6 AMAZING TAKEOUTS FROM THE CHARITY SECTOR'S BIG DAY OUT

Didn’t make it to The Australasian Fundraising Conference (affectionately known as ‘F&P) this year? Not to worry. We were there and we’ve done the legwork. Even if you attended too, you’ve probably forgotten what you heard. Here are our Top 6 takeouts from Day 1. You’re welcome.

  1. By all means test but don’t overdo it

Testing is a good thing but most tests are not very useful because they’re not done properly. Plus, everything has already been tested already by someone with a much bigger database than you.

The bad news, Georgina King of More Strategic tells us, is that things which have been tested before and shown to work (or not) time and time again no longer hold. So if it works for you, keep doing it. If not, move on.

The good news is; no conclusive result is still a result. And it’s fine if you’re testing something (e.g. letter length, logos on outer envelopes) to prove a point but not if it wastes time and resources.

Let’s face it – in light of the above, it’s probably cheaper and easier to just pinch a slide from Pareto Fundraising’s Fiona McPhee’s presentation and show that to your board.

  1. Branding and fundraising CAN mix

As long as the same person is in charge of both, if the entertaining presentation by Peter Loveridge from St John New Zealand is anything to go by. He showed us that by intelligently leveraging your brand values (and we’re not talking fonts and PMS colours here) you can build effective campaigns that engage, inspire – and bring in the big bucks. As Peter would say: “Boom”.

  1. Two-step F2F cash to RG CAN work

Ruth Hicks thinks Amnesty International Australia might just be the first Aussie charity to attempt recruiting regular givers on the street by asking them for cash first, then converting them later. So far, it appears to be working a treat. Watch this space. (She spoke about a whole lot of other stuff that Amnesty is doing really well but so quickly I had trouble keeping up. Get in touch if you want to know more – she’ll probably share the preso with you if you ask nicely.)

  1. Martin Paul does a very convincing Sean Triner impersonation

And Martin can get away with even more cheekiness because of his slightly posher English accent.

  1. You can’t win the Great Debate pretending to be the Easter bunny

Yes, the bunny ears were very fetching and we all enjoyed the chocolate bribes but when a Canadian trumps you with ‘Trudeau is the world’s sexiest prime minister therefore donor psychology is not bollocks’ then I’m afraid it’s all over. That and something about snowflakes. Guess you had to be there.

  1. Pareto drinks are more alcoholic than other drinks

And should come with a Surgeon General’s warning.

What were your key takeouts? Send us a tweet

F&P Day 2 to come tomorrow.

There’s a certain irony to a small business wanting to create a more ‘officey’ environment. I mean, isn’t it most people’s dream to work from home? The idea of rolling out of bed straight onto the job (or perhaps not even leaving your bed) is just the best.

So why would having a physical office be so important to a growing business? Does it really make any difference? Can’t we all just work remotely?

Here are 10 solid reasons why a growing business needs an office:

1. It’s a place to call HQ

Employees find it reassuring to be able to relate the business they work for to somewhere that actually exists – the ‘home’ of their company. It’s also a central place where they know their boss either works or is invested in, and that builds confidence in your brand from the inside.

It also makes you as the boss feel more aware of your colleagues and employees.

2. It’s a recognisable ‘precinct’ for customers

Customers – and even more importantly potential customers – might find it hard to grasp the idea of a company with no permanent office or base. It reminds me of that scene in the 2005 movie 40-Year-Old Virgin with Steve Carell and Catherine Keener. Keener’s character runs an eBay store but still has a shop front.

Ok, it’s a lampooned scenario but the logic is, in fact, pretty good. People like to be able to see the bricks-and-mortar side to a company they’re about to spend money with.

3. Business-level infrastructure and connectivity

Think about how many times your internet drops out or slows down at home –even if you’re on a pretty good plan. Offices as a general rule have better connectivity. If all of your employees have access to this, it’s going to make them happy and work quality’s going to improve.

4. Professional image

This is an obvious one, but it’s true. Having premises that allow you to give interested parties a physical address sets the bar for your professionalism and how serious you are. It also suggests that there’s a level of success that requires you to have an office in the first place.

5. A place to interview and host

An office gives you facilities where you can stage interviews with customers or job applicants, and also a place to hold events. Meeting in a local café is great – especially for an informal chat – but it’s not ideal if you’re looking for somewhere that makes an impression.

Your office will also give you a place to meet with team members to thrash out ideas and keep the ball moving.

6. A place to meet, collaborate and build a community

Never underestimate the power of the water cooler. One of the biggest perks for employees is the sense of community they can find at work. People meet their life-long best friends at work. This is so much less likely to happen if you’re all working remotely.

7. Fewer distractions

Working from home has a reputation – and it’s only mostly true. Having worked from home myself, I know how household chores can interrupt the workflow, and people tend to think you’re just at home and not actually working.

An office environment keeps you focused – although you have to be careful not to make the office too austere at the same time.

8. Accountability

The office gives people boundaries. It’s a work environment above all else. Working from home or other places around town, the lines get blurry. I love this funny BuzzFeed article on the problems working from home  – and though meant as a joke, it’s only funny because there are elements of truth to it.

I’m allowed to say this because I work, predominantly, from my home office.

9. Productivity

Most people (and before you get over-excited, that really means ‘not everyone’) find working at their desk in an office environment more productive. You feel more professional.

It’s a bit like when you have casual Friday or when you dress up for work, your whole tone feels different. Above all, an office gives you a time to get up and start work and – just as importantly – a time to knock off.

10. Communication

There’s nothing quite like face-to-face communication. I wonder if any technology will really ever be able to beat it. Seeing and speaking to the person you’re working with or a client you’re working for makes everything real and makes more sense of what you’re doing. It’s the easiest and quickest way to build rapport.

So what’s the big news with The Copy Collective HQ?

cat overflowing a box and text about moving offies

As you’ve probably noticed, The Copy Collective is growing all the time. We’ve got to the stage now where we need a space in the heart of Sydney to make ourselves more available to our staff and our valued clients.

And we want to do all the stuff we’ve listed above, of course! So as of 1 June, we’ll be combining our Sydney offices into one single central location at 185 Elizabeth Street.

We’ll be perfectly located right opposite Hyde Park, near several train stations and a wealth of bus routes. Plus our new building has a stunning heritage façade, which you might just find us standing outside admiring during our lunch breaks!

We’re so excited about this move, and we can’t wait to watch our business develop and bloom in these amazing new premises.

Here’s our new address for you to update our contact details now:

The Copy Collective
Suite 317, 185 Elizabeth Street
Sydney
NSW 2000

Copywriting is a specific skill. It takes years of practice, and even then it’s not that easy. With so many things to think about – your audience, client, brief, and copy deliverables… you can appreciate that getting a fundraising appeal or call to action right is more than good luck.

For those starting out in the industry, the process may seem overwhelming.  Our CEO, Dominique Antarakis, writes about what it takes to produce great fundraising copy.

1.  The preparation

Read everything. Reading as much as you can will expand your vocabulary and style. It may mean you’ll be a derivative to begin with but as your experience grows, your style will develop.

Remember, writing’s all about clarity and effectiveness.

Bone up on psychology – the way we react to stimuli is different for each of us. It’s amazing what we’ll do depending on how we’re asked to do it.

2. The brief

If you’ve been given a brief, read it from beginning to end. And then reread it again. Briefs are like school exams – read through the whole paper to look for questions that are liable to trip you up.

Check that any attached forms and documents mentioned in the brief are there. Look for any mistakes or omissions. The sooner you iron out any problems or missing elements, the better.

If you are the person writing the brief, ensure that you include all the necessary background information. It’s better to provide too much rather than too little. That said, briefs the size of War and Peace aren’t helpful at all.

3. The reader

You want the reader to nod along as they are reading the campaign material. What brings the story to life?

Using a person’s own words and real-life experiences are where the gold is. Interview to get the quote that sums up what the person’s been through. You need to stimulate an emotional response in the reader within 2 minutes.

Structure the story to ensure that the emotion is present and real. Often it’s the tiniest detail that makes it authentic and humanises the situation. We can talk about an issue in medical terms but when you read about how this impacts a real person, the effect is so tangible.

4. The copywriting process

Read (or draft) your brief. Ensure that you understand what is needed for the campaign; not just the pack elements or digital components – but also the response required and the mechanism you are going to use to achieve it.

After you’ve read the brief, take a notepad and pencil and start making notes. You may find, like I do, that it helps to clear the mind and get you in the mindset to work on the perfect pitch.

Develop an outline and type and edit as you go. Sometimes what I first write on my pad has nothing to do with the finished product. Frequently, that outline brings the gold with which I can then work.

I find an organic process helpful and working this way means I am generally more creative. This is my approach but having a good understanding of the brief, a clear purpose in mind, having settled on the mechanism and then drafting a great outline will help to establish a solid foundation for your campaign.

5. The draft

Ask “Is making this change going to bring us more income? Is it going to help our cause?”

As a fundraising writer, you need to know when to push back and when it’s not worth it. People will respect you more for pushing back when it counts.

If you’re not sure when to concede and when to say ‘no’ to changes, ask: Do I have reasons for my push back? Is there data, research or a rationale to back up my argument and make it objective?

Often the client asks for changes because they don’t like something you’ve written. It’s a subjective thing. If you can base your argument on verifiable data, then you are in a stronger position to defend your reasoning.

6. The reader again

Get into the head of the audience. How do you want the reader to feel? Where will the reader be when they see this? What do you want them to do next?

Sadly, it’s not always about beautiful prose; it’s more about being effective. Don’t be precious about how you’ve worded something. Ask yourself if you’ve got your point across.

7. The most important thing

Most importantly, writers need to meet the brief.

Ask good questions to clarify the brief and communicate more effectively. If you can’t meet a deadline, tell your client as soon as you know. And be versatile.

Study. Check out our online training courses. Look carefully through our curated set of resources or our Blog that will help you focus your mind on the art of copywriting.

Read On Writing Well by William Zinsser. It’s an excellent guide to writing and has stood the test of time, still selling since 1976.

Growing a business isn’t easy. And it doesn’t happen overnight. CEO Dominique Antarakis (@dantarakis) and COO Maureen Shelley (@MaureenShelley) share the six things they’ve learned from growing their small business, The Copy Collective. From the people, the clients and the inspiring work – they’re privileged to do what they do… and they want to thank YOU for making 2014 a great one.
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Today marks the launch of Attitude Foundation Limited a pioneering storytelling initiative, which will change attitudes towards the 4 million + Australians with disability

“Disability is viewed by many in Australia in a limiting and negative way. What this foundation seeks to do is change this attitude. Changing attitudes will change lives.”
Graeme Innes, chair, Attitude Foundation Limited
 “I think documentaries are the greatest way to educate an entire generation.”
Steven Spielberg, filmmaker

Sydney, Australia: As its first step in changing attitudes, Attitude Foundation is partnering with award-winning production company Attitude Pictures to deliver powerful documentaries about people with disability for ABC television.

“As a person with a disability and having been the Disability Discrimination Commissioner for eight and a half years, I know the power of telling compelling stories about disability,” Mr Innes said.

Attitude is calling on the corporate sector, disability organisations and supporters from within the Australian community to join with us to remove the barriers around disability.

Attitude will raise $200,000 by September to fund the first of these television productions. The documentaries are compelling stories told with insight and understanding.

“When the Human Rights Commission produced the video series 20 Years 20 Stories it was very apparent that they had a profound impact on people’s lives – we heard that all around the country.

 

“One young woman with an intellectual disability turned to her mother after having attended the launch in the ACT and said: ‘I’m moving out’. Nothing conveys a message like video, and I can’t wait to see these Attitude-sponsored films screened on ABC TV,” Mr Innes said.

These stories show the benefits gained by full inclusion of people with disabilities into every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.

“We will not portray people with disabilities as victims or heroes but as agents of our own destiny,” Mr Innes said.

Attitude Pictures CEO Robyn Scott-Vincent said: “I am so proud to be part of this wonderful organisation. Attitude Foundation is launching in Australia for all the right reasons and has an amazingly talented board.

Members of Attitude Foundation Limited board are:

  • Graeme Innes AM, chair, Attitude Foundation Limited
  • Dominique Antarakis, CEO, The Copy Collective
  • Cain Beckett, Director, PwC
  • Lesley Branagan, Film maker and digital producer
  • Jane Seeber, Chartered accountant
  •  Robyn Scott-Vincent, CEO Attitude Group NZ
  • Tanya Black, Producer, Attitude Pictures NZ

Please contact Graeme Innes on +61 412 369 963 for more information and interview opportunities.

Pictures and biographies of the board members can be sourced from dantarakis@thecopycollective.com

Attitude Foundation Limited is proudly sponsored by Gilbert + Tobin, Attitude Group Ltd New Zealand, Graeme Innes AM and The Copy Collective.

The Copy Collective’s Andrea O’Driscoll knows what it takes to be a good writer.

Being a good freelancer isn’t just about being a good writer. Sure, having some talent is a great place to start, but there are a lot of gifted writers out there who barely make ends meet. Why? Too often it’s because they don’t have the right attitude. People don’t want to work with a tortured artist, they want to work with someone who is reliable, honest and professional.
So what exactly does that involve? Here are 10 tips for becoming the kind of freelance writer that everyone wants to work with.

1. Accept feedbackRepeat after me: feedback is my friend. It might not always be what you want to hear, but feedback will make you a better writer. Editors are busy people. If one has taken time out of his or her schedule to discuss your work, it’s a compliment, not a criticism.

2. Don’t take it personally Yes, I know you put your heart and soul into every word, but that doesn’t make every criticism a personal attack, or every rejection an insult. Editors make client-focused business decisions more often than they make personal digs.

3. Turn copy aroundIn other words, get the job done. It’s no good leaving half-written jobs languishing on your laptop while you wait for inspiration. You need to finish what you start.

4. Be availableThis can be a tough one. Every freelance writer has a horror story or two about taking on too much or having to work through a family holiday. But the fact is if you turn down too many jobs, people will stop asking.

5. Do what you sayPeople need to know that you can be relied upon to deliver on your promises. Be a (wo)man of your word.

6. Meet deadlines It’s not just about you. If you miss a deadline it affects everyone – designers, proofreaders, editors and (God forbid) clients. That’s not going to make you popular.

7. Be flexible Everyone knows that things can change. It’s a fact of freelance life.

8. Your client has a client – so make them look goodYou need to be on their team. If their client makes a last minute change, you need to help accommodate them. If asked, you need to say nice things. And of course you need to maintain consistently high standards.

9. You are precious, but don’t be preciousOnce you’ve filed your copy, you need to cut the cord. If an editor decides to change ‘effervescent’ to ‘bubbly’ despite your careful word choice, let it go. They know what they want better than you do.

10. Ask questions, but accept the answer – even when you don’t like it
It’s good to ask questions, but not everything is open for debate. Once a decision has been made, accept it and move on.

Thanks to www.clientsfromhell.net

What you can learn from us (well, it was me really; sorry Dominique) being The Client From Hell

Maureen Shelley shares what she’s learned through redeveloping the company’s website

As a writer, I spend a lot of my time shaking my head over other people’s grammar or their attention to detail or their basic inability to keep to deadlines. Generally, there is a lot of muttering over all the things that humans do that means we turn to a professional for assistance with writing.

I was determined that, when we set about engaging a website designer, we were going to do all the things that an ideal client does to make the job of redeveloping our website as simple and straightforward as possible. It was going to be a pleasure, really.You are ahead of me, I know, because you know we did everything that the perfect Client From Hell does.

The Brief

We wrote a beautifully, detailed brief – and then we changed our minds. When we changed our minds we did a 180 and then a 360-degree shift in our thinking. I think we ended up back where we started from but I could be confused. Having a very clear idea of what you want the website to do/be is a very good idea and it is one you should adhere to through thick and thin.

The Deadline

We developed what we thought was a realistic deadline – three months. We’d created that beautifully detailed brief, set out the timeline and milestones, said what we’d provide in that time and when we’d provide it by – and then ignored the lot.
We were late with copy (we didn’t have time to write copy – we are too busy writing for other people, we had to employ a copy writer and, fortunately, we know about 50), we didn’t supply stuff we said we would, we forgot things, we changed our minds on the site architecture plan after we’d signed off on the design and the site architecture plan. Yep, we committed all the cardinal sins that a client could possible commit without being struck by lightning.
We extended the deadline to six months and backtracked to four, back to six and – in the end – it took what it took, which was eight months from concept to “go live”. Be realistic in your deadlines. Don’t fix a date based on a Ministerial launch, the calendar or financial year or any arbitrary nonsense such as when the moon is in the 7th house or Jupiter aligns with Mars.

The Rabbit Holes

In Alice in Wonderland, Alice keeps disappearing down rabbit holes pursuing some fantastic idea or creature and going completely off track[i]from achieving her ultimate purpose. In website redesign, there are an inordinate amount of rabbit holes to tempt you – even for the strong willed.
We decided – mid-way through the process – that we wanted to achieve integration of our customer relationship management (CRM) software with our website’s content management system (CMS).
We thought it would be a good idea that if we were collecting data from our website, it should funnel that data through into our CRM, so we could serve our customers better. We also wanted to be able to update the site ourselves for minor things without having to go back to the web design company.
Well, it is a nice idea in theory and you can do it if you have a spare $28,000 floating around (and I know by writing this I will be instantly pursued by every web designer/CRM/CMS software sales person in the world with a workable, cheaper solution – big tip, don’t bother; I’ve already spoken to you).
Pursuing this particular rabbit hole delayed our “go live” date by about three months. Decide what is really important for the website to do – from the outset – and stick to that.

The Budget

How to Create (and Stick to) a Realistic Budget with Mint
http://lifehacker.com/5725282/how-to-create-and-stick-to-a-realistic-budget-with-mint

We set a realistic budget, I know we did. We worked out how much time it would take and how much it would cost to write the copy, design, develop and collect all the images and illustrations, film and edit the videos, obtain permissions and testimonials from clients, take the photos of the staff (we had to do that three times because we kept hiring more), purchase the CMS licences and approve the design from the designer. I mean, this is our business; we know these things.
Unless I’d been there, I’d say we plucked some number out of the air that had no reference to anything. In the end, I decided the best way to establish a budget for a website redesign is what I’ve been doing with renovating houses for years. 
You take the biggest, most ridiculous number you can think of (based on what you know of costs through the most expensive builder you have ever met), you then double it and then you add 20 per cent. If it comes out to be less than that, you will be happy. This isn’t to say our website designers were expensive, they weren’t. It’s just that, like shopping, when you add up all the different product elements, the total makes you cough a bit.

The Design

Some of our clients instantly become experts in copywriting after they’ve engaged us to do their copywriting. It’s a phenomenon I’ve noticed before.
Well, I suddenly became an expert in web design. It was clever of me really, without any training or experience I became more expert in design than our long-suffering designers. I fiddled, I suggested, I offered specious advice about fonts and positioning, I consulted other designers (who I hadn’t entrusted with my money) about the ‘flaws’ in the design.
After a few tears, too many glasses of wine and wringing my hands a bit, I turned to my very sensible son (he must take after his father) who said: Don’t listen to other designers, they will always find flaws and faults and they will be negative and you will lose faith in your designers. Go back to the designers and tell them what you would like changed and see if it works. And, realise, that you don’t know everything and what may look ‘wrong’ to you is perfectly fine for your audience because – after all – you’re not an expert in web design” (Well, I did something right). You’re paying for expert advice – take it. 

Thank you Beena and Nupur at Blazing Designs. We made it.

 

When I first started in the media, it was as a layout editor at the largest Sunday sports section in Australia. 22-year-old me, of course, naïvely thought my few years of attending media communications, journalism and layout courses at university ensured I knew all that there was to know about how a newspaper page worked.

Looking back, the one thing that I took from my layout subjects was that the human eye reads diagonally down and to the right (starting at the top left) subconsciously upon first encounter with say, a newspaper page, an advertisement, a website or blog. With that understanding being pretty much the only thing I knew about layout and design (besides my knack for writing headline puns like the one atop this very blog) I had to learn a few things very quickly concerning exactly how much work goes into making newspapers look the way that they do.

So, in the next few blogs, I’m going to go into a few of the ‘unseen’ elements of a page (or any piece of writing really) and try to clarify a few of the first things I had to learn about reeeeeally quickly in order to keep my job. Let’s get into it, starting with Typography!

One of the unappreciated duties of many professional writers and editors is not only to make sure the content of any piece of copy is top-notch, but also that the way the letters and words are placed together on the page is visually appealing to a wide variety of readers.

I got reprimanded for my awful typesetting skills by one of the older sub-editors at the desk when I was doing both page layout and copy editing in the first few weeks of my job at the newspaper. He was always grumpy and I was sure he hated me always failing to notice widows and orphans on the page. I cracked his craggy exterior one day by exclaiming “leaving an orphan at the end of the column – that’s a paddlin’.” He burst out laughing (evidently he too, was a fan of this scene of the Simpsons), and from then on he was a lot more friendly and forthcoming with advice.

There are a few features of typography that are overlooked by a lot of novice designers. I was going to make a comprehensive list of the most common typography mistakes that I made and saw, but it has already been quite expertly handled. Instead, I’m going to give a brief primer into a few elements of typography that any writer and designer should have an understanding of (plus a few tips that couldn’t hurt).

Typo

Baseline Typography:  If typography is simply the art and technique of arranging, designing and setting type, baseline typography is its most common form. This blog, and most other text you will read on any given day, uses a baseline (which can be seen running invisibly below all text like a ruler). Often when designing pages, advertisements etc. the opportunity to deviate from the baseline will present itself, but without a good understanding of the principles of baseline typography, you will never be able to understand the presentation of text well enough to adhere to the strict fundamentals of type and design. Even very complicated typographical images like the one below require an understanding of baselines in order to distort and manipulate the text for artistic effect. Some typefaces in other languages than English do not use a baseline, particularly East Asian scripts where each individual character has its own square ‘box’ with no ascenders or descenders.


X-Height: The name-sake of this blog, the concept of an x-height is fairly simple, yet important to a deep understanding of what comprises visually appealing typography. Succinctly put, an x-height is the height of a lowercase ‘x’ in any given alphabet or font. Many regard the x-height as a determining factor in the readability of text, with a larger x-height preferred especially for any copy that is aimed at an older demographic who may have vision issues. The larger the x-height, however, can lead to a bevy of headaches for an inexperienced typographer, with leading and kerning in particular becoming a chore. This leads us to…

Kerning and Tracking: These can be confusing (they definitely stumped 22 y.o. me for a while), but these are two very similar typographic concepts that are often misunderstood. The ‘tracking’ refers to the spacing between letters overall, whereas ‘kerning’ is a selective change in letter spacing which can be used sometimes to make certain pairs of awkward letters look more visually appealing. The common acronym ‘AV’ for instance is often automatically kerned by most computer fonts to remove the unnecessary ‘white space’ between the two letters.

Leading: Similar to Tracking, Leading (pronounced ‘ledding’) is the space between lines of text. Although the space refers to fonts, leading in any kind of design software will always refer to the distance from baseline to baseline, and is usually measured in points, just like the type. Changing the leading also can affect the appearance and readability of the text. When starting a new project involving any amount of copy, a good tip is to always experiment with the amount of leading after choosing the font to establish what looks best on the page.

Serif/Sans Serif: The small decorative ‘strokes’ added to letters are known as ‘serifs’, but not all fonts apply them. The differences between the two fonts are often understated by novice layout editors and graphic designers. A handy tip that is the generally accepted norm is that for printed copy, a serif font like Times New Roman is the most professional looking and easiest to read, yet for digital copy a sans-serif font (or a font without serifs) like Arial is almost universally preferred.

Ascender/Descender: This one is fairly simple, which means it’s fairly simple to overlook when organising copy on the page. A letter’s ascender extends above the x-height, such as the ‘stems’ of the lowercase letters ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘h’, ‘k’, ‘f’ etc., while a descender, you guessed it, descends below the baseline, as in the letters ‘g’, ‘j’, ‘p’,  and ‘q’. While often computer programs will not allow ascenders and descenders to clash by automatically adjusting the leading, a lot of design programs allow a much tighter fit, which can often lead to ascenders crossing paths with descenders, which DRASTICALLY reduces the quality of the text’s readability.

So there you have it! There’s an introduction to typography elements that might not be immediately apparent when you start manipulating fonts and customising the design of your copy. They should always be at the back of your mind when assessing the presentation of the words you write, because they have many subconscious effects on the brain of readers. Often, a poorly kerned or leaded article will be so subtly hard to read, that readers don’t even understand why they stop reading, only that they don’t want to anymore. It’s our job as writers, editors and designers to ensure that won’t happen.

Stay tuned for next week where I delve a bit deeper into typography as well as a few other design elements. Be sure to hit this week hard, you definitely won’t have any excuses for not producing top quality typography.

As a journalist with News Limited for 12 years (prior to joining The Copy Collective) including being Business Editor of The Daily Telegraph, the Online Editor of Sydney Confidential and National Technology Writer for News Limited Maureen Shelley knows a thing or two about working with the media and is happy to share her knowledge.

OUR luminous leader Dominique Antarakis features – quite rightly – in a recent edition of The Australian  and we are excited that she’s getting the attention that she deserves. That said, what are the seven things you must do when the media comes calling?

  1. Say yes – make yourself available within reason when members of the Fourth Estate call
  2. Be prepared – if they call you out of the blue, give yourself permission to say “I’ll call you right back”. Take a deep breath, think about what message you want to get across (it needs to be a 30 second MAX sound bite) and stay on message. Also, have a professionally taken headshot on hand that you can supply if requested.
  3. If they want to take a photograph, ask when the deadline is and make sure that you can be at the shoot with your hair, make up and clothes portraying the way you want your business to be perceived If you’re in you’re slippy’s and trackies, then do you have time to change or can you change the time of the shoot? (Never hurts to ask). If you can’t change anything, then go with the picture anyway – a bad picture is better than no picture (unless it’s one of these).
  4. Be colourful – colourful quotes get up higher in business stories and have less chance of being cut by the sub-editor. So, while being neither flippant nor disrespectful, say, “Our business rocks” rather than “When all things are considered, our business is responding well in what is a challenging economic climate”.
  5. Ask for the media person’s direct number, email or mobile phone number. That way, the next time you have a story to tell, you can go back to them directly.
  6. Don’t cyber stalk them, don’t try and be their friend on Facebook (although LinkedIn is fine and so is following them on Twitter) but do contact them with an email and follow up phone call if you have a real story. Don’t – and I mean DON’T – insult the journo or media person involved.
  7. Know when you have a story – Don’t call the media if you’ve installed a new piece of equipment in your tanning studio. Do call them if you are the owner of a tanning studio and there has been a recent victim of a drive-by shooting at your tanning studio.

Wordle: 60 Likes
You helped us get there. Thanks! Turning 60 is a big deal in most people’s lives and hitting the magic 60 mark for The Copy Collective is something we are thankful for. It means that 60 people like what we do – or 1+ it! – and that 60 people are interested enough to make that “liking” public. That’s commitment. We promise not to spam you or cyber stalk you. Hopefully, most of what we say will be meaningful and helpful to you – the people who like us. But today – we just want to say THANKS! – and yes, we know that’s shouting but we want you to be clear on our message; we are grateful. Thanks.

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