Blog Archives

Public marketing and communications training workshops in Melbourne

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Hootville announces new dates for four more public workshops in Melbourne aimed at marketers, communicators and media spokespeople.

If you run an NFP, government authority or small business this is for you. And yes – you can book a workshop for your own organisation anytime and yes, we will be bringing these to Sydney in 2016.

media training workshop

The worm awaits.

Earlybird bonus: the first four people to book for each session will have their follow-up coaching period doubled. That can mean two years of free coaching.

Media Savvy is for publicists and all those who desire a share of the media spotlight. Thursday January 28, 2016. What’s regular media coverage worth to you? (One earlybird place remaining as of December 21.)

Marketing Savvy is for marketerssalespeople, one-person businesses and CEOs.  Tuesday February 23, 2016. Get to know your own brand, your audience and your marketing options. (Earlybirds remain as of Dec 21.)

Online Savvy for those who manage websites, eMarketing and social media; Tuesday March 1, 2016. Because the internet isn’t just a phase we’re going through. (One earlybird place remains as of Dec 21.)

Speak Savvy media training for media spokespeople; Thursday March 3, 2016. Learn to inspire, persuade as well as inform. (Earlybirds remain as of Dec 21.)

This is the same training delivered to the Australian Swim Team, Al Gore Climate Reality Training Corp, Australian Conservation Foundation, Landcare, WWF, Berry Street, Australian Red Cross, Fundraising Institute of Australia, Sustainability Victoria, Finance Sector Union, St Vincent Institute, Australian Climate Commission, Netball Australia, endless local governments and hundreds more organisations.

Trainer Brett de Hoedt delivered a half-day marketing session to members of Vicsports in November 2015. Here’s some of the feedback:

“A fabulous session.”

“I could have listened all day – engaging, informative and entertaining!”

“I laughed so much and learnt a great deal also and you cant get better than that!!”

“What an informative and interactive session you delivered yesterday!”

“Loved your presentation.”.

“Learnt so much.”

All workshops feature:

  • practical, actionable, proven advice;
  • endless Q&A;
  • follow-up coaching;
  • tantilising early bird offers;
  • small classes, delightful venue and supportive colleagues;
  • comprehensive notes;
  • a culture that is energetic and challenging;
  • a range of fees to suit you.

We rarely offer public training workshops, so take advantage of these opportunities. Of course you can always email or call 0414 713 802 to request a private session.

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Can your leader lead like this?

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Media training for CEOs

Stand and deliver or be caught in the crossfire.

Chief of Army David Morrison scored universal plaudits for his uncompromising, weasel-word-free video.

While your chief may not need to address endemic sexual abuse and discrimination, she should still be able to cut the mustard when crisis hits.  Which reminds us

With some very simple technology you can video blog cheaply, speedily and effectively.

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Sustainability leadership training – now with extra Hootville

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Test, 1, 2, 3.

Brett will deliver media training to up-and-coming sustainability leaders at the annual Centre for Sustainability Leadership residential weekend in Warburton Sunday September 2. Brett will be talking about getting a bigger slice of the media pie for green issues – in particular on radio. Brett used to be on radio, you know. This continues Brett voluntary (and rather minor) contributions to CSL which date back to 2005.

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Brett was on TV.

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Mayor of Hootville Communications Brett de Hoedt scored some airtime on ABC1 news recently in the aftermath of (another) horrendous planning decision by the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal.

media trainer on TV

But first; Brett de Hoedt has broken his silence.

The case itself isn’t important (Lend Lease vs The Community with Lend Lease winning the final in straight sets after a two year battle) but Brett has been burning up bandwidth reliving his several seconds in the spotlight and believes that you have a right to know (that he was on TV).

So what did the media trainer learn from his TV turn? “It’s almost not worth practicing TV news grabs as the final edit is so brief and represents such a small percentage of your overall interview. I delivered what I thought were two much stronger grabs but they were presumably left for the director’s cut to be released in 2037.”

In what was a big day, Brett played the role of TV journalist, interviewing his fellow Orrong Group member Margot Carroll when Channel 7’s camera operator appeared at the photo opp without a journalist.  Old habits die hard.

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Good talent can sound so, well, normal

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Brett was on his way to deliver Speak Savvy 101 to the campaigners at Australian Conservation Foundation when he heard this interview with child safety campaigner Katherine Plint of Hannah’s Foundation. If he could, Brett would have taken Katherine with him to the workshop as she is unusually good talent. She sounded so…normal. Normal but passionate – not strident, preachy or precious. Katherine has lots of other good habits too:

Offers multiple varying examples thus creating more liklihood of resonating with audiences which often don’t want to acknowledge that your advice is relevant to them;

“Sadly we see too many kids get through broken gates, broken locks, they stand on the gate, the gate will drop, broken fence panels where they push them, wooden fences deteriorating so the panels can be pushed through.”

media training advice

An unusally savvy speaker.

Strong opinions and messages galore: “This is huge, it’s a massive decision.” “The laws have failed everybody in this case. “This story could be you.”  “I’m still accused of the murder of my daughter and that’s just something that I have to live with every day.” “New South Wales had a horrific year last year for pool, backyard pool drownings.”

She’s down to earth – not someone who doesn’t ‘get’ how things really are:“I mean kids are clever.”

Identifies a specific audience / issue: “Look, at the moment we’re seeing a lot of breaches through rental properties.”

Guess who media is going to call for comment on child safety henceforth? Being good talent is the best publicist you could have. Kudos Katherine.





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Media training Melbourne reviews are in.

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So on to more about us. Here’s how Brett scored for the recent public Media Savvy 101 training in Melbourne and below for his work as conference emcee for FRSA:

  • Presenter’s knowledge of subject matter: 97.5%
  • Presenter’s ability to explain concepts: 97.5%
  • Degree to which you were kept engaged: 97.5%
  • Degree to which the content matched expectations: 92.5%
  • Practicality and usefulness of advice: 92.5%
  • Quality and usefulness of notes: 95%
  • Value of the PowerPoint presentation: 92.5%
  • Enjoyability: 97.5%
  • Venue and catering: 95%
  • Would recommend? 100%

So have you booked your place at the Sydney Media Savvy 101 yet? We have two Melbourne folk flying up just for the occasion. It’s smarter than waiting for another two years.

Conference emcee reviews:

Here’s how the good folk at Family Relationship Services Australia reviewed his schtick in 2011 at their national conference. If you’re wondering what venue scored so highly – it was the Sofitel in Brisbane and it deserved every plaudit.

emcee for hire
None too shabby.


emcee sydney

Look at all that blue.

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The pen(cil) is mightier than the fraud

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Journalism is still – even in this era – a glamour profession. Journalists are proud to be journalists – they have a professional ego and are slow to concede the full truth about why some stories are run while others are ignored.

Journalists love to tell you that stories get run on their merit and that they are always looking for a new angle and substantive issue. Some are, some of the time but most are trying against the odds and the clock to fill the space they have to fill.

They never reveal how malleable they are, pretending that they are quality controllers, tough nuts and cynical dudes able to see through our flimsy PR ploys. Yet day after day we see their stores – graduation day at the Police canine college (Squiggle loves that one) the unveiling of the Christmas windows, the rush of bargain-hunters at the Boxing Day sales et al. These are picture-driven stories which fill a lot of space, and make a lot of publicists happy. 

No matter how unvisual your story make it more visual before you pitch the idea to media. Create a crowd of supporters for your launch, hold it in front of a symbolic location, release some balloons, cut a giant cake, offer video of last year’s 24 hour dance-a-thon, letters of thanks or desperation* from a parent you assisted, archival photographs from the days of institutions for the people you now help in the community. You get our drift. Think visual, no matter what the story. 

Like feeding the chooks. But with pencils. And journalists.

This bollocks on the left was run for no other reason but the visuals. It’s the suave head of pencil maker Faber Castell Count Anton Wolfgang von Faber-Castell recreating a PR stunt one of his forefathers created. The Count is throwing to the ground 500 of his pencils from the tower of his own castle (yes, his own) to demonstrate their strength. None do and the media eat it up. The fawning stories this created were numerous and non-threatening. Among the many hits were articles on two of the world top 11 news websites: CNN and MailOnline. 

pr training

There. Up in the sky. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No just a photo opp.

We guarantee that few journalists would acknowledge that such a transparent, pointless, angle-less, fraudulent, self-promotional idea could get past their editorial gatekeeping. Publicists: 15. Media: Love.  

Learn how to get more media coverage at Media Savvy 101.

*Yes, of course with permission. Duh. 


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Recent feedback

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This is who we’ve recently trained and what they’ve said:

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Our drums. Oft beaten.

“Always professional, practical, enthusiastic and witty to boot. I would recommend him every time to improve your results and smile while you are doing it.”

James Beckford Saunders, Director – Education and Advocacy, UnitingCare Moreland Hall.


“You listened to our needs and have an incredible amount of knowledge on a variety of topics or at least we were convinced that you did.

You’re ability to naturally command the attention of the audience at the same time as putting them at ease is excellent and your professionalism, people skills, quick wit and humour was very much appreciated.

It’s a significant gap and the difference between being ok and being brilliant. I wanted our event to be brilliant and for that we paid you.”

Rebecca Gallahar, marketing, Interchange Outer East.



“Thanks again for the training yesterday Brett – we all found it really useful and we’ve already starting moving on a few new things.”

Brendan Sydes, CEO, Environment Defender’s Office. (24 hours after Media Savvy 101 training!)


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Yes, we take compliments via social media.

“You’ll be pleased to know that our Vic/Tas Secretary is currently providing grabs for radio news, and may be recording an interview for ABC News. Training translated to ACTION!”

Leanne Shingles, National Communications & Campaigns Officer, Finance Sector Union of Australia. (Days after Speak Savvy 101 training.)


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Elite athletes trumpet our training.

“Following the training you did for our staff, I’ve had great feedback, and there’s been a request to run a repeat session.”

Lisa Darmanin, Assistant Secretary, Australian Services Union- Victorian & Tasmanian Authorities & Services Branch re Copy Savvy 101.


media training agencies in victoria

No, really...thank you.

“Thanks for last week. Really interesting.”

Kristin Sinclair, Centre for Volunteering re App Savvy 101 participant.

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Talk like this – save koalas

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Deborah Tabart of Save the Koala Foundation is the best thing to happen to koalas since eucalyptus. Tabart has been a media staple for a couple of decades and is the go-to spokesperson on all things koala.

"I'd have a champagne with Deborah," said this marsupial. "But I hardly drink."

Her performance on RN Breakfast Friday was exemplary which is why we’re using it as an example.

2.30m: Is this woman authentic? Comfortable? Across her brief? Passionate? Oh yeah. But tough! She gives credit to the Minister when it is due but wastes zero time pointing out flaws to keep the story alive and place more pressure on decision makers federally and in Queensland.

4.00m: “The Victorian government perpetuates this myth” Don’t hold back Deborah! Great stuff. Challenge your enemies likewise.

4.25m: A direct challenge to the Minister to go koala spotting together  – this will be taken up by journalists looking for a story. Names specific locations – sure to hit home with listeners in those areas. Plugs her Facebook, quotes data and invites herself back on the show.

5.30m: shows how she is connected to the issue and her supporters. 

6.05m: insults a committee on which she served. Then debunks some large sounding funding. Civilians (people outside nonprofits) get suckered by seemingly large amounts of money – break figures down as Deborah has.

7.10m: “It’s not going to save our koalas”. Now that’s a take home message for listeners.

Combative, tough, entertaining, passionate, Deborah positions herself as a leader. Kudos to you. You could do the same dear Citizen – couldn’t you?

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Two good bad examples.

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Whenever we deliver media training to spokespeople anywhere in Australia we make one thing perfectly clear – examples RULE. One common weakness of spokespeople of all varieties (and experience) is waiting too long to deliver an example to illustrate the point. Even worse; examples are often omitted from the interview entirely.

speaker training - examples

The future: two refridgerators deep in conversation.

Why are examples so special? Well, if rational, reasonable arguments were enough, you’d be out of work and living in a perfect world. After all, we’ve all been told to read to the kids, lay off the booze, and turn off the lights a thousand times but it ain’t enough. Reasons are rational. Examples help connect emotionally and help persuade and cajole.

Also, concepts can be fuzzy – examples clarify.

You must spend time developing rock solid, slam-dunk examples before you meet the media. Examples must be broad enough to appeal to your audience and rigorous enough to withstand some skepticism.

Sunday April 1 on RN’s Future Tense we heard a spokesperson miss the mark. Mary-Anne Williams of the University of Sydney was talking about IBM-funded research investigating how appliances might automatically ‘talk’ to each other in the future, creating better outcomes for us humans. (We’ll just settle for our personal jetpacks, thanks.)

It’s all about IBM’s supposed vision for smarter cities and a smarter world. This concept is called the Internet of Things. This is a cutesy curiosity-inspiring title.

Is it clear to you what the whole Internet of Things concept is all about? Probably not and that is where Mary-Anne’s example could have helped. So what did she say to inform and inspire?

“We’re building a framework such that these devices will be able to communicate with one another. They will be able to ask each other what state they’re in. So the car will be able to ask the refrigerator if the [fridge] door is open or closed, and the refrigerator will be able to ask the car where it is right now. Is it parked near the office, is it going past a 7/11—things like that.

 Hmmm…anyone hungry for this brave new world? Everyone at least understand it? She continued:

” I mean is it useful if your refrigerator contacts the car or emails you on your mobile phone to collect milk on your way home?” Well frankly – probably not and this certainly isn’t the sort of thing taxpayers expect universities to be researching. Isn’t this the domain of some app developer in San Francisco or Bangalore or the Sunshine Coast? Doesn’t this sound twee, trivial and bollocksfull? That whole fridge-will-know-when-you-run-out-of stuff has already been around for two decades. Surely there is a better, stronger, more robust example to give.

Mary-Anne did provide another example – cars could be trained to record how multiple drivers prefer their seat, mirrors, radio, temperature etc and automatically adjust when each driver takes the wheel. Problem #1 some cars already have this. #2 Isn’t this the domain of car makers? #3 Do we really need this?

Sadly the reporter wasn’t suitably skeptical to test his interviewee so we’ll never know if there’s more to this than some national airtime promoting IBM.  

Some key criteria for any example you use:

  • does it clarify the concept?
  • can enough people relate to it?
  • can it withstand rigourous challenges?
  • does it tackle some negative or false perceptions?
  • does it sound twee?

Twee instantly makes you sound weak, leaving your argument diminshed.

Hootville has recently heard a twee example too often in the world of disability and mental health. It is given to explain person-centred funding in which the client is given more control on how she spends her dollars. We have repeatedly heard it explained thus:

“The new model gives the person with a disability the freedom to spend their money as they see fit to suit them. They may spend their money getting their dog walked / a hair cut / a massage / going to the movies. Person-centred funding gives them the choice.”

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Oh to be the recipient of all this lovely person-centred funding.

Everytime we hear a spokesperson give this sort of example we hear civilians everywhere emit a low “Hmmmmmm.” Followed by: “What if they all waste it on massages and facials?” Followed by: “I don’t know if this is such a good idea.”

A less twee example: “Many people need carers to prepare themselves to go out. These people find that there are not enough services working nights and weekends which is when many of them work and socialise. At the moment people with disabilities are forced to choose between services that the government funds. Under person-centred funding if enough people wish to spend their money on a late night carer service a provider might start such a service. No bureaucrat needs to fund it. New demands will create new services just like in other parts of the economy.”

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