Charity pests ruining ‘good’ brands

Do you think of the wonderful work Amnesty International does for human beings around the world when you see their logo or, if you’re anything like me, do you try and think of a suitable way to not make eye contact with their floppy haired, backpacker type, often hipster wannabe street fundraisers?

I actually have nothing against any of these types but when they patronise or harass me and others on the street, then I do. Or maybe I am angry at their marketing teams for thinking this is a good way to increase their charity dollars? After all, they employ people that fit into this mould. They could change it, they could use many other tactics but they don’t. And now I wonder how much damage this kind of notoriety is causing their ‘good’ brands.

I was just thinking of this very topic this morning when I found a great article on Mumbrella:

Aggressive charity fund raisers are causing brand damage, argues Mumbrella’s Tim Burrowes

The other day I watched an overly aggressive Save The Children ambassador almost knock a cup of coffee from a man’s hand on Sydney’s George Street.

Read the full article here:

My thoughts?

I absolutely, 100%, completely, with every fibre of my being agree with Tim Burrowes.

Here’s my response:

I completely agree. If another tween calls me ‘love’ or ‘darling’ as I walk past I swear I will go mad. I’m 33 and trust me, I look it. Unless your at least ten years older than me, don’t even go there.

I no longer associate Greenpeace, Amnesty International or Save the Children with charities trying to do good. I think of not being able to walk through the city without being harassed. One Amnesty girl even reached out and tried to grab my necklace while saying ‘oh that’s beautiful’.

The black eye I wanted to give her wouldn’t have looked anywhere near as beautiful.


Warren Mundine’s mundane tweet – cast

Mundine fails to win over his biggest critics with sterile guest tweet spot

A gig as a guest tweeter can be a great way to win over your audience, especially when you’re in politics. It allows you to be ‘real’ and approachable while still having an element of mystery as you hide behind your i-device.

I had high expectations of Warren Mundine’s guest tweet spot with @IndigenousX today but sadly, I don’t think I am the only one who feels even more disillusioned with him and his agenda now. Mundine, who is Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Council, didn’t enter into any tweet conversation (which is the point of a gig like this) he just posted comments that were laced with key messages and links to news articles (one from 2012) and past speeches. It felt like a broadcast or a tweet-cast that regurgitated the policy messages that jobs and education will solve the complex problems within the Aboriginal population.

As a person employed in the Aboriginal health sector his policies in that area are my number one focus. Health issues in the Aboriginal population are complex and chronic and I think talking about what’s more important to close the gap, out of jobs or good health, demonstrates the revolving door nature of the problems.

But he wouldn’t answer the health questions, he kept pointing to a speech he had written in the past which apparently answered every burning health question I had.

In the midst of my tweet session with Mundine I turned to a colleague and said: “Am I just being difficult here? I mean, is it just a case of which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

I say better health will close the gap, he says lifting communities out of poverty with jobs, education and general economic empowerment will fix the health status. I remind him that Aboriginal people usually need to travel to Perth for treatment such as dialysis; three times a week. That’s a big commute from somewhere like Halls Creek for example (30 hours one way).

The Halls Creek example isn’t the extreme situation a lot of you might think it is. It is reality. One service I have been to in very remote Midwest Western Australia had one dialysis chair and that had to service nearly half of the town’s Aboriginal, non-Aboriginal and diabetic population. At a guess I’d say that’s probably around 350 people.

If you’re chronically ill how can you work or go to school?

You say tom – ay – toe, I say tom- ah -toe.

Health aside, from a PR perspective I think this guest tweet spot was disappointing. Others before him, like Kirstie Parker the Co-Chair for National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, were great. And by great I mean real. Whether I agree with her or not, at least you could imagine her sitting with an i-device and tapping out a tweet.

With Mundine I saw Hootsuite, key messages and a planned campaign held together by the strong arm of a political PR person. There was nothing real about his broadcast. This was a great opportunity for Mundine to win over some of his biggest critics but sadly, he has not succeeded.

I don’t disagree with him on the need for jobs or economic empowerment for Aboriginal people, I just don’t think the solution is as simple as that. Not for any population.

Cross-pollinating to create synergies

The CEO at my current not-for-profit client described a restructure as an attempt to cross-pollinate and synergise teams. This used to make my stomach churn but instead I had a little moment of ‘Awww, that’s really sweet.’

It was actually nice to hear a completely non-corporate organisation using a completely corporate set of words.

Patronising? Yes, bad me.  

It got me thinking about the best (as in worst) corporate w**k words used in the workplace.

Unfortunately I can’t take the credit for this one and while it was said as a joke, I have no doubt that somewhere out there in the big wide work world it is being used:

Let’s stir fry that in the ideas wok.

What are your favourites fellow word nerds?

Doing what is necessary

Do what’s necessary, not what would be amazing. 

My current client is a Not for Profit, an area I have never worked in before. To be honest, the last six months have been a big, ugly wake up call for me.

My lesson from 2013? PR for profit making businesses doesn’t translate well to the sector that cares/advocates/raises money. 

Reinstating a newsletter and e-bulletin, re-writing and designing a company brochure and updating a website did not seem enough for my client, a health Not-for-Profit. I wanted more – a Youtube channel, social media suite, slick information packs, tweetable key messages…….

This organisation was doing great work, I wanted to shout their praises from the tallest building in Perth. My PR-trained head was saying hold up little lady, get the house in order first. 

Now it’s January 2014 and my head has stopped spinning, my feet have firmly touched the ground and it’s time to run, but not before I can walk. 

The house does have to be in order first. I have learned to stop and listen not only to my logical self but also to my audience and realise how important the newsletter is to them and right now that’s my highest priority. They won’t care about a Youtube channel if they can’t ‘touch’ what we’re doing or see themselves in our publication. 

I’ve learned that what is small to me is huge to other people. My mantra for the first quarter of 2014 is to do what’s necessary, not what would be amazing. 

Amazing can be the last half of this year. 

Second resolution? No more cliches, I promise. 


Yes, work can make you sick. I know.

Reading this post on Mumbrella today about a young lady whose health is suffering due to the long hours she’s putting in at work made me think of my own story. I bet most people have one.

In 2009 I had lost more than 10 kilos (I was already slim) and was admitted to hospital after collapsing on the road and almost being hit by a taxi.

It only took six months for me to reach that state. It felt like my health was taking a downturn along with the economy when I was in the UK in 2008. I was at ‘the bank’.

I’d leave the office at 5pm but I started work at home straight after dinner. Soon I just didn’t bother eating. I walked in the door, switched on the laptop and before I knew it, I had drunk a bottle of wine and it was midnight.

I didn’t sleep much. When I did it was very light and easily disturbed by noises or just my thoughts.

Then there was my ‘relationship’. That’s in commas for a reason and it’s a story for another time but it was the third variable in my downfall.

I went to the UK with a lot of experience in my role for someone my age. At 26 I had been a journalist, a magazine editor and a media advisor for a State government Minister. I did think highly of myself, I admit that and I felt confident in my job at ‘the bank’. But then the global financial crisis happened and everything fell apart. It wasn’t something any of us had experienced before, not even senior management or the Chief Executive Officer of our division.

I was thrown into a role I was not prepared for and could only go on gut instinct really. I had to protect the reputation of a bank that had been greedy and was lying to the public. Then I also had to hide the truth from friends and colleagues in my own team. I knew who was being made redundant, I knew when and I also knew there was no money for redundancies at that point.

I am a moral person so living with this knowledge was extremely difficult. I think I lost what was left of my mind when I had to sit in a tiny room and write scripts for managers to read to staff they were making redundant.

Over those months I was constantly physically ill; fatigued, low in iron, dizzy, breathless, getting colds and viruses.

I lost so much weight I couldn’t sit on hard chairs for long because my tail bone hurt. I was always cold. My size 12 trousers fell of when I put them on.

Then there were the mental effects: I cried every morning before work. I cried when I got home. I talked to myself in the street and people consequently crossed over to avoid me.

I lay in bed at night with loneliness eating at me. I didn’t want to wake up. I just wanted to sleep, forever.

On Christmas Eve 2008 the director of our team said I could be on call because I didn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with,’ being single and from Australia you are the best option’ I think her words were.

Well, I wasn’t single but they didn’t know that. She was right though and that’s what cut deep, I didn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with. I had bought a big stuffed reindeer to cuddle at night so I didn’t feel as alone. I just felt worse.

I can’t tell you now what I actually worked on over those months. I was doing three fulltime jobs though: media relations, magazine editor and internal communications and change consultant.

For those in the industry you’ll understand what that work load means.

In January 2009 I collapsed in the street, right on the corner of a fairly busy road. I hit my head on the cobblestones and the last thing I remembered was seeing a lot of feet running toward me and the screech of brakes.

The nurse told me that they were concerned about something I said upon waking at the hospital. I asked if I were alive and apparently I was quite disappointed when they said yes.

I don’t remember that but I don’t dispute it either. There is an extremely high probability I was disappointed.  I collapsed due to dehydration, lack of food and anxiety and a taxi nearly hit me as I fell to the ground.

It wasn’t the wake-up call a lot of people might take that as. It took me a little while longer to admit work was taking its toll on me. It took even longer to repair my self-esteem enough to realise that I was worth more than this.

Now, nearly five years later I can say no job will ever take over my life like that again. It’s easier now that I have family around me and a loving partner who not only notices when I start going down ‘that route’ but also kindly of course, remind me that I am worth more than that, especially to him and my family. It’s hard when you are on your own, in another country or just withdrawing from the world around you because you are under pressure. Try and remember though, someone will miss you if you aren’t here. You are special enough to have a good work/life balance.

Thank god you’re here…

“Come this way, the server is out the back.” She grabbed my hand and led me through to the back room of the head office to a buzzing server housed in a black metal cage. 

A computer server. Not someone with a coffee or croissant in hand….

Meanwhile my boss is laughing his head off in the background telling everyone loudly that I only just got an iPhone so good luck with the server. 

“Our email has been on and off all day,” she said as she started explaining what some of the buttons did. 

“You know more than I do about them, I tend to work more with words.” 

I’ve also been asked if I work at Telstra and been told I must talk a lot. 

Welcome to the wonderful world of being a communications person.