Calling all freelancers!

Whether you’re looking for a new assignment or a new client, The Walkley Foundation’s Storyology (10-13th August, Chauvel, Sydney) is an event not to miss. 

This year at Storyology we’ve added a half-day on August 10 just for freelancers. And because we know freelancing can be tough on the budget we’ve added two different price options. 

  • Freelance half-day pass: $190, includes networking drinks afterward
  • Storyology single-day passes: $300 

Plus Newsmodo subscribers get a further 20% discount on their Storyology ticket – enter the code NEWSMODO. This code expires August 5! 

 

 

Featuring speakers from the international and local media industry, Storyology is an unparalleled opportunity to learn from veteran storytellers and hear how to innovate in your work. 

Some session highlights: 

  • A keynote from the intrepid Yaara Bou Melhem on safety, training, resources and more about how to make it as an international freelancer.

 

  • Freelancers Geraldine Cremin and Alana Schetzer with experts from the Copyright Agency and Media Super detailing opportunities (and funding methods) that are emerging for freelancers.  

  • Cremin will also introduce you to Hostwriter, a new site aiming to connect freelancers worldwide whether they’re looking for reporting assistance or a spare couch. 

 

 

Make industry connections:

Along with our amazing list of industry-leading speakers, you can also connect with leaders from MEAA, the Copyright Agency, Google, Qantas, Media Super, Sky News, ABC, Fairfax Media, BuzzFeed, Nikon, News Corp Australia, the University of Sydney, Western Sydney University, Schwatz Media, Mumbrella, Storyful, VICE, Pro Bono Australia, Concrete Playground, Knight-Mozilla Open News, Private Media, The Council for Australia-Arab Relations, Council on Australia Latin America Relations, Bayer, Express Media, Ogilvy Public Relations, Time Out and more. 

Phew – how’s that for the networking event of the year!

 

Level up with workshops

Plus don’t miss out on our Storyology Plus Pass (we expect it to sell out this week) which gives you access to the entire conference plus workshops like these: 

 

Get your ticket before they’re all gone! 

How businesses have cashed in on Pokemon Go’s success

Some say the world used to be different before Pokemon Go came along. But the game’s growth is impossible to ignore, particularly for marketers. While much has been said about the technology behind the app from early on, the stories of how organisations can cash in on this phenomenon are still unfolding.

 

Expanding revenue streams

By tying suitable products to the needs of Pokemon hunters, businesses not only increase brand awareness but also potential sales.

Telcos such as Telstra and Virgin in Australia have quickly recognised the opportunity to sell more mobile battery chargers, as Pokemon Go can drain phone battery.

 

Best Buy takes a more holistic approach by having a dedicated section on their online shopping site for Pokemon Go, which also include batteries as well as other Pokemon-related items. Moreover, some of their physical stores also feature dedicated tables which sell things such as food, water and batteries, to keep the Pokemon Go players going.

 

Branding and publicity

Even though not cashing in, public agencies are still good examples of leveraging Pokemon Go to get the message across. For example, a US body cleverly conveys the danger of using mobile phones while driving with a topical Pokemon Go installment.

 

 

On the other hand, this recruitment ad by the US navy hasn’t been so successful. In this case, there is a clear mismatch between the game’s fun nature and the army’s disciplinary approach. If you feel you have to stretch your brand just to ride the Pokemon Go wave, it’s probably not meant to be.

Social media is indeed the channel to spread the “fever”. Marketers can inject their take on the multiple angles of Pokemon Go, just like in newsjacking. ME Bank, for instance, ties one of their product features with a popular Pokemon to catch.

 

To show affiliation with customers, Woolworths shares game playing tips in a humorous tone. This can be great in showing a friendlier side of what usually seems to be “faceless corporations.”

 

Source: Woolworths’ Facebook page
Source: Woolworths’ Facebook page

 

Local marketing

Small and local businesses are also jumping on the Pokemon Go bandwagon with signage around Pokestops as a popular tactic. Spending money on Lures in Pokemon Go can bring about serious ROI for businesses.

For example, Melbourne Central’s Pancake Parlour has set up fixed-price night sessions in store where players come for a higher chance of catching Pokemon.

 

 

McDonald’s deal with the game developer behind Pokemon Go – Niantic – has proven to be profitable. The fast food chain’s sales in Japan have been up after paying to have 3,000 stores to become “Pokemon gyms”.

 

Caveats

As an example of blindly following trends, Mercedes Germany seemed to have no clear strategic direction in the Pokemon Go-related campaign. The target market for their products and the actual players that were attracted to their showrooms didn’t match.

There is a risk of over-branding, which turns Pokemon Go marketing into hype rather than a strategic move. “Any marketing model will have to be subtle.” After all, people don’t go to Pokemon meetups to be bombarded with marketing messages.


Header photo credit: Yoshikazu TAKADA via VisualHunt / CC BY

Sports Analytics Conference 2016

The world’s sporting capital played host to the 2016 Asia-Pacific Sports Analytics Conference, where delegates and participants welcomed pioneers and industry thought-leaders and beckoned in the future of sports technology and engagement. This year the spotlight was on fan engagement, data science and sports technology.

Victorian companies like Catapult, Champion Data, hudl and SPT are each helping position Australia as one of the world’s front-runners in sports technology and analytics. 

The Asia-Pacific represents 60% of the world’s population – and the fastest growing markets for sports digital marketing, eSports, wearables, loT, virtual reality, fatigue management and human performance. 

 

Trends of the future

John Eren, Minister of Sport, Tourism and Major Events opened the conference with Australian Grand Prix director, Laura Anderson. 

The minister was eager to discuss the benefits of innovation in sports tech will bring to the Victorian economy as a whole, while event organiser and PCSL Executive Director, John Persico, described the sold-out event as a celebration of the industry’s future and the achievements of its brightest innovators. 

Persico emphasised Australia’s ability to become a world leader in sports technology and analytics. 

“Geographically, Asia-Pacific represents 60% of the world’s population – and the fastest growing markets for sports digital marketing, eSports, wearables, virtual reality, fatigue management and human performance,” he said. 

John Eren, Minister of Sport, Tourism and Major Events 
John Eren, Minister of Sport, Tourism and Major Events 

 

A social approach

Steve Lockwood, Facebook’s Head of Marketing and Science was one of the conference’s most notable guests. His unique insights into both brand and fan engagement made explicit the need for innovation to always stay ahead of user expectations. 

Lockwood acknowledged that the near universal interest in sports means it’s necessary to support it. In particular, he pointed out that this means sport is a significant part of Facebook’s social landscape, making it necessary for the social network to ensure it offers products and solutions that give sports fans the best possible user experience. 

Steve Lockwood, Facebook Head of Marketing and Science 
Steve Lockwood, Facebook Head of Marketing and Science 

“We use demographics and behavioural data to create targeting segments across a wide range of interests and characteristics. We have clusters of people that brands, sports teams and sports individuals can easily target with a high level of confidence that those individuals have a strong interest in the NRL, for example. And knowing they have got that qualified audience, and if they’re sending out a tailored message to that group of people, they are more likely to be interested in it and react positively,’ he said. 

Lockwood also made a strong case for the need to adjust user experience to account for the global shift to a mobile platform. With over 77% of sports fans using a second screen while watching sport, he called his audience to rise to the challenge by transforming functionality and content to keep pace with user habits.

The sold-out crowd taking in proceedings
The sold-out crowd taking in proceedings

“Mobile is a very good platform to be able to do that, as people have a much closer relationship with that device than other channels of communications”, said Lockwood. With 1.09 billion people using Facebook every single day, and 11 million people logging on mobile every day in Australia, marketers will certainly be watching this space closely.”

Competition will no doubt be fierce as other big players like Twitter and Snapchat heed Lockwood’s message. 

 

Revolutionising the playbook

hudl, a leading provider of video analytics and measurables, was on a mission to build its reputation as a forward-thinking and unconventional industry leader. With a catalogue of clients that includes  the AFL, Rugby Union, Tennis Australia and recent NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, they hardly needed to compete for attention.

Michael Colan, hudl Australian Manager
Michael Colan, hudl Australian Manager

hudl’s Australian Manager, Michael Conlan, demonstrated how their video-based technology is providing data and analytics for their clients using software from the recently acquired Sportstec – allowing users to access video and statistics from any device, anywhere in the world.

 

Building a network for the future

As the conference drew to a close, twelve of the best sports analytics startups were given five  minutes to sell their product to a room of brands and investors during an event called The Pitch Session.

Participants included startups from India and New Zealand in addition to the many local and interstate enterprises that were given their moment in the spotlight. Leslie Barry, Head of Innovation at Sportsbet, laid down the gauntlet, asking attendees to invest themselves in engaging and helping to build these startups.

Craig Hill, Chief Executive if the Australian Sports Technology Network (ASTN), returned to a key theme of the conference by reminding his audience that Australia was leading the way in sports technology innovation. 

“A lot of eyes are pointing Australia’s way in regards to new sports innovations and applications of technology into sport. [It is] a sector [in which] Australia can proudly [claim a] competitive advantage.”

 

Data from the clouds

The conference also saw insights from emerging data specialists, Lexer, who offer clients platforms, cloud analytics, and support from a team of local developers and data analysts.

With less than 0.5% of all data being analysed, there is considerable potential for brands like Lexer to lead the way in building platforms for efficiently utilising data.

Lexer Director, Michael Walmsley pointed out that data growth will increase exponentially – roughly 4,300% over the next 4 years. “Over 70% of it will be generated by individuals, not businesses,” he said “So there’s all this human data that’s being generated each day that businesses can learn from. Businesses are starting to realise they can use data to harvest key customer insights.”


To see photos of the day’s activities, visit the PSCL Sports Facebook page.

For more information about the event and to register your interest for next year, please visit the website

How to become a brand innovator with inbound marketing

Subscribe to the Brand Storytelling podcast on iTunesSoundcloudSticher and TuneIn – Leave a review and tell us what you think about the show! 

Introduction

Brand innovators are those bold enough to go against the grain and follow a different path. Apple, Nike, Virgin and Google are just a few brands that have at one point or another decide to take a leap of faith. Apple released the iPhone while everyone doubted its success while Nike gambled on a young Michael Jordan to reenergize the brand. 

Both decisions were a risk that could have spelled the end of each brand. Yet, those decisions helped build two empires the likes the world has never seen before. Google in its own right established itself when two young inspired individuals decided to alter how search engines process information.

With the amount of data and information available to the world, innovators and thinkers are developing more and more complex technology and ideas that will change the world. 

On the Brand Storytelling podcast this week, Ryan Bonnici from HubSpot joins Rakhal on the show to talk brand innovators, the culture at HubSpot and how Pokemon GO is channelling Google Maps in a unique way. 

HubSpot is an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies to convert leads and attract customers. 


5 Lessons from Ryan Bonnici: 

1. Focus on long-form content, even if it means cutting down on the frequency of your blog posts. It’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality. 

2. Outbound marketing is out. Inbound marketing is in fashion and is generating results. 

3. Once you really understand your target customer, you can then shape your product service and it shapes your blog content. 

4. Hiring the right person can be a lengthy but necessary process. Building a culture is essential to creative innovation. 

5. Don’t be scared to try something new – Hubspot gave applicants a 24-hour window to apply for a job via……Snapchat.


Here’s a sneak preview of the show: 

Rakhal  Ebeli: We talk a lot at this event how the playbook that marketing themselves has been using for the last 20 or so years from the madmen era days of marketing. It’s ineffective, it’s dying, right? People blocking commercials on t.v by using Netflix, they’re unsubscribing from spam emails, they’re turning off the radio, and they’re getting their names and phone numbers on do not call lists.

Ryan Bonnici: There’s outbound interruptive methods of connecting people are no longer working. Marketers are realising that they need to focus on attraction based marketing, which is called inbound marketing. It’s all about looking for things that you can create to help that perspective buyer when they are online or in your store or what not, to then help them pull towards and see you as a thought-leader and then over time, buy from you.

The event, which is, it’s funny because it’s called Grow With Hubs, but we actually don’t show the Hub store product once in the session, which is a very Hub Spotty thing to do. We’ve broken it down into the 3 stages of the funnel. The top of the funnel, how you drive, traffic to your website with content. The middle of the funnel, how you convert that traffic into leads, and sales opportunities for your sales team. Then, how you convert those leads opportunities into customers in the bottom of the funnel.

My team has literally spent, I want to say around 150 hours building out the content for this event. We have an MPS score of about 96 for these events. There’s so much good content in these events. Everyone, if you just go on Twitter and search the hashtag Grow With Hubspot, you’ll see thousands of Tweets, and hearts, and likes for these events.

They’re really important. It’s just about showcasing and re-framing how businesses should think about growing. I think for so long businesses have thought about, “Okay, I need to get an outbound sales team to cold call prospective customers.” That can work to a certain degree, but of you really want to scale your business, and you really want to own ongoing traffic in demand over time, inbound is what it’s all about.

It’s a master class, effectively, around the strategies and tactics around how you can grow your business with content. It’s been super well-received, so we had 600 or so attendees in Sydney, and about 4,000 on the live stream. Similar numbers in Singapore. It’s been huge.


About Hubspot

Hubspot is a leading inbound marketing specialist that creates software solutions for over 18,000 customers in 90 countries. This software is a one-stop solution for brands to attract and engage audiences and amplify their content.


Connect with Ryan Bonnici

Twitter: @ryanbonnici

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/ryanbonnici


Similar Podcasts you may enjoy:

Sources

Music Intro:

Apple ‘Think Different’

Nike – Michael Jordan “Tell Me” 

Google – Interns’ first week

Ryan Bonnici – Interview with Lifehacker

Grow with Hubspot Campaign

How to Tackle Your Most Ambitious Goals: A 5-Step Process from NBA Legend Bill Walton

Developing your Leadership Brand


Other links: 

Hubspot blog 

Executive+Co Blog

Email Signature Template Generator 


4 ways to get more traffic with SEO content writing

Writing for humans helps “spiders” (search engine crawlers) and vice versa. If you are only writing for one side of the equation, you are not playing the SEO card correctly. After all, search engines only ever exist to help people find what they are looking for. 

 

Research

Firstly, if you write about topics that are irrelevant to your target audience, they are not going to visit your site. There are two ways to approach research for SEO writing. 

Keywords: 

This means taking advantage of readily available data provided by search engines and third-party companies. Besides Google’s Keyword Planner tool, there are a bunch of tools for keyword research, such as Ubersuggest and Keyword.io. Also take note of related topics, which will generate more keywords that you may have previously overlooked.

Source: Damien Qualter
Source: Damien Qualter

Search intent: 

This strategy involves digging deeper into your target reader’s mind. Social listening tools and alerts can help you stay on top of trending issues, which will generate interest for content directed at those. Moreover, researching forums and sites where people ask questions such as Quora can sometimes give you pure gold. 

 

Writing

Focus

After uncovering the topics that define your target audience, addressing the questions they have is obviously the next step. That means click-bait writing tactics won’t get you very far. Traffic might roll in at first but in the long run, search engines will penalise your content. 

Length

Generally, you should aim to write more than 300 words. Some experts have pointed to the strong performance of long form content. But long doesn’t mean stuffing in keywords. You either have a very interesting angle, or a very thorough piece of resource to make this work. That is why popular evergreen content that is updated every now and then gets consistent traffic over time. 

Source: Cognitive SEO
Source: Cognitive SEO

Structure

Both humans and web-browsing spiders love reading content that has a clear structure, headings and subheadings. 

 

Editing

Proofreading

Again, it can’t be emphasised enough how important it is to stay on topic. If you branch out to talk about things outside of your domain, people might find you unauthentic; and your SEO might be hurt. If you talk about a relevant topic badly, then some serious editing is in order.

On-page optimisation 

A search-friendly URL is something that is easy to do but often forgotten. Would you prefer to see a URL containing relevant keywords than a string of disorganised words and/or numbers?

Internal linking not only helps SEO but also readers to discover other gems on your site. The same logic goes for having appropriate metadata for your content. Don’t stuff keywords in your title tag and meta description. The best thing to do is pick one “hero” keyword and briefly summarise your writing using that word as if talking to a friend. 

 

Design considerations

For spiders

Linking to the editing stage above, adding Alt-tags and descriptive titles for all images you use would help increase the relevancy of your content to search engines. Also, it is worth taking a few extra seconds to give the actual image file a descriptive name.

For humans

As visual creatures, we are more likely to read and share content with relevant, interesting images. If your target readers click the Images tab on their search results, you would want them to click through to your hero images. Embedding infographics into your writing is yet another great way to generate traffic. 

How podcasts help brands tell their story

Subscribe to the Brand Storytelling podcast on iTunesSoundcloudSticher and TuneIn – Leave a review and tell us what you think about the show! 

Introduction

The podcast has come a long way since iTunes partnered with producers to create a native support platform to host them. The number of people listening has increased as more and more shows are added each day. On average, 29 million minutes of podcasts are being produced yearly with individuals and brands shifting their content to the medium.  

A podcast provides a storytelling platform not just for popular content such as sport, music or pop culture but for brands to engage an audience through a unique channel. Already we are witnessing a host of brands move their content into the audio format. But it is not a sales pitch the audience is listening to. It’s the incredible stories brands are producing for an audience they know it will resonate with. 

On the Brand Storytelling podcast this week, Andrew Chugg from Panoply drops in to discuss the future of the podcasting world and how brands are building their personal audio platforms.

Panoply is the audio arm of Slate and producers high-quality audio content for brands such as GE, The Wall Street Journal and Sports Illustrated

Once you get to know the host, once you get to know the content, it’s easy to keep an audience

— Andrew Chugg

Topics and Segments: 

  • How they built the wide-successfully GE podcast, The Message.
  • Why brands are starting to shift their content into an audio production.
  • How Panoply assists with the ideation and creation of shows for name brands. 
  • …and of course….. The Mad Minute! 


5 lessons from Andrew Chugg: 

1. People are consuming on average, 4-5 podcasts per week. These shows are essentially booking an appointment with an audience, an engagement brands can only dream of. 

2. Don’t just talk at your audience, take them on a visual journey through your storytelling. 

3. Building an audience is tougher than keeping it. Don’t be afraid to keep mixing it up and keep your listeners guessing. 

4. Listeners often discover new podcasts through ones they frequently listen to. Get mentioned and build those subscribers. 

5. Always seek feedback from your audience. Keep raising the benchmark of the quality of your content and how you deliver it. 


Here’s a sneak preview of the show: 

Rakhal Ebeli: It is one of those plans that you need to put in place for a long time. I was listening to Joe Pulizzi talk about a sponsored show which was a great podcast play, but it was a 6 week, essentially, campaign. How disappointing is it when you actually realize the penny drops that this is literally an audio sponsored content piece that’s only being put out over a 6 week period of time. You build up an audience and then you just let it all go. To me, that seems really crazy and I know the podcasts that I love and enjoy, it is a journey and you kind of evolve along with the podcast and you hear how it develops and how, I certainly can speak from the experience of this show, what the focus and the lens of the show start to evolve into. That is largely determined by the audience and what they’re asking for and certainly for us what we wanted to try and deliver to add value. Hopefully, we’re doing that through this show.

Once you’ve got that definitive plan laid out practically, where do most podcasters start and where should they look to try and create the podcast and then get it out there?

Andrew Chugg: There’s a number of resources out there and this is, on a personal level why I love podcasting. It can be done with a smartphone. It can be done very, very cheaply and I think that’s what’s so great about it is a very democratic medium. Podcasts are free. There’s a lot of ways in. But you want to be very mindful of why you’re doing it. Are you doing it to just have another piece of media that you want to push? Are you doing it to inflate your own ego and to get your voice out into the world? It’s important to speak to 1 listener at a time and kind of be their guide through the listening process. With that, moving into production, you kind of want to think about length and sort of tolerance of length and things of that nature.

Rakhal: When you talk about amplification of your podcasts, and this is a big, big thing, as a tree falls in the woods and no one’s there to hear it, does it make a sound? You can be bashing away at a podcast and have one of the greatest shows in the world, but if you don’t have an audience it’s pretty frustrating. How do podcasters find an audience and keep them?

Andrew: Building is a little bit tougher than keeping. I find that once you get to know the host, once you get to know the content, it’s easy to keep an audience unless you really kind of screw up. I think building an audience for a podcast is quite difficult. Of course, I’m very much focused on content and filling gaps within the podcast space but of course, there are other, more practical ways to build a podcast audience. We know from listener surveys that podcast listeners primarily hear about new podcasts through other podcasts. Part of what the Panoply network does is promote other shows on our network via the network so you may hear an advertisement for a custom podcast, a branded podcast on one of the editorial podcasts because we know that these folks are listening to podcasts. We know that they listen to, in fact, upwards of 7 different podcasts per week on a regular basis. That’s one of the best ways to build an audience.

Another way, of course, is testing things out. We’re so early in this but we’re testing out advertising within other networks. We’re testing off-site promotion towards a landing page. We’re testing auto-play functionality to see if we can get people interested very quickly. We’re testing all types of things and some of them are massively successful and some are miserable failures. We’re really learning a lot through that process. I would say the key thing is patience because it takes several episodes to get people interested from an emotional perspective, let alone best part of a larger marketing plan. It takes about, I would say, 6 to 10 episodes minimum just to get to know idiosyncrasies of the host or sort of like the regular segments within the podcasts. I think this podcast here is a good example of that. I’m sure if you surveyed your listeners, by the 6th or 7th episode they would really start to look forward to that 60-second hot seat. I think patience is key and dedication is extremely key.


Sources: 

Podcast Intro music: 

Serial Podcast

GE Podcast – Produced by Panoply

Startup Podcast – Produced by Gimlet

Hamish and Andy Podcast

Podcast statistics:

From 2003 to 2016: The Astounding Growth of Podcasting [Infographic] 

Other links: 

How podcasts have changed in ten years by the numbers

Listening to podcasts in Facebook is about get easier

How did the GE-branded podcast The Message hit No.1 on iTunes? 

Everything brands need to know about podcasts (but were afraid to ask) 


About Panoply: 

Panoply is the audio arm of Slate and producers high-quality audio content for brands and publishers. 

It has since become one of the world’s foremost podcasting networks with clients such as Netflix, GE, Sports Illustrated and the Wall Street Journal. 


Connect with Andrew & Panoply

Website: www.panoply.fm

Facebook: www.facebook.com/panoplynetwork

Twitter: @Panoply


Other podcasts you may enjoy: 

 

Photo credit: cfiesler via Visual hunt / CC BY


Why you should personalise your e-newsletters

Contrary to what you may have heard, email marketing remains a highly effective strategy and a core component of content marketing. Email is inexpensive, easy to measure, and allows you to reach a lot of people with a personal message, fast. It’s because of these reasons email can be used to promote your business in a variety of ways. 

And while most of you are probably already using email marketing, many of you might not be taking advantage of e-newsletters best feature: personalisation. Here’s how you can make your emails more personalised and as a result increase your engagement and subscriber list.

Use a plain text format

Plain text emails are less time and resource intensive and less likely to be blocked by SPAM filters. They also feel more personal like you just received an email from a friend. Plain text emails put the emphasis on your words, and words sell. If you’ve put in the effort to craft copy, why dilute your message by placing it in between large brand headers and large images?

Ask a question in your subject heading

Subject lines are still very important, especially for open rates. But they’re also important for letting your customers know you understand their problems and have something that can help them. So, keep your subject headings short and punchy. Make sure your message is understandable with only a few words. And don’t use product, event and service names as your subjects. You wouldn’t send a friend an email with the subject: Kookaburra Bubble 500, would you?

Go beyond the “Dear [first name]”

People love seeing their own name which is why it’s important to collect people’s first names when people sign up for your e-newsletter list. But most people are aware of how easy it is to collect names so in addition to the typical: Dear [First Name], find other places where you can add personalisation. You could include details like your customer’s company name or information about a recent purchase. Would you normally share personal information for the sake of it? Don’t use data in your emails unless it adds value.

Segment your lists

You should always tailor your messages where you can. The easiest way to do this is to segment your list. Your readers don’t need to receive every email you send, especially if the content isn’t relevant to them. Assume people don’t care that much about you. Before you send your newsletter figure out what’s in it for your reader: a special offer, exclusive information or company updates. If you don’t care to read your own email, why would they?

Get the most out of your email marketing by using these tips:

  • Be creative
  • Make it personal
  • Play by the rules – don’t SPAM
  • Include social media sharing buttons
  • Use engaging subject lines – no sales-y stuff, please!
  • Make sure your email is mobile-friendly
  • Send at the right time – weekends are best
  • Include a call to action

How to manage a celebrity brand

You just keep pushing on, just keep working. Persistence, enthusiasm, and focus are my three tips for advice – Max Markson

Subscribe to the Brand Storytelling podcast on iTunesSoundcloudSticher and TuneIn.

In this episode of Brand Storytelling, Rakhal talks to PR identity and CEO of Markson Sparks, Max Markson about how the role of the public relations manager has become more demanding in recent times. We go in depth about how social and real-time media allow for personalities to be engaging audiences around the clock and how to maximise the value of a story as soon as it breaks. 

Max has been the CEO of Markson Sparks since 1982  and has gone on to manage and promote high profile celebrities such as Nelson Mandela, Mike Tyson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and President Bush Snr. 

5 lessons from Max Markson: 

1. Persistence, focus and enthusiasm are the keys to success.  

2. Learn to love working hard. For yourself and for those you work with. 

3. The five tips of advice Arnold Schwarzenegger says about being successful is, one, have a vision, two, think big, three, don’t listen to the naysayers, four, work your ass off, and, five, give back.

4. Always think big! You have to think bigger than you think you are. 

5. Content is always king. 

Download and listen to the full show and read below for a preview of Max’s insights. 

Transcript: 

Rakhal Ebeli: I guess you’re not one to look at constraints. You remind me a bit of, I don’t know, someone like let’s say, Richard Branson. You don’t box yourself into what the opportunities are. You think outside of the square, and you’re pretty limitless with your targets. I’ve experienced it myself where you’ve really come to the party with some amazing ideas, and you really don’t hold back. What can you say to brands out there who are looking to not just create a stunt but create something meaningful for their audience, whether it be through content or in real life?

Max Markson: Two words: think big. You have to think big. Now, I’m going to come back to Schwarzenegger. When he said have a vision and then think big, for him, his vision was he wanted to be a bodybuilding champion and he wanted to be in the movies. His thinking big was he wanted to be the best bodybuilder in the world, which he went on to be, seven times world champion, and he wanted to be the leading man in movies. He didn’t just want to be a movie star. He wanted to be the leading man in movies. You’ve got to think big, and if you’ve got a brand, you’ve got to think big. You have to be bigger than you think you are, you just have to be. That way, everybody else will follow you.

Rakhal: Speaking of following, you do the announcement, you do the stunt, whatever it is. How do you then follow up on that? Do you use content? What is the longevity? Where is the long tail out of those announcements?

Max: Content is always king, so you want to have a followup story. With Michael Hill today, they listed on the stock exchange in Australia. They’ve already been on for thirty years in New Zealand. Now, they’re jewel listed in Australia and New Zealand. The followup which we’ll come up with next week is we’ll announce who the board is. We didn’t even use that. They’ve got an incredible board including Janine Allis, who’s founded Boost Juice in seventeen countries around the world. They’ve got Rob Fyfe, who’s the boss of the CEO of Air New Zealand, who’s again a superstar. They’ve got the chairman of Flight Center.

Sources: 

Donald Trump “You’re fired!” audio

Donald Trump entrance – Money, Money, Money

Articles:

Inside the life of celebrity agent Max Markson

Celebrity agent Max Markson believes Tim Cahill could earn $6 million


Connect with Max Markson on social media and visit his website: 

Twitter: @maxmarkson

Facebook: www.facebook.com/MarksonSparks

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/maxmarkson

Website: marksonsparks.com


Top free tools to make your freelancing life a breeze

Life as a freelancer can be challenging: the uncertainty, competitiveness and sometimes even frustration. But in exchange, you have the freedom and initiative to do well for yourself. The good news is: there are tools available to help make your life easier.

 

Design

Canva 

The world is becoming visuals-focused. That means pretty pictures, infographics and illustrations can greatly enhance your work’s appeal.  

Now “everyone can be a designer” is not an exaggeration if you use this tool. With ready-made templates to create images for blogs, social media posts, and other promotional materials, you can unleash your inner creativity while still conveying meaning visually. Plus, you can access free images, icons etc. to go with your design. Not sure what good designs are meant to look like? They also have online tutorials and training.

 

 

Checking your writing

Headline Analyser

Ever stuck on coming up with the perfect attention-grabbing headline? This cool (and free) tool not only analyses your blog post titles in terms of grammar and readability but also SEO. 

Hemingway

Also a proofreading tool, this allows you to have your longer writing pieces checked. It also suggests alternative words, helps you reduce unnecessary adverbs and passive voice. When not acting as a helpful editor, the tool lets you write distraction-free.

 

 

Consuming news

Flipboard

As your “personal magazine,” this tool lets you personalise your news feed based on your chosen topics. This is great for discovering great ideas for your work, sourcing content for social media sharing, and keeping up-to-date with industry trends. A similar tool is Feedly but Flipboard has that magazine-like user interface, which might be more visually appealing.

 

Project management

RescueTime

Freelancers can use this time-tracking tool to see how much time is dedicated to particular tasks and projects. You can either use this information to bill clients, or improve your own productivity. The tool runs in the background of your device, so you also know how much time you get distracted while working. 

Asana

Juggling between multiple projects and deadlines? Freelancers can benefit from using Asana to break big chunks of work into smaller steps, assigning due dates and tracking overall progress. Even though big companies use this tool, the free version is sufficient for freelancers who want to be more organised. 

Moreover, integration with other common software platforms such as Google Drive, Dropbox etc. makes it easy for freelancers to manage everything from one place. 

 

 

Document management

Google’s Cloud products

The most devastating situation is losing the work you’ve been working so hard on. Hence, it is useful to form a habit of backing up your documents onto Google Drive. With 15GB of free storage, it should be plenty for freelancers.    

Furthermore, you can streamline the backup process by creating documents using the Google platform itself. Google Docs is basically an online version of your familiar Microsoft Office tools.  

 

Social networking

Buffer

Your busy freelancing life might leave little time for professional social networking. Buffer helps you schedule posts on various social platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn and also gathers some useful analytics. This not only allows you to maintain an active online social presence but also build your own brand by sharing relevant content. 

The importance of brands in the social media sphere

On the Brand Storytelling podcast this week, we are joined by Gavin Heaton from Disruptor’s Handbook. Gavin shared his experiences on working with various brands throughout his career and how social media is playing a pivotal role in the current business landscape. 

Gavin also has roles with the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum and as his work as a board member with The Awesome Foundation

Download and listen to the full show and read below for a preview of Gavin’s insights. 

Subscribe to the Brand Storytelling podcast on iTunesSoundcloud, Sticher and selected Android apps.  (TuneIn coming soon)

Transcript:

Rakhal Ebeli: Do you think, given that we so often divert to understanding our audience personas that we then try and stand for something that marries into those audience personas and is a safe bet?

Gavin Heaton: That’s one way of doing it. Certainly, that might be the fake it till you make it part of persona building. In terms of actually developing an authentic voice and an authentic position, because what you find is that your customer service teams, your employees, they’re all customer-facing, eventually. If they’re not living the brand, if they’re not living the values of your brand, then they’re doing you a disservice in the marketplace. You need to make sure there is that alignment, because then it becomes authentic rather than something that you’re making up.

Rakhal: You spoke about GetUp, and obviously, with the federal election last weekend, and there’s so much activity around what GetUp are doing, tell our audience a little bit about that particular organisation, and what you love about what they’re doing with their own, I guess, what they stand for and how they communicate through their social channels.

Gavin: I guess what is interesting, from a storytelling point of you, to see how this plays out. I think brands can learn a lot from activist organisations. The activist organisations are looking for outcomes. They’re not looking for brand building, necessarily. They’re not looking for communications, ticks in the box. They’re not looking for a larger Facebook audience. They’re looking for outcomes that change something that is tangible, that changes someone’s decision, changes the way you think about the world, it changes the way you act in the world, and so on. I think there’s plenty of things we can learn, certainly, not just from places like GetUp, but organizations and even platforms that take a social activist view.

Rakhal: Yeah, it’s a fascinating time, when we’re starting to see brands stretch their legs, when it comes to having a voice, and even an opinion. So much of what brand storytelling is about these days is drawing back the curtains and actually giving some insights into who the people are behind the brand, what they stand for, what they do, what their position is on issues that are currently in political conversations. How much of that do you think brands need to pepper into their communications, and how would they then choose the right channels for communicating with the desired audiences?

Gavin: It all comes back to audience, again. I think the interesting thing about a political campaign, and to be honest, it’s been fascinating to see, over the last 8 years or so, how the digital strategies of the politicians and parties have changed. Back probably about 2 election cycles, there was no interest in this sort of activity. I’m the president of a youth organization called Vibewire, and they run an election wire campaign every single election where they cover the election from a youth perspective. In the first time we did it, no one took them seriously at all, and now it’s everywhere.

It’s kind of interesting to see how those shifts and changes are taking place, and we’re seeing politics leading the way in terms of how to do brand storytelling, how to do positioning, how to really engage your audiences, because you know what, your audiences are going to vote you in or out. The brands can learn from this. Looking and understanding almost like a politician, what’s your polling look like today? Is someone going to buy your stuff? That’s kind of the angle we need to be looking at, from a branding point of view.

The activist organisations are looking for outcomes. They’re not looking for brand building – Gavin Heaton

Then, understanding where they are. Are they on Facebook? Are they on Twitter? Is it a useful channel for them, and what are the characteristics of that channel? It’s pointless redirecting someone from a Twitter channel, for example, over to a website, if really what they want is an answer in 140 characters, not another link. It’s understanding the motivations and needs of your customers, understanding the channels and the way that they operate, and also understanding some of the nuances of what that means.

Sources: 

Opening music sourced from Australian TV commercials from 1993

Sensis Statistics

5 Key takeaways: 

1.  Activist organisations are having their voices heard through creative content. 

2. Be authentic in your storytelling – never lead your audience astray.

3. If your audience falls asleep when you start listing features and benefits, it’s time to spice up your storytelling. 

4. Political storytelling has been a key theme during the election cycle. How you engage your voters has never been more crucial. 

5. It’s all about testing and learning. How much time is your brand setting aside for strategy?


Connect with Gavin Heaton on social media and visit his website: 

Twitter: @servantofchaos

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/servantofchaos

Website: disruptorshandbook.com