Last week Australia celebrated its 18th National Science Week, an annual celebration of science and technology with thousands of individuals – from students to scientists and chefs to musicians – taking part in more than 1000 science events across the nation.
As the particles settle on another stellar week putting science in the spotlight, we thought we’d celebrate the vital role communication plays in science helping the public receive and understand complex information.
At the c word we get the opportunity to work with a range of scientific organisations including our client veski who bring scientists and researchers to Australia, our friends at the Australian Synchrotron who shine brightly, and our most recent addition to the c word family, the Centre for Personalised Immunology.
Like any organisation, scientific organisations need to share stories of their innovative work with the public.
Communicators in these organisations help scientists share the results of their research with everyday citizens – demonstrating the importance of innovation and discovery.
A few weeks ago in our #CommsCorner we spoke to Gretta Pecl a marine biologist and science communicator. She said that the “lack of scientific knowledge isn’t our biggest barrier to making progress and taking action – it’s effectively communicating the results we do have to people, communities and governments at various levels”.
The team behind National Science Week have done a great job engaging the public with a range of interactive events, speeches and panels encouraging a large audience to have a look into the world of science.
It’s integral to have an informed public, and to keep them engaged in the science and technology issues that inevitably affect us all.
For more than 100 years, the modern Olympic Games have been celebrated as a testament to human physical achievement and power. On another scale the games are also an opportunity for peaceful cooperation between nations. They’re also a huge global marketing opportunity. With the world watching, the right mix of communications can make or break an Olympic sponsor. With the large audience and participants involved in the international event, there has been some form of controversy in nearly every Olympic year since 1906.
Even before Rio had its official opening ceremony there was controversy surrounding it. One such problem affecting the Rio Olympics — not to mention the rest of Brazil — is the spread of the Zika virus, which was declared a public health emergency earlier this year. There was the slumping Brazilian economy and let’s not forget the water tests that showed the public that Rio’s Olympic waters were heavily polluted with human sewage; not to mention an alarming number of disease-causing viruses and bacteria that were present. These were all handled with poise by the respective Olympic representatives.
After years of preparation, what a party so far: the venues have turned out to be amazing, despite the original hiccups. The sport has come first (mostly), Rio2016 is now in day 5. Listed are 5 communication lessons we’ve learned and reviewed so far.
1. Practice makes perfect
The opening ceremony had to be planned just like any event. Brazil kicked off this year’s Olympics with a low-budget opening ceremony that was full of colour and a Samba bear. Throw in some dancing and some preaching about environmentalism for good measure.
The ceremony seemed flawless until it was leaked to media that Brazilian supermodel Gisele made a mistake in her walk – she was too fast (ironic at the Olympics really). Her walk in a thigh-split silver sequined gown (amazing) led to a 1,850% rise in Google searches for her name in just one hour. Richard Lawson, of Vanity Fair, said: “Gisele literally just walked across the stadium and it was an event.”
2. Watch your P’s and Q’s even in the pool
When the Mack Horton scandal erupted a few days ago, many Australians had never heard of the young swimmer. The 24-year-old was at the centre of controversy three days before the Olympics began when Fairfax Media revealed that a Chinese swimmer had tried to disrupt Horton by splashing him at the training pool in Rio. Horton responded by saying he had “no time or respect for drug cheats”, a jab at Sun’s positive drug test two years ago. Sun served a three-month doping ban in 2014, which the Chinese federation kept secret.
Earlier this week, Chinese fans took the grudge into their own hands, attacking Horton on his various social media accounts using the hashtag #apologizetosunyan.
“Your parents and whole country should be shame [sic] on what you’ve said,” one user wrote on Instagram.
Another wrote: “You even won the match, but you are still a loser, you don’t deserve to have an Olympic gold medal.”
Many other trolled Horton’s accounts with snake emojis.
Horton hasn’t taken to social media, and is charming the media, he claims his comments have been taken out of context and was quoted saying “what controversy”. It’s now up to the fans to decide as everyone looks towards the 1500m final – both of the swimmers main event.
3. Monitor your social…
London’s 2012 Summer Olympic Games had an official social media following of 4.7 million users across all platforms. Two years later, Sochi’s had gone up to over 5 million across two platforms alone: Facebook and VKontakte, the most popular Russian social media site. @Rio2016 is sitting at more than 500K followers on Twitter. Thinking beyond the official channels, and only five days in, the potential impact of social media on the games is endless.
4. Advertising and brands can make the most of any event.
Westpac put together a montage of Olympians’ family members attempting their sports. It’s funny, adorable, and leaves you feeling nice and warm. Susie O’Neills mum doing the butterfly stroke is cute. Lacoste for team France anyone? Rio 2016 marks the fifth time Ralph Lauren has dressed Team USA. Stella McCartney based the looks she created for Great Britain’s athletes on the signature silhouettes that commonly feature in her fashion designs. We saw Puma in the opening ceremony looking after Cuba’s team, but it is rumoured that Christian Louboutin has helped create outfits for the closing ceremony on 22 August. The Olympics gives these brands a whole new platform to expose themselves to a larger public.
5. Has Channel Seven’s Olympic coverage controlled and changed the way we can watch sports.
Channel Seven has decided to broadcast the Olympics solo. No Foxtel partnership. People who want to watch Gymnastics live for example have to pay for it via a subscription app. This has already upset the public. Why should we have to pay for an event that is broadcast for free in other nations? The Conversation explores this in a deep analysis.
To audit means to listen (and a bit of trivia for the Latin nerds: audit stems from the Latin auditus, which means ‘to hear’). This is exactly what you need to do when thinking about your company’s communication.
Where to start? Start with why – it’s c = crucial to know why you’re doing the audit in the first place; why are you investing time and money on this? Know your purpose and goals to keep you on target.
The primary purpose of a communication audit should be to ensure everything is aligned well with your communication strategy. If it doesn’t fit, is it worth continuing?
Your comms audit should help you answer questions like what’s working well, what do your stakeholders (internal and external) think, are your internal or external messages clear enough and what has been effective. It helps highlight opportunities for future improvements and know what to cut/change/create.
What are the benefits of doing a communication audit?
The overall goal is to improve existing communication methods; internally and externally.
An effective communications audit will identify:
how communication has been handled
key audiences, what they currently know about your business, service, product or organisation, what they need and want to know and how they prefer to be reached
strengths and weaknesses in current communication programs
untapped opportunities for future communication
succesful campaigns that can be used again.
Through your communication audit you should ask:
What are our current goals and objectives for communication?
How well is the current communication plan working?
Are our messages clear and consistent? Do we have a coordinated visual identity?
Are we reaching key audiences with our messages and moving them to action?
What communication have been most effective?
What do customers think of our communication?
Do our communication activities support our overall strategic plan for our business or organisation?
What would make our communication more effective in the future?
What communication opportunities are we missing?
PR helps build relationships between organisation and client/audience. Performing a communication audit helps identify effective tools which are crucial for successful communication.
When was the last time you audited your company’s communication?
Don’t underestimate the time it takes to research, collate, collect and analyse data and channels. If you’re serious about conducting an audit, you will need to invest time and resources. Or have a professional crew like the c word guide you through the process.
Once you’ve got your information you can c = capture lessons for next time.
Copycats are nothing new in the coffee capsule game, but a copycat Clooney – now that’s a new one.
George Clooney has been the face of Nespresso for a decade now. That means I’ve been addicted to those shiny little coffee pods for 10 years. Time to celebrate by cracking another pod of caffeine … my 2000th??.
The humble coffee pod has become big business, with many companies managing to sneak around Nespresso’s patented machines and make their eco-friendly, sustainable coffee with a hint of Brazil fit the Nespresso machines.
Coffee quality aside, how does brand imitation affect the original brands?
We’ve all seen it: two similar-looking products sitting side by side on the supermarket shelf. The packaging aesthetics almost identical, generally one from a no name or store-owned brand, and cheaper than the national brand.
Although we see many no-name colas on the shelves – none are “the real thing”. No one wants Pepsi if they’ve ordered a Coke! Companies like Coca-Cola, and Nespresso have invested time and resources into creative packaging, advertising and branding to create an image in the consumers mind only to have another brand ride the coattails of those investments. Bring in the celebrity ambassadors and like Clooney they are so important. They make people want to buy a certain brand, become loyal to it and ultimately stick with it.
Clooney’s Nespresso ads are brilliant Being turned down by a series of beautiful women who are more interested in the coffee machine and its colourful single-use pods than him. We love that he pokes fun at himself, and the ads contradict his public persona: the suave, ladies-man who is a little bit smug.
The ads play with the idea of Nespresso being more important than ‘George Who?’ as one of the Nespresso films is entitled. Clooney is shown being out-attracted by a fine cup of Nespresso or mistaken for a valet by Club members. The print and billboard ads show the star as a Nespresso drinker and simply affirm ‘What Else?’ or zoom him out to focus on the cup of espresso he holds in his hand, instead. The consistent and confident message: Nespresso is more suave and sexier than one of the sexiest men alive. It makes you think of the brand as smooth and irresistible.
Next time you’re in the area, pop on into the c word office & let’s have a chat about copycats and communications over a capsule of coffee: a nespresso.
It’s that time of year again. The Kris Kringle presents are getting swapped and it’s time to reflect on another 12 months of c-words, and we as you know love communications and all things that go with it. So many c-words to look back on from the past 12 months. Wow 2015 you have been truly amazing!
The 1989 movie Back to the Future, Part II gave the world a fictitious view of what 2015 might look like through the eyes of Marty McFly, predicting things like flying cars and portable fusion power. the c word doesn’t yet have a time machine, but as the new year winds down, here’s a look at some of the real events that helped shape the communications landscape and the world in 2015.
There were no flying cars but we did have a chopper crisis in Canberra, a new royal cherub, Bruce Jenner transformed herself into Caitlyn, and Hillary Clinton continues to sprint towards the WhiteHouse!
And how could we forget the final moments of Mad Men … Coke or coastal contemplation?
Twitter has also released its top trends of 2015 – which highlighted the top 10 topics that people discussed. From Caitlyn Jenner to One Direction (all the really important stuff). Some did come as a bit of a surprise. https://2015.twitter.com/retweeted
With 2015 drawing to a close (20 days and counting, *gulp*), it’s time for a little reflection and time to look at the trends that will guide us into the new year. Although the c= calendar year is almost over, the cogs continue to turn.
Like it or not, the way we communicate (especially at work) is changing. Every customer, colleague, collaborator and chum has a mobile phone. With this it makes communication easier, but also constant.
What are the new ways to connect and collaborate and get things done? By no means is this an exhaustive list of the technologies that exist, but it will give you something to consider while picking out the Christmas ham or racing through the store finding that last minute Secret Santa present.
Social media isn’t going anywhere. If your Mother can use Facebook, then it’s pretty much open game – and clearly a great platform for any age group. It has also become an advertiser’s dream.
Several times a day, my phone vibrates (if I’ve remember to silence it) with yet another notification that someone I follow on Twitter has joined Periscope. If 2006 was all about Myspace, 2007 about Facebook, and 2012 about Twitter, then 2016 is going to be about livestreaming apps (checkout Meerkat in the US).
Some people have taken to the live streaming service like a fish to water. Live updates of gigs, weather events, conventions and reporters on the scene of world events – who wouldn’t watch this? It’s reasonably easy to use, your audience is limitless and it’s cheap. Considering we’re all mobile viewers, Periscope and similar streaming services could soon become the “new TV”. You no longer need a news van, satellite dish, reporter and expensive camera equipment to broadcast an event live. It’s the age of citizen journalism; all you need is your phone and decent content to broadcast and #youhavefollowers.
Has anyone participated in a hack this year? Of course when you hear the word hack, you probably think of breaking into networks or hijacking computers to illegally access files and information. I’m not talking about Sandra Bullock on ‘The Net’, it’s no longer just for the geeks of Silicon Valley. Hacks and Hackathons have entered the corporate mainstream. Hacking is a method of bypassing traditional tasks to obtain a goal. Hackathons are long group sessions with an agreed goal at the end. Fueled by adrenaline, caffeine and excited colleagues to brainstorm new ideas.
Zuckerberg’s tech people invented Facebook’s “like” button during a traditional coding hack session. Big companies in various industries have now adopted the Hackathon and we don’t see these corporate ‘hacks’ going anywhere, anytime soon.
Looking into the c = crystal ball for the future, we also see data everywhere. Or should we say easier data accessibility and the ability to analyse it. Social media platforms are already bringing data into the mainstream with polls. This gives us an overview of what consumers are thinking – and makes things like targeted marketing easier. Having access to data can help reinvent the simple e-newsletter.
We can’t forget about Podcasts, Snapchat, and of course, as the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”, so how many tweets must an Insta be worth.
It was the early ’90s. Wacko Jacko was all over MTV and a busty blonde named Pammie ran in super slow-mo along a Californian beach in THAT red one-piece. Something else rather big was brewing that decade too. Special engineers with their thinking caps tightly screwed on came up with an idea, a little thing they called the ‘world wide web’. Sound familiar?
The first website was launched into cyberspace in all its pixelated, clunky glory. Back in the cringe-worthy era of the ’90s, flashy marketing sites, animated GIFs, scrolling text and drop shadows were the ‘it’. Dial-up modems everywhere screeched like landing UFO’s as people started to connect to something extraordinary, unknown and exciting.
Fast forward to 2015 – we’ve come a long way, hopefully.
It’s been almost a quarter of a century, yet there are still a number of websites out there lacking in any form of innovation. So, ask your mum nicely to get off the landline so you can dial-up and get familiar with some of the ways your page is offensive, and how to c = combat it of course!
#1. Your site is stuck in slow motion.
A slow website is not acceptable. People don’t like waiting – it’s simple psychology. If your website functions as though it was created for dial-up, it’s easy for a customer to think that you’re providing a dated product or service. Time is money and no-one has the time or patience to wait for a slow loading website – think of potential customers. If you want people to visit your site again make sure it gives them the quick hit they’re looking for.
#2. Your website is hard to find. – we’re not playing Where’s Wally here.
So you’ve spent time and money on a glorious new website (ahh, I love the smell of HTML in the morning) and you’re just sitting back waiting for the leads to come rolling in… waiting… waiting… Was that a tumbleweed? “Where the bloody hell are you?” A website without SEO is like a VW without diesel – there’s no point running it. Make sure you’re one of Google’s good friends (or at least a Facebook acquaintance) and people can actually reach your site through a search engine.
#4. Your site is undercover
Unless you are an agent on Homeland, there’s no conceivable reason you’d publish your contact details in the sixth paragraph of your final page in white text on a white background. Make your contact details BIG and easy to find. You never know who might be in a hurry to get in touch.
#5. You have an anti-social website
People who deny the importance of social media are like the people who believe we never landed on the moon. The social realm is real, my friends, and it’s not going away. By allowing your content and your images to be share-able you get more visibility, which means more traffic, better search engine rankings and more lead generation opportunities. A quick tip – put your social icons at the top of every. single. page. Some people will still miss them.
#6. Your site is stuck in back when double denim was cool.
Remember that website improvement you suggested back in 2010? There are children who have now mastered their parents’ iPad since your light-bulb idea. If the cycle of life moves faster than your website refresh cycle, then it’s a pretty sure sign that your website is out-dated.
#7. Your site is still using the landline
Do you have a mobile and tablet responsive website design? If the answer is no, your website is absolutely in need of some TLC – you need a new site, friend.
#8. Get your brand out
For your brand to stand out it has to tell a meaningful story that catches people’s attention and engages them with emotion and feeling. Using a templates or themes has a place,we’re not denying that. However, if you really want to develop a unified brand and vision direction, you’re going to need to put your own distinct flavour onto your site and ensure that your online presence is a reflection of your real world existence. There’s not point copying something if it doesn’t reflect who and what you are.
#9. Your site doesn’t come with an instruction manual
Consumers might be visiting your site, but if no-one is attending events or subscribing to your e-newsletters , chances are, you’re lacking some clear calls to action. Direct your customers and make your site a ‘journey’, direct customers to take some kind of action where you are capturing their “deets” or lead them to get in touch.
#10. Your site has a good face for radio
While what’s on the inside counts, if you don’t take pride in appearances, you’ll be counting your followers on one hand. Don’t overwhelm your virtual visitors – simplicity is often key. Allow for space, don’t’ fill every nook and cranny with complex design, animation, special effects or clutter. The best way to keep visitors focused on your message is through valuable content, simple layouts, good organisation and immaculate design.
#11. Your site is full of clean-cut men in white t-shirts
There’s nothing more frustrating than clichéd stock imagery. Some stock libraries are great and certainly serve a purpose, but the cheesy ones depicting a world of smiling white families, happy-go-lucky employees and men in cheap business suits shaking hands make me want to throw my coffee at the screen. A solution to this? On-brand, unique images (yours) and graphics are just as important as a working contact form and good grammar (perfect grammar in fact).
#12. Your site is leading me on a wild goose chase.
When a person comes to your site you want them to know what to do next. Alright, maybe they’re suspicious of your stock photo choices, or perhaps your template format really grinds their gears. But visitors may be able to look past those things if they can immediately understand your websites purpose, the value they get out of it, and what they need to do next.
If all else fails. Ask yourself this question: Can the average Jo-Blow use your website? If you’re unsure, ask the least tech-savvy person you know to take it for a test-run and give you some feedback.
If you’re currently hiding underneath your desk in silent mortification at the harsh reality of your current website conundrum, don’t reach for the bottle just yet! Simply start by adopting some of the tips above, taking baby steps towards maintaining your online presence – this goes for Social Media too. Begin by tackling the points you know to be within your budget and resources, and jot down a plan of attack (and follow through) to leave those pixelated, bulky nightmares behind you and nothing beautiful engaging browsers lie ahead. It won’t happen overnight…
Check out this article from Marketing Mag for more great hints.
A month or so back, I was lucky enough to be an attendee at one Leadership Victoria’s Innnovation series workshops ‘Thinking Strategically to Lead Innovation’. The course explored the concept of innovation and the importance in the business world. It was an interactive day filled with great content. As a group we explored the idea of mind mapping. This got me thinking about brainstorming and throwing ideas about in general.
At the beginning of a campaign – and you can relate this to most workplaces or fields – we all start with a blank canvas. If you’re an artist you could take this quite literally. To get from A to B, a lot of thoughts get thrown about and many thrown away.
Whether you’re ‘storming’ on your own or in a project group, gather lots of good ideas because you can always filter through these after. A good brainstorming session will produce a long list of ideas. When brainstorming as a team, ensure that everyone present has a voice and participates. Brainstorming within your company encourages teamwork and fosters a positive group dynamic where everyone is contributing to a common goal. If it’s appropriate include members of other departments within your organisation – this extends the teamwork and camaraderie throughout the project and the company.
Even if your best idea ends up being your original one, the other ideas can be used to enhance the original idea and/or create future marketing campaigns. Put simply you can never have too many ideas – a bit like the old golden rule – there is no stupid question. Brainstorming is an invaluable tool when you don’t have any ideas and are completely stuck on a problem.
The brainstorming process will not only produce ideas, but it can also be used to help develop ideas into specific actions. This is where mind mapping comes in. Mind mapping (or concept mapping) involves writing down a central idea and thinking up new and related ideas which radiate out from the centre. By focusing on key ideas written down in your own words, and then looking for branches out and connections between the ideas, you are mapping knowledge in a manner which will help you understand and remember new information.
The most productive and effective brainstorming sessions follow a process. Mind mapping has a few simple rules that allow the ideas to flow in a more effective way. Use colour, keep space for more ideas that might pop into your head. Put your central idea in the middle – this allows other ideas to radiate out and unlock others. Mind mapping is a great visual tool to allow the sharing of ideas to reach the end goal. It allows for collaboration.
Remember, great ideas can come from anywhere and often from where you least expect. Some of our best marketing ideas have been generated on a whim, or whilst working on a completely different project. Don’t forget to write these ideas down at the time, this is why we think pen and paper are an essential tool.
Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch puts his thoughts out on the Twittersphere just like any other Joe Bloggs. Last month, Hugh Martin from La Trobe University wrote this great piece in The Conversation examining why a media mogul, billionaire and powerful person like Murdoch might bother with Twitter – and gives us an insight into Rupert’s tweeting style.
Murdoch is nothing if not a prolific tweeter. But why does he bother?
As the head of News Corp and 21st Century Fox, Murdoch has more media outlets at his beck and call than anyone. His editors famously either intuit or are told what he wants published and act accordingly. He has more reach than any single individual on the planet. And he uses it.
So, why would a man with so much media power at his fingertips, and political power on three continents to match, choose to expose himself to the raw landscape of the Twittersphere?
It’s a question that has exercised at least one of his biographers. Michael Wolff has said Murdoch uses Twitter to “express himself”, which really doesn’t explain why a global news organisation isn’t satisfying enough.
To anyone familiar with his newspapers and TV networks the views Murdoch expresses on Twitter are not surprising. It appears he is not “expressing” anything different on Twitter.
In the past week Murdoch has tweeted in support of Ben Carson as the potential Republican US presidential candidate, drug threats faced by rural communities, and the political situation in Australia. His news organisations comprehensively covered all of these topics and apparently represented his viewpoints accurately (pro-Carson, anti-drugs, pro-Tony Abbott).
So it’s clear Twitter serves a different purpose than simply allowing Murdoch to express a personal view. Nor is his use of the social media network about engaging directly with other users. His responses to specific tweets are rare – he uses it as a broadcast medium.
Murdoch has 609,000 followers on Twitter, which is tiny in the context of News Corp’s global audiences. He follows 110 people. Social media conversation is not what he is interested in.
Murdoch’s use of Twitter may be far more revealing on a personal and sentimental level than has previously been recognised.
Murdoch, at 77, can’t use a computer, doesn’t get email, can’t get his cell phone to work properly, can’t even imagine changing the variables on a spreadsheet.
Some of that, at least, is simply wrong.
While it is true that Murdoch isn’t a digital native, he has always demonstrated a hands-on approach to technology that pertains to the media industry. Whether that is sub-editing copy onscreen for early editions of The Sun, running printing presses during the Wapping strikes of the mid-1980s or tweeting from his iPad, he knows how to use the tools.
In November 2005, at a small gathering of News Limited editors in Adelaide that I attended, Murdoch said:
When I get up in the morning I check the news from all over the world. I am constantly amazed by the rich variety of offerings on the web.
This was at a time when News was gearing up for a digital fight with its competitors. Murdoch said very clearly that day that he wanted News to be at the forefront of digital publishing:
It’s where our audiences are moving to. And it’s where we have to be.
This is a man who has always led from the front. Murdoch is far more comfortable with technology than his legend would have us believe. And yet, something is odd about his use of Twitter.
For one thing, Murdoch’s style is unfamiliar to modern readers. Twitter is defined by its 140-character limit. But he uses this restriction to pack description via adjectives and terse use of verbs into the available space and make this relay his meaning:
2 stories. Carson, Detroit ghetto to brilliant neurosurgeon. Obama white upbringing to community organizer. Sincere men, different values
Why should we be surprised at the incisive use of language? Murdoch has always identified as a journalist. He is, after all, the son of a celebrated journalist. But Twitter’s 140-character limit lends itself to a wonderfully eloquent and antiquated style of writing: telegraphese.
Rupert’s father, Keith, would instantly recognise his son’s tweets as exactly the sort of writing employed by journalists sending breaking news reports by telegram.
From the battlefields of the US Civil War to Murdoch senior’s own reporting from the Dardanelles in the first world war, telegraphese was the essential mode for journalists.
And that is how Rupert tweets, as if he is reporting to the world and paying for each word. The only thing missing is the characteristic “STOP”. If we were to add that into the above tweet the effect is immediate:
2 stories STOP Carson, Detroit ghetto to brilliant neurosurgeon STOP Obama white upbringing to community organizer STOP Sincere men, different values
In Rupert’s dotage, it seems the son is reliving the father’s glory years as a global correspondent.