2013 – Year of the Snake and…Year of the ‘Fun Run’?

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Jade McCudden 

Sunday saw the ringing in of the Chinese New Year, celebrating the year of the snake! According to Chinese customs, your behaviour on New Year’s Day will set the tone for the year to follow, so for 20,000+ Sydney-siders, Cube team included, 2013 is set to be the year to embrace the ever-increasing popularity of the ‘fun run’.

Cube kicked off the Chinese New Year with the Swisse Color Run, battling the heat to complete the #happiest5k run, and that it was! The event did not disappoint and if our clothes were anything to go by, not to mention the blondes in the office and their stained pink hair, Cube definitely got in on the colour fun.

So if you want to train for a milestone fun run, raise money for a charity or just simply have a good time, we suggest earmarking some (or all?) of the upcoming fun runs in your diary and getting in on the action.

Remember, you don’t have to be a marathon runner to get involved – most events are open to all fitness levels and having a goal to work towards is always a good thing! A few suggestions for upcoming events are made by TimeOut below.

For those up for the 2013 ‘fun run’ challenge – Goodluck, we might see you there!

  • Spartan Race – Sat March 16
  • Surf Swim – Sun March 17
  • Nike She Runs the Night – Sat May 4
  • City2Surf 2013 – Sun August 11
  • 2012 Parkinson’s NSW Unity Walk and Fun Run – Mon August 26
  • Sydney Running Festival 2013 – Sun September 22
  • Mud Run – November 30-December 1

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Being Creative: Are You or Aren’t You?

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Jade McCudden

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try” Dr Seuss.

Creativity: What is it? Who has it? Can you ‘get it’? And what does it mean for those in the world of communications?

Over the years there have been many past and modern figures who have offered insights into the concept of creativity. Although a difficult concept to pin a single definition to, Tim Bills and Chris Genasi in their book Creative Business (2003) sum it up well, stating creativity is:

“The capacity to challenge the existing order of things, by deliberately forcing ourselves out of our usual way of thinking, to see the status quo from a new and enlightened perspective, to form new ideas and find practical ways to implement change in light of fresh insights.”

With this in mind, when you hear the word creative, who do you think of: an artist, painter, graphic designer, architect, musician? The role of creativity, however, does not limit itself to those in the arts. Jan Phillips of The Huffington Post argues:

“The world is not divided into two groups of the creative and the uncreative. If there’s a distinction, it’s between those who are creatively productive and those with unexpressed potential…Each of us, to varying degrees, is intrinsically motivated to create, to be original and to solve challenging problems. The question to ask is not, ‘Am I creative?’ but rather, ‘What inspires me to create?‘” 

For those in the communications industry who work to deliver creative campaigns, the challenge is to deliver fresh, differentiating ideas that will ultimately meet and deliver on business objectives.

So what are some basic tips and tricks to open one’s mind and inspire creative thinking? We asked communications expert and global facilitator Andy Eklund (@andyeklund), author of blog Creative Streak, for his favourite ways to spark creativity.

1. Create light bulbs every day. Creativity isn’t a skill, it’s a behaviour. Hemingway demanded that writers write every day. Musicians of all sorts have spoken on how they force themselves to write music, every day. It’s not the outcome that’s important: it’s the practice and discipline. Start small. Keep a diary. Write a visual journal. Make an environment for yourself that encourages your creativity. Find a second – or third, or fourth – answer to any problem you face. Think of it as mental calisthenics.

2. Get a point. The key to creativity is clarity and authenticity. What is your goal (clarity), and why’s it important to you (authenticity)? Write down a problem statement about your creative challenge in the form a question. It begins with: “How can I …?” Once you have your first question, re-write 7-8 times until you find a question that’s provocative and stimulates your imagination.

3. Clear the trash out of your head.As much as 90% of your day is spent in the Closed Mind. Responding to the day’s tasks. Reacting to other’s requests.  Organising, sorting, prioritising and deciding. They’re all retroactive thinking, and worse, it fills your mind up with debris more relevant to the past than the future. Open Mind is forward thinking, pro-active and constructive. Call it daydreaming if you like, but considered, thoughtful and focused thinking on future problems is how creativity begins.

4. Stop talking to yourself. Self-talk – a powerful but not very objective voice in the back of your head – speaks to you all day long. On one hand, it gives you balance and context, but more often than not, it’s critical and deflective. At its worst, it tells you your ideas aren’t good enough, it assumes the pre-judgment of others, and destroys any idea before it has a chance for improvement. Remember: your negative voice is just one voice, not the voice.

5. Visit alien cultures. If you have a cat or dog, you know they’ll stop drinking from their water dish if the water gets too stagnant. Strange as it may sound, your brain easily turns into a stagnant pool of water. To be creative, it needs constant refreshment. Absorb as much as you can from the life that swirls around you. Act like an alien. Soak up anything foreign to you – fashion, sport, art, architecture, music, movies – particularly things or events which you’d not immediately respond to. You’ll never know when something might spark an idea.

6. Be a creative cheerleader. Sad but true, it’s unlikely that every single person will eventually turn into a creative zealot with ideas spewing out on a regular basis. But these people – which can be any of us, depending upon our mood – still have a creative duty. We must be creative cheerleaders. Champion ideas around you, at work and in your community. Recognize and allow others to run full-tilt with their ideas, even if it might not be immediately apparent, cost-effective or timely. Improve ideas without killing the passion. To suppress ideas in others is as bad as suppressing ideas in yourself.

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World Public Relations Forum 2012: Day 2

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Off the back of a hugely successful first day at the World PR Forum (WPRF), Day 2 did not disappoint! Not only did the insightful presentations continue, but the morning saw the #WPRF Twitter hashtag hit the number one trending topic in Australia, and the exciting announcement that the 2014 World PR Forum will be held in Madrid, Spain, followed by Kenya in 2015.

First on the agenda after the welcome address was the keynote presentation via Skype by Richard Edelman, president and CEO of Edelman (Richard was to attend the conference but was unable to travel due to personal circumstances). Richard’s presentation was self-branded as ‘provocative’, discussing ideas and notions such as the ‘flip of the influencer pyramid’ i.e. the idea that communication is increasingly horizontal and peer-to-peer as opposed to top down. He also discussed the drastically changing media landscape and the perception / trustworthiness of PR as a profession – discussing the question, is the term PR toxic?

Continuing  the Forum’s theme of ‘Communication Without Borders’, a plenary discussion followed titled ‘The Future of PR in a Borderless World’ involving Paul Druckman, International Integrated Reporting Council, Anne Gregory, Leeds Metropolitan University, Paul Holmes, The Holmes Report and Daniel Tisch, the Global Alliance for PR and Communications Management. Each speaker shed a different perspective on the topic, and interestingly, like Richard Edelman, the speakers also discussed the idea that top down message control is no longer the name of the game, rather influence is now based on dialogue.

After the plenary discussion, Jane Burns, Young and Well Research Cooperative, Allison Lee, IMPACT Communications Australia and Roger Marshall, Bite Communications, took to the stage to discuss ‘Communications and Connecting in Digital and Social Spaces’. Amongst other topics, the ever-evolving landscape of social media was discussed as well as the role and importance of bloggers and best practice for engagement. Allison Lee also raised the question, in the era of the blogger – should all PR practitioners be bloggers also?

After a jam-packed morning, the early afternoon session was one the Cube duo were particularly looking forward to – ‘Social Media for Social Change’ with Paull Young, Charity Water and Michael Sheldrick, Global Poverty Project. Both speakers were truly inspiring (even having a few of us shedding a tear at one point) and emphasised the role social media plays globally in engaging an audience and beginning a two-way dialogue that can provoke action and behavioural change. What’s the key to encouraging audience engagement / participation? According to Paull Young – inspiration and providing a platform where people can create and share their own story and experiences.

A quick 30 minutes was spent attending a ‘Lightening Talk’ session – ‘Content Obesity: an Organisation’s Silent Killer’ was presented by Sally Bagshaw (key message – lose the junk and produce lean, high quality content), while Warren Kirby spoke about the importance of truth and trust in communications.

To bring the day and Forum to a close, there was a final discussion and presentation of the revised Melbourne Mandate where amends to the document were shared based on the feedback received by the Forum attendees. With the incorporated feedback the Mandate received the stamp of approval from attendees and formal endorsement of the Forum. A final ‘Insights and Foresight’ session was then held by Daniel Tisch and Nick Turner, Public Relations Institute of Australia, which summarised what was a successful and informative two-day, international event.

We will be posting a couple more blogs regarding the Forum in the coming weeks – looking at key topics in more depth, so keep an eye out and be sure to follow us at @CubeBytes for all the Cube news!

 

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