Creativity and the art of successful communication


2084669164_f531120bf7_oPop quiz: Which of these do you agree with?

A. Creativity is the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality
B. Communication is not something I equate with creativity
C. Creativity in communication is prized and hard to obtain
D. Creativity in communication is best left to artisans
E. Creativity is just a trendy buzzword and grab-bag term that I tend to ignore

Picasso, whose birthday was on 25 October, became one of the most influential artists of the early 20th century, and has a lasting legacy that got us thinking about creativity – particularly the role it plays in creating effective and engaging communication.

One of the reasons Picasso’s skills are so vital when it comes to communication is because visualisation is paramount in our communication schema. In fact, you have likely heard the findings of Dr Albert Mehrabian’s 1950’s study: only 7 per cent of communications is verbal, while 38 per cent is tonal and 55 per cent is visual – body language and facial expression. This why creativity is such an important component in how we communicate.

At the c word we think the key to successful communication comes from being creative. Though we acknowledge being creative is no easy task. Not all of us have the skill of Picasso!

So what is creativity?

Richard Foster, a lecturer in management at Yale and director of McKinsey attempts to answer this question in an excellent article titled “What Is Creativity?

“Creative solutions are insightful, they’re novel, they’re simple, they’re elegant, and they’re generative,” he says. “When you find one creative idea, more often than not it triggers other ideas in the same fashion.”

When crafting communication, your key messages should be:

  • Visual
  • Insightful
  • Novel
  • Simple
  • Elegant

Simply put, they should be creative. Do your communication objects deliver you clear, concise and creative communication?

The American poet, Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote:

“To create one must be able to respond. Creativity is the ability to respond to all that goes on around us, to choose from the hundreds of possibilities of though, feeling, action, and reaction and to put these together in a unique response, expression or message that carries moment, passion and meaning. In this sense, loss of our creative milieu means finding ourselves limited to only one choice, divested of, suppressing, or censoring feelings and thoughts, not acting, not saying, doing or being,”

So how do you become more creative in your communication?

Start by reading:

Next week: creative storytelling

Shared value helping Australian organisations become purpose-driven


30191967971_012e4107f1_zthe c word is delighted to be working closely with the Shared Value Project in Australia. Last week we were in Sydney for the announcement of their inaugural Shared Value Awards and inspired by the incredible work that was recognised.

The Shared Value Project provides a framework that creates new opportunities for companies. It brings together leaders to build a strong and engaged global community around shared value, knowledge and practice. The concept has grown rapidly from a global idea to a form of business practicing at its best, adopted by leading global and Australasian companies.

Becoming purpose-driven is now becoming the norm.

What is shared value?

The shared value concept was defined in ‘Creating Shared Value’, an article by Prof Michael Porter and Mark Kramer in the Harvard Business Review (January/February 2011).

In this article they outline the need for organisations, and governments to leverage the power of market-based competition in addressing social problems.

The New York Times recently wrote a piece that helps to illustrate shared value in practice. Neil Irwin implies that if companies like Walmart spend more to pay and train their workers, it could create gains for the economy – and ultimately better for the businesses that make the investment.

Who won the 2016 Shared Value Awards?

The Shared Value Awards, presented annually by the Shared Value Project and media partner AFR BOSS, recognise new or existing efforts to address complex social challenges impacting society while creating measurable economic benefits and enhancing competitiveness.

They also recognise the adoption of shared value as a broader business strategy, and leaders who are championing this way of doing business.

Last week Australia’s Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP was named the inaugural Shared Value Champion, while IAG was named as the corporate organisation leading through shared value. The awards recognise commitment to the concept of shared value and leadership in Australia encouraging businesses, government and community organisations to work together to solve key social issues.

Chair of the Shared Value Project Peter Yates AM said shared value and the organisations in Australia pursuing a shared value strategy continue to benefit from the support of great leaders such as Minister Bishop and the leadership of companies such as IAG and others recognised through the awards.

“The continued adoption of shared value by organisations across Australia is in no small part due to champions such as the Hon Julie Bishop MP, and I recognise the important role each of them play in helping advance the shared value movement in our region,” Mr Yates said.

For more information visit the Shared Value Project website or follow them on Twitter @sharedvalueaust

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

Diana Gibson in the #CommsCorner


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

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

My elevator statement?

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

A Typical Day?

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

Which tools can’t you live without?

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

What are the biggest challenges in your  role?

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

Best Campaign you’ve ever worked on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What quality do I look for in communications team members?

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

Kicking goals with Twitter, the power of tweets in sport


We are all aware of the evolution of social media and the role it plays in promoting people, ideas and events. It has become an egalitarian, habitual tool, available to anyone who can connect online.

When it comes to sport the Twitter ecosystem includes everyone from fans, journalists, sponsors, brands, news presenters, celebrities and the very players being discussed.

With 67 per cent of sports fans using Twitter as their second-screen during a game, they are likely to tweet. The platform’s versatility and its concise messaging make it the ideal, real-time content provider now considered part of most major sporting events.

At the c word we are fans of Twitter and the power of the Tweet. Are you following @thecwordagency?

Who doesn’t love watching a good Twitterstorm erupt? Arguably, keeping up with what is trending is more valuable than being across what makes the sport pages of papers from around the country.

The virtues of Twitter, are best left for another blog. But with the impending sale of the platform, (and its shares in decline), It will be fascinating to see what happens in the next couple of weeks.

If you are interested in some context about the sale, take the time to read Nick Bilton’s great article for Vanity Fair, “What the Twitter sale, reveals about Twitter, itself – the plain truth about the struggling social-media company has become clear in its highly public, and theatrical, auction.”

The role and use of Twitter in the Australian sports scene was made evident by the impact it had over both Grand Finals last weekend. No matter where you are, Twitter enables you to keep up to date with what is happening – both on and off the field.

While the crowds may have been very vocal inside the stadium, there was just as much excitement on Twitter. The online conversation for both AFL & NRL was fascinating to watch unfold. It was also interesting to identify who the key participants were and be able to participate in the action. Twitter is a great place for fans to unite online and share their common interest and support.

Here’s a couple of our highlights from the Twittersphere last weekend

Thanks to @cshields2015 for another great post!

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Communications is … #CommsCorner


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

  • …a way to conquer uncertainty and unlock transformative thinking.
  • …key to starting a conversation.
  • …not the wank you think it is!
  • …TELLING STORIES. It’s a force multiplier.
  • ..the conduit for everything within an organisation.
  • …Listening to others, telling the great stories of your organisation and trusting your instincts.
  • ….the way we pass down our history, culture and experience. It helps us tell our stories.
  • …a skill you can continuously evaluate and improve.
  • …Constant and changing
  • …everywhere
  • …Being clear in the outcome you would like to achieve. And listening.
  • … underrated . It’s the most important skill you will ever have. You need to constantly refine this skill and learn from others daily.
  • …getting your point across while keeping your audience interested
  • …the best way to solve problems, and prevent them from happening in the first place.
  • …a meaningful experience. …CLEVER, COURAGEOUS AND CHARISMATIC.
  • …COMMON SENSE, …the key to life! DON’T OVERTHINK IT.
  • …something I do without thinking and something I think about a lot. …STORYTELLING
  • ….the answer to a hell of a lot of first world problems.

Social media’s unprecedented role in #DebateNight


debate-926-hrc-trump-feed-cover-1400x600While social media played a role in both the 2008 and 2012 elections, the influence of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter in previous election cycles pales in comparison to this year.

Social media makes for a great unofficial battleground, with the candidates both trading blows.

Candidates now, more than ever, are bypassing traditional media and engaging with voters directly. Donald Trump even launched a national ‘Crooked Hillary’ campaign and filter on Snapchat.

Well over 80 million people watched Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off on television, setting a new record in the sixty year history of televised presidential debates. According to Nielsen, the debate averaged a total of 84 million viewers across 13 of the TV channels that carried it live in the U.S. This beats the previous record for a presidential debate held by Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan back in 1980. While it didn’t reach some predictions of 100 million (making it Super Bowl worthy), it was certainly a big audience.

Both candidates were very active on social media leading into the debate, and throughout it used platforms, especially Twitter, to push out key messages. Twitter streamed the debate live and it was the most tweeted debate ever.

But which candidate won over Twitter? According to the social media monitoring tool Brandwatch, neither of them. Both had more negative than positive mentions. In fact, the night’s big Twitter winner wasn’t a presidential candidate, but a hip hop star.

@chancetherapper tweeted’ Dear God, the words law & order shouldn’t strike so much fear in my heart as a law abiding citizen but I am so damn scared of Donald Trump’ which generated 58.5k retweets and 115k likes.

If you want to check out more tweets from the event, you can as Wired have collected some of the best tweets here.

Aside from Ms Clinton, Mr Trump and Chance the Rapper, the Twitter handles with the most debate-related mentions included moderator Lester Holt of NBC, Fox News and the fact-checking site Politifact.

It is also fascinating to watch how companies and individuals responded to mentions during the debate. Take Ford for example, who Trump singled out by saying “Ford is leaving,” Ford quickly took to Twitter to tweet to its own defence.

Sean Hannity, Alicia Machado and Rosie O’Donnell all got specific mentions during the debate and used Twitter to respond. Rosie calling Donald “an orange anus”.

In the past, companies, brands and people referenced in a debate had minimal opportunities to defend themselves — at least in a timely fashion. Not anymore. Can’t wait for the next two debates.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

And, in case you haven’t seen it – Will & Grace are back: