Monthly Archives: March 2013

If HUGE multinational horse meat retailers can fake humanity…

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Brits have closer, more passionate relationships with their supermarkets than we in Oz. After all, some grocers have histories longer than our period of European settlement. No wonder Napoleon famously described Britain as “une nation de boutiquiers” – a nation of shopkeepers.

crisis management copywriting

Tesco wants to put horsemeat behind it.

The recent horsemeat scandal has rocked faith in supermarkets and supply chains.

Roll in the crisis manegement experts.

One move from the classic crisis playbook is the full page newspaper advertisement / apology.

We don’t really like corporations but when they (or their agency) write well, we pay credit. This ain’t half bad – for a company that sold horsemeat. Would you be so conversational in a crisis? Hope so.

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Sex. Now have we got your Pinterest? Good.

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 Keen non-profit-related tweeter @Mikaela_Lee brought this guide to using Pinterest for your brand to our attention. Actually it is a list of questions. Regardless; it is well worth reading. We’d be interested in your take on the new(ish) phenomenom. Is it working for you? Or just another passing fad? Or both? Above is a screenshot from Squiggle’s Pinterest board.


Using social media to build your email lists

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using social media to boost email subscribers

We like social media. We love eMarketing.

You’ve heard us bang on and on about eMarketing outperforming social media. In our experience it’s true. We know we get more value for our clients from an email subscriber than a Twitter follower or Facebook friend. That said, there is at least one use for social media – building up your email database. Listen to Amy Porterfield of the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

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Breaking: Some woman wants a job

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Jo Sutton called looking for work and we were suitably impressed so (instead of a career) we offered her space on our website to self-spruik. We’ve never met her. And yes, we referred her to Australia’s nonprofit job epicentre Anyhoo this is what she wrote:

nonprofit employment and jobs in Australia

This is how we picture her. Note: she may not resemble this image.

Communications professional seeking to make your organisation stand out!

If you’re looking for someone who’ll be more than just an employee, but also your organisation’s best advocate, then we need to talk!

With skills in media engagement, communication and campaigning – and a deep passion for social justice – I have the skills and the enthusiasm to make your organisation stand out.

My experience spans across local government, the not-for-profit sector and media, in both paid and voluntary positions.

I’ve worked on newspapers, magazines, websites and social media. I’ve written media releases, responses, background papers, speeches, newsletters, news articles and feature stories. I’ve developed communications strategies and campaign materials. I’ve trained people for interviews and I’ve managed media relationships.

With a Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) and the majority of a Master of Arts (International Relations), I have a firm grounding in a) good writing and b) international issues.

What you’ll find in my work is clearly communicated ideas, and well thought-out calls to action. You’ll also see the best media relationships in your organisation’s history, and greater enthusiasm from would-be supporters.

Right now, I’m looking for a job where I can make a difference – a job where my skills will help your organisation impact other people’s lives, for the better!

If you’re interested in finding out more about me, please send an email to

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Another major NFP takes on a BIG corporate in Oz

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nonprofit advertising

There's more to this photo than meets your eye. Click the link.

Undeterred by the recent WWF / Clive Palmer fracas (well they were already committed anyway) Greenpeace has launched a striking print campaign aimed at Coca-Cola Amatil which recently quashed a Cash for Containers scheme in the Northen Territory.

Another NFP takes on a corporate heavyweight. Let’s hope it doesn’t see its day in court. And if the picture upsets you, don’t take offence, take action.


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Australian nonprofit to pay billionaire’s legal bill

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Hootville spends a lot of time in its training trying to quell the deep-seated, misplaced fear which lives in the hearts of many nonprofit CEOs. This is never more true than when delivering Savvy Spokesperson 101 and Media Savvy 101 training. Too many spokespeople are too timid. Media doesn’t thrive on well balanced reason – it wants red meat.

We advise spokespeople to name names, declare public challenges and call authorities, companies and Ministers to account.

That sounds like what WWF spokesperson Nick Heath was attempting to do when he claimed that Queensland Nickel’s Yabulu refinery near Townsville was threatening to collapse, releasing toxins into the environment. The man behind Queensland Nickel is Clive Palmer.

media training for environment groups

WWF vs Clive Palmer. The billionaire's bill will be paid by WWF.

In keeping with his modus operandi, Palmer sued – successfully. WWF has issued an apology and will pick up Palmer’s legal tab.

Of all the groups we train, environmentalists have it the toughest. Few others have such well-resourced, well-connected and virulent opponents. No multinational argues against better child protection services, aged care or breastfeeding education.

Today, as you consider what it is like to have Clive Palmer unleash his lawyers upon you, spare a thought for your nonprofit colleagues in the environment sector. Expect to see more of this in future from big business across the land.

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Jobville fast approaching middle age

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More and more of Australia’s nonprofit and community sector jobs are being listed for free at with the current tally approaching 40. There are plenty of communications / marketing / social media jobs along with disability employment, project management roles and more.

ethical jobs

Free at last, free at last.

As always we have more Oxfam Fairtrade chocolate, coffee, jam and tea to give to retweeters, email forwarders and our first recruiter and government folk to advertise. We’ll also reward the advertiser who takes us to 40 advertisements.

Background: Jobville is a job-listing website that proudly allows nonprofit and community sector organisations to list their jobs for free. Yes – FREE. Recruiters, corporates and government employers are also welcome to list their jobs and will find our fees a comparative bargain. In fact, until May 1 corporate and government listings are also free. is part of the Hootville empire.

Follow us on Twitter @jobvilleau and we’ll the jobs your way. Retweet them for edible, ethical rewards. We’ll be rewarding one this week with a Fairtrade treat. Subscribe to the Job-a-lot to have jobs emailed to you.

Communications vs conversion. Opt to convert.

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Hootville is beginning to hold a grudge against the term “communications”. We don’t think that nonprofit “communications” professionals are really in the communications game. Or at least they shouldn’t be. We think that they should be in the conversion game.

After all, “communications” is all about telling, informing and (oh dear) raising awareness. Aren’t we more about getting people to change their minds, alter behaviour and take action? Don’t we want Jane Citizen to join up, fork out or jump on board? That’s what conversion is all about. The only point in communicating to Jan is to convert her into a staff member, volunteer, donor, activist or client.

Salespeople want to convert browsers into buyers. You should feel likewise. Our definition of conversion may entail having someone donate, volunteer, attend an event, use a service, refer a friend or lobby a politician. It can be as simple as converting a website visitor into an email subscriber.

Conversion should be an ongoing obsession for communications people. People are already aware of lots of things from child poverty to obesity. Who cares? Unless they are converted into taking action, nothing changes. Corporate marketers don’t give a damn about “communicating”; to them it’s all about converting.

marketing conversion formula
MECLABS’ conversion formula can help you tweak your marketing.

There are formulae for all sorts of things; maths mainly. Euler’s formula is considered a mathematical classic and rated by scientists as one of the world’s most “beautiful” formulae. We are ill-placed to critique this claim. Never mind; we’ve been ogling the above conversion formula which comes to us from MECLABS.

conversion formula

The key.

Decisions to buy, volunteer, donate, apply, subscribe, attend (different conversions) do not happen for one reason. There are multiple factor behind whether anyone takes an action (is converted).

C = conversion. If it helps, think of converting as making a sale. Naturally you want to maximise this.

M = motivation. Motivation could be substituted for words such as: excitement, desire, openness to suggestion or eagerness. The creators of this formula at MECLAB see it as important (thus the 4m). The more motivated the target, the easier the conversion. Your targets experience different levels of motivation at different times. Eg: tax time may motivate donors (seeking tax deductions). Significant media coverage of your issue may create a more motivated target for you the following day.

Events in people’s lives create huge, often short-lived surges in motivation. Those finishing secondary school (and their parents) are suddenly highly motivated to investigate tertiary education options; new parents may feel suddenly motivated to take out insurance or learn some parenting skills; moving house motivates endless purchasing and may create a desire for social connections. Retirement may spark a motivation for safe investments and volunteer options.

What do / can you do to approach your target when she is more motivated? Well you can communicate in a way that sparks strong reactions so motivation increases. Your approach may be positive or negative but no marketer has ever milded a target into action. From the words you write to the images you utilise – ensure that they increase the likelihood of conversion.

Timing is important to increase conversions. Clearly you want to reach people when they are most motivated or open to your suggestions whether that be time of year (Christmas, birthday, tax time, school terms) or event-based.

Time of year events are easy to plan for. Mind you; every other marketer tries to use these opportunities. We think that the latter category, events; holds promise. Shape your offer (aka value proposition) to the motivation du jour.

V = value proposition. Each and every time you talk to someone via your marketing you need to clearly and persuasively explain why you are the right choice; the best, the leader. Don’t just promote foster caring – promote your organisation as the one through which to foster. Are you the environmental group that fights the BIG battles? Tell ‘em. Do you get more people with disabilities more work, more often? Let ‘em know. Nonprofits are generally weak in this regard. This is a great article on value propositions. A strong value proposition makes you irresistible and motivates people to choose you, you alone and to choose you now.

I = incentive. Can you create an incentive? Maybe it’s financial such as an early-bird discount. Perhaps it’s a special offer such as an upgrade or 2 for 1. Want a bigger email database? Offer an incentive cheapskate.

It’s not all about greed. Many prospective foster carers delay actingon their good impulses for years. We advised foster care recruiters to promote attending a July information night by explaining that by attending in July they might be ready to give a foster child a home for Christmas. This aims to create an incentive to get people off the couch and attending the information night. Incentives inspire action NOW not later.

F = friction. Here’s where it gets tough. Meet friction. Friction is everything that stops people taking action now. You know how some NFPs think it’s OK to ask readers to print off an application form and mail it back? That’s friction. So too is the inability to register and pay for a course on the spot. So too is a long-winded speech when a short one would suffice. So too is a slow or hard to navigate website or far-flung venue. So too is voicemail as opposed to having a call answered first-up. It goes on. Banish self-inflicted headwinds.

A = anxiety. People are not generally pre-disposed to joining in, getting involved or giving money. They might not use the term “anxiety” to describe their thinking but in their heads are many questions: “If I sign up will I be pestered with 1000 emails?” “Will they use my money wisely?” “Is the proposed solution likely to work?” “Is this a lost cause?” Use words, testimonials and whatever else is at your disposal to overtly quell such anxieties. 30-day money back guarantees are all aimed to counter anxiety. So are 12-month warranties, back-up coaching following a training session, easy unsubscribe options. Anticipate and quell anxieties.

Questions to ask. Review your communications and probe yourself accordingly:

Conversion: Are we specifically trying to convert targets or just communicate? (Be honest.) Do our words and images really motivate people? Or are they just vanilla? List some conversions for which you can aim.

Motivation: What efforts do we make to connect to targets when they are particularly motivated? Do we consider what people are doing at certain times and change our approach accordingly? Could we find ways to detect what might be happening in people’s lives so that we can connect to them at the opportune moment?

Could you partner with an organisation to reach targets at opportune, motivated times? Could schools link you to parents of kids about to drop out of education? Could Councils alert you to new pet owners or recent arrivals?

Incentives: How often do we offer incentives? Incentives can be material – never underestimate what people will do for an iAnything. Do we offer early bird bonuses, Oxfam Fairtrade gifts et al?  Do we explain the connection between upgrading a donation from $50 to $100 to the delivery of an extra place in your course for parents of kids with autism?

Value proposition: how well do we explain why we are the organisation to trust and support? What makes us special and the best? How well do we express this?

Friction: Where do we slow, annoy, confuse and befuddle our way out of conversions?

Anxiety: What worries our targets and how can we allay these fears?

Your thoughts most welcome.

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He worked for us. Let him work for you.

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Good news Australia – one time Hootville consultant Gareth Wills is about to make his triumphant return to Australia after two years of eating, drinking, breathing maple syrup in Toronto.

nonprofit sector job wanted

As this recent portrait demonstrates; spending time in Toronto has left Gareth somehow more...Canadian.

Simply: he can do media relations, copywriting, digital, social and more. Hire him.

Gareth was embedded with Hootville from December 2006 to February 2011. While here, he acquitted himself on accounts no less diverse than the Mental Illness Fellowship of Victoria, Yooralla, WayOut and He is also fondly remembered for creating snapping many of the Squiggle pics used in the Lowdown over the years.

Since leaving us, he’s been mixing it up in the big bad world of the multinational (specifically, in the online marketing department of Toyota Canada Inc.) but says he’s eager to get back to his first love – the not-for-profit sector.

If you’ve got a communications need in your organisation, you might want to consider snapping him up. With Canada now conquered, he officially touches down on March 4 and can be reached at for punters looking for more detail.

Of Gareth, Brett says: He’s very smart, never panics, loves learning, maintains a skeptical perspective and sly sense of humour. His skill set is unusually broad and any nonprofit operation would be foolish not let him get away. He’s also a very good human.