Monthly Archives: July 2011

Advice for facilitators

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With conference and AGM season approaching we’ve assembled a collection of do and don’ts for those of you who may be called on to facilitate a discussion session. This is often a part of our Speak Savvy 101 workshop.

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Don’t ditch the pitch

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PR advice for building media relationships

Patch yourself through now.

The number one reason publicists fail to score media hits is due to lack of media relationships. What’s the number one way to build media relationships? Pitching well packaged, relevant stories to journos via the telephone.

Human contact is awkward. Who wants to risk direct rejection when it is so easy to send an email? That’s one reason too many publicists prefer to send masses of email to journalists as opposed to picking up the old fashioned telephone. Sure time is tight but frankly we suspect the true cause is the rejection.

The problem is this: the phone is a far, far more effective way to pitch a story idea. We’ll be posting more on pitching shortly. Pitching practice is one of the best parts of Media Savvy 101. Anyhoo; here’s some thoughts on phone vs email.

1. Use a combination of email and telephone calls.

2. Create an A-list of your most desired journos. (You know what we mean, stop being silly.) Our A-list might stretch to 24 journos for national stories though often it is less. Surely 24 calls is a reasonable number of calls to make? If you haven’t got the details of the A-list make this your top task.

3. Call the A-lists before distributing the email. Then email the rest.

4. Create a culture in which it is accepted that the PR team will block off time and close doors to make a bunch of calls from time to time. It’s no different to being in a meeting.

5. For long lead and important stories you may wish to use – steady, steady – mail. Yep. We think that a mailing to VIP journos for VIP stories is worthwhile. Tangibility increases your chances of being noticed.

Telephone is superior to email because it gives you the chance to build a relationship. Even if you fail to seduce the journo you may get a better understanding of what does appeal to the journo. You might learn that a particular outlet really wants a regional angle or that they might be more interested in your issue in four months time.

Like this? Spread it round. You might even consider booking a Media Savvy 101.

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Copy Savvy 101 webinar announced

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Copy writing workshop coming soon

Wield your quill more effectively.

We’re holding our first public Copy Savvy 101 workshop via webinar Thursday September 15.

There will be pre-workshop surveys and a post-workshop follow-up webinar as well as comprehensive notes. Plus a month of coaching. 

Brett knows that it’s hard for sole participants to return to their workplace and create change so there will be discounts for multiple participants from a single organisation. Time to saddle up the posse. All the details right here.

Use Google Analytics to track your social media

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Google Analytics dashboard

The truth, the whole truth and...

If you have a website you need to measure its performance. Duh.

Chances are you use Google Analytics, (left) which is free and effective though there is a delay in its results which can be frustrating if you want to know if the tweet you just sent out has lead to a spike in web traffic.

Anyhow now Google Analytics can also measure your social media stats as this article from the always helpful SocialMedia Examiner attests.

Mind you…just how many of us check our stats more than…quarterly? These are the sort of tough questions asked in Online Savvy 101.

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Sydney media training

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disability employment service

Key Employment

Brett is extending his sojourn to Sydney to include a training session devoted to one of his favourite tasks – pitching. But instead of practicing the dark art of pitching story ideas to journalists Brett will be working with 50 employment consultants whose job it is to ‘pitch’ unemployed people with disabilities to prospective employers.

The workshop will include a session on identifying the perceptions of various types of employers (audiences) to the client Key Employment, hiring in general and hiring people with disabilities specifically.

Then it’s time to get practice pitching.

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Media training in Melbourne

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Hootville Communications’ Brett de Hoedt will be delivering a version of Speak Savvy 101 media training in Melbourne for the Multifaith Multicultural Youth Network funded by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship. The workshop will train a group of young people to be stronger facilitators ahead of the Young people, identity and the refugee experience forum.

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New nonprofit sector jobs listed

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But only in our eNewsletter, the Hootville Lowdown. About 2000 people use it to stay better informed than you about all manner of communications, PR and marketing issues.

You are falling behind. Way, waaay behind. So subscribe already.

using pop ups to boost subscribers

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Using pop ups on your website to promote subscriptions and the like evokes a common response from nonprofits: “Ooooh errr. We couldn’t do that. Pop ups are so annoying.” It’s much like television commercials. “Oh I can’t stand television commercials. So annoying, so loud, so interuptive.” So much bollocks. If they are soooo annoying why do people tune in by the million to commercial TV and radio stations?  And why do TV and radio stations risk offending the public? Because it works for them and it’s the same for pop ups on your website.

example of a successful pop up

Using a pop up like this boosts subscriptions. (Doesn't Squiggle look authoriative?)

If you truly believe in the value of an eNewsletter, Twitter or Facebook surely you’d want to promote them often and boost subscriptions? That’s what the pop up is for – to encourage actions from visitors. Do not rely on ‘organic’ growth – consider adding a little fertiliser to the soil via a pop up.

You may not want to subscribe the visitor to anything. The desired action may be to have the visitor book a seat at the annual gala, download the latest annual report or to write a letter to an MP. The principal remains the same – grab their attention and make the ask.

Keep in mind that your pop up will appear to people who have voluntarily visited your website – they must be a bit interested in you to begin with. So why presume that they will be horrified to have a pop up tell them that they can get a special discount by booking a course with you before the end of the month? They may well be chuffed. Right people, right place, right time.

Nobody complains about seeing a listing on the real estate website for a home in their price range in their preferred suburb. “How annoying!” We thinks not.  

If you use a popular content management system such as WordPress you have many pop-up technologies to choose from. We chose Pop Up Domination but there lots of others. This gives you templates which you tailor and then control. How often the pop up appears, to whom, on what pages, after how long are all up for grabs. We had our nerd install the software after which we were able to create and deploy the pop up.

pop up advice

A simple pop up helps boost Crikey! subscriptions

Tips to help you use your pop up for good not evil.

1. Set the pop up to appear after the visitor has had a chance to look around and like what she sees. Perhaps 60 seconds or so. Don’t be pushy.

2. Never set the pop up to appear only when the visitor is leaving a page which is plain annoying.

3. Set the pop up to remain unseen by the same visitor if she returns to your site within seven days of the first visit.

4. Be playful, helpful, funny in your pop-up. It’s a commercial after all, so don’t order people around – persuade them, you smoothy you.

5. Change the pop up regularly both in terms of the content and the pages on which it appears.

6. Remember a bland website with little to offer will not encourage anyone to subscribe or take action you recommend regardless of the quality of the pop up.

We bang on about this endlessly in Online Savvy 101.

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social media training in Melbourne

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social media training for fclcv

With this training under their belts equality before the law will just be a matter of time.

The Federation of Community Law Centres Victoria has booked Hootville Communications to deliver social media training to a swag of its members in Melbourne Wednesday August 3. We’ll train members in the smarter use of Facebook and Twitter plus we’ll look at getting more from websites. It’s essentially an abridged Online Savvy 101 workshop.

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new websites fail to please

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The site we built for the Australian age services sector campaign. We also helped develop the campaign itself.

Nothing Hootville does is more complex than creating new websites. (See our latest collection at the end of this article.) It touches upon every aspect of an organisation, requires contributions and cooperation from every department, involves a thousand decisions by inexperts about specific, complex webby issues.

Everyone has an opinion but few people start with a clear criteria about what they want – though they know what they hate. Good outcomes are far from guaranteed.

website redesign disatisfaction

As in marriage, satisfaction is far from guaranteed

No wonder a recent post in HubSpot blog stated that one third of 152 in-house marketers were disatisfied with their brand spanking new websites. Gosh. Websites are too expensive, too important and too resource-intensive for 33% of us to be left with a hangover.

Poster Mark Volpe provides a few ways to avoid disapointment. We’ll throw in these of our own.

1. Treat your website as an employee. Like a human employee, websites should have functions to fulfill such as taking booking and payments, promoting volunteering, automatically taking new memberships, steering email enquiries to the appropriate department, media liasion centre and so on. Suddenly your new site should be measured against much more specific criteria. Most sites don’t go far beyond providing lots of words. (More on this on Brett’s upcoming article for the Fundraising Institute of Australia magazine.)

2. Don’t consult any more broadly than required by law. It’s not politically correct but we are dead against more than two or three people throwing their two cent pieces in the spoiled broth, if you’ll excuse the mixed metaphor. Honestly; how many people in your organisation advise your accountant or lawyer?  There are too many decisions to make (starting with choice of content management system) to explain the selection criteria to inexperts who are generally more concerned with aesthetics than functionalities. We’d like to see the CEO and senior marketing and communications people involved. That’s about it.

community health service website developer

We built this for community health service Inner South Community Health Service

3. Use third party providers. Your developer or ISP provides a free eNewsletter function that can be a part of your new site. Great. Even greater; it’s free! Well guess what kids; it’s free for a reason: it’s bollocks. Same can go for online donation technology, publication display, polls, embedded videos, membership systems, online stores, ticket booking systems and so on.  Your developer should knowingly help you browse through the options but  should also listen to your opinions. Companies that specialise in providing a specific function (say MailChimp and its eNewsletter system) generally create superior products which are more regularly updated. Your website might intergrate four or five applications (or functions) provided by third parties. (Are you getting a sense of how many decisions you have to make, how many issues you have to come to grips with and why you want a small decision-making team?)

4. Don’t trust your developer. Imagine you are building your home. Would you simply say to the builder: “Build us whatever you usually build.”? Of course not. Anyone who has ever engaged a tradesman knows that unless you specify every detail you will get what suits the tradesman.

Sure the best tradies will guide you through each decision. (Of course when they do, we get impatient and complain at the size of the bill.)

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Family violence alliance website by Hootville.

Most times though, you’ll get the easiest, most profitable range of options for the tradie. Web developers are no different plus usually come to your project from a technical perspective – not a marketing perspective, a communications perspective or a PR perspective.

The best outcomes come from being an informed client, willing to research, listen, evaluate and communicate.

Recent sites we’ve built:

For a regional family violence alliance.

For a community health service.

For another community health service.

For an RTO and VET provider.

For the age services sector.

For a little side business we run.

This is the sort of stuff we talk about in Online Savvy 101.

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