Marketing in the tumultuous world of digital communications and the denouement of a global financial crisis can feel like ‘boldly going where no man has gone before’. Unless you happen to be Joel Roberts.

“Everyone now is part customer and part competitor,” is how Mr Roberts categorises the new communication – and, hence, marketing – challenges of the digital age.

“But that has spurred entrepreneurship in a way that could not have happened before,” he happily qualified.

Joel Roberts, one of the leading media consultants in the US, will be in Brisbane for his first Australian public appearance on September 10, as part of the Wealth From Marketing single day event that also features the man credited with creating ‘guerrilla marketing’, Jay Conrad Levinson.

Joel Roberts.


Mr Roberts is a former prime talk show host on KABC Radio Los Angeles and his company, Joel D. Roberts & Associates, now consults to many Fortune 100 companies to help them harness the power of the media. He specialises in assisting major publishers and best-selling authors, such as Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup from the Soul) and Stephen Covey (The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), with their marketing in an age that is often accused of destroying the traditional publishing industry.Mr Roberts said the original catalyst for such tumultuous change – and the confusion that still reigns among mass media and publishers -- was not the global financial meltdown but rather the onset of new communication technologies.

“Revolution predated the cataclysm,” he said. “The west exported the technology – cable, satellite broadband etc – that allowed the rest of the world to compete with us.

“As Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has said, ‘Anyone can plug and play then anyone can connect, compete and collaborate’ .”

While Mr Roberts acknowledges the challenges on the modern communication landscape, he also lauds its opportunities. He said writers, journalists and publishers – good storytellers – retain the upper hand.

“What I tell my clients – and many of them are top business leaders in the US – is that the technology of modern communication has been democratised, but not the techniques. Every business person and every entrepreneur needs to understand what these techniques are and how to use them.”

“The field of the competitor and the customer has increased dramatically. It is the democratisation of broadcasting and publishing – but not all podcasters are up to the task.

“It is a matter of what’s worth saying – and then how do you say it? This is a move back to pure communication. One on one,” Mr Roberts said.

“Learning the language of marketing is no longer an option, it’s now an obligation.”

In a way, Joel Roberts is excited by the purity and clarity of communication that the new landscape demands – it’s a secession of power to good storytellers.

“What we are doing, in many ways, is the same as it was. But, expectations have changed,” Mr Roberts said.

A good example of how Mr Roberts’ understanding of the marketing metamorphosis is regarded is the variety of organisations now calling upon his services.

Joel D. Roberts & Associates is the largest media coaching company in the US to the publishing industry, but recently he was asked to conduct a seminar with 100 top US trial lawyers, locked down in a resort on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

He told the lawyers a host of reasons why they needed to go back to basics and master the techniques of storytelling and strong interpersonal communication, in order to perform better in their own profession.

“Just because the jurors are captive, it does not necessarily mean they are captivated,” he told them, illustrating how the fundamental techniques of the storyteller are where the ultimate influence now rests. “They may be seat bound but not necessarily spellbound ... The techniques of the courthouse steps need to be brought into the courtroom itself.”  


He said the international attention span is ever dwindling. The universe now for communicators starts higher than ever before. What are the sure-fire techniques that will work today?

Mr Roberts admitted that was the daily tussle for marketeers, journalists and storytellers in general. His message for professional communicators is not to despair -- there is still a way to make money.

“Is brevity the name of the game? Brief is good, but not always …” he said. “Not every profound truth can be explained in just a few words. But you do need to write the short memo on why the longer memo is necessary.”

He said there was more opportunity than ever to use various forms of communication to send out the “tantalizing aromas” that draw people to the real story.

“We, as writers and broadcasters must realise the new environment,” he said, “but story telling is still story telling.

“We are seeing the democratisation of everything. People will pay for education, they will pay for journalism.

“The New York Times is still profitable but in a different kind of way to what they were before. The matrices are more complex than ever – the advertising earn may take the form of a fee for information. It requires all of us to be creative and adapt.”

Especially in the US, industries have found ways to use digital to reinforce other communication elements.

“The New York Times or the Sydney Morning Herald or the Washington Post are all still very much alive but the relationship between online and newsprint has changed. The Economist, for example, still thrives in an actual physical version,” he said.

“It is a matter of figuring out now how your audience may want to relate to you.” This is a compelling message Mr Roberts imparts continually to media professionals.

“Maybe the current generation wants to see your face – so you are not just a byline? All of us are broadcasters and journalists now. There is no escaping it.”

Mr Roberts is himself a former professional broadcaster, best remembered as a primetime talk show host on KABC Radio, Los Angeles. Having spent more than 5000 hours behind a microphone, including live talk shows that featured a vast array of guests ranging from US Presidential candidate Ross Perot, to actor Dennis Franz of NYPD Blue and Don Henley of The Eagles – and producing a syndicated radio program called The Best of Health interviewing bestselling authors in the field he unfortunately developed a rare hearing condition as a result of an accident.

He lost 40 percent of his hearing and could no longer war earphones for long periods of time. His radio career, as he had envisioned it, was over.

Because of the work he had been doing with authors, Mr Roberts was casually drawn into the field of media consulting and coaching for authors and publishers.

When a coaching session for a high-ranking Novartis Pharmaceuticals spokesman, aimed at maximising impact on an interview with the ABC Network’s leading business program, exceeded the company’s expectations, “next thing I know the communications director walks in with 12 of her brand managers to articulate the same for them …

“That was when I realised that a media background had application for the business arena.”

From that time, he said, he has been teaching corporates and CEOs, business owners and sales and marketing people to use the art of storytelling to their own advantage and for their companies and their products.

He said even highly successful people could enhance what they do by focusing on telling their stories better.

“Could Steve Jobs (head of Apple Inc.) have envisioned the extent to which the technologies he has helped create would change society and the way it communicates? Possibly not. We are still learning, day by day, how to explore and exploit these opportunities.”

Mr Roberts teaches common sense about communication that carries across whatever delivery medium is being used.

“The whole world needs to speak the language of impact,” he said “This is the new literacy and it’s an international phenomenon.”

He said most people agreed the 20th Century as the US’s century. The 21st century is mostly regarded as China’s.

“But I’d say the new international language is not English, Chinese, or Hindi. I think the international language is the ‘language of impact’ – and we all have to master this.

“If you are a good storyteller, you’ve still got a future somewhere.”


Joel Roberts feels the US is mastering the new communication paradigm a little faster than other countries, including Australia – and had put it into commercial practice more rapidly.

That was the impetus for Mr Roberts to join with US marketing legend Jay Conrad Levinson, who is credited with creating ‘guerrilla marketing’ for the Wealth From Marketing day series, organised by Universal Events.

The event is free, with pre-registration, and it takes place in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne on September 10, 11 and 12.

“Four leading communication, sales and marketing speakers will each present for 90 minutes, covering the experiences of the US market and how techniques learned may be applied to Australia.

“I just love teaching,” Mr Roberts said. “I love seeing the ideas light up in people’s minds and get carried away with them.

“I can assure you, people will get real value right then and there from that stage.”

The seminar is billed as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime event’ to provide Australian business owners and entrepreneurs with expert advice on how to make more money and reach more customers using low-cost, high-impact marketing strategies.

Organiser Universal Events said the fundamentals attendees could expect to take away include:

  • Simple, easy to use tactics to double profits
  • The secrets to guerrilla marketing and how to turn them into cash.
  • Understanding the psychology of influence and using it to win customers and increase sales.
  • How to get your message heard in today’s media environment.
  • Tools to make millions through joint ventures.
  • How to get top search engine rankings.

Wealth From Marketing, featuring four of the world’s leading marketing experts, will launch on September 10 in Brisbane at the Mercure Hotel, North Quay.It will be staged on September 11 at the Wesley Convention Centre in the CBD, and on September 12 at Melbourne’s Crown Conference Centre, Southbank.

Valued at $597, complimentary Wealth From Marketing tickets can be obtained at



A raw and cutting edge campaign that uses the personal stories of road fatality victims and their families and friends to warn and educate the public, won two awards in the 2009 Australian Marketing Institute Awards for Marketing Excellence in Brisbane on Friday. The awards are the most prestigious accolades for the Australian marketing industry and recognise effective and innovative marketing practices by Queensland's leading professionals and their clients.

This year's AMI Awards for Marketing Excellence attracted a record number of entries in 14 categories.

The Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads Share My Story campaign won the award for Social Marketing as well as the Multimedia and Interactive category.

Comprising a social networking website, television, print and online communication, the Share My Story campaign asked people whose lives had been irrevocably changed by road tragedy to highlight the personal side of traffic statistics.

The campaign, devised in conjunction with leading ad agency BCM Partnership, is a world-first for road safety communication and has achieved massive public participation and support.

Winners in 14 categories were acknowledged at a gala lunch at Brisbane's Sofitel Hotel Ballroom on September 11.

AMI Queensland president Jason Greenhalgh said the awards were evidence that despite the Global Financial Crisis, there was no doubt the state of the marketing industry in Queensland was in good shape.

"The quality and quantity of effective marketing campaigns submitted in this year's AMI Awards is an indication of the talented marketers we have in this state," Mr Greenhalgh said.

"Their contribution over the past year has been outstanding and the future looks very bright for the industry."

While Share My Story succeeded in adding a new perspective to a modern tragedy, the Logan City Council and creative agency Make Communications were honoured for their great results in changing age-old perceptions about the much-maligned city through its Who Knew? campaign.

The three-month civic pride campaign targeted ‘misinformed detractors' of the city, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and rebutted the negative view that "nothing good comes out of Logan City".

The Mining Industry Skills Centre Inc - a Queensland-based not-for-profit organisation, also won two awards in the brand category for New Brand and Brand Extension.

The Project Canary campaign was an industry world-first which used serious games-based simulation training to focus on risk and hazard awareness in the resources sector.

Suncorp Retail Banking and advertising agency George Patterson Y&R were recognised for their outstanding work as winner of the New Product/Service Launch award, following the successful marketing of a new savings product for children.


The Suncorp Kids Account was an innovative parallel communications strategy that exceeded target participation by 716 percent.

The most successful creative agency was Brisbane-based firm Make Communications which received three AMI Awards for MarketingExcellence for three different campaigns.

Winners of the Queensland awards progress to the national finals on October 28 in Sydney.

The Australian Marketing Institute is the country's peak organisation for marketing professionals, representing over 5000 practitioners nationally across all marketing functions and industries.





Social Marketing

Share My Story/ Department of Transport and Main Roads and BCM Partnership.



Logan City Council - Who knew? / Logan City Council and Make Communications.


Internal Marketing

RoadTek Things that Matter Roadshow / Department of Transport and Main Roads, Roadtek.


Loyalty Programs

Sunsuper New Member Trigger Campaign / NOUS.


Marketing Communications Business to Business

APA Group - Natural Gas Man/APA Group and Make Communications.


Marketing Communications Business to Consumer

Increase the power of Direct Debit/Ergon Energy.


Multimedia and Interactive

Share My Story/ Queensland Government - Department of Transport and Main Roads and BCM Partnership .


Brand Extension

Mining Industry Skills Centre / Mining Industry Skills Centre Inc.


Brand Revitalisation

Q-COMP Brand Revitalisation 1 At Your Service / Q-COMP.


Corporate Social Responsibility

Youth Drive Safe Initiative / Leighton Contractors.



Corporate Business Solutions / Metropolitan South Institute of TAFE.


Experiential and Brand Experiences

Zuri - Launch campaign/ Zuri Lounge and Make Communications.


New Brand

Project Canary / Mining Industry Skills Centre Inc.


New Product/Service Launch

Suncorp Kids Account / Suncorp Retail Banking and George Patterson Y&R.




The Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) has been buoyed by record entry submissions for the 2009 Queensland AMI Awards for Marketing Excellence being staged on Friday (September 11).

The awards are the most prestigious accolades for the Australian marketing industry and recognise effective and innovative marketing practices by Queensland's leading professionals and their clients.

AMI Queensland president, Jason Greenhalgh, said the awards timing and relevance was more important than ever.

"In difficult financial times such as these, marketers have to do more with smaller budgets and be more clever and creative than in the good times when money isn't such an issue," Mr Greenhalgh said.

"It's an enormous challenge to devise and execute campaigns that give clients the cut-through they're looking for in these times, which makes recognition even more important.

"The AMI Awards for Marketing Excellence have attracted a record number of entries - 238 nationally and 53 in Queensland - and I think that shows that marketers see the value in entering and winning our prestigious awards.

"They are a good way for both marketing professionals and clients to differentiate from their competitors as well as adding credibility to what they're doing."

The 2009 AMI Queensland Marketing Awards for Excellence will be held on  September 11 at the Sofitel Ballroom, Brisbane.

Winners of the Queensland awards progress to the national finals on October 28 in Sydney.

Murray Berghan, of Make Communications, said the currency of the AMI awards should never be under-estimated by marketers or their clients.

"To be a finalist or win an award at the AMI Awards for Marketing Excellence is a huge honour and achievement," said Mr Berghan, the founding director and managing partner of Make Communications.

"Any client wants a great business result for their marketing expenditure and to be acknowledged by your marketing peers is icing on the cake."

Make Communications and its client Youngcare won Australia's highest marketing accolade last year taking out the coveted Marketing Program of the Year.

Youngcare is an organisation dedicated to finding appropriate care for young people with high-care needs.

Make Communications received recognition for its clients as the most awarded agency at last year's Australian Marketing Institute National awards with 10 national finalists, three national awards and seven state awards.

The AMI is also using the 2009 Queensland Awards to throw its support behind one of the state's most important charities, Chicks in Pink.

All proceeds from a raffle at the lunch will go to Chicks in Pink, the Mater Hospital charity dedicated to raising funds for people affected by breast cancer.

Chicks in Pink pays for temporary prostheses and bras for women who have recently undergone mastectomies, as well as providing other practical support programs and initiatives.

The Australian Marketing Institute is the country's peak organisation for marketing professionals, representing over 5000 practitioners nationally across all marketing functions and industries.


Public relations (PR) is vital to the survival and success of business in tough economic times according to a leading Brisbane agency.

Yasmine Gray.

Public relations is becoming more valuable for business survival, as an effective and economical promotional solution, than ever before, believes Gray Media Services director, Yasmine Gray.


Mrs Gray will be addressing a businesses at The Pavillion Function Centre in Albion on August 27. She said PR is not only as effective as other forms of marketing but for a fraction of the cost.

"Every business is currently feeling the pressure of how to do more for less with their promotional dollar," Mrs Gray said. "So why would anyone spend more than they need to for an equally effective result?

"PR provides both innovative and cost-effective ways of getting businesses the exposure they need, and in tough times this could be the difference between succeeding or failing."

The issue of corporate accountability is increasingly causing return on investment (RoI) figures to be more carefully scrutinized. 

"RoI has become the real buzz word" confirmed Mrs Gray who draws upon 23 years of experience in the media industry as both a journalist and a PR consultant.

With a wide range of high profile clients that entrust their business to Gray Media Services, Mrs Gray has an extensive understanding of how the media works and how to get her clients the results they need.  She believes PR has more potential than ever to become the marketing spend of choice as the industry evolves into a new era.

"These are exciting times," she said. "We have wonderful new opportunities opening out to us with social and online media growing rapidly to name just a few advantages outside of traditional marketing methods.

"What hasn't changed is the need to have a professional organisation to help businesses navigate the media to use it to their best advantge. Speacialists in any field are invaluable," Mrs Gray said.

At the special women's business lunch on Thursday, Mrs Gray will examine the profession of PR, its history, what exactly it is, how it works, why it is important to any business and how much it should cost. She will also give examples of the difference a professional PR campaign can make.

Tel: 1800 052 476. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it


CEO of advertising and marketing agency de pasquale, Cos Luccitti is recognising a new opportunity for CEOs to communicate in a new and engaging way with their clients and allies – blogs.

Web logs (blogs), he said, are a way that CEOs and their companies can truly embrace the growing “cult” of transparency that is coming into business.

Mr Luccitti said the digital world has inverted the social physics of information, and today, corporate online transparency is critical for survival.

“Well, at least in the minds of the people that matter most, the consumer,” Mr Luccitti said.

“Businesses recognise that online transparency is a counterweight to consumer skepticism. The net has given businesses a public forum to be open and honest about who they are and what they are doing.

“Corporations that not only publicise their successes but also their failings actually grow stronger. Because the cynical consumer now isn’t just exposed to the hype, they are exposed to the chinks in the heavily-protected armour and consumers appreciate the candour and truthfulness,” he said.

One of the ways businesses have embraced the cult of transparency is through blogging, Mr Luccitti said.

CEOs and business leaders who have taken to the blogosphere have become known as the new breed of naked and trusted executives.

“Their nakedness, so to speak, has helped them become more trusted and consumers have taken an interest. And we all know once people are interested in you, they’re interested in helping you out – by offering ideas, critiques, and their perspective on how to do things better.”

Powerful Medium

Mr Luccitti is personally and professionally enthusiastic about social media and recognises its power as a new business tool. And as such has started what he calls his clog – the CEO’s blog.   

“Naturally, there’s a level of risk that comes along with radical transparency. But I’m prepared to share my dreams, challenges and setbacks with the outside world. I’m prepared to be open,” Mr Luccitti said.

“Committing to corporate transparency and blogging shouldn’t be confused with sharing confidential information. Rather, it means providing some insight into my thinking and considerations, so that those around me can feel involved, educated and empowered.

“My counterparts not convinced of the need to be professionally transparent online will affirm, ‘Blogging will take away from the valuable time it takes the run my business’.

“But I don’t think time is the issue. You devote your precious time to what matters most. If your business’s reputation matters, sooner or later you’re going to be either defending it or going on the offensive. Where the conversation takes place is up to you.

“I’m just choosing the conversation to happen online.”


Queensland agency, Make, has dominated the 2008 Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) Awards for marketing excellence.

The Brisbane independent agency, previously known as Advertising Depot, won an unprecedented seven state awards and had three national finalists to be the most nominated agency nationally at the AMI awards. Make dominates for Queensland for the second time in three years with 10 nominations for the 14 awards on offer.

Make’s work for clients Brisbane City Council, Bond University, Macquarie Leisure owned AMF Bowling, rare|wear and Youngcare was assessed using criteria measuring not only creativity but effectiveness.

Make’s managing partner, Murray Berghan said, “We’re delighted to have been part of these campaigns. Innovative and effective marketing doesn’t happen without a concerted collaboration between clients and agency. We are lucky to work with some wonderful people who have great marketing acumen. Our business ethos is effectiveness through creativity and results are always the priority.”

Brisbane City Council was awarded for its Greenheart CitySmart campaign – a campaign launched to achieve the Lord Mayor Campbell Newman’s commitment to make Brisbane Australia’s most sustainable city. It aims to reduce Brisbane’s carbon footprint by 50 percent by year 2026.

AMF Bowling scored a strike at the AMI NSW awards, with its Striking campaign for the launch of AMF Bowling Centre North Strathfield.

Bond University’s Chase Your Ambition campaign was also selected as a national finalist in several categories. Spearheaded by a 30 second television commercial and teamed with web, outdoor and radio, the campaign achieved outstanding results.

Director of marketing and admissions at Bond University, Andrea Harcourt, said, “Together with Make, we were able to create a campaign that adopted a layered approach to establish a credible connection between Bond University and our target market. Market feedback and the ensuing results were outstanding. Student enrolments, applications and conversion rates for 2007 broke all records against a declining industry trend, and our audience clearly received the message that ambitious people go to Bond.”

Another of Make’s clients which needed to make room on the mantle, was clothing company rare|wear who won for their interactive campaign, Believe in Destiny which, with over 3.5 million views on YouTube, has become Australia’s most successful YouTube viral ad of all time.

National charity, Youngcare was awarded twice for their Young People Deserve Young Lives entry. Dedicated to finding appropriate care for young people with high care needs, Youngcare used a variety of media to deliver their message including print, outdoor and a ‘game day stunt’ with the NRL One Community Initiative.


A new Safe Sex campaign by Brisbane agency Engine Group – the first of its kind in the state – was launched last month by Queensland Health.

Engine Group was engaged by Queensland Health to adapt the highly successful NSW Health Safe Sex. No Regrets campaign for Queensland audiences.

The joint Queensland Health and Family Planning Queensland initiative involves online, street press, ambient activity, and targets specific segments.

Engine Group managing director, Brent Jarvis said, “The research really stressed that our target groups were cynical and had heard it all before, so we had to ensure that the concepts we adapted were strong, relevant and the message very direct.

“It pulls no punches but initial testing tells us that it really works against our targets and does make them sit up and take notice,” he said.


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