Monthly Archives: June 2014

Brett talks climate change campaigning on ABC-TV

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media trainer Brett de Hoedt

How quickly the media trainer becomes the media performer.

Before speaking about media to 500+ aspiring environmental campaigners at Al Gore’s Climate Reality event in Melbourne, media trainer Brett de Hoedt was interviewed on ABC-TV’s Weekend Breakfast. So how well does a media trainer perform on live television? Judge for yourself.

Brett says it was a tricky interview: “The interview brief was rather fuzzy. I spoke to three or four different segment producers each of whom was just carrying on the work for someone else. Nobody had fully thought through what was to be tackled. The best investment I made was writing a pre-interview document suggesting some topics / issues. I also explained that I wasn’t an environmentalist or event organiser. I explained the topics that I could address with knowledge and certainty.

Brett – who does not lack confidence – spent six to eight hours prepping for this seven minute interview. Why so much? “Evaluating or defending the climate change movement’s campaigning is not something about which I specifically blog or speak,” he humbles. “Other topics would require little more prep than the ironing of a shirt but this wasn’t one of those.”

Of course, going-to-air live adds an element of risk. The interview was held in the remote studio in Melbourne talking directly down the barrel of a tiny camera. The room is small, hot and there’s no monitor to see your interviewer. You are spoken to via an earpiece. There was no briefing by the interviewer’s prior to her opening question – just a time countdown.

Brett himself rates his performance a 7 / 10. “On time, dressed, no swearing, looked reasonably comfortable, made a few decent points, didn’t accidentally call interviewer Kochie,” he says.

“Bonus points for clarifying the interview’s direction beforehand and the subsequent research. I directed the conversation back to what I wanted it to be a couple of times. Yeah – about a seven.” Not good enough but not bad.

Brett’s review of Brett: Brett’s first response: You could measure it (the climate movement’s campaigning results) in a positive way or a negative way… That’s good practice. Explaining that it can be measured in a positive or negative way paves the way for me to then go ahead and explain the two ways. That’s two bites of the cherry and more control for me. I always teach that, so it’s good to see that I did it.


Eliza: Last year’s election result seems to be a mandate for Tony Abbott and his government to move away from a pricing mechanism on carbon. So therefore do you think that things have really stalled? Brett: Yeah, it’s certainly not a vote in favour of the current campaign… Very, very bad.

I should not have accepted this characterisation and should have said: “Well the election was a measure of many things – carbon tax being just one of them. In fact its been broadly agreed that environment matters were almost entirely off the election agenda. Interestingly this week another poll confirmed that 80%+ of Australians want to reduce carbon.”


Eliza: You talk about the current way of campaigning. An Inconvenient Truth – there were quite a few fear messages. I mean that part of it was quite frightening, the prospects of what would happen. Do you think that fear has been somewhat of a problem?                                                                              

In any reasonably sophisticated interview there’s the question and then there’s the premise on which the question is based. The underlying premise here was that Al Gore had overstated his case in An Inconvenient Truth and that predictions had failed to come true.

This premise had to be identified and countered in real time. Thus I am happy with my response which was in part: If we’re saying that the worst impact of climate change is yet to happen, well, I’d say, according to a report from the World Health Organization 7 million people around the globe, 7 million, died prematurely from air pollution. A staggering statistic. We’ve just had our hottest summer on record in Australia. We’ve had I think the warmest autumn ever. So the impacts are right here, right now. So I don’t think we have to worry about terrible circumstances down the track. The here and now is quite bad enough to steel us to action.

I’m am also glad that I repeated a key stat – 7 million deaths. Who’d have thought my prep would have paid off?


Eliza: Do you feel that the other side of the argument is running a better public relations campaign?    Not a bad response by me but I should have added that much of the media has decided to ignore science and climate change with this a line like this:

It’s easy to maintain the status quo when there is media on your side despite the facts. Some media outlets in this country are now so politically-driven that they can’t even agree whether we’ve smoked more or less in the last year – despite ABS data and annual reports of tobacco companies.” 


Eliza: OK – so how do you counter that? This is a broad question so it provided an opportunity to promote the Climate Reality training. Also glad I got to use the phrase, “Tree hugging vegans” and speak of 30-year-long comas.  

climate change media training

Shell sells a C tax.

One big dumb error was not mentioning this blog post by Shell’s climate change advisor David Hone which argues passionately for a price on carbon. I had my schtick ready: “Eliza last night I read a blog post titled: 10 reasons why business should love a price on carbon. That’s the sort of article you’d expect to see on a greenie website but I found it on the Shell website. As in Shell oil. It was written by Shell’s own climate change advisor David Hone. When Shell is schilling for a price on carbon, it’s time the politicians caught up.” Bugger.

climate change media training

Always good to hear from one's public.

When I mentioned that climate change attracts criticism and kooks I wasn’t exaggerating. By the time I returned to Hootville HQ two emails – each debunking the climate change hoax – awaited me. Then there was this minor and poorly written Facebook trolling.


Al Gore almost meets Brett de Hoedt

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Hootville’s Brett de Hoedt has been chosen to present at Climate Reality 2014, one of the environment movement’s major events for 2014, where he’ll share the bill with former U.S Vice President Al Gore. The Oscar-and-Nobel winning Harvard graduate and Apple board member will be in Melbourne to present An Inconvenient Truth live and impart the wisdom gained from fighting for the environment on a global scale.

al gore in melbourne

Sadly Mr Gore will not have the opportunity to meet Brett de Hoedt.

Brett, who went to a local TAFE as a mature aged student and wrote for New Idea, will be delivering a keynote on gaining media coverage and performing effectively for media. Ain’t social mobility grand?    

Climate Reality, which is the brainchild of Mr Gore, brings together 500+ activists from across Australia and the Asia-Pacific region for three days of intense training before being unleashed to present and campaign on environmental matters. Successful attendees were selected from thousands of applicants.

Says Brett: “The challenge is to condense two full-day workshops to 60 minutes. Two options – talk really fast or distill, distill, distill. I’ll take option B.”

So has Brett been offered an opportunity to meet the great man? Yes – but he can’t make it. “I’m driving to Mitchell Shire to deliver social media training to 40 or so local community groups,” he reports. “That’s showbusiness.”

Media trainer Brett de Hoedt

Brett will be appearing on devices like this one across the nation.

At least Mr Gore can watch Brett on TV. Brett’s been invited on to ABC TV’s Weekend Breakfast Sunday June 22 to discuss the marketing of climate change. Be up early to watch it – 7.20am is the prime timeslot.

Read what Mr Gore said in the lead up to his Australian trip.

15 years celebration giveaway

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Hootville tries to resist self-indulgent nostalgia but turning 15 is worth a toot of the horn. (And a giveaway detailed below – closes Friday July 4.)

Our first client was the delightful multi-gold-medal winning Paralympian Priya Cooper in 1999. Brett scored a bagful of media coverage for Priya (she was an easy pitch) and felt the distinct adrenalin rush that came with securing each hit. Then came a nonprofit Asia-Pacific women’s development bank client. Brett’s media release landed coverage with its headline: “Women’s bank to refuse male customers.” An empire was founded micro business was born.

melbourne PR agency

Employee 001. Don't be fooled by his dusty exterior. Kevin's thermal roll is ready to unspool at a moment's notice.

Brett’s first employee was Kevin the talking fax machine (left). “Fax” doesn’t do Kevin justice as he is also a phone, copier and scanner. He still serves casually and was used last week to fax a regional shire. Once more Kevin’s bon mot rang out: ”Transmission is complete”.

Last century is millions of emails and many, many unfinished administrative tasks ago. We’d like to thank all our former clients, staff and current associates, none more so than our mascot and mentor Squiggle.

Hootville has served 500 clients, delivering hundreds of training workshops, emceeing scores of events, birthing new websites, creating PR plans and giving advice – some of it quite sage. We are proud to serve the NFP sector not as a pro-bono favour, nor as a novel source of revenue but as the bread and butter of our business.

We’ve achieved far more and far less than we hoped. Yep – both. That’s showbiz. Regrets; we’ve had a few but then again…

We are very proud of the amount of free advice we’ve given away via the Hootville Lowdown and website. Thus we thought we’d give something else away to celebrate. How about 15 free advice sessions? 15 telephone sessions each of 30 minutes duration to discuss anything you want in the world of marketing, PR, comms and campaigning. If we can help we will, otherwise…well it’ll just have to be awkward. Your whole team can join in.

Just email us who you are and what you want to talk about. 250 words max. We’ll choose the 15 winners to represent a mix of causes and circumstances. As always we’ll stay true to our motto: Communications for good; not evil.