Author Archives: Brett

Bookings open: NEW eMarketing Savvy workshops in Sydney and Melbourne

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eMail marketing – eMarketing – holds tremendous potential for anyone wanting more bums on seats, dollars in coffers, campaigners in action. Much of that potential however is going to waste.

email marketing advice

Whether you are getting started or sharpening your act, this workshop is for you.

That’s why we’re staging eMarketing Savvy workshops in Melbourne and Sydney in February and March 2015.

The workshops, delivered by Brett de Hoedt come with notes, an assessment of your eMarketing strategy, follow-up coaching and a 110% guarantee.

It will be high-energy, practical and fun. Yes, fun. These sessions are equally aimed at NFPs, government and small businesses.

If your boss thinks that sending out the occasional email demonstrates mastery of the medium consider:

  • how many ways do you have to build your database? (six or more?)
  • are you A/B testing? (regularly, one element at a time, then making changes)
  • have you optimised your sign-up page? (don’t let them escape)
  • have you created series of emails for subscribers? (to keep front of mind, for longer)
  • what knockout confirmation emails do you currently send to new subscribers? (they are showing their love to you, is it being returned?)
  • how do you try to reinvigorate lapsed subscribers? (if at all?)
  • have you considered what expensive, slow, unaccountable print communications you can swap for fast, free, email?
  • when was the last time an outside expert assessed your communications?

If you don’t have answers you need this workshop.

Learn more, book now, be smarter soon.




Ask Brett: boosting your email open rates

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marketing speaker Brett de Hoedt

Pondering his answer. Hard.

We recently spied a nonprofit marketer’s query on Facebook and decided to turn it into the first Ask Brett in which Citizens are invited to ask Brett a marketing question which he’ll do his darndest to answer. Send your question to

The perplexed marketer requested anonymity but her query ran a little bit like this:

I work for a [insert private sector website serving the nonprofit sector that sends 64% of you weekly emails] and we’ve seen a dramatic and sudden drop in email open rates. We’ve investigated technical issues but that’s not the problem. Any suggestions to boost open rates?


eMarketing advice open rates

This will have them racing to their inboxes in anticipation!

So we created a whole free PDF eBook about it.

Download your copy of Open Up! now.

Open Up! has more than a dozen ways to ensure more precious double clicks, more often.

Now check out our eMarketing Savvy training workshops in 2015.

Don’t forget to share any results you gain via these tactics and email us your Ask Brett questions. 

2015 Board Builder conference officially declared open

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2015’s biggest and most practical day devoted to nonprofit and community sector board members is open for registration. Board Builder 2015 is set for February 23 in Melbourne. It’s the brainchild of the Institute of Community Directors which is the offspring of Our Community.

It is very difficult to resist a pun on the word "board" when writing this caption.

It is very difficult to resist a pun on the word “board” when writing this caption.

Brett will be speaking – he’s been a part of the event since year one. So too will be:

Greg Nance CEO, Surf Life Saving Australia
Jocelyn Bignold CEO, McAuley Community Services for Women
Trent Youl CEO, Fraudwatch International
Wendy Brooks leading philanthropy and fundraising consultant
Brett de Hoedt Mayor, Hootville Communications
Libby Klein and Catherine Brooks Principals, Moores, Not-for-Profit Lawyers
Kaye McCulloch Community Resource Education & Development Manager, 3Bridges Community
Patrick Moriarty and Natalie Bramble Institute of Community Directors Australia.

Lots of concurrent sessions covering director recruitment, securing funding, managing your CEO and workforce and I.T security.  The event attracts directors from big and small organisations, from across the country and across the sectors. Come along.

The price for all this? Ridiculous. Especially if you swoop on the early bird pricing.

Details and registrations here.

Social media sharing: length, depth and looks matter

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Are you getting shared around enough? Probably not.

There are no “copywriters” anymore – just content creators. And those content creators are judged in large part by the degree to which their content is shared. Getting lots of shares and retweets (going viral) feels good and spreads your message. Not getting shared feels more akin to having a virus.

So how do we increase the chances of being shared on social media? Here are some advice based on a study by BuzzSumo of 100 million pieces of social media content.

1. Length matters: here’s a big important counter-intuitive fact – longer posts get shared more than shorter.

Yep – we all say we are overwhelmed with information. We all have too little time and too much to read but this data – based on people’s real behaviour not their answers to a survey question – is very revealing. It seems that when the right people are reading your content they want MORE information, not less. And the more content your provide in a single post or tweet, the more likely it is that the reader will share your work.

how long should a blog post be?
More words = more shares. Get thee to thy keyboard.

As BuzzSumo’s investigation of what gets shared via social media shows, the longer the content, the higher the chances of getting a share / retweet / link. Think 2000 words minimum. Yep – you read that correctly.

Why does this make sense? Well, when we are mildly interested in a topic a short sharp piece of content may suffice but for those readers with genuine interest in you or your issues, the longer, the better. Longer posts win by a country mile.

how to increase social media shares

This guy knew what he was talking about when he talked about talking.

Remember what Aristotle (left) said: good speakers establish their ethos (high moral standing and pure motivations) before delivering the logos (facts, figures and information) while remembering to create pathos (to stir emotions whether angry, sad, patriotic etc).

That’s hard to do with a 150-word post. Of course not all posts are conceived equal. Some pieces of content need nothing more than the usual pith – others though need planning, writing and enhancement. Go long on content that really matters.

This works for Hootville – our most shared and enduring content is always our longer and angrier pieces.


Thumbnails on Facebook creates more sharing.

A picture is worth 1000 shares. Use them.

2. Pictures help too. On both Twitter and Facebook content with pictures were shared much more frequently.

Finally: Content creation is hard work but if you want to create a bond with your reader you need to persuade them of your bona fides. Valuable, relevant, practical, freely available information goes a long way to securing that bond. And it also inspires people to share your work.

Read more about the sort of content that gets shared at BuzzSumo.

PS: this post include 460 or so words.

What is content marketing?

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Content marketing is so hot right now but what is it exactly? Answer: content marketing means that marketers are using content – eBooks, factsheets, whitepapers, blog posts, podcasts, videos – as a way to lure people. Usually that content is delivered online. You know the deal (see below).

what is content marketing

Sign-up, sign-up.

Once the customer is lured by the content, the marketer seeks to exchange the information for money or more commonly, freely for an email address. Once the email address is secured an eMarketing relationship is begun. The marketer’s goal may be to sell something or simply to inform and gain deeper support.  Content marketing is used by commercial enterprises and nonprofits.

Isn’t this what many of us have always done? Maybe. But probably not. 

Hootville has utilised content marketing since before the term was coined. We’ve given away free content (hopefully relevant, helpful, engaging) for 15 years.

Most professional service agencies do not do this. Their websites are little more than brochures with no free advice, comment or listings. Can you go to your accountant’s website for general information about superannuation changes? Can you visit your doctor’s websites and find answers to your frequently asked questions? Can you get a guide to planning your kitchen from the builder’s website? Usually not. They are all take, no give. In a world where there is so much free content, those that fail to provide valuable content are seen as unhelpful, out-dated and mean-spirited.

Nonprofits and community groups are often generous with their content but they fail to be true content marketers and reap the rewards. Too few NFPs blog engagingly with conviction on current news, too few peaks provide comprehensive listings of  jobs, events or resources. Too few stocktake their content and repackage or update it to make it more alluring. Few really push their content to readers and far too many simply give away their content without gaining even a humble email address. This is a fail for both marketers and those they target.

Why does content marketing work for both them and you:

  • it immediately provides value to the reader;
  • it creates an opportunity to exchange your content for an email address;
  • it asserts – and demonstrates – authority and expertise;
  • it quickly sets you apart from those that do not provide such value;
  • it increases appreciation in the reader – thus there’s more chance they will use / support you;
  • you can stay in touch longer;
  • it keeps people on your site / in your world longer;
  • creating content is usually cheaper than marketing alternatives such as direct mail or advertising;
  • it’s a positive cycle – the more people download your content, the more emails you have to promote the next piece of content and so on;
  • good content will keep luring readers years after it is created.

So what do we mean by “content”?

Content goes beyond words on paper: sure a short email is content. How about a series of automated short emails a month apart? How about an eBook? A factsheet? A series of videos? A slideshow? Infographics? Podcasts? Blog posts? Q&As? All of this is content. Use whatever works for you and your audience.

So where do I find all this content of which you speak?

Mine your current content – fact sheets, videos, Q&As, transcripts, blog posts, brochures and see what you already have that can be relaunched or refashioned. Eg: can you combine six blog posts about what to expect after diagnosis into one eBook? Create something useful than can be easily understood and consumed.

Beyond your existing content, draw up a list of content to create. This is more labour-intensive but allows you to start from scratch and create series of content that can be sent over an extended period. What are your FAQs, big issues, myths in need of busting? Create content around these.

The value proposition: a carbohydrate-based example

content marketing advice

You were powerless to resist their doughy charms.

Have you ever bought six bread rolls that were bagged together when you really only needed four? Why?

  • Well you were already there for bread anyway so why not buy a little more than planned?
  • They looked fresh and good.
  • They were keenly priced.
  • They were prominently displayed on a table in front of the counter.
  • The process was quick – no waiting in a 10-minute queue.
  • The bread was available for you to take home and consume immediately.

Do you see what we’re saying?

You have to package, promote and facilitate the exchange for it to work well.

Example: take six blog posts about one topic, bundle then into the form of an attractive eBook, prominently display it on your homepage and make the process frictionless and you’ll have success. Or you could wait for the reader to find and read those six blog posts themselves. Good luck with that.

Rules for content providers:

The attitude: growing databases of email addresses are a hugely valuable asset – content marketing helps grow your database in a way that makes everyone feel good. Reader receives valuable content, we receive an email address. From there we build a relationship to whatever end suits us. This is how we do business.

No more giving it all away for nothing. Your readers happily give over their email address to all sorts of organisations for far more mundane purposes. Your content is valuable. Lock under the nearest stairs anyone who says: “we can’t expect people to give us an email address for our free information.”

Content must be valuable. Not just informative – be helpful, practical, urgent, specific.

You have to give until it hurts. Only then can you ask for support or a purchase.

podcasting as content marketing

Consider creating a podcast. They are back in vogue.

Experiment with different formats – from eBooks, to single page factsheets, to video or podcasts. Venture beyond written words.

Recognise that content is only part of your challenge. Content must be presented well, marketed aggressively and be accessed in a seamless, elegant way.

Page design of the page on which people provide their details (AKA the “squeeze page”) is hugely influential. This is the squeeze page for our free PDF eBook Event Savvy. We’ve kept it short and simple. We’ll explain more about this soon.

More appealing content gets more readers: there was a time when newspapers were black and white, image-free, densely filled with words and yet people read them. Today that would not work.  Today, a newspaper website will have a mix of full colour articles, slideshows, video, Q&As, infographics, listings, clearly demarcated sections and cartoons. All of this makes their content more appealing. Do likewise.

Monitor your results. And boast about them to superiors. What is the metric by which you will judge success? Total the costs involved and divide by the amount your content has been downloaded / subscribed to. For our Event Savvy eBook we want to build our brand, gain new email addresses and secure speaking or emcee gigs for Brett.  On day one our eBook Event Savvy was downloaded 89 times at a cost of $3.14 per download including design costs and some Facebook promotion. With no ongoing design costs that cost per download goes down with every single download. How low will it go? We’ll keep you updated. Suffice to say the economics will work out a treat.

Serious fundraisers know how much they are willing to pay to acquire a donor based the average lifetime return per donor. Have you got something similar for an email acqusition?

Series of content are better than one-offs because they keep you in front of readers over a longer period of time. Don’t write one massive eBook. Consider a series of six documents each one or two pages in length. This may be more enticing to the reader. Don’t do one video – do a series.

So if content marketing is so smart, why do so few do it ?

  1. Content marketing is hard. It’s hard to conceive and create content.
  2. Quality writers with genuine news sense are rare. Writers are being kept busy on the obligatory stuff – newsletters, annual reports and the like. We guarantee that creating a series of suitable content will yield better results than your next annual report.
  3. Writers are yet to see themselves or be seen as content creators. They are still stuck in the idea that words on paper are king. Contemporary writers need to transcend this which is why we tackle content creation in our writing workshop Copy Savvy 101.
  4. Skills. If it’s easy it gets done; if not… How easily, quickly and affordably can you conceive, write, design a document, infographic or podcast? Can you shoot and edit simple videos in the office? Learn the skills and outsource the rest.
  5. Too few marketing departments really take pride in building email addresses. Too few really analyse what options deliver the best ROI. Printing and mailing costs will usually cost more than online content marketing.
  6. Coming up with content – especially on an ongoing basis – is intimidating.
  7. Very few marketers are rewarded for coming up with a fresh idea – such as content marketing – and pursuing it
  8. Creators are too busy with their next post or Tweet.
  9. The technology required is baffling. Just how do you automatically send a document in exchange for an email address? More on this soon.

 Help I’m stuck for ideas:

content marketing training

Ideas most often occur in the brain region.

Consider simple, short, list-based documents which we’ve listed before such as:

12 ways to…
7 mistakes to avoid when…
How to…
So you’ve just been diagnosed with…
Subject X – the facts.
An introduction to…
Meet 9 people just like you.
The combined wisdom of last year’s class.

We’ll be adding to this in coming weeks. Meanwhile – please share it.

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Tone deaf multinationals should know better

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One of the things we teach in Hootville’s copywriting course Copy Savvy 101 is that tone matters. By tone, we mean the vibe, the manner, the impression you create with your words.

One golden rule: choose a tone. Never let your default tone become your tone. Consider what will work for you in relation to your key audiences audiences. And for Pete’s sake – stand out.

How formal will you be? How sophisticated will your language be? How specific or obtuse will your references be? Will you sound jaded, knowing, ironic? Will you be angry, friendly, outraged, caring, urgent?

Will you presume that your reader has some insider knowledge or that they are a newcomer to your issue?

Do you engage the reader with direct questions? Do you write more words or fewer? Do you tell stories and use humour? Did you notice that we’re using this tone as we speak?

Tone is created by more than words. Headlines, images and captions go a long way to establishing your tone. People who will never be paid to write for a living can detect a tone within a paragraph or two.

Of course your choice of what to write about and the priority each issue receives is a key way to convey your personality. Do you focus on changes to legislation and regulation – or focus on a client’s story? Are you deeply detailed or short and sweet?

There’s no one right tone. Just the one that works best for you in relation to your key audiences for the medium that you are using at the time.

copywriting advice

Oh puh-lease!

When organisations get their tone wrong it hurts them. You’ve all heard of airbnb, the website allowing people to rent out their spare rooms in exchange for money. Well airbnb is in hot water. Owners corporations don’t like strangers in their apartments and more importantly tax-hungry state governments in America want to tax airbnb’s users the way they tax hotel.

(Commonly referred to as bed taxes, each hotel night booked attracts a few dollars tax for government. So far airbnb has just ignored this.)

This is a threat to the airbnb juggernaught, so its hired lobbyists, rebranded and started a campaign to persuade lawmakers of airbnb’s deep worthiness.

The 5 year old company may be valued at $ 18 billion but it claims that deep down it’s a community. (If it were a community not a business this place would be free.)

Like so many US businesses they act as if their corporate success is in fact some social movement – the “sharing economy”.  What do you think of the tone? Is it simply too, too much? We think so.

copy writing course

Cringe-worthy copy from people with money to burn and writers on tap.

airbnb is far from alone in making this error. Facebook is a regular sinner.

Little did we know that by using Facebook to stalk our exes we were supporting Facebook’s “journey”. We hate that word.

We don’t mind some poetic waxing but as soon as you’ve overplayed your hand, as soon as you’ve overstated your case, as soon as the reader knows that you’re trying one on – you’ve lost them. Then you have no chance to win them over.

This is as off-tone as Mark Zuckberg’s speech on the day Facebook listed on the stock exchange. (Kicks in about at 50 seconds or so.)

great copywriting

This copy is mo, mo good. (No that is not Ms Hamam pictured.)

But how about a positive (and local) example you ask? Sure. Friend of Hootville and leading academic Natalie Hamam recently thought that it’d be interesting to spend the month of November wearing a fake moustache whenever she was in public to show her support for Movember. She emailed Movember HQ outlining her idea. Here’s their response:

Hey Natalie,

Thanks for getting in touch and supporting Movember. We love hearing the different ways Mo Bros and Mo Sistas plan to get involved each year!

We do however appreciate the stubble trouble that Mo Bros must endure while growing a Mo that for the whole month of Movember sparks conversations, not to mention admiration, from all who lay eyes on it.

A fake moustache doesn’t have the same effect. By allowing fake moustaches we take away from the efforts of those Mo Bros who are growing pitiful Mo’s, so we steer away from them as much as possible.

We still encourage all Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to sign up whether you’re able to grow a Mo or not. Awareness, education and support are equally important to the cause. Mo Sistas can still get involved in a number of ways such as by holding events and pushing the Mo Bros through those uncomfortable times.

We hope this doesn’t put a dampener on your Movember plans and that you continue to support the cause as a valuable Mo Sista!

If you have any more ideas or questions that we can help with please don’t hesitate to yell out.

Mo-ver and out

It simply doesn’t get more “on-brand” than that. Kudos Movember. And no Natalie, did not wear the ‘tache.

Squiggle exclusive: Old men in hats take to Twitter

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landcare media training

Home, home on the range.

Once again our canine mascot and mentor Squiggle barks the hard barks (AKA asks the hard questions) of a standout marketer. Answering the questions – Yonie Tiljak, community coordinator with the Heytesbury District Landcare Network, the force behind  @HytsbryLandcare

When did you take to Twitter and why?

I took to Twitter in March this year after my interest was caught at a workshop led by your Mayor, Brett de Hoedt as part of the Landcare Facilitator program. Before that I was a major Twitter sceptic.


How big is your Twitter pack now?

My Twitter pack is now hovering around the 1050 mark, yesterday it was 1055 today it is 1049. Some come some go but generally more coming of late.


How many dog owners among them?

Being an owner of 3 dogs myself I find I’m pretty intuitive at judging dog people by their profile pictures, I would say by the number of dogs, cattle and outdoorsy looking types in the profile pictures we’d be sitting on around the 500 dog owners mark.


Close to half – well that’s a start. Anyhoo…how’d you get that rapid growth?

I took home tips from the workshop, read a free book on Kindle called “how to grow your twitter following” and just hit it hard really. I followed everyone I could find who was in to Landcare or Environment and I then followed their followers. Once a week I would go through and unfollow any who hadn’t followed me back, if they looked interesting though I then refollowed them. I pretty much became a Twitter pest. But I also backed that up with lots of interesting tweets, photos and retweets to keep people interested and thanked people for following and retweeting me. After a while I also found out the other use for # tags and started participating in Twitter chats, in particular #agchatoz which connected me with more like minded Tweeters.


social media environment groups

Outdoors, on the job, online, on message.

What do you tweet about?

I tweet about Landcare, local rural life, the environment and what it is like working for Landcare and being a part of a small community. I also tell off the occasional politician and thank our corporate sponsors for their support.


Were their some naysayers who thought that Twitter for a group like yours was a waste of energy?

Yes, in fact I was one of them but I will try anything once! There are some even more stubborn sceptics out there, I often get asked how much time a day I put towards it and my response is it is always on in the background, no different to my emails and my phone.


Any specific benefits from all this Twitter activity?

I won a bottle of wine at the National Landcare Conference for one of 2 best Tweets of the conference, Score! Also work bought me an iPad so I can Tweet in the field! But in all seriousness I have also made some really good contacts through Twitter including other Landcare Networks and Groups, Landholders both local and afar and businesses and other not for profits who are now showing interest in collaborating with us on projects.


How many hours do you spend on Twitter? In human hours please.

Some days 0 some days 3 (#agchatoz generally takes around 3 hours) an average daily time would be around half an hour to an hour of actual direct Twitter use but as I said it is always on in the background.


Got one Twitter secret to share?

Well you put it in to words but it is true, never miss an opportunity! Always check the trending list and if a relevant # tag is on it use it! Multiple times! If you are at an event and they have a # tag use it! Multiple times! Don’t forget to follow @hytsbrylandcare! See, don’t miss any opportunity!


Finally – cat videos are big on the internet. Do you agree that this is a waste of bandwidth?

Yes! Cats are one of the biggest threats to our native birds and small mammals! I don’t need them wasting my already measly internet allowance.

A poignant way to finish. Thankyou Yonie.

Read Squiggle’s previous interview which featured James Beckford Saunders.


This man needs Hootville. You do too.

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As Australian media trainers we were so … impressed … by Ryutaro Nonomura’s impassioned press conference performance that we decided to make a 46 second video ad utilising the remarkable display. The basic premise: don’t leave media training until it is too late.

For those of you not following Japanese political meltdowns (perhaps due to family commitments, work pressures or indifference) suffice to say that the citizens represented by the MP were outraged that he’d spent $40,000 of public money on visits to the local spa. Clearly the criticism hurt.  Enjoy.

It’s an extreme example but a good one – by the time you need media training, it’s too late. Many clients contact us for Speak Savvy 101 training and confess that they have been considering such media training for years.

In that time, media opportunities are going begging. Bad form. And then of course there’s always the chance that media will come knocking on your door with awkward questions. Message to CEOs and boards: stop waiting, get savvy.

Speak Savvy 101 is delivered across Australia by Brett de Hoedt who recently made an Australia-wide appearance from a small studio in Melbourne courtesy of ABC-TV’s Weekend Breakfast. Isn’t it smart to hire a media trainer who appears on the media?

Speak Savvy 101 is aimed at media spokespeople and anyone who presents or speaks to stakeholders. Lots of people hire him.If your media spokespeople need training contact Brett de Hoedt of Hootville right now. 0414 713 802.

media training al gore

500+ campaigners. 1 media trainer. 1 tart. Long story.

If we’re good enough to talk media at Al Gore’s Climate Reality event Hootville might be good enough to train you. We’ve also trained the Australian Conservation Foundation, Climate Commission, Berry Street, Our Community, University of Melbourne departments, Bush Heritage Australia, BirdLife Australia, Inner South Community Health,  Baw Baw Shire, Marriott Support Services, Environment Defender’s Office, National Family Violence Prevention Legal Service & more. Smart people, tough issues.

Hootville has media trained them all – CEOs, board members, senior management teams, young people, people with disabilities, homeless people, people with English as a second language. We can probably handle you.

People think we’re pretty damn good.

And if you’ve been mature enough to not watch that video yet – here’s your last chance. More on Speak Savvy 101 right here.


Facebook’s retargetting means never saying goodbye.

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We have all noticed the recent explosion in Facebook advertising. It’s all the rage for manufacturers of dental implants to manufacturers of marriages. If you need a primer why not read our previous posts?

facebook advertising

Everyone's at it from I.T providers to NFP recruiters.

Of course nonprofits are using it too – to recruit, to solicit donations and to campaign.

Our feeling on its worth are mixed – it’s fun to put one’s marketing intuition to the test, create an ad and monitor click through rates and costs per action. It’s cool to change an element of an ad – the audience’s gender or interests and see how that impacts on results. All those columns of numbers and staring at screens is akin to daytrading which was very big a decade or so ago but is little discussed nowadays but we digress…

That said, we’re yet to see even our most pleasing Facebook advertising performances turn into business.

Perhaps Facebook casts the net too broadly. Why serve an ad up to stranger (no matter how precisely targeted) when you could have your Facebook ad appear on the Facebook page of people who have recently visited your website? This is exactly what re-targeting allows you to do.

Thanks to a cookie, Facebook will identify individuals who visit your website and later serve them up your ad when they next log on to Facebook.

The ad may be designed to refer to the fact that the recipient has recently visited you or not.

You can be even cleverer serving up very specific ads that appear to people who have visited very specific pages on your site. Eg: serve up a Facebook ad to people who have visited your donation page but left without donating with the aim of extracting that lost donation. Muse on the possibilities dear Citizens!

Let’s say you offer accredited Certificate IV courses in animal management for people seeking to work in veterinary surgeries. You could target people who visited the page of your website offering information on that course without making an enquiry with an ad featuring a cute dachshund with the headline:

“Still want to work with animals? Good. Check out our course.”

Think of your Facebook ad meeting people a cocktail party. Re-targeting takes your Facebook ad from “Hello, nice to meet you.” to “Imagine bumping into you here!”

facebook advertising retargeting

Stalking? Please - let's call it smart advertising.

Here are some re-targeted Facebook ads that have been appearing on our screens here at Hootville.

The two highlighted posts are re-targeting Brett after he visited their websites. The cunning devils!

Virgin Australia excelled itself by placing an ad on Brett’s Facebook page showing the specific dates and destination that he recently searched. Big brother? Big deal – it’s a big opportunity for you.

We’d be interested in your experiences – anyone turn Facebook advertising – re-targeted or not – into stellar results?

Brett talks climate change campaigning on ABC-TV

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media trainer Brett de Hoedt

How quickly the media trainer becomes the media performer.

Before speaking about media to 500+ aspiring environmental campaigners at Al Gore’s Climate Reality event in Melbourne, media trainer Brett de Hoedt was interviewed on ABC-TV’s Weekend Breakfast. So how well does a media trainer perform on live television? Judge for yourself.

Brett says it was a tricky interview: “The interview brief was rather fuzzy. I spoke to three or four different segment producers each of whom was just carrying on the work for someone else. Nobody had fully thought through what was to be tackled. The best investment I made was writing a pre-interview document suggesting some topics / issues. I also explained that I wasn’t an environmentalist or event organiser. I explained the topics that I could address with knowledge and certainty.

Brett – who does not lack confidence – spent six to eight hours prepping for this seven minute interview. Why so much? “Evaluating or defending the climate change movement’s campaigning is not something about which I specifically blog or speak,” he humbles. “Other topics would require little more prep than the ironing of a shirt but this wasn’t one of those.”

Of course, going-to-air live adds an element of risk. The interview was held in the remote studio in Melbourne talking directly down the barrel of a tiny camera. The room is small, hot and there’s no monitor to see your interviewer. You are spoken to via an earpiece. There was no briefing by the interviewer’s prior to her opening question – just a time countdown.

Brett himself rates his performance a 7 / 10. “On time, dressed, no swearing, looked reasonably comfortable, made a few decent points, didn’t accidentally call interviewer Kochie,” he says.

“Bonus points for clarifying the interview’s direction beforehand and the subsequent research. I directed the conversation back to what I wanted it to be a couple of times. Yeah – about a seven.” Not good enough but not bad.

Brett’s review of Brett: Brett’s first response: You could measure it (the climate movement’s campaigning results) in a positive way or a negative way… That’s good practice. Explaining that it can be measured in a positive or negative way paves the way for me to then go ahead and explain the two ways. That’s two bites of the cherry and more control for me. I always teach that, so it’s good to see that I did it.


Eliza: Last year’s election result seems to be a mandate for Tony Abbott and his government to move away from a pricing mechanism on carbon. So therefore do you think that things have really stalled? Brett: Yeah, it’s certainly not a vote in favour of the current campaign… Very, very bad.

I should not have accepted this characterisation and should have said: “Well the election was a measure of many things – carbon tax being just one of them. In fact its been broadly agreed that environment matters were almost entirely off the election agenda. Interestingly this week another poll confirmed that 80%+ of Australians want to reduce carbon.”


Eliza: You talk about the current way of campaigning. An Inconvenient Truth – there were quite a few fear messages. I mean that part of it was quite frightening, the prospects of what would happen. Do you think that fear has been somewhat of a problem?                                                                              

In any reasonably sophisticated interview there’s the question and then there’s the premise on which the question is based. The underlying premise here was that Al Gore had overstated his case in An Inconvenient Truth and that predictions had failed to come true.

This premise had to be identified and countered in real time. Thus I am happy with my response which was in part: If we’re saying that the worst impact of climate change is yet to happen, well, I’d say, according to a report from the World Health Organization 7 million people around the globe, 7 million, died prematurely from air pollution. A staggering statistic. We’ve just had our hottest summer on record in Australia. We’ve had I think the warmest autumn ever. So the impacts are right here, right now. So I don’t think we have to worry about terrible circumstances down the track. The here and now is quite bad enough to steel us to action.

I’m am also glad that I repeated a key stat – 7 million deaths. Who’d have thought my prep would have paid off?


Eliza: Do you feel that the other side of the argument is running a better public relations campaign?    Not a bad response by me but I should have added that much of the media has decided to ignore science and climate change with this a line like this:

It’s easy to maintain the status quo when there is media on your side despite the facts. Some media outlets in this country are now so politically-driven that they can’t even agree whether we’ve smoked more or less in the last year – despite ABS data and annual reports of tobacco companies.” 


Eliza: OK – so how do you counter that? This is a broad question so it provided an opportunity to promote the Climate Reality training. Also glad I got to use the phrase, “Tree hugging vegans” and speak of 30-year-long comas.  

climate change media training

Shell sells a C tax.

One big dumb error was not mentioning this blog post by Shell’s climate change advisor David Hone which argues passionately for a price on carbon. I had my schtick ready: “Eliza last night I read a blog post titled: 10 reasons why business should love a price on carbon. That’s the sort of article you’d expect to see on a greenie website but I found it on the Shell website. As in Shell oil. It was written by Shell’s own climate change advisor David Hone. When Shell is schilling for a price on carbon, it’s time the politicians caught up.” Bugger.

climate change media training

Always good to hear from one's public.

When I mentioned that climate change attracts criticism and kooks I wasn’t exaggerating. By the time I returned to Hootville HQ two emails – each debunking the climate change hoax – awaited me. Then there was this minor and poorly written Facebook trolling.

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