Author Archives: Brett

Free PR advice

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Free PR advice for 10 Australian nonprofits

The joy of free.

You may recall that we recently offered new Lowdown subscribers and referrers in the month of June the chance to receive a free 40m consultation from Hootville about whatever worries their pretty little heads.

Well we’ve drawn the winners out of the hat and they are: Queensland Shelter, World Vision, The Zen Pen, Cancer Council Victoria, Homelessness Australia, Leukaemia Foundation South Australia, Drummond Street Services, Save the Children Australia, Bicycle Queensland and Victorian Legal Aid.

If you see any nattily dressed communications professionals leaping for joy (see left) it is likely to be a staff member of one of the above organisations. Or a hipster.


SEO tip. Copywrite this.

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We’ve mentioned this before but we need to make it clearer. The websites that will continue to rise in search engine results are those which supply continually updated, relevant information and articles within their website.

We recommend folding most of your new copy into your news section. We recommend classifying many things as news – from new courses, to new staff apointmnebnts, awards, media coverage of your issue – the lot. This makes the news section a go-to area for regular visitors.   

Abundant, fresh content helps in two ways – it gives people material to spread via their social networks such as Twitter, Facebook and Google’s +1 which search engines love and it also gives people a reason to keep coming back to your site.

OK – so you haven’t got the time or inspiration to come up with fresh copy all day long. Here are some content suggestions:

website copy tip

Skim, condense and pour out media coverage. They'll drink it up.

Media monitoring: using Google alerts and your own media consumption, you can highlight media coverage of your issues (not your organisation necessarily, just your issues) to visitors. Throw in an explanation of the coverage (“The Courier Mail has a story about early childhood intervention waiting lists today: www…”) PLUS at least a line (would 500 words kill you?) of comment about the story. This adds credibility for both Google and the reader.

Hardcore SEO types will be sure to insert an image of the article onto your webpage and to fill in details for the image when inserting it. (WordPress has half a dozen fields to enter when inserting any image which is bothersome but helps search engines.)

Your readers will love you filtering the news for them and by offering a comment you look like experts. Media loves that too.

regular updates make good copywriting

Report on your progress - or lack thereof

Regular monitoring and reporting

Transparency is sexy. No really. Too few organisations regularly boast about securing new donors, participants, subscribers, staff, volunteers etc. We’d recommend monthly updates on all these.

Why? Because monitoring these issues, highlights these issues. Eg: mentioning that you scored three new monthly donors is a reminder that you want monthly donors. Regular updates create good regular, fresh copy with lots of keywords. Do it now and stop coming across like an organisation that doesn’t need everyone’s help. You should appear to be a living, breathing entity.

website copy suggestions

Imagine writing a note to every pollie who speaks of your issue, every time. Good for your profile?

Hansard: do you listen to Parliament much? Shame on you. In that case why not run a regular search of hansard for mention of your key issues? Again, you can summarise key mentions of your issue and attach your expert comment. One thing for sure – the pollies making the comments will quickly learn that they have been mentioned on your site. You look important, you bring your readers information they’d otherwise have missed and you get noticed by the right people.

Website content suggestion

Magazines do it for the same reasons - simple, regular, easily-digestible content.


Q&A: create a regular Q&A of 20 questions like this from the Good Weekend above. Throw in some serious questions relating to your issues and some silly questions too. Ask interesting people to answer them. Publish the most interesting 12 answers and a headshot. Approach some VIPs as you’ll be hard to refuse and the process will get you noticed by them. Aim for one a month. Simple.

PR advice

Roll out the poll.

Monthly polls: each month you ask a new question and report back on the results of the previous poll. Simple. Use Survey Monkey or, preferably a poll application from within your content management system.

Annual reports are a source of web copy

Short on inspiration for copy? Take nuggets from your annual reports and magazines.

Annual reports and membership magazines:  Once published and quickly forgotten; these labour-intensive obligations are just waiting to be rehashed as fresh copy for the news section of your website.

See? Content is easy. And once you have the content flowing, be sure to add Sexy Bookmarks, as we have below to make sharing your content easy. And of course feel free to share this.

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Get young people involved with your nonprofits

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youth engagement for nonprofits

Less than 100% of kids don't give a damn. Who knew?


This story from the New York Times may hold some wisdom for those of you chasing the kids for support or participation.

Our own tip – place the word “Like” at the start of all communications and end with the phrase “whatever”. Drugs are also very popular with youngsters these days as is bullying via Facebook. Good luck.

Media training in Sydney

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RIDBC chooses Hootville for media training

RIDBC is ready to expand its profile.

Hootville is flying non-Tiger to Sydney to deliver a media and marketing workshop to the gung-ho marketing team at the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children. The training workshop will emphasise planning and gaining maximum coverage for priority issues with an emphasis on securing more statewide and national media. 

Voiceless logo

Voiceless will be anything but after our training.

Hootville will also deliver a full day’s media training to media spokespeople and public presenters of animal rights think tank Voiceless. Voiceless is keen to gain more from media appearances and is equally keen to put its public presentations under the microscope.

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Beating Facebook and EdgeRank into submission

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OK you know by now that interaction from your friends with your Facebook content is vital. So what gets the interaction started? Try these:

facebook polls create interaction

Vote early, vote often.

Polls – regular, quick, fun or serious. Polls are interactive by nature.

Facebook advice

Open up a conversation.

Ask for comments – studies prove that asking for comments creates more comments. Who knew? Yep it’s obvious but how much of what you write on your Facebook page is questioning and how much is telling?

Facebook photos improve EdgeRank

Pictures tell thousands of words. Many about dachshunds.

Photos insist on interaction as they are small and need clicking for a fair display. Studies show that videos – yours or someone elses – have far greater power over readers than text alone. 

Facebook EdgeRank likes links

You're only as strong as your weakest...

Links – particularly when they are to sites other than your own – show your readers that you care about more than just generating traffic.

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seo advice

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If your job has anything to do with a website pour yourself a stiff drink and read on. Stay reasonably sober and read to the end for one very practical piece of advice.

SEO advice - drink whiskey.

Managing SEO? You may need this.

We have bad news. Search engine optimisation – the art of tweaking your website to gain prominent rankings on search engines – is getting far more complex.  Those are the findings of a rather huge survey by SEOmoz of 132 leading SEO nerds. 

There are a great many factors that add up to your ranking for particular search terms. How many factors do you know? We’re guessing you responded with:

  • quantity and quality of links to your site,
  • number of words on a page,
  • amount of keywords on your page that match search terms,
  • freshness of content;
  • submitting a sitemap to search engines.

Maybe you had a dozen more including:

  • age of the domain;
  • descriptive ALT tags for photos and images;
  • page titles that match search terms.

Bottom line; the number of factors that add up to your ranking is increasing and the weight of the factors is constantly shifting. Many SEO factors are “off-page” which means that there’s nothing visible on your site nor nothing you can specifically do about them; even in the content management system. Off page factors include links to your site, time visitors spend on your site and the biggest factor for good SEO – social media.

Increasingly your search results are determined by the vibrancy of your social media efforts. An engaged Facebook following, enthusiastic Twitter audience, well-watched YouTube channel and well-read blog leads to better search engine results.

Even more complexly, the amount of sharing of your content on others’ Twitter, Facebook and social networks matters to your SEO results. Google also measures if the individuals who Tweet about you are they people with large and engaged followings. Are they with institutions that matter? It’s all about working out if you have something to say that others listen and refer to.

Everything is connected, everything matters. Oh dear. Who has time for all this?

This level of complexity is good in one way as it makes SEO-rigging harder for shonks but it also makes it too complex for smaller players and non-shonks like you. 

Social media advice

Actively encourage sharing. It works.

We’ll be looking at more aspects of SEO in upcoming posts but here’s one simple thing you can do to encourage sharing.  Install a social media sharing plugin such as Sexy Bookmarks on your website.

We now include this device at the end of every news item and guess what? People use it. Why? Because it simplifies the process of sharing. We like it because it was simple to install, is a one-size-fits-most solution and is reasonably discreet to look at.

Mostly we like Sexy Bookmarks because it encourages sharing of our content with zero effort on our part. This sharing may take place years after we post an item but it still helps us build the empire.  You may find alternatives that you prefer but the principle remains the same: encourage and facilitate sharing of your content.

There is of course one catch – you better be providing content worth sharing. More about that in an upcoming post. In short though – these days everyone is a publisher. And of course if you liked this post please share it.

Melbourne media training

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Media training for Moreland Hall in Melbourne

Welcome Moreland Hall

Hootville Communications will deliver media training in Melbourne to UnitingCare’s Moreland Hall which is a alcohol and other drugs rehabilitation service. 

As per many clients wishes, the media training will mix media, marketing and spokesperson training.

media training specials

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media training discount

Coming your way, soon.

More In the Neighbourhood specials announced today: Sydney Wednesday July 27 or Friday 29. Book Hootville for training or event emcee work on those days and receive a charming discount. After all; we’re already in the neighbourhood. Details on the Media Training Specials page. Specials also available for other days in Sydney and Queensland.

Sydney emcee role

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Hootville’s own Brett de Hoedt is headed to Sydney to emcee a Love Your Liver lunch as part of World Hepatitis Day July 28, 2011. Excitingly, Brett will get to finally meet O’Liver, Hepatitis Australia’s walking, untalking hepatitis awareness mascot in person. What’s he really like? We’ll tell you July 29.

A beastly Facebook experiment

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Facebook advice

Maybe there's hope yet...

We’re all about EdgeRank at the moment and so should you if you’re in charge of a Facebook page. This piece by Thomas E Weber of The Daily Beast summarises one man’s attempt to go viral via Facebook. As you’ll read, most of us have developed an immunity.

Lazy (aka busy) citizens should skip to points six and nine as they offer hope to the devious (aka innovative).

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