Integrity: Better than Money or Power

What happens when one half of one of the world’s greatest rivalry’s has the chance to bring its competitor to its knees?

I recently read an article where Pepsi was offered private documents and trade secrets belonging to Coke as well as a vial of their secret formula.

It all started when a disgruntled Coke employee wanting to get back at Coke for what she believed was poor treatment met an ex-con who needed a job who knew an embezzler. It sounds like the makings of a highly anticipated motion picture, doesn’t it? 

A senior executive at Pepsi was contacted by the embezzler stating that he had top secret documents from Coke and he would be willing to hand them over to Pepsi for a large sum of money that would presumably set the three con artists up for life.

What these three didn’t know, was that while in their minds Pepsi would have been crazy not to pay up for the secrets, Pepsi had actually contacted Coke to tell them what was happening. Coke promptly called the FBI and the trio had unknowingly been dealing with an FBI agent from then on. Needless to say the three were arrested and charged with various crimes. 

While this is a really interesting story and it has a bit more to it than what I outlined, it brings up the topic of integrity, whether within your own company or when dealing with competitors and the broader business world.

It would have been really easy for the Pepsi exec to take the trade secrets and build an empire to equal that of Coke’s but would it be real? While we are talking about two business power houses, if you apply this scenario to any local small business, I think you’ll find that the outcome is the same. Very little satisfaction can be found riding on someone else’s shirt tales.

As a small business owner would you be able to work in your business everyday knowing you didn’t get where you are on your own merit? Or would it be fair to engage in underhanded business dealings just to have an edge over your competitor? Would you feel the same satisfaction gained when you work hard for something?

I think its more important to be known as a fair operator with a great product or service rather than the business owner whose known as a shady character. Reputation stays with a person for life and while we all want to succeed in business it’s important that we treat our competitors, clients, suppliers and anyone we deal with, with integrity. That integrity may be the thing that will have others helping you out of a bind one day and prove to be more important than money or power. It's something to think about.


If you would like to read the full article, here’s the link:

What's It Worth?

Not long ago I received a phone call from a consultant doing some work for another company wanting to know if I provided my services on a pay per performance basis. She went on to tell me that she wanted to get publicity for her client and while she was happy with any type of publicity she really wanted to get them a spot on one of the morning shows.

She essentially wanted me to create a media release, submit it to the press and do enough follow up to get a spot on TV. If they didn’t get any publicity, especially on TV, I wouldn’t get paid. I was really surprised by this request.

Most people know that generally consultants get paid quite well for their services and any consultant worth their title should know that the work I was asked to do was time consuming. I believe everyone’s time is valuable and that no one should be expected to work for nothing. I was further taken aback by her surprise when I told her that no one would probably take her up on her offer to be paid solely on performance. I don’t know if it was arrogance on her part or she truly felt her request wasn’t unreasonable.

In all professions, there is so much work that goes on behind the scenes that may not seem significant to outsiders but is important and time consuming. I just hope there aren’t professionals, especially those just starting out that feel they have to comply with such a request just to get work. No one should be asked to work for nothing. I’m sure that consultant would not have considered being paid per performance for the work she was doing!

Freelancing Websites: How Do They Affect a Future Workforce?

As a small business owner I appreciate the service that freelance sites such as Upwork, Freelancer and Airtasker provide. But a recent email from Airtasker had me wondering if they are doing more harm than good to a future workforce.

The email I received from Airtasker was a job alert from someone needing marketing assistance. When I looked at the job description, the poster actually wanted someone to complete their marketing assessment for them. I found this really disturbing as I wondered did this person really hope to pass someone else’s work off as their own and possibly pass a subject not on their own merit? Is this person going to obtain top marks which may lead to a great job but not know at least the fundamentals of marketing? Do we suddenly have an unfair playing field among students? Does a student who completes their own work and usually performs well suddenly see themselves struggling to keep up with students that have had experienced professionals complete their work?

These freelancing websites are great especially for small businesses that don't need an office full of staff but at times could use help on particular projects but I can’t help but wonder if they are inadvertently destroying a future work force.

Woolworths Rewards: The Verdict

So the new Woolworths Rewards program has been active for almost two months now and I must say I think Woolworths may have got it right. There are product categories that give shoppers the opportunity to earn bonus points and including BWS and Woolworths petrol stores in the mix has helped shoppers earn a substantial amount of points.

There are also promotions that enable customers to earn additional points by spending specified amounts of money each week for a certain amount of time if they wish. But even at 1 point per dollar spent, I think Woolworths has gone a long way to try and win back some of the customers they lost to Flybuys.

I personally think that it is now one of the better loyalty schemes out there at the moment. What are your thoughts?


What Makes a Good Loyalty Program?

In my last post I spoke about the Woolworths Rewards loyalty program and where it missed the mark as far as loyalty programs go. I thought I would continue on with that theme and look at what makes a good loyalty program

Almost all retailers have a loyalty program, you could say it acts as a guarantee of future purchases by customers. But what makes us want to join a loyalty program? Is it that we love the brand and want to be kept updated with product information and sales? Do we want to earn cash back or earn points that can be redeemed for products. Whatever the reason we are a population that loves a reward. 

In 2013 the Australian Marketing Institute conducted a study of loyalty programs. They found that 88% of consumers over the age of 16 were part of a loyalty program and 11% of consumers were members of more than 10 programs. 

That is a lot of customer data being made available for marketing purposes. So what makes us join and remain loyal to these programs? With so many programs out there how do you choose? Do you want membership to be free or are you happy to pay a membership fee knowing that the rewards will far outweigh any investment?

A common opinion is that a loyalty program that offers the opportunity to move up membership tiers is quite successful. A perfect example of this is the Qantas Frequent Flyer program. When you join you are on the bronze membership level. Now while you accumulate points whenever you fly or spend money at an affiliate, the real value is in accumulating status credits. Status credits can only be obtained by flying and depending on your destination that will determine how many status credits you earn. Once you have earned 300 status credits you go up to the Silver membership. This is where Qantas is smart. In addition to seating privileges and 50% bonus on your points,  as a gift for achieving Silver status, they give you two passes to the Qantas club. To maintain Silver status you need to accumulate 250 status credits but as you’ve had a taste of the Qantas Club, you now want to earn enough status credits to obtain a Gold membership which entitles you to access to the Global Lounges. So now you only fly Qantas so you can earn those coveted status credits regardless of how much more you are spending flying with Qantas rather than one of their competitors. Pretty smart!

So what will you be looking for when you join your next loyalty program?


Where Does Your Loyalty Lie?

Loyalty programs can play a big part in our behaviour as shoppers. They are also a valuable tool for retailers when it comes to collecting market research data. A good loyalty program can determine whether or not we shop with a particular retailer. Recently the Woolworths Rewards program has come under fire by shoppers and media.

I have to wonder what the Woolworths marketing department were thinking when they developed this program. In theory they had a good idea but when executed it fell short. If you’re not familiar with the program Woolworths offer a dollar amount cash back on products displaying their reward dollar ticket. Once you’ve accumulated $10, this comes off your next shop. 

There were a couple of problems with this. Firstly, they had a good loyalty program whereby you earned Qantas Frequent Flyer points when you spent over $30 in one transaction. This proved valuable to a lot of shoppers. When they introduced the reward dollars program they abolished their affiliation with Qantas. The other issue is there aren’t many products that are relevant to most shoppers that carry a reward, so to achieve a $10 cash back is no easy feat.

For months now social media has been inundated with shoppers complaining about the lack of reward products on offer therefore resulting in thousands of dollars being spent with no reward. A lot of these customers mentioned they no longer scan their card when they shop there, meaning that Woolworths doesn't get the valuable market research data. Quite a few customers mentioned going back to Coles for their Flybuys program.

While the Woolies marketing department may have got it wrong when it came to the new rewards program, they are at least listening. At the end of the month they will launch their new loyalty program.

They have once again reinstated their affiliation with Qantas and now shoppers will earn 1 point for every dollar they spend in Woolworths, BWS and Caltex. Once a total of 2,000 points has been accumulated, shoppers will get $10 off their shop. My question is: how long will it take to accumulate 2,000 points? It seems they’ve been paying attention to Coles and their Flybuys program. You can redeem 2,000 Flybuys points for $10 off your shop but its not at all hard to get to 2,000 points if you shop at all the Flybuys partners and take advantage of their bonus points offers. 

If Woolworths will be offering bonus points at any given time it may not take long at all to hit 2,000 points but if you base it on an average of $100 - $120 a week between groceries and fuel it will take approximately four to five months to get a reward. Will this be enough for shoppers? Time will tell.

Sponsorship: Show Respect

In the lead up to the Olympic Games there has been much talk in the media about Telstra’s clever advertising that implies they are an official sponsor when in fact they are not. 

If you’re not familiar with the campaign, Telstra launched a ‘Go To Rio’ marketing campaign which promotes the ‘Olympics on Seven’ app and features the famous Peter Allen song ‘I Go To Rio’ playing throughout. 

The AOC commenced legal action against Telstra wanting them to pull the ads because they felt the ads mislead the public into believing they were an official sponsor of the Olympics when they are not. They have made it clear that Telstra is in no way associated with the Olympics, the Olympic athletes or the Olympic Committees. Unfortunately the AOC lost its federal court case against Telstra so Telstra is now free to run the ads with the AOC having to pay their legal costs. Telstra has since amended their ads to stipulate they are not an official Olympic sponsor.

So why is Telstra trying to jump on the Olympics bandwagon? The story goes that Telstra was the one to sever ties with the AOC last year. Is it a way of gaining favourable exposure without the financial outlay? Is this clever advertising or a slap in the face to the actual sponsors of the event. As it happens, Optus is an official sponsor. Is this fair to Optus? 

In the public eye its probably a case of ‘they’re two big companies, they'll sort it out’ and ‘who cares about the sponsors any way, we just want to watch the Olympics.’ What a lot of people don’t realise is in a lot of cases the sponsors make things happen. They may play a part in getting the athletes to Rio, for providing uniforms, funds for accommodation and the list goes on. If this were a tale of two small businesses battling it out would we be more sympathetic to the business that was in Optus’ shoes? I think regardless of whether you are a small business or a large corporation, the same rules apply. 

I mentioned in a previous post that sponsorship dollars are extremely hard to come by and as such the terms of the sponsorship should be respected. This is no different. If Telstra wanted to be seen as affiliated with the Olympics then they should have continued they’re relationship with the AOC. The Olympics is a time of setting aside differences and all nations coming together to compete for their countries so shouldn’t businesses take a leaf out of this book and show each other respect when it comes to fair business practice?

Is it Ok to Turn Away Customers to Save Your Reputation?

I recently heard a story from a mother that was at her wits end because her 1 yr old child wasn’t sleeping at all. After trying everything, she enrolled in a very well known sleep school. Unfortunately her child wasn’t receptive to the sleep school’s methods so she was advised to wait six months to see if his sleep patterns changed, if not then she should try another stint in this sleep school. 

Six months passed and still sleep deprived this poor mother called the sleep school to re-enrol. The sleep school remembered her child, which could be considered good customer service but then they told her they would call her back and never did. You see this sleep school has a very high success rate and if they let this child attend again and they still can’t get him sleeping then their success rate drops. 

Is this fair? I don’t think so. While it’s important for a company to have a good reputation and to be able to boast a high success rate, is it not more important to offer the services you advertise? What’s the point in being the best in your field if you’re turning customers away because they may harm your reputation. If you persevere maybe you and the customer will have the desired outcome. Wouldn’t it be great to boast that you had to try a few times but in the end you achieved the impossible?

I guess my point is, don’t look at the black and white of the situation, look at the grey area. A not so perfect customer or situation maybe a real boon for your business or reputation.

Speak Our Language

Often we forget that we are not the target audience when it comes to what we communicate. While our target audience may require our services, we need to remember that we may be providing them with a service because they do not have the expertise to carry out the function that they hire us to provide. 

When we correspond with our clients we need to remember that we are possibly talking to a lay person when it comes to our field. I am guilty of making marketing and consumer behaviour references that my clients don’t understand. It’s great we know what we are talking about but if your client doesn't know A from B then we need to be mindful and give them the main points in easy to understand terms.

Don’t ever treat your client like an idiot but keep in mind that they may not know what an AB demographic is or what a HDMI cable is. They just need to know that you are developing a campaign targeted at white collar, high income earners or that there is a cable that will give you a great quality image on your TV.

Using easy to understand language can eliminate a multitude of problems down the track. How many times have you thought you were getting one thing but ended up with another simply because you didn’t understand what you were being told. 

So before talking to a client think about what you need to tell them and whether you are using technical terms or if you using terminology that is easy to understand.

To Social Network or Not To Social Network?

Social Media is such an integral part of everyday life and business. Most businesses now have a social media presence whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram or a combination of any of these. But its not uncommon for a lot of business owners, in particular small business owners to shy away from promoting their business on social media. The main reason for this is they fear that they are open to negative feedback and for a small business negative feedback can have a big impact.

Businesses survived many years without the internet and social media but we now live in an age where people rely heavily on websites and social media to make decisions when it comes to purchasing goods and services. It’s safe to say that if a business doesn't have an internet presence then it needs to rely on its reputation and word of mouth but unfortunately it doesn't always have the desired results. 

So how can small business have a social media presence and minimise negative feedback where its not warranted? By exploring the options of your desired social media you can tailor your page to ensure you are able to monitor any content that is made public. 

In the case of Facebook, you can set up your page to not display posts on your time line unless they have been approved by you. This allows you to police what is made public. If you do this bear in mind its not an excuse to bury your head in the sand if you don’t like a comment that has been made. 

One of the golden rules of social media is to address all comments whether they are positive or negative. Someone may comment that they left you a voicemail message but you didn’t reply to the message in what they believed was a timely many. Rather than ignore the comment, offer an explanation. You may have been in a meeting with a client or some other legitimate excuse. People need to understand that you are running a business so there may be times when you can’t answer the phone. Of course if you feel that a comment is detrimental to your business and unfounded you are within your rights to not publish it but I would still reply to the person directly.

Social media is such an effective marketing tool that I believe it’s important to have a presence. Consider it a passive form of word of mouth.

If you would like assistance in setting up your social media profile you can email Absolute Marketing Communications at


What Am I Watching?

I was recently watching an episode of My Kitchen Rules and was really taken aback by the aggressive product endorsement. Like most people, I know that reality TV shows rely on the support and contribution of leading brands to be able to produce their shows but I was really surprised by the in-your-face promotion of the Holden cars used in this episode of the show. 

In the past we have seen the brand of car and the model but on this particular night we not only were informed of what car was being driven but we were told by the contestants of how wonderful the GPS was and how great the functions of the radio were. Had I just flicked over from another program I would have been forgiven for thinking I was watching a Holden ad.

This has never been the case in the past when Hyundai was the car of choice for MKR so I have to wonder if Holden made these demands. As a sponsor they are entitled to negotiate what they believe to be fair sponsorship terms but did MKR sell out? Were they that desperate for a car manufacturer to come on board that they gave their contestants part-time sales gigs? Are they alienating their public? We all know these shows need advertisers and sponsors but is this more aggressive approach actually annoying the viewer?

I know sponsorship is an integral part of MKR but is this going too far? I just want to watch the contestants cook. If I wanted a demo on the car I would visit my Holden dealership on the weekend. 


The Customer is Always Right. Or Are They?

When working for different clients there are times you don’t like their ideas or don’t think their ideas will work for a particular campaign. It can be hard to determine whether you should be honest and tell them you don’t think their idea will work or go along with it because you’re being paid to work for them.

I believe that you are working for your client so you owe them honesty and the benefit of your expertise. They have hired you to perform a function and they expect desirable results. We all take on clients with the hope they will offer repeat business so if you are working on a project and it doesn’t have the results they expected then they are within their rights not to hire you again. Not to mention their perception that hiring you was a waste of resources. 

It’s understandable that you want to keep your client happy but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your reputation and expertise. If you don’t agree with a client’s idea or viewpoint tell them in a diplomatic manner. Don’t shoot down their idea instead explain why their idea may not work and perhaps give examples of where ideas similar to theirs havn’t yielded results.

The relationship with your client will fare much better if you can be honest with them and provide the results they are after.

Timing is Everything

It’s so easy to get caught up in the momentum of being ahead of schedule on a project that we don’t often consider the impact that rolling ahead on a project will have on other parties involved.

Last week I spoke with a client who wanted to submit a press release on Friday afternoon. Now I can understand that we were ready to proceed and that it meant we would start Monday morning with a clean slate but I didn’t think it was the best idea. It may have been of benefit to our work schedule but I believe it would have affected the outcome of potential press coverage.

My belief is that most people have shut down for the weekend by lunchtime on a Friday. Unless someone is expecting something specific from me I don’t email anything of importance on a Friday afternoon. It’s my opinion that if we sent a press release to 50+ press outlets late Friday afternoon some of them might of read it and think ‘I’ll deal with it Monday’ and then totally forgot about it when Monday comes around or they may have just skimmed over it and filed it. Unless you have breaking news it’s safe to say you are not going to appear in the press last minute on a Friday.

The same goes for when you are calling journalists. A general rule especially on newspapers is 9am every morning is staff meeting time. No one is answering their phones and in my experience some journalists don’t return calls so if you want to talk to them you have to just keep trying.

Whether you are submitting a press release or if you do need to send important information to someone think about the timing. Think about what you like to deal with at any given time and this will give you some indication of what others are likely to do.


Training - Make it Count!

As with any company managing staff, training is an integral part of the business. Most companies believe that organising training is the responsibility of the HR department and this is correct to a degree. But what happens when your highly skilled staff are enrolled in training that really should be offered to entry level employees? This is not only a waste of money, its also a waste of time that your already experienced staff could be using to actually do their job.

Some of you are aware that prior to starting Absolute Marketing Communications I was employed by a high end consumer electronics brand. As part of my various marketing and PR roles within the company I organised divisional and company events. These included press launches, company and dealer conferences, corporate lunches, Christmas parties and other related events. 

I got an email from the HR manager one day advising that I had been enrolled to attend a one day course in event co-ordination along with some of my colleagues. I attended because I thought perhaps it was an advanced course and I might take something away from it that would help in the planning of future events and because I assumed that my manager was involved in this decision and thus thought it would be relevant to me.

Everyone was wrong on all counts. I attended this course with colleagues that had never organised a corporate event at any time in their careers let alone for the company we were working for.

I spent a day listening to a facilitator educate us on the basics of event planning. Don’t get me wrong she knew what she was talking about and while it was worthwhile for the other attendees, I had put this all into practice before. Her practical task was to pretend we were organising a children’s birthday party. Not to sound arrogant but I have organised events that require delegates to fly either domestically or internationally and ensure they make it in time for our event's proceedings. I could organise a children’s party with my eyes closed! Meanwhile my work was piling up because I’ve had to sit through this. When my manager asked me how the training went, I told him honestly it was a waste of time. When I told him why, he agreed with me.

My point is if you’re going to organise training, make it worthwhile. Don’t leave all the decisions to the HR manager. They need to be involved in the decision especially if their department is footing the bill but you need to tell them what your staff are capable of. If the training’s not right not only is the fee for the course wasted but it’s a days work your staff are being paid for to sit and be told something they already know. Think about involving your staff in the decisions regarding their training. They may feel that a particular course may be of value to them and enhance their value to your company. You want your staff to embrace the opportunity to learn new things not cringe every time they’re told they have to attend training.

Ultra Tune or Ultra Fail?

I recently saw the new ad for Ultra Tune. I must say I’m a little surprised there haven’t been enough complaints to have the ad taken off the air. If you haven’t seen the ad, it depicts two girls driving their car when they break down on train tracks. A train is coming and hits the car yet the girls walk away unscathed. 

The problem with the ad is that it negates everything we are constantly reminded about in the media about the dangers of stopping on train tracks while driving. I think this Ultra Tune ad is irresponsible and I’d be very surprised if there isn’t more of a fuss made about it. What message is it sending to young drivers?

I believe a brand has a responsibility to it's customers to advertise facts. The facts are: if you are stuck in your car on train tracks when a train is coming, you are not going to walk away looking glamourous and Ultra Tune most definitely won't make it in time to save you!

Ultra Tune has come under attack for another ad which objectifies women and allegedly misleads viewers into believing they can win a trip to Wimbledon (the tennis tournament, not the English town). It will interesting to see whether Ultra Tune pulls their ads voluntarily or wait to be told by the ACCC or the advertising standards board.

It makes me wonder, who is designing and executing Ultra Tune's ads?

Too Much Information?

There has been such an evolution when it comes to the creation of ads, especially in print. I was recently researching ads to see what was happening out in the market place and was amazed by the contrast between ads of various companies. Thinking about my own experience in advertising, I realised that the variation in advertising often comes down to the person signing off on the ad before it goes to market.

In my experience, there are two types of print advertising: informational and graphic. A lot of ads are high in written content often communicating all the attributes of a product or company in a single ad. The graphic ads usually have an amazing graphic that tells the story. These I find are the ads that usually stand out in my mind. There are so many avenues that consumers can explore to get more information on a product that it hardly seems worth writing an essay of copy for an ad that may gain 5 seconds of attention. 

Don’t get me wrong, copywriting is important but we just need to know where to draw the line. Consumers can often visit a website or call customer service for more information on a product that its often not necessary to add all that information in an ad. I believe that valuable time should be spent on developing a great tagline and graphic representation to tell the story. 

A great example of this is an ad I found for Burger King. Their ad was a whopper sitting in a too small Big Mac box with the tagline: ‘Silly Whopper, that’s a Big Mac box.’ It was simple but it got the message across in a few words. There was no need to explain the size comparison between the two burgers. The graphic and the simple tagline did it all.

Quite often its not just about whether to have all that information but whether there is space for it. A few years ago I worked on an ad for a product that came in 10 colours. While working with the graphic designers we decided that it made more sense to have a graphic of the product in each colour rather than have each colour listed in the ad. It made the ad more visually appealing as well as less text heavy. 

If you’re fortunate enough to work in an organisation that has in-house designers you often have the luxury of being able to come up with a couple of variations of an ad to see what is more visually appealing. 

So next time you're working on an ad ask yourself: 'Would I stop to look at this ad?'

Knowledge is Power!

People are often surprised when I come out with a tidbit of information that seems so obscure or unlike me. They give a strange look and ask how on earth I knew that. The age old saying ‘know a little about a lot rather that a lot about a little’ is so true. I swear by this saying, not just personally but also professionally. 

When you work in an organisation it is so important to know what your competitors are doing or what current trends are. Especially if you are in marketing. Can you imagine if all your competitors had a Facebook presence and you were still trying to figure out what Facebook was? That’s an extreme example but a valid one I think. 

It is so important to be on top of current trends. This is especially true if you run your own service based business. Just because you’ve held a client for 10 years doesn’t mean they won’t call you tomorrow and say they’re leaving you for the new agency down the street that’s more edgy and on top of current trends. 

It’s not just the mechanics of your business that you should be on top of, it’s all aspects of life. It seems impossible to know absolutely everything and you don’t have to! What I’m saying is if your client is in the electronics industry be aware of what their competitors are developing, where they’re advertising, what sponsorships they’re currently working on. If they’re in the fashion industry know which celebrities are wearing their competitors brand or if there are opportunities for your clients brand to be worn on a red carpet event. Most of the time reading mainstream media will keep you in the know so it’s not really a chore and doesn’t have to take up precious work time. You’ll be surprised what you may discover just by reading a weekly gossip mag!

Just remember: Knowledge is Power!


Black Friday, Cyber Monday. A Copycat Event or a Clever Marketing Tool?

We all know that Thanksgiving took place in the US last week. The Friday after Thanksgiving marks the official start of the Christmas shopping season and has been dubbed Black Friday, it is then followed by Cyber Monday.

It seems this year Aussie retailers have jumped on the Black Friday band wagon. I need to wonder, does it mean anything to us? Are we just trying to pick up another American tradition?

I was invited to participate in a quick survey a couple of weeks ago. The topic was ‘Should Australia celebrate Thanksgiving?’ Now I think being thankful for all we have is great but I think if we were to celebrate this American holiday it wouldn’t be for the right reasons. 

There is a long and rich history as to why Thanksgiving is celebrated. It centres around the pilgrims that traveled from Plymouth England on the Mayflower to the United States. Afterthe pilgrims successful first corn harvest in 1621, Governor William Bradford ordered a feast to celebrate this effort. Over time the celebration of this feast day have evolved to an American national holiday celebrated on the last Thursday of November without the religious significance it once held.

Australia didn’t even exist back in 1621 so to celebrate the true significance of Thanksgiving seems pointless in my opinion. If we were to celebrate Thanksgiving to commemorate a significant event of our history then I would be all for it.

It seems though regardless of whether we celebrate Thanksgiving or not, retailers are embracing the Black Friday and Cyber Monday trend. Are retailers being clever? Are they scaring us into making a start on our Christmas shopping? Does following an American tradition make it seem more real? 

For many years including this year through the news and social media we are constantly reminded that we have so may shopping days and sleeps until Christmas. Do we really need the Americans to tell us when to start shopping? I have received so many emails from retailers telling me all about their Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bargain but do we have to label our shopping events with American terms? Is it not time that we came up with an Australian term that means just as much as Black Friday or Cyber Monday? There are so many clever marketing professionals out there, surely we can come up with an alternative.


Not Just a Pair of Shoes!

The Melbourne Cup took place a few weeks ago and everyone is still talking about Jessica Mauboy not singing the national anthem prior to the race as planned. 

There has been much speculation about the reason why she didn’t take to the stage. It has since been confirmed that Jess’s styling team dressed her in a Myer sanctioned dress and head piece but completed her outfit with David Jones shoes. The VRC and Myer took exception to this, resulting in Mauboy not performing.

Everyone loves Jess Mauboy, she’s Australia’s sweetheart and can do no wrong in the eyes of the Australian public. For that reason a lot of the comments made allude to the fact that it was just a pair of shoes so what was the big deal? 

The big deal is that Myer sponsored the event and as such would have stipulated that all personalities on the official running sheet of the Melbourne Cup would have to abide by their sponsorship agreement guidelines as agreed with the VRC. Any company sponsoring an event has the right to make such stipulations. This would all have been negotiated between Myer and the VRC or any other company and event. 

Sponsorship is never black and white and to a lay person the intricacies of sponsorship agreements can seem excessive or even ridiculous. There was an instance quite a few years ago in Cairns when a $250,000 Steinway piano was purchased by the Innisfail council to replace the one damaged by Cyclone Larry. There was such an uproar that much needed relief money had been spent on such a large and unnecessary purchase. Residents sent letters to the editor of the local papers, some suggesting that since Elton John was touring that year and passing through Cairns that he should play that very expensive piano. He would never have played that piano. Had he been asked to play it he would have said no and then been considered rude or a snob. No one would have considered that he is sponsored by Yamaha and as such can not play another brand without violating his sponsorship agreement.

Sponsors pay a large sum of money to sponsor events or personalities and in turn have the right to expect their terms are met. Gaining sponsors for an event is hard work and is often met with plenty of rejection. When you do manage to land a sponsor you need to nurture that relationship. I’m not saying you have to rollover and do everything the sponsor wants, you negotiate terms that are beneficial to both parties and you need to respect those terms. I’m sure David Jones would have had something to say had they sponsored the event and Jess planned to wear Myer shoes on stage!


Publicity Is Free, Isn't It?

I often have clients ask me to develop press releases with the sole objective of getting free publicity for their product or service. While generally that is the purpose of a press release, it’s not always the result. Often my clients are left disappointed because they haven’t been mentioned in the latest industry magazine or website. After all, there are countless posts on social media proclaiming that journalists want your story and its up to you to provide the media with news. There is a little truth to this but the bigger truth is: nothing is free and you’re not the only one with a news story out there.

Up until a few years ago I was employed by a high end consumer electronics brand. Every time I sent out a press release, whether it was to announce the release of a new product or to announce changes within our organisation I always got some form of media exposure. This sounds contradictory to what I mentioned earlier but it’s not. What I didn’t mention previously is that my team and I had formed strong relationships with editors, journalists and reviewers in our field for years. We supported their publications and websites with advertising so there was no question that we would get some form of support from them when we needed it. There were publications that we didn’t advertise with but still managed to get publicity out of. Again, it comes back to relationships and that we had a product they wanted to talk about. 

Publications have now dramatically downsized since the evolution of digital content. The information usually sought out in magazines can now be found in a publication's online version. This being the case, magazines are smaller. To make a magazine smaller they have to cut back on editorial content. What editorial space there is available is reserved for clients that support the publication with advertising. You can’t argue with the logic.

Now I’m not saying that press releases are a waste of time. They’re not. They play an important role in a business’ media strategy. They serve the purpose of informing relevant media that you’re out there and that you have a great product or service. If your product or service is innovative, fills a gap in the market or is just a great product you will get exposure.

If you truly believe that your product or service deserves to be exposed to the public there are some ways you can assist in the process.

  • Call publications and have a chat to the relevant journalist or reviewer to talk about your product. You may not get anything on the first call but keep in contact with them, build the relationship.
  • If you are approaching local newspapers, they want the product or service to be relevant to their readers. Make mention of how your product or service is available to the people of a particular suburb.
  • Consider doing some small scale advertising in a publication you want to be featured in. While advertising can be expensive, most publications will have an online presence, you may be able to advertise online for a fraction of the print price. You can then negotiate some added value such as guaranteed editorial.

These are just a few things you can do to assist in gaining media exposure, there is so much you can do for your business, product or service to get the publicity and exposure you need.

If you would like help in putting together a press release or a media strategy you can email me on