Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Current projects

No signs of a summer breaks. It's all systems go at Emily Ross Bespoke. Current projects include:
• Media training CEOs in travel, hospitality and manufacturing sectors
• Copywriting for media company website
• Copywriting for corporate interior design website upgrade
• Creating new blog/website and comms strategy for brand new interiors business
• Full copywriting and production of major corporate consulting firm website
• Features for AFR BOSS magazine
• More research/articles on Managing Up for new publication
• Production of SME website
• Edit/Review of large healthcare reports
Clients include:

It might not be easy to submit to coaching, but it's worth it

Sorry it's taken me so long to post this link to an October article in the New Yorker on coaching. Exposing yourself to scrutiny and fault finding isn't fun but the benefits can be remarkable. As author of the piece, a surgeon Atul Gawande says: "Coaching done well may be the most effective intervention designed for human performance". Read the full piece at: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2011/10/03/111003fa_fact_gawande
We all have significant room for improvement, and a coach can make that journey a hell of a lot smoother.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Buzzwords that must die

Wanted to share this great piece from a Fast Company blogger. Good advice.

The 7 Iconic, Transparent, Empowering Business Buzzwords That Need To Die 

"If you find that these catchwords frequently litter your conversations or presentations, it's probably time to consult a thesaurus.
When did we stop having problems and decide to have “issues” instead? The ratio of problems to issues in our magazines and newspapers show that there are about three times as many issues per problem as there were 10 years ago. Are we really so fragile? After all, if we can’t call what’s happening to the economy at the moment a “problem,” we’re setting the bar pretty high for the problems of the future.
 The CEO of a firm emailed me to ask why all his interviewees claimed to be “passionate about marketing” these days. A quick Google check on what people are claiming to be passionate about in the last 24 hours: secured loan leads; transformation; rubbish; logistics; plankton. The recruiter’s question: “Are you passionate about...?” is now just a test to see how well we fake it. At least “passionate about plankton” would make a good T-shirt.
 As a Brit I can be proud that HMS Unique was, confusingly, built as one of 49 identical submarines. Don’t let anyone tell you that we didn’t ruin the language first. Yet, as I write, there have been 826 press releases claiming that something is “unique” in the last seven days. Everything, we must conclude, is now special in its own exquisite way. "Iconic" We’re supposed to find a person or thing desirable, but we don’t know why. Iconicness seems to be a 21st-century phenomenon: Since 2000, we’re about eight times as likely to find something “iconic” in the press. Two areas in which this growth rate has been twice as fast: accountancy and solid waste. You can't make it up.
 Our parents had jobs or, if they were lucky, careers. We entertain ourselves by claiming we have roles, as if our work is a personal soap opera. During the long boom, the ratio of roles to jobs went from 10:1 to about 4:1. You will not be surprised to learn that, since 2007, this ratio has returned to pre-2001 levels.
Six times as popular in the business press as it was in 2002; about one in 40 press releases claim it. It’s taking over “honesty” and “integrity,” maybe because you can claim transparency without any suggestion you’re doing something that improves anyone’s life. Note: The glass industry uses “transparency” in marketing less than the average, but the audit industry uses it ten times as often. Draw your own conclusions.
 Not a bad word in itself--but if I buy something from you, you are not “empowering” me. It’s a sneaky way of dodging what the wafflers call the brand promise: They didn’t say the jeans would make me a better person; their clothes just “empowered me” to lay claim to my own betterness. I get it: If my life is as crappy as it was before, it’s my fault. If it improves, all hail the denim.
Tim Phillips is a freelance journalist. He is the author of Talk Normal: Stop the Business Speak, Jargon and Waffle, Knockoff, Fit to Bust and co-author of best selling Scoring Points, all published by Kogan Page.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Clive Pugh - a media maestro

Now you're communicating! My clients are going to love this!
The Hamster Wheel - Police Media Training: Pressers

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Do your bit then GET OFF!

I train people who are giving presentations and awards and one of the first things I do (after finding out who we need to thank etc.) is time how long their speech is and how/where it fits into the running sheet. This is especially true when I get people ready for race day presentations. A key part of my job is to edit the speech as much as possible. When people are at a cocktail party, dinner or presentation night, they are there to drink, talk and hob nob, not to stand around being bored to death by formalities. Yesterday's Melbourne Cup was a case in point. During the Melbourne Cup presentations, the Governor-General decided it was time for a long speech waxing lyrical about the Aussie spirit. Well meaning but it was excruciating to watch and went on and on and on and on. Behind her, people were fidgeting, the crowd was just ignoring her and it was embarassing to watch her present a speech that someone had obviously spent ages writing. Sorry GG, but there is a time and a place. Boot camp for delivering speeches to rowdy crowds:
1. During training, I like to make lots of distracting noise while my client is delivering his/her speech to get them used to a tough crowd.
2. I get clients to practice trying to get the attention of the room. (Often we plan for another person to do this dirty work before the speaker makes his/her start.)
3. We break the speech down into chunks and if the crowd is really out of hand, we cut out a piece.
4. Run through the choreography of the presentations, handing out fake awards, cups and certificates to that it looks easy
5. Be absolutely ruthless about timing, ensuring that it is undertime everytime.
6. Ensure that the speech acknowledges and connects with the crowd.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

It's back to the drawing board for most crisis media trainers

Just take a look at the dramatic Qantas crisis unfolding - live blog updates, instant Twitter feeds through major metropolitans (a la Guardian newspaper). Conventional media training doesn't come close to preparing a business for this kind of situation. (Conventional media strategists would still say it's a good idea to release bad news over a long weekend while no one is watching!) While admittedly most businesses aren't going to be as exposed as Qantas, it's clear businesses need to rethink how they can manage their brand across so many different media channels.
* Forget the idea of buying time - there's none to buy * Worse case scenario planning is critical * Effective media training/planning is brand insurance * Twitter is a mindblowingly powerful media forum * Understand that big businesses like Dell have social media listening command centres (like a situation room) where they monitor social media 24/7. Dell understands there is no such thing as a one-way conversation with customers anymore

Friday, October 14, 2011

Now that's what I call a presentation

The folks at IDEO are just so damned good at presentations. I dare you not to take inspiration from this piece by Tom Hulme. CHECK IT OUT HERE

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

At last a man who knows how to sell - and he's gone viral!

Chuck Tester is a taxidermist after my own heart and he has his elevator pitch down pat, unlike most of you business owners out there. Chuck actually knows how to articulate what he does and he's gone viral. What I love about Chuck is that he knows how to articulate what he does. "I specialise in the most lifelike dead animals anywhere. Period."
So many companies I work with can give me reams of information about their business but when you ask them to sum up what they do as succinctly as possible, they can't. Can you say what you do in five words, if not, I might be able to help. GO CHUCK!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Better late than never

We all have deep seated unconscious biases and they greatly impact the way we work, who we choose to work with and who we discriminate against. I recently researched a piece on unconscious bias for HR Monthly mag. It's taken me a while to post this piece.

"It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that bias exists in Australian organisations, but perhaps unconscious bias theory is the science that will make this important change." READ MORE July Unconscious Bias

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Time for some spring cleaning

Enjoyed putting together a piece on ten key tasks to spring clean your business for Smart Company.
One of the most critical tasks in the feature is:
TASK SIX: Spring clean your technology knowledge (no excuses!) and get familiar with
market-leading technology and ideas
→ For best-practice, cost effective email campaigns and e-newsletters, take a look at Campaign Monitor for even the smallest business. Companies such as Apple, Twitter, Australia Post, Billabong, The University of Melbourne and Virgin Money are using this online service.
→ For easy blogging check out Tumblr According to the latest Nielsen Social Media Report (September 2011), this site has tripled its audience in the past year.
→ Don’t think for a moment that Facebook has had its day. It remains the most popular social media site. Look at how companies like Jay Jays (360,685 ‘likes’), Ikea Australia (93,958 ‘likes’) McKinsey & Company (151,879 ‘likes’) are using it.
→ App usage is up 30 per cent on the same quarter (3Q) in 2010.
→ Geoff De Weaver, founder and CEO of Touchpoint Digital is investigating mobile payment systems. “We need to be thinking about how we are going to use mobiles in the future,” he says.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some very smart YouTube strategies

Smart media players understand the power of YouTube, Twitter et al to connect directly with their customers. They understand the power of less formal channels to keep customers informed, build their brands and protect reputation.

I have attended some fascinating briefings on social media in the past month and it has reinforced the immediacy of the 24/7 news cycle and the changes companies need to make to adapt to the times (let alone in a crisis). My media training now includes YouTube training and working on hitting the mark in this very specific media channel. CEO of Carnival Ann Sherry, above, is a pin up for doing this well and delivering effective messages direct to her customers. It's not an era to hide behind over-produced corporate video style that's for sure.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Weasel words are alive and well

Can we please try a little harder to make the world a better place by embracing plain English? Let's see an end to beauties such as:
"person/patient centred excellence in quality" improvement levers
"health literacy for caregivers" "collaborative, patient-centred care activities"
efficacy best practice capacity building community engagement
core value engagement engaging users external challenge
evidence base framework predictors of beaconicity

You can tell it's the report season but don't worry, I'm here to help you.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A big weekend

I was privileged to be working at the Hayman ALR Leadership Retreat this week. It's Chatham House rules so I can talk about what I'm writing for the private report but I will share with you some insights from other attendees. Was an intense two days. Will post more during the week.

Fear and hope in Hayman | Robert Gottliebsen | Commentary | Business Spectator

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to basics

Had some fun with this feature on business etiquette for SmartCompany.
Take the SmartCompany etiquette pledge…

• I will not be late for meetings.
• If being late in unavoidable, I will make a short, genuine apology and get on with it. I will not make long-winded excuses.
• I will use my iPhone, Blackberry and/or iPad in a considerate manner.
• I will not tweet and talk simultaneously.
• I am capable of turning off electronic devices or at least switching them to silent mode.
• I will respond to emails in a timely, courteous way.
• I will resist the urge to use emoticons.
• I will RSVP.
• I will introduce people in social situations.
• I will pay attention to a person’s name when I am being introduced and make an effort to memorise it.
• I will not guess how many months pregnant women are.
• I will not make assumptions about someone's sexuality or ethnicity.
• I will not act in an overly familiar way with new acquaintances, new clients and potential new investors – and avoid discussing sex, politics, religion.
• I am capable of listening to a presentation/keynote address without looking at my iPhone, iPad or Blackberry.
• I will eat, sneeze, entertain clients and behave in a culturally sensitive and professional manner at all times.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

What a master!

Please watch the trailer for 'Still Bill' and track down this documentary - what a guru. Bill Withers is simply remarkable. The master of mindfulness. He says: "On the way to wonderful you're going to have to pass through all right."

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Eight ways to turbo-charge your team's performance

Had fun researching a piece for Smart Company on employee motivation.

Here are my top tips:

Get creative about incentives, bonuses and perks
Get rid of toxic staff
Talk straight, be open and transparent about your process
Avoid patronising
Understand what motivates different generations of staff
Make everyone the CEO of something
Improve all aspects of communication
Remember money isn't such a great motivator after all
NEVER underestimate the value of positive feedback


Thursday, July 14, 2011


What I'm up to...
→ Epic series of senior exec training sessions with inspiring retailer in the midst of major rebranding
→ Rethinking message on hold scripts
→ Copywriting for superfantabulous restaurant
→ Media audit for large healthcare provider
→ Research on staff motivation in flat market conditions
→ Speech and presentation writing
→ Reporting on Future Summit 2011: including Ellen Langer, future of education and ethics
→ Major feature on unconscious bias for In the Black (I'm tracking down a PDF for blog as we speak)
→ Planning pro bono training sessions with major environmental organisation
→ Feature on business ethics and financial service firms
→ Eating blue swimmer crab at Billy Kwong

Secrets of motivating staff

A great assignment I have been working on has been looking at ways to motivate staff. Can't say any more until it's published but I promise to share when I can.

In the meantime, one of my favorite guru dudes Dan Pink's classic video on motivation is worth revisiting.

The mind behind The Young Ones

I was lucky enough to see Ellen Langer at the Future Summit 2011. She is a champion of mindfulness and she is the woman behind the utterly brilliant BBC series The Young Ones - no, not the comedy, the experiment involving six older Brits that live together in a retrofitted house (circa 1975). In just one week, the experiment shows that the participants were physically and mentally younger and significantly healthier. In effect, they thought themselves young again, much to the surprise of the participants as well. In turns out it was their fixed attitudes and "mindless" perception that because they were "old" that was cramping their style. They thought they were unable to do many things for themselves anymore, such as put on socks, live independently, walk without sticks, climb stairs or be active, which in fact they still could. This program is proof of how useful the practice of mindfulness really is. I use it all the time in training, trying to get people to break away from fixed ideas about what they can and can't do. It's very liberating.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Ah, that's better

I have had lots of fun working with uber designer Miss Kish on the new Bubbles Bathrooms website. I think you'll agree, it's a BIG improvement.
The client was so busy creating bathrooms and winning awards that its website was left to age. Bearing in mind that a business' website is the shop window to the business, I was relieved that Bubbles Bathrooms was open to doing the hard work necessary for the update. Some obvious, essential shifts that we made:
* GREAT INFO about the business team
* BETTER outline of services
* PUSHING the points of difference about the business
* Incorporating VIDEO (especially testimonials) and a project blog
* Improving SEO
* Using WORDPRESS to ensure continuous updates can be made without expense
* New brand identity for Miss Kish
Mission accomplished. I'll update in the next quarter and assess how the site is travelling.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weapons of mass stress destruction

Smart Company has just published a feature I have written on mindful ways to beat stress.
Ch-ch-check it out READ MORE Yes I did speak to Matt Preston's trainer (how could I resist?) but wait there's more. The piece explores ways really busy CEOs deal with incessant stress and how the latest research is informing how to keep the pressure under control. Now if only I could practice what I preach.

Here are my top 10 tips. Follow the link for more deets.

Secret weapons against stress

  1. Be a realistic optimist
  2. Have a clear sense of purpose
  3. Find order in chaos
  4. Think long term
  5. Remember the woolly mammoth
  6. Understand there are simple strategies to avoid ‘choking’ under pressure – like humming
  7. Identify what you can and cannot control
  8. Exercise and diet are fundamental
  9. Know your stress limits
  10. And there’s always the boxed set or …


Sunday, May 22, 2011

A smart way to conquer a fear of public speaking

I've been researching a story for Smart Company and have been introduced to a very interesting guy called Justin Menkes who has written a book called Better Under Pressure about dealing with the realities of constant work stress. He wrote an interesting blog for HBR on How Stress Can Boost Your Performance. I have to excerpt this great little nugget of information that relates to the benefits of getting over your fears by working with small, supportive audiences. (This is exactly what my media training is about.)

Menkes says: "One simple exercise involves memorising something, be it a poem or the 50 states, and then reciting it before friends at a dinner party, while encouraging them to taunt you if you make mistakes. At first, you are more likely to have missteps in this context. Eventually, you will find that you can do the exercise faster, with more accuracy, in front of an audience than when you do it by yourself. Toastmasters uses the same concept, teaching people to do something they often fear — public speaking — by first exposing them repeatedly to speaking in a small, supportive environment before putting them in front of larger and larger groups."

So this is the way to improve performance and accuracy, get over that fear of making the mistakes, make the most of a small, supportive group (in my case me, my cameraman and hopefully another member of my client's senior staff) and nail that big speech, TV appearance, presentation or interview. In so many sessions I run, there is chiding, laughing and arrrrghghgh moments, but they never last. We just get on with the job of getting you ready for the main event.

Monday, May 2, 2011

More proof of the value of sticking to your messages

A clever contact of mine Bill Lang posted this very interesting article today about the value of sticking to core messages. It seems there is nothing wrong with being a bit of a broken record when it comes to critical messages.
From Harvard Business School Working Knowledge Series

It's Not Nagging: Why Persistent, Redundant Communication Works

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Emily Ross Bespoke Current Projects:

* Major publications audit for healthcare organisation
* Media training/collateral and strategy for new brand/iPhone app
* New website for design firm
* Research on unconscious bias
* Research on extreme stress in CEO roles
* Drink 1000 cups of JING tea

Looking for something?

Have you ever read through a big presentation and found yourself searching for the information that you really need? Sometimes really important things can get lost/buried in mountains of marketing collateral. I am working with several clients at the moment to get out of this kerfuffle, identify the really important messages about their businesses and cut out all the other crap! Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Binge, binge, binge

Am away in Malaysia for a fortnight, a great opportunity to pig out on books and reboot the mind. In between assam laksas, rainforest institutes, Jain temples, sports stores, the Petronas towers, seeing a girlfriend and swimming in a brilliant kampung, here's a selection of juicy reads. I make no apologies for my addiction to non-fiction, Tracy Kidder and trailblazers.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Pimp up your words

Another cool thing I have been doing lately for clients is taking a special piece of collateral, such as a menu, and comparing it to the world's best. In only a couple of hours, it is amazing how many improvements you can make. When someone can't see the text anymore they are so tired of it, I can come in with fresh eyes and fresh ideas and pimp it up. It's a bit like the client sending me the cake, I just do the icing.

I think you will be hearing a lot more of this 42-year-old

Laura Vikmanis, Oldest NFL Cheerleader, Gets Film
Mom, cheerleader, and now, inspiration for a major motion picture.

Couldn't resist this piece form the Huffington Post.
At 42 years old, Laura Vikmanis is the NFL's oldest cheerleader. A registered dietician, trainer and mom of teenagers who set her mind to making the squad and joined the Cincinnati Bengals' Ben-Gals squad in 2009, Vikmanis serves as a guide for her younger cheerleading teammates. If it sounds like a Hollywood film, well, it soon will be.

New Line Cinema has picked up the rights to Vikmanis' story, The Hollywood Reporter reports, with "Gnomeo and Juliet" writers Emily Cook and Kathy Greenberg set to translate her life to a film script. It's a story that has already been documented in the national press.

“I was at a point in my life where I was like, ‘What do I really want to do? What’s something in my life that makes me happy?’ ” Vikmanis told her local Dayton Daily News in 2009. “I went to a couple games and saw the cheerleaders and thought that looked really, really fun.”

Still, no one thought she could make it, so when she made it to the final round of cuts in 2008, it inspired her to train for an entire year, making the team the next time around. READ MORE

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Perks of the job

The birth of a new website is a pretty brilliant thing. Was lucky enough to be present when The Conversation went live yesterday, a new site that harvests the best research and ideas from around Australia's universities. (I'm doing a minor guest role during the launch phase.) Standing there waiting for the site to load is excruciating, stressful and brilliant all at once. All that work comes down to one moment.
The Conversation content is created by Australian academics and researchers themselves and a team of editors works with them to craft articles in Plain English (yes academics, PLAIN ENGLISH). I like to think of it as Ted.com meets academic Facebook, meets the Guardian, LinkedIn with a tiny dash of something like New Scientist. Traffic so far has been extremely high. The content is rich, interesting and it is sparking lots of comments which is exactly what it is meant to do. The team is led by Andrew Jaspan, Jack Rejtman and Misha Ketchell, plus there are 12 section editors and a crack team of developers. Obviously the success of a venture is waaaaay more than day one, but I think this is a very clever channel for academia to break out of its ivory tower, connect to the public, contribute to mainstream debate, connect with business and make the most of the brains trust we have in Australia.

And we're now live!
Curated by professional editors, The Conversation offers informed commentary and debate on the issues affecting our world. Plus a Plain English guide to the latest developments and discoveries from the university and research sector.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Performance-boosting guru

I was lucky enough to interview psychologist Sian Beilock this morning, she is an internationally renowned expert on brain science and performance, working out of the University of Chicago. She is the author of Choke, a very cool book that I am discussing in a feature for one of my clients on new breakthroughs in boosting performance in organisations. (Can't give you too many deets yet.) In her lab, she has intensely studied how people behave in stressful situations - giving speeches, sitting exams, going for that putt on the 18th hole etc. The great news is that there are really simple things you can do to improve performance. Simple things such as humming, writing down anxieties, preparing in different ways can stop that analysis paralysis that leads to sub-par performance. As a brain scientist, Beilock has the proof that these techniques work. Like so many around the world that are devouring her book, I will be incorporating her best strategies into my training (with full credit to Sian and her research team). It is refreshing to hear from Beilock.
Greg Norman should give her a call!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What I've been up to...

Every job I do is unique, that is the best thing about running a bespoke consultancy. The last quarter has been particularly interesting as established clients and new clients appoint me to work with them on a wonderfully diverse range of projects. My work is all about harvesting great content and using it strategically to benefit my clients' organisations and training people to perform more effectively.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

There is NO such thing as off the record

What if a journalist says 'we can talk off the record?' I get asked this all the time in media training sessions. There is no such thing. And it's not even just journalists that you need to watch your mouth around, anyone and everyone can be a newshound thanks to technology. Just ask designer John Galliano. The news has just broken overnight that the fashion house Christian Dior has begun proceedings to sack him for anti-Semitic comments he made in a Paris bar. (Do I need to say that this alleged behaviour is absolutely disgusting?) Galliano's behaviour was filmed in the Paris bar by patrons.

Here is an extract from the report just filed with the New York Times.
"In a brief statement, Sidney Toledano, Dior Couture’s chief executive, said he condemned “in the strongest terms” the words and actions of Mr. Galliano, “which are in total contradiction with the essential values that have always been defended by the Christian Dior house.”

Dior said it had “immediately suspended relations” with Mr. Galliano and that it had “initiated dismissal procedures.” It cited the “particularly odious comments” contained in a video published Monday.

The video, posted on the Web site of the British tabloid The Sun, appears to show Mr. Galliano taunting other patrons at the bar, La Perle, declaring in a slurred voice that “I loveHitler” and that “people like you would be dead,” and “your mothers, your forefathers” would all be “gassed.” It was unclear when the video was recorded.

Late Monday, the actress Natalie Portman, who recently signed an endorsement deal with Dior for its Miss Dior Chérie perfume, strongly condemned Mr. Galliano. In a statement, she said: “I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video of John Galliano’s comments that surfaced today. In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way.”

Mr. Galliano was initially questioned by the police last Thursday after a separate incident at the bar, in the Marais district of Paris. He was accused by two other clients of making an anti-Semitic slur.

Mr. Galliano was suspended Friday by Dior. The fashion house, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, cited its “unequivocal zero-tolerance policy regarding anti-Semitism and racism” after the initial incident was reported.

A police spokeswoman declined to comment Tuesday, except to say that witnesses, including Mr. Galliano, had been questioned again Monday and then released. She referred all questions to the Paris prosecutor, who did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

According to French media reports, the police questioned the owner of La Perle, which Mr. Galliano frequents, the bar’s security staff and other clients.

Mr. Galliano’s lawyer, Stéphane Zerbib, was not available for comment Tuesday. He has previously contested the accusations of anti-Semitism against his client. READ THE FULL REPORT: New York Times

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Is your website dead or alive?

Why do companies think that their websites can afford to be even a day out of date? The excellent media and marketing blog Mumbrella ran this entry yesterday about an Expedia promotion for trips to New Zealand that features Christchurch's wrecked cathedral. The error was fixed within two hours but it's still highly embarassing. Talk about asleep at the wheel.
Here's the blog entry from Mumbrella.

Expedia promotes Christchurch travel offer with picture of cathedral wrecked in earthquake
Travel brand Expedia has this morning made the extraordinary blunder of emailing its Australian database to promote cheap holidays in New Zealand – and illustrated the offer with a large image of Christchurch Cathedral’s spire, which was destroyed in yesterday’s disastrous earthquake.

It has been widely reported that several dead bodies are likely to still be among the rubble of the cathedral.

Expedia promotes Christchurch travel offer with picture of cathedral wrecked in earthquake    expedia christchurch 468x414The email went out at around 9am, Sydney time.

The email went out at around 9am, Sydney time.

One possibility is that the email was prepared several days ago and sent out automatically with nobody at the travel company thinking to prevent it being sent. Mumbrella understands that Expedia’s email marketing operation is based in the UK rather than locally.

However, at the time of writing, the offer was also still being promoted on Expedia.com.au’s home page using an image of the cathedral.

Expedia promotes Christchurch travel offer with picture of cathedral wrecked in earthquake    expedia christchurch home page 468x14210.59am update. Nicolas Chu, Expedia’s GM for Australia and New Zealand, said in a statement:

“Expedia sincerely apologises for the unfortunate timing of this communication, which was removed from our website as soon as we became aware of the contents. The fact is that these promotional emails are built and deployed from our team in London and this one was deployed before the earthquake hit. It goes without saying that we are extremely saddened about the devastation the earthquake has caused to the people of Christchurch and Expedia apologises for any insensitivity towards the people of Christchurch, which of course was not our intention. We are working with Expedia customers who are planning to travel to or from the affected area to make alternative travel arrangements.”

Expedia has now closed its 72 hour sale.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A smart, brilliant way to communicate

Peter Orntoft is one brilliant graphic designer. I am always working with clients to try and create compelling infographics, this guy takes the cake. Thanks to a LinkedIn contact, Louise Denver at Deloitte, who Tweeted these stunning images earlier today.

How to avoid paralysis of analysis

In the media training work I do, I often come across people who OVER ANALYSE ever aspect of their performance to the point where it cripples their ability to perform. I have various techniques that work really well to get people out of this funk - all centred around getting the mind distracted from such negativity. It is torture to watch someone doing this to themselves (yes you Greg Norman). An important thing that researchers have found is that to improve, the best thing to do is close the gap between training and competition. That's why when I train people, I try and give people an experience as close as we can get to the real thing. This gives people the best preparation for the real launch/event/AGM/interview.

I was thrilled to hear Sian Beilock on the radio this week talking about her book Choke that is all about this analysis paralysis. (Even the best performers choke from time to time.) While I wait for my Amazon delivery, there have been some great pieces in Wired and Wall Street Journal about her. Go Sian.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wanna be a memory athlete?

If you wish you could remember names, where your keys are, birthdays... please check out this long, wonderful piece on memory from the mind of a bona fide memory athlete Joshua Foer from the New York Times Magazine this weekend. There is hope for you. I doubt I am the only one who would like to be able to memorise dozens of strangers names in a matter of minutes, just like the memory athletes can. The piece asserts that "even average memories are remarkably powerful if used properly."
The article lets on about a few tricks to supersize your memory. It all about the "ability to create lavish images on the fly, to paint in the mind a scene so unlike any other it cannot be forgotten. And to do it quickly." This really is a wonderful piece, print it out and read it. FULL ARTICLE

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Got to admit, The Daily is pretty impressive

I am an iPad tragic, adore it, use it constantly for everything from watching all TV through to daily New York Times, Washington Post, The Economist, TED videos and apps from Scrabble, Corkulous, Dropbox, Kindle, Solar System, iBooks and a current favorite Mindful Meditation. A pretty impressive new entry is The Daily, Murdoch's mega million project. This daily iPad "newspaper" is a pretty amazeballs product and visually is a feast - where the best of magazine graphic design and color photography collide with gorgeous widescreen aesthetics and interactive video. It is a genuinely new way to present information (both editorial and advertising). There is a free two-week subscription available now. Check it out.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Introducing Skype media training

One of my favorite client services is Skype media training. It is ultra efficient and ultra effective. Dial in, do the training, dial out, that's it. The camera is a powerful reminder of what you look like when being interviewed, how you come across and what you need to work on. The more screen time the better for anyone wanting to improve their media performance. In a Skype video call, trainees have to see their noggin' on the video screen for the whole time, get used to seeing themselves on screen and really think about how they are visually communicating.

I wouldn't recommend Skype for sessions of more than 60 minutes, but it is a brilliant medium nonetheless. And much as I love travelling to Sydney, Brisbane, Newcastle, Adelaide, Perth or wherever to work with my fantastic clients, and as much as I love my indispensable cameraman, there is definitely a place for Skype training.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

So tell me your weaknesses

I really enjoy sessions I do with clients planning for a big interview. There are plenty of control skills you can employ to get you out of sticky situations. Sometimes I work with clients that are not working towards a big interview with Alan Kohler or a project launch, but rather prepping for a new job. I spend an hour or two with them getting them fit and ready for the day. This is all about being ready to answer the tough questions.

Harvard Business Review columnist Priscilla Claman has written an excellent column on managing that terrible question that is often thrown up in interviews: 'What is your weakness?'
Here are her tips:
  1. Prepare an answer that is true, trivial, brief, and not a fault. Some examples:
    • My biggest weakness is that my professional network is in San Francisco, but I am looking for a job in Boston to be with my fiancé.
    • My biggest weakness is that my undergraduate degree is from a college that has a good reputation in the East, but is not well-known in the Midwest.
    • My biggest weakness is that while I'm great at advocating for something I believe in, I find it uncomfortable to talk about myself.
  2. Run your answer by a couple of critical friends or colleagues to make sure it sounds reasonable.
  3. When asked the question, end your answer by asking the interviewer a question, so that the attention is deflected away from your answer. READ MORE

If you have a mo'

Jason Fried: Why work doesn't happen at work | Video on TED.com
Worth a quick look to remind us all to block out time to work AWAY from office desks and interruptions. I've written two 90,000-word books in cafes around Melbourne and regularly force myself away from my desk to get essential planning done.

New year and a star is born

Like most Australians, I've been watching a huge amount of news television as the dramas of the floods and Cyclone Yasi have unfolded. As a media trainer, I can't help judging everyone who is up there as it really separates the wheat from the chaff. Clearly, Premier Anna Bligh has emerged as someone to take charge in a crisis. She kept her messages clear, short and simple, she deferred to various chiefs when necessary and came across as authentic, concerned and in charge.

For future crisis media clients, Bligh videos will feature heavily and serve as a masterclass for so many leaders who just can't manage to get beyond sound bites (Julia, are you listening??).
Remember how effective Bill Shorten was during the Beaconsfield mine crisis, well Premier Bligh has similarly made a genuine connection with the Australian people. It really pays to get communications right, it really does.