Monthly Archives: June 2012

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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Hootville keeping itself busy, getting some nice reviews

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Many upcoming gigs for Hootville’s Brett de Hoedt:

  • emceeing a function for OurSay at Media House, Melbourne;
  • speaking to a collection of Aged Community Care Victoria communications people on the power of eMarketing;
  • conducting a Speak Savvy 101 media training session in Melbourne with a collection of campaigners from Australian Conservation Foundation; 
  • an Online Savvy 101 session with select members of AUSTAT – Australian Society of Teachers of Alexander Technique;
  • speaking to the National Speakers Association of Australasia about media possibilities;
  • emceeing the Disability Employment Australia national conference in Melbourne;
  • Speak Savvy 101 media training in Sydney for ChildFund and Bowls Australia (not simultaneously) and St Kilda Youth Service in Melbourne;
  • emceeing the Australasian Promotional Products Association awards in Sydney.

There’s more but we know you’re bored already.







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A very, very bad day at the Mango PR Sydney office. Your comments welcome.

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It all started out so well.

In order to further cement Mango PR as an innovating, thoughtleading, cage-rattling communications brand, the head of publicity at Mango’s Sydney office Tina Alldis penned an opinion piece for marketing industry website Mumbrella. The piece, published Thursday June 21 was inspired by the mass lay-offs at Fairfax and News Ltd.


Ill advised in extreme.

The column is painful to read and nearly impossible to fathom. The writing is so corporate, over-written and jargon-laden that is hard to decipher but the upshot is: less journos = exciting opportunity for PR industry. There’s lots of talk about “platforms” and “creative social insights”. Excruciating but hell, we all stuff up sometimes.

The column inspired dozens of negative, angry, hurtful comments appearing all of which you can find hereThey are entirely deserved but really, when will websites stop publishing cowardly anonymous comments? But we digress…

Many of the comments were from journos denying their reliance on PR people and indeed slandering them at large.

The column and comments reveal a couple of broad truths. 1. There are a lot of inexperienced, over-confident, minimally-qualified people in surprisingly senior PR positions. Generally speaking, the industry deserves its poor reputation with journalists. I say that as a person who has made a living as a PR person and employing others to do the same. Also; as a radio and print journalist (albeit tabloid) I had hundreds of interactions with publicists, many good, many not good.

2. Journalists are a proud lot. Many are also hypocrites. Journos endlessly bitch about PR people and claim never to utilise story ideas inspired by flacks. What bollocks. They should peruse the content they produce and analyse where the stories originate.

Real estate, food, entertainment, fashion, IT and consumer electronics stories are all majority PR-inspired. So too the celebrity stuff and the fluff about upcoming movies, video games, music releases. (That’s a lot of coverage right there.)

Equally PR-driven are many of the interviews and profile pieces with business magnates, Hollywood types and people of the moment. The lighter health and wellbeing stuff generally falls into the PR-driven category as well.

What does that leave? Oh yeah – many of the (relatively few) serious political exclusives are based on deliberate leaks in which stories are handed to selected journos by flacks. Standard interviews are doled out via media officers to individuals or to groups at doorstops.

Business journos spend a fair slice of their working lives creating stories from suppplied financial statements, projections and sales figures from businesses. How many stories are created from one Reserve Bank media release or strategic Gerry Harvey utterance?

Journalists spend their day reading releases and taking calls from PR folk. Those allowed to leave their desks often do so to attend PR-inspired events such as press conferences and photo opps. Outside match day, sports journalism is utterly PR-beholdent.

pr training

The hack-flack relationship symbolically portrayed.

What does that leave…beyond cartoons and recipes?

This applies similarly to many serious, social-issues-based stories which Citizens of Hootville promote. Of the 1000 or so stories Hootville scored for our clients over 12 years about exactly none of them would have happened without our work.

That doesn’t mean that journos did our bidding but it does mean that we conceived, packaged, pitched and facilitated the stories. Journalists are rarely seen walking the streets with notepad, trenchcoat and hat snooping for scoops. Hacks need flacks and vice versa, though the hacks are in denial. Maybe not all the time, just…most.

Media produced without control by PR flacks would be utterly undigestible. However without the flacks, the journalistic hacks would have a harder time filling their space than they readily admit. That goes for the serious content as well as the shallow.

The PR industry should not be condemned because of one ill-judged and insensitive column. Nor should journalists be judged by the work of some nightly current affairs shows, morning shock jocks or fluffy weekend magazine.

Note: Just as I criticised PR folk as a PR person, I make my comments on journalists as a former proud journalist and broadcaster who was unceremoniously sacked from both Truth and 3AK when dollars ran out and corporate strategies changed.

As the late Rodney King said; “Can we all get along?”

Comments and sharing most welcome.


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Twitter responses matter so get thy tweet on.

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twitter example for government

If people Tweet to you...

If you would like to lead an army of Twitter followers (like those who follow @Hootville) you will need to do more than just tweet messages out. You will have to show that you really give a damn about communicating via Twitter by respond to incoming tweets. 

Of course this means you will have to monitor Twitter closely. Well you already check reception, the phone, emails and the mailbox so monitoring Twitter should not be a great burden. Should it? Imagine getting this tweet above. Best advice:

  • Respond and respond quickly, preferably via a direct message. Or…
  • Suggest immediately via twitter that the tweeter telephones you. better tweet back. Quicksticks.




Do something – and do it fast. And if this seems new or strange, get used to it as more and more people will be tweeting you. There will be lots more advice like this as part of our upcoming Social Media Savvy 101 webinar.

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Amnesty International Australia direct mail piece

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When it comes to writing direct mail, less is usually more. You need sufficient words to deliver your message and spark emotions but beyond that, each additional word dilutes the essence of what you want to say. 

direct mail example and advice

The front. A strong start.

We recently received this piece of direct mail on the left from Amnesty International Australia.  These are the three key panels.

The first panel the reader sees is strong: a well known line, entirely appropriate to the cause, cleverly reappropriated.



amnesty international direct mail
Could we lose some words? Yes.


On the left is the second panel the reader sees. It’s obviously leading to a third panel. A three-part format is a standard for movies, jokes or direct mail. However it would benefit from a trim.




Copywriting advice for charities
Cut, cut, cut.


This is our recommended edit for the second panel: shorter, sharper.




direct mail copywriting advice
The third panel.

The third panel, here on the left, aims to create a response in the reader. Perhaps this line would have sufficed; Use your right to speak out.


copywriting tips for charities
The shortest panel yet.

This is even shorter and more pointed.

 So much for our unsolicited advice – use the comments section to make yours.

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Pitching tip: talk up the talent

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how to talk to a journalist

Still a publicist's best friend. FYI kids it is a telephone.

We held a public Media Savvy 101 workshop in Melbourne this week. On the agenda was a pitching session. “Pitching” is the term given to the act of telephoning a journalist to convince them to consider your story. Each of our eight participants bravely trialled a pitch for review.

how to talk to a journalist

Pitching is a moment of truth.

One piece of feedback equally relevant to all was this: talk up the talent. By “talent” we mean prospective interviewees. Whoever might speak or appear is referred to as “talent”. It’s a silly term but that’s showbiz for ya.  

As part of any pitch you will have to describe the talent. Too often this means little more than providing a name and title but that’s not enough. Journalists want to be convinced that your talent is interesting. Make it so.

Consider how you might describe a potential blind date to your single-but-picky housemate. 

Surely you’d provide more details than name, job title and age of the prospective date. You’d do your best to persuade your housemate that this date is special – funny, caring, smart, good with kids, generous and so on. You might tell a revealing story of how the date overcame a poor start in life to build the second largest muffler and tyre balancing franchise in south east Queensland or somesuch heroic tale. You might say something along the lines of: “Don’t tell her I told you this but…” and reveal some breathtaking nugget that makes them irresistible.

Well that’s how it should be when you are describing your CEO / program manager / chair / contented client etc. Talk them up. Get to know your talent so you can pitch them with confidence. 

Remember you are not making an apointment for your boss – you are persuading a busy journalist to consider your story among hundreds of others. You’ll need to sound like you truly know why this is a story worthy of coverage.

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One for the kids…

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Here at Hootville we believe that the children are our future. That we should teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. And so on.

University seeks internship opportunities

Young, eager and ready to learn. Or climb chimneys.

If you feel similarly perhaps you should engage an intern by talking to Ella Hewitt who is the partnerships coordinator for the School of Communication and the Arts at Victoria University in Victoria. Here’s what she told us:

As part of their postgraduate degrees, Master (Communication/PR) students are required to undertake a placement of 12 days in length in order to be accredited by the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

The professional placement program offers employers the opportunity to gain the skills of an extra and competent postgraduate within their organisation. The aim of the placement is to give students a realistic look at the current employment situation and the vocational possibilities of where their skills could be applied. As a benefit to host organisations, students bring new perspectives, creative ideas, and are familiar with the latest research and best practices within their field. (To which we say…maybe so, maybe not but do they do coffee runs?)

Please note that there is no cost to the host organisation and the students are covered by Victoria University’s public liability and personal accident insurance during their placement.

Interested? Call Ella Hewitt 03 9919 2234.


And the winners are…

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free PR advice

An artist's impression of the four winners reacting to the news.

Each new Citizen of Hootville (AKA subscriber to the Hootville Lowdown) in May was in the running for one of four free consultations with Hootville. Well the darts have been thrown, dice rolled and ping pong balls thrown into a rotating glass container and the winners are:

The Family Centre of NSW, SACOSS of SA, Clontarf Foundation of WA and Animal Liberation Victoria (Squiggle’s first choice.)


Reading list June 7 2012

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Bono says that a great lyric sounds familiar the first time it is heard. He may be right but now there’s some science investigating why some phrases are more memorable than others. This technology review article explains more and offers you the opportunity to take the test that uncovered just why some lines stick in the memory more so than others.

social marketing poster

Well it certainly influenced those two chaps' decision.

Sex workers and soldiers go together like…well you get the drift. However this relationship has long been frowned upon by the military. At least officially if these vintage public education posters found on website Lost At E Minor are anything to go by.

Many marketers dream of creating a viral video hit that takes the planet by storm. Aparently this one is hot, hot, hot. Rarely have we seen a video so strongly recommended.

pr mistakes

This can't be good.

Newsflash: journalists all hate publicists. Never mind that they would have nothing to say without us – they resent the inane pitches, the perky voice on the other end of the phone and the contrasting fortunes of the two professions. Who could blame them, poor saps. This article found on website Grist, is the sort of thing journalists write when they receive one too many media releases.

Analytics Savvy 101 announced

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Analytics Savvy 101

Tuesday June 12 from 10am to 11.30am. 

Got a website? Of course. Got Google Analytics? Sure. Look at your Analytics regularly? Kinda. Constantly use Analytics to improve your website’s perfomance? Well…

google analytics advice

Place your website into analysis.

Well it’s about time your all important online investment was given some adult supervision. Learn how to get the most from Google Analytics in our 90m webinar. Agenda: 


  • meet the Google Analytics dashboard;
  • de-jargonning and defining terms such as “bounce rates”;
  • benchmarking – what expectations are reasonable?
  • tracking the performance of your social media endeavours;
  • monitoring your website’s vital signs;
  • using Google Analytics to improve search engine results;
  • some clever reports to impress bosses;
  • how GA can help boost purchases and donations;
  • quarantining your colleagues’ activity from the stats;
  • finding your site’s cul de sacs and abandoned areas.

All the details right here.

Join: Jean Hailes Foundation for Women, University of Melbourne, Community Sector Banking, Cancer Council Victoria, Australian Physiotherapy Association, Tasmania Landcare, Barwon Water, Benetas, Diabetes Australia, Victoria, Alzheimers Australia Victoria. 

Your website is surely your biggest communications tool. It’s also the easiest to dramatically improve. Google Analytics helps you do this.

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