Category: Insights


My 3 Big Takeaways from TEDxSYDNEY 2016

TEDxSydney is a celebration of BIG IDEAS. The theme of TEDxSydney this year was “Togetherness”. What does this mean? It means that no big idea happens in a vacuum: the best ideas are the result of conversations and collaborations. I also think more generally it means “we are all in this together and we will all go down together – so let’s get our act together!”

Again this year, there was a great mix of intelligent, brave, inspiring and funny speakers and entertainers, who challenged the audience to think, feel and act differently.

I had three big take-outs from the day. These themes were in many different ways repeated over and over throughout the day and are good principles for us all to remember and try to live up to.

1. If You Don’t Step Over the Line, How Do You Know Where the Line Is?

Remo Giuffré is a thinker and creative strategist with a long track record as an entrepreneur, retail merchant and brand builder. He is also the Founder and Licensee of TEDxSydney.

In his welcome to the day Remo outlined for us TED’s overarching mission to nurture the spread of powerful ideas. His ambition is to continuously challenge people and push the boundaries of our understanding, our compassion, our biases and our use of technology.

Remo eloquently said that in the quest for innovation we not only have to keep moving the line but actually step over it.   I think this is such a powerful metaphor; innovation isn’t a destination, rather a continuous journey we take as humanity. So long as we don’t destroy ourselves or our planet we will have to keep innovating and building our improving understanding of community and acceptance of each other.

2. When We Know Better, We Can Do Better.

Tara Winkler is the Managing Director of the Cambodian Children’s Trust (CCT) which she established in 2007 in order to rescue fourteen Children from a corrupt and abusive orphanage.

Unfortunately, Tara found out that the well-meaning support and donations from the West fuels an industry that exploits foreigners in exchange for donations.

Building more orphanages is not the solution; it was actually part of the problem. To break the cycle of poverty children need to be taken out of institutions and have family based care and love.

This was an eye-opening revelation and puts paid to the some of the charity-tourism, which has become an industry in itself.

Tara made me wonder how many other things we take for granted that may be based on an underlying false assumption or result in unintended consequences?  Curiosity about the world around us is part of the answer; a quest for deeper understanding and knowledge is always a good thing. And most importantly, owning up to our mistakes and having the courage to make a change. Tara was truly inspirational. You can read more about it in her just published book How (Not) to Start an Orphanage.

3. Courage, Kindness and Forgiveness is the Essence of Humanity

Peta Murchinson and Gill Hicks, two incredibly inspiring women, shared powerful and very moving stories. Both connected with and captivated the audience – I doubt there would have been a dry eye in the auditorium for both talks.

Peta’s daughter is dying of Batten Disease, a very rare degenerative genetic disease that affects otherwise healthy children. Peta has had to face the absolute certainty of losing her daughter and at the same time open herself up to the warmth, compassion and generosity of her daughter’s school, community and even complete strangers.

Gill Hicks is a survivor of the London terrorist bombings in July 2005. She shared with us the horror of the attack, her rescue and her permanent injuries, losing both legs from just below the knee. Her vivid account of that day left me breathless, and her acceptance and forgiveness for what has happened to her is inspirational. She has dedicated her life to being an advocate for peace and refuses to talk about ‘the others’ or ‘the enemies’; we are all human and we all have the capacity for kindness and forgiveness.

Although the two stories are quite different what connected them, for me, was that through the depth of their sadness and horrific injuries, both these women found the courage to keep going and to not only endure, but to grow and open up to the love and kindness, sometimes from strangers, that helped them both to face their adversities.

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A day at TEDx is a day well spent and certainly challenges you to think and act differently:  something we should all do more of, more often!

How video content is driving massive engagement for food brands – Part 2

In Part 1 of this blog post we considered which video platforms are available for your food stories and some examples of how brands are using these platforms effectively to drive consumer engagement.

In this post, I am reviewing a few of our favourite food channels. These channels are creating innovative, simple and beautiful content with recipe videos that are driving millions of views daily.

At the end of this post, I will share my top five tips for producing amazing snackable video content for food brands (yes, pun intended!).

 

 buzzfeed

1. BuzzFeed Food

YouTube: 631K+subscribers, 44M+ views

Facebook: 20 K+ likes

Instagram: 2.1M followers

Buzzfeed food is known for their really simple and quirky recipes and hacks that prove that cooking can be fun and entertaining. Reaching different audiences, from true food fans to people who are just curious and enjoy the show.

4tricks

 

 

tastemade

2. Tastemade

YouTube – 606 K subscribers, 70 M+ views

Facebook – 14 M+ likes

Instagram866k followers – 100K to 300K views per day

Tastemade is a video network built for the mobile generation. They enable people to come together to discover and share their passion for great food and travel. From quick recipes to original series, they’re uploading two to three new videos every single day, to share their favorite food and travel stories from around the world.

One of the most popular Tastemade’s platforms is the Discovery section in Snapchat, where they share behind the scenes videos about their crazy food creations, kitchen tips, and trending ingredients.

healthypopcornchicken

 

 

tasty

3. Tasty

YouTube: 327 K subscriptions, 17 M+ views

Facebook: 53M+ likes

Instagram: 3M followers

With only three months of being created in 2015, the BuzzFeed’s channel Tasty, has reached almost 17 million views, demonstrating the great impact that food has on people in social media.

This channel makes it easy for people to understand how meal preparation is done and incentive consumers to buy food ingredients and utensils to make it themselves.

Almost all of their video creations are no longer than 1 minute, keeping it simple and easy to engage with the audience.

saltedsmores

 

 

howtocookthat

4. How To Cook That – Ann Reardon

YouTube: 2M+ subscribers, 331,746,754 views

Facebook: 71K

Instagram: 146K

Ann Reardon is a qualified food scientist and dietitian who likes to cook ridiculously unhealthy desserts (in her own words!). Ann is with doubt an Australian YouTube sensation, ranked number nine out of the Top 100 most subscribed Australia channels list

Ann specialises in creating and sharing of creative desserts, cakes, and chocolates. Something people from all around the world seem to enjoy.

cokechococake

Implications for Brands

Video consumption is booming, with more and more people are turning to YouTube and other social channels to search for new food and recipe inspiration.   To tap into this trend food brands consider these 6 tips for great video:

  • Keep your video content short, snappy and fun to watch
  • Focus on helpful or new ways your product can be used
  • You don’t need scripts or voice-overs, but do use pacey music
  • If a recipe, make sure it is really easy to reproduce
  • Don’t make your video too heavily branded or over produced
  • Allocate budget to promote your video content

If you would like to find out more or discuss how FORWARD Agency can help you develop videos like these, please get in touch!

 

How Video Content Is Driving Massive Engagement For Food Brands – Part 1

 

While watching the start of MasterChef Season 8 this week, I have been reflecting on the power of video content marketing to not only stimulate wannabe chefs, but also regular home cooks who are looking for new recipes to break the mid-week boredom of plain old meat and three veg.

Video is making helpful cooking tips more accessible than ever, especially with smartphones, whether you are in the supermarket or the kitchen. It is the perfect medium for a food brands to get people inspired, teach them a new skill, or just put a smile on their faces – and then share it with their networks.

Because of video’s inherent ability to stimulate the taste buds, this format is driving unprecedented engagement and new brand followers. Which means more love and bigger market shares for the brands that get it right.

YouTube

With 4 Billion views per day, and regarded as the second largest search engine on earth, YouTube is the “go to” destination for “how to” videos. So it is perfect for targeting your product and recipe content to people who are asking the perennial question, “what’s for dinner?” or “how do I do that?”.

YouTube has helped content creators (and brands) build massive food audiences through gourmet recipe inspiration, clever kitchen hacks, simple recipe ideas and easy to follow instructions.

For example, SunRice realised there was still a massive job ahead to educate people on the basics of how to cook rice. By listening to their core audience and analysing feedback, SunRice was able to address peoples most frequent questions. The answer was to create a bunch of simple “how to” videos with SunRice’s brand ambassador Poh Ling Yeow of MasterChef fame and then sit back and watch the brand’s views and engagement go through the roof.

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Facebook

Video is becoming the top way to share on Facebook. Between April 2015 and November 2015, the amount of average daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion video views per day to 8 billion. (Source: Hubspot)

Food plays a big part of this video wave. With a combined 2.6 billion video views on Facebook last month, BuzzFeed Tasty, and BuzzFeed Food were the most watched food publisher pages.

For brands, we feel that Facebook is a great place for lighter, more entertaining or fun short form content that is easy to digest (pardon the pun) as it comes up in your Facebook feed (also another food pun, sorry).

Vegemite does this beautifully with simple recipe ideas like cheesy vegemite pasta in 28 seconds – love or hate the taste of vegemite, the video instantly stimulates an emotional response, requiring everyone to like or dislike it (thanks to that new dislike button on Facebook). But arguably even a dislike for vegemite is good for the brand – think about the “I Hate Marmite” campaign from a few years back in the UK. This is a brand that people just have to take sides on. 

Vegemite 

Instagram

With around 400 million active monthly users, Instagram continues to be one of the most important social platforms for video publication and distribution. Food influencers have amassed huge audiences here – with food pornesque imagery and snackable (yet another food pun) 15 sec videos that make the mouth water.

We love what Ben and Jerry’s is doing with their series of hints and tips that stimulate extra consumption opportunities for ice-cream. These link back the B&J website where people can watch longer form YouTube video tutorials.

Recently, Instagram has allowed users to upload up to 60 seconds videos, instead of just 15, encouraging brands and influencers to develop the creative narrative further, giving brands more opportunities to develop even more emotive, beautiful and engaging content.

Ben and jerry's

Snapchat

With 100 million daily users and 8 billion daily video views, this platform provides the place to absorb content around the clock and follow the ‘behind the scenes’ of recipes and meals in a very quick and concise way.

Giving users the opportunity to see what the best food channels like Food Network, Tastemade and foodies are sharing in a very short amount of time, but long enough to engage.

snapchat

Next week in Part 2 of this post, I will explore some of the best food and recipe publishers to see what brands can learn for their own video content.

In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about the power of video to drive more connections, engagement and sales for your brand, please get in touch.

 

Disclosure: SunRice is a client of FORWARD Agency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Australian Food Influencers You Should Follow

At FORWARD we are always on the look out for the most knowledgeable, creative, and authoritative foodies to collaborate with and help tell our client’s stories. Here is a selection of 10 amazing food influencers that we think are doing really interesting, creative and fun things with food. They are getting noticed, have engaged audiences, and are open to working with brands. Some of these will have heard of, but all of them you will be hearing about in the year to come.

  1. Teresa Cutter:

@teresacutter_healthychef: 65.8k followers

Facebook: 150,028 likes

The Healthy Chef – Website

When talking about healthy and nutritious recipes, the Australian chef Teresa Cutter is one of our favourites! With more than 25 years of experience, she is a recognised healthy cooking authority. Teresa has several culinary awards and has worked with brands including Blackmores, Empire Clinic, Weight Watchers, Breville, Vitamix + Intercontinental Hotel Groups.

After the great success of restaurant The Healthy Chef, she launched The Healthy Chef Functional Food Range, completely free from chemicals, artificial sweeteners, and fillers and made from whole foods.

Also, Teresa is a certified fitness trainer and a Muay Thai kickboxer!

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  1. Georgeats:

@georgeats: 145K followers

George Eats – Website

Georgia loves good food, good coffee and traveling. After years of building her Instagram with yummy food photos and recipes, and gaining lots of followers (now more than 140k), she has created her own e-book full of delicious and multiple recipes. Worth getting here.

This freelancer has done menu and product styling and photography for We Are Combi, Elwood, Pana Chocolate, Five AM Organics; done recipe development, styling and photography for Bare Blends; worked with Sushi Sushi, Sodastream Australia and Nourish Magazine (Lorna Jane); and currently working with FORWARD and SunRice on content creation.

Georgia’s recipes include delicious, healthy and gluten free options, such as herby goat cheese pasta, banana donughts and Christmas pizzas with blue cheese, rosemary roasted potatoes and currants!

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  1. Lick Your Phone:

@lickyourphone: 67.7K followers

If you’re not so much into calorie counting, then you should consider following @lickyourphone.

This food porn Instagram account is managed by three best friends: Rita, Tiffany and Katherine; enthusiastic Instagram users who understood the power of this platform and started using it as a tool to search and share the newest eateries and hot spots, making it a visual menu that encouraged interaction.

After joining the “food Instagramming” industry in 2015 their followers grew exponentially as they shared atypical and even controversial food photographs. Eventually, invitations for events and reviews flowed in from PR agencies and restaurants. Most of Lick Your Phone’s followers are from Sydney, but they’ve managed to build and engage with a global community. Some of the world foodie favourite brands they’ve worked with include Nutella, Oreo, Grounds of Alexandria, and surprisingly Bondi Wholefoods.

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  1. Elizabeth Hewson:

@elizabethhewson: 3,895 followers

Moving Out Eating In – Website

Elizabeth has latched onto a trend of real, cook-able food for those just out of home – back to basics goodness that tastes great.

She first started with self-taught kitchen skills when she moved out of home to study a degree in Bachelors of Organisational Communications and PR. However, while developing her cooking abilities, she realised this had become her main passion. After putting all the puzzle pieces together, she managed to work with Quay, Australia’s best butcher; Victor Churchill, Australia’s best providore, Simon Johnson and the world’s best glassmakers; Riedel.

She finally achieved her dream of launching a cookbook and has the support of food heavyweights including Valli Little and Sophie McComas, watch this space.

Some of her collaborations include Cleo Magazine, The Versatile Gent, Breakfast with Audrey, The Today Show, Broadsheet, Real Living Magazine, Good Food, Inside Out Magazine, Daily Life, amongst others.

Plus, her Instagram is not only about the food but the beautiful places she visits. *Spoiler alert: cute dogs and cows included!

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  1. Jacqueline Alwill:

@brownpapernutrition: 55.1K

Facebook: 7,915 likes

The Brown Paper Bag – Website

Jacqueline Aiwill is all about healthy and holistic living. Her passion to improve the health of others took her to another level of commitment; she founded The Brown Paper Bag with the purpose of inspiring her clients and share with them her love for nutritious food in a simple but creative way. This Australian has positioned herself as a leading nutritionist, health writer, and presenter.

Currently, Jacqueline is an ambassador and nutritionist for FIVE:AM Organics, Bioglan Superfoods and has worked on numerous campaigns in nutrition and health for The Cook’s Grocer, Tetley Tea, Brita, Breville Australia, Australia Beef (MLA), Jurlique and more. She has contributed with RUSSH magazine, Sporteluxe, Men’s Health, Cleo, Dolly, Good Health, Prevention, GMHBA, FMTV, amongst others. Besides, she joins the panel on Channel Seven’s The Daily Edition, The Morning Show, The Project and Sky Business News.

Jacqueline is definitely a great example of an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, who is making her name through healthy eating.

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  1. Nadia Felsch:

@nadiafelsch: 12.5K followers

Nadia Felsch – Website

Nadia turned her life around with whole foods living: she’s a regular woman who shares her experiences healing herself with food. Her emerging passion for nutrition and wholefoods took her to create pathtowholefood, an eight-week online program that guides busy women to eating freedom.

Some of the brands she has worked with include Bare Blends, Lululemon, Women’s Fitness, The Whole Daily, I Quit Sugar and Body Beyond Birth.

If you’re overwhelmed with work and your everyday life routine in general, this simple wholefood recipes account is for you!

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  1. Mitch Orr  

@instakrill: 7k

Mitch Orr has become one of the hottest chefs in town. After years and years of great experience and winning Best Young Chef at SMH’s Good Food Awards in 2010, he finally opened his restaurant in Rushcutters Bay, ACME, with a promising food and drinks menu.

This irreverent food celebrity has filled his Instagram with plenty of gourmet food and recipes that with no doubt you’ll get obsessed with.

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  1. How To Cook That:

@howtocookthat: 140K followers

Facebook: 67,948 likes

YouTube: almost 1M views

How To Cook That – Website

Ann is a blogger (and qualified dietitian and food scientist!) that doesn’t appear to follow food trends – she sticks to good old cake and cupcake recipes, published on her YouTube every Friday.

She’s currently the third biggest baker in YouTube in the world with almost 453 million views!

Media worldwide loves her work and as a result of this, she has participated on numerous occasions with BuzzFeed, Weekend Sunrise, BBC, The Huffington Post, ten, Cake Central Magazine, The Canberra Times and much more.

She pretty much loves cooking ridiculously unhealthy desserts and doesn’t feel bad for it.

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  1. The Inspired Table:

@theinspiredtable: 6,191 followers

Facebook: 1,960 likes

The Inspired Table – Website

The Inspired Table’s objective is for people to enjoy food and the process of preparing it, with inspirational recipes and tips.

Jordanna’s main features include holistic wellness coaching, cooking workshops and recipe development.

She’s currently writing meal plans for Sarah Wilson’s, I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program, and has also worked for Australian Good Food, Bondi Harvest, New Idea, and Australian Women’s Weekly Cookbooks.

This account is a great example of all the healthy ways in which we’re looking at food at the moment and making the most out of the food we eat. Plus, she does some pretty good giveaways frequently!

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  1. Silvia Colloca:

@silviacolloca: 11.6 K followers

Facebook: 22k likes

Silvia Colloca – Website

Who said you have to study nutrition to be a famous food expert and blogger? Silvia Colloca proves that wrong; as an opera singer, married to an Australian actor, she is making a name for herself in food. Founder of the blog Silvia’s Cucina, she has been able to explore and share her Italian heritage. Besides, she has since published two cookbooks, hosted TV shows on SBS, participated in Sunday Telegraph, InStyle and is now working with Delicious Magazine and Sunday Style.

Silvia is proof that some people are born with more than one outstanding talent!

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4 Marketing Opportunities From 2016’s Biggest Food Trends

Whether they’re creepy, ugly or sweet-as-pie, tapping into the latest food trends can generate massive sales for marketers. For food brands looking to build stronger engagement and loyalty among customers, these trends can unlock opportunities for your innovation pipeline, more relevant communications and marketing programs, and ultimately, fuller shopping baskets.

Here is our take on some of the larger food trends currently generating buzz and our insights into how brands can capitalise on them

1. HEALTHY PROMISES

Superfoods, clean eating and soup cleanses are still amongst this year’s biggest trends. But what’s so new about healthy eating? Well, consumers are taking note of what’s in their food more than ever before. Major health activists like Jamie Oliver and Pete Evans are rallying people to simplify their meals. Sugar is in the spotlight and continues to be on the agenda of health professionals and government regulators. People want nutritional good news stories, and this presents a great opportunity for brands to promote the positive attributes of their product offering.

healthy promises 2

What it means for brands. More than ever, nutrition information that’s easy to understand should be an important part of a brand’s communication strategy. Brands should consider how the nutritional nuances of their products can be communicated in a way that will engage customers and help them make more informed choices. Education about portion size and responsible consumption is also a smart way to help people better understand what they’re buying and eating.

2. THE FLIP SIDE TO FOODIES

Foodies and their social media counterparts, Instafoodies, are dominating popular culture, and they’re here to stay. A recent survey found that almost half of respondents identified with the term ‘foodie’ and a whopping 52% of 21-32 year olds would prefer to go to a food festival than a music festival. But what about the anti-foodie? The people who don’t know how to boil an egg or cook a bowl of rice. The anti-foodie represents a significant untapped market, and brands have a unique opportunity to capture their loyalty through simple and educational food marketing.

flipside to foodies500

What it means for brands. While it’s easy to get swept up in the world of the foodie, brands shouldn’t forget about the other half. Consider how to make the basics of cooking interesting and relatable. Your customers might not want to be MasterChefs, but they might be interested in skipping takeaway for a night to test a brand’s simple ‘how to’ video. These people still want food inspo! Simple doesn’t mean boring, and still has to be beautiful.

3. IS A GREAT BRAND STORY ENOUGH?

More than ever, people are seeking an emotional connection with the products they buy. Whether it’s where the product was sourced or the story behind the people who made it, consumers want to care about the food choices they’re making. But it’s a cluttered space. From boutique brands to supermarket fruit and veg, everyone’s trying to win the hearts and minds of their customers with a great brand story.

great brand story500

What it means for brands. This cluttered storytelling space is creating discerning consumers, so an authentic brand story is vital to the success of your communications and content strategy. Listen to your consumers, interrogate the brand history, and look for the unique and interesting things about your product. Consider where or how it is made, and what its interesting ingredients or manufacturing processes are. This will help you to create a unique brand story that stands out from the crowd. Brands should also identify someone to tell that story, and carefully consider how they build on and integrate with the characteristics of the brand.

4. DECADENT DELICIOUSNESS.

Flipping the healthy eating trend on its head, a growing number of brands are serving up indulgent foods with new twists on old favourites, pop-up stores or creative flavour combinations. And consumers love it. Memes about sacrificing diets and photos of overindulgent foods are provoking engagement with a broader online community, beyond just the Instafoodies. This trend is about food in all its richness, flavour and complexity. This is not just a marketing opportunity for brands, but also for new product development.

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What it means for brands. Decadent foods play neatly into the hands of foodies, online and offline. Creating photo-worthy situations with product in hand is a good first start. Brands should consider indulgent food pairings, product personalisation and creative recipes to really tap into this trend. But don’t forget that while indulgent foods are causing a stir, healthy eating is still dominating this year’s food trends.

Interested in talking about how your brand can take advantage of this year’s biggest food trends? Email me on Fergus@forward.agency.com.au

 

4 minutes with: Sean Pickwell, Director – Waterfront

A celebrity partnership could  help your brand to drive fast awareness, engagement and fan love;  and not to mention media interest. The right famous face paired with the right brand can sometimes be a match made in heaven, but finding that perfect fit might not be as easy as you think.  

We spent 4 minutes with Sean Pickwell, Managing Director of Australia’s number one international celebrity sourcing agency, Waterfront to get some expert advice on celebrity partnerships.

In your opinion, what are some of the most successful brand and celebrity partnerships of the last 12 months, and why?

There are so many… but a few favourites over the last year for me are:

Mila Kunis – Jim Beam – I love it because it’s unexpected and cuts through. She makes me want to start drinking Beam. Likewise, Anna Kendrick’s anti-ads for Newcastle Ale are so clever. Using female celebrities for male-skewed drinks cuts though, but the execution like in these two cases needs to be great.

Globally I love the use of celebrities in the Snickers campaigns from Betty White to Mr Bean, and even our own Ray Meagher (Alf from Home and Away).

Jacobs Creek does a great job with their tennis stars and the amount of great content they develop – first was Andre Agassi then Novak Djokovic this year.

Some good Aussie celebrity campaigns – Barry Hall/Kleenex – nice connection to the soft side he showed on I’m A Celebrity, Julia Morris and Westinghouse – not an obvious fit, but the execution is great, and she is so loved, and self-deprecating that it makes the brand shine.

While they do cancel themselves out a bit, both Curtis Stone and Jamie Oliver’s ongoing campaigns for Coles/Woolies, are strong, clear branding efforts. Both have outstanding brand values that each of the supermarkets desperately wants, and both speak to middle Australia. And to some degree they are both working.

What are the top 3 things a brand should know before starting the search for a celebrity ambassador?

The key things are what you are trying to achieve with the celebrity partnership, what are the brand values you want them to represent, and what do you need them to do. Sounds fairly straightforward but it is amazing how often these basics get skipped.

Understanding your brand is really important, and what you want to say in the market. Celebrities and the message they convey vary so much.

Also, you need to know that you will be dealing with someone (and their team) who has opinions, and will often have input – they aren’t machines. So it can be a hot kitchen…and you need to understand it can be a wild ride. But that’s why we use celebrities – to harness that personality and power for your brand. But it’s not always easy.

What should a brand look for when searching for a celebrity?

Fit is the key – their brand values and yours – making sure they are aligned.

Although often the celebrities brand values may be where you want your brand to end up, rather than where it is now. In many cases, the reason you might look to a particular celebrity is where the celebrity can take your brand.

Ideally you want someone who you can work with, and who wants to work with you. This is not always easy to know upfront, but there are ways to see if you will be compatible.

What are the most important rules of engagement when working with a celebrity?

Be upfront in the negotiating about what you are trying to do, and what you want from them – specifically.

Try and build a strong relationship with them and the team, so when you do maybe need something extra, it won’t be a problem. And they will want to go the extra mile for you.

Don’t skimp on extra things like accommodation, transport, meals, etc. just to save a few bucks. If they feel you are being cheap, it can rub off on their attitude.

Don’t try and sneak things in once the deal is done. One company we know added extra category exclusions into the contract right at the last minute. Got everyone off side.

What are the most common things a brand can forget when working with a celebrity?

It’s not so much what you might forget; it’s more know what to remember. That’s not just being tricky with words, more to make the point that when you do something everyday, you get good at it, and you know what to look for in each situation. It’s really a great argument to use a specialist to help secure your celebrity. We know who to talk to, how much you should be paying, what you need to include and remember, and how to make it as smooth as possible.

Sean Pickwell(lowres)

6 Ways to Boost Your Creativity

Creativity is often viewed as a gift. You’ve either got the magic or you don’t.

Some people naturally seem more predisposed to creativity. However at FORWARD we believe that everyone has potential. By introducing some simple habits we can all bring more creativity into our lives and workspace.

Creativity isn’t just about coming up with big ideas sometimes it’s the small ideas. It isn’t all about visual images and witty copy writing. Creativity is connecting dots, identifying purposeful solutions, original thinking, and ultimately turning your imagination into a reality.

As communications professionals being creative is our livelihood. It’s an important part of what we do. The ability to harness our creativity and direct it appropriately is what helps us achieve better outcomes and get results for our clients.

Knowing how to tap into your creativity is something that you can learn and develop.  Just as you can learn techniques to improve your organisational skills, you can apply knowledge and practice to boost your creativity.

If you are looking for ways to be more creative in the workplace give some thought to how you can live a more creative life.

Changing your routine outside of work is equally as important as reconsidering how you approach things professionally.

Embracing your creativity isn’t as simple as flicking a switch. It’s an embodiment, a way of living.

Here are 6 practical tips to kick-start your creative journey.

 

IN WORK

1. Play with your imagination

The purpose of this exercise is to warm up your brain before you need to think creatively.

There are lots of techniques you can use to relax your mind. Here is one we do at FORWARD before we start brainstorming.

Based on Tim Brown’s TED talk Creativity and Play where he cites Bob McKim’s ‘30 Circles Test’. Give it a go it’s a fun place to start.

Untitled

  • Create a template, like the above with 30 circles on a piece of A3 paper
  • The challenge is to fill in as many circles as possible with different pictures/doodles/ideas
  • And all within one minute

circles

Source: https://victorianginger.wordpress.com/class-work/

  • Try to explore
  • Try not to self-edit
  • Try to be forgiving
  • Try not to be self critical

Tip: Limber up your mind and prepare it for action

 

2. Get into character

Put yourself in someone else’s shoes (and by someone we mean your audience).

Whenever we are tackling particularly difficult briefs and preparing for a brainstorm we always like to introduce a bit of role-play.

Each of us will get into character and it’s just as it sounds. Bring a prop, take on a new persona and even change your environment.

How do we want to make the end-user feel?

We take ourselves on that physical journey, and it is all fodder for our imaginations.

Getting into character can be an effective way to develop new ideas and solutions.

Tip: Think about your problem from a different perspective

set your imagination free, pile of documents flying away

3. Lose your fear of being wrong

It can be challenging to admit that you don’t have the answers to everything.

However, we can learn a lot about how a creative approaches life. For one they often don’t allow themselves to be restricted by the status quo.

Of course it’s important to protect your ‘personal brand’ and provide your colleagues with insightful, thoughtful thinking and learnings.

However, if you are constantly afraid of failure and not willing to share your ideas, it can be hard to free your mind and allow it to go into a lucid state where creativity often hatches.

Tip: Don’t be so serious. When you say something a bit silly enjoy it – fun and silliness is integral to the creative process

 

IN LIFE

4. Alone time

To quote Picasso: “Without great solitude no serious work is possible.”

It’s crucial that you allocate time to spend time with yourself. So you can hear your thoughts and tune into your inner voice.

Alone time is often where the ideas form. Shut out the noise and dedicate time to recharge and reboot.

Quietness is where we get to know ourselves and can tap into our creativity.

Whether it’s going for a walk, heading to the gym or finding a space in your house, think about a place you can go physically and then mentally to unwind, reflect and create.

Tip: Overcome any concerns you may have of being alone, it’s the key to unlocking your creative potential

 

5. Do things that feed your soul

You’ve probably heard it time and time again, do what you love and do it often.

Write a list of the top 2-3 things which most inspire you. Do you enjoy watching vintage movies or listening to live music?

Now ask yourself how many times you have dedicated time to doing any of those things in the past week or month. Not as many times as you’d have hoped, right?

To unlock your creativity you need to be connected with yourself and open to new thinking and ideas. So its important to keep inspired and also push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Prioritise doing the things that make you happy and also try to do something new, every week if you can. It can be as easy as choosing a new restaurant or trying to cook a new recipe at home. Variety is all fuel for our minds.

Tip: Make time to renew your sources of inspiration

 

6. Capture your ideas whenever they happen

Creative thinking can take place anywhere and often when you least expect it. Many people have their best ideas when they first wake up in the morning so be sure to jot them down.

Once you get into a good habit of acknowledging your thinking you’ll find yourself coming up with more and more solutions and different ways to do things.

If you align more with the old school, treat yourself to a special notebook (personal favourite is Moleskin) and keep it close to you at all times. Or download an app like Evernote onto your mobile and work devices, we love using it here at FORWARD. You can also record your ideas on audio notes on your phone.

Tip: Document your thinking but choose a method which suits your personality and lifestyle

 

Final word

Introducing creativity into your life, or trying to be more creative doesn’t need to be onerous. Your personal and work personas are linked, so focus on boosting your creativity in both worlds. However to really harness your creativity it often means going a bit deeper, which can be scary. So remember fortune rewards the brave.

Think Different

The Future of PR: 3 Major Insights from the PRIA’s Vivid Ideas Session

Today, the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) held an event as part of the Vivid Sydney called Creativity, Content and the Future of PR. Hosted by industry virtuoso Amanda Little, the program featured four participants:

  • Adam Good – Director of Digital Media & Content at Telstra
  • Glen Cassidy – Founding Partner at Cake Wines
  • Shane Currey – Director – Design Thinking | Visualisation | Storytelling – Deloitte Australia
  • Lex Deasley – Creative & Strategy Director at Hausmann Communications

The event was a complete sell-out indicating just how important the topic of industry transformation is for comms professionals today. The future role of PR in integrated story telling, consumer engagement and brand building were hot topics.

There were three major “a-ha moments” at the session that I believe are worth sharing.

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  1. Customer experience should be at the heart of big ideas

According to keynote speaker, Adam Good from Telstra, the best way to influence people is to focus on the customer experience, ensuring a company’s products and services deliver on brand promises.

Adam also talked about the important role PR plays at Telstra, which includes focusing multiple disciplines, combing creativity / content to create action-centric communication.

In the development of any Telstra comms campaign, big idea or consumer engagement piece, Adam relayed three important factors that Telstra considers:

Mechanics – What is at the heart of the idea or proposition? Are you nourishing the idea and proposition around the experience? How do you tell the story in different channels? Ultimately, “Why do I care about this idea”? You need to answer the most important meta-question: “What is in it for the customer”?

Dynamics – What behaviour are you looking for from the consumer? What do you want the consumer to do with the idea? What are they going to put into it and what are they going to take out of it? Do you want them to have involvement for an immediate, once-off action, or over time?

Aesthetics – What is the direct emotional response that you want the consumer to have when they interact? This is more than the look and feel – it is the emotional feeling that you want to create from that individual.

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  1. Reciprocity in value exchange

Shane Currey from Deloitte made an important and provocative point: brands should give in the expectation of not getting anything back.

However Hausmann’s Creative & Strategy Director Lex Deasley challenged this, commenting that lots of brands are creating content to access audiences. Yet many brands don’t understand one basic truth: they need to have a purpose and a role in the experience or relationship that is being created, or there is no legitimate value exchange.

To create a value exchange the brand needs to ask the question “does this make people’s lives better?”.

Public Relations role argued Deasley, is to help clients understand reciprocity in value exchange.

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  1. Build platforms not campaigns

Glen Cassidy, Founding Partner at Cake Wines, shared the terrific case study of his business which, although only a few years old, has already carved out a unique and strong market position.

Cake Wines has achieved this by focusing on celebrating sub-culture and not through mass marketing. For example, they donate 10% of proceeds to independent radio stations around the country, and commission emerging artists to create their labels via their prestigious annual Archi-bottle art competition. See the case study here.

Cassidy demonstrated that consumers who have deep levels of involvement in the communications from the brand ultimately foster a deeper brand connection. He says: “We push our ideas and try to push our creative thinking as far as we can so that people have a deep experience with our ideas and campaigns – our internal mantra is ‘to focus on building platforms, not campaigns’ and connect people and bring them together in a meaningful way that extends beyond the budget or period of time.”

The key take out: We should be thinking more broadly about ideas that last longer.

The session was inspiring, providing food for thought and grist for the mental mill. The final word came from Adam Good: “It is the most exciting time to work in the communications industry”. Hear! Hear!

Thanks to the PRIA for organising the event and Amanda Little for hosting.

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Winter is coming: How to prepare for a social media storm

The words ‘social media crisis’ or ‘online issues management’ can conjure images of pitchforks, burning torches and mobs of angry villagers. It may sound like a scene from Game of Thrones, but with a little stretch of the imagination, it’s not difficult to see how the thick storm of a social media crisis/issue could feel like a chapter straight from George R. R. Martin’s bloody saga.

While social media has given consumers a platform to keep brands and corporates honest, it has also given them weapons powerful enough to destroy the strongest of reputations.

The results can be ugly; a barrage of abusive comments splattered across Facebook and streams of tweets as thick as blood. Ask any marketer who has navigated through the sensitivities of Halal Certification uproar and it’s possible you’ll get a nod of agreement.

But like all conflicts, there are strategies you can effectively employ to prevent issues from turning into crises, at the same time as minimising long-term risk to reputation (and employee sanity!).

Here are four strategies to consider when dealing with issues via social media:

#1 Plan ahead

Ask yourself this question: If a major issue or crisis hit your company or brand tomorrow, would you be ready to handle the floods of fiery comments?

Are you and your team prepared with:

  • A tried and tested escalation plan?
  • Community compliance rules that are clear and accessible to your audience?
  • Company policies and procedures, and any legal or regulatory constraints?
  • Have you undertaken scenario planning and developed pre-approved Q&As?
  • Are you adequately resourced?

If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail (disclaimer: this is probably our favourite quote at FORWARD). If you haven’t ticked the items listed above, it may be time to refresh your internal social media processes and procedures.

#2 Don’t broadcast the message, individualise it instead

Picture this: Your community manager has reported an influx of complaints made via the Facebook page about one of your products. The comments are coming through thick and fast, and you’re given the option to post a generic holding statement via Facebook. Would you consider this the best course of action?

There is definitely a time and a place for a broadcasted message, but when it comes to dealing with disgruntled customers, a more individualised approach can be more effective.

UK telco O2 faced a similar problem when, during a massive network outage, O2’s Twitter account became inundated with tweets from angry customers. Instead of issuing a generic statement, the company made the decision to respond directly to disgruntled customers with authentic, personalised comments. Their individual-centric approach received mass support from O2 customers, turning a negative crisis into a positive brand experience.

#3 Be true and authentic

Now is not the time for corporate jargon, wishy-washy statements or half-hearted responses.

If you have a position or particular viewpoint on an issue – i.e. your company agrees with halal certification – it must be stated clearly and communicated authentically with the utmost respect to those with opposing opinions.

Vegemite demonstrated this well when recently confronted by the nasty war over Halal Certification – an issue that saw dairy manufactures, The Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company, pressured by consumers to drop certification resulting in the termination of a $50K Emirates contract.

Facing a consumer boycott if the Halal Certification wasn’t dropped (but let’s face it, who would ever really boycott this delicious spread) Vegemite responded with the following:

VEGEMITE is proud to be a spread for all Aussies. Thats why we’re Kosher & Halal certified, as well as suitable for vegetarians. While we enjoy a bit of banter as much as the next breakfast spread, anyone who insists on posting comments of hate, religious vilification or unwarranted grumpiness will be removed from our social media pages. So, no matter how you spread your Vegemite, remember – we’re just here to #SpredTheLove.

This respectful yet firm response ensured Australia’s most beloved breakfast food did not bow to pressures that were against their corporate philosophy.

#4 If you made a mistake – own it

As tempting as it is to justify your reasoning and prove your competency, it’s near impossible to stir up support and empathy if you cannot first take responsibility for your mistakes.

There are countless examples of brands that have owned their mistakes, and gone on to turn their situation into a positive.

One of the most memorable is from the Red Cross, when one of their social media employees accidentally posted this:

“Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”

The company’s social media director subsequently followed with a humorous tweet, acknowledging the mistake.

“We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys”

Although the mistake was one individual’s, Red Cross took responsibility as a company. Their quick thinking and instant acknowledgement of the tweet may have prevented more serious corporate embarrassment.

In summary, try not to justify or act defensively – even if there is a legitimate excuse for the mistake, your audience need you to own-up before they can see your side of the story.

Summary

It goes without saying that preparation, considered thought, and a fast response can be enough to quell the angry crowds when an issue arises via social. If you’re not already set-up to weather a social media storm, act now. Because if Game of Thrones has taught us anything, it’s that disaster can indeed strike when you least expect it.

Four Big Ideas From TEDx Sydney 2015

Yesterday I had the absolute pleasure of being in the audience of TEDx Sydney 2015 at the Opera House. It is the first time I have attended TEDx, and after years of watching amazing TED Talks on YouTube, the day did not disappoint.

There were 19 incredible speakers and eight musical and entertainment acts that inspired and moved us. It was a full day and at the end, although we nearly all had TEDxhaustion (thanks, Julian Morrow), it was a truly inspiring, educational, challenging and entertaining day.

I’ve heard it said that your mind is like a parachute and that it only works when it is open. Well, TEDx Sydney 2015 opened my mind, made me think and challenged my beliefs about what is possible for my life, our future and the future of humanity.

My big four takeaways of the day clustered content from different speakers that really moved and inspired me. 

1) Hope and courage trumps everything

TEDx Sydney 2015 was book ended by two incredible speakers, Charlie Teo and Nadine Champion.

Charlie Teo is an Australian neurosurgeon who is a world leader in some of the most difficult and innovative keyhole techniques that saves the lives of people with brain cancer.

Charlie spoke about being shunned by the medical fraternity and, despite this, pushing forward to conduct surgeries with incredibly slim chances of success, based in some part, on the hope of his patients and their families.

In particular, he talked about quality of life and importance of the patient’s self-determination. He reminded us that while there is still life there is hope and where there is still hope there is still a chance that things can change for the better.

Nadine Champion is literally a champion (and apparently she hasn’t changed her name). She is a martial arts sensei and undefeated fighter. Through her talk, we followed her journey of growth to become a champion fighter by changing her thinking, confronting her fears, tapping into depths of courage and not turning away from pain. What we didn’t know is that she is also a recent Non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer survivor. It took all of her martial training to get her through her chemo and conquer the disease. She finished her inspirational talk with a demonstration of breaking a board of wood with her bare hand, the first time since the cancer. Inspirational, and not a dry eye in the house.

2) Our world is fragile but fixable 

A consistent theme of the day was the fragility and interconnectivity of the ecosystems of our planet, and the negative impact humanity is having on it. But there were also some great ideas on how we can change things for the better by thinking and acting differently.

Daniel Pauly, a marine biologist, shared some very compelling and frankly damning statistics about legal and illegal industrial fishing of our oceans. He provided a graphic warning to Australia that if we don’t think beyond our coastline and start protecting this great resource we may end up a great desert in our oceans with no life at all.

Hamish Skermer also known as “MC Faeces” is an Australian who has invented a compost toilet that is an environmentally friendly dry toilet that turns human waste into something useful – compost. He was entertaining, but at the same time brought home a serious message: We need change our perception about “number twos” and think of it as a resource.

3) Words count more than ever 

Unexpectedly for me, the highlight of the day was Susan Butler, the editor of the Macquarie Dictionary. She handles the selection and writing of new words. Far from being a nerdish job, Susan says she brings out “a mop and bucket” each year to pick up the genuinely new words left behind “after the party” and toss out the rubbish. Susan convinced us that the dictionary was not an anachronism in a digital world. Far from it. It still has relevance and by not being constrained to physical number of pages, new words and usages of words are not limited. Who knew charityf**k was an actual word? Apparently it is. So is dadbod. The people have spoken.

4) For things to change, first I have to change 

One of my most important takeaways from TEDx Sydney 2015 was that for our world to change, each of us has a role to play in affecting that change. Whether it is how we think, how we behave or what we will no longer tolerate. We cannot be passengers. From how we consume and what we waste, to what we create or what we demand from our governments and legal systems – we, the people, have the power to change the world.

Barrister Julian Burnside (a Living National Treasure) gave an incredible talk about the importance of justice and fairness and how he came to work in the field of human rights. His message was clear: Stand up for justice. Stand up for fairness. Needless to say, he got a standing ovation.

I could not possibly attempt to provide a review of the entire day or provide a review of each speaker. It was truly inspirational. I’d highly recommend going and watching the video of the event. Who knows, perhaps your parachute may open too! If you have the opportunity to attend TEDx next year I’d highly recommend it.

Also check out this video: Archaics Anonymous – In the Thicket one of the several great video presentations of the day.

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