reputation from. Outside of media relations, my average day consists of several touchpoints with different business functions on Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) and investments-related matters, new product launches, community relations, marketing and sponsorships. I also work closely with the CEO’s office and Group Executive, and support industry lobbying and advocacy on a number of external committees. To wind down from my day, I enjoy walking around Albert Park Lake (whenever I can), playing tennis, painting and cooking up a nutritious feast at home.

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

When I left school, I started studying Architecture at Monash University before soon realising the old-school concept of pen to sketching paper I romanticised in my head, was really a thing of the past. Whilst I loved the creativity of it and was pushed to challenge any preconceived ideas I had, the highly complex three-dimensional computing and mathematics lost me. Second to my love for visual design and art, I knew I really enjoyed English at school, which is why I applied for public relations work experience at Mango (DDB). Here, I realised there was a big bunch of like-minded people who were creative, working with impressive clients and shaping the reputations of many hugely-successful household brands. I was instantly hooked and applied for a PR degree at Deakin University the next week!

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

I’ve been privileged to have a few mentors in my life – some that have grown organically and others part of a formalised workplace program – however there has been one who has truly made a significant impact in helping me to where I am today. I met Natalie Collard, who was CEO of Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) at the time, at a PR networking function hosted by Deakin University. Nat and I both remember that event very clearly and the instant connection we had through the similar values we shared, our approach to work life, and the bigger life goals we were aiming to achieve. At the time, I wasn’t sure why however I knew I had to stay in contact with Nat.

When my 12-month contract was coming to an end, following a challenging year for the business (where we announced the closure of Holden’s manufacturing operations), Nat was the first person I reached out to. It just so happened at that time, ADF was in dire need for extra resourcing to run their first National Dairy Farmers’ Summit and after a short phone conversation, asked if I could start next week! Ever since, Nat has very generously taken me under her wing, helped me leverage my strengths, pushed me out of my comfort zone (on several occasions), been a constructive feedback loop and trusted confident, and most of all, a wonderful friend. We catch-up every few months and remain in regular contact over the phone.

Which tools can’t you live without?

On a digital front, definitely my iPhone, Meltwater and iSentia. However, I also can’t go a day without my old-school journal – there’s something about learning through writing that I just can’t achieve when typing!

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

The 24-hour media cycle can make finding the right work-life balance challenging when you’re expected to be ‘on’ all the time. I know I’m at my personal best when I give myself an hour or so each day to do something outside in the fresh air, away from my phone and laptop. Being a Libran, achieving balance is both my biggest strength and weakness…it’s a day-to-day battle!

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

During my dairy days – working at Australian Dairy Farmers with Natalie – and in response to New Zealand’s lucrative free trade agreement (FTA) with China which has seen their exports sore to around 40 per cent of global market share (versus Australia’s meagre 7 per cent), we launched a social media campaign to place Australian dairy on a level playing field with NZ in China.

To spread the message, we urged the Australian dairy community to get behind our #FTA4dairy ‘selfie’ campaign to promote a positive China-Australia FTA (ChAFTA) for all Australian farmers – rallying support from dairy farmers, industry groups, Federal and State politicians, ag students and everyday consumers. Our not-for-profit efforts (carried out on a $500 budget) received bipartisan support, were quoted in Hansard in several Senate Hearing Committees and played an instrumental role in the outcome of the signed ChAFTA in June 2015, which has started to see the removal of all Australian dairy export tariffs to China (to be fully completed by 2026).

Which campaign do you most admire?

One of my favourites is Dove’s Real Beauty campaign which ramped up in 2006, turning a brand associated with a plain white bar of soap, into a household name challenging the status quo and opening young women’s eyes to the narrow definitions of beauty we all grew up with. This campaign stemmed from Edelman’s research of more than 3000 women in 10 countries, exploring what beauty means to women today and why that is. This integrated marketing campaign is still as relevant today as it was 10 years ago, and has moved beyond a re-branding exercise into a US-based charitable fund (among other initiatives) to raise awareness about online bullying and photography projects that capture the beauty girls see in the world around them. It’s a tremendous case study.

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

Being in my mid-twenties with five years’ experience under my belt, I can only offer a limited perspective on this, however I have observed that the comms landscape for businesses and corporate leaders has dramatically changed with the speed, reach and inter-dependence of social and traditional media. Today, we see more risk from not being involved on social media, than being involved – this has been a clear behavioural and issues management shift over a short period of time.

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

From a PR perspective, we’re very lean on the ground here with myself as the corporate affairs resource and media monitoring/reporting support from Meltwater. However, if we needed to cut something from the larger marketing budget, it would definitely be merchandising – whilst it’s a nice-to-have; the show can go on without it (…my marketing colleagues may not agree though)!

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

Being a naturally curious person, I admire like-minded comms people who aren’t afraid to ask ‘why’ and challenge preconceived systems, processes and ways of thinking. Just because the business has done something one way for many years – a ‘legacy’ thing, if you will – doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best way forward. We need to be constantly evolving and trying new things to remain relevant.

I also think flexibility is equally as important. Particularly today where corporates are constantly in a state of flux and going through large transformation programs – you need to be able to roll with the punches and adapt to the ever-changing situations we find ourselves in. It’s what keeps our comms jobs interesting and continually evolving.

What’s your favourite brand?

At Mondelez International, I was privileged to work on a portfolio of iconic brands including Vegemite, The Natural Confectionery Co., KRAFT Peanut Butter, Pascall, Oreo and belVita, however nothing can top the heritage of Cadbury. From the UK brand’s humble beginnings in Birmingham selling tea, coffee and drinking chocolate, to being owned by the second largest confectionery brand in the world, Cadbury has been inventing, inspiring and investing in British and Australian (and most recently Indian and Chinese) chocolate-lovers for almost 200 years. Last year alone, Cadbury generated more than US$3 billion in global net revenues. It’s also my (not-so-secret) source of indulgence…

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

Daniel Goleman’s ‘Emotional intelligence: why it can matter more than IQ’ is a must-read, exploring insights into our two minds – the rational and emotional – and how they together shape our destiny. This book draws on psychology and neuroscience discoveries to demonstrate how emotional intelligence determines our success in relationships, work and even our physical well-being. Knowing that words account for less than 10 per cent of our overall messages, this is a great read for all comms practitioners; however, I’d suggest breaking it down to bite-size chunks to digest and reflect over time.

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

Comms is a necessary requirement in every industry, business, function and team. Whilst it may be in your job title; it doesn’t mean it’s your role to carry the load for the entire organisation. The best way to set yourself up for success, alongside the business, is to help colleagues understand the benefits of setting and implementing a strategic comms plan, and reporting back on its deliverables. As comms professionals, we have the most impact empowering others to take control of their personal communication needs, whilst providing directional guidance and constructive feedback along the way.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

Key – to success in life, work and relationships.