Category Archives: Communicator’s Corner

Danielle Johnston in the #CommsCorner

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When she’s not cross-country skiing, crew member Danielle Johnston is focused on cabins, checkin and concierges as the Editor of travel website Journeys to Come with Catriona Rowntree. Prior to joining the c word in 2011, Danielle DanielleJohnstonwas general manager of a not-for-profit sustainability consultancy in Melbourne following five years as business director at the Committee for Melbourne. Danielle has also worked in publishing, human resources and marketing, in London and San Francisco.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

Plan, execute, capture any lessons, close the file, repeat…

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

When I was 12, I fell in love with storytelling. When I was 15, I did work experience at the “Sun” newspaper and followed journalists around their Melbourne beats for a week. At the end of Year 12, journalism was my #1 study preference. Fortunately, the grand plan came off.

Who’s your communication hero?

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese social democratic stateswoman, politiciandiplomat and author who serves as the First and incumbent State Counsellor and Leader of the National League for Democracy. When she speaks, I listen because her communication style is always wise and measured, never inflammatory and most importantly, effective.

Which books do you think every communicator should read?

Manufacturing Consent”, by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman; “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk JR and E.B. White; and “Politics and the English Language” (1946), an essay by George Orwell.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’ 

What the ‘c’ in the c word stands for!

Tips from our #CommsCorner

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6004674496_c24d5a26a3_oWe regularly ask communicators what they wish they had known before starting out in their communications careers and this week we thought we’d share a collection of their responses.

Here are six leading female communicators and the lessons they’ve discovered along the track of professional communications.

Don’t stress the little things – Vanessa O’Hanlon

To not stress about the little things.  Take on everything you are offered – don’t let fear stand in the way.  However you are feeling – everyone else feels the same, we are all human.

Just do it – Lauren Ayton

Just do it! I was so nervous before starting with science communication events; as a scientist, you are so used to specialising in specific areas, and it can be nerve-wracking to talk about your work without the jargon. A few years down the track, and I count science communication as one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of my job; I’m glad I just gave it a shot!

Learn from others – Andrea Davies

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.

Always ask – Kathryn Crawford

Always ask the question you’re worried makes you look stoopid. I’ve ended up looking far sillier than I needed to by being too embarrassed to ask the question in the first place.

Remember to communicate with staff – Diane Squires

I really underestimated the importance of internal communications in the overall communications mix. Organisations spend so much time and energy on media and stakeholder communications, but then fail to communicate with their own staff. Staff are at the forefront of customer engagement, if they don’t know what is going on, how can they support your messaging.

Numbers matter – Amisha Mehta

Numbers matter and go hand-in-hand with words to create meaning—data analysis and accounting are your friends. Do not avoid them.

Vanessa O’Hanlon in the #CommsCorner

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VANESSA O'HANLON_0254.jpgThis week, we welcome Channel Nine newsreader Vanessa O’Hanlon into the #CommsCorner. After being part of the launch of ABC News Breakfast, Vanessa is now part of the team bringing a new regional news service to NSW for Channel Nine.

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

Adaptable and motivated, I started in the media because of my passion for music and worked my way from reporting in a helicopter to news-reading. Adventurous and private.  But socially outgoing with friends and family.

Tell us about a typical day working in the media.

It varies depending on events and publicity commitments but typically it’s about staying across what’s happening.  Mornings are usually spent reading papers and online stories.  Afternoons pre-reading, editing stories, recording (local stories) and putting together the live bulletin that airs at 6pm.

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

It came to me in a round about way.  At school I always had an interest in politics and current affairs and was on the SRC and School Council but I also fell in love with music.  I enjoyed interviewing bands and artists.   Working in a newsroom on ABC News Breakfast I knew I wanted to be more involved in the news side of presenting, I love the fast pace and how news evolves.

Which journalist from around the world do you most admire?

Growing up I loved Jana Wendt – who didn’t.  She was sassy and classy.

I have been very fortunate to work with some great talent.  To watch Virginia Trioli in action certainly inspired me but I am even more blessed to call her a friend.

What communication tools can’t you live without?

The internet – what a game changer.

Last year I would have said sites such as Bureau of Meterology, Accuweather and BBC weather.

Social media sites such as Twitter – although you need to weed out fake news. If there is a journalist you trust, having them on the scene of an event is the best source of keeping up to date.

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

I guess it’s the same for everyone – it’s becoming complacent.  The world of technology is changing at such a rapid pace and it’s hard to keep up with what is relevant.

Right now I would have to say my biggest opportunity is working with Channel 9.  I started up NSW Regional News back in February so it has been a case of head down and work hard.

Tell us about the news coverage you are most proudest of?

This is a double edged sword – I am proud of being part of Australia’s first rolling free to air news channel (I was there for the start of News 24). It was a game changer to how we now see and receive news, but at the same time I wonder what it is doing to us psychologically especially with the growing rate of terrorism and the shift we have seen in politics.  Are we giving some people and groups too much coverage?  Or are we becoming more knowledgeable and better informed.

But right now, my proudest moment is broadcasting local stories back into regional areas.  There are a lot of towns that feel isolated and are struggling economically and need to feel a stronger connection to the rest of the country.

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

Where do we begin?  News has evolved in so many ways.  You used to have a daily paper and a nightly news service.  Journalists had the luxury of working on a story and setting the news agenda.  It was recorded and edited, now the focus is on ‘here and now’ usually in the form of live crosses.

Technology has changed that, like most industries the key to surviving is multi-skilling.  A journalist needs to write, edit and know how to gather stories and perform across all platforms from online, radio to television.

If you had to cut, create or change something from your reporting toolkit, what would it be?

My career path has been a little different than others but if I had my time again I would have liked to have honed my skills around reporting and packaging because if time permitted I would love to make documentaries.

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

There are so many options to choose from but it must be a source that is trustworthy and portrays a standard of accuracy and impartiality.  My go to is Twitter to begin with, you’ll find an eclectic range of articles.

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

To not stress about the little things.  Take on everything you are offered – don’t let fear stand in the way.  However you are feeling – everyone else feels the same, we are all human.

Finish this sentence: Communication is …. The key to expressing yourself to someone else.

Campaigns admired from the #CommsCorner

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ALWA19371-LikeAGirl-3-Page-701x313We often ask the communicators who sit in our #CommsCorner which campaigns they admire.

Here are some highlights of the campaigns admired from our #CommsCorner – get inspired!

Lauren Ayton in #CommsCorner

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122819pictureIn our first Communicator’s Corner for 2017 we chat with scientist, communicator, and new mum @DrLaurenAyton. We know Lauren as a Hugh Rogers Fellow through our friends at the Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association. She’s also the Bionic Eye Clinical Program Leader and Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Eye Research Australia & The University Of Melbourne. And she’s been known to talk science on 3RRR’s Einstein a Go Go.

Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I am a clinician-scientist, working in the field of vision restoration. My professional background is as an optometrist, and I still work in the clinic occasionally, but my passion now is research. I have been incredibly lucky in my career, and have been able to work on some truly amazing projects that aim to save sight – from a laser treatment in early age-related macular degeneration to my current role in the Bionic Eye programs. I am the Lead Clinical Investigator for both Melbourne-based bionic eye projects (based at the Centre for Eye Research Australia, and at Monash University), and in these roles, I am responsible for the coordination of the clinical trials for novel bionic eye devices. In my personal life, I am a new Mum! My husband and I welcomed our son Charlie 8.5 months ago, and he is an absolute delight and my greatest achievement. 

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

I use communication strategies and methods in many ways in my work; firstly, for patient discussions, so that I can make sure they are aware of their eye condition, treatment options, and the like. In my research roles, accurate and effective communication is absolutely vital. The Bionic Eye project is a very emotive concept, and it is important that people are well aware of the realities of vision restoration technologies. Whilst the work is very exciting, we are not able to restore “normal” sight to people who are blind, and the technology is still in its relative infancy. There is no “typical” day for me – I might spend one day talking to journalists, the next with patients, and then over to a school for a talk about eyes.This is why I love my job!

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

In high school, I wanted to be a journalist. I was lucky enough to meet the most influential teacher of my schooling, Mr Glasgow, who was a passionate scientist and an amazing communicator. He instilled a love of science in me, and made me realise how exciting a scientific career could be. I was in Year 11 when the human genome was fully sequenced, and I still remember that he spent our entire class talking about the potential ramifications of that achievement. From that moment, I wanted to be involved in the next generation of ground-breaking discoveries!

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

There are so many! Of the big-name, international communication gurus, I have always had a soft spot for Sir David Attenborough. His work to communicate environmental stories to the public is just beautiful – educational and artistic at the same time. On a more local level, my mentor is Dr Shane Huntington, who hosts the science communication radio show I present on (Einstein A Go Go, Sundays 11am- 12pm, 102.7FM). Shane is a spectacular communicator, and is a sought-after public speaker. I first met Shane when I did an interview for the University of Melbourne UpClose podcast, and he has been the most supportive ally in my science communication career since that time.

Which tools can’t you live without?

I am sure I am not alone in being completely and utterly addicted to my smart phone! Whilst it does make it hard to leave work behind sometimes, I love the ability to be flexible in where and when I do my work.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

As a research academic, my biggest challenge is the lack of security in funding. This is the time of year where all academics go to ground, furiously writing applications for research grants that have an appalling low success rate (close to 10% now for our main federal programs). The amount of time spent trying to get money to keep your work alive is ludicrous, and becomes an extra challenge when you must provide for a growing family.

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

One of the most exciting media experiences I have had was the announcement of the world-first clinical trial of our novel bionic eye device in Melbourne. With the help of our wonderful media consultants (Mira Image), we prepared a series of media interviews in 2012 to make the announcement. It was incredibly exciting to wait until the embargo was lifted and the news hit the media – it was international news, and finally my family and friends knew what I had been up to in the prior months!

Which campaign do you most admire?

I am a fan of the #LikeAGirl campaign by the US company Always, in which young girls are asked to “run like a girl”, “throw like a girl” and “fight like a girl”. They approach the tasks with gusto and unbridled enthusiasm, like girls always do! However, when older participants are asked the same, they act out the stereotypes; unconsciously deciding that “like a girl” is an insult. I love the way that the video makes you stop and think. As a passionate advocate for gender equality, I believe it is these tactics that will make people stop and think about our responses to these terms. Words can hurt! And the fact that the video has had over 63 million hits on YouTube is evidence of its power.

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

Science communication is a rapidly evolving field. When I finished my PhD eight years ago, there was very little emphasis placed on the need to communicate our work. However, science is publically funded, and working towards publically beneficial goals, and so it is essential that people be informed about the work. This is now changing, and there are many initiatives to help promote science and science communication, and it’s an exciting time!

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

I think there should always be support for early career researchers, PhD students and young scientists to learn communication skills; that will always be something I aim to provide for those I work with.

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

I think the most important quality in a science communicator is passion. When someone loves their work, and loves science in general, it shines through.

What’s your favourite brand?

This tends to change day to day with me! I am not particularly loyal to brands, and always am open to new suggestions from colleagues and friends. I am a fan of Who Gives a Crap, though; an Australian-owned toilet paper company who use environmentally friendly products and donate half their profits to build toilets in developing countries. I love that they started with a hilarious crowd-funding appeal (with one of the founders sitting on a toilet for 50 hours!), and they also have very cool wrapping.

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

Due to my recent motherhood and decrease in free time, I am a huge fan of science communication podcasts. They are great to listen to during your commute, or when walking the baby in the pram! There are a number of brilliant examples of these podcasts, but I do love the Naked Scientists (UK), RadioLab (USA) and ABC’s The Science Show (Australia).

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

Just do it! I was so nervous before starting with science communication events; as a scientist, you are so used to specialising in specific areas, and it can be nerve-wracking to talk about your work without the jargon. A few years down the track, and I count science communication as one of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of my job; I’m glad I just gave it a shot!

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

Essential in every aspect of life.

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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BriarHeadshot

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.