Category Archives: Communications

Podcasts: The Netflix of Radio

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We can all be podcasters – even Jack!

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you’re probably aware that a new audio medium has mutated from the ashes of traditional broadcasting. For those who missed the memo, podcasting is a DIY narrowcast form of audio publishing that has democratised the once elite realm of radio broadcasting. Its rise was enabled by the emergence of portable mp3 players and then the ubiquity of smartphones (the ‘pod’ nomenclature coming, of course, from the original Apple iPod). Anyone with the inclination can hit record then publish their no doubt profound and insightful thoughts on whatever topic they choose to wax lyrical.

While podcasting really is as simple as all that, there are some key ingredients that go into creating a good quality podcast that listeners will seek out and return to.

Create an intimate and rich connection with your audience

The obvious benefits of podcasting both correlate and diverge from traditional radio broadcasting. The ability to capture an audiences’ attention and convey a rich and detailed narrative around a subject is unparalleled in other low cost media forms. Podcasting can be an extremely effective way to reach the people you would most like to engage with and influence.

So what are some of the basic elements that can help you achieve this goal.

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Our new podcast with Journeys to Come

First of all, remember that we are all social creatures and we seek out human connection.  The best and most interesting podcast are often ones that allow experts to talk about what they do, why they do it and why it matters, in their own words. What a podcast does better than any other media is imbed that human element in information/knowledge transmission. Listeners won’t be interested in thinly veiled, brand-centric messaging. But they will seek out passionately delivered expert and novel information. They’ll listen to hours of an engaging conversation about a topic they’re interested in.

Which brings us to the second essential element: Subject expertise. Don’t be afraid to approach a subject that is likely to have a deep insight or interesting insight into the topic you are podcasting on. Most people are happy to have an opportunity to express themselves, especially in an informal manner. The logistics of setting up studio interviews is not longer an issue as technology allows us to sidestep these limitations. You can conduct an interview via Skype with an expert on the other side of the world, or even across the same city. Take every opportunity … grab five minutes of dialogue with that guest speaker at the conference you’re attending, then store the recording for a podcast to be compiled at a later date.

In fact the technology of podcasting is almost so simple and widely available that it barely warrants a mention. If you’re serious about having high-quality sound then you might consider investing in a microphone. But other than that all the tools are available using devices you probably already possess and software you can freely and cheaply download.

Attract and retain your audience

Podcast listeners get hooked. And they listen, on average, to over 5 hours of podcasts per week. This is an unsurprising stat when you consider the importance of storytelling and narrative to human culture from time immemorial. NPR’s Serial podcastNPR’s Serial podcast in 2015 had masses of people parked in their driveways so they could finish each episode after arriving home. Serial was essentially a long story about a murder that proved how addictive narrative storytelling in this format can be.

We all know the benefits of using narrative to build empathy in listeners. Research shows that audio media is particularly effective in fostering an intimate connection with audiences. Inherent in listening is the activity of imagining, which in turn leads to empathy and an emotional response to the ‘story’ you are telling.  Sound effects and sound shots can also increase the level of mental imagery and lead listeners to pay closer attention to your message.

Even if you know you have a quality podcast that listeners will respond to, it can still be tricky to promote your product. There are a few basic steps you can take that will enhance your profile. Make sure you get those 5 star iTunes reviews. Consider cross promotion with other publications and podcasts.  Pitch your podcast to bloggers who compile top 10 lists.

The problem with monetising

If you’ve managed to build a substantial audience you may be tempted to leverage that popularity by introducing paid advertisements to your format. This is especially tempting when you consider the high engagement cultivated in podcast listeners.

According to one study: two-thirds of podcast listeners have engaged in various research and/or purchase related behaviors as a result of advertising exposure from podcasts. Among all forms of advertising on mobile devices, podcasts create the highest improvement in perception. And among all forms of digital advertising, podcast ads are considered the least intrusive.

Those are impressive stats, but don’t be enticed into stuffing your podcast with paid advertisements and sponsored content.  Any experienced podcast listeners will warn you against going down that road.

The warning stems from the very thing that separates podcasts from commercial radio. That is, the absence of targeted, glutinous pandering to an ideal demographic. Instead, pods are targeting interests, enthusiasms, and the oral tradition of storytelling. A podcast isn’t like a website where you can scroll past advertisements, or a television program in which you change the channel during an ad break. The technology of podcasts does not really allow listeners to easily skip past advertisements. This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand it forces listeners to hear the advertisement. On the other, it can be off-putting and result in listeners switching off and unsubscribing entirely.

Finally, don’t be afraid to fail

Podcasts are the ultimate start-up culture. According to the ABC Audience Insights survey, nearly one in three podcast listeners trial a new podcast each week! Discovering podcasts happens by a variety of means. Nearly 1 in 2 discover by word of mouth or listening to radio/TV.

So be daring. Don’t wait to launch that new podcast, test out those novel ideas. Remember, people are willing to give it a go. You’ll never know what exciting new avenue you might end up connecting with listeners through.

Cheers, Jack and the c word crew

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Rebel with a cause

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Australian celebrity Rebel Wilson has been awarded an astounding $4.56 million dollars in damages by the Victorian Supreme Court.

In awarding Australia’s largest ever defamation payout, the judge called the defamation enacted by Woman’s Day, Australian Women’s Weekly, New Weekly and OK Magazine “unprecedented in this country” (because of the articles’ global reach).

Wilson sued Bauer for damages, arguing the ‘serial liar’ allegations had ruined her reputation and cost her lucrative movie roles.

With the outcome likely to mark the beginning of a period of reform for defamation law, it’s a good time to take a look at the state of play vis-a-vis defamation law in Australia and how it impacts those working in the media.

According to the Fitzroy Legal Centre: “Anyone who has had damaging material published about them can take legal action against authors, publishers, broadcasters and distributors to defend their reputation.”

In a nutshell…

In common law a person has a right to a good reputation until proven otherwise. The original statute, the Newspaper Libel and Registration Act of 1881, placed the burden on publishers with regards to libel. Since then the law has seesawed between favouring the media and the defendants. Currently Australia exists under a Uniform Defamation Law regime that came into operation in 2005. Many pundits believe that after 12 years of operation these laws are ripe for review. Due to the ease with which plaintiffs can prove that they have suffered damage to their reputations, the balance of power lies squarely in their quarter. There has been a slew of recent case law, the latest being Rebel Wilson’s high profile case, that may prompt some sort of legislative review process. Watch this space!

So what are some of the basic things that media professionals in Australia need to be aware of in regards to defamation law. First of all, at least a basic understanding of the major concepts will hold you in good stead.

Libel vs Slander

In Australia the difference between Libel (published defamation) and Slander (spoken defamation) is, according to the Uniform law, no longer relevant. The distinction originally rose out of the permanency of some forms of published material, as opposed to the relative fleeting nature of the spoken word. Today’s media landscape renders this distinction irrelevant. Potentially everyone has the ability to record and broadcast any spoken words or gestures.

Social Media and Twitter

The wild and unruly nature of Twitter, Facebook and other blogging platforms sees any and all opinions dished up seemingly uninhibited by decorum or moral prejudice. However, this perceived anonymity should not be mistaken with protection from litigation.  In 2014 a young man was ordered to pay a teacher $105,000 for defaming her on Twitter and Facebook.

So, when posting to social media it’s a good idea to think of yourself as the editor of a newspaper. You bear the responsibility for what you publish.

And of course, seek legal advice should you have any more specific questions.

While you’re pondering your next Tweet, here’s some further reading:

Campaign takes the cake

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A #TSBakeOff entry from @MelissaJensen_ – Gouldian Finches are threatened by altered fire regimes which reduce the availability of seeds & hollows #Wildoz

It’s Thursday … so let’s have some cake!

Like many Australians, my first decade of birthdays were celebrated with a highly artistic cake creations from the Australian Women’s Weekly. Choices, choices, choices!

So it’s not surprising that a cake competition, to bring attention to today’s Threatened Species Day, caught my attention. Mmmm cake!

The cool concept is a freshly baked idea from Australia’s Threatened Species Commissioner, Greg Andrews, with all baked goods featuring favourite threatened species.

It’s such a great example of clever content creation and a great way to engage an audience spread across the country. Perhaps it’s a recipe for your next campaign?

Entries have been flying in from ovens around the country and will be judged by the Commissioner, alongside Dr Bec West from UNSW and Annabel Crabb.

We can’t wait to see which cake rises to the top?

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

PS. Pardon all the cake puns!

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

Centenary a c-word for celebration: 2108

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img_4278Picture this.

It’s 2108. No that’s not a typo.

Stanford University’s century long study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100) is nearing completion (with the help of AI of course), Japan’s proposed Shimizu Mega-City Pyramid is months from reaching its pointy end, and the c word is celebrating a centenary of coffee, communication and champagne .

For individuals, their 100th birthday is a major milestone. An excuse for cake and a reason to watch the letter box, in the Commonwealth realms at least, for a congratulatory letter from the Queen.

For organisations, a centenary is a celebration of the characters who have paved the way for the next 100 years and a chance to remember the stories which have filled the halls of corporate headquarters and company parties for decades past.

While we may be a few years off our centenary (it’s never too early to begin planning), we have been lucky enough to be working with Victoria University in 2016 to help them celebrate their centenary of opportunity.

img_4279Over the past century VU has built a strong reputation throughout Australia and the world as the university of opportunity and it all stems from its founder Arch Hoadley, a scout, Antarctic explorer and a true leader.

As we countdown to our centenary, we are looking forward to working with many Australian and international companies who will celebrate their centenaries in the years between now and 2108.

In the meantime, here are some centenary celebrations to take note of. Coca Cola celebrated the centenary of its iconic packaging, patented in late 1915. To celebrate, the company created a year long marketing campaign, including new ads, a music anthem and social media campaigns to draw the audience in.

Coca-Cola’s Chief Marketing Officer said: “The campaign, which will be executed in over 130 countries, is our invitation to consumers around the world to share in the specialness of an ice-cold Coca-Cola.”

Coke itself is of course much older than its uniformed packaging, but the thing that makes it recognisable (other than the taste) is definitely worth a mention.

In 2011, IBM marked its 100 years with a celebration listing their great achievements and looking towards the future. Check out the centenary video from IBM here:

The video is beautifully executed and it works as a great IBM marketing tool.

100 years is a significant achievement for any company, but for one in the constantly morphing industry that is technology, it is particularly notable. IBM is a company that has moved with the times, always innovative and making a difference both to the tech sector but also to society.

When Universal Studios ticked over to 100 years, it celebrated through “100 years of Moments and Memories” and a video highlighting its most iconic films.

C = Chevrolet marked its centenary in 2011. Here’s  a great article from The Guardian about how the Chevrolet family celebrated this epic event.

Our very own c = Capital City; Canberra had its centenary in 2013. And no one could forget the Centenary of the ANZAC last year with some great memorial celebrations paying homage to the ANZACs. Reminding Australians to remember WWI.

The list goes on of companies hitting the 100 mark this decade. The campaigns behind these milestones are important, and remind people of the association they have with the brand.

We’re marking our 8th anniversary this year – a while to go until a letter from the Queen but still worth celebrating.

Cheers,
the c word crew (celebrating a centenary of c-words in 2108)

Australian science shines during 18th National Science Week

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Last week Australia celebrated its 18th National Science Week, an annual celebration of science and technology with thousands of individuals – from students to scientists and chefs to musicians – taking part in more than 1000 science events across the nation.

As the particles settle on another stellar week putting science in the spotlight, we thought we’d celebrate the vital role communication plays in science helping the public receive and understand complex information.

At the c word we get the opportunity to work with a range of scientific organisations including our client veski who bring scientists and researchers to Australia, our friends at the Australian Synchrotron who shine brightly, and our most recent addition to the c word family, the Centre for Personalised Immunology.

Like any organisation, scientific organisations need to share stories of their innovative work with the public.

Communicators in these organisations help scientists share the results of their research with everyday citizens – demonstrating the importance of innovation and discovery.

A few weeks ago in our #CommsCorner we spoke to Gretta Pecl a marine biologist and science communicator. She said that the “lack of scientific knowledge isn’t our biggest barrier to making progress and taking action – it’s effectively communicating the results we do have to people, communities and governments at various levels”.

The team behind National Science Week have done a great job engaging the public with a range of interactive events, speeches and panels encouraging a large audience to have a look into the world of science.

It’s integral to have an informed public, and to keep them engaged in the science and technology issues that inevitably affect us all.

On that note, we’ll leave you with Alan Alda. Alan came to Australia for the inaugural World Science Festival in Brisbane last year, and announced a partnership with the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science at ANU.

Communication lessons from #Rio2016

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For more than 100 years, the modern Olympic Games have been celebrated as a testament to human physical achievement and power. On another scale the games are also an opportunity for peaceful cooperation between nations. They’re also a huge global marketing opportunity. With the world watching, the right mix of communications can make or break an Olympic sponsor. With the large audience and participants involved in the international event, there has been some form of controversy in nearly every Olympic year since 1906.

5591054268_40c2a4b3ce_mEven before Rio had its official opening ceremony there was controversy surrounding it. One such problem affecting the Rio Olympics — not to mention the rest of Brazil — is the spread of the Zika virus, which was declared a public health emergency earlier this year. There was the slumping Brazilian economy and let’s not forget the water tests that showed the public that Rio’s Olympic waters were heavily polluted with human sewage; not to mention an alarming number of disease-causing viruses and bacteria that were present. These were all handled with poise by the respective Olympic representatives.

After years of preparation, what a party so far: the venues have turned out to be amazing, despite the original hiccups.  The sport has come first (mostly), Rio2016 is now in day 5. Listed are 5 communication lessons we’ve learned and reviewed so far.

1. Practice makes perfect

The opening ceremony had to be planned just like any event. Brazil kicked off this year’s Olympics with a low-budget opening ceremony that was full of colour and a Samba bear. Throw in some dancing and some preaching about environmentalism for good measure.

The ceremony seemed flawless until it was leaked to media that Brazilian supermodel Gisele made a mistake in her walk – she was too fast (ironic at the Olympics really).  Her walk in a thigh-split silver sequined gown (amazing) led to a 1,850% rise in Google searches for her name in just one hour. Richard Lawson, of Vanity Fair, said: “Gisele literally just walked across the stadium and it was an event.”

2. Watch your P’s and Q’s even in the pool

When the Mack Horton scandal erupted a few days ago, many Australians had never heard of the young swimmer. The 24-year-old was at the centre of controversy three days before the Olympics began when Fairfax Media revealed that a Chinese swimmer had tried to disrupt Horton by splashing him at the training pool in Rio. Horton responded by saying he had “no time or respect for drug cheats”, a jab at Sun’s positive drug test two years ago. Sun served a three-month doping ban in 2014, which the Chinese federation kept secret.

Earlier this week, Chinese fans took the grudge into their own hands, attacking Horton on his various social media accounts using the hashtag #apologizetosunyan.

“Your parents and whole country should be shame [sic] on what you’ve said,” one user wrote on Instagram.

Another wrote: “You even won the match, but you are still a loser, you don’t deserve to have an Olympic gold medal.”

Many other trolled Horton’s accounts with snake emojis.

Horton hasn’t taken to social media, and is charming the media, he claims his comments have been taken out of context and was quoted saying “what controversy”. It’s now up to the fans to decide as everyone looks towards the 1500m final – both of the swimmers main event.

3. Monitor your social…

London’s 2012 Summer Olympic Games had an official social media following of 4.7 million users across all platforms. Two years later, Sochi’s had gone up to over 5 million across two platforms alone: Facebook and VKontakte, the most popular Russian social media site. @Rio2016 is sitting at more than 500K followers on Twitter. Thinking beyond the official channels, and only five days in, the potential impact of social media on the games is endless.

4. Advertising and brands can make the most of any event.

Westpac put together a montage of Olympians’ family members attempting their sports. It’s funny, adorable, and leaves you feeling nice and warm.  Susie O’Neills mum doing the butterfly stroke is cute. Lacoste for team France anyone? Rio 2016 marks the fifth time Ralph Lauren has dressed Team USA. Stella McCartney based the looks she created for Great Britain’s athletes on the signature silhouettes that commonly feature in her fashion designs.  We saw Puma in the opening ceremony looking after Cuba’s team, but it is rumoured that Christian Louboutin has helped create outfits for the closing ceremony on 22 August. The Olympics gives these brands a whole new platform to expose themselves to a larger public.

5. Has Channel Seven’s Olympic coverage controlled and changed the way we can watch sports.

Channel Seven has decided to broadcast the Olympics solo. No Foxtel partnership. People who want to watch Gymnastics live for example have to pay for it via a subscription app. This has already upset the public. Why should we have to pay for an event that is broadcast for free in other nations? The Conversation explores this in a deep analysis.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew