Tag: content


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

 

TrueLocal appoints FORWARD Agency to manage PR & Influence

FORWARD Agency today announced its appointment as public relations and influence agency partner for TrueLocal, following a competitive pitch.

The appointment will see FORWARD help TrueLocal build its brand profile and educate Australian small business and consumers about the benefits of using Australia’s largest online local directory.

Ruth Trewhella, TrueLocal Group Manager, said: “The FORWARD team impressed us with their strategic understanding of our category and innovative ideas to help us build relevant and engaging content. We were looking for a partner with solid traditional and digital public relations expertise as well as experience in working with influencers.”

Fergus Kibble, FORWARD Agency Founder and Managing Director said: “We are looking forward to working with TrueLocal and the extended Sensis team to help educate and inspire both businesses and consumers on how they can get more out of TrueLocal. The directories landscape is constantly changing, especially given the rise and rise of mobile apps, so we are pleased to be working with one of the lead innovators.”

Truelocal APP

 

 

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

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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4 minutes with: Zoe Bingley-Pullin

Brand ambassadors can be a powerful way to support PR and influence campaigns. They provide expert voices to tell brands’ stories and can help establish a brand’s credibility and authenticity with the media, bloggers and other influencers.

We love to showcase the people we work with and for this month’s ‘4 minutes with’ we chatted with a brand ambassador we work with: nutritionist, chef, co-star of Good Chef Bad Chef and Vitasoy ambassador, Zoe Bingley-Pullin.

What do you love about your job?

I think of what I do as an evolution. I wasn’t very good at school when I was younger – I’m dyslexic and this affected my confidence. I had no idea what I wanted to do when I finished, but I’d always loved food so I went and studied at Le Cordon Bleu in London. I then combined this with a Diploma of Nutrition.

Nutrition and the socialisation of food is something I’ve found really freeing and fun. Being able to help people improve their knowledge and relationship with food makes me feel good and I love creating healthy dishes for others and myself and get such a kick out of seeing everyone enjoy it.

How has PR and media played a role in your career?

PR and media have been integral to my career and my work as a nutritionist, chef and brand ambassador. For me, food is all about enjoyment and I want to help people find joy in food through educating them on healthy choices, and PR and media have helped me get this message out there. Specifically I’ve worked closely with brands and PR teams through my role as a brand ambassador, where I raised awareness about nutritious eating.

What’s the most valuable career lesson you’ve learnt?

The most valuable career lesson I’ve learnt is to always say when you can’t do something. And if you realise you can’t do something, don’t pretend that you can. If you’re unable to deliver on something, it could have a negative impact on your business or brand.

I’ve also learnt the benefits of partnering with experts myself. There’s a wealth of talent out there than can help you, which has been especially important since becoming a mother. I’m trying to expand my business and I’m now working with a business coach to do this.

How do you choose which brands to work with?

I’m very strict about the brands I work with. I only work with brands that I love and that I’d give to my whole family. I also look to work with brands that are aligned with my views on nutrition and wholefoods, so that we can work together to build Australians’ knowledge on nutrition and healthy eating.

And a final question we’re all dying to know from a foodie – what’s been your most memorable meal?

One of my most memorable meals was in Rome with my husband, at a restaurant called Maccheroni. The dish was a simple pasta dish with olive oil, sea salt, chili and black truffle. I’m not talking about a little truffle either – there was so much truffle on there! I had it with a crisp green salad and a glass of rosé. It was a beautiful time and just showed that food doesn’t have to be overcomplicated.

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NOTE: FORWARD has been working with nutritionist, chef and co-star of Good Chef Bad Chef, Zoe Bingley-Pullin for the past year as an expert for Vitasoy.

4 minutes with Emma Koubayssi

Your first job in PR?

I first got a taste of PR and publicity when I was studying at Glasgow University. I was hosting a radio show on Subcity Radio for four years and in my final year I joined the Comms team to help promote and raise money for the station.

It was an incredible experience and I was responsible for hosting and promoting three key events throughout the year. They were all music and arts focused and I was pursuing my passion.

It was a huge team effort and I did everything from helping to secure the artists and venue but ultimately promote the gigs and boost tickets sales. One of my proudest moments was our flagship event at The Arches – where we had 6- 7 acts and 800+ people through the door, a record in the history of the station.

It was tough juggling the role with final year dissertation, exams and general uni stresses but I loved it. You could say I was hooked!

After that I went on to work in one of Scotland’s busiest press offices. In Scotland they are passionate about two things – politics and football. And usually football comes first. So I cut my teeth at one of Glasgow’s famous football clubs – Glasgow Rangers, also known as one half of the Old Firm.

It was an eye opener to say the least. I didn’t know anything about football before started but I learnt a few things:

  1. To survive you need to adapt and you need to learn quick
  2. High profile often means high adrenaline and severe scrutiny from the media, your fans and your enemies
  3. Building relationships really is the crux of what we do

What is it you enjoy about working in this industry?

I guess that it is constantly changing and we are always learning.

No two days are the same and I like the variety of that. I also like that we can influence decisions and behaviours.

I learnt a huge amount about behavioural economics when I worked at London’s Kindred Agency and how it could drive social action and change. It really is quite fascinating.

From all of the marketing disciplines I also find that PR, influencer and content marketing is the most agile and frankly the most interesting. It’s not for everyone but I truly believe story telling is in our DNA. And I like telling stories and sharing useful, helpful content with people – in my personal life and also my professional.

We are often connectors. We like to join the dots, understand the whys and wherefores and then make things happen.   I often think I was born to communicate and bring ideas to life.

I probably had two career paths either PR or psychology and they are fairly similar when you think about it.

Best campaign to date?

It has to be the first project I ever worked on for the Scottish Government called Determined to Broadcast. We single handily converted a double decker bus into a radio studio, partnered with commercial stations to make it happen and secured local radio DJs and musicians as ambassadors.

The purpose of the project was to inspire and educate young people, using music and radio production to help develop their softer skills such as team working, problem solving and communication.

I was very junior but was the only team member in the country. My directors were working remotely so by default I got a huge amount of responsibility and it was the steepest learning curve of my life.

I got to manage the design & build and was the key point of contact for the school liaison, workshop training and facilitation, ambassador team and press and publicity. We managed a very high profile Ministerial launch with a live truck broadcast, it was fantastic.

That year I probably had the least amount of sleep I’ve ever had in my life but it was well worth it. I also won my first industry award and thought this is something I could get used to.

Why FORWARD?

FORWARD is a boutique agency but with big clients and big thinking. I enjoy working in a small team and for an independent company that values excellent work, creative minds, responsiveness and the people who make FORWARD.

The team is nimble and bold. We are on the front foot and able to offer clients something different to many agencies in the market – influencer and content marketing which is underpinned by strategic communications.

One last thing…

There are three kinds of people in the world – people people, places people and things people. Once you figure out which one you are it will all fall into place. I promise.

Emma is an Account Director at FORWARD

The 15 most powerful verbs for 2015

Everyone loves a list. I do too. So I thought I would share my new years list. Ta dah! But rather than technology trends or social media predictions, here are my 15 top verb predictions for 2015. Perhaps you could call these my new years verb resolutions:

1. Reflect

Take stock. Step back. Look at where you are now. What is really going on? What are your assets? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? What’s in your blind spot? What do you need to work on? Be honest. Become more self-aware. Take some time to reflect everyday. What went well, what did you learn, what will you do differently tomorrow?

2. Plan

How will you know this year has been a success? Failing to plan is planning to fail. Now is the time to set some goals. Make 2015 the year to follow your plan, report against your KPIs, track how you are progressing and importantly be agile enough to re-set, re-frame or re-boot if required.

3. Align

Get everyone working on your projects turning and facing the same direction and reading from the same playbook. Nothing will kill a project faster than confusion and obfuscation. Align early and realign mid-project if needed.

4. Create

Whatever your category or brand, create a content SweetSpot: be informative, helpful or entertaining. Just don’t be bland. From there think creatively about how you can share the most relevant content with your audiences and influencers.

5. Collaborate

Whether it be internally or externally; with partners, customers or consumers; make 2015 a year of new and interesting collaborations and partnerships. Whether it is creating a co-branded experience, a media partnership or just a creative brainstorm with a client; collaboration multiplies your efforts, creates synergy and helps you reach a bigger audience.

6. Reciprocate

Pay it forward. Pay it back. Be generous. There is no better way to build relationships than giving freely of your time, energy, and insight (or if you are a brand, giving something for nothing). If you want someone to do something for you, think first what you can do for them? And if they did something for you how can you return the favour. Be the change you wish to see in the world.

7. Share

Be open with your communication, be generous with your time, and definitely give stuff you no longer need away. We all have enough, so how could you help someone who doesn’t? And share more on Social Media, obviously!

8. Think

Before you say, write or send anything. Think about your audience and how they will receive the message. It is always good to have a filter between your brain and your mouth. One of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” Let’s add “Think first, speak second”.

9. Check

Check your spelling. Check your punctuation. Check your facts. Enough said. And don’t rely on auto-spell check on Word. Get someone to peer-review for you, especially if this is not your strong suit. Always triple check the spelling of a hashtag (think Sephora).

10. Publish

This is the year we are all going to become publishers. Especially if you want to be an authority on a topic or a go to brand that people come to for help and advice. Re-purpose your content. Write once and publish many times.

11. Update

Resolve to keep your profile up to date. Whether it is your personal profile, your corporate profile or brand profile. You can’t set and forget. It should be something that you regularly revisit – and update often.

12. Be curious

(OK technically not a verb, but whatever). Watch. Listen. Look up. Look out. Ask questions. Investigate. It is only by reaching outside ourselves that we get fresh insights into the world around us. Make time to read the paper, follow some bloggers, and resolve to read a book a month. Go and see an indie film. Watch SBS. Get out of your bubble. Go for a walk.

13. Outreach

No one is an island. To be successful, you have to reach out to others. We do this all the time in PR, but it is something that everyone should do. Who are your clients, your stakeholders, your influencers, and your consumers? Reach out to them. Have conversations. Never eat lunch alone.

14. Stretch

Stretch yourself. You can do more than you think you can. We all can. So push yourself a little. Go on. (oh and perhaps literally stretch your body, as well – this is the year to get flexible, people!)

15. Celebrate

Go back to your goals and KPIs. Celebrate every major (and minor) win. How will you reward yourself? How will you reward your team? Make sure you take some time out regularly and acknowledge what you have achieved. Have fun.

So there you have it the 15 most powerful verbs for 2015. For your personal life or your professional life. Do a little bit more of each of these in 2015, and you will have a brilliant year. I promise.