Wells Haslem has helped its client, the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church, produce a short video documenting the Church's amazing efforts feeding hundreds of firefighters working on the devastating bushfires that ravaged parts of New South Wales, Australia, recently.
Over seven days 350 volunteers from the Church served up to 1600 meals per day.
Thousands of firefighters, other emergency personnel, council workers and media were served 24 hours a day.
The Church's Rapid Relief Team (RRT) supplied 99,000 litres of bulk water.
In the first four days, half of the food and drinks were delivered by the RRT directly to the frontline.
Donations of food and drinks were received from Coles, Woolworths, Joe’s Meats, local butchers, bakeries & Penrith Party Hire.
Hinchinbrook Public School donated a cool room of food and drinks.
The video was shot mostly by Church members. Wells Haslem CEO Benjamin Haslem then worked with video producer, Phil Donnison, to pull the footage together in the video above.
Click through to the Church's YouTube channel and see other videos Ben and Phil helped produced for the Church.
They are going BACKWARD!
My next thoughts as the camera pans out and and Van Damme proceeds to do the splits on two reversing trucks.
To close the screen reads: This test was set up to demonstrate the stability and precision of Volvo Dynamic Steering
That’s the best piece of marketing I’ve seen in quite some time.
And the statistics seem to back that thought up. Week one: 27million YouTube hits on the stunt video, nearly 2million YouTube hits on the teaser, hundreds of thousands of views of ‘the making of’ YouTube videos (which seem to disprove my theory it was CGI), social media abuzz, countless news articles from across the globe … one could claim an exceptionally successful campaign.
But what has made it so successful?
(Very) Generally speaking men love trucks. Statistically speaking, men undertake more risk-taking behaviour than women - and so a piece like this is going to sell well with them. What I think is truly impressive is that I as a woman am genuinely impressed. I think it’s the poetry of the piece (mixed to perfection with the danger): the Enya soundtrack, golden trucks glimmering in a Spanish sunset, and Van Damme’s deep Belgian voice overlayed "Now I stand here before you. What you see is a body crafted to perfection. A pair of legs engineered to defy the laws of physics. And a mindset to master the most epic of splits."
Are we the ones heading out to buy the Volvo truck (given the stunt was to promote Volvo’s dynamic steering system which it says greatly improves precision and stability in any driving situation)? Most likely not. However the brand is fixed in my head when I think of this incredible piece. Connecting content and brand can be a challenge for any marketer, and Volvo seems to have achieved it here.
Will it improve the bottom-line?
Perhaps not directly. Most certainly not immediately. But it’s an excellent branding piece. Not to mention Volvo is tapping into an audience that is savvy at avoiding traditional advertising – the highly-desirable Millennials and Digital Generation (Gen Y and Gen Z). In using social media Volvo has started a conversation with young people who will go onto purchase their cars (and perhaps even drive their trucks) and made quite the impression.
Want to go viral?
Join the very, very long queue. This is one of the main requests I get from clients when it comes to digital campaigns. There is no winning formula, but here’s a key tip: don’t treat it like traditional advertising – get out of your box and that way of thinking; throw the brief out the window and run with a mad Creative’s idea.
By Benjamin Haslem
Twitter provides a useful platform to talk directly with your stakeholders.
But it also poses huge risks and can leave you bruised and humiliated.
It allows companies, organisations, politicians and others to engaged in a very public Q&A session.
These forums provide an excellent means by which issues can be identified and dealt with in real time, making customers, constituents, suppliers and others feel they are part of the conversation, contributing to solutions and being listened to.
However, as both British Gas and JPMorgan Chase discovered recently, things can go very wrong, very quickly.
In the case of the UK utility, deciding to conduct a Q&A on Twitter the same day it unveiled a 10.4 per cent rise in electricity prices and an 8.4 per cent increase in the gas tariff was pretty naive.
The hashtag "AskBG" was the top trend on UK Twitter within an hour of British Gas launching its Q&A and generated 16,000 tweets, many directed at BG customer service director Bert Pijls
Many dripped with gallows humour - "Have you started an affiliate scheme with a funeral directors?" asked one tweet.
US Banking giant JPMorgan Chase helped Twitter launch on the stock market recently but when it comes to using social media to engage with stakeholders its recent effort was a #massivefail.
The bank was forced to abandon a Q&A session with vice chairman James Lee, after Twitter users complied with its request for queries with a stream of abuse.
British Gas's and JPMorgan Chase's experiences shouldn't stop companies or organisations from engaging on Twitter.
But it's crucial to appear genuine and ensure conversations don't look like PR stunts.
People are going to talk about you on social media, so be part of the conversation. Make your Q&A a weekly or fortnightly event at the same time for one hour and then shut it down.
The first few times you may cop abuse but the novelty will soon wear off for the trolls.
However, you need to be honest. If you've made a mistake, admit it and explain how you plan to make amends.
Also avoid humour (what's funny F2F can seem just weird on-line) and keep it polite.
British Gas stood by its decision to run a Q&A on the day it increased prices.
"(It was) the right thing to do because we are committed to being open and transparent with our customers at all times," it said in a statement.
"We also want to make clear rising prices don't have to mean rising bills and there is help available."
By Benjamin Haslem
Another example of poor crisis management has come across my desk.
Health authorities in the Australian State of Queensland are investigating an outbreak of food poisoning that may have contributed to a woman's death and sickened 220 others.
The food poisoning apparently affected people who had attended up to 40 different Melbourne Cup events on 5 November. Sadly a 77-year-old woman has died.
The food was provided to each event by catering firm Piccalilli Catering, and was probably caused by eggs used to make mayonnaise.
The outbreak received blanket media coverage, particularly in Queensland.
For Piccalilli this is potentially disastrous for its business.
To the company's credit, it issued a media statement within hours, posting it on front page of the company website.
On first blush, it seems the company has followed good crisis management practice. It accepts the likelihood its mayonnaise was to blame; explains the eggs in question were sourced from a previously reliable supplier and emphasises its "deeply upset and distressed by this outcome".
But on closer inspection there's a key word missing from the statement: Sorry.
After shifting the blame to the unnamed supplier - there's nothing wrong with that - the company then makes this extraordinary claim: "It is of some comfort to know that there has not been a breakdown in our own quality systems".
Sorry Piccalilli, you can't poison 220 people and then claim your quality systems haven't broken down.
Leave the line out and say sorry (though I suspect every PR's best friend - the lawyer - could be behind the lack of an apology).
By John Wells
A rather extraordinary event happened on Wednesday at the Parramatta River Side Theatre. One great Australian came to honour another great Australia; both men, one much older than the other.
Unfortunately too few people witnessed it.
The event was the Whitlam Oration. It was promoted by the Whitlam Institute in Honour of former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam.
The speaker was Noel Pearson, one of Australia’s most genuine and remarkable indigenous leaders.
Here’s a flavour, but you must read the whole thing – it is simply compelling:
“In his 97th year, in this third oration in honour of Australia’s 21st prime minister, I use the appellation ‘old man’ with all the reverence and love of its meaning in the ancient culture of my people. An acute consciousness of the honour bestowed by the governors of the Whitlam Institute to one so richly undeserving, is leavened by unalloyed gratitude for the chance to salute this old man in the twilight of his extraordinary life. The alacrity with which this invitation is seized, belies somewhat the humility which an outsider should properly feel when afforded such a rare and august privilege.
“I say ‘outsider’ in the sense of the Australian Labor Party, but if I was born estranged from the nation’s citizenship, into a humble family of a marginal people striving in the teeth of poverty and discrimination – it is assuredly no longer the case. This because of the equalities of opportunities afforded by the Whitlam program which successive governments built upon, and even where predilections were otherwise, their institutionalisation made their reversal difficult. The truth is, I, and numbers of my generation are today, bourgeois, albeit with varying propensities to decadence.”
Watch the speech here.
Download the speech here.
By Benjamin Haslem
The crisis enveloping US athletic apparel company Lululemon has barely rated a mention in Australia but must rank as one of the most ham-fisted attempts at crisis management seen in quite a while - anywhere.
First some background.
It all started back in June, when Lululemon had to recall a line of its pants because of complaints the fabric became see-through when women bent over to do the downward dog (link here, if like me, you're not au fait with yoga positions). Then, in the past month, customers were complaining that the pants' new material pilled - small balls of fibre form on the fabric.
So step up Lululemon co-founder, Chip Wilson.
In a Bloomberg TV interview, Wilson drops this shocker:
“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just don't work for [the pants]… It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time.”
Unleash the social media storm. This piece pretty much sums it up.
After a week, (yes a week) and an online petition asking him to say sorry, Wilson responded by releasing a video on the company’s Facebook page.
We will get to the video shortly but first, why put an apology on your Facebook page? Why not put it on YouTube, tweet the link, email key journalists and bloggers and make sure your mea culpa is sent far and wide?
As for the video, you can watch it here.
Where is the apology to his customers? To women in general? He seems to be only saying sorry to his employees. They're an important stakeholder group and a separate video apologising to them would have been smart.
But there was no apology to those most offended and those who may well have brand loyalty. Sometimes there's something just as bad or even worse than no apology and that's one that misses the mark.
As PR disasters go, this was a doozy, only made far far worse and longer lasting by some very poor crisis management.
By Alexandra Mayhew
I’ll be the first person to tell you to get across digital. Know the platforms. Understand how your audiences are talking. Engage.
Now it’s clear that newspaper circulation is declining at a depressing rate in Australia. The fourth estate is essential in our democracy and minimal investigative journalism is most certainly not in the public interest.
In saying that, it is good to see the rise of digital journalism, even if many news organisations are struggling to turn a profit. It’s allowing information to get further and facilitates much better two-way communication.
This may not be news to you, but I think this might be – many magazines are bucking the trend with increased circulation.
Recent Ray Morgan research found that many magazines are actually increasing in circulation.
George Pesutto, General Manager - Media & Communications, Roy Morgan says:
“Australians clearly love magazines that are an extension of their personality and interests and advertisers should take note that this isn’t likely to change any time soon. Unlike their print cousins, newspapers, it would appear there is a place for printed magazines in a digital world also.
“There is a key element to this, though. Magazines in their categories are relevant to the people reading them, which is why they’re so influential. But the environment is more competitive in the general news and entertainment categories where, like newspapers, they compete against the immediacy and accessibility of digital delivery.
“Of course, magazine publishers will need to continue to develop their online and other digital platforms. The ones leading this space with relevant additional content not in the printed editions are already benefiting from extended audiences.”
So continue to organise your PR campaigns far in advance to accommodate the (sometimes painfully-long) magazine lead times – while ensuring you're flexible enough at launch to reflect digital discussions.
By Benjamin Haslem
The team at Wells Haslem has been involved in at least half a dozen benchmarking studies of senior Federal and State Ministers, their shadows, MPs, chiefs of staff, advisers, senior public servants and political journalists.
These qualitative and quantitative surveys have helped us develop 11 rules of effective advocacy to government, which we use in all our government relations work.
1. Operate inside the tent
If you'll excuse the colourful language, US President Lyndon Johnson once said of FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover: “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in”.
This applies to good government advocacy.
It’s better to be inside the tent working with government than standing outside picking a fight. Go in the front door.
Try to work with people. Don’t pick a public fight over a disagreement with government or opposition. Go and talk to them.
So many companies and organisations mistakenly think the best way to get a government to do something is to try and shame them publicly through the media.
2. Establish rapport
Establish and nurture relationships. Don’t just go and see ministers relevant to your business when you need something.
3. Offer solutions not problems
If you have a problem don’t speak to MPs without having a solution.
Do the thinking for them.
4. Be Realistic
Don’t ask for something you know the government can’t deliver.
Don’t use ambit claims. Go in with what you want.
5. Use evidence not assertions
All government policy is now evidentiary based so you must get away from political assertions.
Government departments often have studies showing the opposite to what you assert.
Go equip with independent studies that demonstrate how your ask will help government by delivering cost savings, better health outcomes etc.
6. Work within Government agenda
You would never propose socialism to Tony Abbott or David Cameron or universal healthcare to a Tea Party-backed GOP congressman.
And remember political parties' agendas change. The Australian Labor Party has long dropped
its blanket opposition to privatisation; the Liberal Party now supports Medicare.
7. Public good not private benefits
Stress how your ask will benefit others.
Don’t appear disingenuous; acknowledge the benefit for you and your organisation.
Governments want to be able to sell public benefits so it can wins votes.
8. Recruit allies and 3rd party endorsement
Independent support dilutes perceptions of self-interest.
The government also knows it risks independent criticism if it refuses to help
And if or when you take your case to the media it is more credible and therefore places more pressure on government.
9. Build a credible public profile
Always, not just at times you are seeking government assistance or support.
For example, seek out opportunity to promote your company or organisation’s sustainability credentials.
10. Present your case professionally
Rehearse your pitch to ministers, advisers and so on.
Have a leave-behind briefing paper and other materials but don't overwhelm.
Try and anticipate questions and have answers ready.
Follow up with z thank you note and ask: “did we answer all your questions?”.
11. Say thanks and give some credit
When the Government delivers on your request, it's good form to acknowledge publicly via a media release; even if you don't get everything you asked for.
It's amazing how often this is not done.
By Benjamin Haslem
In a past life, the PR firm I was working for nearly lost a certain new client because a junior member of staff had a weak handshake.
The 'wet fish' wasn't the only problem. The potential client complained the young man was also ill-informed about the "latest trends in digital marketing", (not a problem as Wells Haslem!).
But leaving aside the junior's lack of knowledge (and the new client's penchant for the firm grip), this anecdote drives home the importance of body language in face-to-face communications.
As I stress in media training, a US Study some years ago found physiology or body language (how you sit, stand and gesture) makes up 55 per cent of the communication process. Tone and inflection, how you sound, 38 per cent. Actual content seven per cent.
Body language coach, Carol Kinsey Goman, says there are five key areas you should focus on:
Letting the audience see your passion - Allow your natural enthusiasm for what you do, your product or company come across in the tone of your voice and emphasis and your animated expressions. But don't go overboard; keep it in check by limiting most of your gestures to waist height and definitely not above the shoulders.
Look confident and warm - One non-verbal cue can convey status, authority, and confidence. Stand tall, hold your shoulders back, keep your head straight, speak clearly and in a lower vocal range. Then you need to use the other cue to convey warmth, empathy, and likeability: open palm gestures, lean slightly forward, give people eye contact when they talk, smile and mirror their posture/gestures. (If you find it difficult to look strangers in the eye, an old salesmans' trick is to look at the bridge of their nose.)
Make sure that your verbal and non-verbal messages are aligned - Most of us know that shaking your head while emphasising a point gives the impressions you don't actually believe what you're saying. Neuroscientists have actually identified brain waves that occur when we are shown gestures that contradict what’s spoken. This is the same brain wave dip that occurs when people listen to nonsensical language (you may as well speak gibberish!).
Watch the audience to gauge how you are being perceived - How your audience behaves indicates interest, receptivity, or agreement while disengagement behaviors signal that a person is bored, angry, or defensive.
Engagement signals include head nods or tilts (the universal sign of “giving someone your ear”), and open body postures. When people are engaged, they will face you directly, “pointing” at you with their whole body. However, the instant they feel uncomfortable, they may angle their upper body away – giving you “the cold shoulder.” And if they sit through your entire presentation with both arms and legs crossed, it’s unlikely you have their buy-in.
And finally, the handshake - Dr Goman writes: "Touch is the most primitive and powerful nonverbal cue. We are programmed to feel closer to someone who’s touched us. The person who touches also feels more connected. It’s a compelling force and even momentary touching can create a human bond".
I'm not a big fan of the wet fish and yes judge people (possibly wrongly) if they have one. But I am far more put off by someone who shakes my hand but looks away.
Dr Gorman provides these handy tips:
1. Is Social Media Stifling Political Debate?