Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Four Principles of Change Communications

 This past week I have been involved in change communications both as sender and receiver. 

As part of a government reference group I'm helping with a report on an environmental issue likely to attract community interest. On the other hand a government agency is proving advice on a significant shift in its tourism strategy to the organisation I'm currently with. 

Quite similar communications principles emerged even though both unfolding situations are very different: 

• You can never give people too much information when your issue affects their interests. People hunger for information if they have a personal stake in the outcome.

• Never assume people know what you know, until they prove otherwise. Your knowledge achieves true value when you share it. 

• Just when you grow tired of giving out information, people are just beginning to understand or recognize your issue. Consistent communications is the hallmark in good change programs.

• It is better to progressively give out information as it comes to hand rather than save everything for a grand announcement. When change is imminent people speculate in the absence of communication . Rumours start and people fill in the gaps with their own theories.  And besides, grand announcements often fail to live up to their expectations. They either diappoint or draw ciriticism if people feel they have not been adequately consulted.

Communicators already know these sentiments, but it was interesting to see them driven home and affirmed in quite different situations over the space of a few days.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pro Bono PR Workshops Hit The Mark

Since 2003 I have conducted free PR workshops for nearly 300 not for profit organisations. The feedback is generally positive and we enjoy supporting those who support their communities.

Volunteering ACT (VACT) mentioned these efforts in its 2010 - 2011 Annual Report.

"....volunteer agencies have benefited greatly from the pro bono series of workshops presented by Bob Crawshaw of Maine Street Marketing.  Feedback from participants in these workshops has been overwhelmingly positive, with ongoing feedback indicating the great value to all agencies concerned.  

All workshops in the series were over subscribed.  
VACT Education extends warm appreciation to Mr Crawshaw for 
his generous and expert contributions."

Throughout the 2011 seminar series it was certainly a great pleasure for me to work with the highly professional and always engaging VACT Education Manager, Roger McFarlane. 

Friday, November 25, 2011

How Often Should You Advertise?

I belong to an online community interested in social marketing.  

This very active group of people generously shares research and experiences on strategies that encourage people to change personal and group behaviour to achieve positive personal, community, environmental or other outcomes.

Recently a forum member asked " there a certain number of times that a consumer needs to be exposed to a message before it leads to a behavior change?"

I do a lot of advertising so the topic captured my attention.  

I was particularly impressed with Linda Brennan's response. Linda is Professor of Advertising at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT).  She replied (quoted in full):

"The rule of thumb in advertising is 3 repeats in order for people to remember it. There are some generalisations about this idea that suggest that recall is a good first step in generating attention.

However, behaviour change is not about exposure to the message; it is about engagement with the message. That is, it must be relevant to the audience, accepted and credible, they must have formed some sort of attachment to the ideas embedded in the message/exposure and then they must have actively decided to behave differently. Some time after that comes behaviour and only then if the social ecology (environment) in which they live allows for them to behave differently to previous behaviours.

So, do not over expose your message and hope it will work for you (it won't)."

Someone else highlighted research by Gerard J Tellis of the University of Southern California and his research paper titled Effective Frequency: One Exposure or Three Factors

Advertising can be a powerful weapon to introduce an issue or to reinforce a message, but in this age of communications-saturation it has long since lost favour as a silver bullet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Not For Profit PR Podcasts

 This past week we started production with North American broadcaster, Wayne Kelly, on a 10-part podcast series on PR and not for profits

The series is intended for volunteers and staff working in small to medium-size community service organizations.  They are the people who do such great work in our communities and are keen to tell clients, supporters, governments, donors and their towns about what their organisation does.

The series covers:
  • Why marketing is a must for not for profits. 
  • What a simple, 12 month marketing plan looks like. 
  • Three marketing strategies for less than $500 a year. 
  • The power of events for not for profits. 
  • Becoming social media-savvy. 
  • Word of mouth marketing. 
  • Funding, sponsorship and government relations. 
  • Marketing channels such as print and direct marketing. 
  • And the boring but essential things like budgets, timetables, and measurement.
The series will be a companion to our upcoming book PR on a Tiny Budget: How Not For Profits Can Win Attention and, like the book, will be available in the new year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Social Media Revolution 2011

Watch this great video on social media.  

Like a lot of web content it is hard to know if the figures are accurate, but it certainly makes you stop and think about how our digital worlds are changing. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

10 Ways To Judge Speaking Success

I have a dear friend who works for a well known not for profit and speaks to community groups about cancer-related issues.  

Recently she asked me how she could judge her speaking success.  

Your community group may have a speakers program as part of its PR activity.  So how do you measure if speaking to other organisations is worth the time and effort that goes into preparing and delivering such a talk.

Some measures that might help you measure whether your next talk is successful, are:
  • Did you motivate some-one in your audience to do something as a result of listening to you? Did they visit your website, ask for a brochure, call a hot line or come up to you after you finished to register their interest or continue the conversation? 
  • If you had a particular call to action in your presentation, how many people responded?
  • What reaction did you get during your talk? What was the mood in the room?  Were the audience engaged and interested or were they bored and tuned out as you rambled on?
  • How many questions were asked during and after you spoke? The number and nature of questions and comments is often a clear sign if you have engaged your audience.
  • How people collected a brochure, business card or other material you may have brought along and distributed?
  • How many people accessed  your presentation online if you shared it through Slideshare or other  platforms. Or asked you to email them a white paper or more information?
  • Did you receive any feedback a couple of days after the event?
  • Did the organisers feel your presentation was of such value,  they donated funds (if that was the goal of your presentation) or did they invite you back to speak again?
  • Did one speaking opportunity lead to another invitation to present.  I heard you speak at x.  Can you come and speak to our group.
  • Did you speech get reported or were you asked for information for your host's newsletter, website, blog or elsewhere.
These are the effectiveness measures I look: but how do you measure speaking success in your organisation? 

Let's share some ideas.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Social Media Is Not All Wild West

We often hear social media is a bit like the Wild West, full of outlaws where things happen fast and loose. Well, not always.

This past week in the lead up to Remembrance Day in Australia (Veterans Day in the US), the online discount site DealMe carried an offer for a photography course with heavily reduced  tuition prices.  Illustrating the offer was a selection of images taken by the people who run the training.  Among those images was a picture of the Australian War Memorial.

Australians view the Memorial as a special place that honours the men an women who gave their lives in the wartime service of Australia.  So the use of this particular image to advertise a sale - for completely non-related commercial purposes - would be regarded as insensitive by many people.  

The DealMe staff were contacted about the issue, recognised its significance, apologised and within minutes the Memorial image was gone .... off the site.

Internet selling certainly has its rogues gallery, but there are also many decent folks who respect the concerns of others. 

(Disclaimer: I do work for the Australian War Memorial)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Elections And Story Telling

I spent this weekend at a Lions convention in the south west Victorian town of Portland.

Lions is that wonderful organisation that does so much to help families, protect the environment and strengthen communities.

Part of the convention involved electing a new District Governor to lead the 1500 members of local clubs in 2012.

Delegates had to choose between three candidates, each with impressive community experiences over many years.

Each addressed the convention before ballots were cast. Two candidates spoke about the appointments they had held, where they had served etc. The third told a story.

Tapping into Australians' abiding interest in the ANZACS, he spoke of his experiences visiting Gallipoli where Australians had battled opposing Turkish forces in 1915.

In particular he related the story of a Turkish soldier saving the life of an Australian digger. An illustration of humanity cutting across barriers even in war. This image of one man helping another had, and still motivates him in his not for profit work.

The story teller won the election.

Of course there are other reasons why members chose him, but his story telling was certainly a factor in engaging his fellow Lions.

I took it as a small but powerful example of how storytelling can impact not for profits and other organisations but more importantly how it grips people.