Corporate casualty: the death of corporate wardrobe

What does your outfit say about you?

When uttering the words “work wardrobe” chills runs down my spine. There is no denying in the PR world the way you dress reflects the image of your agency and the style of clients you attract. Seldom would you come across any PR or advertising agency with a uniform so there is a certain amount of trust in staff to ensure they are reflecting the right image when it comes to dressing for work.

First impressions count and whether we like it or not it starts with how we look. It is a sad and shallow truth but when you work in a creative industry like PR these factors may not be a decision maker but they certainly weigh in when it comes to hiring.

Once upon a time corporate dressing meant a suit and business shirt for both men and women but the term ‘ corporate dress’ has been left to individual interpretation and there has certainly been a dress down movement happening in the work place. Casualisation of the corporate world is taking over, but is this a bad thing?

Casual dress Fridays are now the expectation in the Australian workplace. A survey conducted by TMP worldwide shows that 51.3% of males and 60% of female’s value being able to ditch corporate get up on Fridays; this was even more popular among respondents from the 18-34 age brackets. Clearly, we like to keep it casual so why is it still not widely acceptable to dress down every day?

Fashion is a form of self expression and intentional or not, our sense of style does show who we are and ultimately could influence how we are perceived in the workplace. Suits and ties are few and far between in the PR industry, so where should we draw the line when it comes to casual chic? How do we maintain our identity without losing respect from others in our industry or being unfairly judged by the corporate world? It comes down to fundamentals, knowing boundaries and keeping the bra straps well and truly hidden.

Recently, we have been working with local Brisbane fashion stylist Helen Moroney who knows all too well about those fashion demons most men and women face when deciding on what to wear and most importantly how to wear it. She shares some of her top tips for getting it right:

  • Know colours and styles that are best suited to you. The power of colour is immense and can make all the difference to an outfit and how you look as colour can influence your size, complexion and the amount of attention you receive. Helen offers excellent workshops on selecting the right colours and outfits to suit your body shape. If you are looking to jazz up the work wardrobe knowing what works for you could make deciding what to wear fun (and easy) each day.
  • Accessorise. Earrings, bracelets, rings, belts, bags and shoes are as important as the pants you might be wearing. In a stricter corporate setting it can be a way for your individuality to shine through. But remember, the key to any good outfit is knowing when not to overdo it, you don’t have to wear everything you own all at once. Tie in your colour selection with a belt, clutch or shoes that blend or match.
  • Shoes should always be polished, intact and never scuffed (remember people generally look at your face first, then your feet)
  • Ladies keep the mini skirt and cleavage for Saturday night! If it would make your nana blush leave it at home!
  • Mark Wahlberg is the only man allowed to bare his knickers for a job everyone else make sure your undergarments are well and truly hidden.
  • If you’re a low maintenance kind of girl when it comes to hair look into balayage colour technique, easy way to stay on trend with minimum effort!
  • Make sure you read your company policy on tattoo’s and piercing.
  • Boys and girls if you are keeping to the suit and tie choice make sure you have a properly fitted suit and choose a colour that will fit with a selection of shirt and tie combinations.
  • Always remember to dress to who you want to be.

It is all about boundaries at work and remembering that trends are great for weekends but not always for the office. If you have to stop and think “is this appropriate for work” it probably isn’t. Simple is always best and a traditional tailored look will always be acceptable in corporate and creative environments alike.

And if you’re still not sure seek expert advice!

2012 Olympic Games – Week 1

Olympic Game’s fever has taken over the globe and amidst the record breaks, racial commentary from athletes, doping scandals and PR agencies promoting infidelity websites for athletes there are journalists everywhere thinking of the next hot headline and waiting for an athlete to fall from grace. Has our thirst for juicy headlines overshadowed the Olympic spirit and hampered the performance of our athletes?

Before the Games we had the utmost confidence in our athletes. James Magnussen is a perfect example of solid hopes we placed in one athlete to bring us home the gold thanks to strong media attention prior to the games, outstanding performances and interviews radiating confidence and invincibility. Like a good salesman he told us we bought a Ferrari.

So what happened the moment he didn’t live up to expectation? The media and much of the nation turned on him when he needed support most.  Now some will argue had he not shown such a consistent self assured, perhaps verging on cocky, attitude everyone would have been kinder but the question begs did we have the right to put someone under such scrutiny because he felt confident leading into the games. Was James overconfident or was he just asked questions that can only be answered in one way “yes I am going to win”.

The flip side is the winners circle. High performing athletes are heavily scrutinised by the mistakes of the past and disbelief when someone does exceptionally well. Young Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen blitzed the last leg of her medley, smashing previous record holders out of the water. Questions are now being posed; how did a 16 year old girl beat the previous male record? Were the same questions asked when Phelps broke every record in the book? This win was gold for not only Ye but media outlets around the world.

It comes down to how you handle the media. Sally Pearson who embodies everything Australia loves. Humble winner who has the “I’ll give it my best” attitude but continuously shows how talented she really is only on the track. She won the hearts of Australian media and spectators alike. Why? She comes without arrogance and is not a tall poppy waiting gloriously to be taken down a peg or two. Sally never gives too much away – Aussie sweetheart or just media savvy.

So how does the media attention affect the performance of our athletes? Probably less than we think (or maybe more), but like any good PR knows it does shape our perception of the athletes. Are headlines of off field frivolities and personality flaws really what we want to be publicising about our athletes when support comes from the public who read our papers? Unfortunately, happy flawless athletes don’t sell papers. Accessibility of news and need for constant updates have taken the focus from performance updates and wins alone to delving into the deeper darker side of our athlete’s just for content. So why is this style of reporting so popular? Because people want answers when our winners aren’t winners and the winners are…. 16 year old Chinese school girls.

Australians’ quintessentially do not like arrogance, tantrum throwers or a bad sport and unfortunately these traits are not unheard of amongst high profile athletes. The media has partial responsibility though for shaping perceptions and overall the support we have for the athletes representing our country. Reporting of the Olympic Games needs to focus less on controversy and more on what our athletes (not just Australian) are good at – Sport.


Two brains are better than one: The benefits of brainstorming

Public relations is an industry in which professionals must constantly develop creative solutions to problems, generate clever ideas to increase brand awareness and find a way to make a brand newsworthy when in reality there may be nothing new happening at all.

This is where brainstorming steps in to make the impossible, possible. Brainstorming is where a group of people bounce ideas off one another in order to foster creativity and generate solutions to a problem. There are only so many times one person can pull new ideas out of nowhere and that is why brainstorming is such an effective tool in public relations.

The main aim of brainstorming is to build on and extend others’ ideas. It is quite common for a number of ideas to be rolled into one. It’s not about one person coming up with the best idea.

In order to get the most out of an idea generation session consider the following tips next time you sit down for a brainstorm.

  1. Know what you want to achieve- have a goal or outcome that you want to achieve from the creative thinking session.
  2. Set a time limit.
  3. Conduct the brainstorm in a calm and friendly environment.
  4. Have one person record the ideas on writing materials that can be seen by all such as whiteboards or easels.
  5. Create a relaxed space that fosters creativity and playfulness. Provide things such as food, comfortable chairs or a talking stick or object (a ball is easy to get around a room).
  6. Focus on quantity of ideas.
  7. Have people brainstorm individually before the creative thinking session then come together and build on these ideas as a group.
  8. Refrain from judging and/or criticizing others’ ideas.
  9. Only sort through and narrow ideas at the end of the session.
  10. Encourage creativity. It’s equally as important for participants to come up with reasonable, valid suggestions as it is for them to generate crazy and outlandish ideas- sometimes what may seem like a wild idea at first is actually a great solution to the problem.

There are also patterns that arise in creative thinking sessions that hinder the process so make sure to look out for the following during your next brainstorm.

AVOID :  groupthink

  • “Groupthink” occurs when a team of individuals settle on a single idea rather than continuing to generate new ideas as the single idea was accepted by the group as a good solution. This act boils down to a person’s desire to be socially accepted by their peers. Individuals would rather agree with something they don’t whole heartedly believe in than risk exclusion by challenging an idea.

AVOID :  social loafing

  • Social loafing can be explained like this: put one person in a room by themselves and give them a task with a deadline. Then put two people in a room and give them the same task and deadline. Who will be more productive? The team or the individual? Social loafing is when individuals put less effort into a task due to working in a team.

SOLUTION: mind mapping

  • Mind mapping allows for ideas to be generated individually before the group comes together to brainstorm. It involves writing down a word or phrase and getting each person to build on the original theme and map out their thought process. Everyone then brings their mind map to the group brainstorm and after all the ideas have been shared, the team can evaluate as a whole. This reduces the risk of groupthink and social loafing.

Check out some other great articles on brainstorming :

The beauty of hindsight: What I wish uni had taught me about PR

Reaching the end of a degree is one of the best feelings I’ve ever encountered but this feeling of accomplishment comes hand in hand with another feeling, an unsettling one that begs the question; Am I ready to enter the workforce? Upon completion of any task, a person is able to look back on the process with a wealth of knowledge and there is always that lingering thought; if I could go back I would have done this or that differently. This is where I come in, to provide you with a recent graduates guide to the three most important aspects of PR they don’t teach you at uni.

A public relations degree will only get you so far. Interning will get you further.

When I chose to study public relations I didn’t have the first clue about the industry or how it worked. Therefore, it will come as no surprise that I also didn’t know the first thing about interning and a year and a half into my degree had a minor [okay major] freak out. All of my classmates began talking about internships and I heard whispers about the difficulties of securing a job upon graduation without having interned first. It was from this point onward that I began actively volunteering and interning in several different areas of public relations that interested me.

Internships will teach you things that your degree cannot and are a per-requisite for entering the industry after you graduate. Intern as much as you can, as often as you can and as early into your degree as possible. Even if you have just started your degree and believe you have nothing to offer an employer, you’re wrong. Your employer will expect you to be a little rough around the edges; you’re a student after all,  so don’t let your fear of being inexperienced hold you back.

First things first: learn how to write a media release

So this isn’t exactly something they didn’t teach me but more something I wish they had taught me earlier, much much earlier as I wasn’t taught how to write a media release until a fair while into my degree. If you are to know only one thing walking into your first internship, let it be the basics behind writing a media release and I say this for two reasons;

a. writing media releases will be your main duty as an intern and will help you build your portfolio and

b. you will be asked to write media releases in job interviews so that potential employers can gauge your level of writing.

If I could go back in time and give myself one piece of pre-degree advice it would be to:

Utilise your university’s library resources and read literature on how to write a media release before they even broach the topic in class. I found it was vital information that I was learning far too late into my degree. Also, at your internships ask your superiors for feedback on your media releases and tips on ways in which to improve your writing.

What’s that? You want me to pitch a story to the media? Sure I can do that, just give me a moment to start breathing again.

Pitching is a word my tutors had thrown around at uni but one that had never quite been explained to me until my first internship when I was passed a phone and asked to pitch a story to a journalist. The feeling I got in that moment was one of sheer terror; when your entire stomach lurches into your throat. I was absolutely terrified. Why hadn’t they taught me how to pitch at uni? Why had we not done practical pitching exercises in class?

As scary as it is, don’t shy away from pitching. Embrace it until you own it.

Unfortunately, pitching is one of those things where practice makes perfect and your best bet is to start interning, dive into the deep end and learn to swim as you go. You will be required to pitch for your internships and although it may seem scary at first it’s something that becomes easier with time.

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Gift giving for clients 101

Most people have been in a new relationship and celebrated a special occasion such as Christmas with their partner. The common fear that arises around this time is what gift do I give that meets the Goldilocks and the Three Bears convention of not being too little or too much but just right?
Gift giving for clients should be approached much like gift giving in a new relationship; with caution. As we enter the holiday season, minds will shift from media releases and social media monitoring to more enjoyable tasks such as deciding what gifts to send your clients for Christmas. There are several things to consider when giving Christmas gifts to clients and to ensure you send a gift that is well received we have some helpful tips to guide your decisions.
How long have you known the client?
You’ve been with your partner for one month and for Christmas you’ve decided to get her a pair of diamond earrings, too much, too soon? We think so. Much like a new relationship, a new client may be made to feel uncomfortable by an inappropriate gift, as the relationship has only just begun. It is important to consider how long you have known them and worked with or for them.

Gifts for everyone! The more the merrier right? Wrong.
As much as you’d like to shower everyone in your professional community with gifts to express your gratitude, there are some people that are simply off-limits. It is best to steer clear of the following:

  • Journalists – keep it professional, they will appreciate it more or simply something simple (food never goes astray in a news room)
  • Potential clients – if you are currently in negotiations with a potential client, it may appear like a bribe or ‘sweetener’ or trying to hard
  • Previous client – if you have just parted ways with a client, it may come across as groveling

What is an appropriate gift?
A Christmas gift for a client could be as simple as a card that thanks them for their business throughout the year and lets them know that you’re looking forward to an exciting 2012. A general rule to guide your gift giving is to keep it reasonable; gifts shouldn’t be over the top in expense or too cheap. Giving clients a Christmas gift should also be a genuine gesture, free of any hidden motivation (sometimes they won’t event acknowledge they have received it but its not because they don’t value the gesture they are just busy.  Unless you know the specific likes of your clients or suppliers try to keep it generic and unisex.

Some ideas that are simple and affordable:

  • Fruit baskets – cherries, mangoes are always well received at this time of year
  • Gourmet hampers – many different ones online available
  • Chocolates – a gift easily shared with an office or family
  • Pamper packs  – men and women varieties
  • Movie vouchers
  • Food of any type is generally well received by an organisation

If you want to get creative with gifts that’s fine but just keep in mind what it might say about your company- if in doubt apply the ‘what would you think if you received this gift’ test.
Keep these considerations in mind this Christmas and give your clients gifts that are well received and appropriate because no one wants to be the person, one month into the relationship that gives a pair of diamond earrings when they should have given a card.

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Christmas party etiquette

Christmas party etiquette

With the holiday season fast approaching, it’s time to refresh ourselves about the potential hazards of the office party. Chances are you’ve been discussing when and where this year’s party will be and how great it will feel to finally relax after a busy year and celebrate with your co-workers and clients.
Too often we hear stories of Christmas party nightmares and the after effects both personally and professionally. One bad judgment call could lead to your name and with social media in the mix now, easily accessible pictures of yourself plastered across the internet for all to see, (and you know they will).
This year we would like to offer some [obvious] tips on how to have a great time at your work Christmas party without tainting your career and professional reputation.

Drinks: There’s most likely going to be plenty of, [and free] drinks at your party to ease you into the nights proceedings.
Do: Moderation is the key. Spread your drinks out and follow-up with a water chaser. You might find you will avoid that dreaded hangover the next day and keep yourself in check. On a more serious note, many businesses and organisations have an alcohol policy, which means if they’re hosting the function you must abide by their rules. Also, leave the car at home. Take a cab or public transport with your co-workers and stay safe and ready for 2012.
Don’t: The last thing you want to do is let fly with a comment or an impromptu dance off in front of the CEO or other professionals in your industry. By keeping things in moderation, you can avoid any regrettable actions and a discussion [or worse] with your manager the next day.

Professional relationships:

Do: Mingle with not only your co-workers but others too, it’s a great time to make connections and share your stories, but, leave the shop talk at the door as it’s an opportunity to network and you never know who you will meet. Keep it professional and have a good time with new friends.
Don’t: Get too social and close with your superiors and clients and certainly don’t over step the boundaries by telling them what you think. Your ‘confidence’ levels might rise during the party [a drink or two will do that] and the last thing you want is to over step the mark or say something you regret the next.

What to wear:

Do: Keep it professional. Unless the party has a specific fancy dress theme, wear your regular business attire or smart casual, you can do so and still be classy and feel good about yourself. Remember what you wear reflects who you are.

Don’t: Remove your clothes or part thereof or wear an inappropriate outfit. The last thing you want is to be the centre of a gossip story and be ‘that girl’ or ‘that guy’ who….

At the end of the night [or day], it’s all about having a great time and enjoying the festivities. If you follow these simple tips, you’re sure to have a fantastic time and strengthen your professional relationships. Your work Christmas party should be a night to remember for all the right reasons.

Have an enjoyable and safe Christmas and New Year’s.

Image courtesy of: Getty Images

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Are you ready to pitch?

If you’re like me, you excitably began your internship eager to make your mark and learn as much as you can toward building your PR experience. Armed with a wealth of knowledge, (and theory), you confidently begin your journey and start your quest. From assisting with media releases, to creating media lists and other various writing tasks, you get involved in whatever you can, and you’re feeling pretty good about yourself.

You get the call

That media release you just helped write for a top client has now been approved by them, and is ready

‘For Immediate Release’, and the Account Manager asks you to ‘pitch it out’ using your media list.

It all sounds simple enough, all I have to do is call a journalist and they will run my story, I can do that!

The Light Bulb moment

Even with many years of work experience under my belt, calling customers and liaising with a variety of people over the phone, including journalists, I was reasonably confident that I could do this and get great results. However, I had a moment where I stopped and thought, this is a little different in terms of the story, purpose and desired result, and maybe I should pause before I engage, after all, I don’t want to make a mistake with this one.

Time to pitch:

How hard can it be’ you might ask? It’s just a phone call or an email right? Wrong!

Many PR students are simply not taught how to pitch while they are at University, (I’m one of them), but if you have, then congratulations, you are one up on many of us. Often interns are only exposed to this process when they do an internship or work experience with little or no knowledge of the how to’s or thoughts across how to speak with journalists effectively and confidently.

Top Tips:

Just the thought of calling a journalist or editor is daunting to some, so how can you help overcome these thoughts and make your first pitch, (remember it will get easier the more you do). Your ultimate goal is to gain the most effective coverage you can reasonably achieve for your client, here are some tips that I have learn’t so far:

  • 1, 2 and 3 – Be prepared! Make sure you understand the release and the angle. This is your opportunity to ‘sell’ the value of your story and differentiate it from ‘just another pitch’. Have the    release in front of you and note the key points of your angle.
  •  Know the name of the journalist or editor you are calling, the last thing you want is to be ‘umming’   and ‘ahhing’ when the call is answered.
  • Be straight to the point and be real. Obviously you must be professional, but an honest yet concise conversation with the person you are speaking to goes a long way, you will most likely be speaking to them again very soon.
  • Ask for advice. It’s expected that you will have dozens of questions throughout your internship, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice and tips. Despite what I thought I knew, I asked lots of questions    that made all the difference, and will help you craft your own style.
  • Evaluate each pitch. After each of your first pitches, take a moment to recap and evaluate how the pitch went, think about how you can make the next one better, and any comments you picked up on. It’s all part of honing your skills toward becoming a great PR professional, you are already on your way!

The rumors:

You might have already heard that there is a space of contention between some journalists and PR professionals. Both groups are busy people in their own right and under pressure to work to deadlines but here are some interesting facts:

Oriella PR Network polled nearly 500 journalists and found that the number one resource that journalists in this study are using for sourcing was PR agencies, with a whopping 62 percent.

As for the first port of call when researching a news or feature story? PR again! Nearly 22 percent of respondents say their initial stop is a press release., (Allen, K. 2011).

Ultimately Journalists and PR pros’ need each other, so it is important to build your understanding and play an active part in this relationship toward a successful outcome. You may not always get your story across the line but if you continue to learn and hone your skills you are destined for great success. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your piece in a major national or even international publication, knowing your efforts helped get it there.


PRIA is an excellent resource in areas such as pitching and often run workshops to help you grow. Kevin Allen is a regular contributor to Ragan’s

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Media storm of the month August 2011 – Channel 9 Choppergate

When a media outlet is caught up in a scandal, rather than busy exposing one, the results are often nasty and always very public.

The News of the World scandal shone the light on the worst of the U.K tabloids and their non-existent relationship with ethics – and the scalps followed.

Now here we are with the cringe worthy media storm of the month for August: Channel NINE Brisbane’s faked chopper crosses.

Sure, the deceit might be less extreme than the phone tapping saga, but the recriminations have been just as severe.

Since the fakery was exposed two NINE journalists (Melissa Mallet, Cameron Price) and a producer have been given their marching orders and seasoned news director Lee Anderson has resigned in protest over the sackings.

So what exactly went down? It goes a little something like this:

It was a wet and windy night in Brisbane on Sunday August 2 and the NINE news chopper was grounded on the network’s helipad by air traffic control.

The search for the body of Daniel Morcombe was big news in Queensland and the obvious lead story of the day. In TV newsland this kind of news necessitates a live cross, as throwing to a reporter who is “on the scene” lends an added layer of credibility to the report.

With this in mind it’s easy to see, with the 6pm deadline looming, how the fudged cross could have happened.

Viewers were none the wiser that Cameron Price was in fact sitting in the grounded chopper at Mt Coot-tha, despite apparently hovering somewhere “near Beerwah”.

The next day the secret was revealed. Seven News footage showed the NINE chopper on the helipad at the time of the cross and the network was forced into the usual motions: apologies were issued, investigations were launched.

But the real kicker came the following day, Tuesday August 23, when it was revealed that NINE had also faked another live cross just a day earlier.

On Saturday August 20 the NINE news anchor threw to Journalist Melissa Mallet apparently again “Near Beerwah” for an update on the Daniel Morcombe Story.

Unfortunately for NINE Airservices Australia flight tracker data showed the helicopter again nowhere near Beerwah at the time of the cross.

The chopper orbited NINE HQ at Mt Coot-tha for about ten minutes, then hovered above nearby Chapel Hill before landing again.

Commentators mourned the death of honest journalism, NINE was blasted from all sides and the embarrassed network was forced to fire some of those involved as damage control.

So what have we learned?

It’s obvious the journalists involved may have had no choice in the faked crosses and it’s sad to see promising careers ruined by some very poor judgment somewhere in the chain of command at NINE.

In the increasingly cutthroat, budget driven media landscape it’s not surprising that fakeries of this kind occur. Expect to see more as newsroom budgets in Australia continue to contract.

But despite all this, the biggest lesson for NINE must be that duping its audience for the sake of cheap showmanship is never, ever a good idea.

The level of public backlash to the faked crosses is proof positive that in 2011 people still value, and expect, truth and accuracy in news – a fact all media outlets would do well to heed.

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The Power of WOM

Word of mouth (or WOM) is one of those true marketing mysteries.

It’s also a topic that can easily bamboozle business owners into believing it can only be doled out by highly paid WOM gurus (closely related to social media gurus) and that the ensuing buzz will be a magic bullet to business success.

So what is WOM-marketing and how can you cut through the hype and use it drive your business?

To get started let’s get some WOM marketing buzzwords out of the way. Word of mouth marketing encompasses a variety of subcategories including buzz, blog, viral, grassroots, brand advocates, cause influencers social media marketing and ambassador programs to name but a few.

Ultimately all of the above concepts hinge on the idea that the personal nature of the communications between people is more credible than advertising and that people are therefore more likely to apply information received via word of mouth.

Think about the last time someone recommended a great restaurant to you and you tried it out based on that recommendation. That communication and subsequent action is one complete word of mouth transaction.

These referrals are given to us, and handed out by us, almost subconsciously all the time.

Here’s the kicker though – the success or failure of word-of-mouth marketing depends on two crucial factors:

1. The extent of customer satisfaction with the product or service, and

2. The perceived value of the product or service

Below are two case studies covering the largest and the smallest ends of the business spectrum, followed by some important questions to ask yourself before jumping into the wonderful world of WOM.


In 2003 online retail giant Amazon scrapped its television  advertising strategy (US $100M) and used the money it saved to invest in its now famous free shipping policy (purchases over $25 are eligible for free shipping anywhere in the world).

Amazon still loses money on shipping, but this is more than made up for by the incredible word of mouth support generated by the decision.

Amazon also spent a great deal of money ensuring they had an unbeatable range of stock, including over one million books, many of which are not best sellers, simply to ensure customers can always find what they are looking for.

Further, when Amazon launched its Kindle E-Reader it relied on word of mouth marketing in order to sell units. The website invested in its “See a Kindle in your area” message board where customers interested in purchasing could locate existing Kindle owners in their area, meet with them, and try out the product for themselves.

Today Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer and is expected to announce $9.37 billion in revenue this quarter.

2.     Chompers

But it’s not just the big end of town getting in on the WOM act. This month local Brisbane independent fast food outlet ‘Chompers’ launched its OMG Double Double Burger: Two meat patties, two slices of cheese, bacon and lettuce, and two Krispy Kreme doughnuts instead of burger buns.

Chompers Owner Chris Bowe admits the burger was created for the sole purpose of generating WOM interest.

‘‘At first, we aimed to get attention via social media including Facebook,’’ he said.

‘‘We had people come in and take photos of it on their mobile phones and that’s how word spread initially.

‘‘We obviously don’t have the marketing budget of a bigger chain … and people always want to try something different.’’

So size is no barrier to successful WOM marketing. But before you start masterminding your own 6000 calorie burger, ask yourself these five word of mouth questions – and good luck!

1. Are you doing something dramatically different in your market or do you have a truly original product? For Amazon it’s a service: free shipping. For Chompers it’s a product: the OMG Double Double Burger

2. Does your product or service appeal to a relatively wide audience (are you WOM-able)? Amazon and Chompers are general consumer businesses. If you’re business is niche or business-to-business WOM may not the most effective option

3. Is your customer service and delivery experience top shelf? If Amazon’s products did not arrive on time or in perfect condition all of their hard WOM work would be undone. The Chompers’ burger must be tasty as well as attention grabbing.

4. Are you ready to WOM? If Amazon did not have the capacity to deliver, or if Chompers ran out of Krispy Krème donuts every time someone asked for the burger, their WOM could easily turn negative. You need the capacity to deliver on your WOM promises.

5. Do you have a plan beyond WOM? Like all marketing, WOM should be part of broader strategy. It is not a marketing plan on its own, but as seen in the case studies, WOM can be a powerful and cost effective tool in your marketing arsenal.

Images courtesy of and

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How to create public speaking perfection

Public speaking is really an art form. The best public speakers can have you eating out of their hands. columnist Carmine Gallo has written The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs. Here we summarise that document so that you too can create public speaking perfection.

1)      Plan in pen and paper: before you start your digital presentation, plan what you’re going to say to deliver the story. Slides are just accompaniments.

2)      Create a tweet-friendly description: i.e. make sure the point you are trying to get across, your new product, etc, can be summed up in one short sentence. It helps people to categorise and share what you’re talking about.

3)      Introduce the antagonist: who’s the villain in the story? Create a villain – a competitor, or a problem in need of a solution – that allows the audience to rally around the hero – i.e. you and your product. And allows the hero to save the day.

4)      Focus on benefits: your audience will be asking themselves one question – ‘why should I care?’. No one cares about the product or service itself but how it will improve their lives. Make sure you make the connection for them.

5)      Stick to the rule of three: for some reason three just works – give an audience too much and they’ll forget it all, give them too little and you won’t have much to talk about. You can give more information on a website, in a handout, but stick to three in conversation.

6)      Sell dreams, not products: Steve Jobs doesn’t sell computers; he sells the promise of a better world. Be passionate and enthusiastic about your dream and make your brand stand for something and people will follow.

7)      Create visual slides: information is better retained when images are combined with text, so forget the slides and slides of words and embrace the photos. Keep it simple, and don’t forget the old saying ‘a picture tells a thousand words’.

8)      Make numbers meaningful: if you’re going to use numbers and statistics put it into context and make it relevant to your audience.

9)      Use zippy words: keep your language simple and don’t use jargon.

10)   Reveal ‘holy smokes’ moment: a big build up to create something exciting that people will remember for a long time. Paint a picture and lead the audience to the big announcement when they least expect it.

Steve Jobs plans to inform, educate and entertain with every presentation he makes. He also makes it look effortless. That’s not just being a ‘natural’. He practices and rehearses for hours to make it perfect in every way. Expert speakers hone their skill with practice.

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