Monthly Archives: May 2014

Breaking: Public Speak Savvy 101 in Melbourne

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Looking for a media training workshop for your spokespeople? Hootville Communications has decided to host a public Speak Savvy 101 workshop in Melbourne – our first public workshop for at least five years and our second ever such session in Melbourne. It shall be held late June / July. Full details to come but here’s what we know:

  • small, strictly limited group of like-minded people;
  • pre-workshop preparation and homework;
  • unlimited 12-months of back-up coaching
  • rather very nice CBD venue;
  • 10-4pm;
  • lots of interaction and rehearsal;
  • lunch on us and please stick around for a drink afterwards;
  • video camera to ensure everyone is on their toes;
  • personal attention to your issues, organisation and audiences;
  • advice on media targets and story angles you are currently ignoring;
  • comprehensive notes;
  • lots of examples both good and bad.
media trainer Brett de Hoedt

"What do you mean some readers won't want to come? Turncoats!"

Trainer is of course former journalist, broadcaster and media trainer Brett de Hoedt (left) who trains Australian Conservation Foundation, Berry Street, Australian Climate Commission, Landcare, Youth Affairs Council Victoria, St Vincent Institute, City of Ballarat Multicultural Ambassadors, Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Service, LG Pro and dozens more each year to much acclaim.

The pace is challenging, the style informal and the curriculum practical:

WHAT THE MEDIA WANTS: what it takes to get the media profile you seek.

COMMUNICATIONS COMMANDMENTS: five principles to guide all your communications.

KEY MESSAGES and SOUND BITES: selecting and delivering them.

PRE-INTERVIEW PREPARATION: questions to ask, issues to resolve, conditions to apply beforehand to avoid poor performances and nasty surprises.

FAQs: Preparing strong answers for common questions and repeat issues.

PERCEPTIONS: understanding how the media and your audiences perceive you and your issues. Getting to know your audiences’ perceptions, anxieties, pre-conceptions and hot buttons.

PECULIARITIES of the various media channels: print, TV and radio. 

DAMAGE CONTROL: How to minimise damage during tough times.

TAKING CONTROL, ignoring questions to deliver what you really want to say. (We’ll also work on deciding what you really want to say and saying it in the most effective way.)


Express your interest with a quick call to Brett: 0414 713 802 or email us.

Some hot dates for you all you (marketing) lovers out there

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Our trainer-in-chief Brett de Hoedt has a few days to kill between upcoming interstate gigs. Idle hands are the devil’s playground so do everyone a favour and book Brett to deliver some of his glowingly-reviewed training in: copywriting, social media, website management, marketing, media relations, campaign planning, media interviews or presenting.

media and marketing training in brisbane

Brett is ready to fly. Ring-a-ding-ding.

You might just want to discuss a possibility with him face-to-face. Either way just call Brett on 0414 713 802. Booking Brett when he’s in the neighbourhood works out well for us, so we’ll make it especially good value for you. The main value of course is in the learning – fast, practical and rewarding.

Remember Brett is engaged by single organisations, groups that work together on an issue or project, groups gathered by peaks and professional bodies. Local governments, shires and volunteer resource centres often use Brett to deliver training to an assortment of community groups in one sitting.  He travels anywhere at anytime but these dates make particular sense right now:

Gold Coast: Friday June 6 from noon.

Brisbane: Thursday June 12.

Sydney: Tuesday September 2 and Wednesday September 3.

media training in adelaide

Wang Wang, Funi, meet Brett. Brett meet Wang Wang and Funi.

Adelaide: Thursday October 23. (Or maybe Brett could finally see the pandas!)

How to improve any piece of copywriting

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copywriting workshop for marketing

One day to boost your skills & expand your thinking.

Brett recently delivered our copywriting workshop, Copy Savvy to a posse from the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Few were formally trained in copywriting or communications but all wanted to be better writers as they write as part of their job for audiences internal and external.

copywriting tips

Cosmo writes good copy and utilises the first-guinea pig style.

At one point Brett excitedly declared: “You see – it’s not hard to dramatically improve your copywriting. Not hard.” Let’s see – here’s some of his advice for anyone wanting to simply improve their copywriting;

copywriting course


You don’t need to be a crack writer to implement any of these points so go forth and write good copy. If you think this can help anyone, please share it. Now go book yourself a place at Copy Savvy or book one for your whole team – anywhere, anytime.

Local government PR campaign planning

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Hootville Communications will help plan Baw Baw Shire Council’s walking and cycling promotion campaign. The health promotion work aims to get more Baw Baw locals living in the Victorian regional municipality ambulating without the help of motor vehicles.

health promotion campaign consultant

Already we have three early adopters. Bless 'em.

Already there’s an app in the offing and a promise of an “anything that works” approach to the campaign. Can we make the towns of Warragul, Drouin, Trafalgar et al the most walk- and ride-friendly locations in regional Australia? Let’s see.

To get us there we can envisage surveys, awards, league tables pitting town against town, school against school, learn how to walk videos…this should be fun. Step one is a workshop with the reference committee which is made up of interested people from far and wide, inside Council and without.

Celebrity Ambassadors: worth the fuss?

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choosing a celebrity ambassador

Frankly puppies this cute warrant media attention with or without a sports star sidekick.

One trick up the nonprofit marketer’s sleeve is the celebrity ambassador. Wrangle the right celeb and opportunities will open. That said, celebrity ambassadors or spokespeople are a mixed blessing and not to be engaged without serious consideration.

We’ve worked with a collection of celebrity ambassadors over the years and there’s no doubt it can make things happen and happen faster. When AFL star Joel Selwood agrees to hold a Seeing Eye Dog Australia puppy, the media (hard-bitten, cynical, news-hounds that they are) come running.

Probable positives of  a celebrity ambassador:

  • increased media interest;
  • broader media interest (suddenly FM breakfast radio or the sports section or Radio National breakfast becomes a possibility)
  • celebrity has networks in media and business to be leveraged;
  • celebrity may be a polished media performer.

Possible Negatives:

  • commitment is short-term;
  • celebrity supports other causes; is a gun for hire;
  • celebrity only supports your cause in lukewarm fashion;
  • celebrity supports incompatible commercial interests;
  • celebrity is not fully aware of the relevant issues;
  • celebrity comes to personifies issue, leaving you beholdent to them;
  • celebrity hasn’t got the IQ to get to grips with your issue;
  • supporting celebrity takes large amount of effort;
  • celebrity gets hypothetically caught in racecourse toilet with cocaine and wife;
  • celebrity cannot work within your structure / philosophy.


Some questions to ask before engaging anyone.

  • Is she a right fit with your cause?
  • What is she willing to do?
  • What is her motivation?
  • What does she require financially and logistically?
  • Are there skeletons in the closet? Is she long-term?
  • Is he dumb?
  • What will he achieve what you can’t?
  • Will she limit you in some ways? Does she not talk to certain media targets?
  • Will he polarise opinion?
  • Will he be able to recruit other celebrities?
  • Is she a “usual suspect” or “celeb for hire”?
  • Will he appeal to the unconverted but convertible?

The approach

Unless you have a genuine personal connection to the prospective ambassador you’re going to be in trouble. These people are in demand from neighbours, spouses, old school pals and local shopkeepers. Most celebs have minders in the form of PR flacks and managers. PR flacks care only about PR, managers only about their commission – and you ain’t representing any. So at least the publicist has something to gain.

celebrity ambassadors

One of the nicest, generous, professional people you'd ever want to meet.

As a Seven Network publicist Brett handled sports commentating one-name-brand Bruce McAvaney. “We’d sit across the desk and go through the mail – invitations, offers and requests. Dozens of them, weekly. Many of them offered financial opportunities – blue-chip corporates offering payment just for Bruce to attend a lunch and speak his mind on that week’s footy. Thousands. For lunch. Bruce being Bruce would usually pass as he needed to do his famous preparation. He was just too busy. And that’s for the easy, paying gigs. NFPs didn’t really stand a chance with any of the people we looked after.”

Approach the celebrity like you would a journalist when pitching a story – a quick call with written material at the ready. Stay positive, expect a wary, incurious response. Be ready to negotiate. Don’t be offended by over-protective advisors.

This may be one time to take no for an answer – if the celebrity isn’t interested it is unlikely that she will be effective for you.

Try and strike a balance between explaining what you see the the role entailing without being too specific. Can you ask for something low-intensity such as a voice over? This worked a treat when Eric Bana voiced a CSA for our client Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria.

pr advice ambassador

Geoff Huegill was a happy-go-lucky chap. Happy and alert.

Working on a project for the Telstra Dolphins in the lead up to the Sydney 2000 Olympics we had a media meltdown when the team’s stars – Thorpe, Riley, Kowalski, Huegill and co – toured the country holding swim clinics. Getting the ambassadors to do something they usually do is a good starting point.  It certainly eases an agent’s mind. Money also has this affect.

If you do engage a celebrity:

Don’t make your celebrity carry the burden of spreading your message. Use them as a special weapon.

Have them act as MC or entertainment. Shaun Micallef did a great job emceeing a Cerebral Palsy Support Network fund raiser we were part of but was unavailable for media beforehand. Opportunity lost.

Have them make a quick speech or to present a prize. Use their image, quote or signature. Have celebrities host tables at your next function. This may be a more natural role for the celebrity.

Consider paying them something even if it’s a lot to you and little to them. This investment changes the power dynamics and expectations.

Always put down what you expect from each other on paper.  It’s professional and avoids unhappiness later on.

Always support the celebrity with information, your bodily presence at any occasion and acknowledgement after the event. No matter what they say, they are used to a certain degree of pampering, flattering and chauffering. Many NFPs aren’t quite up to the challenge. Welcome to showbiz baby.

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