Executive women power up online networking

July 18, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

It was standing room only at an Executive Women Australia lunch in Sydney on Friday, a testament to the pulling power of good company, a good lunch and the widespread desire to get more out of LinkedIn

Tara Commerford, LinkedIn’s head of communications for Australia and New Zealand was the speaker at the EWA workshop event, sponsored by Ogilvy Public Relations.

The event was billed as LinkedIn’s Seven Secrets to Career Success Workshop and Tara delivered as promised and then some, with a lively discussion rounding out the formal proceedings.

LinkedIn now has 300 million members worldwide – including six million in Australia. It is the social media platform where our professional lives play out.

So, how do make sure your LinkedIn presence is acting in your favour? Once Tara took the stage, the tips tumbled out.

She urged the audience to take control of their executive profile. Substance and style are both important given profiles with professional photos are 14 times more likely to be viewed.

On the sometimes vexed matter of connections, we were assured it was quality not quantity that mattered so invest time in professional online networks by connecting with people that matter and leave the ‘my network is bigger than yours’ argument to the men.

Passive is boring so  contribute to relevant debates, stay on top of leading ideas, and don’t be shy of making your voice heard by posting and sharing updates. Join some groups and once you are comfortable with your own brand, think about your company’s. Put a human face to it by sharing activities and milestones.

We all know that being a couch potato is bad for your health and it turns out to be a bad career move as well. Tara urged the crowd not to get stuck in a comfort zone but to keep moving and to consciously promote adaptability, now a prized commodity in a fast moving world.

Even if many of us underestimate the impact of our online presence, employers do not. Seven out of 10 businesses have rejected a job candidate because of information found online.

After Tara’s presentation the questions came thick and fast: how do you get a 70 year old boss to take control of his own profile? How should one manage endorsements and what about LinkedIn business pages?

Tara handled every question with aplomb which, given she was, in true executive style, jetlagged, was particularly impressive. Ogilvy PR’s Susan Redden Makatoa, who chairs the EWA Advisory Panel, spoke for the room she delivered a heartfelt thanks.

Emma Connors, Senior Media Strategist, Ogilvy Public Relations


Doha to Sydney and everything in between

June 26, 2014 by  
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Three weeks ago, myself and a colleague were in Doha with our client at Al Jazeera English, and we all had high expectations that the journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed would soon be released from their Cairo prison cell because the evidence against them seemed so flimsy and capricious.

On Monday those hopes were dashed when Australian Greste and Canadian Fahmy were sentenced to seven years gaol, with Egyptian colleague Mohamed picking up an extra three years for having in his possession a spent bullet casing– a trifling souvenir that is apparently evidence of his further guilt.

During our short stint in Doha we met with senior executives across the network, including Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey, a journalist with impeccable credentials and track record across the globe.

Anstey and the entire organisation have been deeply concerned about his team ever since their arrest 178 days ago.  All for what Anstey tasks his journalists to do every single day, which is to be “bold, challenging and fearless” and giving a “voice to the voiceless.”

Sister network Al Jazeera Arabic director of news Ibrahim Helal gave us insights into the social, legal and political dynamics within Egypt that have caused not just the three journalists to be imprisoned, but also many others that face far worse punishment under the new regime.

Both networks strive to uncover those stories that people want to remain hidden.  Greste and his colleagues have been victimised for doing their job in Egypt in what Anstey has characterised as a political show trial that “defies logic, sense, and any semblance of justice.”

As a PR agency we are often tasked to help drive causes and issues that drive commercial imperatives for our clients.  However, during the past 179 days, we’ve had a higher calling.

Since the journalists’ arrest we have been supporting the far more important social principle of press freedom in Australia and across the world, because that is an essential ingredient of strong democracies and political accountability.

We’d urge everyone to support Al Jazeera in its efforts to uphold press freedom and seek the immediate release of the Cairo three.

Emilio Robles, Howorth Communications / Ogilvy Public Relations


Ogilvy Public Relations Sydney team supporting #freeAJStaff


A Letter to America’s CEOs: Gender Parity Is an Economic Imperative

June 13, 2014 by  
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Ogilvy PR CEO Chris Graves pens a letter on Time Magazine’s website to the CEOs throughout America, stating the importance of gender equality and how business improves when female leadership in the workplace is prevalent.

Dear CEOs and business leaders,

As the size and global span of corporations have grown over the years, so too has their commitment to social change. Heightened competition coupled with a more sophisticated and demanding consumer has led to increased innovation, enhanced corporate social responsibility efforts, and in turn, greater value for both business and the communities they serve.

From poverty to education – our global corporate community has made significant inroads to drive social awareness and inspire a call to action for greater progress and prosperity. But for all the good we have accomplished together, it seems that some of the biggest challenges still left to tackle can be found within the walls of our own institutions.

Read more here.




Social Media Matters – Highlights from 2014

June 5, 2014 by  
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Social Matters rocked Singapore at the end of May boasting 400 delegates, 30 global speakers and nearly 4 million impressions, swiftly making this social media conference trending #1 across Singapore.

Social@Ogilvy sponsors this event each year and I was lucky enough to attend on behalf of the Australian team. Here are a few of the highlights from the three days.

The main theme of the event was “Ideas Shared” and it was backed by a wide ranging selection of speakers. We had screenwriters rubbing shoulders with advertisers, researchers nudging up against analysts and small, exciting start-ups were represented along with big brands.


Content Matters

Content was a hot topic. How do we compel people in this digital world? A number of great speakers shared their ideas and experiences and left the audience inspired.

Doug Scott, Founder and President of OgilvyEntertainment shared his views on Building Story Worlds. Doug showed a mash-up video that his team had created from Kevin Spacey’s famous story-telling speech. It emphasised that, no matter when or what device they use, people want complex, smart stories. At a time where people are under increased pressure to protect their reputations, the hard truth is risk takers will be rewarded. Doug’s presentation reminded us to be a little braver with branded content thinking.

Following this, Emmy award winning screenwriter, Guy Nicolucci presented on “The Big Steal”. As a comedy writer, Guy is a borrower, believing “You never create content you only recreate content”. Guy used the movie industry to explain story telling often follows a template because people like the familiar. Guy’s parting advice was “Find good ideas, steal them and make them better”.


Also at the event was Keith Hernandez from BuzzFeed.  He shared his take on how to create content that people want to share. Keith explained Buzzfeed operates with 150 full time journalist working across the globe.  Each journalist has access to data and insights on their work which means they can determine what content is the most popular. This allows the platform to constantly evolve and optimise so it can deliver the most compelling content for its audience. “You need to be locally relevant, globally consistent,” Hernandez said.


An interesting social channel for the audience at Social Matters was YouTube. In the APAC region, the popularity of YouTube influencers has sky rocketed and Michael Stevens of Vsauce (https://www.youtube.com/user/Vsauce) shared his secrets to keeping his audience entertained. Michael created Vsauce to satisfy his own curiosity and this then drove authentic content based around his own interests. He believes that people are inherently curious and they are thirsty for knowledge.  Curiosity he said is the human need that brands should fulfil in an interesting way with content that informs. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzIvDf5jebA)

This was an inspiring conference that left everyone thinking and many re-considering their approach to content. Top tip takeaways from the industry leaders present were the virtue of storytelling – was, is, and always will be a big pull card – and the durable power of emotive content.

Katy Daniells



A conversation with Emilio Robles

April 8, 2014 by  
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Emilio Robles completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) at UOW in 1980 and a DipEd in 1981 intending to become a teacher, but never made the classroom. Instead, he forged a career first in journalism then as a high-flying Public Relations executive in the United States before returning to Australia. He is now Director at Howorth. This is his journey.

Childhood:  I was a first generation migrant, arriving in Australia in 1961 at the age of three from Madrid, Spain. By the age of five I was my household’s translator: everything from helping buy our first TV to running down to the corner shop in Lake Heights to buy my dad his favourite brand of cigarettes (something I’m pretty sure a kid that age wouldn’t be allowed to do now).

The trust and confidence my parents had in me to communicate effectively on their behalf inspired me and helped shape my character.

Big Break:  Actually, it was a series of ‘big breaks’ rather than just one. The Illawarra Mercury newspaper gave my first two big breaks. Firstly, it hired me as a journalist on its weekly free paper, which had just started up. I learnt a lot, not just about writing but about stories and more importantly about people.

The other break it gave me was asking me to help the paper transition from old hot metal technology to computerised typesetting. I was a bridge between the editorial department and the printers and I helped train the journalists on the new computer systems and workflows.

That led to my third big break: sparking an interest in technology that got me a job as the Corporate Affairs Manager at Apple Computers in Australia in 1987 and then as a senior PR manager at Apple, Inc. in California in 1991.

Read the full story here.

Embrace empathy – it’s good for you and your people

April 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

Whether we work in an agency or inhouse, regardless of the discipline, most of us are, or will end up, leading, coaching or managing people.

But what type of person are we when we’re leading?

My very first PR agency boss, a kind-hearted Lancashire man back in England, gave me a bit of his wisdom that has stuck with me. He said: “Employees will often forget what you say. They will often forget what you do. But they will never forget how you made them feel.”

He was so bloody right …..

Click here to read more.

PR isn’t about polishing turds

March 25, 2014 by  
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Shit! You Work in PR? Not that old chestnut again. Isn’t it time to move on and say something different?

Last Thursday in Sydney at the CommsCon Awards, the night to celebrate the best of the PR industry’s efforts over the previous 12 months, we were yet again subjected to the narrow view of the discipline. This time through the moderator on the night, journalist Joe Hildebrand.

Whether it was black humour or not, the message in Joe’s speech was fixated on the art of spin – cover up, manipulation, hiding the truth, trying to make the negative look positive, and so it went on. If you want to see what Joe had to say, he published his edited speech in the Daily Telegraph.

I have worked in public relations for almost 20 years and did not find Joe’s attempts of humour remotely funny. But that’s not what bothered me. What did was his opinion that we, public relations professionals, spend most of our time trying to polish turds. That, quite frankly, is a turd.

Back in the 90s we were called Hemispheric Communicators. Like the half crest moon, we were told we only focus on the bright side and keep the dark side hidden.

Click here to read more.

Telling it straight: Live Events

March 10, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

Live events, who needs them? We live in a digital world now. A world of online co-creation and social media interaction; an extravagantly connected world awash with information and exciting content. Who wants the cost and hassle of staging something that brings a brand face-to-face with the public when exponentially more eyeballs are to be found in cyberspace?

Innovative brands, that’s who. It’s not just premature to write an obituary for live events – it’s foolish.

The digital revolution has created more opportunities for smartly-conceived events than ever. From live streaming, to social media ‘likes’; from blogging appeal to generating fresh content to be snapped up by a still ravenous and significant traditional media; a great event can be, well…a great event.

Consider the amazing impact of the record-breaking Red Bull Stratos, Felix Baumgartner’s intrepid skydive from the edge of space in October 2012. The live webcast attracted an astonishing 52 million viewers and as social media went crazy over the bravery and technical accomplishments of the jump, the online buzz generated helped Red Bull boost sales worldwide by 13%.

In a different vein, June 2013 saw Procter & Gamble organise the largest consumer event in its 175-year history. The Everyday Effect, held at multiple locations across New York City, was designed to demonstrate how the FMCG giant’s product portfolio improved daily life for people (http://www.pgeveryday.com/article/behind-the-scenes-of-the-everydayeffect) .

Of course, it delivered a powerful branded experience and sampling opportunity for consumers who encountered P&G’s marketing might on the street. But from head to toe, this was an event designed to be leveraged online, accompanied by webcasting and a massive social media drive.

Clearly, not every client can call upon consumer marketing budgets on the scale of Red Bull or P&G. But event marketing does not need to be epic to be highly effective. Finding and engaging a wider audience can be achieved through clever planning and skilful execution.

Long gone are the days when journalists had enough time on their hands to turn up at an event in the hope that there just might be a story to stumble across when they got there. Time-constrained hacks need more than a ‘maybe’ to be persuaded out and about.

For media to attend there needs to be a very strong hook; a world-first, participation of an A-list celebrity or radical product innovation. Editors are spread thinner and are harder to impress these days, and wherever possible they demand exclusive content. All of which creates obvious challenges.

Yet these obstacles are outweighed by the upside. The digital space has a voracious appetite for content, and good content generates excitement and traction. Put an event together in the right way and it acts as the focal point for a compelling story. Prime influential bloggers, serve up event-related content that is easily shareable via social media, give people something fresh to get excited about . . . and the buzz gathers momentum.

Plenty of examples spring to mind. In London, Selfridges teamed up with ‘food architects’ Bompas & Parr to open a temporary crazy golf course on the famous department store’s roof, featuring impressive icing sugar-clad models of landmark buildings (http://style.selfridges.com/whats-in/bompas-parr%E2%80%99s-rooftop-crazy-golf-selfridges-london) . The Big Rooftop Tea and Golf Party gained plenty of coverage from traditional media and bloggers alike. Incidentally, Selfridges has a long history of devising events that succeed in getting people’s tongues wagging. Over 100 years ago, in 1909, the department store pulled in the crowds through the coup of displaying the monoplane flown by Louis Blériot in the first flight across the English Channel. Imagine the social media reaction to something comparable today!

Back in the present day and also in London, the innovative eBay Social Shopping experience in Covent Garden (http://blog.ebay.com/ebays-social-shopping-experience-pops-up-in-london/) gave Christmas shoppers the chance to buy the most in-demand gifts at any given moment, all powered by algorithms which read conversation across social channels. Consumers used the eBay app to buy items on ever-changing video walls.

In San Francisco, jeans brand Levi’s supported a workshop in which local artists and visitors experimented with retro printmaking techniques, using skills in line with Levi’s traditional brand attributes. The San Francisco print shop attracted 31,000 visitors in a month and far greater interest online – with Levi’s adapting the community-based collaboration model into different formats and rolling it out as temporary events in other cities, such as Levi’s Photo Workshop in the heart of Manhattan, fanning word of mouth excitement as they did so.

Far from sounding the death knell for PR events, the digital media revolution has brought new opportunities. Once you give consumer brands the stage and story they deserve, the audience will follow.

Richard Brett, Group Managing Director, Pulse Communications


The death of the middleman – why social is changing the media rules

February 4, 2014 by  
Filed under Blog

In high school, I had a Latin teacher who constantly reminded his pupils: “repetition is the mother of learning”. Even though I recognised that his thinking was antiquated I didn’t challenge his perspective and continued to translate passages from the ancient language to the present.

The truth in his logic lies only in the fact that the texts we were translating didn’t ever change. (In Virgil’s Aeneid, ‘audentis fortuna iuvat’ translates to ‘fortune favours the bold’ yesterday, today, tomorrow, and always.)

Business isn’t nearly as static as ancient texts, and a far more useful lesson – both to the Romans and to modern brands – is that survival requires innovation.

For the longest time, the marketing and media universe was comprised of two unchallenged beasts – the creative agency that inspired meaningful campaigns and powerful notions to align a brand with a potential customer, and the media agency that understood how best to place those ideas in front of customers at the most appropriate times.

For years these two beasts worked side by side as their symbiotic relationship allowed them to grow larger, stronger and more powerful in shaping how we absorbed and consumed nearly all advertising material.

But along the way something very interesting happened. What happened fundamentally changed this dynamic and introduced a whole new level of competition, creativity, and ‘connection’ in how we interact and engage with media and marketing material. The democratisation of information, fuelled by the explosive adoption of the internet and its many different applications, has unlocked our innate ability to be expressive through creative and social channels. Our biology dictates that we’re social creates by nature – the internet has simply allowed us to rapidly catalyse our creativity and take our social nature to a much higher level. This shift has altered the relationship between the creative and advertising agency and completely disrupted how brands engage with their customers.

This change is powered by the same technological advancements that expanded the channels through which we communicate, pushing us from print to radio; from film to television; from static pages on the internet to dynamic email, and now, to SoLoMo (that perfect nexus of social, local and mobile which represents the marketer’s Holy Grail of being able to use real-time data to convert a potential customer into a real one at any given moment along their unique customer journey). This change is driven by our ability to reinvent better and faster ways of doing nearly anything.

I find two things about this evolution absolutely fascinating. First, just a decade ago most brands, businesses and governments didn’t even have a social media presence. Facebook wasn’t around and I’m sure many of today’s most popular social platforms – Skype, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Vine, Line, Jelly – weren’t even technologically feasible.

Now, according to research giant Forrester, many consumers don’t trust a brand that doesn’t participate actively on social channels.

Second, in a very short time we have seen a huge shift in actual consumer behaviour in how we interact with brands and their media and marketing messaging. Marketers have shifted their time, effort and resources from outputs (circulation, reach, opportunity-to-see, cost-per-thousand etc.) and outcomes (changes in awareness, perception, action, etc.) to actually working to influence engagement and drive behaviour (traffic, purchase, advocacy and loyalty).

This shift has been rapidly facilitated by specialist digital and social media agencies that are able to provide brands with the best of both worlds. On one hand, we’re able to leverage the latest technologies to better aggregate data (thereby ensuring that creative is supported by the latest real-time beliefs of actual end-user customers), and on the other, execute far more targeted and precise advertising (faster, cheaper, and more rigorously than traditional advertising firms).

Of all the campaigns I’ve monitored across the past several months, there are two that brilliantly demonstrate the power of this model. The first is the Grand Prix Award winning campaign launched by Oreo last year, which captures what is a growing movement across marketing and communications divisions to a real-time-performance-based publishing model, where all branded content, across channels, is topically related to what is most important to your audience. (You can find a synopsis of that campaign here.) While that is a model requiring significant coordination and commitment between the agencies and the brand, it is something we are certain to see more of across 2014.

The second is a current campaign being run by chip-brand Doritos. In what is a first for the brand – and very clearly epitomises how social media is front and centre in a changing media landscape – Doritos is actually crowdsourcing the advertisement it intends to air during the mother of all professional sporting events, the SuperBowl.

It has managed to completely crowdsource the entire campaign, across several social platforms, by incentivising fans to create branded content with a chance at winning $1m (a lot less than they would have paid its creative agency). At the time of writing, an Aussie ad is leading the way with over 2.3 million views online. You can take a peek at the “Finger Cleaner” ad here.

I’m looking forward to seeing which ad wins, and to watching it air during the SuperBowl knowing that most of the marketing people watching along will be thinking to themselves ‘why couldn’t we have thought of that first?’.

So, while fortune truly follows the bold, in today’s world, innovation is the mother of learning.

Yianni Konstantopoulos is the group managing director of Social@Ogilvy.


Telling it straight: Brand building

December 12, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog

Building brands is an inside job

Let’s talk about how companies can move their corporate brand further, using the untapped power of their own people.

As we know, brands are built on conversation – one customer experience at a time. They can also be destroyed that way. A company’s own employees can help power and protect brands, amplifying the investment made in marketing and advertising, for a fraction of the cost.

After all, most employees want their organisation to succeed and are willing to help. All we need to do is ask, and involve them.

All employees are potential ambassadors, not only those in customer-facing roles. When the customer value proposition and the employee value proposition meet together in authentic, positive and empowering synergy, the sky’s the limit. Employees will willingly share their experience of the brand they work for.

However those employees that come in direct contact with a customer have an additional point of leverage – they represent the time in a brand’s lifecycle when what the brand promises meets or exceeds what the customer expects.

Think about the brands we manage – can we say with confidence that we know how this interaction pans out?

To be clear, we are not talking about customer service – everyone provides that to a greater or lesser degree. What is important is how the brand promise is delivered, how it is experienced and perceived by the customer. Winning brands don’t just deliver superb customer service – that’s a given – they also deliver a superb brand experience.

After all, the customer builds an expectation based on what is promised via marketing and advertising. The moment of truth is when the customer experiences the promise.

For example, when Ford promises its brand will ‘go further’, the customer probably wants to see a salesperson who is innovative and forward thinking, who anticipates their needs and pre-empts their wants. They offer above-market after sales service. They go further.

Talking of cars, let’s ‘Think Holden’. While Mike Devereux tells the Productivity Commission no decision has been made on its future, employees of the car manufacturer can do nothing but think about what their futures hold.

Employees will only deliver if they feel connected to the journey. So, how do you create the intellectual and emotional connection, so your people walk and talk your brand?

    Your people will tell you what tone of voice and behaviours fit the brand; not the other way around
    If you have a new positioning or activation campaign, share it first internally so your people can complete the experience for a customer
    Don’t be afraid, let your most connected staff share their branded content with their personal social networks; they’ll be your greatest advocates and have their radars switched on to spot troubles early, helping you manage crises or issues. All brands will have them. The best brands manage them.

So it’s time we recognised and acted on what the research is telling us: building brands begins with employees.

Lorie Helliwell – MD Ogilvy Impact

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