Author Archives: Brett

communication without trepidation

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Don't wait for a bigger or better reason - communicate.

We were delighted to see Victorian nonprofit Youth Projects demonstrate a true propensity for communications last week.

Youth Projects recently appointed new CEO Rodney Mackintosh and took the opportunity to send a snappily designed postcard to its mailing list announcing the fact.

Why bother? Well in essence the postcard is a defacto “hello” from both Youth Projects and Rodney. It’s a reminder that Youth Projects exists and will no doubt jolt people into making contact about matters that have been on their mind for months, if not years.

Great to see an organisation on the front foot like this. Would your organisation do this? If so, how long would it take to move from idea to mailbox?  If not; why not? Comments always welcome.


emcee declared 0.15 short of perfect

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best emcee in Australia

They shoot emcees do they?

Human perfection – in a heart surgeon, test pilot or emcee – is rare. Perhaps then we should not be surprised to learn that according to audience feedback Brett de Hoedt fell 0.15 short of perfection in his recent work as emcee at the Disability Employment Services 2011 conference; averaging 4.85 out of 5.

More surprisingly, was the feedback that one attendee wants him shot. Yes; shot as this feedback compilation  clearly states: DEA testimonials

Event organisers: is this the sort of feedback you’d like?

Budget in need of spending

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A smart, gung-ho member of a large Sydney nonprofit’s communications team called us with an enviable dilemma. She’s compiling her communications budget for the upcoming year and the task has just been made more interesting. Her boss has commented that there are some extra dollars available – if she can find smart ways to spend them. 

She wanted suggestions for new ways to spend money to improve media coverage and communications generally. Here’s what we came up with:

eNewsletter: establish, design and send. This of course actually saves money, not spends it.   

training, training, training: with Hootville, Hootville, Hootville. Enough said.

large scale introductory mail out to media: we’re talking a box (they get opened more readily than envelopes) with some merchandise, an introductory letter explaining the organisation and what it offers media, annual report, an invitation to a one-to-one familiarisation tour of the nonprofit’s impressive facility. The familiarisation would also include meetings with the CEO, researchers and some adorable kids.

research / survey / data: hire someone to create some data – a survey, a study, an analysis of existing data that could form the basis of some media coverage in coming months.

Polling creates media coverage.

Rush to the polls.

Newspoll: pay Newspoll or something similar to include a question on its regular weekly poll. Again the results become media fodder.

Speaker: fly in a speaker or case study. $10k in airfare, hotel and event costs may score you tens of thousands in media coverage and new relationships. Create an itinerary of public meetings, discussions with pollies and policy makers and of course media engagements. We like this tactic a lot. 

What are your suggestions?

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Nonprofits and branding: a Gruen lesson

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branding advice for nonprofits

Seen one, seen them all?

Hootville’s leader Brett de Hoedt is a small man in many ways. He refuses to watch The Gruen Transfer for one. Why? He’s too jealous of the host and panellists to tune in. He did however catch a few minutes of last night’s episode which he felt were valuable.

Condoms were being discussed when host Wil Anderson wondered aloud why more condom commercials didn’t simply highlight the benefits of condoms – mainly that they stop unwanted pregnancies and disease.

One panellist responded: “Well all condoms do that, so a commercial promoting those features would be a commercial for the whole product category – not the specific brand.” (Yes we are paraphrasing a tad.)

In other words unless a brand (Durex, Ansell) stakes out a particular position for itself – thinnest, most natural, funnest, sexiest – it does nothing to distinguish itself from other brands in the category (condoms). That would be a big waste of money.

Hmmm…how many nonprofits do a good job of distingishing themselves from other brands (Beyond Blue, Mental Illness Fellowship Australia, Sane) in the category (mental illness services)?

Example #2: Does Wilderness Society separate itself from other brands (ACF, Greenpeace, LandCare) in its category (environmental organisations)? Or are its efforts just vaguely supporting the category?

Goodness – have a look at your efforts and send us your observations.

And puh-lease don’t write some bollocks about how nonprofits are too precious to be considered ‘brands’ in a ‘category’ and that any publicity is good for us all etc. It’s time to grow up and beyond that.

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Conference emcee role for Brett in Ballarat

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Brett de Hoedt will again act as emcee for the Community Case Managers Conference which will this year be held in Ballarat on November 24 and 25. The ambitious event brings together case managers working with a range of people including those with aquired brain injuries, the elderly and the disabled. It’s Brett’s second turn as MC for the event.

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bad media releases gain media coverage

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Greg Baum is a prominent sports writer for The Age in Melbourne. He’s a columnist, more than a reporter so he has a longer leash than most. Greg filled his July 30 Final Word column with several hundred final words of scorn for the PR folk behind the launch of the new domestic 20/20 Big Bash cricket league.  They deserved it. Read his piece to gain an insight into how smarter journos see publicists. Here’s how to avoid creating similar responses.

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social media policy

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We don’t believe in policies at Hootville, particularly for social media so how about some rules of thumb; guidelines, rules of engagement instead?

1. Use social media as a cheap, quick way to communicate.

2. Get together for one hour and agree on the topics about which you will and won’t post content. Hint: content should not be about your issues and audiences; not just you.

3. In the same one hour agree who can and cannot tweet or post to Facebook directly and who needs to get a quick OK before going live. Yes – you MUST have several people who are cleared for approval-free access to Twitter and Facebook.

 4. Add some humour and humanity – this should no be optional but a POLICY. Those who think that is not possible for their issue should get over themselves. You don’t have to be doing knock-knock jokes – just sound like a person. Check out the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ recent efforts. Gold.

5. Be interesting and useful. Similarly, this should be a POLICY.

6. Deal with public criticism via social media networks via your social media networks.

7. This is how the unauthorised should get approval. “Hey boss I want to post a link to this article about the NDIS and ask people for comments. Is that cool?”

8. If someone writes something totally inappropriate delete the content ASAP and explain to everyone why the content was not Kosher.

9. Wait for sky to fall in.

10. Book Online Savvy 101.

Brisbane media training

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Hootville Communications’ Brett de Hoedt will be delivering social media training and serve as conference emcee at the 2011 Family Relationship Service Australia conference to be held in in Brisbane November 2011.

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Copy Savvy 101 class takes shape

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We already have Victorian Youth Mentoring Alliance, Surf Live Saving NSW, Family Relationship Services Australia, Jean Hailes Foundation for Women’s Health, Diabetes Australia Victoria and YMCA Victoria joining us for our first public Copy Savvy 101 webinar.  Et tu Brute?

The first 10 registrants to our copywriting workshop have the first option to have their copy reviewed (mauled) by the group. With the anonymity provided by the web, the feedback should be full and frank so be quick and take up the opportunity.

As of August 16, we are just about full, so quicksticks if you want in.

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Listen and learn

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We’ll be reguarly posting reviews of media performances with a break down of what is good and what ain’t. Our first is Peter Stevenson chief policy adviser to the UK-based Compassion in Farming which advocates for the end of cruel and inhumane practices that form the bulk of our farming (aka food production) today. He’s good talent. You’d be at least this good if you booked a Speak Savvy 101.

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