Posts Categorized: Social Media

Comms Strategy | Optus data breach

Posted in Advertising, Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media.

Crisis Management or just crisis?

It’s been 28 days since the Optus data breach and their crisis management comms remain perplexing. A well written comms plan can make all the difference in how your brand is perceived in the face of a disaster.

In fact, there are case studies aplenty that highlight how desperately important immediate and regular communication is to brand preservation in a situation like this. Yet, as a customer, I’ve not heard a peep from them since that fateful day in September – other than a somewhat cryptic text message that was sent two days after the event.

The panic that must have unfolded at Optus at the time is unfathomable – nobody wants to be in their shoes. But as brand owners, their ‘deer in the headlights’ response has highlighted just how important it is to have solid crisis communication plans and why living your brand values and proposition, regardless of what happens, is paramount.

In a crisis, it’s all about communication.

Actually, if history has anything to teach us (thanks J&J’s Tylenol for the lessons), it’s about over-communication.

Optus (along with now an indeterminate number of hackers) has our email addresses so why haven’t they reached out beyond this initial ‘oops’ to their allegedly unaffected customer base?

Like most brands, Optus wants us to love them, to support them, to be part of their tribe. But at a time when we needed them to show their humanity and be personal with us during a very personal breach, to show us they had this in hand (or were working on it), to trust they’d do everything they could to fix this, they went quiet. And if the subsequent backlash for their brand is anything to go by, it might even be considered deathly quiet.

Here’s the kicker for me.

optus data breachOver the years, Optus has spent millions building a brand of ‘yes’. Like all good brand custodians, they painstakingly built a strong brand identity seeking an emotional connection with their audience and in their case, pushing positivity and optimism. Their brand proposition and “Declaration of Yes” was about thinking differently and saying “…yes to doing everything humanly possible to help our customers feel good about being with us”.

It won me over (I love a good brand proposition), and millions of others. But you can’t just have a shiny brand identity document and some clever ads. You have to breathe your brand identity to your core – in good times and in bad.

Yet, just like the apparent failings in their corporate governance, it seems they didn’t have a strong crisis management strategy in place either and have been left scrambling, trying to band-aid what is now a very deep wound to their brand.

And frankly, it takes more than a banner on your website, store posters and some FAQs to sure-up your brand’s strength and loyalty when crisis hits. Their customer base is hurting, frightened, and feeling their brand has let them down (still).

Without communication and respecting this was going to need more than a text message, any understanding folks may have had, has quickly dissipated. We expect our revered brands to have our backs, to be human with us, to be true to their stated vision and values – and that’s where Optus has dropped the ball.

It seems they’ve missed the point that in a crisis, the folks that will keep your brand safe are the loyal customers already saying ‘yes’.

A scroll through the Optus Facebook page shows the first post regarding the breach was 23 days after the attack. 23! Comments on the non-related posts prior have escalated with thousands of previously loyal brand supporters livid that their brand just wasn’t communicating with them.

When you use your social media account to “be a little more one-on-one” and regularly post seeking interaction and engagement, it’s equally as perplexing that at the exact moment they should have been using this medium to communicate and reassure, they went to ground.

Communication works

I had the privilege of seeing a brilliant CEO in action some years back when some pretty frightening things were afoot in the media about the brand he was heading up. His, and the brand’s, immediate and consistent communication with the audience was inspiring. They communicated every single day through the crisis. Every day. Even when there was nothing new to report, they did anyway, keeping the rumours at bay and the ship steady. The brand made it through, fears were allayed, and the incident became more of a speed bump than a crisis as a result.

Conversely, as Optus customers, unless one of the seriously breached folks (and even then, communication has been scant), we’ve heard nothing directly. Nothing to assure us being their customer is wise. Nothing to allay any fears. We’ve been left to do our own research (and we know how dangerous that is), hunting for clues and hating their brand a little bit more every day as the fear sets in and the random scam calls start coming in.

What a waste of their advertising dollars to date for a whole swag of their customers who no longer believe in the power of ‘yes’ and who definitely do not feel good about being with them.

You have to breathe your values and vision

Optus’ brand values include “customer focus” and their vision is “to lead Australia in outstanding customer experience”. A company’s values and vision should be the beating heart of their organisation – not just words on a page that tick a box.

Real, fundamental foundations for your brand that you base all your decisions and actions upon. Sadly for Optus, when push came to shove, the lack of connection back to their foundations has been palpable.

It’s so frustrating to see a brand that’s done such an awesome job of building its identity and connecting on an emotional level for customer acquisition, forget that customer retention, especially in a crisis, is paramount.

All this being said, I wouldn’t wish this sort of stress on anyone in a brand team (it’s bad enough being the customer). I feel for them and hope their brand can make it through the other side of this. But if ever there was an example of when to get on the front foot and over-communicate with your tribe when the proverbial hits the fan, this is it.

If you don’t have a crisis management plan and comms strategy that aligns with your brand vision and identity already, this should be good impetus to write one.


Want to chat to us about setting meaningful brand values and vision, or a communications strategy for your business? Please shoot us a note and we’ll be all ears.

Webinar: Programmatic Advertising what you need to know

programmatic advertising what you need to know

Uncovering the mystery behind programmatic advertising.

This insightful 30min webinar delves into the oft-misunderstood world of programmatic advertising and what you need to know.

Whilst the strategist at Engine Group, this webinar interview with Michael Petersen, CEO at Pivotus, we uncovered some helpful insights into this form of media buying.

With the recent announcement of third-party cookies going away, there’s some consternation about the end of display advertising. But programmatic advertising just needs to shift and be mindful of how we target the audience. So in this webinar, we go through the basics of what programmatic advertising is and how you can best utilise this in your mix.

In this webinar, we provided the info you need, sharing knowledge, practical tips that help uncover the mystery behind programmatic advertising.

This interview-style webinar covered:

1. What Programmatic buying is in real language – and where it fits for the marketing team
2. The top 5 things you need to know about this
3. The different types of media you can buy programmatically
4. Examples of best practice and advice on how to manage the creative vs media spend
5. The impact the loss of cookies means to programmatic buying

Watch the webinar here.

Want to chat to us about programmatic buying for your business? Please shoot us a note and we’ll be all ears.

Tomorrow thinking – marketing in COVID19 lockdown

tomorrow thinking - marketing during COVID19 lockdownMarketing in COVID19 lockdown – 
do we hunker-down, double-down or lie-down?

For those of us in the position to trade on during COVID19 lockdowns, it’s a question of not so much thinking about today, but more so, what about tomorrow?

How can we bolster our brand so that we are here, and our customers with us, when we hopefully pop out the other side?

In times of uncertainty, and especially when it’s as uncertain as it is right now, the brands who will be better placed to prosper will be the ones who seek to be empathetic and authentic.

To be human, to have a heart. To be about connection, rather than collection.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs he noted that you can’t motivate people at the higher end of the hierarchy (in things like ego and self-development – where brands usually play when wanting to connect and engineer a sale) – if their fundamental physiological (food, health) and safety (shelter, stability) needs are not met.

Right now, consumers are hyper-focused on their basic needs and are looking to brands to either provide assistance with those basics or help meet their need for social connection (being loved, belonging, inclusion) – not to sell them.

Emotional connection

Brands who can share their truth and their hearts will be the ones to whom consumers gravitate. More attuned than ever, today’s hyper-sensitive consumer will see straight through a veiled attempt at selling them something under the guise of ‘doing good’.

What they’ll appreciate is a business trying to keep its doors open and in doing so, being real.

Being vulnerable. Being honest. And still finding a way to genuinely connect in the way they expect their favourite brands to do.

In a time where people are losing their jobs, not sure of how they’ll pay the rent/ the mortgage, the messages need to be mindful, respectful, conscious. But they still need to be there. People are seeking good news, wanting to feel safe, and still connected to their known community.

And brands form part of that community.

Now is the time to ask

So if it’s within your reach, now is the time to ask – what are your customers feeling right now and how might you help them through that time?

How can you be a positive, proactive member of their community, that is seen as being helpful rather than opportunistic? Or worse, not heard from at all.

In times like these, of course there’s the option of shutting communication down to either the bare minimum or turning it off completely. To hunker down and stop any ‘unnecessary’ spend. And that’s true – if it will mean further hardship, then staying afloat is paramount.

But know that if you choose not to (or can’t) keep communicating with your customers, the risk is they might not be there when you are able to eventually talk to them – that in leaving them to fend for themselves, they may learn to live without you.

This is about going back to your fundamentals of why you are in businesses – what your actual purpose is – and being true to that.

Finding your why

The interesting thing is, this is what strategic marketers have been saying for some time – only now it really, really matters that companies actually begin to live this.

Author Simon Sinek suggests, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”.

It’s connecting consumers with you emotionally that brings them along your journey. Not your what, not your how. Not your sales spiel, not being clever for the sake of it, or ‘hurry now 50% off’.

Right now it’s your why, and it’s never mattered more.

It’s moved beyond just selling your offer. Now more than ever, it’s about being human, being real, being respectful, and undeniably being conscious of the impact you do and can make as a brand at a time like this.

This is about your long game

When the dust has settled and we return back to whatever ‘normal’ might look like in a few months’ time, where will your brand be? Will it be coming out of the darkness and essentially starting from scratch in trying to connect again with your audience? Or will it be continuing the respectful, humble conversation you’ve kept going through our collective time of trouble?

This is not about being ‘seen’ to be a good corporate citizen, it’s about actually being one.

How to navigate ‘what next’

You don’t have to speak directly to the crisis, but still being mindful and conscious of how your audience is feeling right now means you can remain connected to them in their time of need.

  • What pain points do your customers have right now you could genuinely help with? (Woolworths opening early for older Australians)
  • Can you keep connecting by bringing a smile? (our client Vanuatu Tourism are receiving a wonderful response from their audience in sharing images of their fabulous island noting they’re keeping it safe for when you can come visit)
  • Are you able to be helpful in a way that truly connects with your brand? (XXXX beer asking us to swap a beer with mates to stay home)
  • Can you be generous and show some true empathy? (like Adobe Creative Cloud have done with free subscriptions for students until May so they can keep working while at home)

This is about protecting your brand and preparing for life beyond the immediate crisis we are facing.

There is historical proof that brands who keep talking and connecting in appropriate ways will emerge more successfully from an economic crisis than competitors who don’t. Kantar research showed strong brands recovered nine times faster than weaker brands in the 2008 financial crash.

So if you are able, now is the time to foster your brand, not deep freeze it.

Brands that can keep the communication fire burning, (even if only through continuing the conversation through social channels at very little or no expense), and bring warmth and compassion to their tribe, will be the ones consumers are most likely to return to when this is all just a memory.

So, tomorrow thinking is about asking how you can keep your brand alive in your customers hearts so you’re still top of mind, and still connected, when we emerge on the other side.

It’s your long game and it’s never been more important.


Want to chat to us about marketing strategies for your business? Please shoot us a note and we’ll be all ears.

If you don’t have image copyright, it could be cat-astrophic. Just ask STA

do you have image copyright

image copyright quickbrownfox

Do you have image copyright?

With all this publishing we’re all doing across social media, it’s easy to get carried away and see a great photo you like and just add it to your post and not give a thought to image copyright.

It won’t matter, right? Wrong.

STA Travel just found out the hard way that using a great shot you’ve found, without asking permission of the owner, can get you into hot water.

It seems they saw a photo online from a former customer and thought “we’ll have that” and just went ahead and used it both online and in a printed brochure.

Now I hear you saying, “oh how silly of them, who does that?”. But think about it.

When was the last time you added a photo to one of your posts without purchasing it or gaining approval from the image owner?

Or did you just go to Flickr, Google Images, or see something in your own feed and save it down and use it? We’ve all done it, some knowingly running the gauntlet and some unwittingly. But it’s all breaching copyright and you could find yourself in the same hot water STA are now in.

STA have done the right thing and taken the image down, but the owner of the photo still retains the right to sue them. Tricky situation because it breaches not only her copyright but also her privacy rights. That’s because a photo where the person can be identified falls under the Privacy Act. The ball is now in her court.

Free doesn’t mean permission

The hard part is that some sites say their images are ‘free to use’, but they rely on you to seek permission to publish. It’s easy to see how you can get into strife without realising it.

The best rule of thumb is – if you didn’t take the shot and seek permission from the talent shown within that shot to use it for promotional purposes, then you will need to either get approval to use or pay for it. Or end up paying for it in other ways.

Where to get images

There are some great sites that let you buy images – Shutterstock, iStock, GettyImages and more. These sites you pay for the image but at least you know you’ve got permission to publish.

Then there’s some great free sites like Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels. But be sure you check the fine print to ensure you do indeed have permission to use and are attributing the image appropriately.

Happy searching.

*Note, Meeshka the cat provided permission for quickbrownfox to use this image for promotional purpose

Xmas Marketing Ducks in a Row

Posted in Advertising, Copywriting, Marketing, Social Media.

quickbrownfox christmasWith only 3 weekends to Christmas, it’s time to get a few of your Xmas Marketing ducks in a row if you haven’t done so already. Here’s a few things that might help in getting December off to a great start…

  • The festive season is not just for retailers

    Even if you don’t sell retail products, you can still promote to and engage your audience at this time of year. What about creating an offer you can tailor to the season? Or ask your database to share the cheer and give you suggestions for new services or products? You could ask your customers to upload a picture of their team in festive outfits using your product or service to your social media pages. Or perhaps find a way to count down the 12 days of Christmas? It doesn’t just have to be for the department store sales – you too can connect with your customers and followers.

  • Santa uses his branding well, so should you

    This time of year is a great time to thank your client base (and your key suppliers and staff), be that with a card or perhaps a personalised gift. And it’s a perfect opportunity to let your brand come to life for them. Get your cards made with your branding strong and proud (digital printing is really affordable now) and if you’re buying a gift, find ways to link this with your branding (for example, rather than a pen, you could do a branded cup cake). Get clever, your audience will appreciate your effort.

  • Being social takes planning

    With January only weeks away, you need to have your next round of blog posts decided and planned out, along with your posting strategy for your social media accounts. Take the time to review the stats and find out when is the best time to post to each for you and what seems to get the best reactions and tailor next year’s posts accordingly. Even writing 3 months of content in advance can take a huge amount of pressure off – and will allow you to look and feel more strategic about things. With many folks away in the few weeks over Christmas and New Year, it’s a great time to get ahead of the pack.

Hopefully you’ll get some time off to reflect on a great year and look forward to an even better one in 2015. Enjoy.

Is it a bad thing to use a stock image?

Posted in Advertising, Digital Marketing, Marketing, Social Media.
Is it bad to use a stock image

There’s so many for and against arguments it’s hard to take a side on this one, but it is a question that comes up a lot within marketing circles – is it a bad thing to use a stock image?

Well, as usual, the answer is, it depends.

The case for:

  • if your budget is tight or if you have a specialised product or service where the chances of anyone else using the same stock image to promote their similar service is minimal, then sometimes stock images can suit your purpose (see my cute fox stock images as an example)
  • if you’re preparing a presentation and it needs some life added but you don’t own enough images, stock shots can play a good part here
  • you’ll get better engagement with your social media posts on Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs – imagery can really bring these to life, so adding stock imagery can be a good way to achieve this without breaking the bank

The case against:

  • at the end of the day we’re talking about your brand image. So using someone else’s interpretation of that might be at odds with your purpose. In the quickbrownfox case, we are unlikely to be able to get a suitable fox to provide an appropriate facial expression at an achievable cost, so in this instance it falls into the ‘case for’. But generally your brand will need to showcase a skill, a mood, your people or give an insight into your brand’s personality which should come from within, not from an image library trying to hit multiple marks
  • photography is not as expensive as you think. At minimum, you need a hero image (or 2) and some support shots that help bring your brand to life so we’re not talking a 5 day shoot here necessarily. You will have invested in getting your logo, website design, copy writing, and collateral materials right – don’t let it all down with a stock image of ‘people shaking hands’ or ‘happy smiling corporate people’
  • you will own these images and no one else can use them without your permission. So you won’t find your competitors using exactly the same shot to promote their (perhaps inferior) product offer
  • imagery is emotive – it’s supposed to be. So make sure you don’t compromise on the emotion you evoke with your consumer – they’ll see right through it

At the end of the day it will come down to a combination of budget and intent. If you can, you should always aim to take and own your own shots. But for the right purpose and in the right circumstance, a stock shot might just do the trick.

Check out these paid sites for some awesome images: ShutterstockiStockGettyImages
and these free sites have some fantastic images to choose from too: PixabayUnsplash and Pexels


Posted in Social Media.

PinterestNew social website Pinterest:

New kid on the block, Pinterest, is causing a bit of a stir, and for good reason. The site lets you simply post images of things of interest to you and others. For brands, this is a terrific forum to share your product line and things that inspire your work (think florists, photographers, interior designers, web designers – anybody with anything creative to share).

From a demographic point of view, it skews high to females, but that’s because it’s early days. For now, my advice to those of you who don’t have a ‘widget’ or ‘widget style service’ to sell on line and are not from a creative industry, I’d hold tight. But, I would get on and have a look at what is happening on this site as soon there may come a time when it is right for you to be there so you should get a feel for it.

On a personal note, you might find this site interesting nonetheless. Recipes, sports, funnies, gardening, travel, pets – you name it, it’s on there (yes, even porn which is causing an even bigger stir in the market right now!). So, while you might not be interested from a business point of view, this might tickle your own personal creative fancy in the interim.

To get in, you need to go to and request an invite. Or, just have a sniff about their site and see what interests you.

What have we done at quickbrownfox?

Well, we joined to secure a user name so no-one else could take it. And, we’re sniffing about on the site to get a feel for how it works so we can share that info with you. Soon, we’ll have our own site up live as much of the content we post on Facebook and Twitter fits perfectly with this style of site (mainly the ‘what were they thinking” style of ads). Whatever you decide to do, make it (pin)interesting for others to view or you’ll be posting for no outcome.

If you are interested in setting up a Pinterest page for your business, here’s some handy tips to make the most out of it. Hubspot have published a sensational free ebook on the subject. So if you’d like a copy just download from here. Big thanks to the folks at Hubspot for providing this (note, I’m not affiliated with them nor do I endorse their work, but this ebook has great advice and is definitely worth the read if you’re interested in making the most of your business site).

how to use Pinterest for business_Hubspot Feb12

Happy pinning!

Is automating social media accounts a sin?

Posted in Social Media.

Should you be automating social media accounts?

Some businesses are reaping the efficiency rewards of using automation programs (like Hootsuite and SocialOomph) to pre-load their status updates for Facebook, Twitter and for their blog posts.

But is this the right way to use the platforms and what will their followers think?

Well, not to sit on the fence, but your success in using automation depends on how you manage it.

As it is in any form of communication you use to engage with your target market (in this case ‘followers’ and ‘community’), it’s important that you don’t find yourself talking at them but rather speaking with them.

It’s really no different to any communication strategy. It’s just like a brand or product owner devising a series of print or TV ads (each with a different message and building on the last ad) and pre-booking them into magazines and TV programs throughout the year to guarantee their ‘spots’. Every message is tailored to the environment in which it’s being booked (well, at least it’s supposed to be) and, despite many companies constantly breaking the ‘rules’, you won’t get the results if you put 20 lines of copy up on a billboard (don’t even start me on this topic!), So the same goes for social media – don’t use print media or ‘sales flyer’ language if you want to get results.

So in this sense, using auto-post programs can be considered a smart way to create efficiencies for your business – but you do need to stick to the ‘rules’.

How does it work?

Once you’ve written your marketing strategy and know what you want to say and to whom, you can create a number of topic categories you want to share with your audience and then write the content for those – right out to 12 months if you wish. For example, a quickbrownfox client (a band called the Electric 80s Show ) has just implemented an automated system to keep their fans engaged and involved with their brand.

We wrote 12 months worth of updates for their Facebook and Twitter accounts under topic categories such as 80s Facts, 80s Lyrics, funny band riders, and a special ‘Flashback Friday’ post with a classic 80s YouTube link for a little 80s reminiscing. All stuff their audience are interested in and want to hear about.

Rather than having someone from the band sit down every day, research, type and post these updates, it’s all been pre-done and is now sitting happily in an automated system where it posts out on the schedule we’ve sent without them having to lift a finger. Nice.

The system will send out these ‘love bites’ to your audience to keep your brand in their mindset and to build rapport.

Sooth-sayers in the industry suggest it takes 7 interactions with your brand before your target is prepared to buy.

This is one way to build your credibility in your area of expertise and create an environment that encourages interaction.

These systems can also offer ‘friend finder’ searches, send automatic ‘thanks for following us’ DMs, and allow bulk uploads (which I’ve used and rate BIG time).

What it doesn’t do

Now that you’ve got this rapport-building strategy in place, it’s not like you actually just walk away. You do still need to monitor the account. As your audience responds to your posts, you need to be engaging right on back. A one-way conversation doesn’t last long and soon you’ll find you’re just talking to yourself. This is where a monitoring platform is good to be able to keep track of what is being said and how you can then better engage with the community to again keep you as efficient as possible.

You still need to reply to posts, retweet where you think it’s relevant and post current topical information along the way. But the automation program will take care of the main job of building rapport.

Which one should you use?

Well, without gushing, I’ve reviewed many of the automation programs out there and I’ve decided (as have many others) that there are two main contenders.

  • SocialOomph Pro: For the automation and bulk uploads, my recommendation is SocialOomph Pro for it’s ease of use and uber cool functionality (having used it for a while now, I feel like my inner-geek has been released!).Their homepage is tough to make sense of and looks very busy, but having now used it extensively, I can’t go past it.The key winning features are
    • the bulk upload to list ‘reservoirs’ that are pre-scheduled to time and date (you simply upload a plain text file of all your updates and it schedules them…this is a GREAT feature)
    • friend finder (including followers ‘with clout’)
    • and the ability to easily manage a range of pre-ordained posts. It lets you schedule posts to a range of social platforms including Twitter, Facebook as well as a blog feed
  • Hootsuite: Then, to monitor and do some ‘along the way’ posts to your platforms, I’m finding HootSuite to be easier to use than other platforms (I moved across from Tweetdeck and I’m happy with the switch).You can list and review your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, foursquare and some blog platforms in an easy to view page as well as do some minor scheduling of posts.They also allow you to geographically search for hashtags and keywords. It’s really a terrific way to keep track of what’s being said and letting you easily interact.

Using them in conjunction means you can schedule and then manage your campaign without fuss and within limited time frames.

So, I would suggest that automating some of your messages is indeed not a sin. It’s a smart way to efficiently manage your marketing strategy. As long as you’re wily about it!