Media training in regional Victoria

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Brett will be donning Akubra, moleskins and Driza-Bone for a May jaunt through regional Victoria delivering Online Savvy 101 to members of the Hume region Family Violence Alliance.

media training in regional victoria

Brett will present the sessions wearing headwear similar to this.

The three sessions will take him to Benalla, Nagambie and Beechworth training about 20 folk in each town. It’s time to saddle up the old Honda and mosey up the Hume.

In keeping with this non-metropolitan setting Brett will be conducting the all-day sessions exclusively in his best Russell Crowe accent.

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Social media policy alternative

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social media policy

Sure beats consulting for 9 months on a proper policy.


Policies bore us at Hootville. And the world of social media – a vibrant, irreverent, hyperkinetic space – is not suited to rules and regulation.

Thus we think this alternative may appeal. These come in pads. Rip ’em off and fill ’em out when required, we say.

Find them, and plenty of others of the same ilk here.



Testify or risk WTWSTWT

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Here’s one thing we see too few of: testimonials.

What’s so special about them? Well for one thing, they minimise WTWSTWTWe live in a time of endless claims from endless sources. Most claims – we’ll save you time, make you money, we are worthy, we can lower interest rates, I never sexually harassed that staffer, we will turn back the boats, this tax will save the planet – are met with WTWSTWT.

WTWSTWT = “Well they would say that wouldn’t they.” You want to avoid that response.

nonprofit marketing advice

Young folk can be pretty quick with the WTWSTWT, though not in so many words.

The more marginalised your audience, the less likely they are to take the word of an institution. (AKA: you.) Generally speaking, a socially excluded audience displays lower trust and greater  cynicism.

They might however take the word of a peer – which is where testimonials come in. Think of them as a substitute for word-of-mouth.

nonprofit advertising advice

It can be as simple as this.

Here’s a series of simple example and damn good ones at that; from Break Thru Employment Solutions.  

Use testimonials every chance you get. On your site we try using testmionials from donors, bequestors, volunteers, employees, clients, family of clients, patrons, stakeholders, the Minister – whoever . Use them early and often. 

We think that if you can orchestrate testimonials on video they will be more powerful still. Testimonials also allow you to show, not tell, your audience about your values. 

nonprofit marketing

Good marketing distinguishes the brand and connects to your targets.

We trained a group of adult education providers in 2011. They struggle to engage one key audience – middle aged men returning to study, after a short formal education and long term unemployment. Talk about WTWSTWT! Testimonials from their tribe might be a small way to break down the barrier.

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Differentiate or die. A values-based discussion.

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Background briefing: a category is a type of good or service; say canned soup. Within the canned soup category are brands or products, say Campbell’s Soup.

selecting brand values

This soup is like no other. Truly.

Here’s a thought: corporates spend their whole life offering extremely similar brands within a category but claiming that their brand is vastly different and preferable. Think of categories such as toothpaste, credit cards, three door hatchbacks, air travel, funeral insurance, butter, professional sporting clubs or trainers. Most brands within each of these categories are very similar, especially if you compare similarly priced brands. 

Each brand in each category has very few tangible qualities or values to differentiate itself with its competitors. Thus these brands spend millions giving the impression that they have unique values or attributes. They mainly point to insubstantiated claims – this brand will make you happy, sexy, respected, close to your family. These brand values are rubbish of course but they work.

Differentiation means that each brand stands out in the marketplace and can attract its share of punters. Punters often fall for this and develop strong affiliations based on little more than spurious advertising claims. Suckers!

Nonprofits are largely the opposite. Many work hard to develop tangibly different approaches to similar problems such as youth homelessness, disability employment or providing foster care to children. Yet few nonprofit brands concern themselves with differentiating themselves from other brands in the same category. (Forgive the marketing jargon.)

Does this hurt nonprofits? Yes. Too many brands which deserve to be leaders in their category market in ways that promote the category as a whole. It also hurts consumers because they deserve to understand that one mental health brand or service is different to another and how – but they assume that they are all more or less the same.

When ruminating over your brand’s values consider that the wisest brand values:

  • differentiate you from others in your category.
  • aren’t generic or obvious – few airlines boast about being safe – that is a given. Unless maybe you’re a Russian airline.
  • are based in reality – don’t claim to be something you are not.
  • can be displayed in everything you do – the tone of your copywriting to the names of your programs.
  • resonate with your audience.

These are not the same as your mission, vision and values – they are something else entirely; we don’t what.

selecting brand values

The whiskey, behind the man, behind the bar.

A long time ago whiskey Johnny Walker recognised that differentiation was a problem for them and adopted the tag line: “Ask for it by name.” Smart move. They didn’t want to waste their money encouraging people to drink whiskey. They wanted their brand drunk. You should too. 

Maybe it’s time for a Marketing Savvy 101. Ask for it by name.

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One email that ALWAYS gets opened

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You know how we at Hootville feel about eNewsletters and eMarketing in general. We are eNewsletter fetishists and proud of it. Squiggle wags his tail involuntarily every time he  sends out another edition of the Lowdown and we hope they make your tails wag likewise.

Here’s a question for anyone (canine or human)  who edits an eNewsletter: of all the emails a subscriber will ever receive which is the most likely to be opened? Take 10 seconds to think.


Your subscription confirmation email. Yep – it’s statistically proven. So this raises the question – are you making the most of this opportunity? Likely answer is: no.

What could you do? Beyond a genuine, non-robotic welcome you could link to the five best articles on your website for some instant gratification, spruik an upcoming event or (this is good) have them take a 2m survey.

We dare you. You will instantly segment your keenest new subscribers.

People who have just subscribed themselves are hot-to-trot so they may undertake a quick online survey. More importantly, the survey may reveal something you could use. You may ask them if they have volunteered before, whether they could provide a suitable opportunity for your public speakers, if they would like a tour of your kennels or if they have a lead for your social enterprise team of office cleaners.

Any response shows them to be interested. The right responses may warrant a phone call. (Ask for permission first.) Let’s say a subscriber receives a polite, quick call from you about any of the above issues. The relationship is already well under way and you’ve certainly given them a connection to keep pening and responding to your future communications.

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Talk like this – save koalas

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Deborah Tabart of Save the Koala Foundation is the best thing to happen to koalas since eucalyptus. Tabart has been a media staple for a couple of decades and is the go-to spokesperson on all things koala.

"I'd have a champagne with Deborah," said this marsupial. "But I hardly drink."

Her performance on RN Breakfast Friday was exemplary which is why we’re using it as an example.

2.30m: Is this woman authentic? Comfortable? Across her brief? Passionate? Oh yeah. But tough! She gives credit to the Minister when it is due but wastes zero time pointing out flaws to keep the story alive and place more pressure on decision makers federally and in Queensland.

4.00m: “The Victorian government perpetuates this myth” Don’t hold back Deborah! Great stuff. Challenge your enemies likewise.

4.25m: A direct challenge to the Minister to go koala spotting together  – this will be taken up by journalists looking for a story. Names specific locations – sure to hit home with listeners in those areas. Plugs her Facebook, quotes data and invites herself back on the show.

5.30m: shows how she is connected to the issue and her supporters. 

6.05m: insults a committee on which she served. Then debunks some large sounding funding. Civilians (people outside nonprofits) get suckered by seemingly large amounts of money – break figures down as Deborah has.

7.10m: “It’s not going to save our koalas”. Now that’s a take home message for listeners.

Combative, tough, entertaining, passionate, Deborah positions herself as a leader. Kudos to you. You could do the same dear Citizen – couldn’t you?

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Old story, well timed, equals media bonanza

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Here’s a great truth for those seeking media coverage – the media needs you. Without publicists just like you, journalists wouldn’t be able to fill the space left between advertisements, promos, banners, songs and theme tunes. 

Truthier still; sometimes that space is harder to fill than at other times. Early morning radio bulletins are always hard to fill with fresh, timely content – just imagine getting an interview for your 6am radio news at 5.40am.

Monday is harder across the board as less happens on weekends and contacts are harder to reach. Public holidays – especially a four day weekend such as Easter – are harder than most. Little is happening, yet media outlets have weekday programming / papers to fill. Awkward.

PR training Australia

Bingo! Add in radio and TV coverage and you have a superb result.

That’s one of the reasons why Alzheimer’s Australia was able to score such huge coverage of its report into the aged care sector and its treatment of people with dementia. (See Google results left.)


With no parliament to cover, stockmarket to report on nor corporate news, the opportunities for a story on aged care rises exponentially. Incoming calls from publicists to media dropped 90% on Friday, meaning less competition. Kudos to the PR folk at Alzheimer’s Australia (AA) for knowing this.

Really smart tips to take advantage of this whole time-space continuum thing: 

Look ahead at the calendar – when is the next sleepy public holiday / long weekend? Can you create a story angle that relates to the holiday? (If not; don’t fret, AA wasn’t able to connect to Easter and it didn’t hurt them.)

You will have to do / release something on a certain day to tie your story to a certain date. That date is often entirely arbitrary and selected to maximise coverage. Eg: AA chose to release its report on Easter Monday April 9 yet, as far as we are aware there was no need for this beyond the desire to benefit from a slow news day and little competition.

Start pitching early as journos can be hard to reach around public holidays too but have an embargo in place.

Mention in your pitch that the story is embargoed until a certain holiday or slow news day but don’t make too much of it unless you know the journo well. Eg: “Professor Expert from the UK will be available to talk to media on ANZAC Day April 25…” Let the journo think to herself: “Oh goodie – slow news day.”

Offer to pre-record radio news grabs the night before, for use early the next morning. This is a Godsend for radio journos who looove to have a fresh story or two “in the can” for those hard-to-fill early morning news bulletins which are in fact the peak listening times. This tip is GOLD any day of the week. Email us when you use it and tell us how it worked.

Similarly, pitching a print story that can be written on Sunday for hard-to-fill Monday newspaper editions is a smart move.

Want more media coverage?



What SEO tactics really work?

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Nonprofits rarely spend enough energy on gaining better search engine results. Printing brochures and creating static displays at libraries are all very well but may not gain as many new donors, volunteers, members and participants as a page one Google ranking.

how to get better search engine results

Pick an option and get to work.

But how does one go about such an achievement aside from taking a SEO Savvy 101 webinar?

Well for a start, learn the options you have at your disposal. Then pick the best options, by which we mean the options that yield the best results for the least effort. This Marketing Sherpa graph is very telling and much appreciated.

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Reading list April 5, 2012

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With App Savvy 101 fast approaching we thought it an opportune moment to peruse some mood management apps that organisations are creating.

copywriting advice

The anti-Hootville: communications for evil; not good.

Campaigners and communicators need to persuade, cajole, empathise – then get what they want. Who better to explain the dark art of rapport building than famed conman Victor Lustig?

Think you know a thing or two about email marketing? How many of these terms do you know? More importantly how many of these issues are you across?



Two good bad examples.

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Whenever we deliver media training to spokespeople anywhere in Australia we make one thing perfectly clear – examples RULE. One common weakness of spokespeople of all varieties (and experience) is waiting too long to deliver an example to illustrate the point. Even worse; examples are often omitted from the interview entirely.

speaker training - examples

The future: two refridgerators deep in conversation.

Why are examples so special? Well, if rational, reasonable arguments were enough, you’d be out of work and living in a perfect world. After all, we’ve all been told to read to the kids, lay off the booze, and turn off the lights a thousand times but it ain’t enough. Reasons are rational. Examples help connect emotionally and help persuade and cajole.

Also, concepts can be fuzzy – examples clarify.

You must spend time developing rock solid, slam-dunk examples before you meet the media. Examples must be broad enough to appeal to your audience and rigorous enough to withstand some skepticism.

Sunday April 1 on RN’s Future Tense we heard a spokesperson miss the mark. Mary-Anne Williams of the University of Sydney was talking about IBM-funded research investigating how appliances might automatically ‘talk’ to each other in the future, creating better outcomes for us humans. (We’ll just settle for our personal jetpacks, thanks.)

It’s all about IBM’s supposed vision for smarter cities and a smarter world. This concept is called the Internet of Things. This is a cutesy curiosity-inspiring title.

Is it clear to you what the whole Internet of Things concept is all about? Probably not and that is where Mary-Anne’s example could have helped. So what did she say to inform and inspire?

“We’re building a framework such that these devices will be able to communicate with one another. They will be able to ask each other what state they’re in. So the car will be able to ask the refrigerator if the [fridge] door is open or closed, and the refrigerator will be able to ask the car where it is right now. Is it parked near the office, is it going past a 7/11—things like that.

 Hmmm…anyone hungry for this brave new world? Everyone at least understand it? She continued:

” I mean is it useful if your refrigerator contacts the car or emails you on your mobile phone to collect milk on your way home?” Well frankly – probably not and this certainly isn’t the sort of thing taxpayers expect universities to be researching. Isn’t this the domain of some app developer in San Francisco or Bangalore or the Sunshine Coast? Doesn’t this sound twee, trivial and bollocksfull? That whole fridge-will-know-when-you-run-out-of stuff has already been around for two decades. Surely there is a better, stronger, more robust example to give.

Mary-Anne did provide another example – cars could be trained to record how multiple drivers prefer their seat, mirrors, radio, temperature etc and automatically adjust when each driver takes the wheel. Problem #1 some cars already have this. #2 Isn’t this the domain of car makers? #3 Do we really need this?

Sadly the reporter wasn’t suitably skeptical to test his interviewee so we’ll never know if there’s more to this than some national airtime promoting IBM.  

Some key criteria for any example you use:

  • does it clarify the concept?
  • can enough people relate to it?
  • can it withstand rigourous challenges?
  • does it tackle some negative or false perceptions?
  • does it sound twee?

Twee instantly makes you sound weak, leaving your argument diminshed.

Hootville has recently heard a twee example too often in the world of disability and mental health. It is given to explain person-centred funding in which the client is given more control on how she spends her dollars. We have repeatedly heard it explained thus:

“The new model gives the person with a disability the freedom to spend their money as they see fit to suit them. They may spend their money getting their dog walked / a hair cut / a massage / going to the movies. Person-centred funding gives them the choice.”

media training advice sydney

Oh to be the recipient of all this lovely person-centred funding.

Everytime we hear a spokesperson give this sort of example we hear civilians everywhere emit a low “Hmmmmmm.” Followed by: “What if they all waste it on massages and facials?” Followed by: “I don’t know if this is such a good idea.”

A less twee example: “Many people need carers to prepare themselves to go out. These people find that there are not enough services working nights and weekends which is when many of them work and socialise. At the moment people with disabilities are forced to choose between services that the government funds. Under person-centred funding if enough people wish to spend their money on a late night carer service a provider might start such a service. No bureaucrat needs to fund it. New demands will create new services just like in other parts of the economy.”

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