Author Archives: Brett

Get appy

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Cameron Gray is the Internal Communications Advisor at the City of Yarra responsible for digital content, videos and other internal communication channels. He provides leadership, advice and innovative solutions to the Executive, CEO and other staff on all internal communications matters.

apps for local government

Does this man look appy to you?

Prior to this Cameron was the Healthy Communities Coordinator at Baw Baw Shire Council in regional Victoria working in social media, digital engagement and health promotion. In this position worked with Roadhouse Digital to develop Baw Baw’s first mobile app, Baw Baw Trail Trak – an app that encourages everyone to get active by providing some fantastic walking, jogging, and riding tracks throughout the shire.

He talked to Squiggle, our very old canine correspondent about the app development process.

Can you hear me? Tell us about the app you developed?

Yes I can hear you. You’re right in front of me. The development of the idea to create an app took several months. We wanted to look at more sustainable and innovative ways to convey information that was written and printed in a book on a semi-regular basis (the Baw Baw Walks Booklet). We tossed around the ideas of a website or mobile site but eventually settled on an app because of the engaging features it brings.


Why an app and not say, a series of loud barks or an Aerogramme?

We wanted people to engage with our information (a series of local walks) and get out and walk. A walking app allows people to use a device they are already using to already using to plan their routes, take photos, share with friends, track their walking. The app means that we can unlock information that we have never been able to secure before such as: how long it takes people on average to do one of the walks, popularity of different walks, what do people take photos of etc. Aerogramme?

App development for nonprofits

Behold, the app!

Were you pleased with your developer?

We were very fortunate to work closely with a developer who has worked in the health promotion space for some time. They were very flexible with our ideas and brief and supported us through the process as subject matter experts. My advice for finding the right developer (which I think is key to success) is getting someone who has worked with your industry before, developed something similar that you can test and is prepared to take your idea, flesh it out further and keep you involved through the process.



During the war we planned everything meticulously. How detailed were your plans before talking to your developer about your app?

Not very meticulous at all. We developed a wish list of functionality through a brainstorming session then sent that high level brief to the market place and got them to respond to the functionality. Things we thought that would be complex from a developers perspective were cheap and easy, whereas things we thought would be more simpler ended up taking more time and costing more. In the end from our wish list we lost maybe 10% of our desired functionality, which we were very happy with. I think it’s important to divide what you want into three categories: Must haves, Should haves and Like to haves.

I also suggest you ask for a detailed brief back from a supplier, itemised and then work through that list with them. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! Always ask more than less!


How long did the process take? Was this longer than anticipated?

Yes! We hoped it would be done and dusted in three months but that just is unrealistic. I would encourage people to allow at least 12 months from “let’s do an app” to downloading onto your device.

12 months? Good Lord – that’s 7 years!

Development and testing (and you need to be very thorough with your testing) took about 4 months but there is the lead up to that point and the preparations for launch and roll out that still need to occur.

On testing. Always get multiple people testing the prototypes and always compare that to the brief. What did you ask it to do, what did they say it would do and what is it actually doing?


How much should it cost?

Difficult to say. I would suggest a decent basic app would cost between $15k-$35k depending on the functionality – unlike some webpages where developers can use a basic code, app development requires another level of detailed customisation and for two different platforms (iOS and Android). Once again your wish list given to a developer will assist you in determining the costing. We got quotes as high as $100k! I would suggest that you just brace yourself for figures that are higher than you expect.


how to develop an app

Squiggle tours Baw Baw Shire.

Were you happy with the result? Tails wagging all round was it?

Yes – very much so! We got exactly what we were after.

Any cats hurt in the process?

No. Of course not.

Never mind.


Dachshunds are very popular. Is your new app popular?

We’ll have to wait and see until we launch it properly next month. Then we will be able to assess the impact. We are after a gradual uptake not a huge success over night.


Would you recommend an app as a marketing / comms option?

Depending on the service you provide and what you are marketing or communicating. I think you need to think about the objective first and the tool second. If you are wanting people to engage with your information regularly then an app could be good. And app will never replace your webpage so if you’re looking for people just to read or be informed I would stay away but if you’re looking for behavioural change or similar an app could work. Particularly for gamification and part of a broader campaign.

Check it out yourself.

Brett’s on the radio. Tune in anytime.

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media trainer

Brett and guests are there for the listening.

You can hear a little or a lot of Brett’s new radio show.

No podcasting required.

Just browse and click and listen.

For those in Melbourne who like their Hootville live tune in Saturday’s 10 to noon on 1377am MyMP. Ol’ fashioned radio or MyMP digital.

Speak Savvy the Zimmerman way

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Brett’s back on radio and his interview with executive director of the Australian Retailers Association Richard Zimmerman holds some tips for anyone who finds themselves in front of a microphone.

media training tips

Mr Zimmerman is good talent.

Richard is an old hand and showed it from the minute Brett made contact the night before. He called from the airport, confirmed the time, double-confirmed via email and provided a landline and back- up mobile number. What a pro.

Listen to the interview as you read through the observations below.

0.53 Opening remark. Richard starts the interview and immediately asserts himself. He is keen to clarify something from the outset and does. This gives him control. Control is good. Reasonability: He immediately states that ARA is uninterested in Saturday penalty rate reforms. This reasonability will disarm many listeners.

2.15: Disagreement: Richard wastes no time challenging Brett’s assertion that retailers have a choice to open.

3.10: Puts himself in the story. “I was talking to a guy yesterday…” Always good to demonstrate your involvement, experience and connections. This creates authority.

media training

This retail chappy seems happy with his terms and conditions.

3.50: More control, assertion and reasonability. “I want to make this clear…”  Points to Monash Uni research to underline the justification for his argument.

4.50: Anticipates audience reaction: He is keen to avoid alienating listeners who defend junior staff. He knows this in advance and spends time to clarify his stance.

5.55: Positions his argument as being all about creating employment – not employers.

7.14: Global comparisons demonstrate expertise and authority.

Score: Confident, competent, engaging, reasonable: 8/10

talk radio

Hootville is on the SoundCloud. Tune in. Now.

By the way – all of Brett’s show is available via SoundCloud.

New funding platform

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crowd funding platform

Get yourself some money

Media Release

February 2015


StreetSmart  launches crowdfunding platform to secure grassroots projects

Melbourne based not-for-profit, StreetSmart Australia, is branching out from its DineSmart and CafeSmart fundraising events to launch an online crowdfunding platform and boost support for community organisations.

Adam Robinson, the founder of StreetSmart Australia, says crowdfunding is an innovative way to support local, grassroots projects that help some of the most vulnerable people in our community.

Since 2003, StreetSmart has raised over $3.1 million to fund 938 small-scale local projects by running its successful national events (DineSmart and CafeSmart). According to Robinson, this was just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the need for funds for local community-based organisations.

“We are now taking StreetSmart’s fundraising out of dining venues and taking it online using our ‘Projects’ website and harnessing the power of the social web,”  Robinson said.

“The new ‘Projects’ platform enables us to directly connect donors with community organisations that need support right now.  As State and Federal funding is cut our smaller community based organisations need our support.

“We want to build a community of supporters who see the benefit of supporting the smaller, independent not-for-profits. These organisations are out there on the front line, delivering critical support, often operating on tiny budgets and too small to raise a crowd themselves,” said Robinson.

Robinson said that crowdfunding gave the community a way to support this work and make a meaningful contribution, directly, while raising awareness for these smaller organisations.

StreetSmart is staying true to its roots and focussing the ‘Projects’ site to assist smaller charities, social enterprises and organisations that help people who are homeless or at risk.

“Homelessness is something we need to urgently address. While there are major structural changes that need to be made, such as building more affordable housing, we also need action to help people who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk right now.

“We are keen to work with and support smaller organisations who are interested in this type of fundraising.  We also want to hear from corporate partners who want to join us, and the public, to direct their community support to where it is needed most” said Robinson.

For more information contact StreetSmart CEO Adam Robinson 0488 336419 or

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Great pitch leads to media hit

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Within hours of last week’s Lowdown announcing Brett’s return to radio we received this snappy pitch which had the right tone, topic and timing. New shows, in any medium, are more open to suggestion.  And this positive, pithy pitch fills the quirk quotient. Kudos Lisa.

Dear Brett,

I see from your latest Hootville newsletter that you are looking for quirky stories to fill your latest radio spot. Well, do I have something for you?!

Wyndham City Council’s arts program is running a 3-month artist residency and currently looking for expressions of interest.

Big whoop? So what?

Well, the twist is that the residency will be based at the Western Treatment Plant in Werribee. Yes, the ‘sewerage farm’ for those playing at home. And why? Well, the plant’s wetlands location is actually an important habitat for thousands of bird species and some of Victoria’s most endangered animals, so we think it’s kind of important to tell the world about how critical this space is to our natural ecosystem.

By producing beautiful art inspired by the plant, and displaying it at a special exhibition, the people of Melbourne can see just how important the plant and its surrounds are.

Please see more details attached and let me know if you would like any more information at all. Our Arts Curator, Megan Evans would be more than happy to have a chat if you’d like to pursue this for your listeners.


Lisa Fairweather   |    Public Relations Adviser  |   Communications & Events

Seeking an intern: meet Victor

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Victor Mims is a fine young chap who worked for Hootville some time back. He’s looking for an internship. We recommend him. Interested in exploiting his goodwill and hope for the future?  Read on:

Free PR advice for 10 Australian nonprofits

Victor is well dressed and enthusiastic.

My name is Victor Mims and I am currently completing my final year of a bachelor of Media and Communications at Deakin University.  I am interested in completing an internship during my last year. I am looking for an un-paid position to try and gain experience in Media, Communications, Journalism and Public Relations. I find working in the non-for-profit industry a rewarding experience and I believe my skills could positively impact on any organization.

I want to gain experience and new skills over a 100-120 hour work-integrated internship. I am flexible with my hours. I would hope the placement would include a combination of observation and completing tasks. I work at Meals on Wheels, which provides me with an interesting insight into the lives of disadvantaged and elderly people. I have a passion for social justice and helping people.  I consider myself outgoing, happy, hard working and a good communicator. My interests outside of work and study include AFL, fishing and travel.

Completing my Journalism Major has left me with a sound writing ability, having written a lot of editorial pieces, feature articles and hard news pieces for assignments.  I finished my Journalism major with a distinction grade point average. This interest in writing lead me to working with Brett de Hoedt on his website I was hired to write and publish the news article sections on this non-for profit, job advertising website. I used to update the website weekly with original and relevant news articles to gather search engine interest and to add credibility to the website.

I am also currently completing my Film Major at Deakin University. This has given me the ability to work with different mediums within my Media and Communication degree. I am now comfortable in front of and behind the camera. For example conducting filmed interviews and using post-production skills that are required to make a finished film product. I have always had a passion for film, which has led me create a lot of film work.  In 2010 my year 12 Media film was short listed in Geelong’s Short Film Festival.  Last year I made a short current affair news film on the possibility of a ‘lone’ terrorism act at the AFL Grand Final. I interviewed MCG staff, patrons and a board member of the Islamic Council of Victoria.

This documentary can be viewed at

My knowledge about creating digital media could be useful in supporting non-for profit organizations aiming to connect with a broader audience.

I would be delighted to have the opportunity to work with a professional communication team. I would be happy to provide any additional information that you require, such as examples of my work or a resume. Feel free to contact me with any questions about my application. I would be very happy to attend an interview and discuss an internship further with you.
Thank you for your consideration,

Victor Mims

You really should meet Lucy Perry.

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Speaking at a Commonwealth Bank event for NFPs last year Brett was hugely impressed by CEO of Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia Lucy Perry who delivered a presentation that ranks as the best of its type.

“I train people in marketing,” he recalls. “I present about marketing. Lucy Perry gave the best NFP marketing presentation I have seen. Including mine. Damn her to hell.” Hootville spoke to Lucy about marketing and communications:

Do some NFPs forget that they are in the marketing game whether they want to be or not?

My team runs a dedicated communications and fundraising company on a business model. We don’t run the hospital in Ethiopia. We FUND it. So our team here focusses on marketing and fundraising all day long! We don’t get dragged into the mechanics of program delivery. I have always treated this as a world class company, delivering awesome communication to a targeted audience. I think it is a mistake for not-for-profits to think they are a poor charity that has to beg for everything or that they compete with each other. Get the marketing right and charities can access support that wasn’t even up for grabs before they made the needs of the organisation accessible and rewarding for the right people.

The many faces and hair colours of Lucy Perry.


You’ve got lots of work to do. Why do you leave the office to speak face-to-face with people? What does this achieve?

Great question. There are several million good reasons to go keynote speaking. Here are the top five:

1. My speaker’s fees bring in a LOT of funding our work in Ethiopia. My entire speaker’s fee goes to the charity so that long after my keynote is delivered, the impact of those funds will have ripple effects in Ethiopia for years to come. My public speaking is now a significant income stream for Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia – up to a quarter of a million dollars a year. Enough to fund one of our regional hospitals in Ethiopia.

2. Speaking engagements spread the word about what is essentially a niche charity but I package that up with other subject matter that conference organisers can’t get enough of. You think you’re attending a speech about social media? By the end of that speech, you’ve learned a lot about social media but you’ve also seen examples which illustrate the plight of our patients and you’re inspired to take action. It’s a win-win!

3. I have met some of the most fantastic people at some of the best conferences in the world. The other speakers at these events have become important contacts and good friends. I have also learned from seasoned professionals like Bernard Salt (he gives 150 speeches a year) on how to hone my delivery.

4. People in my audiences blow me away. I have met so many awesome humans after I have delivered a killer speech.

5. It’s fun. That’s one of my rules for everything. It has to be fun. I find keynote speaking a lot of fun, I learn a lot from the people I meet and I enjoy entertaining people. I truly hate the hour before a big speech, but after that it’s all fun.


What makes your presentations work so damn well?

I think my presentations hit the spot because I take people on an emotional roller coaster. I make ‘em laugh, I make ‘em cry! I make ‘em laugh again. I keep the pace really nice and fast, I plug my speeches full of stories and have learned the art of emotional storytelling. I sometimes cry when I speak about the patients in Ethiopia. Can’t help it. But it’s authentic and part of who I am and the journey I take my audience on. I never have notes and only speak to slides of images – usually photographs that I have shot myself. I’m pretty confident that there is no other speaker like me in the world. I guess we are all unique!

What role does media coverage play? Is there much interest?
We reach more than 2M people through traditional media every month. This is in addition to our social media reach of more than 20M a month. Given that our core donor profile is professional women who are aged 40 – 70+ traditional media is still an important part of the communication mix. A piece on ABC Radio National is GOLD and will net more donations than a Facebook post.

marketing speakers

Dr Catherine Hamlin. Worthy of a knighthood.

What role does direct mail and print-based comms play for you?
Any good fundraising professional will tell you that if you use cross platform campaigns (email, traditional media, social media AND direct mail) you will have a higher return.

We have two major appeals each year and these are delivered across all platforms including direct mail. So our key support database of 20,000 will see our two major appeals in their inbox, their newsfeed and in their letterbox. If we are on a winner, they’ll also catch an interview on the radio or see a story in a major metro paper.

I think that thanking our donors and retail customers is absolutely essential and while I am the boss, we will always send our donors and customers hand written thank you notes. No matter how big we get!

This is where print media and good old fashioned snail mail are essential. Our volunteers write these thank yous and take the time to personalise each note so that it is meaningful and heartfelt. We are nothing without our donors. Thanking them is an essential part of our relationship with them and print media is the best way to do this.

How the hell do you get such fantastic engagement on social media?
Why thank you! I was forced to get my head around the Facebook algorithm very early on because as a start up, we had no budget. Facebook was free and so it was an important communication platform to wrangle. When Facebook makes changes to it’s policy and announces it to business page admins, I take note! I adjust our Facebook content to maximise the algorithm and make the most of organic reach.

In a nutshell, that means creating original, sharable content that people find sociable and entertaining. Surprise and delight is a handy tool. People love to see something unexpected and humour goes a long way. Users don’t expect a charity curing catastrophic childbirth injuries to be funny or fun. We mix up the humour with spine tingling stories that get the most engagement. My rule of thumb is that if a post made me cry while I was writing it, it will make the followers cry and we have a winner! There are a lot of other little tricks for making the most of Facebook organic reach and I try to use those wherever possible.

More about Hamlin.


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Brett returns to radio

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Our media release is below. Note that this weekend gig no way impacts on Hootville’s training, speaking, consulting and emceeing.

abc774 radio competition

No buying, swapping or selling here.

Saturday February 7, 1377 MyMP will see the debut of Hootville – a savvy magazine style program from 10am to noon presented by Brett de Hoedt.

de Hoedt last hosted 9pm to midnight weeknights on Talk 1116 a decade ago and was the last presenter on-air before the station relaunched as sports station SEN 1116. Since then he’s spent his time building his media and marketing agency Hootville Communications but always aimed to return to radio.

“Nothing compares to radio, especially in the Saturday morning timeslot,” says the former Seven Network publicist, Truth cadet and New Idea reporter. “You get paid to talk to interesting people. Plus I no longer have to feel guilty about not going to the gym on Saturday morning. Win, win!”

The Hootville line-up includes:

  • sport with sports tragic Julianne Page;
  • God and religion with comic, cleric and social commentator Reverend Howard Langmead;
  • movies and TV with critic Sash Fong;
  • food with The Age food writer and editor Roslyn Grundy;
  • thinking with Jason Clarke and Lisa Smith of Minds At Work;
  • technology with Tech Talk Radio’s Andrew McColm;
  • law and order with former Victoria Police detective office Ron Kileen.Media contact: Brett de Hoedt 0414 713 802 / /
  • There’ll be crosses to events across the state, vox pops and talkback. Segments of the show will be available in bite-sized podcasts. The show has a Facebook page:

Open Up! is launched!

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eMarketing advice open rates

This will have them racing to their inboxes in anticipation!

Our latest eBook is out and ready for the downloading.

Open Up! can be yours in about 2 minutes.

The free PDF contains more than 12 ways to lift your email open rates.

If your business or organisation uses mass email (and why wouldn’t it?) you really MUST read this.

It’s yet another free, savvy resource from Hootville Communications. Find more in the Hootville Giftshop.

Ask Brett

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marketing adviceNew for 2015: Ask Brett.

Throw him your media, marketing, communications or campaigning questions and he’ll blog you (and everyone else) an answer.


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