29 March 2018

Why being a conference’s last speaker is a compliment and opportunity

Author :

Many people would shudder seeing their name last on the programme, closely followed by ‘end of conference’.

The closing session of the conference agenda is no one’s preferred speaking slot but the last speaker is given an opportunity not afforded to the other presenters. In fact, the last speaker has the potential to be the most memorable and leave the greatest impact.

“I know I’m standing between you and networking drinks so I’ll keep this short,” is a well-worn line we become used to hearing as producers (I’m even guilty of having used it myself on occasion). What we don’t realise though is this immediately sets the tone of the presentation. Audience members are left with thoughts like ‘he doesn’t want to be here’, ‘there probably won’t be enough detail in this to be useful’ or even ‘she’s right- I wonder what canap├ęs they’re serving.’

The crowd may have thinned slightly- some may already be at the bar getting the first round of networking drinks. But you can find confidence knowing the people who remain are those who are genuinely interested and, most importantly, want to be there.

Instead, consider starting your presentation with a bang. Public speaker and author Ben Parr does this very literally. In a presentation he gave at the West Coast Contently Summit, he reached behind a banner and with a loud bang released a party popper which spewed streamers over guests. Parr refers to this particular tactic as a ‘disruption trigger’- people react to things we aren’t expecting (which is also the same basis as what we find humorous).

But your opening doesn’t have to be so left-field. It could be a short video, a controversial statement or interacting with the crowd. Consider the effect it would have when the chairperson introduces you, the audience claps and expects to see you walking to the stage.

But you don’t.

The audience is somewhat perplexed, suddenly roused from their post-afternoon tea stupor, before you speak directly from one of the cabaret tables using a hand-held mic. You ask the delegates at that table what they are hoping to learn from your presentation.

Remember their name and come back to them during your presentation- “John, you asked how we measure customer satisfaction rates and this is how.”

Throughout your talk, speak their language and relate your content back to things they know well. Can you compare your marketing strategies to the way the Kardashians have grown their market reach? Your audience is interested.

You can fall into the trap of being the last speaker and accept your fate to be background noise as people check Facebook and doodle on notepads, or you can be the disruptive force that they talk about for the rest of the week.

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.

23 March 2018

Why content is king

Author :

You've probably heard the saying "content is king" but exactly how royal it is, is usually overlooked. 
Let's put this in context. 

You’re lounging around one night, engrossed in the latest episode of your favourite TV series (think MKR or MAFS), and of course, the show breaks for the ads. Usually you'd whip out your phone and distract yourself with what's happening on Facebook (marketing people call this "double screening") but some ad catches your eye. Not because it's funny, but because it's a little weird. 

The screen goes completely black and all you hear is a 40 something year old voice-over guy putting on his best game-show host voice blasting a pre-written script trying to convince you to buy his latest product. 

Usually this ad would best for the radio… but weirdly, it's on TV.

Okay so this hasn't really happened, but I'm trying to demonstrate a point. 

You wouldn't put a radio ad on TV, it just wouldn't be right. So the same goes for your social media content. If something wasn't made for social media, why should it go on social media? 

I see this all the time - a video that was originally cut for a website, a brochure that was meant for a mailbox, a screenshot of a PDF.

The newsfeed is so competitive these days that this type of repurposed content will no longer achieve cut through. We all have hard KPI's that need to be met - usually it involves how many people the content reached and if you're working in a government like me, usually the powers that be would like to know an indication of sentiment. 

How can you track these metrics if you have no one engaging in your content!

Let me show you an example. Recently, we storyboarded and shot a bespoke three part video series to celebrate one of our assets, the 85th birthday of the Grafton Bridge. 

You can see the videos here: 

During a two day trip to Grafton, we developed this series heroing everyday "Graftonians". Nothing was scripted, my only brief to our talent *ahem* everyday people was to pretend we were at a BBQ and we were just having a conversation. 

Organically, we achieved 40,000 views and reached over 88,000 people. For a small regional town with a population of 18,668 people, this means that we reached new audiences and the content resonated with audiences wider than just the locals. We also achieved almost 100 per cent positive sentiment.  

To give you some perspective, before creating this bespoke content, we had only ever achieved views in the 10,000 mark and that's if we were lucky. By creating the piece specifically for social media, our content not only performed well, but allowed us to expand our audience. 

We did this by changing a few things: 

·         Language - we spoke in a casual tone, even though some of our message was quite technical
·         We featured unstaged, behind the scenes content
·         We kept our content short and sharp by making the audience feel like they were there
·         We knew who our main audience was and for each video, and we tailored our content towards that (for example the audiences for our third video skewed male because of some of the technical terms).

By making these small changes, we saw such an improvement in the performance of the content, and we have kept it up! Visit our page to see more. Facebook.com/nswroads

Written by: Debbie Hatumale-Uy 

Debbie Hatumale-Uy is the Social Media Manager at Roads and Maritime Services, a division of NSW Government. She has previously worked as the Social Media Manager at McCann Worldwide Group, as the Digital Communications Specialist at Canon Australia, and the Online Community Manager at McDonald's Australia. She is passionate about leading organisations into the wide world of social media, and spreading the importance of content in that journey. 

16 March 2018

Post show release: 5th Retail Fulfilment Summit

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During the three days of the 5th Retail Fulfilment Summit which kicked of Australia’s inaugural Retail Week, more than 700 retailers from across Australia and New Zealand came together to be inspired by the 60+ pioneering speakers, who shared their stories on how to transform 360° fulfilment in the on demand era.

Opened by The Hon. Ben Carroll MP Minister for Industry and Employment, day 1 was focused on c-suite leadership and covered critical strategic issues facing retailers today such as cross boarder expansion, the Asian opportunity and leading the workforce of the future.  On day 2, opening international speaker, Sterling Hawkins (Retail Visionary & Co- Founder, Centre for Advancing Retail & Technology, USA) wowed the audience with dancing robots and insights into the new realm of technology powered retail fulfilment. What followed across 4 streams of content was a series of engaging presentations and interactive discussions from the likes of Rick Woods (General Manager, Costco), Belinda Hay (Trade Start & Project Lead Ecommerce, AUSTRADE) and Renee Gamble (Industry Lead Retail Technology, Google) to name a few. Lastly, a candid and insightful discussion from Brittain Ladd (Former Global Head of Expansion, Amazon USA) on Amazon and the future of retail, closed what was a content rich day.

Following day 2 of the fulfilment summit, Akolade hosted a first of its kind Retail Fulfilment Awards night for the sector. The awards recognised excellence across all areas of fulfilment and was judged by Andy Powel (Managing Director, Agile Commerce Consulting), Paul Greenberg (Chief Operating Officer, NORA), Luke Jecks (Chief Executive Officer, Naked Wines), Rick Woods (General Manager, Costco), Anna Forster (General Manager Operations, Lux Group), Jane Lu (Chief Executive Officer, Showpo), Sterling Hawkins (Founder, Centre for Advancing Retail and Technology USA), Erica Berchtold (Managing Director Rebel & Amart Sport GX Cycles) and Michael Donnath (Country Head IKEA).

With so many incredible submissions, the judging panel had a tough role, however the winners were agreed upon by all; Coles Liquor (Excellence in Best Store Based Fulfilment), BWS (Best Online Fulfilment Initiative), Showpo (Excellence in International Fulfilment), OzSale with Seko Omni Channel Logistics (Best 3PL Retailer Collaboration), Shippit (Best Fulfilment Technology), The Nile (Best Smaller Retailer), Sendle (Best Disrupter), Williams Fashion Logistics (Best Fulfilment 3PL of the Year) and Winning Group / Winning Services (Retail Fulfilment Retailer of the Year).

The final day of the event was kicked off by international speaker Bruce Harryman (Head of Network Planning, John Lewis, UK) who inspired and amazed the audience with the scale of John Lewis’ supply chain operations. This was followed by engaging presentations from Margaret Bosworth (Head of Marketing, Sealed Air Corporation) and John O'Loghlen (Director, Australia & New Zealand, Alibaba Group). Lastly, Martin Smith (Managing Director, Endeavour Drinks Group) wrapped up with his insights on the evolving expectations of consumers.

The summit provided an unparalleled opportunity for networking, benchmarking and inspired action-delegates leaving with a sense of empowerment. Next year, the Retail Fulfilment Show and Awards will be returning bigger and better than ever at a new location - the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Furthermore, due to our genuine commitment to diversity, we will be working closely with industry leaders to continue to boost female participation and would encourage woman in fulfilment with story to tell to please reach out to us. We’d love to hear from you now!

It’s been a fantastic week in Melbourne and we very much look forward to welcoming everyone back to next year.

P: +61 02 9247 6000
For partnership enquiries, please contact marketing@akolade.com.au

Written by: Luana Clarke 

From a young age Luana wanted to become a teacher. She would line up her teddies in a row and teach them for hours on end. However, she eventually grew tired of their nonchalance and has ended up leading a team of producers instead- which she finds far more fulfilling and stimulating!  

Luana comes from an experienced production and management background. She has produced and topic generated events across Asia and Australia. 

Luana enjoys learning about emerging trends and drivers for change and loves the notion of the 'butterfly effect'- that change can start small but grow immeasurably through a ripple effect.

14 March 2018

Leaders gather to improve the wellbeing of Australia’s Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander people

Author :

People from across Australia’s health organisations, government bodies and Aboriginal communities gathered for the 2nd National Indigenous Mental Health and Wellbeing Forum in Perth on the 21-23 of February.

During the three-day conference, over 35 community leaders shared their stories on the growing problem of mental health issues amongst Australia’s Indigenous population, and they shared their case studies on how these challenges can be tackled.

Ngaree Ah Kit, Assistant Minister for Suicide Prevention, Mental Health and Disabilities and Assistant Minister for Seniors and Youth in the NT opened day one of the conference and was followed by Maria Baker from Te Rau Matatini in New Zealand, who shared an overview of their current work.

Other presenters on day one also shared their stories on how to engage with communities and Elders to see improved outcomes for people with mental health issues.  

Day two was opened by Josie Farrer MLA, Member for Kimberley. Her passion and personal connections to the topic made for a powerful presentation, which was highly regarded among the attendees.  

Another highly appreciated speaker on day two was Alvin Fiddler, Grand Chief of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation in Canada. Alvin shared his peoples’ similar struggles and how they work to improve the wellbeing within their communities.

Other presenters shared case studies on how to strengthen the resilience within communities and how to develop community-driven approaches to tackle the high suicide rates. Other presenters discussed the importance of youth and how to effectively engage youth in the community.

The forum enabled participants to network and share stories with others from the mental health sector and provided an empowering environment with new energy to keep up the work to improve the wellbeing of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.  

Written by: Mimmie Wilhemson

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.

02 March 2018

The changing face of retirement living

Author :

As the population ages and Australia’s baby-boomers reach retirement, the demand for affordable retirement living options is higher than ever.

Retirement villages are specifically designed to meet the accommodation, social and recreational needs of over 55s – for many, they offer the perfect solution for a restful and enjoyable senior lifestyle, boasting state-of-the-art facilities, inviting communities and *seemingly* affordable pricing plans.

However, as part of its four-point plan to improve retirement village living, the NSW Government commissioned an inquiry into the NSW retirement village sector in late 2017, in an effort to review the protections offered to residents and monitor whether villages are operating in compliance with the law.

Championing the list of compliance concerns is the lack of transparency in village contracts and fee agreements.

One of the less understood considerations for prospective residents when buying into a retirement village is the Deferred Management Fee, or ‘DMF’.

Most retirees don’t realise just how much departure fees can cost them, and get a nasty shock when they find out. Contracts are lengthy and difficult to understand, and many residents suffer a great deal of stress when they are ready to sell and find out that a large chunk of their profits are not theirs after all. They are often unaware as to the implications of this condition when signing contracts, and suffer a huge financial sting for residents and their families in the long run.

However, property giant Stockland is bringing change to the retirement village horizon.

Aspire by Stockland defines itself as a “new kind of living for the over 55s”.

Rather than typical retirement village contracts which see residents pay entry fees of between 65-70 per cent of a typical property price in the area, followed by an exit fee on departure after a lifetime lease, Aspire in Sydney’s Marsden Park will see residents pay for and own 100% of their property.

It’s a step in the right direction, however Stockland CEO Stephen Bull admits a national rollout will incur legislative friction.

“Because this product doesn’t fall under the Retirement Living Act, we need to get planning support,” he said.

Nevertheless, this hopefully signifies positive change in the face of retirement living.

Written by: Beth Hampton 

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

I grew up in London, and completed my degree in Psychology at the University of York. I 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!

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