The Federal budget was released this week with major funding being allocated for Disability Care Australia and education reforms. The baby bonus has been replaced with a less generous scheme that will only be eligible for couples earning under $101,000. In an article creatively titled OK ladies, lie back and think of Wayne Sydney Morning Herald Journalist Jacqueline Maley points out that there is a two week opportunity for Australian couples to be eligible for the bonus before it ends on March 1 2014. Other major announcements included delays to carbon-tax compensation, higher costs for cigarettes, boosts to cancer research and detention centres and an increase of funding for the ABC and SBS.
In his budget reply speech, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has pledged to honour Julia Gillard’s tax cuts, pension rises and family payments granted to households as compensation for the carbon price, despite maintaining that he will scrap the carbon price if elected. To fund this the Opposition will adopt all of Labor’s budget cuts including the baby bonus. Greens leader Christine Milne attacked both Labor and Coalition saying they had offered Australians “a finance plan without a broad vision”, while “Mr Abbott’s alternative is worse”.
In non-budget related news Angelina Jolie this week revealed spectacularly that she had a double mastectomy and will also be having her ovaries removed. The announcement included opinion pieces in some of the nations major newspapers is expected to increase the demand for the surgery. In Australia, anyone who carries a high risk of carrying a potential cancer gene such as the known breast cancer-linked genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, are eligible to undergo free genetic testing
Today while showing Yammer to a client and talking to them about the benefits of using closed social networks instead of allstaff emails, I was asked the question of how to engage staff in using new technologies in the office.
The answer to this was simple- use the office cake to entice employees into doing things a little bit differently, then turn it into the norm.
In 2013 we live in the social age, and interacting with our colleagues, our peers, our friends and our family has become one of the primary motivators in our daily lives. Keeping abreast of our social lives and making sure that we are not ‘missing out’ is key to our social behaviour, and it has driven the rise of social media platforms.
So lets get back to our chocolate cake example.
When I asked my client about some of the communications they send out that everyone always reads, the office manager tells me that they know everyone reads the email saying there’s cake in the kitchen, because everyone is in there soon after. So use this to your advantage.
Move these emails to your enterprise social networking tool along with all of the other information that you want to be housed there. Granted, not everyone will read them right from the start, and a number of people with resist the move- you have to expect that.
Pretty soon, however, someone will be walking back to their desk with a piece of yummy chocolate cake and someone will say “i didn’t know there was cake in the kitchen?” and the response will be “it was on Yammer”. And that’s where it starts. That’s when your employees will start to realise that by ignoring the new channel they are missing out on important information, not just being told about chocolate cake, but information that is essential to being part of the community at work.
So what is your version of the chocolate cake at work?
For public relations practitioners, key messages are the heart and soul of communication. This is why the title of this post is probably giving my colleagues heart palpitations.
While key messages are a PR person’s lifeblood, I am sad to say that many communicators have lost the true meaning of what a key message is, what it represents and how it should be used properly in communicating. Instead of being used to bring clarity to the way that we communicate with our audiences, many public relations practitioners use key messages to restrict communications to a small set of prescribed (and often quite dry) words.
Too often have I witnessed CEOs and other company spokespeople blindly parroting key messages that have been given to them by their corporate relations team. Or seen dry, jargon-filled copy that just repeats key statements and messages without giving any detail.
So let’s get back to basics. What is a key message?
It is not:
This is often the hardest one for communications people to grasp, because it involves changing key messages- those same key messages that have probably gone through ten rounds of approvals.
What you need to remember is that key messages are there to give you the overall meaning that you should be conveying to your audience. The way you deliver that message/meaning to say a parent, is different to the way that you would deliver it to a child or another related audience, such as a health professional.
With a child you may use simpler language, or potentially video/infographics to illustrate the point, where as you might use much more technical language with a health professional. The meaning remains the same, but the message changes.
If you are a spokesperson, adapting the message to suit your own style and way of speaking is a great way of ensuring that you come across as genuine and natural. If a ‘key message’ uses a phrase or even a single word that you would never use, how is your audience going to react when they hear you speaking it out loud?
Unless your target audience is your own children or family, chances are that they are not going to believe your key messages at face value.
Supporting your messages gives them credibility and allows you to build the case with your audience for why they should believe/remember/do what your message tells them.
Try using the following to give your messages credibility:
We’ve put the call out to all final year PR and communications students for a creative and passionate intern to join our team in the Melbourne CBD.
You don’t have to know it all, that’s what we’re here for. You just have to be willing to learn and passionate (there’s that word again) about the areas that Fenton Communications works in.
As an intern, you will be working in a dynamic team environment across a diverse portfolio of clients. These range from health and education to social justice and professional services. As a full service agency, Fenton Communications offers their clients assistance in:
We are looking for someone who is:
We promise you won’t have to collect our dry cleaning or fetch us coffee (ok, maybe once or twice, but we take it in turns) and we promise that you will learn a lot.
To apply, please email your resume and application letter to theteam[at]fenton.com.au. In your application letter, please include your Twitter handle and an example of your writing.
The engagement of an ambassador or range of ambassadors can make an extremely valuable contribution to a successful marketing and PR campaign.
You don’t need to look too far to see examples of the power of celebrity endorsers.
Swisse Vitamins is working with a powerhouse of celebrities who all promote the benefits of the Swisse products. Since implementing a celebrity endorsement program along with high profile sponsorship arrangements, Swisse has reported a 131 per cent rise in net profit to $8.9 million for the year ending June 2011.
The Swisse strategy is clearly supported by a budget for ambassadors, sponsorship and advertising. However, ambassador programs can work with limited budgets. It’s about finding the right fit for your brand, your customers or your target audience.
At Fenton, we have delivered a number of successful ambassador programs. From our experience, there are a number of key steps that should be undertaken when considering using an ambassador as part of a campaign.
1: Define your objectives – What does your campaign need to achieve and why would an ambassador help? How will an ambassador help get your message across? This will help inform the scope of the role and whether you need one or several ambassadors.
2: Define your audience – Define the profile of your target audience. Consider key demographics and socio-economic factors and do a thorough media and social media consumption profile. Importantly, who do they respect? Who do they look up to? Who is likely to influence your audience?
3: Define your message – Is your campaign aspirational? Does it need to motivate, change behaviour or initiate action? Is it a serious message? Or is it about a product or lifestyle choice?
4: Define your potential ambassador – Based on your objectives and your target audience, you have decided that working with an ambassador is the right strategy for your campaign. The next step is to identify the ambassador who will most effectively deliver your message. Do this by developing a list of ‘ambassador traits’. Include factors such as age, gender, and geography. Then consider the profile of the person and their credentials – are you looking for a sportsperson, media personality or comedian? Define what style and tone you need for the campaign and research the criteria for your ambassador.
After identifying the characteristics of your ideal ambassador, the next step is to develop a wish list of ideal candidates. Assess the key influencers for your target audience, how will this fit with your overall campaign activities?
There are then two key considerations you must make before approaching potential ambassadors. Firstly, does the person share a passion, commitment or interest in your product or cause? Secondly, is there any potential conflict of interest?
5: The pitch – be clear about the role – Discuss the role of the ambassador in detail. Be clear about what they will be doing and why they are an ideal champion for the campaign. Is the role going to demand a heavy amount of their time? Will they be required to carry out media interviews or are they involved in an advertising element of the campaign. Above all, explain what you are aiming to achieve and why should they be involved.
6: How and when to showcase the ambassador – Identify the best ways of working with your ambassador for the period they are involved in the campaign and develop an activity plan to complement other elements of the campaign. The plan should outline the activities planned for the ambassador such as media relations, social media activity or attendance at events.
Putting it into practice
Fenton Communications has initiated and delivered a wide range of highly effective ambassador programs for our clients. We are currently working with newsreader Jo Hall as the chief ambassador for BreastScreen Victoria. We worked with Jo and tennis legend Evonne Cawley for the making of a new television commercial as part of an integrated campaign to encourage women aged between 50-69 to have a mammogram every two years.
By David Micallef
When I was asked what my top lesson from the PRSA International Conference this year was, I quoted a line from Martin Waxman’s session: “Success in PR will no longer be measured by media clippings, they will be measured by Google search results.”
The reason that this statement has had such an impact is that it goes to the heart of what the communications industry is grappling with – the way people hear about, find and digest information is changing and we must change with it as well.
Search engines have become a primary communication channel for our audiences to find information. While advertising, marketing and the media provide the prompts, it is search engines that our audiences use to research a brand topic or product.
Audiences use search when they can only remember a trivial detail about a brand or message. How many of us have given typed in a cryptic Google search only to have it lead us to the right answer because the same question has been asked a number of times before?
In this new communications reality it is the job of the PR professional to make sure that our audiences not only know about us, but that they can find us too. In an online world where there are thousands of pages available on every conceivable topic, it remains the job of the PR professional to build the profile of our organisations and clients so that they are the experts in their field.
Instead of doing this in front of the media, however, we are doing this online.
Search marketing guru Lee Odden mirrored this in his presentation about content marketing, highlighting that the job for communications professionals is to help clients create content that will attract and engage audiences.
I have spoken before about Lee’s insights into search marketing and the need to utilise key words (the way that people search for things online) outside of our website and into the vernacular of an organisation’s messages.
In this presentation Lee suggested four steps towards creating a content marketing plan:
1. Be clear about who you are writing for (audience mapping)
2. Find out what they care about (research)
3. Find the stories that will connect you (content creation)
4. Make it easy to find and share (market it)
These are all tasks that are not new to the public relations field. Our role has always been as story creators and story tellers- we are just doing it in a different way.
My advice for any communications professional, or organisation, currently preparing their marketing and communications plan for 2013 is to:
How is your audience finding you online?
David Micallef is Head of Media and Digital at Fenton Communications, follow him here.
An important reason for organisations to be involved with social media is so that they can monitor what people are saying about them. How they respond to what people say is exciting and new territory. Here are four great examples of how it can be done.
It’s fair to say that this whole list was inspired by the great effort from British sanitary pads manufacturer Bodyform. After a mildly amusing rant about their product from disgruntled man Richard Neil went viral with over 40,000 likes – Bodyform responded with this incredibly well executed comeback. It’s not often that a response can out-funny what caused it to respond in the first place but Bodyform has done just that here. It’s often thought that in Mandarin, ‘crisis’ is made up of two words – ‘danger’ and ‘opportunity’ and Bodyform certainly made the most of the opportunity presented to them. While the original post was viewed about 100,000 times, this YouTube video has already been seen more than 2.7 million times and has received massive coverage on blogs and mainstream media around the world.
2. Smart Car
It pays to monitor your social media so that you can pick up on any negative comments that might damage your brand. Smart Car picked up on a tweet by Clayton Hove and were able to respond very amusingly. This was subsequently retweeted hundreds of times and posted all across the blogosphere, far surpassing the reach of the initial negative tweet.
3. Fed Ex
This video of a Fed Ex delivery driver dropping a parcel clearly containing a computer monitor over a fence went viral with more than 8 million views. Fed Ex responded with a YouTube video of their own – a heartfelt, honest apology from the CEO. This isn’t fun or amusing but its sincerity cut to the chase and reached those that had seen the original video as it was posted on the same medium. While the response has only been seen 500 000 times, it’s arguably the best that could be made from the situation.
4. Yarra Trams
While certainly not as well known as the other three mentioned examples here, Yarra Trams and their ‘Beware the Rhino campaign’ makes it onto the list for showing the benefits of open communication with customers. And because I got a free shirt!
After running an innovative safety campaign featuring a rhino on a skateboard, I approached Yarra Trams on their Facebook page asking for a T-shirt. After some lighthearted banter I was contacted offline and was sent a shirt – yay! While a perhaps a little silly, it highlights that having some personality and a genuine appreciation for your customers can make the most out of an awkward situation.
Reputation management has been around for a long time but there has never been a more critical juncture than now with the need for organisations to actively manage their reputation online and offline.
The advent of online is no longer new but the penetration of social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging coupled with the increase in Internet usage worldwide is changing the communications landscape through which we manage reputation.
Momentum for the use of online to talk to brands and to organisations is building. There is not a day where your personal Facebook timeline doesn’t include a comment about a service, brand or organisation. Social media ‘horror stories’ such as those experienced recently by the Commonwealth Bank, Qantas and Smirnoff are becoming more common-place.
The momentum, and the horror stories, however, is having a negative effect on many organisations – many are taking their communications back to the 1990s. Battening down the hatches of communication in the hope that this storm that is social media will pass them without too much damage.
We’re here to tell you that the storm is here to stay, and you don’t have to be afraid of it.
Social media conversations are not new. People have been talking about brands, services and organisations for a long time. They have been doing this in their lounge rooms, the pub, at work and in any situation that gives a person the opportunity to talk to another person – it is human nature to discuss and air our likes and dislikes.
Taking these conversations online, into a public arena, brings the risk that negative conversations will influence others about your brand. It also brings the opportunity of being able to see, adapt and respond to the way that others are interpreting your communications and service offering.
For the first time ever, social media is giving organisations the power to be a part of the conversation, not just as an advertiser, but as an engager that responds to two-way communication.
Ultimately, working with social media (rather than hiding from it) puts you on the front foot of managing your reputation.
Many organisations fear that this online management is going to be too costly for their trimmed marketing budgets. It doesn’t have to be. There are options that can be scaled depending on your organisation, your budget and what you want out of social media.
Here are some options to help you manage your reputation online:
Don’t just take my word for it however, here are some tips offered by some of my Tweeps:
But you can tweet or pick up the phone if you want to chat to me.
A public apology and explanation in the form of a letter printed in newspapers as a paid advertisement is a standard part of the crisis PR management tool kit.
Following revelations by the Saturday Age that Indian children were working up to 10 hours a day, seven days a week stitching Sherrin footballs for 12¢ a ball we saw Sherrin fly into crisis management and on grand final day their public letter ad featured in the Melbourne newspapers.
The letter set out to explain Sherrin’s current position to the Australian public.
From a PR perspective I was surprised and disappointed by the letter. Firstly, the letter tried to paint Sherrin as the victim, rather than a big corporate who has done the wrong thing. The letter stated that Sherrin had been ‘kicked around’ lately.
There were two references to being kicked around – someone at Sherrin liked the analogy. I am sure this is how the executive management felt but it is not something they should share. The language was playful and lighthearted, which is not on par with the real issues at hand. A company who manufactures in countries where there are real and present issues of child labour needs to take responsibility for the management of their production and not make light of breaches of these issues (or how it impacts them).
The kicked around pun also tries to drum up sympathy for Sherrin about the facts being uncovered.
If Sherrin was completely unaware of these issues and did not have the internal processes and checks required to avoid this, they should have been enormously grateful to have this discovered so they could take immediate action. And the crisis PR should reflect this, strongly.
However, the most disappointing part of the Sherrin letter was a rather strange dig at the Age for investigating the story for twelve months – saying if they had know earlier they could have done something earlier. Please, don’t blame the journalist. It only raises more questions about Sherrin’s own practices.
While Sherrin have reassured us that they have insisted on changes and are sending an employee to oversee these changes, what about taking some responsibility for what has been done and assuring us of new auditing processes to ensure that this does not reoccur. Otherwise, what assurance do we have that if this was not in the public arena that any action would be taken?
The Very Public Tragedy of Jill Meagher
All of Melbourne, and indeed the country has been rocked by the very tragic story of Jill Meagher’s disappearance in the early hours of last Saturday morning.
If you are unfamiliar with the events that unfolded, you can get up to date here.
Both Victoria Police and Jill’s family have thanked the public for their support and contribution to the case on social media platforms over the 6 days it took to charge the alleged perpetrator.
The social media response to this story was enormous, as one commentator said in The Age the level of discussion was “unprecedented except for natural disasters.”
The level of interest in this case comes from the fact that almost everyone can relate to some part of it. Myself, I live in Brunswick, off Hope St. I have walked home alone after drinks with my friends more than once, the same route that Jill took. Most young women have been in a situation where they have done, or have considered doing the same. Most guys know a girl ‘just like Jill’. Parents, brothers, sisters, friends of young women everywhere think of their loved ones when they hear something like this and think ‘it could have been them’, or even ‘it could have been me.’
All this emotional connection to the case can lead many people to express their feelings online, whether negative or positive or somewhere in between. Up until the time when charges have been laid, while not always helpful, these comments are largely harmless.
Now that charges have been laid and a court date set (January 18th 2013) Victoria Police and Jill’s husband Tom Meagher have appealed to the public to be careful what they say on social media so as not to interfere with legal proceedings.
The ‘Help us Find Jill Meagher’ page on Facebook began just after Jills disappearance and was a huge part of the social media impact of the story. It peaked at over 140, 000 likes and the majority of comments expressed sympathy and support for Jill’s family and friends, though some people did use it to speculate on the events taking place
The page has answered pleas to moderate its page by deleting all content and removing ability to comment apart from one stream stemming from its cover photo. Many supporters are ‘unliking’ the page in support of Jill Meagher’s family and to remove the possibility of participating in impacting the trial negatively.
The danger in letting public discourse of the case continue is that it interferes with the right to a fair trial. Information that could interfere with the case whilst it is in sub judice (the time between the charge being laid and the case being closed) includes mention of prior convictions of the defendant, and background of the case and defendant. For more information on sub judice, see the Victorian Government Solictor’s Office website here and read this article in The News Manual.
As Julie Posetti said in The Age today “”We all are very familiar with the term trial by media and it’s a real problem, but we also now need to be aware of the potential implications of trial by social media.” As with all things social media, it seems as if everyone is on the back foot and it takes a case such as this to demonstrate where our weaknesses in knowledge lie. In this case, it’s not just companies, media outlets and professionals who need to be wary, social media allows everyone the chance to be published, and with that comes all the same rules and responsibilities. Only the general public haven’t all sat through a six month course in ‘Media Law 101’ so they are unaware of the impact they may be having.
As tragic as this case has been, particularly for those who knew and loved Jill Meagher, it has taught us a great deal about the power of social media. And reminded us that with great power, comes great responsibility. It is now up to the general public to let the authorities get on with their job, and let Jill’s family grieve in peace and privacy.
I’m always looking for a new creative outlet where I can experiment with a different medium and learn something new. In the past there has been 3D animation, website building, printmaking and composing music.
My latest interest has been building Lego with my young son. What started out as a father-son-bonding activity and a simple way to relive my childhood (I was a huge fan of Lego as a kid) has turned into a great way of exploring the social media.
The Lego community worldwide has embraced Flickr as its social media network of choice for sharing and communication. Flickr is primarily a photo-sharing network with groups, commenting and the ability for online communities to form. Over the last 2 years I have been posting and communicating online and have now received over 250,000 views with an average of 1,300 views per image and have been labeled “a master at building large scale mecha” by one of the world’s most influential bloggers. Here are some tips that I’ve picked up that can be applied to any individual or organisation trying to increase their presence online.
Aaron Williams is Head of Design at Fenton Communications
.Best .Bond .Movie – these aren’t the Google search terms of a Sean Connery fan, but just a few of the available domain names that will be on your computer screens from as early as next year. With ICANN’s decision to open up domain name options, the online world will look very different. There will be an even greater need for non-commercial entities to establish their online credibility and let their audience know that they are dealing with a legitimate organisation.
The .ORG domain name is only accessible for non-commercial means and currently has more than 10-million registrations around the world. It can be used by an individual with an idea to share, a small club organising members, or a large organisation with an educational campaign. Having been in existence for over 27 years, it is one of the most widely used and respected domain names.
Recently I have been appointed to the .ORG Advisory Council, a body comprising a broad-spectrum of leaders in the non-commercial field from around the world. Representing Asia Pacific I will help advise on issues ranging from public policy and outreach to the introduction of new services for users of the domain.
In this role I look forward to representing the interests of this region’s non-commercial community and communicating any developments that could affect charities, non-governmental organisations, clubs and individuals in the online space.
The .ORG advisory council consists of the 15 members with at least two from each of the following six regions: Asia/Middle East, Asia Pacific, Africa, Europe, North America and Latin America
Other selected members are Allan Salahedin (Palestine), Thomas Mackenzie (UK), Tim Nurul Kabir(Bangladesh), Kathy Brown (USA), JoAnn Patrick-Ezzell (USA), Alex Corenthin (Senegal), Guy TeteBenissan (Senegal) and Marie-Laure (Costa Rica).
Justin is a Consultant at Fenton Communications
New parenthood is not only a time of excitement, joy and happiness; it is also a time when parents are faced with many challenges, uncertainty and questions, and are reaching out for relevant information and advice.
Parents are often the focus of communications campaigns as they are a highly influential market. From a communications perspective, there are many effective ways to target parents and parents to be, however it is important to understand the implications of being a new mum or dad and how this audience search for information.
Australian parents and expectant parents are not only seeking health and parenting information through health professionals; they are spending more and more time online and most of those hours in social spaces such as Facebook, blogs and forums. As such, the digital world should be an essential part of the communications mix. Social media not only connects individuals it also provides consumers with a personalised way to connect to companies and the media. Blogs, online news and interactive websites are all valuable communication tools. Online editorial, partnerships, webinars, online advertising / SEO and industry ambassadors with online profiling opportunities are also opportunities that could be considered.
The key to communicating with parents is to take an approach that includes them. That is, build a sense of trust and demonstrate the value of your offering by providing them with the chance to make an informed decision.
In Australia, mummy bloggers are commanding the attention of major brands and businesses because of their power to build, inspire and influence supportive communities. Bloggers such as MiscMum, EasyPeasyKids, Woogsworld have built a strong online following.
Engaging with parents via bloggers is about building and fostering meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships. Collaborating and establishing open lines of communication will allow your message to connect with an audience of engaged parents. However, always do your research in advance of reaching out to bloggers to ensure that the information is tailored and relevant to their interests.
Blogging and posting about the trials of parenting is not just a mum’s domain. More and more dads have been seen to be blogging (check out daddytypes or diyfather ), writing about their parenting experiences online, Googling and sharing tips, posting images, using parenting related aps and connecting with other parents. Technology is affecting not only how they parent but also how they communicate. Dads play an important role in parenting decisions so; depending on the appropriateness of the campaign or message, don’t discount them from your outreach.
While the digital sphere is a highly effective way to communicate with parents, the word of mouth generated by mainstream media can also be a powerful approach. Today, there are a huge number of mainstream media options available to ensure that campaigns are fully integrated across a variety of channels.
A well-planned, structured media relations program targeting both the primary and influencer audiences via trusted mediums can effectively raise awareness and deliver additional value.
Whether it is traditional media, new media or consumer-generated media, conversation and digital word of mouth are key. The growth of social networks and online communities open the door for communicators to deliver personal outreach and build long term relationships with new and engaged audiences.
Are you a parent? Where do you go for information?
For many people, the prospect of networking can be a scary thought. Most professionals are knowledgeable and skilled in aspects of their own professions, but can become wary when they need to apply this in a social situation.
To combat this, Fenton staff were recently treated to a session on networking by Jane Fenton, who outlined her strategy for removing the fear and making the most of networking events.
The first thing to ask yourself is “What do I want out of this?” If the answer is ‘free food’ it might be time to reassess.
It is important to set realistic expectations and clear goals for yourself, think about the sort of events where you might make the most meaningful connections.
Before the event
Be organised. Anything you can do to make the event less stressful for yourself is a good idea. Ensure you have enough business cards and somewhere easy to store them, as well as a nice place to store ones that you are given.
Prepare or think about questions and answers. Hopefully conversations will flow naturally, but it helps to have a few questions up your sleeve to fill any awkward silences. Focus on high energy questions that prompt positive responses such as “What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on?”
Be early rather than late. Whilst it may be tempting to put off your arrival, tardiness makes networking more difficult. If you are early, you have easy access to the host and can stand with them as they greet arriving guests.
Beating “The Fear”
“The Fear” when you first walk in to a busy room that everyone is looking at you can be debilitating, causing you to look at the ground or pretend to be engrossed by your mobile phone. Whilst grabbing your phone is probably the wrong tactic, looking busy isn’t.
Give yourself a purpose to help you focus on something other than your heart rate. Set yourself a challenge such as to find a “man with red tie” or “three women” and do a circuit of the room with the purpose of finding it.
Whilst on your search, listen out for conversations between people who clearly don’t know each other (tip: if they’re talking about that wild party last weekend, they probably know each other and unless you were there, you’re not going to have much to bring to the conversation).
The key to making new connections it to make yourself memorable, preferably not by being “that one who spilt their drink on me”. Think about how you will introduce yourself and most importantly, how to explain what you do. Don’t just tell people your title, tell them what you do. Jane suggests the formula “You know how (common problem), well I (solution).”
The other fear of networking events is being stuck with the most boring person in the room, or worse yet, being that person. This trap is a result of our excellent upbringing and being taught to always be polite. Take your cues from the other person by keeping an eye on their body language.
No matter how boring someone is, leaving them on their own is not polite. Instead suggest joining another group or introducing yourselves to someone that is on their own. The general line of “This is a networking event, let’s meet some people” is always a good motivator to mix things up.
As a last resort, a toilet break always does the trick.
It is polite to request someone’s business card before offering your own. Show respect by making sure you read the business card before you put it away. In some cultures it is important to take the card with both hands too.
The whole point of networking events is to use the contacts you make. Follow up with your contacts on a point of mutual interest (it might be a good idea to write notes on the back of their business card if you’re likely to forget who’s who).
If you have met people that you have a genuine business connection, connect to them via social media as well, such as adding them on LinkedIn or following them on Twitter. This can help you make sure that you maintain regular contact, rather than just contacting them when you have a business proposition.
The Australia’s Advertising Standards Board this week ruled that fan posts on the Facebook page of a popular brand were regarded as an advertisement. The organisation that owned the page was deemed to be responsible for inappropriate posts on its page.
Due to this, Fentons has been receiving a number of concerns from its clients about what this means for how they manage their own Facebook page or pages and other social media engagements.
The impact of this ruling will no doubt continue to be debated in marketing and media circles (check out the discussion on Mumbrella). What it does highlight, immediately, is that all organisations must manage and retain control over their online elements, regardless of whether it is a Facebook page, an online forum or a website.
If you have a Facebook page or other open online forum for your brand, or are thinking about creating one, you don’t have to run for cover from this latest ruling. Our advice is to make sure that you are being strategic about your social media presence and at the very least have the following in place:
From both a legal and reputation management perspective, it is vital to maintain vigilance over what is happening on social media platforms beyond standard business hours and have resources and strategies to respond as required.
If you have been asked to manage a complex project for your organisation, you may be familiar with a ‘how can I pull this off’ feeling?
As organisations have grown and changed, the specialised role of project management has become increasingly critical to the delivery of change programs, growth strategies and cross functional delivery of key business components.
With this recognition of the importance of project management, there has been a proliferation of training programs, systems and methodologies to help understand and improve the discipline.
From my experience in managing a number of complex communication campaigns and projects, here are my ten top tips to help you deliver your project on time, on budget and to meet the project requirements.
1. Set clear objectives from the outset and then understand the ‘other’ objectives
There will be specific project objectives that are clear upfront. Importantly, there are often a range of ‘other’ objectives that might relate to political or other agendas, and it is important to have a good understanding of these as early as you can in the project. A meeting with the highest level owner or sponsor of the project in the business will help to identify these. Look out for phrases like ‘what we really need to achieve is…’
2. Break it down
Complex projects have project managers for a reason! As big as the beast may seem, it will seem far less complex if you break actions into pieces of work and break it down again from there into individual steps and allocation of clear responsibilities for these.
3. Plan, plan, plan…
This seems like the most obvious tip, but ensure your plan includes some ‘what if’ scenarios and understand which are the milestones that really can move, and which are set in stone. Work backwards from here and identify resourcing issues early.
4. But be agile
We all know that the best laid plans can change because of a shift in priorities or the environment you are working in, you need to be able be agile in your planning. Know what will have material impact to your end game, and what won’t, and communicate accordingly.
5. Set and stick to clear communication schedules
Early on in a project, communication is often the only clear deliverable. For a whole range of reasons, it is important to have accurate records of meetings and progress. Stakeholders like to know what’s going on, and it’s your role to keep everyone informed as well as bringing the right people together at the right time.
6. Identify your stakeholders’ pain points early
As early as you can in the process, talk to the project team – what are they really worried about? Where are the areas they think things could go awry – this helps you in the planning and management of issues. Being able to predict and proactively identify issues is crucial to sound management.
7. Be the critical eye and the one prepared to ask difficult questions
As the project manager, you need to be objective and prepared to act as the devil’s advocate, challenge the status quo, ask why, and always keep the end game in mind!
8. Understand (some) of the content detail
Depending on your role within your organisation, you may be responsible for delivering some of the specific work required for the project, but as project manager your main role is coordinating and managing people, timeframes and budget. However, you will maximise performance if you have an understanding of the content detail. Whether it’s a complex program on sustainability, or an IT change for your organisation, you need to have the credibility to ask the right questions.
9. Don’t get bogged down in the detail
It’s a fine line, but your ability to rise above the detail when you need to will help keep your eyes on the prize!
10. Evaluate and assess – honestly
When it’s all over, and the project team have all taken deep breaths, don’t forget to come back together and honestly assess what worked well and, more importantly, what you can learn from the project and improve. It does help make it easier for next time!
Has it been more than three years since you updated your brand and positioning?
Do you feel that your brand is a bit tired or dated?
If you answer yes to one or both of these questions then it is probably time to review the way your organisation is presented – it’s time to spring clean your brand.
Brand strategy if often only prepared around a complete rebrand, which is a major (and often unnecessary) undertaking. Considering a simple brand refresh, however, can be a more effective and achievable option. A brand refresh allows you to continue to evolve your brand rather than stand still.
But what is a brand refresh?
A brand refresh is when you work with a communication and brand specialist to literally ‘clean up’ the brand components– this may include:
Is it worth it?
The answer is most definitely, yes, it is worth it.
A brand refresh can ensure that:
The process of updating and refining the components of the brand also offers positive communication opportunities and is a great mechanism for engaging staff and creating pride and support for the brand story. It is then time to tell the updated brand story to your clients, customers and stakeholders.
What does it look like?
Here is an example of a simple refresh we undertook for VACCA (Victorian Aboriginal Childcare Agency).
Internal research highlighted strong affiliation with the brand name, colours and logo. However, the visual presentation had not been updated in many years. The imagery was difficult to reproduce on different platforms and the organisation had identified the need to promote brand awareness and build profile beyond traditional audiences in order to achieve key business goals including fundraising.
The solution – to keep the core elements of the visual brand but update and revitalise it. This included making modifications to the logo to make it more suitable across most platforms, retain the central colour scheme but add an additional colour palette to increase vibrancy.
The positioning statement and name was taken out of the central logo and a new statement was developed to sit with the brand name and logo where appropriate. This allowed greater prominence and recognition of each of these elements.
Original colour palette and new, expanded colour palette
This updated and refreshed brand imagery retains the integrity of the original brand while proving increased usability, a more contemporary look and a new statement that reflects the organisation today. A new website is now under development.
Top tips on a brand refresh:
For further reading, particularly for thinking about your brand and how you need it to work for you in social media visit the range of brand articles on the Marketing Profs website
At Fentons we have been working with our clients to help them integrate social media into broader marketing communications plans, rather than looking at online activity as a stand-alone activity.
This integration is essential in ensuring that you are ‘singing from the same song-sheet’ to your target audience, regardless of whether they are viewing information on your website, reading a brochure or talking to one of your staff.
Lee spoke about his new book, Optimize (yes the US spelling), which looks at how organisations can take an editorial approach that ties in all elements of their marketing strategy.
So what does this mean for a public relations professional, a communications manager or a marketing manager?
Think of it this way: The reason we optimise our websites and our online content for search is to make it easy to find for our target audience. So if our audience is using certain words to find our products and services, then it makes sense that we should be speaking to our audience in the same way.
Let’s put this into practice.
Say your organisation deals with advice for the parents of children in the early years. Parents are not likely to be going to Google and searching for the following:
• advice children in the early years
Carry this same logic over to your media strategy. Instead of giving your spokesperson a message such as:
“I would encourage any parent with children in the early years to log onto our website.”
“If you have a newborn or a toddler we have some great parenting tips on our website.”
By aligning your messages with the keywords that your target audience will naturally search for, you are helping your audience make that link between the information they need and your organisation.
Don’t know what search words people are using to get to your website? Ask your web guys, they should be able to give you a Google Analytics report that shows how people are finding you through search.
The trick to integrating your communications is making sure that all the different parts of your organisation that speak with end audiences, whether they be target audiences/customers or stakeholders, are all speaking to each other and more importantly – speaking the same language as the people you are trying to reach.
By Jane Fenton, Adviser at Fenton Communications
Bringing people together to share ideas, find solutions to issues or to plan for the future is a common part of business life today.
As communicators, we are often asked to run workshops around topics like creating a brand, developing key messaging, developing a stakeholder engagement plan, managing an issue or developing a communications strategy. It is the hard learnt experience of running these workshops that has taught us that there are a few simple steps which will give you the best chance of making your workshop effective.
If people are giving up their time to attend, they need to know what will have been achieved at the end of it.
It is highly unlikely you are going to be able to develop a complete strategy in a couple of hours. Identify the critical elements for discussion at the first meeting and communicate that the outcome will be agreement on one or two aspects of the plan.
If you want participants to be prepared for the meeting, you need to let them know in advance what questions are going to be asked and that you would like them to give the questions some thought before the session.
If you want everyone to have a say, then you need to factor in time for each person to contribute. One of the biggest problems we find is too little time allocated for discussion and feedback.
Unless the workshop is with a group of people who work together regularly, make sure you have allocated time for everyone to introduce themselves at the start of the workshop. Get them to say what they do that is relevant to the workshop topic, as this will be more useful for creating the context than just name and title but be aware it does take more time.
Have some parts of the workshop where the discussion happens in pairs, or in small groups, to allow those who find speaking out more difficult an opportunity to contribute.
Create opportunities for people to walk around, have standing discussions or move places. Sitting for too long is neither healthy or productive! Beware the post lunch session where participants are at their sleepiest.
Make sure you get everyone’s agreement on the outcomes of the workshop before they leave the room. Discussions need to be brought to a conclusion and that conclusion accepted as the consensus of the group…even if the group just agrees that there is not total agreement.
PART TWO: How to be a successful blogger and why you and your company should blog
This year Fenton Communications hosted a Fenton Innovation Series Lunch with Alister Cameron, Blogologist and Head of Digital at World Vision Australia. Alister has an impressive standing in social media with 385, 000+ twitter followers (with 500 new followers a day!). Within his first six months of blogging, he was ranked as the fifth most read blogger nationwide.
If you haven’t yet read Part One: Optimising social media impact. Get up to date here.
Humanising your company
Alister Cameron states the main benefit of blogging is in its ability to humanise your company. Social media is all about “humans, feeling more human” and with its ever-building popularity it is more important than ever to be able to create that humanising link to your company.
As Alister says, a blog is essentially a content management system (displayed in reverse chronological order) that allows interaction through commenting and sharing. A blog is the perfect companion to your web page, as it allows you to “say more, and say it better” through more regular interaction with potential clients or consumers.
The narrative form of a blog is a very efficient way of engaging consumers, and by having multiple bloggers contribute, you can spread the workload and increase the sense of involvement in the company. In saying that, Alister says to make sure you have a staging function where all posts can be edited before being approved and sent out. Consider creating a blogging guideline document for your staff, it is important to first set your expectations for your blog and then stick to them.
Alister’s Top Tips for being a successful blogger.
Without a doubt Alister Cameron’s advice and knowledge were of great benefit to all those who attended the lunch, we look forward to the next event in our Fenton Innovation Series.
PART ONE: Optimising social media impact.
This week Fenton Communications hosted a Fenton Innovation Series lunch with Alister Cameron, Blogologist (not biologist!) and Head of Digital at World Vision Australia. Alister has an impressive standing in social media with 385, 000+ twitter followers (with 500 new followers a day!). Within his first six months of blogging, he was ranked as the fifth most read blogger nationwide.
Who better then to help Fenton staff and clients understand how to optimise social media impact and understand its role in a strategic communications campaign?
Proving the worth of social media
A key point of discussion was the need to validate the time and money put into social media campaigns over more traditional methods. Alister cites the old adage “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”. Unfortunately with social media, it’s not as simple as correlating dollar in – dollar out amounts as Internet space can’t be physically measured.
So how do you convince your CFO or CMO that it’s worth the time and money it takes to invest in developing a social media program? Alister’s advice is simple, start with the metrics that you have access to and present them in persuasive visual graphs (with lines to demonstrate growth, impact and value!).
The most basic charts should correlate revenue figures against key social media activity. More in depth data can be sought through a number of analytics programs available to identify where consumer traffic is coming from.
Convert visits to action
Whilst data demonstrating increased traffic flow to your website can seem positive, Alister says the real focus should be optimising what traffic you already have. This is known as Conversion Maximisation. If your page has one thousand visitors a day, a 50% increase in action once on the page is far more beneficial than five hundred new visits to the page.
This means that your website or page must have a clear call to action or sales pitch, and your e-commerce functions should be simple and up to date. Alister says that while being followed on Twitter or liked on Facebook is a great step, an email address or mobile number is worth much more. In a live feed, a tweet lasts an average of five minutes, and a status update on Facebook an average of five hours.
With an email address your information far more likely to be seen and you have the luxury of targeting your information and distributing it on your own schedule.
With the theme of this lunch it was of course impossible not to touch on the Kony 2012 phenomenon (See previous post : What SM/Marketing/PR people can learn from the Kony 2012 campaign). Alister says the power of the campaign was in Invisible Children’s knowledge of the important people, and the tools necessary to utilise them.
Their method was to first build relationships with thousands of school-aged children, and use the sheer power of numbers to reach all the important and influential people they could- starting with Rihanna. Of course Invisible children could have asked Rihanna to retweet their message directly, but what was far more powerful was asking thousands of her fans to bombard her all at the same time, making it a message impossible to ignore.
With viral campaigns, Alister says it’s not important whether your information reaches your target market directly, as the aim is just to reach critical mass and raise your profile. He cited the “Will it Blend?” videos by BlendTec as another example of a successful campaign (see BlendTec’s YouTube channel).
Stay tuned for PART TWO: How to be a successful blogger and why you and your company should blog.
If you are reading this now, I’m willing to hedge my bets that you have in some way come across the Kony2012 campaign. The campaign run by not-for-profit Invisible Children has had blanket coverage across all mediums and has brought attention of an atrocious issue to a new audience. As with most things that are successful (especially in Australia with the tall poppy syndrome) the campaign and Invisible Children have some strong critics about what they are actually achieving and how their money is being used. Surely what is undisputed though is the effectiveness of the Kony2012 campaign in gaining mainstream awareness.
This post will look at why this campaign has been so successful in raising awareness of an issue and what public relations, marketing and social media lessons can be learned from it.
Lets start by looking at the campaigns achievements so far:
- Youtube views: 43 million in four days.
- Facebook : 2.3 million likes
- Trending on Twitter for two days in a row
- Twitter: 365,000 followers
- Whole documentary shown commercial free and a special edition of The Project dedicated to it on Channel 10 during prime time.
- Coverage on the ABC News Online, The Age, Herald Sun, Channel 7’s Sunrise and all other major media outlets.
So why the success?
‘Lets make Kony famous’ is the crux of the campaign. It’s easily understood, easy to action and very simple. The political instability, cultural infighting, power struggles and oppression for the last 30 years in Uganda has been simplified into a very simple message – here’s a bad guy, lets make people know about him. It is very simple, people can understand it and more importantly, people can easily get involved with it. Kony2012 also uses the ‘limited time offer’ technique by saying that 2012 is THE year for action – urgency is key to getting a response.
After bombarding viewers with emotional heart wrenching content, the filmmaker then spells out to the viewers exactly what they can do to help – even more simply than when he explains the situation to his four year old son. People are directly told to submit their support, order a promotional pack and share the content online. If you want people to do something with your idea – telling them exactly what to do is often the best way to go about it.
Invisible Children gave people something that they could share. If the campaign had asked people to write stories to each other about atrocities in Uganda it would have failed – people don’t have the knowledge or drive to create content on their own. Instead they were given a tidily packaged video that is custom built to be shared via their online social channels. Minimum effort – maximum feel good factor.
The initial phase of the campaign has been a resounding success in creating awareness but it is not over yet. On April 20th Invisible children is encouraging people to cover their cities with marketing collateral to bring attention to the cause. It will be interesting to see how this eventuates and how long the campaign lingers in the public interest.
As the Labor pains give birth to a whitewash of media coverage of the leadership spill – it’s particularly worthy to keep an eye on the stories that are filling the later pages in the newspaper.
The industrial action planned by Nurses in Victoria for instance has had the oxygen sapped from it’s flame of newsworthiness and not even the intervention of Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten could gain it further attention. Despite this attempt 300 nurses walked off their job from several hospitals in Melbourne for four hours this morning. Three new hospitals will join the movement until the dispute is resolved.
It was a massive week for the education sector with a report by David Gonski arguing that $5 billion in annual recurrent funding is needed to address a two-tier system of advantage and disadvantage. The report highlights the importance of educational outcomes not being as a result of differences in wealth, income, power or possessions. In the past 10 years, Australian children have slipped from being equal second in reading among OECD countries to being equal seventh and from equal fifth to equal 13th in maths.
New South Wales has beaten Victoria to become to ban smoking in outdoor eating areas, however the bans themselves won’t be felt until 2015. The bans will also include smoking in playgrounds, public sports grounds, swimming pools, transport stops and entrances to public buildings.
And in social media news this week we might delve back into the political foray to compare the Twitter styles of Rudd and Gillard.
Rudd interacts with his followers and family, is personable, jocular and appears to write personally. “Sorry to anyone (those of you who have a life) watching the cricket on TV. Promise not to do it again. KRudd”
Gillard’s tweets are much more policy and action based and are also partly written by her team of supporters. “Right now: The PM is holding a press conference in Melbourne. Watch it live here”
While both styles differ, they are importantly both quite authentic and there are positives to both approaches. What sets them apart are their intended audiences and their number of followers show the difference JG 186,955 – KR 1,071,252.
With no one campaign being the same, there is no set methodology that can be applied to measure the success of every campaign. It is therefore important that measurement tools be devised and agreed upon between anagency and client at the start of any campaign, which directly reflect the objectives of that campaign.
It sounds simple but if a campaign has been designed to raise awareness then the measurement tools required to assess the success of that campaign should measure awareness. A folder of media clips does not measure awareness.
Instead, it might mean a dip in research to gain an understanding of what the desired public know prior to the commencement of a campaign and then again post the campaign – has the level of knowledge grown over the campaign period?
If the objective is to drive traffic to a website, metrics should be used to measure traffic to the nominated website and then the questions asked – has traffic increased to the website during the campaign period? Has the audience visited the appropriate website pages and how long was each visit? Have they done what we wanted them to do during their visit?
In many instances a pile of clippings or what is referred to as “columns inches” is mistakenly used as a method of evaluating the worth of public relations. While this is used to place a dollar value on coverage, it does nothing to measure campaign success unless the objective was to raise a certain value of media coverage (And even then this evaluation method is flawed as we will explain later).
The measurement of columns inches is generally calculated by way of the AVE or ‘advertising value equivalent’.
AVEs are calculated by multiplying the size of an article for print and length in time for broadcast achieved during a campaign, by the cost it would normally be to purchase that space in advertising. In many instances it is perceived that editorial coverage is of a different value to advertising and this figure is therefore multiplied anywhere between three to 10 times and in some instances even more, to get an overall value. There is no consistent rule for this calculation.
The Public Relations Institute of Australia issued a position paper in 1999 on research and evaluation that stated:
“The PRIA does not recognise Advertising Value Equivalents of editorial media coverage as a reliable or valid evaluation methodology. Editorial and advertising cannot be directly compared.”
When looking at a true measure of success AVE doesn’t get to the heart of a campaign to understand how this media has helped achieve objectives.
As stated, no one campaign is the same and therefore the methods of evaluation will differ across each campaign. When devising evaluation metrics;
- The end it is too late to understand what the situation was at the beginning (Eg: awareness levels)
- You may need to implement specific tools throughout the campaign period to help measure success – considering these at the end will be too late
- You don’t want to get to the end of a campaign only to disagree on how the campaign should be measured – Agreeing upfront can also help fine tune the tactical execution
2. Get to the heart of what you are trying to achieve and devise and implement the best tools to measure this – Remember media clippings do not demonstrate a change in awareness or perception
Demonstrate the success of your campaign by measuring exactly what it is you set out to achieve and in doing so, put the value into your evaluation.