Category Archives: Events

C is for celebration


Today. Thursday, 24 November – the last Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States, officially kicking off the holiday season. In fact, more people in the US celebrate Thanksgiving than Christmas – making it the country’s most loved holiday.

In 1939, during the Great Depression, President Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to create a boost to retailers before Christmas. The precursor to what is now known as “Black Friday” – the biggest shopping day of the year.

If you are interested in the history of this holiday check out Melanie Kirkpatrick’s fascinating book, “Thanksgiving: The Holiday at the Heart of the American Experience”.

But if pop culture is more your thing, you can read all about what the late Joan Rivers served up as a thanksgiving feast.

Many celebrities get involved and share their thanksgiving stories and time.

And in New York there’s the annual and colourful Macy’s Parade.

Wherever you are, however your year has been, take time today to be reflective and give thanks for the things important to you.

Happy celebrations from all of us at the c word.

Cute owls attract crowds


img_1646Next week’s c-word is counting as we take part in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, helping our client BirdLife Australia count 1.5 million birds in 7 days.

On Wednesday, we helped BirdLife Australia bring a pop-up backyard, complete with a very cute owl, to Sydney’s urban backyard, Martin Place. Serena the owl certainly knew how to draw a crowd.

BirdLife Australia is calling on all Australians to head into their favourite outdoor spaces and join the count from Monday 17 October.

We’re calling on all c-words to embrace their inner #BirdNerd and join the count … come on it’s a c-word!

Whether you count in your own backyard, local park or botanic gardens, in a group, with a friend or by yourself, everyone who joins the count will help BirdLife Australia reach its target of counting 1.5 million birds in 7 days. It’s fun, but it has a bigger purpose: it provides a picture of how Australian birds are faring across the country.

No matter where you are, there are birds all around you. It doesn’t matter if you live in the suburbs, in the city, by the sea or in the country; our Australian birds live in all different types of habitats. Sometimes you just need to look up!

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count really is for everyone, and anyone can take part anywhere in Australia.

Download the FREE app or head to the website to get started and become a part of this huge citizen science event.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Conversations from a #CommsCorner Congregation


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

Communication lessons from #Rio2016


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

C for Casting our eyes back over the year. In hindsight…


It’s that time of year again. The Kris Kringle presents are getting swapped and it’s time to reflect on another 12 months of c-words, and we as you know love communications and all things that go with it. So many c-words to look back on from the past 12 months. Wow 2015 you have been truly amazing!

The 1989 movie Back to the Future, Part II gave the world a fictitious view of what 2015 might look like through the eyes of Marty McFly, predicting things like flying cars and portable fusion power. the c word doesn’t yet have a time machine, but as the new year winds down, here’s a look at some of the real events that helped shape the communications landscape and the world in 2015.

There were no flying cars but we did have a chopper crisis in Canberra, a new royal cherub, Bruce Jenner transformed herself into Caitlyn, and Hillary Clinton continues to sprint towards the WhiteHouse!

Now sit back & catch up on our commentary:

And how could we forget the final moments of Mad Men … Coke or coastal contemplation?

Twitter has also released its top trends of 2015 – which highlighted the top 10 topics that people discussed. From Caitlyn Jenner to One Direction (all the really important stuff). Some did come as a bit of a surprise.

Social Media as usual was on top of all the breaking news. Here’s a look at their top trends for 2015. – a truly engaging platform!

And YouTube released its lookback at 2015 through a musical video of course. Take a look here:

YouTube has been doing these types of video summaries for a few years now. But 2015 is the brands 10th birthday – a special occasion.

Facebook has been so kind to let their members create a “year in review”. Who wouldn’t want to look at a years worth of selfies?

Now here’s the the final countdown to 2016. What will the year ahead bring?

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

The Big O returns to Oz & other event inspirations


Source:; George Burns

Whether it’s a surprise milestone birthday, a large gala dinner or a royal visit, events can be crazy or cool depending on the amount of planning put in place. With the announcement of Oprah’s return to Australia in December, we have been thinking about everything that goes into planning an event for the ‘lady of talk’.

From dawn until dusk, Oprah’s events during her 2010 visit went off like a rocket and appeared to her audience: flawless. Each provided a carefully staged managed glimpse at the country we call home.

From the audio visual spectacular of the lighting of the Big O on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during her official welcome event  to an intimate dinner in the Block Arcade in Melbourne, no detail was left unplanned.

There are things that can be controlled, like the venue, the food, the people you invite (not who turns up). But, there are also the uncontrollable elements of events from timing to weather to guest behaviour (tsk tsk).

Here were 5 event highlights from her time in 2010. We wonder what will be in store for December.

Here are 5 tips we took from watching Oprah and her crew dart around Australia:

  1. Plan for the unexpected –Hugh Jackman gets a black eye after a mishap
  2. Ensure you have the basics covered – for Oprah this means a motorcade
  3. Be prepared for extra guests and double check your guest list – don’t forget Russell Crowe
  4. Learn from your event – Tourism Australia review
  5. Have an event bible – 8 days in Australia

Mistakes at events are hard to hide. And one error generally leads to another. Timing, food requirements can all lead to disaster. So it doesn’t hurt to double and triple check.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – A turkey called Clyde


Gov. Robert Bentley pardons Clyde the Turkey Nov. 13, 2014. (Picture via Twitter)

A turkey called Clyde, cyber makeovers for Melbourne-Boston, and cocktails with a French horn player – they’re our c-words for the week: can you compete?

It’s not unusual for American leaders to flex their power muscles by pardoning a turkey or two in the lead up to Thanksgiving. What caught our eye was a turkey named Clyde who was pardoned this week by the Governor of Alabama as part of the state’s thanksgiving tradition to pardon a turkey named Clyde.

If you want to hear more about pardoned turkeys starting with C, then join us on Thursday, 27 November for ‘A Melbourne Thanksgiving’ cocktail celebration with other friends of Melbourne/Boston.

Onto cyberspace, and we’ve been coding (well actually we’ve left the coding to the professionals at ManageWeb, credit where credit’s due) the new website for Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association. Take a moment to catch up on all the connections between our two great cities.

And cocktails with a french horn player you ask. We helped host the presentation of the 2014 Hugh Rogers Fellowships on behalf of the Melbourne Boston Sister Cities Association during Melbourne Knowledge Week.

Among the five inspiring recipients of Hugh Rogers Fellowships, including a bioinformatician, two science teachers and a researcher building a low-cost, electricity-free oxygen concentrator, there was a french horn player.

Susan de Weger, who visited the New England Conservatory of Music in November, entertained the guests with a number of pieces on her French horn.

More c-words to follow in the coming weeks: curating content at the #ObesitySummit, connecting with other PRIA Fellows at the national conference, celebrating colleagues, chums & clan in the lead up to Christmas & controlled consumption of champagne & canapés!

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

PS. Here’s our favourite turkey pardoning scene from the West Wing – thanks CJ!

Conscious or not—bias affects us all


Together we can fly!

With tomorrow being International Women’s Day, we thought it was timely to delve into a topic about women in the workplace and more specifically unconscious bias.

Whether we like to admit it or not, everyone has conscious and unconscious bias which plays a role in who we hire, promote or socialise with. In the last few years many discussions—particularly on unconscious bias and much research into the subject has been done—like this one by the Melbourne Business School’s Gender Equality Project.

So, it’s no surprise that Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ came in at No. 2 on the best-selling book of the year on Amazon and spent 12 weeks at the top of the New York Times nonfiction best-seller list in 2013. In it, Sandberg shares real-life experiences—names, positions, achievements and accolades—as well as hard data to reveal candidly how gender disparity in the workplace is real and also provides some useful tools we can use to overcome inherent patterns of behaviour.

Five tips to overcoming unconscious bias—drawn from Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’:

1. Seek out all opinions, not just ones that agree with ours.

We tend to be attracted to those who look, sound and behave like us—making us less inclined to seek out the opinion of those that seem different. As men dominate boardrooms, they tend to generally look to the opinions of other men. Everyone comes with their own set of experiences and getting a fresh perspective can shed light on things that you might have missed.

2. Keep your hand up!
Sandberg admits even she’s not immune to being blindsided by gender bias. In her book, she reveals that she too while giving a talk to employees (funnily about gender issues), became blindsided herself. As Sandberg was wrapping up the event many hands were up in the air waiting their turn with questions for her. After taking a few questions, Sandberg let everyone know she’d only take two more questions. It was at this point the women in the audience put their hands down. But several men kept their hands up—and since they were still waving their hands in the air Sandberg took the men’s questions. After the meeting a woman from the audience came to see Sandberg to let her know the one valuable thing she learnt didn’t come from Sandberg’s words, it was to keep her hand up to get her voice heard!

3. Everyone feels like a fraud sometimes.
You haven’t gotten where you are without having some successes. Unsurprisingly, multiple studies have shown that women underestimate themselves and men tend to overestimate themselves, although both sexes can fall victim to the impostor syndrome and feel like a fraud . Women tend to play out their perceived failures or negative aspects of situations over and over instead of accepting that although things don’t always go well, there are a lot of positive experiences to focus on. Sandberg writes about feeling like a fraud in her uni days and remembers that there were times when faking it till you make it— although a cliché—is useful. ‘Like so many other things, a lack of self-confidence can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.’ Remind yourself of all your successes and achievements.

4. Be open to feedback.
Feedback can help us grow. If we’re willing to take responsibility for mistakes and learn from the constructive criticism of others, feedback can become something we seek out to help us develop. Armed with the knowledge of what others perceive about us feedback can build strong relationships built on trust. Sandberg and Zuckerberg actively reach out for feedback from each other and build this feedback culture into their workplace. After your next meeting or presentation—regardless of how well it goes—ask a trusted peer what could you have done better to improve the outcome. The results could surprise you.

5. Shift your mindset to ‘I’ll learn by doing’.
Many women fear that they’re not ready to take on more challenges and stretch themselves, thinking they don’t have all the skills. According to a Hewlett-Packard study Sandberg refers to, women only apply for job advertisements if they think they meet 100 per cent of the criteria listed. Conversely, men apply if they think they meet 60 per cent of the requirements. Either way, it’s useful for managers to encourage talented women to move up through training and development plans, as well as women to remind themselves to seek out opportunities and learn by doing.

Also, we thought we’d share a video Marie Claire released about standing up for women’s rights and celebrating women who inspire us. First spotted on Gabrielle Dolan’s newsletter about IWD this week.

Cheers, Atika & the c word crew

Closing comment – Friday 20 July – C-acronyms: CMS, CSR and CRM

Bento Box shot by Aram K (source: flickr)

Bento Box shot by Aram K (source: flickr)

We’ve been collecting c-acronyms this week including Content Management Systems (CMS), Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.

Not only are we investigating potential CRM and CMS solutions for a couple of clients, we are also testing them out with our own crew. It’s incredible how many great choices are available and how many are in the cloud.

Our crew has also continued to collaborate on some exciting CSR projects and every day we are thrilled to discover more amazing CSR initiatives occurring right here in Melbourne.

On Thursday night, our chief associate Helen Steel attended the launch of a new book edited by Sara James called An Extraordinary School. The book is the story of an innovative school that will challenge you to re-think how special education is taught.

The book is about Port Phillip Specialist School, which has received national and international recognition as a best-practice model for educating children with special needs. Sara was on The Circle earlier this week and profiled in a recent issue of The Good Weekend.

While it’s been a busy week of work, we have managed to find time between c-acronyms and book launches to try (and try) the tasty new Japanese café around the corner. Nama Nama comes to us courtesy of the co-owners at Izakaya Den. The Bento Boxes, particularly the surprise, are delicious and perfect conversation starters for a meeting or a lunch.

Finally, with my hat on as State President for PRIA in Victoria, I have some exciting news to report. With five months still to go until the World PR Forum in November, more than 400 people have registered to attend from 20 different countries.

Have a great weekend and send us your favourite c-acronyms.


Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – Friday 6 July – Save the singing for the shower


This week the c word celebrated Fourth of July alongside our American friends, so a belated happy Independence Day to you all. While we didn’t manage to have the day off, we did consume our fair share of American candy as recompense; mainly Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups in their miniature form.

In keeping with the US theme, Tuesday night we attended the US Consulate’s Independence Day function at the Fox Classic Cars Museum in Docklands. It was great to catch up with the many Americans and honorary Americans living in Melbourne including author and NBC Correspondent Sara James, American Australian Association’s Regina Khart and General Manager of the Melbourne Aces Windsor Knox.

Thanks to the staff and volunteers of the US Consulate for organising another wonderful celebration of their Independence – 236 candles required to mark their birthday. Congratulations also to the lovely Sally Branson who received an employee of the year award on the very same day.

Our next topic comes with this advice: singing should be kept to the stage, the shower or on rare occasions the lounge room in the company of extremely close friends and truckloads of tequila.

Even if you have the world’s most wonderful voice, a media interview is not to appropriate place to prove it, unless of course it’s your profession (and even then it’s questionable). What I can say for sure is a politician should never end their television media interview with a jingle. But thank you Craig Emerson for providing the laughs this week and taking us back to the singing and dancing pollie days of Midday with KAK.

Final topic for this week’s Closing Comment: culinary delights and conversations. We had a number of great chats about communications over coffee and calories this week, some scheduled and many impromptu.

We started the week with back to back coffees at the c word HQ Milton House with a journo, an event coordinator and a CEO. Sounds like the candlestick maker etc doesn’t it. Perhaps we’ll try that next week?

Wednesday we caught up with some friends in fundraising at Red Spice Road. A great conversation about fundraising events was followed by complete silence as we devoured their famous pork dish. A must try if you’re not a vegetarian and enjoy your pork belly!

Thursday morning we caught up with our Twitter and PRIA colleague Dean Mercer over coffee at Cumulus providing another colorful communications conversation.

Now it’s Friday and time to speed through the to do list, clear out the inbox & get ready for a sunny weekend (we hope).

Cheers and happy singing everyone (just not during a live cross!),

Jack and the c word crew