Category Archives: Communicator’s Corner

Return of the #CommsCorner

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After a short hiatus, our regular programming of the #CommsCorner will return next Tuesday.

Join us again in 2017 as we speak with communicators from around Australia and across the globe in our regular #CommsCorner conversations.

We’ll find out what makes them tick, what inspires them, and who they turn to for advice.

Check back next week (or sign up for email updates) for our chat with a scientist with an eye on communication.

In the meantime, enjoy our conversations with communicators from our collection of #CommsCorners.

Briar Lloyd in the #CommsCorner

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This week, we revisit this post because our official c-word correspondent Briar Lloyd is in the US to bring us live coverage from the 2016 Election … and to have a holiday! But mostly to bring us live coverage!

This week we chat with @briarlloyd who is the Project Coordinator for our client the Shared Value Project. Briar moved across the Tasman from New Zealand and completed a degree at the University of Melbourne before forging a career in corporate social responsibility, communications and technology. When she’s not working, Briar can be found working on independent Australian films, or participating in conversations at the Henley Club. Briar is particularly interested in digital and new economies, cities and urban development, mobile banking technologies and access to services, and intraprenership and advocating for younger generations.

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I’m a hard working and determined third-culture kid working as part of the Shared Value Project team to change the role of business in society, and drive adoption and implementation of shared value strategies among leading companies, civil society and government organisations.

I love meeting new people and building strong relationships, often need to restrain myself from joining committees in my spare time, and am an enthusiast for arts and culture, international relations, reading, writing, cooking for my annoying food intolerances, working on my calendar al la Leslie Knope, and the Oxford comma.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

I’m definitely a morning person so like to get straight into things – first up checking for any urgent emails, news stories, or social media issues or conversations that need addressing, and then straight into some big ticket important tasks that might need a lot of clear-headed energy like writing copy, reports, project plans, or really important emails that might need some thoughtful words. I try to get any big important things over and done with first and then the rest of the day I’ll work on a range of tasks from managing events and campaigns, liaising with our member organisations, scheduling social media, meeting and liaising with media, writing briefings, managing our website, and other day to day tasks for the organisation, and then plan my next day. However it can be completely different when a lot of energy needs to be going into a big campaign or project, or when those days pop up where you need to be really reactive and responsive to unexpected issues or occurrences. Classic comms.

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

Growing up I was always obsessed with any form of media, whether it be magazines, books, TV, film, current affairs and pop culture, or just the internet in general. When I was studying media and communications, journalism, and politics and international studies at university, I really came to understand the importance of media and communications as a means to transfer information and knowledge, and shape society. From then on I knew it was important to be able to be to utilise communications in my work in some way, as it’s something than is relevant and important to all industries and sectors.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

I really admire/enjoy career stalking: Audrey Gelman – CEO and Co-founder of The Wing, previous press secretary to New York Comptroller Scott Stringer and champion on his campaign, re-launcher of the Downtown 4 Democracy political action committee, and spokesperson for Rock the Vote amongst many other things. Katherine Power and Hillary Kerr – co-founders and co-CEOs of Clique Media. Zoe Foster-Blake – author of books and columns, of which Channel Ten is adapting her book The Wrong Girl, Founder of Go-To Skincare, and general sassy social media extraordinaire. Mia Freedman – co-founder and Creative Director of Mamamia for her leadership, no filter, and the suite of excellent Mamamia podcasts. I am also really loving what Chelsea Handler is doing a the moment with her show Chelsea on Netflix, combining politics, current affairs, comedy, pop culture, and learning in an accessible, ‘big picture’ way.

Which tools can’t you live without?

My Apple Calendar synced across my various devises, can’t operate without it, I am crazy for planning and scheduling so that I can get the most out of each day.

Hootsuite for scheduling and planning social media content ahead of time across numerous channels.

The Skimm, a fantastic app, as they say definitely making it easer to be smarter by breaking down current affairs and what’s going on in the world into fresh daily editorial content, along with excellent recommendations into the latest books and long form articles to read.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

I think finding the balance between being strategic and reactive is always a challenge, so it’s a matter of being conscious of it and trying the best you can.

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

Apart from my current work, a really stand out opportunity I was lucky to have early on in my career as an intern, was working on the ‘This is GREAT Britain’ campaign. This was an amazing global campaign initiated in 2012 around the timing of the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and I really enjoyed the international relations component, which is one of my major interest areas. It was great to see this play out in an Australian context working on one of the events here around the Grand Prix. I really enjoyed the mix of stakeholders involved in the occasion where you had British Minister’s next to Hamish and Andy, Russel Howcroft, Jackie Stewart, British Consulate representatives, along with a British rock bank. I think this is what made it such an engaging campaign that is still continuing today.

 Which campaign do you most admire?

I am fascinated with Obsessee at the moment, developed by the aforementioned Clique Media targeted at Gen Z, and exists solely on social media as a content brand and community, no website. I’m older than the target market but really enjoy all the Snapchat content, and seeing how the model works for monetising branded social media content is incredibly interesting.

Locally I think Zoe Foster-Blake has been amazing with Go-To skin care. Not only a sensational product, but every step of customer interaction has incredibly witty messaging from their website, social media, packaging, and delivery notifications. It’s only available online, but the brand is fantastic at building relationship with customers.

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

There are so many more channels to navigate especially with social media. When I started there was a huge emphasis around Twitter and ‘words’ still, and now we have evolved to so much more imagery, video, and interactive based content such as with Instagram and Snapchat, and then completely new things like virtual reality which one of the organisations I work with is trialing to engage with customers. There has also been a similar change for journalists who are now expected not just to write articles but also various other forms of content such as videos and click-worthy images for social media, so if you are working in PR it’s a matter of being conscious of how you can really package a story or pitch. On a side note I’ve also really enjoyed the return of the podcast.

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

I think it’s incredibly important to carve out time and budget to make the effort to spend time with key stakeholders and meet them in person. Meet an important media contact for lunch or coffee. You can’t beat real life relationship building.

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

Someone who takes initiative, is interested and willing to build their knowledge, a good researcher, knows how to target the appropriate audience, enthusiastic, and is willing to go the extra mile.

What’s your favourite brand?

Uniqlo, Vanity Fair, Monocle, Wholefoods, Honest Company, and I really like how Go-To and Glossier have really evolved the beauty industry to focus more on real women in real life and customers giving life to products not the other way around, which is what the beauty industry has been based on for a long time.

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

Someone once prescribed me ‘Politics and the English Language’ by George Orwell which is worth the read, and re-read. I also highly recommend Contagious: Why Things Catch On, anything relevant to the industry or clients you are working with, and something hard copy like a magazine once and while as you can come across new information and content that you might not otherwise online.

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

A proper night’s sleeps makes all the difference to your ability to do good work – something applicable to all fields.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

…a means transfer knowledge and connect with others.

Diana Gibson in the #CommsCorner

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It’s almost time for National Bird Week and the Aussie Backyard Bird Count which begins Monday 17 October. With birds on the mind, we thought we’d revisit our #CommsCorner with our client Diana Gibson.

From e-waste to fair-trade to Australian birdlife, Diana Gibson has held a range of marketing and communication roles across a diverse range of industries. We work closely with Diana in her role as Head of Membership Development and Communications at BirdLife Australia (four National Bird Week campaigns to date!) and this week she joins us in the #CommsCorner.

My elevator statement?
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If you think it can work, step out of your comfort zone and give it a go….if it doesn’t, the sun will still rise tomorrow and you can try again with that learning behind you.

A Typical Day?

My day starts with checking in with team members to see how they are travelling, checking in on media exposure and bird and conservation stories of the day, and tracking how our supporter and new member campaigns are going. Then it gets diverse…it might be running a consultation on strategic directions for BirdLife Australia’s two scholarly journals, finalising a partnership with the likes of Aurora Expeditions and arranging for a project staffer to accompany their passengers on an Antarctic adventure, working with our scientists to select icon birds to headline a campaign, talking priorities with a volunteer branch committee member.. and on the odd occasion I might even get out to a BirdLife Australia observatory or project, spot some local birds (with lots of help…I’m no expert!!) and see firsthand  what is so important about bird conservation.

Which tools can’t you live without?

My tablet (funny how I could live without one a couple of years back!) … and the phone – so much better to talk than email. Oh, and Raisers Edge, our Supporter Relationship Management system!

What are the biggest challenges in your  role?

The diversity of audiences BirdLife Australia needs to reach… from the general backyard bird lover to the conservation advocate , the professional / academic whose life-work is birds and conservation and of course, the twitcher, or bird-enthusiast. And of course making the not-for-profit dollar work really hard for bird conservation.

Best Campaign you’ve ever worked on?

I have to say BirdLife Australia’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count, of course! Nearly 50,000 participants and we’re only two years into this annual event! Its been a big shift for BirdLife Australia to focus on reaching the average punter with no or little experience of birds and get them active, discovering what’s in their own backyards! Mark it in your diary now for October 2016.

And can I have another ‘best’? It goes back about 15 years now – Oxfam International’s Make Trade Fair campaign and the fun of being part of planning a launch in Trafalgar Square in London, with Chris Martin on stage! All for a very serious issue – the market disadvantages faced by many workers and producers around the world.

What has been the biggest change to communications since beginning my career? 

The Digital Age! Not only do you need to understand enough about the technology to know what is possible, it’s the accompanying shift from ‘push’ communications to ‘conversation’ that is still challenging people.

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

The dream of having sufficient funds to invest in the ‘Holy Grail’ – a fully integrated, dynamic  supporter engagement /intelligence system. Raisers Edge is great –but  there is still so much further we could go.

Fully integrated engagement/intelligence systems are out of reach of the small NFP, but central  to really getting the best out of relations with supporters, donors, volunteers, campaigners.

What quality do I look for in communications team members?

Can do, will try, will persevere and will take the initiative. And a great ‘stakeholder’ influencer!

Communications is … #CommsCorner

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commsisEach week we ask our #CommsCorner contributors to answer the question: Communications is … Here are some of their answers.

  • …a way to conquer uncertainty and unlock transformative thinking.
  • …SOMETHING PEOPLE THINK JUST HAPPENS WITH NO IDEA HOW MUCH THOUGHT AND STRATEGY GOES ON BEHIND THE SCENES!
  • …key to starting a conversation.
  • …WHAT THE ‘C’ IN THE C WORD STANDS FOR!
  • …not the wank you think it is!
  • …TELLING STORIES. It’s a force multiplier.
  • ..the conduit for everything within an organisation.
  • …TELLING YOUR STORY IN THE MOST AUTHENTIC WAY.
  • …Listening to others, telling the great stories of your organisation and trusting your instincts.
  • …EXCITING AND NEVER DULL. IF IT BECOMES DULL – MOVE. LIFE’S TOO SHORT TO WORK IN A DULL PLACE.
  • ….the way we pass down our history, culture and experience. It helps us tell our stories.
  • …a skill you can continuously evaluate and improve.
  • …LINKED TO EVERY PART OF HUMAN EXISTENCE, I AM JUST GLAD TO BE ENJOYING THE RIDE
  • …Constant and changing
  • …A FUN INDUSTRY TO WORK IN
  • …everywhere
  • …LISTENING & RESPONDING
  • …Being clear in the outcome you would like to achieve. And listening.
  • …IMPERATIVE TO LIVING IN A HARMONIOUS SOCIETY.
  • … underrated . It’s the most important skill you will ever have. You need to constantly refine this skill and learn from others daily.
  • …JUDGED BY THE VISCERAL, NOT THE INTELLECT. AUTHENTICITY IS NOT NEGOTIABLE.
  • …getting your point across while keeping your audience interested
  • …A BEAUTIFUL, BEAUTIFUL THING. IT’S HOW WE CONNECT AND SHARE OUR LIVES AND EXPERIENCES WITH OTHERS.
  • …the best way to solve problems, and prevent them from happening in the first place.
  • …CONSTANT.
  • …a meaningful experience. …CLEVER, COURAGEOUS AND CHARISMATIC.
  • …COMMON SENSE, …the key to life! DON’T OVERTHINK IT.
  • …something I do without thinking and something I think about a lot. …STORYTELLING
  • ….the answer to a hell of a lot of first world problems.
  • …EASY, GOOD
  • COMMUNICATION IS EVERYTHING.

Conversations from a #CommsCorner Congregation

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Reimg_1501cently, we hosted our first #CommsCorner Congregation. A congregation of communicators who have taken the chair in our #CommsCorner over the past couple of years.

As you would expect from a room full of communicators, the conversations didn’t stop – literally until the lights were turned off. Topics ranged from the creative to the cool and covered everything from errant commas to compelling TV shows.

Adding to the flavour of the event was the range of backgrounds represented in the room. Some communicators who had pursued communications from the starts of their careers (or before) and others who had found their way to communications after careers in law, property and travel.

The common thread was our passion for storytelling and understanding of the power of communication.

If you missed this one, don’t worry. We are already planning our next #CommsCorner Congregation and look forward to watching as the conversations kick off.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Andrea Davies chats internal communications in the #CommsCorner

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andreadaviesAndrea Davies is the Internal Communications Manager for Parks Victoria. Prior to taking on her current role, which gives her an excuse to visit every part of Victoria (well almost), she worked in various roles ranging from strategic communications and media to stakeholder relations and internal communications, in both the public and private sector. We were fortunate to work with Andrea while serving on the PRIA Council together.

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I am a communications professional, specialising in employee communications, engagement and change management. I currently work at Parks Victoria leading a small team to deliver internal communications across a large and dispersed workforce. I am passionate about my work and strive to make a difference in the work life of all employees. I enjoy working in fun and supportive teams and learning from great people.

How would you describe internal communications?

Internal communications is internal PR; it’s all about engaging employees so they perform at their best for the organisation. Open, transparent and meaningful two-way communications can really make an impact in shaping the organisation’s culture. Our role is to help people understand the organisation’s purpose and direction, and build confidence and trust within the workplace. Our work goes hand-in-hand with business strategy and people and culture. At the end of the day, we want people to feel engaged and proud to work for their organisation. Communicating the organisation’s strategic narrative so that it is relatable to different job roles can influence how people feel. In times of rapid change, we also have a key role in helping to facilitate change.

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

I completed a Bachelor degree in Public Relations in 2003. I worked in communications roles in three local government organisations before moving to a PR consultancy and then an IT sales and marketing company. In all roles I did some form of internal communications, but it wasn’t until I worked for NEC Australia that I truly appreciated internal communications and its value. I worked on a number of high impact reform programs under a wonderful leader and coach, and that’s when I made the decision to specialise in strategic internal communications.

Who’s your communication mentor?

Many people have influenced my career and who I am professionally. I respond well to strong leaders who challenge me. Lynette Elliott, Angela Scaffidi, Rachael Sweeney, Deb Ganderton and Adrian Cropley are people who have had a real impact on me. They have all encouraged me to believe in myself. I am always grateful for their advice. I know I am the person I am because of their mentorship and coaching. Today, I challenge the status quo because of them.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

Our ability to segment and manage internal audience groups means internal communicators are exceptional change managers. But we are not always involved in the planning of project change management, which can be a real challenge for us. Internal communications can often feel the pain of poor change management planning and end up in problem-solving mode. Also, if an organisation doesn’t prioritise internal programs, then employees can be faced with too much change, leading to change fatigue and employee disengagement. Internal communications doesn’t always have control over these issues but are generally in a good position to educate and influence internal stakeholders.

Which tools can’t you live without?

Research. I have been able to influence senior management and others by providing strong data and evidence. Research such as employee engagement results can highlight internal communications value to an organisation. Evidence is so powerful.

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

We’ve seen some great results from our Safety First, Zero Injuries program. This program aims to improve workplace safety culture to ensure people don’t get injured at work. We used personal stories to cut through what can be sometimes be seen as a dry subject, i.e. safety. This program has led to a real shift in attitude and behaviours and the best part, more people are going home to their family and friends injury free.

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

Learn from other people within the industry. Find a mentor who is willing to share their experiences with you. Join an industry body like the PRIA or IABC. Both connect you to other people in the industry that you can learn from. LinkedIn is also a great tool for gaining industry insights and connecting with other communicators from across the world. Also, recognise your gaps and undertake learning and development courses to improve your understanding of the world.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is… not an ‘event’. It is a continuous process. Organisations need to communicate in a thoughtful manner that’s open, honest and two way. When people see you making that extra effort, they’ll do the same. Employee engagement is at the heart of internal communications. Effective communication drives organisational culture and leads to winning business results.

Gastrology bloggers in the #CommsCorner

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gastrology-food-imageThis week we speak with the bloggers behind Australian food & travel blog @gastrologyco. They’re ranked #1 in Melbourne by Zomato, and their pictures and reviews certainly make us hungry. We were fortunate enough to meet them in person during our time spent in Footscray for the campaign Your Footscray.

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

We travel around Australia and the world, passionately celebrating and sharing the greatest in food and wine. Yes, unfortunately we still need “real” jobs so during the day we are lawyers that work at commercial law firms in the CBD.

Tell us about a typical day working as bloggers?

Eating, drinking and travelling (repeat) and then writing, tweeting and instagramming about our experiences!

When did you first get a taste for blogging?

It all started about 7 years ago when we started really exploring Melbourne’s burgeoning food scene and we wanted a means to share amazing places that we had discovered with our family and friends. A blog seemed like a great way of sharing our experiences and it grew from there.

Which blogs from around the world do you most admire?

We love Action Bronson’s “F*&% that’s delicious”. Not quite a blog and more of a vlog, but we love his spirit and the authentic joy he feels from sharing his love of food with the world.

What tools of the trade can’t you live without?

Our DSLR and trusty iMac.

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

The biggest challenge for us is (trying) to stay healthy and not giving into temptation every time a delicious opportunity presents itself (e.g. finishing all that crackling and other naughty stuff!). In terms of opportunities, we love the ability to travel and discover amazing behind the scenes experiences. As food and travel bloggers, we have had some amazing opportunities – including going behind the scenes in Burgundy in France where we were guided through amazing 18th century underground wine cellars in St Emilion, constantly meeting amazing chefs and restaurateurs and being involved in judging dishes for restaurant competitions.

Tell us which blog piece or project you are proudest of?

Our proudest project is being ambassadors for CARE Australia and being able to assist with sharing their vision to fight poverty.

What’s been the biggest change to blogging since you posted your first piece?

The biggest change has been the sheer growth of the blogging community and how passionate everyone in the general community now is about food and discovering the next best thing.

What tip would you give to someone thinking of starting a blog?

The best tip we can give is to be disciplined and ensure that you create content regularly (we aim for at least one blog post a day to keep our readers interested). But most importantly, do it because you love it!

What tips do you wish you’d known before creating your blog account?

Register a domain name and have your own website. You get a lot more creative control that way.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

In the words of Brian Tracy, “Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you’re willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.”