Monthly Archives: July 2012

Apologies and corrections. How to gain them.

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media apologies

The correction in no way matches the error. Tough luck.

Clients often ask us what the protocols are for the printing / airing of corrections in cases in which a journalist gets it wrong.

The truth is that there is no protocol and you’ll have to persist and insist that the media outlet gives you the correction you are due. And NO the correction, if you get it, will not be as prominent as the original mistake.



media corrections
This man is a one-person crime wave. Or not.


Check out this booboo on the left from Canadian publication The Province

It clearly misidentifies a man (in reality Sathaphone Komany) and his dog as serial home invaders but the scale of the apology in no way counterbalances the size of the error.


Tips for gaining a correction:

1. Don’t wait: journalists are busy and your issue will feel less and less significant with each new story they file.

2. Don’t panic: it may be tempting to threaten legal action or “deregistration”. Don’t. be strong and clear, not aggressive.

3. Gather your facts; the colder and harder the better.

4. Gather your troops: Communicate to your stakeholders via website, eNewsletter and social media. In certyain cases you may ask them to make their feeling known to recalcitrant media. Media will never tell you this but they DO pay attention when something they say receives a deluge of feedback. Some groups out there in the community are well known within media circles as creating a headache over the slightest error. This creates self-censorship and double-checking.

5. Go higher up the food chain, if all else fails.

6. Prepare for disapointment as the chances of receiving an apology is slim. 

7. Approach the Australian Press Council if all else fails. Remember though – its resources are scarce and sanctions limited.

Note: a correction is just that – a correction to a factual error; not disatisfaction with the tone of an article or the selection of quote.


Communities in Control Conference available online for you

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communities in control conference

The 10th and final CIC was this year.

Couldn’t make it to this year’s Communities in Control conference in Melbourne? That’s so sad. Are you poor or something?

Anyhoo, many of the sessions are available to all, poor or not, via online video. You can cherry pick your session. Enjoy.


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Biggest Australian philanthropists revealed

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Like to know who is giving away the most philanthropic dosh across our nation? Thought so. This inexact list comes from Fundraising Research and Consulting care of Pro Bono.


Great Presidential TV commercials of our time (or the time of older Citizens)

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best presidential campaign commercials

Gee, he looked old for 40. What's that? Oh - he was the 40th President. Thanks.

Attack ads are a feature of every US Presidential campaign. These two classics – The Bear  and It’s Another Morning in America take a relatively positive approach. Though dated, they are considered benchmarks of the genre. Kudos Ronald Reagan.

For younger citizens; Ronald Reagan was a white President in the 1980s.  


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Another nonprofit sector loss: food labelling

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More proof that corporate Australia can overpower nonprofit lobby groups at will and bend government around its talon. In short, Australasia’s food manufacturers are close to getting their wicked ways on food labelling law overhauls.

food labelling laws

Colour coded, fructose-rich, circular crunch disks.

The details are depressing but in short; food manufacturers will likely be able to make grand health claims for their products only to be verified later if a complaint is raised. Claims such as this:

”Carbo-loaded power pack of energy. As part of a balanced diet and regular exercise regime, Nutri-Grain helps fuel your personal best every time.”

This is great news for makers of high sugar “detoxifying” juices and “energy boosting” chocolate bars. Corporate 1, Consumers 0. Again. Oh dear.

Good luck in the final months of battle Choice and Public Health Association of Australia – our fat, snacky, carbo-loaded nation needs you.

Greatest pitch of all time? Not Danny Boyle.

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Those of us in marketing spend a lot of time and energy having to convince others about the merits of ideas. Whether it be a journo or a boss, ideas are our lifeblood and getting them approved is life or death.

We at Hootville often spend time wondering how advertising agencies get their expensive, high-risk, often flakey ideas the green light from conservative corporates.

“Hello Coles board. We’re going to spend millions on a campaign featuring a girl running around a dry paddock, who sees a vision of Cathy Freeman. Trust us – people will be rushing to your supermarkets. Best stock up on groceries. Honest.” 

the greatest pitch of all time

Could you pitch this? One thinks not.

We spend a lot of time talking about pitching story ideas to journalists on this site and in our Media Savvy 101 workshop. However, after the London 2012 Opening Ceremony we have an inarguable benchmark for the greatest successful long shot pitch of all time: the pitch of the Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II Jumps Out a Helicopter sequence.

It was the idea of opening ceremony director Danny Boyle but the pitch itself was left to the Queen’s deputy private secretary to Edward Young. Eternal kudos Mr Young. His powers of persuasion are clearly formidable.


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Charities vs nonprofits. Please explain.

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Inspired by a Citizen Heather Jones’ question and the furore over Dr Stephen Judd’s recent comments over the term “charity” and the results of the Australian Charity Perceptions 2012 report we thought we’d try explaining the difference between “charity” and “nonprofit”.

We think it may be worth the sector being more disciplined about its use of the two phrases.

what is a nonprofit?

Charity ain't what it used to be.

Charity: is pretty straightforward. A charity is an organisation that raises funds for a cause. It may raise the funds for itself (RSPCA) or hand the funds over to other organisations or individuals (think R.E Ross Trust). You already knew that. Generally speaking, charities are about funding a service, research or providing material aid.

All charities are nonprofits in the sense that there are no owners or shareholders or investors who pocket the profits once the bills are paid. Any profits are re-invested into the charity. Most charities will have tax deductible status (DGR).

Nonprofit: is more nuanced and many folk just don’t get it. While all charities are nonprofits, not all nonprofits are charities.

Like charities, nonprofits have no owners, shareholders or investors to pocket the profits once the bills are paid. Like charities, profits are re-invested.

However a nonprofit may not bother raising any money or have very little emphasis on fundraising. Many nonprofits do not have DGR. There are many types of nonprofits, none of which are charities in the traditional sense.

Professional associations such as the Australian Medical Association, Law Institute of NSW and Real Estate Institute of Victoria represent the interests of a profession.

Peak bodies such as the South Australian Council of Social Services (and ACOSS, NCOSS, QCOSS etc) are nonprofits. So too is the Self Storage Association of Australasia – we know this because Hootville represented them briefly. Every industry or profession has a non-profit acting on its behalf, some are hand-wringing lefties, others rabid economic rationalists.

Don’t forget unions. Oh – have we mentioned most environmental organisations, schools, universities, arts organisations, et al? Plus think tanks and community childcare operations. The list goes on. NDIS campaign? That’s a nonprofit.

Most nonprofits are not charities. That’s why lumping them all together under the title “charity” is clumsy and misleading. Charities do great work but so do many nonprofits.

“Nonprofit” is a far more widely understood and used term in the US where working for a nonprofit” has become a cliche. Especially for white people, we’re informed. The term is yet to achieve that status here but adopting the more modern and broader “nonprofit” may hold more allure to the kids these days.






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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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World premiere. Meet the Mariott School Ambassadors

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Oh this feels good. After spending most of 2012 in production we are chuffed beyond words to introduce you to the Marriott Support Services School Ambassadors; specifically, their videos which will be used to land this team of roaming talkers some gigs. (More about how you can help in a bit.)

public speakers with disabilities in Australia

Coming to a screen near you: the Marriott School Ambassadors.

The videos, made possible via the support of Department of Human Services Victoria, will be used to introduce the world to the ambassadors who roam the countryside speaking about the transition from school to training, education and work. Each has overcome more than their fair share of obstacles – disability, bullying, literacy issues, the complexities of public transport, other people’s low expectations. The talks are short, sharp and aimed at school groups, parents, teachers, people with disability, young people, employers, institutions, employer peak bodies, disability services, expos, fora and more –  anyone who could benefit from hearing direct from a group that is not heard from often enough. There is no charge to the client but the ambassadors get a rather nice speaking fee. Any recommendations?

Beyond working on the videos with Sam Tzouramanis of Evoco Design, Hootville has separately worked with these and other Marriott School Ambassadors on their presentation skills through a series of workshops and one-to-one coaching. The learning curve has been steep and rapid. Brett has repeatedly had his expectations gazumped. It’s amazing how a little bar-lifting, showbizzing and comfort dezoning can yield results. The ambassadors were troopers but now they need a whole batch of new gigs.

We think that more (make that every) nonprofit should use more video, more often on their website. It can be used to deliver testimonials from donors, members, staff or volunteers and of course it can rapidly promote your speakers or services. Call us.

Here’s some observations on creating effective videos:

Have a vision and set thy sites high. TV has been around a while now and thus people have pretty clear expectations. They may say they don’t care about slick production but that is so much bollocks. The better quality and more interesting the videos, the more persuasive you are. We aimed for a slick but authentic vibe. Why should shadows cover faces, why should audio be unintelligible. Our crew spent an inordinate amout of time lighting and staging the sets and repeatedly moved location for the one-to-one interviews to avoid repetition. The graphics for the videos are a tribute to Sam of Evoco Design. Everyone on the project went above and beyond the call – and budget.

Communciations commandment #1: Know thy purpose: ours was to gain ambassadors more speaking opportunities.

Don’t write a script: we did prepare questions in advance allowing everyone to rehearse their responses but there were NO SCRIPTS. This meant that the interviews took a long time and were much harder to edit but it also meant that the ambassadors were speaking in their own voice. We just kept the cameras rolling as Brett questioned and coaxed. 

Prepare to shoot more vision than you ever thought necessary: watch two and a half minutes of TV news and you’ll likely see the newsreader, the reporter twice, several spokespeople, shots of the spokespeople talking to the reporter, spokespeople walking or talking on the phone, buildings, signage, a document, a graphic and more. That’s a lot of “vision”. If you want to keep savvy, impatient audiences interested you better do likewise. Prospective donors, staff and the like don’t care if you are a nonprofit – their standards don’t lower.

We shot one-to-one interviews with all ambassadors, shots of them rehearsing, various staged shots of them in leisure mode (reading comics, drinking coffee, hamming it up) added graphics, music, supplied videos and anything else we could think of. Inevitably this extra footage means additional dollars but it makes for a far superior product.

We engaged two professional camera operators for the one-to-one interviews to have more options in the edit suite. Josh and Aaron were superb.

Invest some dollars: buy the best people you can – you may have a suitable volunteer or teenager with a camera phone but the chances of them shooting, editing and packaging video to a suitable quality are slim.

Don’t create a DVD – put videos online. How many nonprofits have DVDs sitting on shelves? Too many. Give them life online. 

Keep ’em short: everyone says that they understand how impatient people are but few have the courage to edit and edit and shave and reduce as necessary. In fact some of these videos could be compressed a tad – oh well.

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Australian charity survey reveals some home truths. Then again…

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Global marketing researchers Millward Brown has released the Australian Charity Perceptions Report 2012 summarising the responses of 1000 Australian adults on matters charitable. 

We have no insight into the methodology or sample quality and hold no doubt that Millward Brown is a serious operation but we do have some points about this and similar surveys: #1 responses received are hugely dependent on how questions are asked. Take this finding:

charities ranked by importance

Some stuff people said about charities when asked.

Respondents were asked to rate the importance of 12 types of charitable organisations. Top of the list: disaster relief. Lowest: sport. Environment also ranks in the lower half. In a way this makes sense – we see coverage of a disaster on TV, we can swiftly donate and know that the money is turned into blankets, canned food, tents and the like. This is ‘old fashioned’ relatively simple-to-understand charity category.

But would disaster relief have ranked so highly and environment so poorly if the question was posed this way:

Which type of charity is more important: one that makes a difference in the long-term or one that helps intensely for a brief period and goes away?

Would sport have failed so miserably if the question was posed in this way:

Is this this type of charity important: One that uses sport to reduce childhood obesity, give kids something to do, find future champions and intergrate new arrivals into our Australian way of life? Hell yes – where can I donate?

Top 10 charities in Australia

Household charity names.

So which Australian charity brands are the best known – or at least fastest to be recalled? As you’ll see on the left, all the usual charity suspects are there. All are big, most are old, all are huge communicators and only Greenpeace would consistently divide opinion on its merits.


#2 Survey respondents the world over are endlessly cute with the truth.

One key ‘finding’ is that 67% of respondents claim to prefer supporting Australian charities. Oh dear. Ask any Australian if they would choose an Australian product in any category over a foreign competitor and they always say YES. (Greeks, Turkmenistanis and Bhutanese fib just the same when surveyed.)

Of course this is bollocks – ask the good people who once worked at Ford, SPC, The Age, AWA, QANTAS, Holden, Billabong et al who are all victims to the harsh realities of life as opposed to the quaint theory of Surveytown. This finding should be served with a mandatory pinch of salt – Australian made of course.

The gap between people’s responses and their behavior is in fact a GULF. If people acted as they say they do when surveyed, the nonprofit sector would be out of business and we’d all be drinking daiquiris by the pool.

Why do researchers and media continue to portray survey results as if they are predictors of the future?

No doubt some charities will do well by flying the Australian flag at all opportunities – particularly those with intrinsically Australian missions such as Royal Flying Doctors Service or Bush Heritage Australia. However other charities may do better to map out less populated territory.

And here’s something to consider when pushing ‘Australian’ as a key brand value: in the last 20 years we’ve seen the rise of a new, dumb brand of national pride. It’s all flag capes and “oi, oi, oi”. Many people feel this is too nationalistic, jingoistic and aggressive. It’s certainly not sophisticated and there may well be an overlap with people who prefer sophisticated brand values and people with money to donate. Just a thought.

#3 Australians are not particularly knowledgable about charities and nonprofits. Could they even explain the difference between the two terms? Most could not. So how can they judge which charities are reputable or effective? Most can’t.

ronald mcdonald house

One proud Mayor. Perhaps Hootville should sister-city with his town.

Goodness – they ranked Ronald McDonald House #3 in the category for large and / or global charities that are “Good at raising awareness for an important cause”. Fine though RMH is, does it really belong there? Ronald McDonald House also scored #3 in the “Help the most people” category for large and / or global charities. Quit clowning around respondents!

We think that this shows the benefit of large mainstream advertising budgets. Most of the most recognised brands are heavy advertisers.

Whether or not the public’s views are well informed is of course, largely irrelevant – perceptions rule. 


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