Stop Trying in 2018


Late last year, I wandered into a second-hand bookshop and picked up a copy of One + One = Three, by advertising legend Dave Trott. I was aware of his reputation and attracted to the Zen-like style of his writing. So after leafing through a few pages, I purchased it. I then read a couple of the stories in the book, and liked them so much that I bought 40 more copies as gifts for clients. And then, over the recent Christmas break, I devoured the whole thing. This is one of my favourites, and something I reckon we can all learn from… 

As a youngster, football was Ian Wright’s life.

He lived for it, spent all his waking hours playing it.

He knew he was going to be a professional.

As a teenager, he went on trials and gave them his everything.

He had a trial at Southend, but they turned him down.

He knew it was just about trying harder.

He had a trial at Brighton, but they turned him down.

He tried even harder.

Leyton Orient turned him down.

So he tried harder and harder.

Charlton turned him down.

Millwall turned him down.

Eventually he became disheartened.

He was into his twenties by now.

He couldn’t try any harder, he’d given everything.

If he hadn’t made it by now, it was pretty clear he wasn’t ever going to.

So he began working at a refinery in Woolwich.

It was dirty work.

But it was a regular job, with regular money.

And he had a wife and child to support now.

He had to settle down and get real about what his responsibilities were.

But he still loved football.

So he played amateur football at the weekends with a club called Dulwich Hamlet.

One weekend a coach from Crystal Palace spotted him playing.

He wrote to him and asked him if he’d like to come along to the club for a trial.

Ian had already accepted that his football career was so over he wouldn’t bother.

There was no point in starting all that again.

At his refinery job, he showed the letter to the guy who was in charge of his section, Garry Twydell.

Garry had been a professional footballer for a couple of years.

He took a different view.

He said, ‘This is your chance, Ian, you have to try. If you don’t you’ll never know and you’ll always regret it.’

Ian said the trial was two weeks, he couldn’t take that long off work.

He couldn’t risk losing the job.

Gary Twydell said, ‘Look, take a week off, say you’ve got family problems. Then another week sick leave. I’ll back you up. You won’t lose the job.’

And eventually he persuaded Ian Wright to take the time off work and go along to Crystal Palace for the trial.

Ian Wright expected the trial to go the way every other trial went.

But at least he had his job to go back to, so he could relax.

He stopped trying so hard.

He just enjoyed himself playing football for every minute of the next two weeks.

Like a holiday.

And an amazing thing happened.

With no pressure on him, just playing for the love of it, he was absolutely brilliant.

The trial went so well that Crystal Palace signed Ian Wright.

Long after he thought all chances had gone, he signed professional.

In his first season he scored 24 goals.

In five years at Crystal Palace he scored 117 goals.

He was voted their ‘Player of the Century’.

Then Arsenal, one of the biggest clubs in Britain, bought him for a club-record £2.5 million.

He scored 24 goals in his first season at Arsenal.

He was their top scorer for the next six years.

In 1997, he became Arsenal’s highest-ever goal scorer.

During his time at Arsenal he won the Premier League.

He won the FA Cup twice.

He won the League Cup.

He won the European Cup Winner’s Cup.

And in 2005 he was voted into the English Football Hall of Fame.

All because he gave up, and stopped trying so hard.


Stopped working at it and started to enjoy it. 



The tumultuous NZ election campaign and the impact of Facebook


FB Election

Just a little over six weeks ago it seemed like the writing was on the wall for this election result; and the thought of National losing was deemed to be almost impossible.  However, the dramatic twists and turns that have occurred in the space of a few short weeks have made this one of the most riveting and unpredictable elections to-date. A few highlights include:

– Green co-leader Metiria Turei’s admission of DBP fraud on 16 July

– Labour leader Andrew Little’s resignation on 1 August (following Labour’s slump in the polls to 24% – its lowest in two decades)

– Jacinda Ardern and her ‘relentless positivity’ stepping in as the new Labour leader, effectively turning the election on its head, almost overnight

– Two green MPs resigning over Turei’s actions on 7 August

– Metiria Turei’s eventual resignation on 9 August

– United Future’s Peter Dunne withdrawal from the election on 21 August

– And thrown into the mix, cantankerous NZ First leader Winston Peters facing media inquiries regarding overpaid NZ Super across a seven year period on 27 August

This now doesn’t look like the bland election of two middle-aged white guys battling it out that we all thought it would be.  Last time we saw an election this close was back in 2005, when Don Brash almost ousted Helen Clark as the incumbent, and with Labour and National neck-in-neck in the current polls this election race has certainly been colourful, in fact I don’t think anyone could have predicted the way this election was going to play out.

With just three days until polling day it’s evident that social media has become just as influential (if not more so) than more traditional forms of media such as radio, TV and print.  NZ has approximately 2.9m Kiwis who are posting about, reacting to, commenting on and sharing on Facebook in the lead up to the election – that’s about 60% of the population.

With social media now becoming a key part of electioneering, (especially with our ongoing desire for instant news), it’s no surprise that politicians rely on this outlet as a way to interact and engage with the public, particularly with social media savvy millennials. It has become such a vital component of their campaign strategy, that even mainstream media report on what politicians are doing on Facebook – cue Bill English showing off his cooking skills with his tinned spaghetti and canned pineapple pizza creation; which went viral, for all the wrong reasons.

There has been much discussion around Facebook’s growing influence as a political platform, particularly in the wake of the shock results of the US presidential election and EU referendum. It has been widely acknowledged that Facebook swayed the outcome of both events, and was also credited with increasing the youth vote in Britain’s snap election in June, which backfired terribly for Prime Minister Theresa May.

Micro-targeting has also been particularly powerful for political campaigns on social media. The term micro-targeting refers to a marketing strategy with adverts that target a very small number of potential voters. Regardless of your interests, you will have no doubt seen political content invade your feed with election updates and targeted content from different parties. However, the content you are being served will most likely be different to what others have seen, because what you see on Facebook is increasingly shaped by the history of what you have shared with the Internet. Given their effectiveness and the availability of data that fuels them, micro-targeting has certainly revolutionised politics as we know it.

Whilst political marketing on social media is still fairly new, the trend to have more information blast your newsfeed as opposed to newspapers or TV debates will no doubt continue. Moreover, Facebook has played a much bigger role in political messaging in this year’s election campaign then ever before. If research tells us that more people turn out to vote if they feel their vote will count and if an election is close, then here’s hoping this election can buck the trend of Kiwis disengaging from the political process, especially with this election on such a knife edge.


Stephanie Helm, PR Director, One Plus One Communications



Best of both worlds – when you’re connected, the opportunities are endless

It isn’t often you hear of a global firm taking on a foreign student who is still a year away from graduating.

With my final year of university on the horizon, I had to choose where I wanted to complete the rest of my degree. As an International Business and PR major at AUT University, it’s a requirement to spend a semester abroad on an exchange, and/or co-operative education placement. Despite advisors telling me acceptance into my university of choice was unlikely, I decided to apply for the exchange and see what would happen.

After a six-month process, I was delighted to find out I had been accepted into Korea University, as well as awarded a Prime Minister’s Scholarship for Asia to help financially support my exchange. Although I was ecstatic about this exciting new journey, I was also very hesitant to tell my boss and colleagues that I was leaving.

When I joined One Plus One in August 2016, I knew I was extremely fortunate to find an employer so understanding of the fact that I would need to leave after a year to do a placement overseas. Telling my boss that I was leaving five months earlier than expected was a very daunting prospect, and I deliberated at length on how to communicate my new situation.

I went into a meeting with my boss and began to ‘come clean’. Instead of being met with annoyance, I was genuinely congratulated and immediately asked if I wanted a job in Korea within our affiliate agency, MSLGROUP.

MSLGROUP is one of the world’s top five communications companies, with over 100 offices spanned across 36 countries worldwide. The Asia division is the region’s most awarded communications consultancy, with over 100 campaign wins in the last four years. They have a branch in Korea, as a wholly-owned subsidiary of KPR – a recognised pioneer in the Korean PR industry.

Following an initial introductory email from our Managing Director to Glenn Osaki, MSLGROUP Asia President, things progressed swiftly, and conversations began with senior staff at the Korea offices. A quick Skype meeting and a few emails were all that were needed to be welcomed into the Seoul team.

Just like that, I had an internship at MSLGROUP Korea, and my whole overseas experience transformed from a short four-month university exchange, to an incredible opportunity to network with international public relations professionals and develop my skill set.

Although I was aware of the long-term relationship OPO had with MSLGROUP, I was impressed with the quick and seamless manner of communication, and the collaborative culture between the two companies which allowed such an easy arrangement.

Since I began working for One Plus One, I’ve noticed that professional development is highly valued – and because the team encourages all learning experiences, I found my curious personality doesn’t hinder my work, but rather actively complements it.

With less than a week before my big move, I am excited to truly experience Korea – not just as a tourist, but as a student and employee. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work with colleagues and clients from a different cultural background and understand the industry and market from a new perspective. Being able to experience international business first-hand while I am still studying is priceless, and I am honoured to be given an opportunity to develop professionally in a global context, thanks to the connection between One Plus One and MSLGROUP.

– Serena Low, Junior Consultant

Measurement and its relevance to public relations: The relationship edge

One of the many important parts of public relations is relationships. So when it comes to measuring the actual strategic results that stem from successful public relations campaigns, effective evaluation measures are those that show changes in relational attitudes and, in turn, behaviours.  These results are most reliably obtained via qualitative measures such as surveys, feedback polls and focus groups.

At One Plus One, measurement serves two major purposes: firstly, it allows us to become aware of the strategic value of cultivating relationships between our clients and their different stakeholder groups; and secondly, it allows us to clearly articulate this relational value to our clients.

Effective measurement is crucial because it contributes to balancing the interests of the client and the desired outputs they seek to achieve.

The historical and social development of measurement to strategic best practice in public relations can primarily be traced to public information practice in World War Two America. It developed post-war to meet different stakeholder demand for the emerging discipline of corporate social responsibility.

Since the digital shift that began in the 1990s, public attention to the agenda of companies has burgeoned, and there is heightened focus on ethical governance and corporate social return.

Complexities in the now omnipresent digital environment have placed an even greater emphasis on the ongoing need for effective relationship measurement. In such a fast-paced and highly reactive media environment, many public relations firms place even more value on being visible than they have in the past. But it remains a basic truth that relational value is crucial to establishing and maintaining a long-term strategic advantage.

At One Plus One, we believe ongoing measurement excellence is crucial, and use a carefully developed feedback loop based on best industry practice and the internationally recognised Barcelona Measurement Principles.

We see measurement as key to making a genuine difference to the interests of our clients. Through a combination of traditional and online media throughout all stages of our programmes, we seek to continually measure relational strengths and gaps of our clients, and contribute our best practices to improving them.

During my time as a Junior Consultant with One Plus One Group, I’ve observed the realities of the public relations industry, and confirmed that it is often characterised by pressures of short deadlines and tight budgets.  I have been impressed by the ongoing vigilance to goal-setting, research and development, and of course the measurement, of public relations programmes amid these complexities.

It’s not an easy thing to do to effectively measure PR output, but the intention should always be there. Advertising icon and DDB founder, Dale Bernbach once remarked:  “Nobody counts the number of ads you run; they just remember the impression you make.” The same approach should inform PR measurement, because it’s safe to assume nobody remembers how many times companies, brands or organisations appear in the media – but they will formulate an opinion that’s good, bad or indifferent as a consequence.

– Catherine Mules, Junior Consultant

Getting started in PR – Some reflections, two years in

On multiple occasions when I was still studying, I remember being told that if you wanted to be anything in corporate PR in New Zealand, there was only one place for you to start out.

A large, very traditional corporate agency, that’s been around for decades, and is widely acknowledged as one of the best in the business.

I interviewed there before I’d even graduated, and was completed overawed by the silence and seriousness of their offices, immediately questioning how I’d fare in that sort of environment. Ultimately, I chose not to pursue the opportunity.

Where I ended up finding a home, with One Plus One, couldn’t be more different.

These days, we have a wider team of about eight consultants and associates, and have enjoyed an affiliate relationship with MSLGROUP for a number of years (one of the largest strategic communications and engagement networks in the world).

But, when I first joined in early 2014, I was the junior member of a three-man band; the newest employee of a company itself only six months old.

These days, when I’m talking to anyone who’s about to get started in the industry, I often can’t recommend strongly enough that people take the opportunity to work as part of a smaller agency, if they can.

That said, I know it’s not for everyone – so here are the top five things I think graduates should know, if they’re thinking about joining a smaller, less traditional agency:

1. It’s crucial the cultural fit is right.

More so than anywhere else. You’ll be sitting across from your boss, and working with each and every member of your team on a daily basis – so if the fit isn’t quite right, you’ll feel it that much more.

So, if there’s a hint of doubt as to whether you’ll enjoy working with the people who are going to be your colleagues, it might be worth looking elsewhere.

2. Be prepared to be thrown in the deep end…

…But know that the more senior members of the team will have your back.

When things get busy, and there are lots of important jobs on the to-do list, it won’t always be possible for the senior members of the team to take care of everything they might in quieter times.

When that happens, and there’s a degree of overflow, you can expect to have things delegated to you that will be a true test of your skills, experience and abilities, likely even before you think you’re ready for them.

In situations like that, if you’re unsure of anything, remember that your team will want you to ask questions – because it’s a lot easier to set the record straight from the outset, than to have to go back and redo an entire document to correct mistakes.

And after all, they want you to do well.

3. Your career progression may be less “linear” than in larger consultancies.

When you’re working in a smaller agency, job titles might not mean as much. That’s because, to a greater or lesser extent, everyone’s pitching in on everything, anyway.

Of course, you’ll still be growing, learning, and advancing your skills – and you’ll probably have the opportunity to do so at a faster rate than you would elsewhere. And the advantage in a lack of hierarchy is that you’ll have the chance to work much more closely with, and learn from, the most senior members of your team, which is where you’ll get the greatest benefit.

But the straightforward path that exists in most larger agencies, from Account Executive, to Account Manager, to Account Director, may not be present – something to consider if the traditional hierarchical structure appeals to you.

4. You’ll need to speak up, much earlier on.

When you’re a third of the team, your silence will be felt a lot more deeply in meetings and strategic planning sessions, than it might be if you were one of a group of 12.

It can be daunting to speak up in front of people that are much more senior (and it definitely took me a few months to get up the courage to actively contribute). A useful tactic is to plan ahead, and think of some small insight to share even before you get into the meeting – to take some of the pressure off, once you’re in that environment.

5. And, finally, you’ll need to be genuinely engaged in what’s going on.

When you’re working so closely together, it’s pretty easy to tell when someone’s disconnected from their work, which isn’t sustainable within a small team.

The type of personality best suited to a small consultancy is arguably one who consistently looks for ways to add value – who takes initiative, is able to offer up a critical point of view, and is always looking for faster and better ways to do things, that will be appreciated by your team, and your clients.

Despite the emphasis that’s placed on the advantages of working within one of the bigger traditional agencies, there’s so much to be said for their more compact counterparts, and the unique, hands on opportunities and experiences they’re able to offer.

So, if you’re comfortable with that sort of environment, a smaller agency could be exactly right for you.

– Alex Harman, PR Consultant

Facebook takes out gold in the Olympics

During the last fortnight, the Rio Olympics gripped the world. Records were broken, upsets were made and, unfortunately, scandals slowly unfolded (cue Ryan Lochte’s “over-exaggerated” robbery story).

There were no surprises regarding which countries came out on top. USA, Great Britain (enjoying its best Olympics ever) and China (which performed poorly relative to previous years), dominated the table with a staggering 258 medals (including 99 golds), between them.

When adjusting to the alternate medal table of medals per capita, tiny Grenada took out the top spot with one silver shared amongst a population of just 106,000. Our “little nation that could”, New Zealand, punched well above its weight, exceeding all expectations and bringing home a medal haul of 18 (up from a ‘light’ prediction of 14), placing us fourth overall for this medal table.

With ever increasing audiences frequently turning to Facebook to get their news fix (myself included), I was interested to see which Olympics coverage resonated with Facebook users the most.

On Monday 22 August, the social networking giant released data it collected between 5-21 August concerning its users’ (and there are over 1.7 billion of them), and their Olympics-related activities.

According to the company, more than 277 million Facebook users interacted with Olympics coverage during this two-week period via 1.5 billion ‘interactions.’ This includes posts, comments, “likes” and watching videos.

Brazilians, Americans and Brits engaged with the Olympics most on Facebook, based on the percentage of users who took part in the conversation. But who took out the Facebook Olympics?

The crown jewel of the Facebook Olympics was American swimming legend, Michael Phelps. Already referred to as a GOAT (Greatest Olympian of All Time), Michael was the most talked about athlete on Facebook during the Games.

His live video broadcast on the 14th of August (which he did just before his last race announcing his planned retirement), was also the most watched live video with more than 3.97 million views, 9,252 shares, and nearly 240,000 comments. Interestingly, Facebook had the exclusive rights for Phelps announcing his retirement, not the official broadcast rights holder, NBC.

But it wasn’t all about Phelps. Cristiano Ronaldo’s post congratulating Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt on his three gold medals, was the most engaging Facebook post with 1.6million likes and over 16,500 shares.

Jamaican sprint star Usain Bolt


U.S. pocket rocket superstar gymnast Simone Biles’ photo with heart-throb actor Zac Efron received the most ‘love’ reactions (nearly 128,000) from users. Facebook rolled out this new update in February 2016, allowing users to react in five different ways outside the classic ‘like.’

As a sport, swimming took gold by becoming the most popular event amongst its users, followed by gymnastics and track and field.

So all things considered, the Olympics was a pretty rewarding couple of weeks for Facebook, though the same can’t be said for television broadcasting, which was a distant second, in terms of popularity. This is ironic, given the fact that the official television network broadcaster for the games, NBC, paid an astonishing US $1.23billion for the Olympic rights.

According to analysts, primetime viewership for Rio was down as much as 17% compared to the 2012 London Olympics. However, despite the low ratings, NBC seems fairly optimistic about how it will fare financially out of Rio, predicting $1.3 billion in revenue, with this sentiment echoed by chairman Mark Lazarus saying Rio would be “our most economically successful Games in history.”

For someone struggling to view the coverage in a country that didn’t appear to have much interest in it (due to booking my honeymoon in Vietnam at the same time the Olympics was on – not ideal timing!), I must say, I did enjoy getting my social media fix of Olympics coverage via Facebook.

And it seems the social networking sites innovative features like Live streaming and broadcast, may well be the key to its ongoing success in future Olympics, the next being held in Tokyo, 2020.

– Stephanie Helm, PR Director

Cannes Lions: Great Ideas That Cut Through the Clutter

Jury croppedThe votes have been cast, the PR Grand Prix has been awarded and many of the 21 global PR jury members, (including myself) have just left the amazing spectacle that is the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity.

Following a week of pre-judging in our home countries, and several more days of rigorous discussion whilst in the South of France, the 2016 PR panel awarded the PR Grand Prix to a campaign from Sweden.

Called the ‘The Organic Effect’ (for organic supermarket chain, Coop), it poignantly illustrated the risks of eating non-organic foods, in a simple but strikingly effective and emotive way.

Despite the fact so many entries had aligned their PR messaging to social issues, it was one of the relatively few cause-related campaigns that truly stood out.

The agency behind the entry, Forsman & Bodenfors, produced a highly effective integrated campaign, and some compelling video content, that was ultimately viewed over 35 million times.

More importantly, their efforts resulted in a dramatic increase in the sale of organic foods, and consequently Coop enjoyed its best year in two decades.

At a well-attended press conference the morning after the Grand Prix had been awarded, the first question put to us was: why didn’t the supreme prize go to a PR firm?

In my view, this misses the point of Cannes entirely – and is especially tiresome in light of the rapidly changing communications landscape.

It’s becoming more and more commonplace for advertising agencies to hire PR people (and vice versa), and these, once distinct, branches of communication are continuing to evolve and blur – although innovation, ingenuity, creativity and commercial impact remain paramount.

So, as jurors, we weren’t focused on whether the entries were from PR firms, digital outfits or, indeed, advertising agencies. We were just looking for great ideas that cut through the clutter.

And much like last year, when MSLGROUP won for ‘Like a Girl’, with Leo Burnett, this year’s PR Grand Prix winner saw Stockholm PR firm King credited with making a crucial contribution.

This year the PR category had 2,224 entries – up from 1,969 in 2015 – and of those, a total of 19 Gold Lions, 30 Silver Lions and 34 Bronze Lions were awarded. In terms of geographical representation, the US had 40 nominations, Sweden 18 nominations, and France 17.

There was a truly mind-boggling array of amazing work, all of it creative – which, of course, is what the Festival is designed to celebrate, first and foremost.

Some of my personal favourites included two Asian NGO entries, from WWF and WildAid. The latter was called #JOINTHEHERD and focussed on protecting ivory from illegal poachers. Another strong contender was ‘The House of Clicks’, from PRIME Stockholm and produced for Hemnet, Sweden’s most popular property site. It used big data to crowd source people’s statistical preferences around what they looked for in their ideal home.

PR is a notoriously broad church. And so while the global PR heads I was judging alongside were all well versed in producing creatively-led work to generate the right sort of earned attention, they also represented the connected disciplines of corporate communications, crisis management and stakeholder relations.

This post was first published on the MSLGROUP blog, and can be viewed here.

The News, A User’s Manual, by Alain de Botton

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 12.30.09 pm

How could the news be different? Are we all headline junkies? And does anybody actually care anymore? These are all questions explored by philosopher and cultural commentator Alain de Botton, who thinks he has some of the answers. Problem is, when he first started promoting his latest book and point of view, he was roundly criticised by most media. Watch this and make up your own mind here.

WikiLeaks for beginners: A point of view on Julian Assange

Some see him as a journalistic pioneer. Others see him as a narcissistic megalomaniac. And Andrew Fowler’s chronicling of Julian Assange’s rise and fall will help you decide which side of the fence you sit on.

Here’s a review we wrote..