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Why do companies think that their websites can afford to be even a day out of date?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’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 fiancĂ©.
    • 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
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.