Category Archives: Public Relations

Cute owls attract crowds

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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

Collage of comments: Sharapova thanks her dear fans

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In news this week: Nike, Porsche and Tag-Heuer have all suspended their sponsorships of Maria Sharapova after she announced to the world that she had tested positive to a banned substance at the Australian Open.

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This is a loss for the tennis legend and a swift manoeuvre from her sponsors to disassociate their brands from the negativity (of a positive drug test).

Sharapova or her agents started to manage the situation early. She had her game face on. She called a press conference in LA straight away. Fronted up to the media and her public and explained why she was on the drug.

Meldonium, which Sharapova said she had legally taken throughout her career, was placed on the banned list by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) at the beginning of the year following “evidence of its use by athletes with the intention of enhancing performance”.

Dressed head-to-toe in black corporate attire, she said: “I let my fans down, I let the sport down that I have been playing since the age of four and I love so deeply.” One of the world’s richest sports stars went on to say: “I know with this I face consequences. I don’t want to end my career this way and I really hope I will be given another chance to play this game.”

She had apologised to her fans, but via social media not so much as a flutter post press conference from Sharapova. Until today, when she posted a thank you to her dear fans – on Facebook with a linked to her post on Twitter.

When will companies and celebrities recognise that social media platforms need their attention too? When will they learn that they are a conversational tool and not a broadcasting tool alone.

There was one twitter comment alerting her 2 million plus fan base to the upcoming press conference. And then radio silence – and even though there was plenty of support with ‪#‎IStandWithMaria‬ and ‪#‎LetMariaPlay‬making it could seem to some that she was hiding in the dark, avoiding the aftermath. Not giving her side of the story.

She did acknowledge the support noting that she had remained offline on purpose and her friends had supplied a collage of comments.

When will people and companies learn that social media is a tool to converse with other people, and like in “real life” keep that conversation flowing. It’s a two-way street. Answer the publics questions. Keep the faith.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – communities & companies converge through #sharedvalue

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We are delighted to be collaborating with the Shared Value Project on their upcoming Shared Value Forum in Melbourne on 14 April with international expert and thought leader Mark Kramer.

Mark has been instrumental in the development of shared value alongside his colleague Michael Porter. Yes my communications companions, that Michael Porter.

As well as hearing from Mark, you’ll be able to hear first hand how Australian companies are making shared value a part of their businesses. There are some incredible case studies on the cards, and plenty of time to network and speak directly to people making shared value happen!

Visit forum.sharedvalue.org.au for a full program, speaker details and further information on #SVF15.

In the meantime, here’s a question for you to ponder:

Why are more Australian organisations making shared value a key part of their business?

Find out why at the 2015 Shared Value Forum: Act. Measure. Grow. on 14 April 2015 with shared value expert and thought leader Mark Kramer leading the discussion and providing an international context.

Join other business leaders and practitioners from across Australia as they present case studies and examine key challenges and opportunities including how further measurement can demonstrate the full potential of a shared value strategy. The forum also includes an interactive workshop presenting ‘how to’ develop, deliver, integrate, and communicate shared value strategies within your organisation, and understand the role of stakeholder and community partnerships. Mark Kramer will also lead a session that examines the complexities involved in measuring shared value outcomes, with a focus on the tools and solutions that link business and social results.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – Becoming a Fellow

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Jack Walden FPRIA with Mike Watson FPRIA

Our CEO Jack Walden receiving his PRIA Fellowship from PRIA President Mike Watson FPRIA

I moved from Brisbane to Melbourne about a decade ago to continue developing my career, soak up the coffee, cuisine and culture of the southern city, and chase the cold.

Even though I may no longer call Brisbane home, it still holds a special place in my heart. So it was very appropriate that on a humid 30-degree Brisbane night, about 500 metres from where I developed my first PR plan, and across the river from where I studied PR at QUT, I became a Fellow of the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA).

The College of Fellows is a senior group of practitioners that brings their collective skills, experience and knowledge together to help guide PRIA through evolving issues in the industry – particularly in the area of ethics.

What does a fellowship mean to me? First and foremost it is a lovely recognition of my professional achievements combined with my contribution to the PRIA and the community. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to reflect on my career so far and the people who have helped me get where I am.

In addition to noting my professional achievements over more than 14 years, the PRIA President Mike Watson added “I can commend you for your contribution to the PRIA as State President, event organiser, national council member and as one of the team that delivered the 2012 World PR Forum in Melbourne”.

During my time as President of the PRIA in Victoria, I was fortunate to be invited to the quarterly state meetings of the College of Fellows hosted by Peter Mahon at Royce Communications.

Every time I sat down for lunch with these Fellows, I benefited from the wealth of knowledge around the table. These legendary communicators were more than happy to share their experience and wonderful stories gained from working for some of the biggest national and international companies, and they had plenty of wonderful ideas and insights for the PRIA as well.

As a Fellow, not only can I add FPRIA to my name in my email signature, I now have the opportunity to surround myself with an inspiring group of communication leaders on a more regular basis. There are too many inspiring people to name – but I look forward to working closely with them all as a new member, and possibly the youngest yet?, of the College of Fellows.

Thinking about my career to date, I would not have achieved so much without so many champions. Colleagues who are only ever a phone call away and armed with words of wisdom and advice. Chums who are prepared to point out an uncrossed T, an undotted i or a missed opportunity, and in turn help make every piece of communication better. And characters pushing me to think about the world in which we are communicating and develop better strategies and channels.

Congratulations also to the other Australian communicators recognised on Sunday night as Fellows of the Public Relations Institute. I’m proud to stand alongside you.

I am particularly delighted to have been made a fellow at the same time as another PRIA State President who served alongside me during my time on the board, Adam Thomson from South Australia.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – colourful chapter concludes

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Situation room pass returned, secret service detail dispersed and ‘Jack Force 1’ put back in the hangar.

This month, three years and nine months after assuming the role of Victorian President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, a truly colourful chapter came to a close and I passed along the baton.

While it has been an honour and a privilege to represent the communicators of Victoria for almost four years, it’s time for some new blood to flow through the organisation in Victoria and time for fresh challenges for me including caffeinated classrooms, cool campaigns and champagne.

In that time, we’ve seen enormous changes to the association, to our profession and to the world within which modern communicators operate. We’ve weathered a global financial crisis – or two – and survived through innovation, hard work and quality across our profession. We’ve supported our colleagues in the media as they’ve faced the challenges of the shrinking media landscape. And we’ve witnessed the rise and rise of social media and introduced a solid foundation of communication principles into the mix.

For PRIA in Victoria the past 12 months have been extremely productive and it has never been a better time to be a Member. I’m proud to say we hosted a record breaking World PR Forum with 800 delegates from around the world, we raised more than $12,000 for UN Women Australia through our Women in PR Forum and we developed networks at countless events and forums.

My personal highlights include the connections and collaborations I’ve established along the way. Most recently I have enjoyed catching up with colleagues from past and present at the World PR Forum, becoming a mentor at the speed mentoring evening and learning from the growing cohort of fellows who continue to give back to the organisation.

We continue to raise the bar in Victoria with our work and every year during my tenure as President I was inspired by the high quality campaigns recognised through State Awards for Excellence. There is an incredible amount of creative, compelling and clever communications occurring across our state from the regions to the city centre.

Finally, I’m incredibly grateful for the support I’ve received from those PRIA members who have served with me on the Victorian Council. I’m also appreciative of the support we’ve received from the staff at the PRIA National office.

My sincere thanks to Neil O’Sullivan who has made every event and activity in Victoria a truly special and memorable occasion. We are fortunate to have a truly passionate member of the PRIA team looking after us here in Victoria.

Finally, thank you to all of the members I’ve met over the years at breakfasts, morning teas, lunches, cocktail gatherings and dinners. You truly make PRIA the great organisation it is & I look forward to seeing all the wonderful things that are ahead.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Closing comment – Friday 18 January – Caffeinated classrooms & cycling confessions

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cyclingandclassrooms

While we’ve been preparing for our first Caffeinated Classroom of 2013, Oprah and her team have been busy editing, promoting and uploading her exclusive confessional with cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Before we talking cycling and confessions, let’s talk Caffeinated Classrooms. We ran our first one this morning for eight of our clients and colleagues focused on the incredible communication of 2012 – both from around the table and around the world.

They were an excellent class (very well behaved!) and provided many wonderful examples of communication they had been churning out including creative video campaigns, company mergers, member engagement and fundraising. There was also plenty of discussion about our favourite examples of communications from around the world, including:

Then it was onto what’s ahead for 2013 and everyone agreed there was a need to focus on developing creative campaigns and building support for them internally. Relationships, partnerships and content will also be a key focus.

Now onto the confessions of a cyclist.

Today saw Oprah’s interview with Lance Armstrong go to air in America and on the world wide web. It was a coup for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) and a much needed boost for the once-ubiquitous Oprah.

In the week leading up to the interview, Oprah has been busy promoting the “Worldwide Exclusive” with interviews and teasers galore.

There has been some great commentary about the PR value for Oprah as well as what it will mean for Lance, here are a few highlights:

If nothing it reminds us all to watch or re-watch Frost/Nixon and gives us some interesting reading for the weekend papers!

Cheers,

Jack and the c word crew

Broadcast PR – PRIA’s new video series with Australian communicators

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Miranda Schuppan

The Public Relations Institute of Australia has launched a great new video series called Broadcast PR.

The weekly interviews ask Australian communicators about their careers and their views on communications.

The videos have been produced by our video production colleagues at Burning House.

The first interviewee was Miranda Schupann, Communications Manager for The Age.

Here are her videos:

What motivated you to get into the PR industry and how did you get there?

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

What are the main challenges and opportunities you balance in your role or that you see in the communications profession today?

How do you see the PR industry developing and changing in the future?

Lunching with the ladies

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Last Friday, I hopped along to PRIA’s annual Women in PR lunch at Zinc in Federation Square. The hot topic for the day was social media, particularly the business of being social.

The impressive line up of speakers included:

Mandy Solomon shared her research into new trends and emerging web practices. She got everyone thinking about the buzz caused by online games such as Farmville on Facebook, and how they fit in the social media picture. Did you know there are more than 20 million active players daily? Daily!!

Mandy explained that our online digital persona is becoming multi-dimensional, and one of the results is more people wanting to play social games. Furthermore, online social games are starting to become profitable. Games like Farmville hook people and then sell them goods to broaden the experience. And it’s not just business benefiting, charities are jumping on board too.

So it’s no surprise that Facebook is developing its own virtual currency. It has been estimated that last year alone it made $10 million in the beta testing phase of its virtual currency. This pails in comparison to its advertising revenue, however it’s very much in its early days.

Next Gay Flashman used case studies to show how social media can and can’t work for you. Gay demonstrated how well Huggies engages online with a subtle sell and by trying to build a community. She also used the Domino’s Pizza YouTube episode as a reminder of the changing nature of reputation management in the age of social media.

Gay told eager listeners the best way to engage with people on a website is to add value. Her other advice: be prepared to lose control and be open and honest about negative comments.

She finished with her Flashman Fundamentals: Prepare, Monitor, Engage, Measure. A lesson for us all.

The final speaker was Annie Baxter from Google Australia and New Zealand. Annie talked us through Google’s foray into blogging (which makes sense when you purchase one of the world’s first blogging tools), and how they moved onto Twitter in 2009. She explained how they use Twitter to solicit ideas from people. Her final piece of advice was not to bet against social media, because it’s where we are going.

What an impressive line up of speakers willing to share such valuable information. Thank you ladies!

Proceeds from the event went to the Lighthouse Foundation, and their ambassador Stacey Currie delivered a moving speech about her experiences and the new New Mothers’ Club for homeless Mums and Bubs.

Finally, congratulations to Marnie Kane from RMIT for winning the Merle Howard Prize.

Chat later,

the c word

PS. If you haven’t seen Glee’s remake of Madonna’s Vogue, check it out below.

Evaluation is key

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Image by D Sharon Pruitt

We’re knee deep in evaluations at the moment – wading through a sea of metrics, news clippings and feedback. Along the way, we’ve discovered some amazing results for a social media campaign we developed and implemented for Run for a Safe Climate.

Evaluations are a reflective process – a chance to step back and take stock of your situation. A good evaluation is like a good holiday, essential but often neglected because work gets in the way.

According to articles written on the subject on the PRIA website, evaluation is an important strategic tool because it helps you:

• identify the direction in which a campaign should take

• assess the opportunities or challenges a campaign faced during its journey

• set benchmarks against which the effectiveness of strategies, tactics and practices can be measured.

So what’s the difference between a good evaluation and a bad one? There are a number of factors that make an evaluation worthwhile. First a good evaluation relies on honesty, second it’s about scrutiny; looking at the project or campaign from different angles and through many different lenses, third a good evaluation takes time and fourth an evaluation should be timely.

Why is honesty an essential part of the evaluation process? Well, there’s no point going through an evaluation if you’re not prepared to accept the reality of the situation. If you’re going to dismiss negative results or findings, then there is no chance you’re going to learn from the process. Also if you sugar coat the information and don’t tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth (oh god having a Boston Legal Flashback) then you won’t discover what went well and what went wrong.

An evaluation should take the good with the bad. You should see things that didn’t work this time around as opportunities to learn and do better the next time. Evaluations are the perfect opportunity to assess the quality of your work/campaign and are essential to continual improvement.

A thorough evaluation will help determine:

• the most effective communication mechanisms to reach target audiences

• what are the issues or topics that are of most concern to target audiences

• what is the current status of target audiences’ knowledge, perceptions and behaviour in regard to relevant issues and/or the organisation

• who or what currently influences the knowledge, perceptions and behaviour of target audiences in relevant areas and/or what has influenced any changes in their knowledge, perceptions and behaviour since last evaluated.

For Run for a Safe Climate, we were able to identify areas where we needed to invest more resources and have a clear idea how to approach the campaign for the next run. For example, we identified the difference it makes having a dedicated social media team member on the road with the team with direct access to local scientists and organisations plus a live presence at events. This is something more and more campaigns and organisations will have to come to terms with in the next 12 months, the importance of dedicated social media staff members.

By Paul Ovenden for Run for a Safe Climate

Over the six weeks of the campaign, we successfully raised the profile of the run to more than 900 Twitter followers. Further data analysis showed that the potential total reach via Twitter exceeded 50,000 followers, when looking at our Top 30 Twitter champions who provided countless Retweets and @mentions. It was a similar story on Facebook, where we garnered support from Cool Melbourne, Greenpeace and Green Cross fan pages which helped us reach an additional 15,000 fans on top of our 1500+ Facebook fans.

An evaluation should dig deep and needs to gather information from a range of sources. It’s not just a numbers game, it’s about uncovering the real story. What parts of the campaign did the audience engage with? What did your audience think and what were they saying? What did your suppliers think and how were they supporting or not supporting you? Why did the media run or not run your story? Qualitative information is just as useful as quantitative.

By reviewing all the comments, @messages and interactions across the social media channels, we’ve found that people were inspired by the emergency service workers running for a safe climate. There was also very little resistance and negativity throughout the run – a pleasant surprise considering that climate change is such a divisive topic for the Australian public.

Another thing you need to do is give your evaluation process the time it deserves. Schedule it into your timeline from the beginning, and don’t rush it when the next project deadline is looming. An evaluation might take a day, a week or even longer – give it the time it deserves and make the time to talk to as many people as possible. Your overall report should have the figures to back up your success but you should also highlight the personal experiences behind the numbers.

It took us several days to collate the data from Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Twitpic and blogs, which we then spent a considerable amount of time reviewing both individually and as a group. It was a worthwhile way to spend our time, as we now have a clear picture of the reach of the social media campaign for all involved, and are better placed to develop a comprehensive plan to help the organisation take its next steps. Not only that, we had so much positive feedback from diverse parties that can only excite us as we move forward.

We mentioned the need to think about the evaluation before you begin. Think about what you will want to know at the end. It will even help you develop your plan and activities. Also when a client, whether they’re internal or external briefs you on their expectations, make them a part of your evaluation process.

Finally a good evaluation should happen as soon after you finish your campaign or project; the longer you leave it, the greater the chance is you will rush through the process or skip it all together. It comes back to scheduling in time for evaluation in your initial plan and budget.

Once the run reached the finish line at St Kilda Beach, we set aside time to breakdown each stage of the campaign. The whole social media team got together and identified highlights, challenges, wins and lesson learned. Coupled with the data collected, we were able to provide a useful and strategic evaluation report to our client that will help everyone involved when we attempt to circumnavigate Australia for the next Run for a Safe Climate.

That is going to be a huge campaign – 17000km around the mainland coastline of Australia – imagine the number of tweets, Twitpics and Facebook entries we’ll do for that.

Well that’s how we ‘C’ it!

Have a super weekend,

the c word

Scout’s motto: Be Prepared

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Yesterday was an important day of planning with one of our clients. Brainstorms, clear goals, wish lists and compelling key messages are all necessary if you want to set your business on a clear path to success.

Strategy seems to be on lots of people’s minds this week. On justanotherPRblog, Karalee Evans talks about strategy being the most important part of a communications campaign *double thumbs up*. While many jump straight into creating ads or sending out media releases, Evans takes a different and very sensible approach – plan, plan, plan.

An advertisement or a media release is not a strategy or a campaign. It’s a tactic. And a tactic that needs to relate back to a goal, an audience and message.”

It is sometimes difficult to get businesses to spend time and money on planning and strategy when they’re eager to see the uber-cool advertisement or crazy viral campaign that will make them squillions. But let’s be realistic, a good strategy, as Evans says, “should enable you to prove your success… [and] seeks to preempt your tactical failures”.

A good strategy will also help you see where you went right and where you went wrong. What better way to help your business progress than not make the same mistake the second time around.

During the planning day, we started by evaluating goals set the previous year, and were happy to discover many had been achieved; in some instances exceeding initial expectations. The day was broken into three different sessions focussed on the various arms of our client’s business. After nit picking, brainstorming and pulling this year’s plan and activities apart, we came out the other end with a clear plan of attack for each arm of their business.

So how do you put this into practice for your business? Here are some simple steps we take our clients through.

1. Look back at your goals to see what has been achieved

2. If no goals were set, list important achievements and progress

3. Identify your wish list and vision including potential clients and how you want to be seen

4. Establish specific and measurable goals for the year ahead

6. Look at what tactics worked and which didn’t and ask yourself why?

7. Brainstorm new ideas and tactics for the year ahead

8. Put it all into a simple step by step action plan.

Once all the ideas, tactics and vision have been identified, you are on the road to having a comprehensive communications plan for the year. Not only will this serve as a perfect guide but it’s also an effective means of evaluating your progress.

If you want to know more about how the c word can help you put this process into play, email planning@thecword.com.au or give us a call on +613 9676 9040.

As our Girl Scout leader and esteemed colleague @martazyz will attest, its always best to… “Be Prepared.”

So there are very few songs about strategising (if there are, I don’t know about them). So what shall we dance to instead? How about Godspell’s “Prepare Ye The Way Of The Lord.” Dance in a fountain, frolick in the sunshine and prepare ye client in the way of the future (hehehe sorry) 😛

Enjoy your weekend,
the c word