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Education is a journey. It is a long-term and often ongoing experience we embark upon to attain knowledge and better ourselves. During this ‘student journey’, we often associate our schools, universities and other institutions merely as tools or locations we need in order to achieve our goals.

In fact, when we embark on the student journey the campuses, teachers and even intangible curriculums travel alongside us. For example, when someone decides to pursue a Master of Business Administration, the business school they enrol with becomes a companion every step of the way, providing the necessary support to help reach the finish line.

Student and the business schools, however, have different priorities and must prepare accordingly for each phase of the student journey.

Searching, contemplating and recruitment

At this stage, students are considering studying an MBA and are on the lookout for the business school that will best suit their needs. Students need to consider their personal commitments, professional workload, location and flexibility. These considerations are vital so early on in the process, and so business schools must respond in kind by providing accurate and up-to-date information on their MBA programs.

According to the Australian Skills Quality Authority, students have reported that it is important to them that the information they receive about their course before they enrol is factual and accurate, because many who are beginning their MBA student journey can often find the experience initially confusing.

Enrolment

At enrolment the journey to acquiring an MBA still demands research and preparation. Most MBA programs in Australia require students to already have completed an undergraduate degree and hold several years of professional experience before pursuing an MBA. Business Schools also provide their own iteration of the program on top of the core business outcomes, meaning the specialisations, electives, costs, course content and delivery mode (on-campus or online) will vary. The MBA student journey cannot begin if the student does not know what is required.

Similar to the recruitment phase of the journey, business schools must again ensure they are providing accurate advice to ensure it meets a student’s needs before they enrol. They must also ensure that their students can understand details about the course, such as how long the course will take, the study requirements and assessment methods.

Studying and Assessment

Notes, textbooks, online materials and other academic resources are of course essential items to carry through this phase of the student journey. However, when it comes to studying an MBA, students need more than tangible items to get them through to the other side. It has been touched on before but a good MBA kit bag must also include the right inner qualities and personal characteristics. Throughout their studies, MBA students must ensure they have determination, integrity, discipline, entrepreneurship, teamwork, critical thinking and a willingness to challenge prior knowledge.

It is at this point that business schools must provide all the necessary resources and support to maximise the outcomes for the student. According to the Australian Skills Quality Authority, it is important that:

  • teachers, trainers and assessors are professional and knowledgeable about their subjects and industry areas,
  • the amount of training is enough to allow students to practice new skills before they are assessed,
  • students can access good-quality learning resources and facilities, and
  • assessment activities are fair and well explained and students are given helpful feedback.

Many business schools have already addressed many of these elements in their MBA programs. For example, many schools appoint professors who have been or still are business professionals in their own right, resulting in classes being taught by former CEOs or current corporate directors.

Business schools must also be aware of the ‘support and progression’ phase of the student journey, which focusses on how they support students’ progression in their learning. This can be accomplished by providing easily accessible resources and materials like study support and study skills programs, mediation services, flexible scheduling and delivery, counselling services or referrals to these services and information and communications technology (ICT) support.

Graduation

The journey is over. Students have completed their studies and are eligible to receive an MBA. In this phase, students typically want to receive their certification in a timely manner to ensure they are not disadvantaged in seeking employment.

As for students; while the journey to achieving an MBA is over, it paves the way for a bigger journey of self-improvement, employment opportunities and career advancement. All there is left to consider is finding the will to use their newfound knowledge and achieve the success they desire in the business world.


Originally published on MBA News: www.mbanews.com.au/what-students-and-business-schools-need-to-pack-for-the-mba-journey

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Carl Rhodes, University of Technology Sydney

For decades Gillette has been selling razors using the slogan “the best a man can get”. This week the Procter & Gamble-owned brand has adopted “the best a man can be” as part of a marketing campaign meant to challenge toxic masculinity.

Explicitly aligning itself with the #metoo movement, the message is that men have to change if we want to end sexual harassment, bullying and domestic violence.

The campaign’s centrepiece, a 108-second “short film”, has divided opinion. Among those to declare their contempt for Gillette’s “virtue signalling” is the British television presenter Piers Morgan, who has labelled the advert “man-hating” and part of a “war on masculinity”.

On the other side, those lauding Gillette include Glamour magazine contributor Helen Wilson-Beevers, who has praised the video as a “self-assured piece of advertising that Gillette should be proud of”.



The new corporate political activism

Gillette’s campaign exemplifies a new type of corporate political activism where corporations and their chief executives publicly back progressive social and political causes.

A textbook example is Nike’s advertisements featuring American football player Colin Kaepernick, who began the practice of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African Americans.

Whereas in the past corporations could be expected to be the targets of political activists – on such issues as climate change, worker exploitation and animal cruelty – today many corporations see advantages in becoming the activists.

Nike is the classic case study. In 1997 the company was being dragged over the public coals for the use of child labour in the factories it contracted to make its shoes in countries such as Indonesia. By 2017 some considered it a leader in corporate social activism.

This can be very good for business. Corporate activism is a marketing strategy geared at the management of corporate values and identity, as well as reputation building. It has been explicitly identified as having the twin objectives: to influence public opinion but also to improve consumer attitudes about the company.

Nike exemplifies this as well. While some saw the Kaepernick ad as a calculated market risk, it paid off. By the end of 2018 Nike’s sales far exceeded expectations, and its share price continued to rise.

This is not to say that nobody at Nike or Gillette genuinely believes in the causes the organisations have chosen to support. But that support would still have depended on the cause passing the “business case” test – with any social benefits seen as being matched to self-interested commercial benefits.

After all, we don’t see many corporations campaigning to eliminate aggressive corporate tax avoidance, even though that is the leading way they contribute to society.

Praise to #metoo

This tells us something about the causes corporate activists put their money behind. Put simply, when a corporation backs a progressive social movement it is because the company is reasonably confident its cause has mainstream support.

Gillette’s embrace of #metoo themes is thus a corporate endorsement of how mainstream that movement has become. In barely a year it has grown into a global social phenomena bringing women’s experiences of workplace sexual harassment and exploitation out of the shadows. In the words of the #metoo founder Tarana Burke, the goal is to build “a world free of sexual violence”.

That Gillette has aligned itself with the #metoo movement is not something for the brand to be congratulated on. It is #metoo that deserves the praise.

Carl Rhodes, Professor of Organization Studies, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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With ongoing algorithm changes to Facebook and Instagram in particular, the ability to communicate directly with your own database is more important than ever.

One medium of communication that is seeing a resurgence in value by organisations and marketers is the now humble email.

But what is it about email messaging that has lasted and brought it back into vogue as a valuable marketing tool?

Put simply, it is the only guaranteed-delivery option the internet has left.

As The Wall Street Journal’s technology reporter Christopher Mims recently wrote, “In the #deletefacebook era, it’s become a way to fight back against the algorithms that try to dictate what people see.”

Readers sign up to receive email communication and whilst your communication remains relevant, that should prevent them from hitting the unsubscribe button. Email is still free and a direct way of communication which can be personalised.

The key is take the view that you’re building a loyal and engaged community. Members are looking for you to provide insight, authenticity and interesting information — not just sales spiels.

And whilst the Snapchat generation may view email as being antiquated and not immediate, they all have email accounts. The truth is that you can’t rely on email marketing alone and you will ignore social media platforms at your peril. However, email marketing should hold a key place in your marketing communications mix.

email marketing

Mims quotes Wales-based jeans company Hiut Denim co-founder David Hieatt as saying, “If you ask me, would I want a mail­ing list with 1,000 peo­ple on it or 100,000 fol­low­ers on Twit­ter, I’d take the 1,000 emails all day long, be­cause the busi­ness you get from 1,000 emails will be much more than you get from 100,000 peo­ple on Twit­ter or In­sta­gram.”

Your email database is valuable and can be maximised from a marketing perspective very cost effectively. Ensure you build your database and gain the contact details of each new client or prospect.

Two very effective marketing programs which enable you to market effectively to your email database include Mailchimp and Marketo.

Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform that helps you to create marketing campaigns and share with clients, customers and other contacts. Mailchimp will assist with your list management and compliance with direct mail requirements. The platform enables you to manage subscribers, generate custom reports, view click-through and success rates, track your emails, and ensure full transparency of campaigns.

Marketo is a powerful engagement service offering a cloud-based email marketing platform with a range of capabilities including marketing automation, social marketing, lead nurturing, budget management, analytics, sales insight, and website personalisation. One of the big benefits is native integration with CRM suites such as Salesforce.com. A leading digital marketing suite, Marketo will streamline your email marketing processes and enable you to provide unique customer offers through personalisation.

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Building a strong network of media contacts is a crucial element to public relations and business. With 2019 well underway and communications strategies being finalised, establishing a connection with journalists personally or through your business should become a priority.

Here’s why.

Earned media is vital to reaching millions of readers

According to research by Roy Morgan in 2018, 16.1 million Australians over the age of 14 (that’s almost 80%) now read or access newspapers in an average seven-day period via print or online platforms. Although it is true that print readership has steadily declined over the years, there are still 7.3 million Australians overall who read print newspapers, including over 5.2 million who read weekday issues, more than 4.4 million who read Saturday editions and nearly 4 million who read Sunday titles.

Online platforms are making it easier for people to access news, and journalists are the gatekeepers to this audience. Creating a solid news story that can be passed on to a reliable contact in the media means your name, business and content has the chance to be passed on to millions of people.

Some journalists write for multiple publications

Having the right media contact can result in your story being seen by thousands of extra readers across several suburbs, regions and even states. Many papers and news outlets belong to the same media group, resulting in a story written by a single journalist finding its way – word for word – on more than one platform. Distribution and residential boundaries may result in some journalists, especially editors who still write stories for their publication, taking charge of a whole region and the multiple local papers that circulate within it. At minimum, newspapers today also post stories on a dedicated news website, so a story in the paper typically means it will also be available to an online audience.

Trust increases likelihood of publication

Journalists also need a strong list of contacts and will pay close attention to those who provide them with interesting, news-worthy stories. Unless your story is ground-breaking, exclusive and undeniably engaging, it is difficult to cold-contact a journalist with instantly positive results. A journalist you contact regularly will be more likely to run your stories if they recognise your name or company to be a reliable source of quality content.

Media contacts improve crisis communications

When word of an incident or sensitive information finds its way into a journalist’s hands, it can lead to the production of a negative story which can damage a reputation. However, it is a general rule for journalists to be impartial, which often means the damaged party may be contacted for a right of reply. If the journalist has your contact information close at hand, they will know to come straight to you, giving you a chance to share your side of the story and hopefully minimise any further potential damage.

How to build a strong relationship with your media contacts

Deliver quality content that is worth their time. Put heavy consideration into a story’s impact on its audience – is this important to readers, or is it advertorial and self-serving? Also ensure your content is well-crafted and engaging, rather than shallow or poorly written.

Communicate consistently, not persistently. Show your media contacts that you are reachable, cooperative and a reliable source for quality news. You don’t want to be thought of as an email spammer and end up in their junk mail, so avoid diluting your relationship by pestering them with inane updates, constant follow-ups and check- ins or weak stories.

Provide your media contact with all the resources they need. Sometimes this isn’t possible, but you increase your chance of a story being run if there is sufficient material for the journalist to use. Some journalists receive media releases attached to an email that reads ‘image upon request’. This might sound like a viable strategy to gauge interest in the story, but it’s a bad habit to get into. Accompanying a quality media release with high resolution imagery and some background context as to why your story is newsworthy is always a step in the right direction.

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Increasing pressure on resources and the insatiable need to produce ever more content for more channels means many publishers are looking at creative ways to source high quality articles.

The traditional op-ed pieces has emerged as an important way for these publishers to provide their audiences with great content while providing brands with a great new avenue to generate brand awareness and credibility.

An op-ed is short for ‘opinion editorial’ (or opposite the editorial) and were first used as a form of content for newspapers looking to publish narrative articles which went beyond traditional, objective journalism and instead focussed on the subjective opinion of the author. The first op-ed page of the New York Times appeared in 1970 and was created as a dedicated space for outside contributors. The ‘editorial’ section of newspapers remains reserved for in-house writers or editorial boards to provide the opinion of the publisher.

The op-ed harks back to a time when there was a clear distinction between editorial and opinion and it was important to segregate opinion from news, lest the sky fell in.

As more publishers open their pages and sites to third party content the ability to craft a great op-ed that achieves the right balance between thought leadership, branding, marketing and engagement is becoming more valuable.

Writing a great op-ed that has the ability to not only attract and engage an audience but also achieve marketing outcomes is emerging as one of the most important tools in the public relations arsenal.

Our client simPRO Software often uses op-ed pieces to grow their brand awareness and discuss important issues for their audience. The article above appeared in the latest edition of Circuit magazine and highlighted the need for electrical contractors to build their understanding of IoT, an important growth channel for simPRO.

Have an opinion

It may seem obvious, but the first step to crafting a great op-ed is to have an opinion. The more contrarian the better. In the digital age where views, even sensible ones, can attract a crazed horde of online trolls forming an opinion and arguing it can be a daunting experience.

An op-ed should challenge prevailing thought and provide a new line of thinking about a traditional problem. The best op-eds throw out the prevailing wisdom about a topic and introduce truly disruptive thinking.

Your op-ed should always start with a hypothesis that you set out to prove or disprove. The best place to start is with a simple statement. A thought. An idea. A quick scan of the op-ed pages of major newspapers will provide a good insight into how to create a great piece. The headline should always be a dead giveaway and critical to attracting a reader.

The Guardian – “Does marijuana really cause psychotic disorders

The Australian – “Australia Day debate is based on a myth

Mumbrella – “Australia’s digitally incoherent politicians are threatening the ad and media industries

You don’t need to start with a perfectly formed 600-word piece full of prose and nuanced analysis. That comes later. The premise of your piece will dictate the entire narrative so be sure to get it right.

Write Well

There can be no doubt that some of the best ideas in history have ended up on the cutting room floor due to lack of coherence and basic writing skills. Thankfully, the very best op-ed pieces are marked not by their complexity, but their simplicity.

Columns are most typically conversational in tone, so you can imagine yourself have a conversation with your reader as you write (a short, focused conversation). But the range of voice used in columns can be wide: contemplative, conversational, descriptive, experienced, informative, informed, introspective, observant, plaintive, reportorial, self-effacing, sophisticated, humorous, among many others. These simple tips should get you on your way.

– Use third party data and research to justify your arguments or background.
– Assume your ready knows little about the topic so explain any complex ideas or terminology.
– Give context and background to help the reader see how your idea developed.
– Stay focussed and avoid narrative tangents or sub plots – Use, strong active language and a plain English writing style (save your creative writing skills for your novel)

HERE ARE SOME GREAT OP-ED WRITING TIPS

Know Your Audience

Most op-ed pieces will be written specifically for a publication. If you have convinced the editor to give you some space, make sure you take the time to understand their audience and their editorial priorities.

Write using a tone and language that reflects the audiences’ level of understanding about the topic. If you are writing for a specialist trade magazine it is probably fine to use industry jargon. If you are writing for a wider audience, assume the reader knows little or nothing about the topic.

A good way to perfecting your voice and tone is to get in the habit of reading your column or op-ed out loud. Doing so gives you a clear sense of how your piece might sound – what your voice may come off as – to your intended reader.

Don’t Sell

An op-ed is not an opportunity to write 500 words about your products and their incredible features and great pricing. That’s called advertising. Integrating product references, branding or marketing messages into your piece requires certain degree of subtlety and sophistication.

Not just because your piece may get spiked, but because readers have finely-tuned detectors and can tell the difference between insightful, inspired thinking and a thinly-veiled product flog. Any value from the piece from a commercial perspective should be driven by a desire to establish yourself and your brand as a thought leader.


If thought leadership is part of your ongoing marketing strategy please feel free to get in touch to discuss how RGC can make it happen. Email ben@rgcmm.com.au or call +61 415 743 838.

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We’d all love to see our name featured prominently in The Australian, the Australian Financial Review or the leading heralds, mails and posts across the nation. But why break your back trying to constantly win over major publications when smaller, niche publications could be better for your company?

 

It was perhaps best written by Glean.info CEO William Comcowich:

 

“Forget The New York Times. Send news to niche publications instead.

Clients and top company executives typically want large, national publications to mention their company. They dream of a feature story on their company in The New York Times.

 

“For companies in many industries, a feature in The New York Times is more likely to boost a client’s ego than sales or revenue. Although major, national media outlets sometimes provide substantial publicity boosts, trade journals and other types of niche publications offer more valuable media opportunities for many companies, especially those in B2B industries.”

 

This is not to say that major news outlets shouldn’t be targeted if your company has a terrific story. There is nothing wrong with wanting to grow your name and business through the power of earned media via powerful publications.

 

However, there are several key PR benefits to focusing on niche publication.

 

Here are just a few.

 

More value for the press release. Often when pitching a story to major publications, a media release is taken apart and only certain pieces are used to create the journalist wishes to tell. And that is assuming the media release is even used. Major publications are sometimes in competition with each other, and the media release so painstakingly put together may only be used once, if ever. Frequently, niche editors run press release in both print and digital pages, share them on social media, and include links to your website. Editors might also ask for an article about the technology behind the product.

 

Niche publications are also happy to report on small companies in their sector. As long as the pitch is on topic, they typically respond to media requests faster and publish articles sooner. In addition, because niche publications are often short on staff, they’re more open to accepting contributed content.

 

Reach a specific audience. Readers of the Sydney Morning Herald are looking at any articles that pique their interest. Readers of niche publications are straight away looking for pieces on a particular topic. If your company operates in their industry, then a niche reader will want to read about you.

 

According to Comcowich, “a feature in the Huffington Post offers little benefit to a business that sells a casting reel for left-handed fishermen. Despite the site’s millions of daily visitors, few readers will be interesting in buying the item. An article in B.A.S.S. Times, with a circulation of about 100,000 readers, will reach avid fishermen. Even if they don’t need a left-handed casting reel, they probably know someone who does.”

 

Explain a technical story. Major publications usually cover broader topics and typically attempt to simplify the content for a wide audience. Niche publications have readers who are experts or passionate about the publication topic, which means their writing gets down to the nitty-gritty technical details. Therefore, companies are able to show who they really are to readers who want to know, quickly getting to the details of their product and saving time when in media pitches, podcasts and interviews.

 

Build legitimacy in a niche community. Niche publications have the respect of industry insiders because of the credibility they have earned providing specifically targeted content of a high quality. Some industry associations even distribute free publications to their members, promoting a sense of objectivity and trust in the publication. Richard Etchison of Crenshaw Communications said, “a consistent presence in the right trade outlet can announce the arrival of a new company as a legit player, or it may help establish a founder as thought leader.”

 

Niche publications can also offer entry to larger outlets. Journalists and editors for major newspapers and consumer magazines sometimes use the presumed expert knowledge within formats like trade journals, drawing on content for research and reference purposes.

 

Large digital presence. Niche publications often primarily take the form of magazines, blogs, online news, videos, blogs and direct member emails. Print format has become less popular due to costs and the time required for production and distribution. Instead, niche publications opt for a digital presence, allowing for a higher rate of content creation, social media engagement and search engine optimisation (SEO). Ultimately, going niche allows a company to spread their message across the expanse of cyberspace, further than the reach of a physical print medium.

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Imagine a popular social media channel that did not display the number of “likes,” mentions, impressions, followers, engagements or any other metric to show how many times one’s content has been viewed, by whom and when.

A flourishing “how-to” industry has arisen dedicated to increasing “counts” on social media, while also claiming this is the silver bullet to becoming more popular, rich and famous.

You can purchase the services of click-farms to artificially increase your like-counters. This potentially increases your content’s chances of being cross-syndicated, appearing higher up in newsfeeds and possibly meaning the ability to convert “online social wealth” into material wealth.

In other cases, approbation markers such as likes can be used to generate popularity or condemnation of a group, politician or policy through the artful use of bots and astroturfing. For example, the work of the Russia-based Internet Research Agency has been implicated for swaying public opinion and altering the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The increasing concern over the spread of fake news and alleged political interference waged in sophisticated campaigns are examples that may come readily to mind, but the danger also includes the efforts of more local coordinated campaigns by political action groups to flood, troll and overwhelm the newsfeeds of popular social media using invite-only Twitter rooms.

‘Likes’ equals wins for market capitalism

When social sharing buttons and counters were introduced on popular social media platforms over a decade ago, it could be said that it changed the character of social media. It also changed the motives for engaging with it.

Seeing numbers rise seems somewhat hardwired into us now, and provides incentive to contribute, and to contribute often, for the promise of this token digital reward. We spend long hours on these sites seeking to drive up numbers that are largely devoid of any context or direct transferable value.

Somehow we feel we will be magically validated for posting more of the extraordinary (and mundane) moments of our lives.

Getting online ‘likes’ is a competition that may lead nowhere. Elijah O’Donell/Unsplash, CC BY


What is troubling is that this ruthless behaviour to get more likes seems to undermine the social aspect of social media. Instead of truly being social, we are making it more of a competitive endeavour to accumulate more likes.

Measuring the value of other human beings on the basis of how high their “score” is on social media seems less social, and more like trying to “win” at social media in ways that resemble market capitalism.

Indeed, the main beneficiaries of our addictive and competitive behaviour are the social media companies who get more eyeballs on ads.

Ruthless competition

One can imagine the absurdity of the situation if we applied the idea of likes to our offline social interactions where we would engage in a strange kind of jockeying for social points among our friends and family. But competitive behaviour has a very long precedent in terms of accumulating wealth in any of its forms (material or otherwise).

As human beings, we do engage in competitive games in a social context. From board games, sports and online gaming. For those of us old enough to remember pinball machines at the arcade, there might have been a fleeting sense of satisfaction in earning the top score. But these were localized; today, with the ubiquity of social media and the proliferation of global leaderboards on multiplayer games, even the social succumbs to ruthless competition.

Social media is seen as a tool to connect communities and create relationships. Shutterstock


The obsessive competitive drive in accumulating ever higher scores on social media via counters seems to deviate from all the extolled virtues of social media as a tool for connectivity, deepening relationships, transcending geographical barriers or organizing and mobilizing on the basis of speaking truth to power.

Although examples of these virtues are still evident on social media, we ought to call into question the value of these social metrics. Instead of a global village, as Marshall McLuhan prophesied, we are presented with a digital Potemkin village, a constructed sham, where sharing and being social is secondary to numerical proof of social interactions.

For younger generations who have grown up with web 2.0 social media, such status-chasing and social validation behaviours reduced to numerical outputs might be of concern. This model sets up situations for creating an easy tabulation of winners and losers.

Some social media influencers have been able to monetize their influence: Instagram influencer Kelly Eden and friend pose at the Kingdom Hearts III premiere on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Santa Monica, Calif. (Colin Young-Wolff for Square Inix/AP)

Cue the more acute instances of self-esteem collapse, the pressure to sexualize the self in images to garner more attention and other risk-taking behaviours. The race to share also highlights widening class divisions as those without the means to go on lavish vacations or purchase and display luxury products are made to feel of lesser value.

In this way, we have found a convenient, visible, automated means of evaluating other humans.

Status-chasing

Before social media, a person of means may have wished to flaunt their “value” through conspicuous consumption, being seen driving an expensive vehicle, going about town in designer clothing and having their name appear in the society pages. Now, all who have online access can compete in these games of numerical value, and can receive near-instant gratification for their efforts. Social media counters have regrettably “democratized” status-chasing competition.

Can we convert our likes to mortgage payments? Or a job? Callie Morgan/Unsplash


One might ask what exactly it is that we are accumulating, why and for what purpose? Some savvy social media users are able to leverage their enormous follower counts to become online celebrities and make a living (for a time). Yet, what of others who do not have such aspirations?

Do they consider their informative post on their poetic reflections on a warm spring day of lesser value if it does not garner a certain number of likes? Can we take our numbers of followers, retweets and likes to the bank as security on a mortgage? Can we convert likes into some form of currency? Before we say, “That is absurd!”, there are sites that actually do peg a dollar value on a like or tell us the monetary value of an account.

Is this a form of “video game” capitalism? Not quite, as there is no reliable way of converting like capital into, say, more equipment or software (fixed capital). It is, at bottom, primitive accumulation. It may not, in itself, be meaningful any more than — as the late economist Thorstein Veblen pointed out — buying silver rather than steel spoons.

Let’s use an absurd example to illustrate the point. If I get 10,000 upvotes on a piece of content, what does that say about the content? Not much, at least any more than me saving kittens from a burning house will mean 10,000 people will hop on one foot for 76.4 seconds. There is simply not much substantial connection between the two events.

Pity instead those whose jobs require them to boost those metrics for a business, political party or political candidate. They have no choice but to employ tactics designed to increase apparent engagement. While those of us not under such conditions have the luxury of ignoring or turning up our noses at such pursuits, others may find this to be one of the key duties of their job.

Human beings will always find some means to evaluate and judge one another, be it in terms of wealth, education, power or ability. However, the steady conversion of social media into an eerie parallel of a market economy is concerning, perhaps drawing us further away from what may have been intended by users to be a truly open, global social space.

Perhaps it is of some benefit to recall William Bruce Cameron’s pithy adage: “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”The Conversation


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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If you’re looking for a great experience to entertain clients, supporters, staff and partners then a day at the races is definitely something to be considered.

 

Whether you’re into betting and the horses — or not — a day at the races offers something for everyone. Racing clubs are not just in the business of horse racing, they’re in the business of hospitality with most race courses offering a number of venues and experiences to suit all comers.

 

Some venues at the track can cater for a crowd of a couple of hundred or down to smaller groups and can do stand-up catering or sit down, depending upon the sort of function you’d like to have.

 

The horse racing can be great background entertainment or central to the day, the venues can tailor to suit, or you can look for an event manager to tie it all together and facilitate the type of experience required.

 

 

RGC recently managed a race-day for agri-products trader Cory Johnston to celebrate their 50 years in business in 2018.

 

Doomben Racecourse in Brisbane was the venue for the day where Cory Johnston took out naming rights sponsorship for the nine-event race card. This was a great platform for them to leverage the day through television signage exposure and at the racecourse.

 

120 guests were entertained with Brisbane Racing Club’s hospitality team looking after the guests superbly in a private room and trackside experiences offered to guests including rail access to the starting gates and opportunities to watch a race from the race caller’s room, with a view of the action not to be missed.

 

Experienced MC and race day host Mark Forbes of Game On International was engaged to facilitate the formal proceedings and entertain guests. Event photography was provided by EV Photo – if you’re going to the expense and trouble to organise a significant event then make sure it is covered properly by a professional photographer. The results are priceless.

 



Racing clubs are not just in the business of horse racing, they’re in the business of hospitality


 

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World War I did not get off to a great start for Maurice Buckley (pictured second from left), one of Australia’s bravest soldiers and perhaps my favorite Victoria Cross (VC) recipient.

After signing up to join the famed Australian Light Horse Brigade Maurice was shipped off to Egypt on his way to the infamous cliffs of Gallipoli. No sooner had he sighted the Pyramids then he was sent back home after contracting a venereal disease. On his return the shame became too great and he promptly deserted.

As the war dragged into 1915 and then 1916 Buckley became determined to redeem himself and re-enlisted using his dead brother’s first name and his mother’s maiden name.

‘Gerald Sexton’ landed in the Somme, the bloodiest of all bloodbaths, in early 1917. By late 1918 as the war approached its zenith he had earned himself the rank of Sergeant and a Distinguished Conduct Medal. On 18 September, 2018, as part of the AIF’s assault on the German held village of St Quentin, under the command of Sir John Monash, he was to display bravery that 100 years and one month later still sends a shiver down your spine.

The full story is quite extraordinary but his Victoria Cross citation reads (in part):

“During the whole period of the advance Sergeant Sexton was to the fore dealing with enemy machine guns by firing from the hip as he advanced, rushing enemy posts and performing feats of bravery and endurance which are better appreciated when one realises that all the time he fired his Lewis Gun from the hip without faltering or for a moment taking cover…”

Sexton rushed at least six enemy machine-gun positions, captured a field gun, and took nearly 100 prisoners. He was originally handed the VC under his adopted name before revealing his true identity and having it gazetted in his real name. He would tragically die in a horse riding accident in 1921.

Far more than Gallipoli, I have always wanted to see the battlefields of the Western Front where so many Australian soldiers gave their lives. After first reading Buckley’s story in Sir John Monash’s biography I am determined my tour will start and end in the little village of Le Verguier. Perhaps there is special memorial to the deserter turned hero.

This desire to travel half way across the world to feel close to something that happened more than 100 years ago is down to power of narrative storytelling.

The power of narrative

As a reader, you don’t often think about why stories reach out and touch something deeper inside you. As a storyteller with the goal of driving behaviour and actions it is important to understand the how and the why.

While there are many opinions about what it takes to reach a level of engagement with an audience that prompts action, you won’t often hear the scientific perspective. As a creative industry content marketing and public relations have enough trouble dealing with the rise of big data without also having to put on a white coat and visit a lab.

However, there is a now a small but growing field of study that examines the cold, hard science behind how storytelling works. It seeks to understand why narrative sticks in our brain, moves us (literally) and produces increased empathy. The major research and findings have already delivered some pretty informative insights.

For instance, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) research has shown the certain language (such as descriptive and figurative) lights up neurological regions that incite action and movement. This means a good story inspires and motivates you to do something.

When your emotional your body often releases dopamine. Dopamine helps us remember an experience with greater accuracy. A story that touches someone on an emotional level will be much more easily remembered and recalled.

Research by the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies shows character-driven stories with emotional content result in a better understanding of the key points a speaker wishes to make and enable better recall of these points weeks later. This is because character-driven stories cause a reaction, called oxytocin synthesis, that motivates cooperation with others. (READ MORE).

Each of these helps explains why after reading the story of Maurice Buckley my ability to recall and act on the story was so strong. So next time you read something amazing, remember it;s not all about emotions. It is just science.

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Inspiring stories of social activism, such as the Civil Rights movement and the fight against climate change, abound in history. And it is generally thought that the new social media era has helped cases of activism to succeed. But our research has revealed some major threats, which activists need to understand if they are to be successful in getting their message across to the masses.

 

Social activism refers to a broad range of activities which are beneficial to society or particular interest groups. Social activists operate in groups to voice, educate and agitate for change, targeting global crises.

 

Take, for example, environmental groups such as Greenpeace which aim to curb climate change by targeting governments and major manufacturers with poor environmental records. Or the anti-sweatshop movement, which started with a group of activists in the 19th century organising boycotts aimed at improving the conditions of workers in manufacturing places with low wages, poor working conditions and child labour.

 

Online social activism

These days the voices of dissent have increasingly been carried via the evolving medium of the internet. From #Metoo, #TimesUp and #WeStrike to #NeverAgain and #BlackLivesMatter, social activists wield the power of the internet to pressure powerful organisations.

 

The group 350.org, for example, is made up of climate change activists. The group uses online campaigns and grassroots organising to oppose new coal, oil and gas projects. Its aim is to get society moving closer to clean energy solutions that work for all.

 

Online activism allows activists to organise events with high levels of engagement, focus and network strength. On the one hand, researchers suggest that the anonymity offered by online communication provides the possibility of expressing the views of marginalised minority groups that might otherwise be punished or sanctioned. Online activities reinforce collective identity by reducing attention to differences that exist within the group (such as education, social class, and ethnicity).

 

The online threats

But other research argues that while this modern form of activism may increase participation in online activities, it might merely create the impression of activism. Or it may even have negative consequences, such as creating social stereotypes including those about feminists and environmentalists or getting social activists arrested as is the case in authoritarian countries.

 

The aim of our research was to develop insights that would obtain better outcomes from online activism, targeting some of society’s most important issues. During our study, we collected data from three YouTube cases of online activism. Our findings suggest that online activism delivers a temporary shock to the organisational elites, help organise collective actions and amplify the conditions for movements to form.

 

The elites fight back

But these initial outcomes provoke the elites into action, resulting in counter measures – such as increased surveillance to track activists. For example, some governmental authorities intensified internet filtering, blocked access to several websites and decreased the speed of the internet connection to slow down social activism. These measures prompted self-censorship among activists and a loss of interest among the public in relation to the cause and contributed to the ultimate decline of social activism over time.

 

Our study challenged the optimistic hype around online activism in enabling grassroots social movements by suggesting there is a complex relationship between activists and those groups they are targeting, which makes the outcomes very difficult to predict. As different parties with different interests intervene, they either encourage or inhibit activism.

 

While encouraging actions can take the form of support (such as the thousands of women around the world who posted on social media sharing their stories under #metoo), inhibiting actions may come in the form of information asymmetry (strategies such as filtering and surveillance) from elites.

 

Inhibiting strategies are not limited to authoritarian organisations. Senior managers may also monitor email correspondence of staff, set up structures and hierarchies for access to organisational information, and use information provided by secretive companies to check the status of their employees (for example, blacklisting workers perceived as trouble-makers).

 

Less emotion and more strategic patience

Online activists should understand that the dynamics of reaching collective action might not necessarily be the result of critical thinking, lifelong learning or other dimensions of civic engagement. Journalist Nicholas Kristoff has talked about how the anti-sweatshop movement “risks harming the impoverished workers it is hoping to help” by causing mass job redundancies. Similarly, our main message is that online activism could prompt reactions that will result in unintended and long lasting consequences for the activists involved.

 

A common and frequently used approach that risks these types of consequences is to share emotive information through social media. While this is used to inform and capture people’s attention and mobilise as many people as possible, our study suggests that more thought should be put into the consequences of information sharing and what information is most appropriate to be shared.

 

Activists may need to spend more time and energy to create and share information that is less emotive and help people learn about the underlying causes of problem. For example, the activism videos we have researched and commonly see on the internet are essentially reactive and emotive.

 

The ConversationInstead of focusing on the problem and the need for change, activists can share information that explains why and how the current situation has been created and what can be learned for the future. Online activism in such manner can gradually lead to the development of people who are capable of generating new knowledge and wisdom to respond to changing social environments. However, that requires strategic patience and that is often a scarce resource among activists desperate for change.

 

Author: Shahla Ghobadi, Assistant Professor, Software, Design, Social Activism, University of Manchester

Main image: Sign displaying the #metoo and #timesup message at the Women’s March in San Francisco in January, 2018. Shutterstock/SundryPhotography

Shahla Ghobadi, University of Manchester


This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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