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Our guide to the Facebook news feed changes

Facebook recently announced it will be rolling out changes to its algorithm, favouring content from friends and family over public pages. Stav Pisk explores how organisations can use the changes to their advantage. 

The Facebook news feed algorithm has changed significantly since the platform first launched. Time after time, organisations and individuals alike have adapted to the changes.

The latest version of the algorithm, however, could leave organisations scratching their heads as they look to adapt their social media strategy.

 

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Facebook announced that it will be going back to its roots – a social network that connects friends and family with content that matters to them.

CEO and Founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, said Facebook users should expect to see less content from organisations, brands and the media, and more from friends, family, and groups.

Not only will the new Facebook news feed prioritise friends and family, it will also prioritise content posted on public pages that “create meaningful interactions between people”.

So, what does this mean for the organisations, brands, and media outlets that have invested time and money in creating a Facebook strategy?

Get to know your followers
You might think you know what your followers want to see – but how much do you really know about them?

Get to know your followers by asking them what type of content they want to see, whether it be through a poll, a Facebook Live session or a simple post.

You will be able to see what those who are engaged with your content want to see and change your strategy accordingly.

Ask and you shall receive
Since the announcement, organisations and brands have been directly asking followers to seek their content in different ways.

From going to their owned channels (such as websites and apps) to asking followers to go to their Facebook pages and click “See First” – brands and organisations have placed trust in their followers to go out of their way to view their content.

Engaging content or nothing
Since Facebook will now prioritise content that creates meaningful interactions, your content must be genuinely engaging.

This means no more clickbait, less memes, and more thought-provoking content.

If you give your followers a reason to engage with your content, they will – don’t post just for the sake of posting.

Zuckerberg said that although there are tight-knit communities on Facebook and news that generates conversations on important issues, “passive experiences” (reading news, watching videos, reading through page updates) are still a major part of the Facebook experience.

The announcement made one thing clear: the news feed will showcase more content from pages and groups whose audiences are not only engaged, but also authentic.

It is probable the algorithm will favour content like Facebook Live as it creates the considered two-way dialogue Facebook believes is currently missing.

Money talks
It does not appear that sponsored posts, or Facebook advertising, will be affected by the new algorithm.

Facebook’s advertising capabilities continue to be some of the best – if not the best – as far as social media goes.

Paid content could be one of the most successful ways to get into people’s news feeds, and having a considered and highly targeted Facebook advertising strategy will be essential.

If you need help with your social media strategy, please get in touch.

Federal Cabinet Reshuffle

By Tim Mantiri

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull today announced a reshuffle of his cabinet - promoting five new faces to the Government’s principal decision making body.

Newly elected Nationals Deputy Leader Bridget McKenzie moves from the backbench into the ministry and cabinet as the Minister for Sport, Rural Health and Regional communications. She replaced former Senator Fiona Nash as deputy leader of the Nationals following Nash’s resignation from Parliament on account of her status as a dual British citizen.

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Liberals Michael Kennan and Dan Tehan move from the outer ministry into cabinet, with Keenan taking on the Human Services portfolio and Tehan replacing Christian Porter as Social Services Minister. 

Porter gets Attorney General as George Brandis resigns from the ministry and Senate to take on the role of Australia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

First term Queensland Nationals MPs David Littleproud and John McVeigh were perhaps the biggest beneficiaries from today’s reshuffle – moving straight from the backbench into cabinet as Agriculture and Water Minister, and Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Minister respectively.

Prime Minister Turnbull today also announced the creation of two new ‘mega portfolios’.

Peter Dutton will lead the new Home Affairs portfolio based on the UK’s Home Office which will be responsible for the AFP, ASIO and the Australian Border Force; while a new Jobs and Innovation portfolio that takes in the former Industry and Employment portfolio responsibilities will be run by Michaelia Cash.

While a reshuffle was widely expected before the end of the year, such wide-ranging changes and the elevation of the two Nationals backbench MPs - Littleproud and McVeigh -came as a surprise to many observers as well as many in the Coalition party room. Their elevation into cabinet could be interpreted as a ‘geographic necessity’, as Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce aims to increase Queensland Nationals’ representation in cabinet, reflecting the significant number of Queensland Nationals in the party room. 

Infrastructure Minister and Nationals MP Darren Chester also leaves cabinet in a move some have interpreted as ‘payback’ from Joyce for not backing his candidate, Matt Canavan, for the position of Deputy Leader.

Part of the need for a reshuffle is the ongoing illness of Minister Arthur Sinodinos who is taking a period of extended leave as he battles cancer, but is expected to return to the Parliament in mid-2018. 

Prime Minister Turnbull said the reshuffle "reflects the values of the Coalition with new and reinvigorated portfolios, designed to encourage enterprise, particularly small businesses, family businesses, innovative businesses, and, of course, protecting vulnerable families".

The reshuffle is likely to be the last major Government announcement for 2017.

The full list of the cabinet, outer ministry and assistant ministers is included below. 

CABINET

Prime Minister - Malcolm Turnbull
Deputy Prime Minister and Infrastructure and Transport Minister - Barnaby Joyce
Treasurer - Scott Morrison
Foreign Minister - Julie Bishop
Attorney-General - Christian Porter
Home Affairs Minister - Peter Dutton
Sport, Rural Health and Regional Communications Minister - Bridget McKenzie
Human Services Minister and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister in Digital Transformations - Michael Keenan
Social Services Minister - Dan Tehan
Agriculture and Water Minister - David Littleproud
Regional Development, Territories and Local Government Minister - John McVeigh
Indigenous Affairs Minister - Nigel Scullion
Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister - Steve Ciobo
Finance Minister and Special Minister of State - Mathias Cormann
Revenue and Financial Services Minister and Minister for Women - Kelly O’Dwyer
Defence Industry Minister - Christopher Pyne
Defence Minister - Marise Payne 
Resources, Northern Australia Minister - Matt Canavan
Energy and Environment Minister - Josh Frydenberg
Health Minister - Greg Hunt
Communications and Arts Minister - Mitch Fifield
Jobs and Innovation Minister - Michaelia Cash
Education and Training Minister - Simon Birmingham

OUTER MINISTRY

Minister for Urban Infrastructure - Paul Fletcher
Minister for International Development and the Pacific - Concetta Fierravanti- Wells
Minister for Small and Family Business, Workplaces and Deregulation - Craig Laundy
Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Security - Angus Taylor
Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs - Alan Tudge
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel - Michael McCormack
Aged Care and Indigenous Health Minister - Ken Wyatt

ASSISTANT MINISTERS

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister - James McGrath
Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister - Damian Drum
Assistant Minister to the Treasurer - Michael Sukkar
Assistant Minister for Finance - David Coleman
Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment - Luke Hartsuyker
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Multicultural Affairs - Zed Seselja
Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources - Anne Ruston
Assistant Minister for Vocational Skills and Training - Karen Andrews    
Assistant Minister for Children and Families - David Gillespie
Assistant Minister for Immigration - Alex Hawke
Assistant Minister for Social Services and Disability Services - Jane Prentice
Assistant Minister for Science, Jobs and Innovation - Zed Seselja
Assistant Minister for Environment - Melissa Price

Tender process – significant resources with no guarantee of pay off

By Isabelle Walker

As a public affairs firm, we’re often asked to tender for certain pieces of work, especially on a contract basis with government departments.

This is often exciting and complex work, giving our business an opportunity to head up large public relations campaigns from inception and strategy, to implementation and eventually completion.

These types of projects provide the chance to showcase the range of skills our team offers, and are incredibly important for small business as it provides substantial work over a long period of time.

However, the difficulty with tendering is the process of proposal. As a small business, our resources (that’s staff) are organised to service a range of clients efficiently and without waste. A tender process often involves a thorough overview of our capability, potential methodology, and general analysis of the project – and this is before you’re certain you have the job.

Of course, tendering is vital to any business wanting to receive government or departmental contracts, but can be taxing on a small business with fewer resources to dedicate time to large tenders (often over 50 pages long), with no guarantee of payment at the end. The tender process is becoming far more complex.

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Though the pay off if you do receive the job is overwhelmingly worth the resources dedicated to the tender process, when an organisation does decide to go elsewhere with its contract, it can be frustrating for the small business as they have already invested in the project.

Though I don’t have a solution, it has given me food for thought for how the industry – especially small business – approaches the issue.

It could extend to how a firm incorporates potential billing for pitches to private clients who – though perhaps not having a full tender process – still require money and effort to be spent on putting together a pitch with no guarantee of success.

Do we sell a short, cheap plan of action to the client who can then choose to bring on our services full time?

Do we have an understanding that in order to pitch, the client will pay for the man hours dedicated to putting the pitch together and presenting it? Will they pay for our travel to their cities to pitch?

Will this make firms who do this wholly uncompetitive? Should there be an industry approach?

Though there may be answers, or firms may have found ways around this issue, it is vital for small business to remain competitive against well-resourced firms in the tender process, but not to the detriment of its bottom line. 

Bennelong by-election preview

By Tim Mantiri

The North West Sydney by election that could cost Malcolm Turnbull his majority

 
While the result of the by-election may see only a single seat change hands, the result this weekend could have huge implications in Canberra. However, a win in Bennelong will be the boost Prime Minister Turnbull needs to cap off a strong finish to what has been a difficult year, and put pressure on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten coming into 2018, Timothy Mantiri writes.
 
This Saturday voters in the North West Sydney electorate of Bennelong will be casting their ballots to elect their local Federal MP in a by-election brought on by the resignation of Liberal member John Alexander.

Mr Alexander, who is contesting the seat again, resigned in the wake of the recent dual citizenship crisis in parliament after being unable to conclusively determine that he was not a British Citizen by descent through his English born father.
 

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abor in turn is running former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally for the seat, after being hand-picked as the candidate by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

While the result of the by-election will see only a single seat potentially change hands, the result this weekend could have huge implications in Canberra when Parliament returns next year.

Given the Coalition’s precarious position in the lower house where it currently holds 75 of 150 seats (not including the vacant seat of Bennelong), a loss in Bennelong would mean that it would lose its majority in the House of Representatives resulting in Prime Minister Turnbull having to rely on the Speaker’s casting vote in the event of a tie and on the cross benchers on motions on confidence and supply.

The electorate of Bennelong is comprised of north west Sydney suburbs including Ryde, Epping, Eastwood and Macquarie Park and has been crucial in recent elections. In 2007, the year Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister, then-Prime Minister John Howard lost the seat to Labor's Maxine McKew. In 2010 Alexander regained the seat for the Liberal Party, while the Coalition under Tony Abbott came agonisingly close to toppling the first-term Labor Government.

This year, as voters decide which candidate to back, a host of considerations will be on their minds, from the candidates themselves to local issues in the electorate and other broader factors at play.
 
The Candidates
Prior to his resignation, Alexander had held the seat for seven years and most recently won the seat again resoundingly at the 2016 election, being one of the few Liberals to record a swing towards them and extending his margin to 9.7% against the Labor candidate.

Alexander has carved out a reputation for being a hard working local member and is generally well regarded, a fact seemingly acknowledged by Labor’s reluctance to target Alexander in its campaign but rather to focus on attacking the Prime Minister and the Coalition Government.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten in his choice of Keneally will be banking on her high profile as both a former Premier and more recently as a media commentator to displace the locally popular Alexander.

Despite leading Labor to its worst ever election defeat in 2011 and her close links with corrupt former Labor powerbrokers Joe Tripodi and Eddie Obeid, Shorten has calculated that her strengths as an energetic campaigner and her articulate style could be enough to win.

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ocal issues
Bennelong is one of the country’s most culturally diverse seats.

More Bennelong residents describe their ancestry as Chinese than Australian or English. In total, 51.7 per cent of Bennelong residents were born overseas.

With this in mind both major parties are actively campaigning to win the support of Asian-Australian voters, with many campaign events being held with prominent local ethnic communities as well as a large number of campaign collateral being printed in Chinese and other languages.
The typical local issues for Sydney suburbs will also be a factor in the by-election. The respective parties’ promises on transport links, school funding, roads, and community facilities are all issues that will weigh in on Bennelong voters’ minds.

Being the incumbent candidate, Alexander can point to built transport infrastructure, and community facilities and programs as his achievements as local member. Earlier in the campaign, alongside the Prime Minister, he also announced a new $100 million bus interchange in Macquarie Park.

For its part, Labor has been continuing its broader lines from the last Federal election around: perceived cuts to education; its effective ‘Mediscare’ campaign; and NBN issues. 
 
Finely balanced
Despite Alexander’s 9.7% margin, recent polls have suggested there will be a solid swing against him on the weekend. The latest Newspoll this week had Alexander and Keneally at 50-50 two-party-preferred (TPP).

The poll found Alexander’s primary vote had dropped substantially since the last election, with Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives the apparent beneficiary. Alexander will be relying heavily on the preferences flowing on from the Conservatives if he is to regain the seat.

The late-in-the-piece scandal around former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari tipping-off Chinese donors (with close links to the Chinese Communist Party) about their likely ASIO surveillance may also influence the way voters approach the election.

While the polls suggest the result will be on a knife’s edge, a recent surge in the Coalition fortunes federally, and a strong on-the-ground campaign, may see Alexander safely across the line.

A win in Bennelong will be the boost Prime Minister Turnbull needs to cap off a strong finish to what has been a difficult year, and put pressure on Opposition Leader Bill Shorten coming into 2018.

2018 in digital: What you need to know

By Stav Pisk

84 per cent of Australians access the internet every day – so it’s important to understand how they are engaging with our brands online.

 2017 has been a notable year for social and digital media. Instagram reigned  supreme over Snapchat in the case of ‘stories’, and Twitter doubled its character limit.

We can expect 2018 to be even bigger.

Welcome to the dark side…of social
Online users are increasingly sharing content on platforms that no one else can see, and we expect this trend will continue to grow in 2018.

The industry likes to refer to this as “dark social”, which is when a group or an individual share content on platforms such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, email, or via secure browsing.

So what does this mean for organisations?

Website referrals from dark social have significantly increased over the years, which indicates that while people might not be actively sharing your posts on their public platforms (such as their Facebook profile or Twitter feed), they are still interacting with your content, only in a different way.

The way you share, position, or advertise your digital content must adapt accordingly.

Micro-moments
A large majority of internet users consume information from a device that fits in the palm of their hands. Google has reported that 96% of people use their smartphones to look up information or conduct research. This can include anything from finding out who discovered pi, to applying for a home loan, or reading a restaurant review.

We expect this trend will flourish in 2018, which means organisations must cater their online content and presence (or lack thereof) to something that will look good and function well on a mobile device. Not only should online content or platforms be mobile friendly, they must also be able to satisfy the users’ needs to have whatever they want, whenever they want it.

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The death of organic
Have you noticed that your organic posts are not doing as well as they once did?

It is becoming increasingly harder for organisations to distribute organic content that people will see. Gone are the days of your social media feed displaying content in a chronological order. With constant changes to the algorithms of platforms like Facebook and Instagram, people are now seeing what social media platforms think they want to see. That is, content is only being seen if the algorithm thinks people want to see it.

This is coupled with the oversaturation of content shared on social media – there is simply too much content out there.

To combat this, organisations will need to increase their investment of time and money into strategic social media advertising and the use of influencer marketing.

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The power of influencers
In a world with fake news and Instagram filters, authenticity is hard to come by. Now more than ever, people are looking to find their ‘community’ whose leader they can trust, whether that be a beauty blogger, a gaming vlogger, or an eating disorder advocate.

Enter: influencers.

While the use of influencers in marketing or public relations campaigns is nothing new, we predict an upswing in 2018.

We expect to see more companies and organisations looking to replace traditional marketing techniques with someone whose opinion the public feel they can genuinely rely upon.

 

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Live streaming  
The surge of live streaming on social media platforms will continue in 2018.

Over the last few years, we have seen live streaming become embedded into the social media world, with platforms such as Instagram and Facebook jumping on the bandwagon.

With live streaming, users can see a more authentic side of the individuals and organisations they follow. It is a great way to engage with your followers on a different level, as you can instantaneously answer questions, raise an issue, or promote a product that you have just launched. 
 
Wells Haslem Mayhew now offers comprehensive digital and social services. Get in touch if you think we might be able to help you.

Poll surprise as One Nation fails to fire: A Queensland election analysis

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By Timothy Mantiri

Queenslanders have voted to re-elect Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and her Government over the weekend with Labor on track to hold a majority in the Queensland Parliament.

While the final vote tally has yet to be finalised, Labor is poised to pick up at least 47 seats in the Legislative Assembly giving the party a majority in Queensland’s single-chambered Parliament. This leaves the Liberal National Party (LNP) with a likely total of 40 seats, one seat less than it had prior to the election.

The election result seems to reflect the exit polling and the final published Newspoll, as counting today had ALP on 36 per cent, the LNP on 33.5 per cent, One Nation on 13.7 per cent and the Greens on 9.7 per cent.

LNP leader Tim Nicholls will doubtlessly be disappointed with the result which saw his party go backwards in terms of primary vote and in the number of seats held. 

Questions will also be raised around his reluctance to rule out doing any potential deals with One Nation after the election as several Shadow Ministers lost their seats in urban south-east Queensland.

It was also a bad night for Pauline Hanson's One Nation who look to have lost its parliamentary leader Steve Dickson, with the LNP’s Brent Mickelberg ahead in the Sunshine Coast seat of Buderim at last count. 

Despite some predictions before polling day suggesting a swath of regional Queensland seats could fall its way, One Nation is likely to only pick up the seat of Mirani in Central Queensland (taking in the area between Mackay and Rockhampton), leaving it with just the single seat in Parliament. 

Former Senator Malcolm Roberts, who was booted out the Federal Parliament (having been exposed as a dual British Citizen), also suffered a resounding defeat after contesting the seat of Ipswich (southwest Brisbane).

While the election campaigns were fought on the state battleground issues of unemployment, electricity prices, and the proposed Adani mine in Central Queensland, Federal Opposition leader Bill Shorten has already looked to link the result to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership and dissatisfaction with the Federal Government.

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Some disaffected Nationals MPs in the Federal Parliament have also linked the result to the Turnbull Government, with North Queensland MP George Christensen taking the unusual step of apologising to people who voted for One Nation.

"I want to provide a sincere apology that, at this stage, no one else has: I'm sorry that we in the LNP have let you down," the Nationals MP wrote on Facebook.

“The party had to listen more, work harder, stand up for conservative values and regional Queensland, and do better to win people's trust and I think a lot of that starts with the Turnbull Government, its leadership and its policy direction," Mr Christensen said. 

Such open dissatisfaction from his own backbench MPs poses a problem for the Prime Minister as the Federal Parliament approaches the final sitting weeks of the year. Maverick government MPs have been threatening to cause mayhem on the floor of parliament on contentious issues such as same sex marriage and a commission of inquiry into the banking sector.

For LNP leader Tim Nicholls the poor election result means his leadership will likely be under threat as a contested party room ballot for the leadership is tipped to take place this week. Contenders in the ballot will likely include Shadow Ministers Tim Mander, John-Paul Langbroek as well as Deputy Leader Deb Frecklington.

Meanwhile, Premier Palaszczuk will look to press ahead with Labor’s agenda and policy commitments which include: a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030; an extension of a $150 million back to work program to give businesses incentives to take on the unemployed; and a series of tax hikes announced late in the campaign which deliver about $491 million to Queensland’s state coffers over three years.

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Sausage rolls, the Nativity and viral marketing

Mixing religion with marketing - death trap or genius?

By Isabelle Walker

In the lead up to Christmas, many businesses will be implementing their marketing strategies to draw the festive crowd. This week irreverent pastry purveyors in the UK, Greggs, launched its Advent Calendar advertising with gusto. Specifically, it tweeted a picture of the Nativity with the ‘saviour’ replaced with a ‘savoury’ sausage roll.

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In place of Jesus Christ in a manger, Greggs released a picture of a large pork sausage roll in the manger, surrounded by the Three Wise Men. 

Instantly there was uproar from sections of the Christian population in England (and also dismay from the writer’s perspective of the new allowance for 280 characters in Twitter posts…). 

One of the outraged, Simon Richards, tweeted: 
 

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While another, Paul Clark, doubled down on Simon’s request, saying: 

There have also been arguments made that though it is ‘okay’ to make fun of Christianity, this wouldn’t be acceptable with any other religion – and that this should be examined as an example of Western double standards. 

Greggs has since apologised and said in a statement: "We’re really sorry to have caused any offence, this was never our intention."

Although there was initial backlash, it now appears Greggs may have in fact nailed this one. 

Where the marketing team was likely going for a harmless joke, the new advert turned into a Twitter storm, and has now gained more attention and publicity than had a backlash not occurred. Now, the conversation is moving towards: 

  1. kudos for hilarious Christmas marketing
  2. people being offended too easily and
  3. delicious puns.


Case in point: 

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Whether or not Greggs intended for there to be international, sausage roll/nativity related fall-out with its cheeky Christmas marketing remains to be seen. Indeed, a viral story such as this is very rarely planned. 

Further, the readers of the Telegraph in the UK tend to think replacing the Christian Messiah with a sausage roll is more than acceptable for advertising purposes (see opinion poll of 6.2K voters below). 

Regardless of the original intent – likely just playing on the irreverence the brand is known for – the Sausage Roll (susejd rol) Nativity Scene has skyrocketed Greggs into the spotlight (and likely sold a few pastries while it was at it). 

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#metoo

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#metoo. But when sexual harassment is so normalised and random, what’s the point in saying something? 

By Isabelle Walker


#metoo. The hashtag that was heard around the world in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault and harassment scandal. Women shared their stories of harassment, assault, misconduct, fear and intimidation; some simply showed solidarity indicated by the concession that these things had happened to them in the past.

I shared it – it has happened to me countless times. Whether it was from receiving my first wolf-whistle from a passing vehicle as a pre-pubescent girl in an affluent Sydney suburb, to a man old enough to be my father commenting on the plunging neckline of my mandatory uniform as a bar attendant. My particular favourite was the man who looked 15 years older than me, insistent that he pay for my drinks after my consistent protestations, who then called me a bitch and other derogatory, gender-specific epithets when I sat down with a male friend and was not interested in going home with him. There are the numerous men – strangers – who have been too close for comfort in bars, on public transport, in lifts, on the street.

Of the many things that have struck me during this entire scandal, one is the sudden outrage of men. Many Facebook friends expressed solidarity with women during this time. They lamented that they had never seen this harassment, and were all surprised when their friends were – in a steady stream – sharing the #metoo hashtag. They promised to stop it in its tracks if it ever happened in front of them.

Though I have no doubt that what they were saying is true, sexual harassment is literally everywhere and it is impossible to miss. It’s that it’s so normalised, it can be mistaken for jocular, good hearted fun, banter, or “locker-room talk”. When a man who openly admits to “grabbing women by the pussy” can be elected to the most powerful political position in the world, there’s little reason to believe sexual harassment is taken seriously by the general population.

The only way this can be changed is for all of us to say something. As women, we’ve been conditioned to stay silent; to believe that our jobs, credibility or dignity will be at risk. But now that light is finally being shed on this issue, it needs to be called out. Whether it’s happening to you, whether you’re witnessing it, whether you’ve heard about it; men are just as responsible for calling out other men as the women receiving the harassment. Being outraged after the fact is no longer enough. Silence is complicity. 

How to avoid social media #massivefails

By Benjamin Haslem

Over the past 24 hours two major social media faux pas have drawn widespread public attention.

One for its insensitivity to loved ones of car accident victims; the other for creating the impression that white skin is better than black, inviting the obvious allegation of racism.

Both, again raise the question: What can organisations do to minimise social media crises?

The first blunder, was a tweet by New Zealand police using a GIF of Michael Scott from the US television series The Office to convey how officers felt when telling people that their loved one had been killed in a motor vehicle accident.

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he tweet triggered an immediate reaction, with accusations the tweeter was “tone deaf” - a common pejorative used on social media to label someone as immoral, unethical, cruel, holding an opinion contrary to the virtuous, (insert your adjective of choice).

New Zealand police deleted the tweet and apologised.

"We quickly realised it was wrong and insensitive and it was immediately deleted. Thx for feedback," the force tweeted.
 

he second “social media fail” was skincare brand Dove’s Facebook video ad run in the US showing images of a black woman taking off her brown t-shirt and turning into a white woman in a white t-shirt.

The white woman then removes her tee and morphs into a third woman, with a darker complexion than the second.

The social media rebuke was swift, with comparisons made between the ad and those run in the US in the late 19th century of a black child pictured in a bath tub while a white child offers him a bar of soap. After using the soap, the black child looks delighted to see that his skin has turned white.

Dove immediately apologised for having “missed the mark” with the Facebook ad.

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This week’s gaffe was not Dove’s first ‘offence’.

In 2011, the brand apologised for an ad for Dove VisibleCare body wash, which seemed to show a black woman as the “before” photo and a white woman as the “after” photo, with “more beautiful skin”. 

A year later, it was in the bad books again for advertising Summer Glow Lotion as for “normal to dark skin”.

It is highly likely the decision to post the Dove advertisements was made over a time by several people. 

The individual who posted the ad on Facebook shares some of the blame (though they’d probably use the Nuremberg defence) but the mistake must be owned by everyone involved in the decision-making process.

As for the NZ Police, the tweet appears more spur of the moment.

So how can companies and organisations avoid posting inappropriate social media content?

It is now well-established communication best-practice to have a comprehensive social media policy of which all staff are aware – remember, staff will often disclose they work for you on their private social media accounts and all the “these views are my own and not necessarily those of my employer” disclaimers won’t save you when it all goes south.

These guidelines give you wriggle room so you don’t have to blame an employee if an innocent human error damages your brand. 

Our Social Times’ Paul Roberts says the guidelines must make staff fully aware of what’s expected of them:

  • Personal accounts: Are staff members allowed to associate themselves with the brand when posting to their personal accounts? Do they need a disclaimer?
  • Sensitive information: What kind of information is okay for the public domain? Customer data is an obvious no-no, but things like new staff hires and office parties sit in a grey area and need to be clarified.
  • Copyright: A thorny issue and one that could get your brand into a lot of trouble. Copyright laws can be incredibly complex, so a clear policy written in plain English is crucial.
  • Tone of voice: Most brands these days encourage regular discourse with their customers. But are staff members aware of how that discourse should be written? Draw up tone of voice guidelines.
  • Firefighting: If you have a crisis management policy then make sure all relevant staff members are aware of exactly what their role is in the event of a crisis.


It’s also crucial to train staff in the correct use of social media. Managers cannot assume that even active social media users know how to use the platforms appropriately in a business context.

Jerry Kane, Associate Professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management, Boston College says many companies use interns or recently-graduated university students to staff their social media efforts. 

“That’s a risk: because these inexperienced employees are not well versed in their new company’s organizational culture or strategy, it is often difficult for them to meet organizational objectives with social media initiatives,” Prof Kane says.

“Undergraduate students typically have a strong procedural understanding of social media tools.
“They use social media frequently (and) because of this sophisticated procedural understanding, most think they understand social media well.”

Prof Kane says companies may find it easier and more effective to train existing managers about social media than to teach new employees about the strategic goals and direction of the company.

“Likewise, the most effective organisational social media initiatives may be partnerships between younger employees demonstrating and experimenting with social media technologies while more experienced employees harness that enthusiasm and those ideas to give them strategic direction,” he says. 

“This brings together the best of both worlds, combining procedural and strategic know-how.”
One often over-looked piece of insurance is appointing social media managers who possess high degrees of empathy.

Brewster Stanislaw, founder of Inside Social and now VP of Product+Strategy at Bizible says a social media manager needs to understand a brand's audience as deeply as possible, with a special focus on how they communicate. 

“This requires a very high degree of empathy and the ability to understand the audience — including their tastes and habits — even if these are fundamentally different than their own,” Stanislaw says.

This needs to go deeper than just understanding your customers, clients and target audience; it needs to involve an acute awareness of how words and actions can affect others.

If you lack tact, tread wearily.

This won’t just limit the likelihood the person responsible for hitting the post button doesn’t cause embarrassment by posting offensive content it also increases the likelihood they will seek the counsel of others within the organisation before acting.

Another key to avoiding mishaps is thorough research. Just ask Coca-Cola.

In late 2015, the soft drink giant posted a festive map of Russia, replete with Christmas trees.

Only problem was, they left out Crimea, annexed by Moscow in March 2014. This generated a bombardment of criticism in Russia, forcing Coke to apologise. The company re-posted the map with Crimea added.

Only problem was Ukraine also claims sovereignty over Crimea and there was an immediate call for boycott of Coca-Cola products in that country. 

robably best not to post maps of Russia as part of your social media marketing efforts.

Finally, and this just seems so obvious, don’t leverage disasters or a death to promote your brand or product on social media. This happens with alarming regularity.

Such as herehere, and here.
 
No matter how many safeguards you put in place, nothing is certain.

For that reason, every company or organisation should have a crisis management plan for handling social media emergencies and test it via a simulation exercise.
here are several online social media simulation software products that create a real-time crisis.

coke-public-relations

Why a government relations program should form part of every organisation’s communications arsenal

government-relations-sydney

By Benjamin Haslem

(The following post is adapted from a webinar delivered to members of the Public Relations Institute of Australia [PRIA], by our Co-CEO Benjamin Haslem)

Government is a major stakeholder, with the potential to impact you or your operations – both negatively or positively.

And if ever the time comes when you need the government’s assistance, it’s far more likely you will get an audience, let alone an outcome, if they know you.

For that reason, it is necessary to develop good long-term relationships with key decision makers and to establish contact early and maintain it regularly, not merely pressing government at times of need. 

The bottom line is you need to invest in building relationships. 

But let’s first define what we mean by Government.

Government can be divided into two broad groups.

he first is the political arm. The politicians – the Government, Opposition, minor parties and independents (who in Canberra currently carry a lot of weight) and politicians’ advisers, known as staffers.

The second is what we broadly refer to as the Bureaucracy – Government departments, agencies, regulators, government-owned enterprises.

Both these groups operate across all levels of government – Federal, State and to a much smaller extent, local government.

So why communicate with them?
 

s I said, they are a major stakeholder and like all stakeholders your relationships with them can affect business and other operational outcomes. That’s because what governments do can have a direct or indirect impact on what you do or what you can’t do.

They do this through policy; legislation; funding decisions; awarding contracts, even just through public pronouncements about what they think they should be doing.

It can be done by an Opposition, minor parties or independents agitating for action – like a banking royal commission.

What governments say or do has an impact on public opinion and behaviour. Either directly, by changing laws that force behavioural change – think NSW lock-out laws – or by shaping attitudes, albeit gradually. Just ask the Life Insurance industry. And of course, governments can also be your customers.

No Government makes a decision in isolation. Stakeholders, representing a range of interest groups in the community, always play an important role in what governments do. So should you.

Governments expect companies, industry associations, NGO’s, charities and individuals to advocate their positions. It helps them. It gives them a keener understanding of what voters want. It also provides them with ideas.They like collaboration.

However, they prefer positions to be put in a responsible and productive way. The search for such collaboration is always the starting point for effective government relations. 

But I hear you say: my company is a member of their industry association, which represents their interests in Canberra or their local State capital. This may be true. But these groups also represent the interests of all your competitors. And they can only speak broadly about issues that affect a significant proportion of their base.

As I said before – government relations activity isn’t just about grizzling to government about an issue you want fixed. It’s about relationship building and collaboration. And one way of doing that is offering the government something your competitors may not be.

You can’t rely on an industry association to have all your best interests at heart. That’s not a criticism of industry associations – it’s just reality. They should represent everyone. And if politicians are meeting industry associations, they’re not meeting you. They may know your brand and what others are saying about you but there’s no meaningful relationship.

Another response you may have is: we are small. We can’t afford to expend resources on flying to Canberra or even travelling into the CBD to meet politicians. You don’t need huge resources to establish a simple but very effective relationship with government.

If you’re an SME you can develop a relationship with your local member of parliament, even if they’re not in government. Backbenchers can be a very effective conduit to Ministers. Get to know them. Invite them to a function at your business. If you know they’re attending a function in your town or suburb go along and say hello. Send them newsletters and other marketing collateral, with a covering letter.

So if ever the need arises to ask the government for help, you will have a friend at court.

So what are the components of successful government relations?

It is necessary to develop good long-term relationships with key decision makers and to establish contact early and maintain it regularly, not merely pressing government at times of need. The bottom line is to invest in building relationships. A strong and professional relationship requires:

  • the investment of time; and
  • the development of mutual trust and respect.   


It also requires a clear strategic direction. Like all communications strategies, Government relations must be:

  • planned, 
  • have clear objectives and 
  • defined lines of responsibility.


Relationships can operate formally or informally depending on circumstances.  They should always be conducted in a straightforward, respectful, and inclusive way. Stick to their agenda; keep them informed; don’t just use them when needs be.

All proposals or asks need to be:

  • well-evidenced, 
  • politically feasible; and 
  • generally aligned with decision-makers’ goals (or, if they cannot be, understanding of those goals.)  


Align your advocacy with the expectations of policy makers and legislators. This is congruent with building good relationships and ultimate success. You need to ensure government is aware of your contribution to community, state and nation.

Political decision-making is easier if organisations have a demonstrable affiliation with the community and place high value on integrity in dealing with stakeholders.

Organisations must demonstrate some alignment with the requirements of government. An organisation also needs to be clear about its role in society and sensitive to the national interest. 

They need to be aware of the constraints on government (do they control the upper house?), understand policy design and formulation (how many ministers are involved, is there an influential backbench committee; what do the bureaucrats think?) and be familiar with the broader political environment (can the government sell this to the voters; are there members of the government’s political party who will oppose you?). 

Balance refers to not being perceived as an organisation that views everything through the prism of money, including avoiding the perception of being grasping, extortionate or self-serving. For the most part, public policy is mainly about sensible policy and only secondarily about money. 

Ethical behaviour includes transparency and sensitivity to such matters as conflict of interest, litigiousness and aggressive and unethical corporate behaviour.

So what are the components of dysfunctional government relations? What needs to be avoided?

Decision-makers and policy makers are most easily offended by industries and organisation that are perceived as:

  • aggressive; 
  • manipulative; 
  • partisan;
  • unethical; 
  • self-interested; and
  • poor communicators. 


Aggression includes tactics that are confrontational, irritating, bullying, threatening, demanding, blindsiding, blackmailing or legalistic. Failure to understand the complexities and nuances of government decision-making is also seen as a major failing.

Organisations are also unfavoured if they are seen to be:

  • opportunistic; 
  • dissembling; 
  • involved only when they want something; or 
  • manipulating popular sentiment to force the government’s hand (i.e. running off to the media). 


rganisations that seek ‘special treatment’ rather than relying on the strength of their case are also disliked. 

Other features of dysfunctional relationships include: Failing to consult; being inflexible, negative and unwilling to understand government policy and direction.

Ethical issues (being dishonest in your advocacy, covert deals) are rejected as is overt self-interest - focusing exclusively on the organisation’s own interests and failing to consider mutual or social outcomes.

Eleven-steps to good government relations

Wells Haslem Mayhew has an 11-step guide to successful engagement with government. This was built upon numerous interviews over several years with senior Government and Opposition MPs and Senators, senior political staffers and political journalists about dealing with Government. They told us what works.

This 11-step guide is also based on our own experience helping clients talk to governments over the past 25 years.

But the most important element in any government relations exercise is that if you want the government to do something you need to understand that a good case beats everything. 

You can read about the 11 steps HERE.