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Eastern Volunteers Sponsors and Supporters Evening

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, News No Comments

Eastern Volunteers as a regional community based organisation, works in partnership with local government and businesses to provide its services to the community.

This evening, Eastern Volunteers held a function to officially thank its business and government partners with their assistance. This included the sponsors of the Annual Fun Run that was held in March, as well as the Multicultural Festival, which will be held again this October.

The function included video presentations from the two public events, highlighting the strong community participation with Eastern Volunteers and the benefits provided to sponsors in supporting these activities.

The 2010 Eastern Volunteers Multicultural Festival:

The 2011 Eastern Volunteers Annual Fun Run:

Further partnership opportunities exist throughout this year, including the Business Booster Breakfast on the 8th of August and the Eastern Volunteers Multicultural Festival, which will be held on the 9th of October.

For further information please visit www.easternvolunteers.org.au.

Guest Lecturing at Swinburne TAFE: eMarketing and How to Deliver a Presentation

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, Presentations No Comments

Today I provided guest lecturing for two units at Swinburne TAFE, including a second class on eMarketing, as well as a comprehensive session on How to Deliver a Presentation, designed to provide advice on how to confidently deliver presentations.

The session covered the structure of a presentation, covering aspects of an introduction, content and conclusion, as well as the use of props and equipment, such as slides and microphones.  Furthermore, I discussed verbal and non-verbal forms of communication, ensuring a consistent delivery and approach.

One of the main areas of conversation was around strategies to help overcome nerves.  In this regard, I often advise against writing a presentation out word-for-word, as this creates pressure to follow an exact script and shifts the focus towards reading content, rather than delivering content.  Instead, I suggest that a presenter focuses on remembering the key points they wish to convey with flexibility in delivering the rest of the content.  This has the advantage of providing a more natural style of presentation and ensures that a presenter only needs to remember the key points they wish to communicate.

It is also important that a presentation is targeted towards the audience, for examples a sales presentation would have a different approach to a presentation that provides a status update on a project.  It is also necessary to be aware of the outcomes you wish to achieve, and to be mindful that these outcomes may be different to each of the individuals who are receiving the presentation.  For example, in an advocacy context the presenter is obviously seeking to secure policy change, while the attendees would be consideration the wider implications and implementation issues of such changes.

Presentation skills improve with practice and it is worth noting that everyone has their own preferred style of communication.  A presenter needs to know what their strengths are and to utilise these abilities when delivering a presentation.

It was great to see several students actively participating in the discussion through questions and mentioning their experiences with presentations.  It was a pleasure to guest lecture to the students, to share my experiences with eMarketing and delivering presentations.  I wish the students all the best in their studies at Swinburne TAFE.

Guest Lecturing at Swinburne TAFE: Plan eMarketing and Communications

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, Presentations No Comments

I have been invited as a a guest lecturer for Swinburne TAFE to provide an overview on eMarketing and communications, including a class that was held this morning and an additional session held tomorrow afternoon.

eMarketing explores Internet based and multimedia forms of communication, which is part of a broader marketing plan that includes an organisation’s approach to marketing its products and/or services.

eMarketing is a tool used extensively through Syneka and has also been utilised through my role as a Councillor for the City of Maroondah. This includes a comprehensive blog, as well as actively engaging email based subscribers with new content and integration with social media, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Like all other aspects of a marketing plan, eMarketing needs to be consistent with the desired marketing aims, through identifying measurable objectives that can gauge progress towards achieving this aim. These objectives need to be reinforced with strategies that can be executed within budgetary and resource constraints. It is important that an organisation is aware of who is responsible for executing strategies to ensure a sense of ownership and clarity. A lack of responsibility can mean that a strategy is not properly managed limiting the success of outcomes.

Like all forms of marketing, it is imperative that eMarketing is consistent with a brand’s image otherwise this can lead to an adverse reaction and diminish the perceptions of a brand. It is therefore important to ensure consistency between all forms of marketing, including the use of multimedia and social networking.

The use of online forms of communication continues to increase, with baby boomers being one of the fastest growing demographics for new Facebook accounts. The ongoing and diverse usage of social media means that a business or organisation needs to seriously consider the use of eMarketing as part of its marketing strategy.

The eMarketing unit at Swinburne TAFE will help prepare these students in utilising eMarketing and harnessing the Internet in achieving the marketing aims of an organisation or business.

Interlinking your website with Social Media

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government, News 2 Comments

The Internet through interactive technologies, such as web 2.0 and social media sites, has immense potential to reach new volunteers or customers if harnessed to its full potential.

One of the challenges facing an organisation is the need to ensure that their website, as well as social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, are maintained and kept up to date. Unfortunately, this duplicates workloads and creates silos of information, making it difficult to establish and leverage connections across these various Internet technologies.

This also causes ongoing costs and delays for an organisation since their website is often outsourced to a web designer who may not always promptly add new content.

One of the most powerful benefits of the Internet is the immediacy of content but this can be a drawback for an organisation, if their website is not maintained on an ongoing basis. A website is often the first point of contact for a prospective volunteer, member or client and information that is out of date will deter these visitors from investigating further.

Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly important in exchanging information and reaching new volunteers, members or clients.

Internet technologies and their usage rates in sharing information

Internet technologies and their usage rates in sharing information (from The Business Insider)

The graph indicates the dominance of Facebook over email when exchanging information and shows that Twitter is experiencing solid growth.

While email is likely to always have a role in Internet communications, it is clear that social media technologies, like Facebook and Twitter are becoming increasingly important. This is because people choose their connections when using social media, meaning they connect with people they know. This has benefits when exchanging information since it operates like an Internet equivalent to word of mouth referrals.

The result is a community that has been formed around your organisation, strengthening the ability to recruit volunteers, members or new customers and reaching a new demographic that tends to not respond to traditional marketing. The Internet, like all forms of marketing, needs to complement your other activities so that you provide a consistent message and focus.

Many organisations are keen to have a presence on Facebook and Twitter but duplicating content is tedious and time consuming since it stretches already limited resources.

The solution is to separate the design of your website from its content, using technology known as a Content Management System (CMS). A Content Management System empowers an organisation so that they can add and modify content on their website, while their web designer develops templates to ensure a consistent layout across the site.

The system we use is known as WordPress, which is a content management system and blogging platform. This system allows for the easy publishing of information and operates similarly to a Word Processor.

Furthermore, this content can be replicated across other technologies, such as Facebook, Twitter and other websites. In addition, relevant stakeholders, such as media outlets, volunteers or customers, can receive updates via email.

The end result is one of lower ongoing costs since an organisation only requires design and not ongoing maintenance from a web developer. In addition, there is a decrease in workloads since Facebook, Twitter and subscribers automatically receive new content when it is published on your website.

Councillor Magazine: How councillors can harness the Internet

By Advice, Government, News No Comments

Councillor is a quarterly magazine designed to help educate current Councillors and demonstrate innovative approaches to local government.

I was contacted by Councillor Magazine to write an article on how councilors can harness the Internet to assist in encouraging dialogue with their community. The following is an extract of the article that was featured in the September/October edition of the magazine:

How Councillors can harness the Internet

City of Maroondah Councillor Alex Makin has operated his own website and blog since 2005. In this article, Cr Makin describes how councilors can also establish their own website and blog, and why more elected members need to use the Internet to engage the community.

Compared to the UK and the US, Australian politics has been relatively slow to embrace the capabilities of the Internet and its potential to re-engage the community and our constituencies.

While the use of websites is not new, Australian politics is still typically not using the Internet for more than a digital version of their off-line campaigns. The Internet, through the use of blogging has the potential to be so much more.

As local Councillors, representing the needs of our local constituencies, we are best placed to take a leadership role of embracing the Internet to create dialogue and re-engage with our communities.

We need to move beyond static webpages and move into an era of dynamic blogging and dialogue.

Going beyond a website

Some Councillors already have experience with establishing a website. A blog extends the capabilities of a website by providing interactive content.

A website can be likened to a static shop window, which displays information but provides little opportunity for someone to interact with the content.

Standard websites can also become difficult to maintain over the longer term as information becomes out of date.

A blog, otherwise known as weblog, is an interactive website, likened to a diary, that allows you to post new entries, keeping content relevant and allows people to post comments and subscribe to updates.

Blogs use categories and tags to file new content and provides readers with the opportunities to subscribe to updates so they are notified when new content is posted.

Extending your blog

Comments are usually moderated meaning that they need your approval prior to being included on your blog. This means you have the possibility to prevent inappropriate comments from being included on your site. Likewise spam filters exist which block spam comments from appearing.

While you have the ultimate control over what comments are included within your blog, do not go overboard in preventing feedback.

The purpose of a blog is to encourage dialogue and interaction and all relevant comments should be encouraged. Also make sure that email and phone details are available as some people will prefer these methods of communication.

Once you have established your blog and website it is worth considering ways of expanding its reach. Blogs utilize RSS feeds which allows people to be notified when new posts are created.

RSS feeds operate similarly to email where a subscriber receives the content of the post. RSS feeds are a standard feature of blogs and it is worth encouraging your readers to subscribe to them.

In addition you can also create an email subscription list for people that prefer to receive emails. This way email subscribers can receive an email message of your blog post and raise awareness of the activities you undertake as a councilor.

Just as newsletters assist in informing the community about our activities as a councilor, an electronic newsletter or RSS feeds can expand the reach of your communications with the public.

The web as an accessible medium

The Internet, through accessible web standards, means we can truly create a medium that can be experienced and accessed by all people.

Screen readers, larger font sizes, colour contrast and other technologies are available to assist people with disabilities to view content on the Internet and your website should be mindful of accessibility issues.

For example screen readers cannot read images so any graphics you include on your site should not be used in place of text.

In addition, the layout of your site should be mindful of people who prefer larger font sizes and your site should adapt to these requirements.

Future use of the Internet by councillors

Councils are the closest form of government to the community and we need to consider new methods of encouraging community engagement and interaction. In particular the web has the potential to assist us in communicating with younger people, as well as people with disabilities and the many other people in our community that prefer communication via the Internet.

Just as mobile phones are now considered essential equipment for Councillors, no doubt a web presence will be seen as a necessity shortly into the future. As councilors we have an obligation to remain relevant and keep pace with new technologies.

Creating a web presence is neither difficult nor time consuming and will assist in conveying the work you undertake as a councilor.