The CMO Show:
Belinda Dimovski on the Australian...

Belinda Dimovski, Director of Engagement and Support at Australian Red Cross, sits down with host Mark Jones to discuss brand storytelling in times of crisis. 

The past 12 months have been defined by significant environmental, economic and public health crises – on a national and global scale.

First, the 2019-20 bushfire season ravaged Australia, resulting in a devastating loss of lives, animals, homes, and businesses.

Then, without any time to recover financially or emotionally, the global COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

In a marketing context, in times of crisis, how do you keep your audience engaged and deriving value from your organisation?

From a charity sector perspective – Belinda Dimovski, Director of Engagement and Support at the Australian Red Cross, believes the answer is continuing to educate people on the importance of kindness and supporting others – even in times of immense distress. 

“We are here to provide guidance to people about how they can help others in this very strange world. We have to educate people about how things need to change because it would be wrong of us to just give money to anyone that asked. We want to make sure those that are really affected are supported,” she says.  

With a background in crafting meaningful customer experiences, Belinda encourages marketers to connect personally with their supporters in times of crisis and demonstrate the tangible impact their support makes.

“We’ve spoken to anyone that supported us. We asked them why they gave us money, why they volunteered for us, and why they were interested in making a change. By focusing on why they engaged with us, we were able to create a connection with them and tailor their experience,” Belinda says. 

“We want people to understand that any of the work they’ve done through volunteering, fundraising, or supporting us through social media, has made an impact on the end consumer that actually is needing this support,” she says. 

Belinda also emphasises the importance of supporting one another during these tough times. Marketers need to stay the course of their brand purpose/mission and use storytelling responsibly.

“We don’t want to manipulate your feelings by showing images of people and children that would pull at your heartstrings. We want you to partner with us to make a change.”

“What we do is work out how we can help people in the most humanitarian way. Whether it’s bushfires or the issues we’re facing with COVID-19, we stick to our messaging to show people how they can help and support the most vulnerable in our community,” Belinda says.

Tune into this episode of The CMO Show to find out how the Australian Red Cross uses storytelling to drive supporter engagement in the face of crises.

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The CMO Show production team

Producer – Charlotte GoodwinNatalie Cupac & Stephanie Woo

Audio Engineers – Daniel Marr & Tom Henderson

Got an idea for an upcoming episode or want to be a guest on The CMO Show? We’d love to hear from you: cmoshow@filteredmedia.com.au.

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Transcript

Participants: Host: Mark Jones

Guest: Belinda Dimovski

Mark Jones:

How do you tell your story in a time of crisis? It’s been a confronting time here in Australia, we’ve had the drought, the bushfires, the floods and now a global pandemic, COVID-19. The challenge for marketing communications professionals, both here and around the world is how do you keep pace with rapidly changing global events? What stories should you tell today and tomorrow?

Mark Jones:

Welcome to the CMO Show, my name is Mark Jones, and thank you for joining us. Quite clearly the world is changing very rapidly around us. Many of us don’t really know what’s going on. It’s hard to understand just what’s going to happen tomorrow, least of all, today.

Mark Jones:

It’s fantastic to have with us our very special guest today, Belinda Dimovski. She’s Director, Engagement and Support at Australian Red Cross. We have a lot of things to speak about, but in particular, I wanted to call out the fact that quite clearly Red Cross is here for people in times of need. We know that the brand is world famous for being there to help people in times of need and presumably now, we need you guys more than ever. So, Belinda, thank you very much for joining us.

Belinda Dimovski:

So good to be here, Mark. Thank you so much for inviting me.

Mark Jones:

It’s our pleasure. Now, first things first, how are you doing? COVID-19, just you personally, what’s going on in your world right now?

Belinda Dimovski:

What an incredible time we live in, right? I’m buoyed by the fact that I watch trash TV every evening and clean my head. I saw a meme the other day, which was a few so called Martians having a drink of wine on their couch watching what was going on in Earth. I think that puts it into perspective. We’re quite busy here at Australian Red Cross. I personally lead an incredible team that’s really stretched from bushfires to COVID. But, what we’re trying to do is do what we always do, which is ensure the humanitarian needs of people are met. We’re getting through this along with everyone else in Australia and the rest of the world.

Mark Jones:

Well, you mentioned Martians and maybe escapism. Are you trying to get to another planet or something? But, it looks like you’re in your office, though.

Belinda Dimovski:

I am.

Mark Jones:

What’s happening from an organisational perspective?

Belinda Dimovski:

I have chosen to drive and self-isolate in my car to work. There’s one lift, and I do have an office. But, to be honest with you, there’s only five people in the building at the moment where we normally have closer to over 100. All of our teams are working from home and doing what they do to deliver the services, as well as support the people that they need to.

Belinda Dimovski:

I personally have come in to do this video in a place that’s very quiet, because at home is my amazing husband and my beautiful daughter, but this works for me.

Mark Jones:

Well, we appreciate that. Thank you very much. Before we get into the meat of the conversation, just give me a quick overview of your role. What does a director of engagement do?

Belinda Dimovski:

It’s a really broad remit. I am responsible for marketing, comms, PR, media. I’m mostly responsible for our fundraising. That’s both with our partners, corporates, as well as individual people around Australia that are so generous for us. We have a digital team, a CX team, including digital data scientists, as well as our retail shops. There’s 170 of those around Australia and first aids. We’re a registered training organisation delivering face to face and online first aid programmes. I have a head of marketing and communications that reports through to me. I have customer experience. So, head of customer experience, which we introduced to the organisation just over a year and a half ago. 

Mark Jones:

Wow. I don’t really know where to start with-

Belinda Dimovski:

I know, right?

Mark Jones:

Is there anything you’re not doing maybe is a better question in that context. I actually wanted to pick up on one thing from the beginning and then we’ll get into some of the Red Cross activities. Customer experience, from a marketing and communications perspective, I speak to a lot of CMOs and marketers and customer experience is probably, I think, the number one issue. Being able to extend your brand into every possible channel and environment was already difficult, and now we’re in this entirely new world. What’s your view on how you can use your experience in customer experience to further your mission?

Belinda Dimovski:

It’s a really good question, Mark. My background is all customer experience. Prior to joining Red Cross, that was my bread and butter. Introducing it into this organisation was really important for me. Normally, people, for one of a better word, get spammed with us, get spammed with information. There was a lack of understanding of what they really wanted to engage in.

Belinda Dimovski:

We’ve turned that around. We’ve really spoken to anyone that supported us about why they gave us money, why they volunteered for us, why it was they were interested in this topic. We’ve created a connection between them. What we wanted them to understand is any of the work they’ve done, be it volunteering, be it fundraising, be it actually just supporting us through social media, what impact that has made on the end consumer that actually is needing this support.

Belinda Dimovski:

We’ve done that in a way that it’s a fluid conversation, and even now from home, we’re continuing to explore how people that supported us at bushfires are interested or not interested in what COVID means for them, what is it they think our role is in a COVID response, and how should we do that?

Belinda Dimovski:

We’re doing a brand dip every two weeks just to understand how people are feeling. We’ve just launched actually a survey, asking the nation, what it is that they need at this time to ensure that we can support and deliver that through the Red Cross process. To be honest with you a few things have slowed down in this as we adjust our ways of working. On the flip side, we are ramping up what’s required in our digital technology to actually make sure this lasts a distance. It’s not a short term investment. It’s a long term change of organisational view.

Mark Jones:

Well, just to understand a bit of that, do you think of people as supporters, as members? The customer experience is a little bit different, right? In your case, presumably you’ve got donors, you’ve got stakeholders in the government and other places. How do you think about the customer?

Belinda Dimovski:

That’s the million dollar question. Let’s be really honest, in a not for profit world, customer was a very unknown term. In fact, you’d say customer, and every would go, “What do you mean?” They’re our supporters, they’re our donors, they’re our clients, they’re our beneficiaries. We had to take a step back and not get too worked up on a definition of customer.

Belinda Dimovski:

What we actually ended up going with is anyone that engages with us. All of those people have a different reason for engaging with us, and they have a different outcome they’re looking for. What we did is focus on that aspect, which means that we get to know the customer irregardless of how it’s defined in a slightly different way than usual. Therefore, we tailor the experience to them without getting stuck on the definition itself.

Mark Jones:

Sounds like it should be like people engagement.

Belinda Dimovski:

Right. We did. Actually everyone. It’s humans actually-

Mark Jones:

Human… I see what you did there. That’s fantastic. I think people who work in the member engagement type space would really get where you’re coming from. I think that’s really important because I think what matters most now is how do you maintain that connection with these people, with these humans? How are you doing that in this age? What have you had to do to adjust to the new world that we’re in?

Belinda Dimovski:

Yes. What we are trying to do and I want to say we were doing it through bushfires and COVID, we’re just slightly changing the messaging now is issuing very transparent communications, we’re updating blogs, we’re trying to do something similar to you, which is create a podcast. We’re trying to get to where people are as opposed to forcing them to come to us.

Belinda Dimovski:

We have ensured that all of our messages can be through their channels. For instance, earlier this year, CommBank, who was one of our partners actually allowed people to donate via their app, instead of saying we’re supporting Red Cross, they ensured that people could just do the quick, Two Step Click process, and be able to donate to us.

Belinda Dimovski:

In previous times, we would have forced them to our website, we would have had to get all this information from them, we would have had to get them to opt-in, opt-out. I think what we’re doing is really pushing to a really great digital engagement. Of course, we have our traditional EDMs, but what we really talk about when we’re talking about EDMs is how they’re changing the great stories, the impact their support is making. What we want to do especially in this COVID time is ensure people can understand what our role is.

Belinda Dimovski:

Our role is influencing both public opinion and policy and trying to ensure that we can support people. We want to build our capability and our capacity. We make phone calls to people that are socially isolated all the time, it’s just become even more important at this time to connect with them on a personal level, and move into that side of things. We want to make sure that we can help the most vulnerable and really, we want to mobilise the community. How do we get everyone sharing our messages of kindness, of support or of staying home? Let’s be honest.

Mark Jones:

How do you make sure your brand isn’t hijacked by the agenda of donors.

Belinda Dimovski:

We actually have a really important protocol we follow in actually allowing our brand to be associated with different types of organisations or partnerships. We actually do a really intense screening process, but to be honest with you, we would like to understand what our donors want, and we want to be able to come to an agreement about how to support them to get their ideal.

Belinda Dimovski:

We don’t call it hijacking, but the more we know about our donors, the more we can actually help them fulfil their need. I think that’s important for an organisation irregardless of which sector you belong to.

Mark Jones:

Okay so choose your partners and friends wisely! What have you learned from your previous roles about the best ways to create digital experiences?

Belinda Dimovski:

Okay. I worked for Weight Watchers prior to joining Red Cross.

Mark Jones:

Wow.

Belinda Dimovski:

Yep, Pfizer Consumer Health Care, Optus Communications, and those industries work very differently to not for profit. I joined Red Cross because I thought that I could bring some of the things I had learned, exactly to your question, and help the organisation have a bit of a shift. What we learnt developed it when I was at Weight Watchers as the Director of Operations and Customer Experience, we moved the organisation from a paper base, here’s your form, this is what you need to fill in, here it is in triplicate, there you are, there you are, there you are, to a completely digital solution where all of our amazing coaches in the field were working on iPads. There was a real time engagement with what the member had done on her app. The information was flowing through to the screen of the coach speaking to her.

Belinda Dimovski:

We had a series of personalised interactions across a 12 month period that we’d understood to better promote and support consumer behaviour change in this case, because no matter how good your better living plan is, you can’t influence the actions that people are taking. We had nudges, we had support, we had great ideas, and we also put in a chat functionality, we also put in a one-on-one feature within the app to allow that type of very specific question.

Belinda Dimovski:

It was an incredible time at that organisation actually. Not only were we leading CX seven, ten years ago now it feels like, we were really changing how the consumer engaged with us. Mark, every day consumers expectations change. It’s based on their best experience they’ve had that day, and therefore they will start assessing you and judging you against that.

Belinda Dimovski:

What I found and what I encourage my team at Red Cross is to continually look at how to be better, not because what you haven’t done isn’t good, it’s just because consumers expectations are changing so rapidly. We’ve gone through, we’re putting this whole digital acceleration plan. We’ve changed the way we engage with people. I’ve stood up a digital products team. It is a great time to be in an organisation that takes that so seriously, but boy, transformation, culture shift and all of that, that’s a job in itself.

Mark Jones:

It is. Well, going back to your comment about how you went from a complex engagement model to just two steps to donate money, it does seem to me that, particularly at a time of crisis like right now, you have to go super simple and super clear.

Belinda Dimovski:

And quick.

Mark Jones:

Quick, right? So, clear, quick, simple. Is that the golden rule for communicating at a time like this?

Belinda Dimovski:

It really is. Stick to your message, at the end of the day, I think what is really true is that people are hearing things in different ways. It takes an ongoing repetition of message, repetition of what you want people to do and how you want them to help and how they want to help. That connection, sticking to that, I think is the best formula right now, because there’s so much noise out there. You really want to engage people to feel like they can add value.

Belinda Dimovski:

The two step process from a CBA app. During the bushfires, we had Tik Tok saying, press a button, you can donate to us. We had Apple iTunes engaged with a button on theirs as well. What we did, Mark, though, is we accepted that we would not get the actual information of the people supporting us, and it was coming through a third party, but that was the right thing to do.

Belinda Dimovski:

What that means is that you need to step up, therefore, how you engage with those audience because they’re not in your CRM. They’re not in your database. They don’t exist in there, because they’ve engaged with you outside of that. That means transparent, ongoing communication is so important.

Mark Jones:

That sounds like you had to break some sort of sacred cow rule within the organisation.

Belinda Dimovski:

Yes. Hey, I’m going to ask you a question, Mark.

Mark Jones:

Yes.

Belinda Dimovski:

Do you know what the Red Cross emblem means?

Mark Jones:

I actually don’t know what it means, no.

Belinda Dimovski:

Okay, it actually means, don’t shoot. Right.

Mark Jones:

Wow. Don’t shoot.

Belinda Dimovski:

Don’t shoot. Back in 1859, a businessman, Henry Dunant, actually walked through a battlefield and there was the Franco Sardinian people and the Austrian people, and they were at war and 40,000 people were laying on the battlefield. He said, “This isn’t right. Why is no one helping them? I don’t care who’s right or wrong in the war, people should be helping the people that are hurt, where is the humanitarian effort?”

Belinda Dimovski:

He basically went from house to house knocking on doors, rallying people to help support those that were wounded irregardless of what side of the war that they were on. This is where actually the humanitarian effort of Red Cross globally was born. Instead of focusing on what side of the argument we should be on, it became irrelevant to us. We were looking after people that were hurt.

Belinda Dimovski:

Henry Dunant actually ended up being the first Nobel Peace Prize winner. The symbol of the cross was actually just the inverted Swiss flag because they didn’t really have brand guidelines at the time. What it genuinely means, don’t shoot. Here we are, we are humanitarians, we are here to help. To take that legacy of an organisation and to bring it into very critical digital, quick, modern times, while still keeping the focus and the legacy of the logo, it’s not even a logo, actually, I should nix that, of the emblem, which means humanity, impartiality and neutrality, independence, voluntary Service, unity and universality. They’re our fundamental principles.

Belinda Dimovski:

We need to work in that. We won’t advocate, we won’t push an issue. What we will do is work out how to help people in the most humanitarian way. To quickly flip that around in any type of crisis, whether it’s bushfires or the issues we’re facing with COVID right now and make it relevant to today’s audience, that is our challenge, and that is the reason we actually do podcasts like this, or information like this, because we need to cut through what people perceive Red Cross to be.

Mark Jones:

Because of that incredible origin story and your culture of just whatever it takes to help, that was what allowed you to make that change? 

Belinda Dimovski:

Absolutely.

Mark Jones:

Okay.

Belinda Dimovski:

Absolutely. What we were able to do, is leverage it actually to cut through and say, this is what we need to do, this is who we need to help. Here are the people that want to help us. How do we make it easy for them? That’s it, how do we cut through all of that?

Mark Jones:

Amazing. What did you learn from the bushfire crisis? Quite clearly an incredible outpouring of community support from a financial perspective as well as just amazing stories of communities coming together to help one another. What was, from your perspective of engagement, from communications and marketing, what did you learn through that season?

Belinda Dimovski:

I learned that there’s nothing more powerful than people sending you emails of thanks to keep an organisation going when they’re facing a crisis. Both from people on the ground, the volunteers out there supporting, as well as the people on social media that were trying to get through the misinformation and the assumptions that people made.

Belinda Dimovski:

It showed us that, you can’t control these things. It showed us that when Ellen gets on her show and says, “I’m fundraising for Australian Red Cross.” Or David Beckham sends you personal Instagram messages, well, he didn’t know he was sending it to me, he was sending it to Red Cross, but it was actually from him, right? 

Belinda Dimovski:

There was two weeks of hype where we went, “Yes, we can do this. Let’s galvanise, let’s help these people. Let’s ensure we’re delivering what we can.” Then through the normal cycle of grief process, which is applicable in any type of area, people start saying, “You’re not getting the money out fast enough. What do you mean you’re still collecting money? These people need help, do it now.” We wouldn’t be who we are as an organisation, and our experience and history in disaster recovery, it would be wrong of us to just give money to anyone that asked for money. We wanted to make sure that people that were really affected in these areas, were able to access that money.”

Belinda Dimovski:

There is a process that we go through, we weren’t holding the money. It’s all going to be put into the bushfire recovery effort, but what we learned is that the sector itself has a job to do with educating people about how things need to change. We need to be quicker but we also have to continue to be transparent and we were the whole time.

Mark Jones:

I think most people would understand that there’s a governance process for this, but there was definitely an appetite for speed as you’re noting so I think speed is the name of the game. We want to see vaccines developed as fast as possible. We want food and other essential supplies to be delivered as fast as possible. Like everything has to be fast. What sort of a challenge or a burden is that placing on you to get it right, but also to do it quickly?

Belinda Dimovski:

I think we all get frustrated about the ability not to be quick enough, irregardless of how quick you are. That is an ongoing challenge, I think for any organisation. But we also want to get it right. We are a team that ensures that the information that’s relevant and the role that we play has to be clearly defined. We can’t find a vaccine, we can’t spend money on a vaccine. That is not our role. But, what we can do is continue to educate people on how they can feel safe and secure in a COVID-19 environment, that is our role. We can ensure we can provide support to people that are experiencing social isolation, that is our role. We certainly can provide guidance to people about how they can help others in this very strange world at the moment.

Belinda Dimovski:

We can provide advocacy and influence to government and make sure that we can step up and provide what it is they need from a humanitarian perspective. Being clear on what we do, what our messages are and being able to communicate that to others. 

Mark Jones:

Give me a quick overview of what the world looks like through your lens. What can you do, and what are you doing in Australia and around the world?

Belinda Dimovski:

All around the world, it’s really interesting. Around the world, Red Cross in Italy, for instance, the ambulance drivers as well, Red Cross has that part of their role. They are right there in the thick of things. They are part of the response within the country, they are mobilising, galvanising volunteers all around the country to support the efforts that are going on through the incredibly strained hospital system that they do.

Belinda Dimovski:

I think it’s Hong Kong Red Cross that has started supporting people through WeChat. They’re actually using it as their face to face support mechanism where people are struggling or are not being able to manage this time, which is absolutely incredible.

Belinda Dimovski:

We have the UK, part of their remit is kindness. Two years ago, they changed their brand proposition to better reflect how important kindness is. They’ve completely focused on the delivery in the UK, to educate people on kindness, and to really take that in this COVID world, which I think is incredibly powerful and then had the backbone of that brand architecture without having to recreate it for this proposition.

Belinda Dimovski:

In Australia, what we’re actually doing is communicating our approach to COVID, supporting our messages with regards to social isolation, what it is that you need to do, how it is, whatever the government policy changes are to ensure that you know what that means. Number two, we are calling people.

Belinda Dimovski:

In Queensland when that first scary boat came and they didn’t let people off because they were testing them. We actually made phone calls to each of the people on the cruise ship and ensured that they were feeling great about that. We have worked with some of the state governments, ACT especially they have supported us to provide food and packages, working with some of our partners to people that are isolated in Victoria.

Belinda Dimovski:

We’re visiting homes, and we’re talking to people through the door just to make sure that they feel like there’s someone really supporting them. We have lots of things in the works that you’ll hear about in the next week or so, where we’re continuing to scale up our operations and support people.

Belinda Dimovski:

I think the huge thing is that this is going to be a digital support process as opposed to a face to face one. How do we encompass that in all of the services we provide? That’s both in our business continuity planning, as well as our ideation about how to mobilise the masses and really help everyone else through this.

Mark Jones:

What would you say is the hardest thing about this situation we’re facing right now with COVID-19 from your perspective? Because quite clearly, the scale of this is unprecedented. We don’t know how long it’s going to go on for, and the needs are far in excess of our ability as individuals to affect, it would feel to some.

Belinda Dimovski:

There’s two things that probably weighs on the organisation’s shoulders quite a bit at the moment. At the moment, it’s so many people are affected by this. Clearly, I’m not an economist, we’re going to be in a recession. Clearly there are people that we’ve seen the images of people lining up to get some sort of government assistance. Clearly the amount of people that are vulnerable, will be greater.

Belinda Dimovski:

In the coming six months, we have to shift in order to support greater group of people as opposed to the things that we’re used to, the number of people that we’re used to supporting in this space. That’s probably number one. Problem number two, we’re a not for profit organisation. We solely rely on the generosity of people, of partners, of corporates to continue to operate.

Belinda Dimovski:

If we think about the global crisis, that economic shut down, people being very nervous about what this could mean, it does impact or worries us our ability to continue to operate and deliver the work we need without continued support. I do not blame anyone that’s very cautious about what their discretionary spend is right now, but what we are is extremely, extremely thankful for those people that have been loyal to us and continue to support us.

Belinda Dimovski:

We have to scale up in this humanitarian response, and we have to make sure we do it in a way that we can continue to operate for as long as we need.

Mark Jones:

Quite clearly, donations will be most welcome at a time like this. I wanted to also know, just briefly about the blood banks, blood donations, clearly that’s got to continue, right? 

Belinda Dimovski:

Right. Actually, that’s a great question, Mark. The Blood Service and now they are called Lifeblood because it’s not just about blood, it’s all about plasma and everything else that they do as well. They’re like our sister. They have an incredible team there that is out there really appealing for blood donations.

Belinda Dimovski:

They’re open. Absolutely, they’re open. They need blood, they need plasma, and they need a bit of everything to be honest with you, irregardless of blood type or group. It’s so important in a time like this, that we ensure that the blood supply is set up. We’re helping them in any way to make sure we can get the message out and ensure that they have what they need.

Belinda Dimovski:

They’re incredibly thorough. They’re scientists, they are an immensely regulated part of Australia. They are the only people at the moment that can help supply blood to anyone that needs it. That for me is if you can’t do anything else, absolutely go out there and continue to donate blood. We’ve seen a slight dip, which is, again, people are staying home, or people in bushfire affected communities had that service closed because of things that were going on. There’s a huge worldwide push for blood donors.

Mark Jones:

Going back to our comments on simplicity and messaging, what’s the best way to think about communications and telling a story in the marketplace in a time of crisis? Specifically, how do you get the tone right? The message right, because there’s a lot of giving messages, like here’s something we’re doing to help. I imagine that will change and evolve over time. But, just give us a sense of how you see it as somebody who actually combines this marketing comms with human engagement?

Belinda Dimovski:

What the team focused on is being amazing storytellers. I really think that is something that every CMO organisation really needs to be great at. We made a decision just over two years ago, Mark, that we were no longer going to talk about the deficit in society, the fact that we need your help, that there’s people that are not doing as well as you. We try to take away the guilt associated with it. We didn’t want to manipulate your feelings by showing images of people, or children or whatever it might be that would pull the heartstrings.

Belinda Dimovski:

What we said is that we want you to partner with us. We want you to partner with us to solve society’s problems. We want you to partner with us to make a change. We want you to partner with us to do good. That’s actually how we’ve kept evolving our messaging. All of our stories are about the fact that we’ve helped with an issue. They’re all strength based, they’re all about the difference that you can make.

Belinda Dimovski:

Turning it around to the audience that you’re trying to engage with, and showing them that they are the important one in this equation, and they can make a difference is where our comms basically it stems from, and our engagements stems from.

Mark Jones:

If I could just jump in, that’s a really interesting observation because you’ve identified that the previous narrative was there’s a lack of things in the world, and you need to do something about it, and you switch that, which is negative and evokes all sorts of awkward feelings. You’re saying we’re going to switch that to this positive join mentality. What you can do, is like an empowerment message, and that’s a narrative which is underpinning your strategy. Is that a quick summary?

Belinda Dimovski:

Exactly. Everywhere, in every piece of comms, that is the rules. Bends the rules.

Mark Jones:

Bends the rules. Sounds like you’re the police.

Belinda Dimovski:

Not at all.

Mark Jones:

The messaging police.

Belinda Dimovski:

The funny thing is, not the messaging police, but sometimes it’s you want to evoke emotion because emotion is really important in storytelling, right?

Mark Jones:

No, I couldn’t agree more.

Belinda Dimovski:

This is the right type of emotion. No, I’m not the police, don’t call me that.

Mark Jones:

It’s all right. It’s just a bit of comedic…but my point is you need to be very intentional about the emotions that you choose to engage your story, and understand the narrative arc that you’re pursuing, and then from there, you develop these individual stories that have the full range of emotional expressions I imagine. That’s really fantastic, and I’m really glad to hear that. What campaign are you most proud of?

Belinda Dimovski:

Wow. God, that’s a tough question. What we’re trying to do… It’s a tough question because we’re not trying to think about in campaigns, but I have to say the one thing that we did in December last year, which is so risky, so, so risky, I’m so proud of my Head of Mark Comms that insisted we do this, is that when the bushfires started early on in September, October, November, and then there was this whole conversation about fireworks, that should we have them in Sydney? What we decided to do is along with some of our partners is actually create a Christmas tree in Martin Place that was all made up from bicycles and burnt houses and fibro from bushfire affected communities.

Belinda Dimovski:

It still smelled of smoke. What we did, it bring a bit of that country into the city-

Mark Jones:

I remember that.

Belinda Dimovski:

It’s not because we wanted people to feel guilty, is because we wanted them to understand that everyone’s in this together. That was incredible. I’m super proud that even though there was a bit of caution around that, that was a success. I’m glad you remember it, Mark. I was pretty chuffed with that.

Mark Jones:

Well, yes. That was an amazing experience. The interesting thing about that is it’s… I’m going to say, marketing speak it’s like an activation. We make it, it generated all this coverage, created a lot of tension, which actually reminds me of something else, just to quickly ask, how do you think about this engagement from a channels perspective? I know that you’d have people working on that, but are you thinking multi-channel all the time, always on or do you change your focus to adapt to the situation?

Belinda Dimovski:

Yes. We are very adaptive. There isn’t always own component that we’re working through right now, but we’re adaptive based on what’s going on locally. We completely changed our marketing communications function to a squad based, agile team.

Mark Jones:

Wow.

Belinda Dimovski:

I know, right? We could spend another hour talking about this.

Mark Jones:

Yes, we could.

Belinda Dimovski:

That’s a heart ache. These teams are really quick to understand what it is we need to achieve. There’s targets, there’s KPIs, but also how to take advantage of what’s going on in society and bring that to life. We have an offline channel and online channel that we both participate in that, and we work with some agencies that help us formulate that as well. We have a lot of fun.

Mark Jones:

Is that why you wouldn’t shy away from this campaign idea? Campaign in marketing terms, it’s like a DNA. Even though we try to move away from it, everything becomes campaigns.

Belinda Dimovski:

Yeah, I do actually try to change the terminology because it used to be a fundraising campaign and a marketing campaign and a social media campaign. It felt like it was not aligned to what it is that we want to achieve? We have, what is the problem we want to solve? What is the job to do, and we go from there.

Mark Jones:

That’s fantastic. We need to wrap up, but I do have a final question for you.

Belinda Dimovski:

Wow.

Mark Jones:

Yes. Time flies when you’re having fun. What gives you hope in a time like this?

Belinda Dimovski:

Me personally, that people will live a little bit differently as we get through this, that maybe the things that we took for granted, we won’t, and that we come together as a society and that we really understand that there’s different people in different walks of life, and we should just care for everyone.

Mark Jones:

That’s great. Knowing that there are still so many people ready and willing to care for others, despite the personal challenges that we all face, if I could add to that, also gives me hope too. I would have to agree with you.

Mark Jones:

Well, Belinda Dimovski, thank you so much for joining us. You have a massive task ahead of you, like we all do, of course, but clearly, with a large team, a global and the national remit here to help people in times of need, and particularly now. I really do appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time out to join us. Thanks for being part of the programme.

Belinda Dimovski:

That was so much fun, Mark. Thank you so much again, for having me. You take care.



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