This is my second year attending the Government Communications Australia conference. This year I attended not only as a member of the committee, but also as a presenter. So there are many highlights, but here are the best takeaways!

Felicity Grey

  1. Take control of content – If we don’t other people will. Felicity Grey manages many thousands of bloggers via Nuffnang and emphasised that they can be a powerful tool to help reach your audience.
  2. Blogs are genuine – their readers come first. Felicity invites communicators to each out to the blogosphere for many reasons, but because they have a ready-made audience.

Kathy Jones – New Democracy on Citizen Juries

  1. Citizen juries help make the quality of interaction better. In talking about the power of using citizen juries, Kathy Jones said they can help build better relationships with communities.
  2. Citizen juries allow community members to make hard decisions. Kathy says we should use citizen juries in the decision making process to help ensure Council is delivering the desired results.
  3. Randomly selecting citizens is better for the creation of such juries, and the process is fairly simple: provide good information and they will provide good results.
  4. Failure to communicate: some people you just can’t reach. This was a good reminder, that despite all our efforts, there are some people we as communicators will never reach and that’s ok. As long as we know we have tried our best!


  1. Having just commenced my journey into IAP2’s Certificate In Engagement I am going to give them these two key plugs taken from the conference! Our engagement needs to be “Planned, purposeful, and about shaping decisions”.
  2. And remember “Engagement helps to build trust.”

Neryl East

  1. We are in a reputation economy – what you say about yourself, how people experience the organisation, and what others say about your organisation all matters!
  2. Stakeholders can now use mission critical information to disrupt your strategy 24/7. It’s easy to forget that even the best laid plans/messages/otherwise can be taken away in the matter of minutes in today’s digital age!

Paula Giles

  1. We need to be customer-centric organisations focusing on clarity, commitment, connectivity, capability, consistency and cohesion. These 6 c’s should guide not only our front counter customer experience, but be the foundation principles of every “door” into the organisation i.e. online, social media etc.

Tracey Varley – Yarra Ranges

  1. Complementary communications – you can’t just use digital. I’m glad I’m not on my own with this seemingly simple principle. Everything we do, we need to do across multiple platforms to reach as wide an audience as possible.
  2. Need to be able to measure communications methods – online helps, but as communicators we need to be involved in shaping customer surveys and other methods to ensure what we are doing is cutting the mustard.
  3. Tell audience what they want to know – don’t send messages that don’t have an audience.
  4. Don’t be afraid of trial and error – it’s ok to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.
  5. Blow them away with data – don’t be afraid to provide information, but keep it simple.

Llwellyn Rees

  1. Local Government speak such as Annual Plan, planning schemes can be inaccessible to the average person. Start from here and reassess.
  2. We need to consider the power of stories – shape how others see you, help persuade, and consider whether you are sending signals or just plain noise
  3. Focus on the journey – think Masterchef. Communicators would be wise to take this advice – can we approach an age-old issue a new way using a story/journey that will hit the mark better?

Gerry McLusker

  1. Councils need to be involved in response phase of emergencies and be a facilitator of information. Four key steps:
  • Step 1 in a crisis – monitor > issue > veracity > relevance
  • Step 2 mull on pros and cons on likely reactions > impacts > on whether engaging supports/detracts
  • Step 3 manage – keep stakeholders in the loop > keywords > newsroom disruption strategy > social spokesperson
  • Step 4 materials – which media format > who are the best content producers? Where can we see our materials > where necessary supplement organic content with paid-for social resources
  • Be empathetic, emotional when dealing with online crisis

Jonathan Champ

  1. Change is the main job of communicators. “Truths” about change like “change is hard” aren’t necessarily true. The medium may change, but what we talk about hasn’t
  2. Engagement depends on what you are asking people to engage in/with
  3. Everything is a remix – so steal like an artist – Austin Kleon
  4. Simplicity is a strategy.
  5. Short COMMS plan (Context, Outcome, Message, Method, Support). Sometimes the planning is overdone.
  6. Think about the UX (user experience) – get closer to the UX and design for that. Again putting ourselves in the place of customer helps explain.

Andres Puig

  1. Research is essential for successful campaigns – there’s that word again – research!
  2. Don’t chase too many priorities – have a good sense of what community wants and its importance. There’s no point campaigning if the community doesn’t care.

Chris Taylor

  1. One word can be interpreted in many ways. A good reminder for when you are starting to form a message.
  2. Need to have an agreed tone of voice – neutral can be a tone of voice and it doesn’t have to be boring. Oh yes, the best advice!
  3. Fine doesn’t always mean fine, especially in a text message from your wife! I must remember that one!
  4. To engage and build brand consistency remember the value proposition … Why should stakeholders care?

Our Say

  1. The Council Plan is unlikely to be in the top 5 important things in your life. What we see as important may not be the most important thing in the customer’s mind.
  2. Engagement starts and finishes with opinions

One last note from Jonathan Champ

  1. How do we prove the role and value of communication? Find ways to be strategically valuable. Know the business. Be resilient.

#GCASYD15 Storify

The best tweets from the conference have been compiled at

Photo credit: Corey Speers

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