Rebecca Booth: Sitting down to write this blog is ironically one of the most daunting tasks I’ll carry out for Ogilvy PR, despite finishing my internship a week ago! How does one sum up all of the amazing experiences, invaluable guidance and insurmountable kindness, patience and friendship that was gifted to me by my colleagues at Howorth in just a few short paragraphs? Let’s see if I can do this justice.
Each day of my internship at Howorth was different, which meant I was always learning new skills, interacting with different people, and being presented new opportunities. I was so fortunate to be surrounded by such creative and experienced professionals on a daily basis.
For me, the aspect of my internship at Ogilvy PR of which has made a lasting impression on me, is the radiant culture. It is built on hard work, support, but also creativity and a lot of fun.
During my (all too short) month at Howorth I was given the reign to write press releases, by-lines, draft case studies, client profiles, create media lists, conduct volumes of research and attend brainstorms among many other activities. I even found myself writing personalised travel guides for people that were going on holidays to places I’d been!
I was fortunate enough to attend several learning seminars and presentations given by people from the wider Ogilvy PR group, which provided a fantastic overview of other ventures, achievements and creativity from across the board. I participated in brainstorms with Social@Ogilvy digital analysts, who were kind enough to put time aside out of their busy schedules to chat with me.
My advice for prospective Ogilvy PR interns (without giving away too many of my secrets):
- Be proactive
- Be memorable
- Think outside the box
Thank you to all the brilliant professionals that I had the privilege of working alongside. It’s only been a week and I miss it terribly. This internship has given me the confidence to aspire to greatness and drives me to do my best every single day. I hope one day, to ooze the same professional zeal, playful creativity, and cupcake baking skills that I was lucky enough to sample on more than one occasion.
I hope this blog has done the Ogilvy PR experience justice; in reality, it’s all of this and more. Like anything in life, it is what you make of it. An internship at Ogilvy PR is no exception.
Six of the STW Network’s most influential and entertaining people speak to the Young Turks about their past, present and future.
The conversation as to who would write a wrap of the Young Turks, Big Dogs panel discussion on Wednesday evening coincidently took place around my desk an hour before it was due to commence. No hands immediately went up. Not even my own. In fact, I tried my hardest to keep my head down and avoid the conversation as to not get assigned the job.
It’s not that I didn’t have the time or that I don’t enjoy writing. The honest truth is, I couldn’t think of anything more intimidating than composing a creative piece reporting back on the past, present and future careers of – as we were most fervently reminded over the course of the evening – the most creative and celebrated minds in our industry.
As luck would have it however, my name was thrown amidst the conversation, unwilling eye contact was made and ten minutes later I was begrudgingly heading down to the conference clad with pen and paper to take notes for my impending piece.
Five minutes into the panel discussion, I was more stressed than ever – and we were merely being introduced to the Panel: Brett Howlett, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy Australia; Anouk Darling, CEO, Moon Communications; Gerry Cyron, Head of Brand Planning; Ogilvy Australia, Jonathan Pease, Managing Partner and Executive Ideas Director, Tongue; Brian Giesen, Director, Social@Ogilvy; and Kieran Moore, Chief Executive Officer, Ogilvy Public Relations, Australia.
As I listened, phrases such as “won countless Effies”; “recognised and awarded in Cannes”; and – my favourite – “Kieran Moore, one of Australia’s top ten most influential women in media in 2011”, were flanked by mentions of the most recognisable brands names in the world. Throwing a quick glance over my shoulder I could see that awe had been slapped across the faces of the other thirty or so other Young Turks in the room. To us there was no doubt: here before us sat a panel of media heroes.
The ‘Big Dogs’, who had literally been placed on pedestals before us, kicked off the discussion with a simple question: who inspires you most? The collective answer could possibly have been a world first to have self-made billionaire Warren Buffett, Advertising legend Dan Wieden, renown blogger Leo Babauta and charitable investment banker Richard Blum named in the same sentence. Although it turns out they have a lot in common. Entrepreneurial to the core, each leader was renowned for their innovation, creativity and ability to look beyond the bottom dollar to contribute their influence and talent to better society. By the time film director Quentin Tarantino and film producer Ridley Scott had rounded off the list for their “awesome story telling” ability to “stuff as many ideas into an hour and a half as possible on no budget”; I realised that my head was slightly nodding in agreement. After all, what are PR and advertising professionals if not storytellers?
By the second question: What was your first role in the industry, my head was shaking in disbelief. It came as –perhaps too much – of a surprise that such successful careers stemmed from humble beginnings. At Jonathan Pease’s answer, I literally dropped my pen. “My first job was actually in dispatch,” said Jonathan, a man credited for helping to bring Australia’s Next Top Model to my lounge room and not for distributing packages from a corporate mail room. “It was the kind of job where just turning up some days was a challenge,” he said with a laugh. To a room of Young Turks, this was top quality reassurance that we are on the right track.
By the third question: what were the biggest mistakes you ever made, it was clear that here before us sat not only the most influential people in the industry, but possibly the most entertaining. I found it necessary to remind myself that the following comments came from the same group of people responsible for launching one of Australia’s most recognisable budget airlines, the Share-a-Coke Campaign and for the first use of foursquare and a blog in commercial campaigns.
“Oh man there’s just been so many” was followed up with “I forgot to make sure my phone was on mute before going on a full rant about certain people’s incompetencies during a conference call” and “there was this one time when I accidently CC’d a client into a group email that complained about how difficult they were.”
After wiping away my tears of laughter, I wrote the following as a key learning on my note pad: it is fine, if not expected to make mistakes. “You will learn more from your failures than your successes,” summarised Anouk Darling. “You will mess up a lot but learn through your adversity, keep putting yourself out there and stay hungry.”
Suddenly, the pedestal didn’t seem so high. It is not that by admitting their faults, the panel leaders had suddenly sunk to my level. It was that I had subconsciously sat up straighter in my own chair, as I sponged in what the panel had to say. Including this pearl from Gerry Cyron: “Your career and, actually life in general is just like Angry Birds. You see your target, take aim and you throw everything you have at it. If you miss, you just readjust and try again.” As easy as it is to laugh off the mistakes of others and hope they don’t happen to you; success only comes to those who seek success out and keep evolving their tactics in order to reach it.
“While this industry used to be about knowledge, now it is about the willingness to evolve and the drive to become an expert,” said Anouk. Put your hand up for everything, come up with another creative idea every time one gets shot down and love your work beyond the dollar sign.
The biggest surprise of all came with one of the most standard questions asked in a work environment: Where do you see yourself in five years? “Geez, I have no idea,” was the resounding response from the panel. The catalyst for such uncertainty can be attributed to technology which is causing everything to shift and change at such a rapid rate that the panel experts such as Brian Giesen believe that speed is the key to remain competitive in media moving forward. Media agencies will also need to be smart and come forward with big ideas, not big numbers of staff to win new business in the future.
“Technology is set to blow our minds and for that reason, I see the industry moving to a hub and spoke approach,” said Kieran Moore. “It is a commercial imperative for media groups to work together and integrate their offering or they will get left behind.”
This blog piece is testament to the insight and inspiration provided by the six media experts on the Young Turks ‘Big Dog’ panel. From now on, I will not stress about making mistakes, I will strive to keep evolving and most importantly, I will put my hand up first.
“Do not confuse the ‘alpha’ with the ‘leader’. Leadership is not a popularity contest.”
“Be confident, but not so much that you become a [censored word].”
“It’s imperative to have a tight plan in life, but to live it as loosely as possible.”
“The great distinction between creative people and non-creative people is that the former will always come back with another idea.”
“You never know what your clients are thinking so don’t take shortcuts.”
“Listen to that little voice inside your head and never be compromised.”
“When negotiating, silence can be powerful.”
“The biggest pitfall is taking yourself too seriously.”
“Look to learn more from your failures than from your successes.”
“Love your work beyond the dollar sign.”
Recommended reading list:
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche (1992)
The Art of War, Sun Tzu
Life’s a Pitch, Stephen Bayley and Roger Mavity
Blue Ocean Strategy, Professor W. Chan Kim and Professor Renee Mauborgne
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, Malcolm Gladwell.
Imagine, Jonah Lehrer
Good old fairy-tale stories (namely, The Jungle Book)
Anything written by Charles Bukowski
Anything the Harvard Business Review suggests
NOTE: If you’ve ticked all these boxes, Anouk Darling’s personal reading list is available. Alternatively, turn on the television
Ever been struck by a great idea, but kept it quiet, just in case it sounds more wacko than wonder-child? After 10 years around the traps at Ogilvy PR and 14 in the PR business, I’ll share a secret: wonder-child is overrated.
But for those that err on the side of better safe than sorry, let me give you a quick filter for the big idea that you can implement between brain and mouth.
Last week I attended a MasterClass at ci2011 with famous physician, inventor and author of 82 books, Dr Edward de Bono. He took us through some concepts from his books ‘Think! Before It’s Too Late’ and ‘Six Thinking Hats’, but for me the most compelling part was the last 30 minutes of each session when he answered audience questions and entered into general discourse on the role of creativity within an organisation.
Creativity often gets a bad rap. Corporate clients might sponsor the arts, but get a whiff of it in the boardroom and it takes a brave leader to grab it by the horns and see how they can apply it to their business.
A key differentiator de Bono applies is creativity versus ‘crazy-tivity’.
Creativity is creating something new. According to de Bono, all valuable creative ideas will be logical in hindsight and have obvious benefits. In fact, when you are using creativity to create something new for an organisation, it’s often referred to as innovation.
Crazy-tivity has its place – in the realms of fantasy and entertainment – but it’s not the valuable business tool PR peeps need to employ in their bag of tricks.
So getting back to this checklist between brain and mouth.
This is not a de Bono list – it’s Aunty Van’s interpretation of de Bono – so take or leave it depending on where you think I sit on the scale of wacko to wunderkind.
Before you make your suggestion, answer the following questions:
- With hindsight, is your idea logical?
- Does your idea have the potential to deliver obvious benefits?
- If so, list two-three benefits that would support your idea.
- What’s your gut saying? Is it a winner? Intuition doesn’t give you creative ideas, but it does help you judge the ideas you come up with. Trust yourself when you think you’re on a winner.
Now I’m not saying you need to do this with every single idea. In some brainstorming environments it’s perfectly OK to switch the dial to wacko – in fact de Bono’s ‘Random Word’ tools might be considered in this category.
But if you have time for the filter – run your idea through it – and it might help you articulate your thinking a little better.
Dr de Bono has a number of ‘deliberate thinking techniques’ that I’m just starting to learn about. He’s number one on my reading list right now, so if you want to borrow a copy, go to www.bookdepository.co.uk .
He signed my copies so you can all PO! (BTW, that last comment was a de Bono in-joke … read his latest work and you’ll get it.)
Australia’s ABC, affectionately known as ‘Aunty’, is often regarded as an institution that is slow to embrace innovations and technologies –almost a relic of bygone times. Aunty has a certain old school feel about her, whether it be the familiar faces of its presenters or its consistent programming. However, in reality, a more fitting name for the ABC of today would reflect that the ABC has broken down barriers ahead of its commercial cohorts.
Last month, about 150 guests crammed into a small room at the UTS Aerial Function Centre to hear Mark Scott, the managing director of the ABC, outline how the ABC was responding in the era of digital information, as part of the UTSpotlight series for the university’s alumni.
Scott reflected on a time when the ability of audiences and readers to quench their news thirst was at the mercy of the country’s news editors and newsagents. For example, if your newsagent wanted to, he could sell you a nine day-old copy of the New York Times; if you made it home in time, you would watch Richard Morecroft read the news, and if the head of news at Fairfax thought you might be interested, you could read an article from The Washington Post.
However, times have changed and while many see the ABC’s charter, structure and funding to be constraints holding it back, Scott believes innovation loves constraints and he’s taken these constraints by the horns. His view is the ABC should be more innovative, more relevant and more responsive to Australians than any other network.
Since taking the helm in 2006, Scott has expanded its services and the ABC now provides news, information, entertainment and other content across an expanding array of platforms: four television channels; digital radio channels to complement the four national and 60 local services; an elaborate online operation and customised material for mobile and other new media devices.
It’s fair to say the ABC is leading the digital charge. Its iView product, developed on a typical ABC budget of ‘as little as possible’, was the first to unlock audiences from their nightly 7pm social contracts with newsreaders to view their news. It meant they could view the news, and their favourite TV shows, at any time, from anywhere using the device of their choosing – iPhone, iPad or iMac. The ABC has realised the importance of digital and online in helping it to engage and maintain its audience.
Even the stalwart ‘old school’ bastions of the ABC have moved into the digital age – Four Corners has a Facebook page to interact with its audience, and Q&A regularly generates more than 30, 000 tweets in a single hour. The ABC has revolutionised the content Australians are seeing on their screens, centering it around them and what they have to say.
According to Scott, the role of the ABC is no longer that of a news teller but as a news host — a place where people can tell their own news and stories. The ABC is about Australian content and stories, stories for Australians by Australians. It provides a platform that allows them to do so. And where better than in their own world – online.
Guest post by Dorea Lau (@dorealau)
It’s been a huge news week. Between Steve Jobs, Amanda Knox and Kyle Sandilands’ imaginary love child, the press must have bruised fingertips by now. Well, about the first two stories anyway.
But beyond the gushing memorials and the frothing controversies, I think an important point has been missed.
But, more importantly, he got those designs right.
He took good ideas and made them into better products. He didn’t rush things out before they were perfect, which is why he was seen as a genius by the authors of his obituaries.
That lesson can be learned by the media.
This week, the verdict of Amanda Knox’s trial for murdering Meredith Kercher was handed down. It acquitted both her and Raffaele Sollecito (whose name barely gets a mention in most press – being ‘foxy’ gets you headline billing it seems) of the killing. But several media outlets, in their haste to be first, published articles stating their appeals had been rejected and they had been sent back to jail.
A couple even engineered reactions and quotes from the hypothetical situation.
Now, I understand many articles are pre-written – obituaries being a topical case in point. But when the rush to be first on the scene sees media miss the target this spectacularly it calls into question the credibility of their entire masthead. They need to learn from Mr Jobs – getting it right is more important that getting it first.
I am an admirer of the slow food movement as an alternative to fast food junk. Maybe it is high time for a slow news movement also?
*(I’m ignoring the PC because it doesn’t help my point at all!)
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/americanistadechiapas/6219215378/sizes/z/in/photostream