31 July 2017

4 ways social media can bring quick wins for government

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As governments around the world navigate increasingly complex political and economic environments, it’s more important than ever that they leverage new technologies to engage citizens, attract new talent and deliver services more efficiently.
While there is clearly an appetite among citizens for more personal forms of engagement with government, the public sector is often considered behind the private sector when it comes to digital transformation. A recent Accenture study found that 85 percent of U.S. citizens expect the same or higher quality government digital services as they do from commercial organizations. Despite this, 40 percent of citizens remain unsatisfied with digital government. Digital transformation in government has become a political yardstick globally.

In Australia earlier this month, the Labor party challenged the Liberal-National coalition government over the lack of progress in digital transformation initiatives, and in February, the U.K.’s Government Transformation Strategy for 2017 to 2020 came under scrutiny due to concerns about the digital skills gap in the public sector.

In the U.S., the Trump administration is proposing a $1 trillion investment in digital infrastructure over the next 10 years that includes provisions that would elevate digital services to the same level of importance as physical infrastructure like roads and bridges.
Nick Sinai, Venture Partner at Insight Ventures Partners and former deputy CTO at the White House, is encouraged to see the Trump administration build on past efforts and continue to focus on IT modernization. “It vital that the federal government continues to adopt digital technologies that are making government simpler and more user focused,” he said. “With modern cloud-based software, government officials can create a more open and effective set of digital services that serve those that need it most.”

Despite Trump’s proposed investment in technology, government agencies still struggle with recruiting the right people for the job and procurement roadblocks when choosing software-as-a-service technologies. Globally, governments are facing debt burdens and shrinking budgets. The general government debt to gross domestic product for many Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries exceeds 100 percent.
Even with these issues, there are some quick wins for government agencies -- all achievable by adopting a (relatively) new technology that most people already use every day: social media. By cleverly (and cost-effectively) rolling out a social media strategy, agencies can meet some of their digital transformation goals and produce a tangible return on investment that will deliver value in four ways:

1. Reduce wait times and increase customer satisfaction. Digital services will never completely replace in-person services in government. However, if agencies redirect funding from traditional call centres towards digital service delivery, they could cut customer wait times, improve response times, increase customer satisfaction levels and save both government and taxpayer’s significant money. New York City’s non-emergency NYC 311 service is a good example of this strategy. City residents are encouraged to file complaints digitally about potholes, damaged pavements, missed garbage collections, etc. 

2. Increase citizen engagement and awareness of agency mission. For government agencies to deliver digital transformation, they must prioritize solutions that help manage citizen engagement and service delivery. Their communications infrastructure must allow them to perform at the speeds the public has grown to expect.

3. Compete with millennial-focused company cultures to attract new talent. At the recent Government Social Media Conference in Dallas, LinkedIn’s Emma Nicolle and Kathleen so highlighted the hiring challenges government faces. Agencies are competing against the private sector for fresh talent and, where the private sector has adapted to suit the working style of a new generation, government has been slower to change.

4. Mitigate crises with solid critical response plans. Social media has become the medium through which word of crisis situations spreads like wildfire. A strong critical response plan, directed through social media, can be a mitigating factor in containing a crisis situation. Spending the time and resources to develop a communications plan before an event takes place can allow teams to be quick, nimble and efficient with their response.
By leveraging social media, governments can control costs, increase transparency, earn greater public trust and create more positive public sentiment.

Written by: Nicolas Verbeeck

Nicolas was born in Belgium and became an expert in consuming excellent beers, chocolate and waffles. During the winter period you can find him on a hockey pitch and in summer he loves to go for a swim or a surf. In 2013 Nicolas was wondering what the beers, chocolate and waffles would taste like in Australia and never came back. One reason… the weather. Nicolas obtained a masters in International Politics and tries to use this background to produce excellent conferences at Akolade.

21 July 2017

Not kidding around- Child care centres face new regulatory changes

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Child care centres must operate under some of the most stringent regulations applicable to any sector, from the ratio of staff to children and the size of the rooms, to the meals served and play equipment used.

Despite these already strict regulations, the sector faces changes to the National Quality Standards, being implemented by ACECQA in October this year around Australia, with the exception of Western Australia who will undergo the changes in February 2018.

 Changes to the NQS include:

·         The requirement of approved providers of family day care services to hold a service approval in each jurisdiction where their educators operate
·         Approved providers of family day care services must ensure a minimum family day care coordinator to educator ratio of:
o   1:15 for the first 12 months of operation and at any other time at the discretion of the regulatory authority
o   1:25 after the first 12 months of operation.
·         The National Regulations to clarify that a risk assessment must be completed for all regular outings at least once a year

As demand for child care services grows and the industry booms, the regulations tighten to ensure the highest quality of services are provided to future generations.

Sydney’s inner west alone has a projected demand of 518 extra places in the Marrickville, Dulwich Hill and Sydenham areas as development occurs over the next few years.

Despite the growing demand for child care services, it is a complex sector to navigate and survive. Several providers including ABC Learning have already been forced to close their doors having become “unviable”.

Written by: Claire Dowler

Claire Dowler is a Senior Conference Producer with Akolade. She recently graduated with a double degree: a Bachelor of Journalism and a Bachelor of Media and Communications Studies majoring in International Communication. Claire minored in sarcasm and puns.

A ballroom-dancer who collects salt and pepper shakers and volunteers for animal rescue, you might say Claire has eclectic interests.

20 July 2017

Tackling the stigma of corporate communications

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A well implemented corporate communications function in today’s volatile environment can be the difference between success and failure in today’s environment. Just look at Uber. United Airlines. Pepsi. And that’s just 2017.

More than a few companies have made the mistake of undervaluing the importance of powerful communication strategies. However, it could also be said that communications personnel are partly to at fault for being slow to adopt analytical tools, such as neuroscience, behavioural economics and statistics. Such tools can help make the field more sophisticated and valuable to business decisions.

Although the responsibilities and influence of top corporate communications leaders has increased, corporate communications functions are still traditionally viewed as a C-suite stepchild. That’s partly due to the difficulty in measuring its effectiveness, which is seen as a “soft” skill.  While it’s still tough to measure the efficacy of corporate communications, new tools in sentiment analysis, reputation analysis, and brand assessment are adding more rigor to the field, especially in the age of digital business.

It’s time for communications practitioners to take the leap into the leadership circle, and for corporations to recognize the importance of strategic communications. That’s what the Corporate Communications and PR Leadership is about. Join us to hear from Australia’s leading communications and PR experts, discussing how we put communications firmly in the corporate leadership circle. 

Written by: Beth Hampton 

Beth came to Australia in late 2016. Having spent some time travelling through Southeast Asia and briefly living in Singapore – she was ready to embrace the lifestyle of a working Sydneysider!

Beth grew up in London, and completed her degree in Psychology at the University of York. She always dreamed of landing a job in the police, but figured it was worth swapping the handcuffs and late shifts for an exciting new city and a job full of fun and opportunity in a fantastic company like Akolade!

Beth loves cooking, playing the piano, terrible British soap operas, an ice-cold G&T and exploring new places.

11 July 2017

Takeaways from the National Indigenous Economic Development Forum

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Rex Angie, Director, Narungga Investment Company and Karen Diver Former Special Adviser to President Barack Obama on Native American Affairs and Former Chairwoman of the Native American tribe Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

Empowerment was the key takeaway from the 4th National Indigenous Economic Development Forum in Cairns 28-30 June.

Speakers from across Australia shared stories that gave delegates practical strategies while also inspired them to keep fighting to overcome hurdles, to work together, and to improve financial and employment outcomes within their communities.

The international key note speaker, Karen Diver, Former Special Adviser to President Barack Obama on Native American Affairs and Former Chairwoman of the Native American tribe Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa received standing ovations from the delegates.

Ms Karen shared the struggles and achievements in Native American tribes’ fight to become financially independent and be recognised by the government.

Herb Smith from Dreamtime Tuka in New South Wales was another speaker who greatly moved the audience. Mr Smith started his business from scratch and has in short period of time become a  leading supplier of bush food products. One of the company's achievements is its successful partnership with Qantas to deliver bush food products on flights.

Although the message of Indigenous economic development remains the same, it is vital to come together to keep fighting for improved outcomes within Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. 

Mimmie grew up in Sweden and first came to Australia as a backpacker after high school. After travelling around the country for two years she returned to Europe and pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism in London. But the longing for Australia and the sun became too strong. After having worked for some time in the media industry, Mimmie decided to make a change and swap the news for conferences. She now gets to do what she loves the most, meeting new people and keep learning about cultures and issues while producing conferences on current topics.

04 July 2017

Take Your Social Analytics To The Next Level

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Do you want a CMO’s advice on how to navigate social media? Start by talking to the 25-year-old in the room.

Paige Leidig, CMO of social analytics company Netbase, says the best way to understand social media’s potential when it comes to driving business value is to think like a digital native. If you’re a CMO, perhaps it’s time to think like one of the more junior members of your team.

Recognizing the power of social media, especially when it comes to leveraging social analytics to make marketing decisions, must start with setting the right mindset and forgetting what you thought you knew about consumer insights. Combine this mindset with your strategic marketing expertise and you’ll be on your way to unlocking the full potential of social for your brand.

If you’re a senior marketing leader scratching your head when it comes to what to do with deluge of social media data coming your way, follow these best practices.

Capture data that you can act on 

Social media conversations are happening all day, everyday, with or without your brand pushing messaging out. These organic conversations can reveal a great deal about your brand and can even inform the way your company behaves on social media. The question mark for brands: how do you capture this data, and once you have it, how do you act on it?

To illustrate this point, Leidig referenced an example in which somebody leaked a major announcement from Crayola ahead of “National Crayon Day,” threatening to undermine a big PR moment. Through ongoing social listening, the brand was able to get ahead of the crisis and use it as an opportunity to engage the community at a deeper level. Crayola even released a YouTube video to proactively address the leak.

Fish where the fish are

Beyond helping you understand important metrics like share of voice against competitors and identify prospective influencer-partners, social listening can also reveal the platforms where your band can make the most impact.

Leidig cited Pocky here, a quirky Japanese cookie brand that used social analytics to discover that most organic conversations for their products were occurring on Tumblr, a niche platform with a relatively small, yet passionate user base. In response, Pocky began to proactively create content there and saw a 70 percent increase in mentions as a result.

Avoid the Ozzy vs. Charles mistake

Social analytics can also be used to overcome some of the limitations of traditional demographic personas. To demonstrate, Leidig asked the crowd to imagine two men of British descent, both born in 1948, both wealthy. He explained that while demographic data would indicate these two men would be interested in the same products, he implored that there were key behavioral aspects missing from the equation. 

The future

Social media is still quite new, and the analytic tools for exploiting it are still evolving.  Let’s be honest with ourselves – how many true social media experts can there really be?  What would be the risk of suddenly discarding methods that have served us well for so long, in favour of an alternative that has not yet stood the test of time?  Why not concentrate instead on using social media qualitatively to assist in questionnaire development, or as one component in marketing mix modelling. Should social media be used to put a human face on data mining and predictive analytics?  Why not focus on utilizing it in tandem with other qualitative methods?  Social media analytics has already proven itself in these roles.

Is social media an asteroid streaking towards traditional marketing research or a valuable complement, rather than a complete substitute?  We lean towards the second conclusion and feel social media adds to, but will never fully replace traditional marketing research.  We see it as an important new and increasingly indispensable source of insights, but not the catastrophe some have feared nor the research nirvana others have sought. 

Nicolas was born in Belgium and became an expert in consuming excellent beers, chocolate and waffles. During the winter period you can find him on a hockey pitch and in summer he loves to go for a swim or a surf. In 2013 Nicolas was wondering what the beers, chocolate and waffles would taste like in Australia and never came back. One reason… the weather. Nicolas obtained a masters in International Politics and tries to use this background to produce excellent conferences at Akolade.