Are you a “yes, but” or a “yes, and” person...?

July 3, 2014 (All day) / Posted in digital ideas improv marketing PR team building

Last month the communikate et al team took a trip to the Barossa for a day of professional development. Our annual retreat is a rare and precious opportunity to bring our whole team together, away from the fast paced office environment, to reflect on our achievements, sharpen focus on our goals, arm ourselves with some new tools, and have a look in the mirror to ensure we’re embodying our company values.

The schedule was tight and the objectives clearly set, but the afternoon session gave way to a little bit of play time when we took part in an improvisation workshop, led by Melbourne actors, Russell Fletcher and Sarah Kinsella. The word ‘improvisation’ might conjure up images of jazz saxophones or school theatre sports, but whatever its application, ‘improvisation’ is about taking risks. It’s about putting yourself and your ideas out there and relying on your team to back you in or bail you out.

During the improvisation session, we were asked to find ourselves a partner and attempt to plan an event. Not the whiz bang events we’re used to creating at work, but an everyday event like a birthday party or a family picnic. One person was to make a suggestion about planning the event and the other person was only allowed to begin their response with “yes, but…”. No matter what person one suggested, person two had to keep coming back with “yes, but…”. Needless to say, the event planning didn’t get very far. Coming up against relentless negativity and nay-saying was energy sapping and destructive. We’d been given a taste of what it was like to work with a “blocker".

The next round saw an attempt at planning the same event with partners only being allowed to give “yes, and…” responses, which turned the negativity around – all of a sudden our event plans were flourishing with new ideas and we felt more excited and positive, and even our body language opened up. Sure, some of our blue sky ideas were a little over the top, but it touched on the experience of working on a project when you feel like anything is possible.  It might not be easy, it might not be the way it’s always been done, but if we’re given permission by the people around us to think big, the results can be enormous.  

Over the following days, I found myself asking: “Am I a ‘yes, but’ or a ‘yes, and’ person?” Do I block ideas and restrict possibilities through fear of that dreaded space outside my comfort zone? As a communications professional, I pride myself on being able to find lateral solutions and see creative possibilities. But in the interests of mitigating risk and having an eye on every ball in the air, I do sometimes say “yes, but…” 

Someone else’s idea might not work. Yes, and… it just might.

- Melissa McCaig, Account Manager

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Middlebrook stuck in the middle of social media backlash

June 12, 2014 (All day) / Posted in Crisis Management social media

Another business has come under fire for its treatment of a breast feeding mother forced to ‘pump and dump’ behind a water tank at Middlebrook Estate during McLaren Vale's Sea and Vines Festival, after being refused access to a private area. 

The staff’s treatment of the mother, which was shared on her Facebook page, led to 11,000-plus shares and more than 60 comments in a matter of hours – with the numbers continuing to grow.

This latest case highlights the reputational damage that can be caused as a result of poor judgement first and foremost combined with social media. 

It also highlights the need for businesses to have a plan of action in place for both the positive and negative aspects of social media to ensure the organisation can respond quickly and appropriately so as not to add fuel to the social media fire.

Unfortunately, Middlebrook Estate deleted the page after it became a target for those wishing to have a voice on the matter. And where there are thousands of shares, there’s the media, hot on the heels of a story that has clearly evoked a lot of emotion. 

After some sound advice however, Middlebrook Estate’s Facebook page came back online, this time featuring a carefully worded statement. They acknowledged the situation and admitted they were wrong to delete the page – citing their lack of social media expertise as a reason and vowed it would be a learning experience. Indeed a lesson was well and truly learnt.

While they remain under fire, Middlebrook Estate should be commended for fronting up to the issue - albeit a little late - and monitoring and responding to comments. 

The simple click of a button or comment online if it gains traction can cause a lot of damage in a short space of time - particularly when it comes to a topic that draws out so much emotion.

The attraction of social media is that it’s a two-way conversation which allows you to engage with your community, however businesses need to be prepared to hear things they don’t want to hear – and know the best way to deal with them quickly! Because everyone is watching your every move and your reputation depends on it. 

- Bec Tape, Business Development Manager

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When your social media past catches up with you

March 5, 2014 (All day) / Posted in etiquette issues management social media

While we’re not all about to become the next political candidate for our local area, Liberal candidate Anthony Antoniadis’ recent error of judgement, which labelled his prospective constituents work shy and smelly, does serve to remind us that what we say on social media is there for eternity. In fact, it’s waiting for its moment to bite you on the proverbial.

Politics or not, Anthony is a business owner in Salisbury and should understand the consequences of such immature behaviour in such a public forum.

With no doubt a bit of guidance from Steven Marshall’s media team who would have quickly swung into crisis management mode to minimise the damage caused to the Liberal Party as a whole, Anthony did come out with a statement apologising for his “stupid” and “offensive” comments.

Despite what seems like a continuous stream of lessons in what not to do, with a never-ending array of case studies, there are still many who do not heed the warnings.

Here are some useful tips to consider before taking to social media: 

-  Be aware of what your social media privacy settings are set at and adjust them accordingly.

-  Don’t slander or write mistruths about individuals as defamation applies to social media also.

-  Don’t post or write anything your mother wouldn’t approve of!

-  Consider the repercussions of what you’re posting – not just for you personally but those associated with you.

-  And most importantly, think before you post or tweet. 

- Bec Tape, Account Director / Business Development Manager

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Apparently they play football at the Super Bowl?

February 3, 2014 (All day) / Posted in advertising communications marketing

The Super Bowl is arguably the biggest sporting event in the world outside of Olympic or Commonwealth Games with over 100 million viewers in the US alone. But with all the hype and off field frivolity, it has become hard to remember that there is actually a game going on.

There has been so many incredible moments throughout the years from the precedent setting performance of Star Spangled Banner by Whitney Houston (may she rest in peace) in ’91, to the ‘get me back into the media spotlight’ “wardrobe malfunction” of ’04, Hillary Duff’s public service announcement, and of course the BOW DOWN show stopping performance by Beyoncé in 2013 (ever since this performance I have wanted to arrive on stage by being shot up from the floor).

So much attention has been paid the game that a major feature is now the ads themselves. A 30-second commercial now costs a staggering $4 million, which is equivalent to $133,333 per second!

Given the cost it’s no wonder company’s are not waiting to premier their ads during the event but get as much viral traction as they can ahead of time to help build and drive excitement.   

To follow is our team’s pick for 2014:

1. AXE PEACE: Make Love, Not War

Axe (or Lynx in Australia) has always produced ads that have been directed at hormone pumping teenage boys with the premise that using the product will make ALL THE GIRLS come running, like some sort of gender reversed milkshake being placed in the yard. This year, however, the company took a slightly different angle with the help of UK advertising agency BBH. To promote their new fragrance ‘Peace’, Axe has made a stunning 60-second ad inspired by the peace protests on the ‘60s that helps promote the need for peace in the world and steps away from the sexist ads the company has been known for. It should also be noted that Axe is so committed to this notion that they have partnered with international peace organization, Peace One Day, and have donated $US250,000 to the cause. Well played Axe, well played.

2. Toyota: The Muppets

It would be remiss of me to not include a car ad in this top three as they make up such a high proportion of the featured ads. There were some honorable mentions in this category including the James Bond-esk Jaguar ad starring Sir Ben Kingsley and a Matrix inspired KIA ad featuring an operatic Laurence Fishburne. We loved a little ad by Toyota where former NFL player Terry Crews gets high jacked by The Muppets. What happens next is a fun filled, sing along adventure through the country. The kids will love it, the sports fans will love it, and the women will love it at the end when a WHOLE lot of muscle gets shown!

Toyota’s agency, Saatchi & Saatchi, has really nailed the brief here and perfectly hit the target market. This ad is also in line with the release of a new Muppets movie this year, as well as moving forward from the Old Spice Ads.

3. Budweiser: Puppy Love

If you can’t watch this ad and feel even the smallest amount of ‘nawww’ then you aren’t human. You literally have no soul! There is a puppy and a Clydesdale becoming friends…what more could you want in an ad and especially if it is to become an internet hit.

The ad, developed by New York agency Anomaly, has already been viewed over  32 million times on YouTube, proving the success of the medium and the idea of pre-screening the ads. It should also be noted that the cast and crew who made the ad were given strict instruction to not pat or play with the multiple puppies as to not distract them. Now that is just plain mean!

- Adam Ross, Senior Consultant

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Death by social media

January 13, 2014 (All day) / Posted in HasJustineLandedYet Justine Sacco social media twitter

We have written a number of blogs about the dos and don’ts of social media, but a tweet by a (former) US-based PR executive at the end of 2013 that set off a social media lynch mob made me think about this once again.


Justine Sacco was not so long ago Communications Director for internet company InterActive Corp, which represents companies such as Vimeo, OkCupid, and That was until she mindlessly tweeted (immediately before boarding a flight) “Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!”


Almost instantly she was one of the most hated people in the world with #JustineSacco and #HasJustineLandedYet trending on Twitter worldwide while she was blissfully unaware mid flight. During the time that she was flying from the US to South Africa such commotion was made online that upon arrival she was greeted by media and the aforementioned virtual lynch mob and promptly cancelled her accounts. It was too late, since her tweet blew up in her face, her name was tweeted more than 30,000 times and the hashtag almost 100,000 times.


In a move nothing short of genius, quick thinking charity Aid for Africa secured the domain name and redirected it to their fundraising website, successfully capturing those turning to Google for more information. 


Besides the obvious insanely stupid lapse in judgment from someone who spends their day ensuring the reputations of major corporations aren’t tarnished, this raises a number of interesting points - and subsequent lessons - that could be debated for hours at a dinner party.


Firstly, it would be remiss of anyone to say Sacco isn’t a fool for doing what she did. But one must also remember the age-old saying ‘People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’. I know that in the heat of the moment I have said some things that I don’t believe and regret the second I start the first syllable. So let’s not jump to conclusions too quickly before we know the entire story, as context is an interesting beast. The flip side being that her previous tweets (to a measly 200 followers) included references to masturbation, rape and multiple profanities. So this, as it turns out, wasn’t a one-off.


Secondly, why has the world all of a sudden become digital law enforcement? People like to hide behind their avatar as they know they can say what they want and not really have to follow through. I know people who spend the majority of their time ‘liking’ Facebook posts, but have no idea what is really happening in that person’s actual life. Cyber bullying continues to rear its ugly head; I would love to know the statistics of how many virtual vigilantes have children, nephews, nieces, brothers or sisters, who have made an individual feel horrible but have done nothing about it.


Thirdly, don’t be an idiot on social media. The Internet doesn’t miss a beat and everything goes somewhere. If in doubt, don’t do it. If there is too much alcohol involved, DON’T DO IT. In PR we talk about our personal brands and it should be the same for everyone. Protect it with all you have as you don’t know when any damage done will come back to bite you. Put simply, don’t say or do anything you know you may one day regret – or at the very least don’t want your mother or kids to see.


Fourthly, I am a big believer in ‘innocent until proven guilty’. At the time, did anyone really know for sure that the post wasn’t a practical joke by someone else? What if Sacco’s account was hacked? The end result doesn’t really matter because Sacco was fired from her job (apparently mid-air) and dragged over hot coals by everyone and anyone who could piece 140 characters together.


Finally, AIDS is still a major issue and is no laughing matter. As is suicide, death, rape, animal cruelty, bullying, violence, sickness, equal rights…the list goes on. It’s no laughing matter, especially on social media. Also, instead of joining the digital lynch mob, why not make a difference. Tell your nephew or son that it is polite to open a door for a woman, or donate your coffee money one week to a charity, or call a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while to see how they are. Less bandwagon jumping and more positive good. 

- Adam Ross, Senior Consultant

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