Category Archives: Communicator’s Corner

What inspired our #CommsCorner communicators?

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What first inspired your love of words? Or your passion for content?

That’s a question we often ask the communicators we work with, and the communicators who take a chair in our #CommsCorner.

This week, we revisit past responses to our Communicator’s Corner and share what drove their passion for words! The common theme was an early interest (usually at high school) in reading, writing and all things creative.

Del Irani

DelHeadshotI really didn’t know. I didn’t study journalism. I studied business and psychology. However, when I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, I was offered two graduate positions. One was in the corporate world and the other one was for an obscure media production company based in Belgium that required a lot of travel and being a fresh graduate at the age of 22 I decided to take the latter. It was only after working for this company for several months I realised I was often the only one at press conferences who would be standing up and asking questions or challenging the status quo. Many of my colleagues pointed out that I had a natural gift for interviewing, and it was after these experiences that I decided to pursue journalism.

Danielle Johnston

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.

Vanessa O’Hanlon

VANESSA O'HANLON_0254

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.

Lauren Ayton

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!

Briar Lloyd

BriarHeadshotGrowing 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.

Kathryn Crawford

I’m not sure it was that defined. But my path seemed to be fairly well set when in Year Ten I had the opportunity to do a work placement at what was then known as Royce MS&L Communications. The glamour! The intrigue! The outfits! I knew I stumbled onto something. And that was just the tram ride down St Kilda Road.

Amisha Mehta

QUT VC Awards 2016

QUT VC Awards 2016. QUT Gardens Point, Brisbane on June 13, 2016. Picture-Patrick Hamilton

I knew I wanted to be a lecturer when I saw a student’s face light up as she landed on an idea for a public relations campaign. There is so much power in an idea and it’s a privilege to share that space.

Tune into our weekly #CommsCorner for more stories about what inspired communicators along the path of content creation.

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Del Irani in the #CommsCorner

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DelHeadshotThis week in the #CommsCorner we chat with Del Irani, a Presenter on ABC News Breakfast, which airs from 6-9am nationally. As well as being a TV and radio presenter, Del is a highly experienced and sought after event host, moderator and emcee. She has recently returned from moderating for the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation in China, and was also the host of our client’s Shared Value Forum in April. Del is also a board member of the Western Bulldogs Football Club Community Foundation.

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

I’m a warm and energetic TV presenter who has hosted shows in Australia and around the world. I currently work for ABC News in Australia and was a former BBC News Presenter working as a correspondent in Mumbai, India. I am an Indian-Australian who has lived and worked in more than 20 countries.

Tell us about a typical day working in the media?

There is no typical day. From the time my alarm goes off at 3.30am, I check my phone for news alerts and read up on any developments overnight. Then I arrived in the office just after 4am, flick through the papers and talk to the producers about the main stories they’ve identified for the show. After a brief chat and informal editorial meeting, I start writing my scripts and lining up the vision. Then it’s off to hair and makeup. Once I’m ‘studio ready’, I update my scripts, particularly the financial markets which are closing at 6am, and I’m on air by 6.05am.

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

I really didn’t know. I didn’t study journalism. I studied business and psychology. However, when I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, I was offered two graduate positions. One was in the corporate world and the other one was for an obscure media production company based in Belgium that required a lot of travel and being a fresh graduate at the age of 22 I decided to take the latter. It was only after working for this company for several months I realised I was often the only one at press conferences who would be standing up and asking questions or challenging the status quo. Many of my colleagues pointed out that I had a natural gift for interviewing, and it was after these experiences that I decided to pursue journalism.

Which journalist from around the world do you most admire?

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

What communication tools can’t you live without?

Contact with people. Being a journalist is about telling people’s stories!

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

The biggest challenge is to keep up with technology and the way it’s changing journalism. There’s a constant need to keep challenging yourself and adapting to stay ahead of the curve, especially when it comes to social media because that’s a big part of how we now communicate with our audiences. Any resistance can be a real set back. I also see this as one of the biggest opportunities. If you embrace new technologies you can access new audiences and have a global reach.

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

My proudest moment is providing live coverage in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks for BBC World News. As someone who was born in Mumbai, and has family in India, I was proud to be able to highlight the enduring resilience of Mumbaikers.

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

Social media. I began before Twitter and Facebook Live and Periscope (which has already become extinct)..

What should every aspiring journalist read?

BBC World News have an outstanding standard of journalism. I think you can learn a lot from their style of writing and their online journalism school has some great tips – and it’s FREE.

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

Trust yourself. I lacked confidence when I first started out in front of the camera and one of the best pieces of advice a senior producer once gave me was talk to the camera like you’re talking to your best friend. I’ve followed that advice and never looked back.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’ POWER

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.