End of The Maltese Herald shows the lifespan of multicultural press

Yesterday I heard the news that The Maltese Herald, which has been the newspaper for the Maltese community for over 50 years, is printing its last publication.

While my initial reaction was of sadness that this newspaper will no longer be around, after further reflection I have come to the conclusion that the end of The Maltese Herald is potentially a good sign and a positive milestone for the Maltese community in Australia.

Unlike many other ‘mainstream’ newspapers that are cutting staff and closing their doors, The Maltese Herald is closing not because it is solely a print medium, but because it has potentially served its purpose in the community.

The newspaper was born out of the European migration into Australian throughout the 50s and 60s. Large numbers of Maltese people (including my parents) immigrated here during that period, mostly settling in Melbourne and Sydney. When The Maltese Herald printed its first publication in 1961 it was due to the intense need for the Maltese community to connect with each other, highlight community issues and remain in touch with news from back home.

Over the past 50 years the newspaper has highlighted community issues that are specific to the Maltese, relations between Australia and Malta, and followed the lives of the Maltese community as they became established in their new community.

Fifty years later, however, statistics are showing that the use of the Maltese language in the Australian community is in decline. Those still deeply connected with Malta use dedicated news programs on SBS or Maltese news sites to get their news back home, while for many who are Maltese-born or Australian with Maltese heritage, Australian news is now their news from home.
The community concerns or issues that they raise are the same as their neighbours from other backgrounds.

Ending the need to cater for the Maltese community as a separate entity is being seen in other parts of communication. You don’t find many translations of government materials into Maltese, as the majority of the Maltese speaking population either read English or have close relatives that do.

As the Maltese newspaper closes, however, many others are starting up. The past two years have seen a number of multicultural newspapers start to meet the needs of newer communities such as Somali, Thai and Korean.

The birth and retirement of multicultural newspapers is an interesting one to watch, as it gives a good indication of the levels of integration within the Australian community. It can also give you a strong insight into how these communities need to be communicated to.

Goodbye to The Maltese Herald and well done.

How not to send shoppers into a Click Frenzy

This should have been predicted.

It’s 7.09pm on Tuesday 20 November, 9 minutes after ‘the sale that stops the nation’ was due to begin, and http://www.clickfrenzy.com.au is no where to be found.

After much hype and promotion and even a feature on tonight’s A Current Affair giving a preview of all the massive bargains, shoppers are being left frustrated and angry as the 24 hour sale counts down with no website in site.

This follows a crash on the David Jones site after a copycat Christmas Frenzy sale to compete with clickfrenzy: http://www.news.com.au/technology/biztech/how-to-get-the-best-deals-in-click-frenzy/story-fn5lic6c-1226520380827

Well it seems like David Jones didn’t have to bother because it doesn’t seem like Click Frenzy will be going anywhere.

I can imagine the headlines already ‘Click Fail’, ‘The Sale that Brings Down a Site’ and other such headlines will show the absolute fail of this promotion.

As head of digital I do know that things sometimes do go wrong, and I have a lot of patience for wrangling with technology. But not when your entire promotion is based around it.

If you are advertising an online only sale to millions of people and giving them a 24-hour window in which to shop in, then testing testing and testing your technology needs to be the biggest part of your strategy.

I will also be interested to see what their issues management strategy is. I haven’t seen any comment on Twitter (where hundreds of Tweets screaming abuse on Click Frenzy are appearing) nor any other official word of what is going on with the site.

We can only wait and see…. but how long will we wait?

….,” says David

The things I have learnt from parenting blogs

As most communication and public relations professionals would be well-aware, in our industry you need to keep up to date with the happenings in a range of different offline and online mediums that are relevant to your clients. This is compounded when working in an agency environment where you need to keep up to date with a number of industries at the same time.

This element of agency work is attractive to my easily bored Gemini personality, as my work at Fentons has seen me get into the world of emergency management, deal with government at all levels, get my head around the professional services industry, become an expert on water and electricity supply (there was a point where I could name all the major connecting powerlines in Victoria as we drove past them) and meet a number of wonderful people in my work in the community sector.

Lately, I have been continuing my focus into the world of parenting. While I don’t have kids myself yet, I am the proud uncle to four little ones, including a nephew who is now five days old.

Part of my focus into the world of parenting is keeping up with Australia’s mummy and daddy bloggers, which helps to keep abreast of what is happening in the home. What I have found, however, is that the musings from parenting bloggers are quite relevant to those of us without kids as well – which explains their popularity in Australia.

Here’s some examples:

  • On Tahlia’s The Parenting Files you will find a funny story about surprises that parents find in the bathroom. Not that indifferent to some of the surprises that you find living with housemates. Except its cuter when kids do it.
  • You’re never too old to have a Spiderman birthday cake
  • There are some great tips for the kitchen. Thanks to One Crafty Mama for a great post on spice storage. The number of spices in my kitchen has been doing my head in for a while now.
  • As Rhianna on A Parenting Life‘s recent post shows, there are always distinct advantages to leaving things to the last minute…..

Thank you for some great posts (there are too many to mention!).

Would you rather have a cheap or a great holiday?

I have just returned from a weekend in Lakes Entrance, Victoria where I have spent some time with my friend who runs a motel and is about to open a restaurant.

Having lived their previously, and knowing the dependence that the town has on the tourism dollar, it constantly amazes me how businesses in smaller markets can sometimes be their own enemies.

The shrinking domestic market and the dwindling lure for international travellers because of the rising dollar has made tourism a competitive field. Many businesses, however, don’t look beyond the boundaries of their own local area to realise that the person next door to them is not competition, but potentially an ally in business.

Cheap accommodation signs, discounts from group buying sites and battles to win the off-road dollar don’t do well to promote a destination as a whole or attract a market, they cannibalise the market that is already there.

My friend has told me that he refuses to play the cut-price accommodation game. While he will provide offers on accommodation sites like Wotif.com, he will not market his accommodation for less than its worth, believing that if you provide a great product and good service at a fair price it does well not just for the business but for the local economy.

Instead of playing the cut-price game wouldn’t tourism-reliant economies serve well to band together to increase the exposure of their market to their target audience?

While local tourism bodies do this job for the market as a whole, tourism businesses can also support (and benefit) through directing their marketing, public relations and social media strategies towards promoting the benefits of visiting a local area and ensuring that visitors have a great experience and keep in contact with the area long after they’ve gone.

This way, rather remembering the cheap price that they paid for a holiday (and forgetting about it when the next good deal comes along) tourists will remember the experience, tell their friends about it and come back again.

What would you rather have, a cheap holiday or a great holiday?

And I wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t give my friend’s motel a plug. If you are down that way, visit the Comfort Inn and Suites Emmanuel in Lakes Entrance.

….,” says David

Using Twitter for issues and crisis management

If you are creating a social media strategy to handle issues or a crisis that your organisation (or you) may be facing, knowing how to use Twitter in these situations can be a powerful tool.

Twitter has grown to be one of the largest social media platforms. Unlike Facebook, which links people based primarily on their personal relationships, Twitter is built around its content. People follow others not because they know them, but because they like or are interested in what they are talking about, or just because they happen to be in the same locality. This means that information can be distributed to large amounts of people very quickly.

Think about the following tips for monitoring and responding to the chatter on Twitter the next time you are faced with an issue:

Set up geographical searches
While not the most accurate of searches, there are a number of tools available to let you see tweets based around a specific geographical location. If your organisation has specific geographical locations (think of your areas of operation, headquarters or any part of your business that is likely to attract a number of people) think about setting up specific geographical searches to monitor Twitter chatter coming out of those areas.

Monitor and build relationships in peacetime
One of the lines that is always used during media training at http://www.fenton.com.au is that pro-active media is like ‘money in the bank of public perception’. This is never more true than in social media.

If you spend time building and cultivating your relationship with followers on Twitter, they will be more receptive to communication during a time of crisis. Take time to understand those that interact regularly with your brand online. Build the relationships based on trust and mutual communication, not selling.

Monitor online / respond offline

Just because you have a social media strategy doesn’t mean that your response strategy always has to be online. Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is picking up the phone and talking to someone. Make sure your response strategy includes offline as well as online.

Know your Twitter language

Anyone who has spent time online knows that sometimes Twitter users can sound like they are speaking their own foreign language. Cutting things to 140 characters can sometimes bring about some weird spellings. Make sure you know how your brand/sector/industry is being talked about online.

Give someone the role of online monitoring and communication- and the appropriate authority and training

Make sure that online monitoring, information dissemination and response is a dedicated role during the handling of an issue or a crisis. And no, this can’t be just ‘the team that update the website can do that’. Social media during crisis requires a dedicated position to continually monitor chatter and develop and issue responses.

The people earmarked for this role should be natural users of Twitter that are give adequate training to ensure they can handle this medium as part of your crisis/issues management plan – crisis time is not a time for learning social media.


In the aftermath of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires, geographical and keyword searches were set up to cover specific towns and areas that had been hit by the tragedy. The monitoring was used to review all of the chatter that was coming out of the locations.

The role of this monitoring was not to create a vehicle for direct communication and information via social media- there were more appropriate and personal methods to do this on the ground. Instead, the information gleaned by reviewing information informed the issues management and communications processes. Monitoring the online chatter allowed an overview of some of the public sentiments that was being felt around these towns, allowing the communication strategy to adapt and respond.

Do you have any other tips?