Commswork head of comms featured on Mumbrella

This article was first published on Mumbrella.

Head to Head: Does a client have the right to see its agency’s media pitch?

In this series, Mumbrella invites the industry’s senior PR professionals to share their opposing views on the industry’s biggest issues. This week, Liam Fitzpatrick, head of communications at Commswork, goes head to head with Opr’s Graham White and M+C Partners’ CEO Justin Kelly on whether clients should be able to see their agency’s media pitch.

Should clients be able to see what their agency is going to pitch to the media? Commswork’s head of communications and founder Liam Fitzpatrick says they absolutely should be able to in order to ensure both the client and the agency are aligned and projecting the same message.

Graham White, group managing director of technology and business at Opr, argues it’s not necessary, since a good client relationship should be built on trust.

Meanwhile, M+C Partners’ CEO Justin Kelly says clients don’t always understand what journalists want to see in a pitch and if the pitch contains too much “waffle and gibberish” from the brand, it will get rejected.

Yes, argues Liam Fitzpatrick, head of communications at Commswork:

“The simple answer, is yes. And to be clear, I’m not saying this should happen for every pitch. Sign off would undoubtedly become glacial. Perhaps just when starting out, to ensure everyone is aligned on messaging.

“But if ever asked, an agency should comply and share the pitch. Let’s take an analogy from agency life – expense claims. When everything is justifiable, things are good. You’re unlikely to be questioned on it. But if there’s a deviation, a $1,000 claim for ‘entertainment’ which looks suspect and unsubstantiated, then expect to be digging out those crumpled receipts.

Fitzpatrick says it is important to make sure everyone is on the same page

“It’s not just because the client is paying the wages of an agency either. Although in my mind, if the client owns the IP to the work being created, which in most cases they do, it follows that they should be able to view the manner in which it’s being discussed. After all, it’s their brand and reputation that you’re potentially affecting.

“More importantly there’s the issue of trust. If a client is asking to see a pitch, that bond has been fractured. So, a little insight may be needed to alleviate any concerns. When entering into an agreement with an agency, the client trusts that everything will be done to act in their best interests. They also assume that there’s a level of competence that comes as standard. The only reason that a client should ask to see a pitch, after the first stages, is if they suspect something is wrong.

“Yes, I believe a PR’s relationship with media is a priority, but one glimpse into your approach shouldn’t reveal anything more than you’ve already shared through your personal client interactions. It’s not going to convince the client that they could do your job. An agency is employed because of its ability to take what a business wants to say and translate this into a story its audience/the media wants to hear. That’s our job.

“I’ve previously hired an agency that continued to make basic grammatical errors and sent over copy which demonstrated a lack of understanding. When quizzed on simple concepts they couldn’t answer basic questions about the brand. Unsurprisingly when speaking with journalists about this agency, their emails were often discarded without ever being opened. That trust between client – agency – media had been broken beyond repair at every stage.

“In my experience, a good story sells itself. A less-initially-newsworthy story is where we can display our value. As skilled practitioners, this is where our craft is required, our counsel needed, together with our network of trusted relationships.”

Cut the Cliches – Episode Two – Elaine Pofeldt

We’re coming right back with another episode. Weekly now every Sunday.

Something for the morning commute.

And for this edition we speak with award winning journalist and author of The Million-Dollar One-Person Business, Elaine Pofeldt.

During the episode we cover:

– patterns of successful one person businesses
– achieving global reach through digital marketing
– how to find your niche
– maintaining balance in work/life
– importance of multiple revenue streams
– trends in freelancing

A massive thanks for Elaine’s patience in getting this one together.

Elaine Pofeldt, author of ‘The Million-Dollar One-Person Business’
Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist who specialises in small business, entrepreneurship and careers. She is the author of The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business, a look at how entrepreneurs are hitting seven-figure revenue in businesses where they are the only employees (Random House, Jan. 2, 2018).

Her work has appeared in FORTUNE, Money, CNBC, Inc., Forbes, Crain’s New York Business and many other business publications and she is a contributor to the Economist Intelligence Unit. She is also a ghostwriter.

As a senior editor at FORTUNE Small Business, where she worked for eight years, Elaine was twice nominated for the National Magazine Award for her features and ran the magazine’s annual business plan completion. Elaine graduated from Yale University with a BA in English. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and their four children and in her free time enjoys taekwondo, yoga and running.

Keep an eye out for next week’s edition with AADL’s Steve Sinha.

Episode 2 – Elaine Pofeldt

For episode two, Cut the Cliches speaks with Elaine Pofeldt, an independent journalist specialising in small business, entrepreneurship and careers. She is the author of The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business, which looks at how entrepreneurs are hitting seven-figure revenue in businesses where they are the only employees.

In this episode Liam and Elaine discuss freelancing trends, finding your niche and how digital marketing can give you global reach. Enjoy.

Commswork presents – Cut the Cliches Podcast – Episode One

It’s all happening.

That’s right, Commswork is launching a new podcast.

We look to get behind the jargon and buzzwords of an industry and every week we invite a guest to guide us through their field.

Kicking us off is Mark Gustowski. We headed to the Brisbane offices of QUT’s Creative Enterprise Australia CEO for episode one. We discuss Mark’s two decades of startup experience, including his time in the Melbourne scene during the Dot Com boom and London after the 2012 Olympics announcement.

Startup expert Mark Gustowski

In his own words, Mark is the CEO at QUT Creative Enterprise Australia, a startup factory based in Brisbane supporting startup founders in the creative tech verticals. With experience in building and supporting startups and growth companies across Australia, the US, Asia and Europe Mark has designed and run accelerator, incubator and investment programs nationally and internationally.

Having worked extensively across the public and private sectors, Mark has led the development of government policy and programs that support industry development and has also co-founded a number of startups in the tech, investment and FMCG sectors. Mark has invested in a number of Australian tech startups and sits on the board of organisations in the startup, renewable and investment sectors.

Having built national and international relationship that support Australian industry development Mark is passionate supporter of the Australian industry and tech space.

And we can confirm, he’s a thoroughly nice chap!


Oh and look out for our next episode with author of The Million Dollar One Person Business and experienced journalist Elaine Pofeldt.

Episode 1 – Mark Gustowski

Episode 1 of Cut the Cliches takes host Liam Fitzpatrick to Brisbane to speak with Mark Gustowski, CEO of QUT’s Creative Enterprise Australia.

We discuss Mark’s two decades of startup experience, including his time in the Melbourne scene during the Dot Com boom and London after the 2012 Olympics announcement.


Why move your startup to Brisbane?

This article was first published on 61-Bit.

It’s not just cheaper rent and a sunnier climate which is drawing more startups north as Commswork head of communications, Liam Fitzpatrick, discovers…

“We chose it because of the community”.

“Queensland is very relaxed and less affected by status”.

“There’s more collaboration than in any other ecosystem, including Silicon Valley”.

These were a few of the reasons given by founders I spoke to, about why they chose to set up in Brisbane. But what are some of the other environmental and political factors which may affect the relocation decision for startups?

Get **it done
One area of benefit in the Brisbane ecosystem is the ability to execute at a faster pace.

“You can get stuff done in a day up there. In Sydney it can take weeks,” says Graham Ross. The Kusaga Athletic founder believes it’s this enthusiastic attitude which allows direct conversations with government ministers – one of whom is usually in attendance at the numerous startup events throughout the city each week.

“I’ve had follow up calls with senior government officials just to check in. That’s unheard of elsewhere.”

And this governmental support is another reason why startups are drawn to Brisbane – in Queensland it goes beyond just words and feel good policies. In fact, Queensland is the first and only state with a government office for the ‘Chief Entrepreneur’, a position currently held by Steve Baxter.

Testing the responsiveness myself, I received a call back from the local government the morning after first lodging my online request for a contribution to this article.

Paul Martyn, Deputy Director General of the Department of Innovation, confirmed: “The $650 million Advance Queensland whole-of-government initiative fosters the spirit of entrepreneurialism across the complete process of innovation, from the research stage to the implementation phase, encouraging innovative businesses to bring their ideas to market in a way that is globally scalable.”


One of the government initiatives, Hot DesQ, is now in its third cohort. The program offers funding up to $100,000 for interstate and international companies to relocate to Queensland for at least six months. The idea behind the $8m initiative, inspired by a similar Chilean example, is for successful organisations to impart knowledge, experience and new networking potential for existing Queensland businesses.

Admittedly I haven’t seen any ROI stats, but anecdotally I’m informed it’s been a standout success. Sydney-based Citizen Wolf co-founder, Eric Phu, added: “It’s a great opportunity to build up your network with other like-minded entrepreneurs, potential investors, and mentors in a super-supportive environment”.

Hot DesQ has brought over 70 companies through the sunshine state. Brennan Hatton, founder of Wollongong-based Equal Reality, was one of those convinced to up sticks and he was instantly impressed. His startup uses VR in diversity and inclusion training for a variety of organisations including the Royal Navy.

“Brisbane’s attitude towards collaboration was above and beyond – I haven’t seen a large community get together to be unanimously inclusive and supportive of each other. In many places, it’s ideal but in Brisbane, I think they’ve managed to achieve it.”

A startup hub in the making
It’s not only government providing funding to startups. Investment funds and accelerator programs are also contributing to the growth and viability of the region as a startup hub. The state is home to Australia’s only creative tech investment fund. QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CRE), had its most recent demo day recently. Since 2013, there have been 30 companies across its accelerator and Startup Fund which have received investment, including Cardly, Trademark Vision and Audience Republic.

The new CEO, Mark Gustowski, recently got the chance to showcase the brightest startups from the Collider Accelerator, when leading a delegation to Bangkok for one of the region’s biggest events, TechSauce, at the end of June.

Ranked as Australia’s second startup hub, according to Startup Muster’s annual census, reveals maybe not the size or number of startups in Queensland’s capital, but definitely the collective eagerness in the city. This is what I’m assured of by CEA’s Gustowski. “Come survey time, the entire community participates in some form, to ensure a good showing. Something perhaps overlooked in some of the more traditional startups centres.” The 2018 Startup Muster survey is currently open.

Photo credit

Myriad of reasons
Brisbane now plays host to one of the region’s finest events. Myriad’s second full year curated the best line-up of speakers announced so far in 2018. But co-founder Murray Galbraith admits they’re only at stage two of a 5-10 year process.

The whole feel is different. Big names from Google, NASA, Apple, Stripe and Slack were Qantas’d in on a special Myriad Air chartered flight. But it’s the side events that turned the conference, into a real tech festival. Dozens of complementary events took place around the city. “We have designed Myriad as a platform. We want it to be super fun and accessible for others to build their brand on top of ours, whether that’s launching something new or just telling their story” says Galbraith.

Credit: Murray Galbraith’s Medium page – thanks

The real success for him though lies in the impact created beyond the event itself. He admits people attend events like Myriad and SxSW “cause Elon Musk says he’s talking”, but what matters most, are the connections made there.

Brisbane an investment capital
What’s the overall aim for initiatives like this? For Queensland to be viewed, not just as a tourism, but also as an investment capital.

To challenge the willingness of those operating in the ecosystem to help out, I messaged QUT CEA’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Alan Jones for comment. And sure enough, I got a reply within a couple of hours. After conceding he’s only been up there for a couple of months, he observed the comparatively reduced price of coworking and rental spaces. Adding “UberX is muuuch [sic] cheaper and faster than Sydney and Melbourne”.

His advice?

“There are plenty of places available on AirBnB at reasonable prices to allow a startup team or a founder to be flexible in their initial commitment to being based in Brisbane”.

Many of those I spoke to for this article has drawn comparisons with Melbourne in the late 90’s in terms of feeling around the ecosystem and maturity of the market. As Sabrina Chakori, founder of social enterprise Brisbane Tool Library expresses, people like her come and stay in the area “most of all because of the potential to create new things” and “challenge the current system”.

I’ll leave the last word to Mark Gustowski who explains, “While other cities have their niche, Brisbane is still deciding what it’s going to be known for.

“I hope it stays agnostic and never decides. Because the melting pot of experience we currently have is really exciting and works for everyone.”

We travelled to New York for World Blockchain Forum

There are so many songs about New York, it’s impossible to walk the streets without humming at least one of the them – be it Jay-Z and Alicia Keys and their epic Empire State of Mind, LCD Soundsystem’s anti-love song or Interpol’s slightly darker still tale of spoilt New York Kids.

We were back in the city again, a place which brings back special memories for our head of communications having proposed to his now wife there.

This time though, it was World Blockchain Forum that enticed us back with promises of the new big thing in crypto. After all, it is where Ethereum and Dash were previously launched.

The main announcement this time round came from Beam, a retail blockchain platform to restructure how we think and go about buying products, read more on iTWire.

Discussing securities and their future within the crypto space was CNBC Africa.

And finally Bitcoin Centre founder Nick Spanos, gave a rousing speech about the potential of blockchain and the fact it doesn’t need to ask government permission, read more on BitsOnline.

We finished the visit off with a customary visit to Yankee stadium for a little relaxation, which would have been easier without a close 4-5 loss to the Nationals

The year that was in technology – Mary Meeker speaks and the industry listens

Silicon Valley and the world were eager to hear what the Mary Meeker report had to say last week – many regard the annual census as a litmus test for the tech industry, where ongoing trends are confirmed.

Recode gives a pretty good summation of the report, along with all of the slides. Tech companies struggling with the ‘Privacy Paradox’ is one key theme, where the collection of personal data is taken under the assumption of improved tailored experiences. Commswork wonders whether a successful blockchain solution can return control of our data back to us as consumers?
2017 was the first year that the shipment of smartphones didn’t increase. But the amount of time people spend online certainly did.

Give me that digital media

TechCrunch does a handy job of distilling the news into a handy 20 slide deck. Slowing internet user growth continuing from the 2017 report. 2017 is the year of voice thanks to 95 per cent accuracy with the likes of Amazon’s Alexa. Public and private investment in tech companies is at a two decade high with the race to become the dominant player in emerging tech fronts of AI and automation.

Alexa on the rise
Credit: Mary Meeker report

Offering a local view, Which-50, reduced its important slides down to just 10, focusing on the $7bn opportunity in mobile advertising (note this is down from $16bn last year with advertisers diverting budgets). Also noting the rise in importance of China on the global stage along with e-commerce within the country when compared with other western nations (well over 20 per cent of all retail sales are made online).

China now has nine of the most valuable tech companies, the US 11.
Print ad spend continues to over-reflect time spent. Mobile and radio look like best opportunities

Commswork speaks to Sky News on Facebook data scandal

Mark Zuckerberg should come out and apologise for Facebook’s role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal according to Commswork’s Liam Fitzpatrick.

Speaking with Sky News recently, he went on to say that there will be more cases like this in the coming weeks and months – people download apps without reading the T&C’s but Facebook should still be playing a larger role in protecting users’ data to prevent it being harvested without consent.

Expect this story to dominate headlines in the coming weeks

Liam Fitzpatrick speaks with Nick at Sky News

Sports industry facing disruption – akin to late 90’s music industry

Change is coming. And it will be unforgiving to those who fail to prepare.

That was the message from speakers outside of the world of sport speaking at the Business of Sport Summit earlier this week. While the line-up did include the NRL Commissioner, FFA chief exec and AFL GM, it was the consultancies like Accenture, Showdown and Aussie pioneers Wearable X with the starkest message.

Disruption will hit indiscriminately.

Scott Dinsdale from Accenture warned about the influx of tech giants (Facebook/YouTube), which care not for traditions. Instead they just dispassionately amass content which can captivate their already scaled user-bases. He likened sports’ position now to the music industry in the late 90’s – shifting to digital. It will look slow at first, as digital music sales did. In 2005, it still only represented just 2.5% of the market. But the swing was great and by 2010 that was up to 60%. Today physical sales have shrunk to 16% of the market losing over 80% of share in the space of 11 years.

{Updated 22/03: The harbinger of digital change is backed up by the stats too}:


Dinsdale believes though, that this brings opportunity and ‘there’s never been a better time to be a leader in the industry’. He asks What would you do in digital today if you ignored what has happened up until this point? The best ideas are from those free of the ideas that have come before (the baggage of history). Revolution not evolution.

He explained Metcalfe’s Law, that the value of a network is directly related to its size. The bigger the audience the more valuable any single piece of content becomes. It’s the connecting which becomes important not controlling the flow of information. Sport has a multi-platform opportunity. So for those already with a huge ‘social network’, like the Facebook’s of the world, the attraction of sport is obvious. The profit comes when there’s scale in revenue. Its potential for the platform is enormous and unquantifiable right now.

He’s not alone in his belief in the opportunity:

Athlete turned business women, Angela Ruggiero admitted, “Yes, it’s a risk if (global sports brands) don’t (use technology),” the four time Olympic medalist, now CEO of Sports Innovation Lab said in a separate interview with SportTechie.

“But it’s also a massive opportunity to leverage what’s out there – to leverage how you engage your fans, to leverage how you support your athletes on the field of play, to leverage how you’re reaching your audience globally is all done through technology now.”

Nor is Dinsdale alone in his perceived threats to incumbents:

Ricardo Fort, VP of Global Sports Partnerships gave a personal tale of how Brazil’s exit of World Cup 1982 etched into his memories along with an ad from that same year. His delivery was humourous and open. But the message that followed was very clear.

B2B sponsors will not provide the benefit for fans and ultimately will damage sport.

Companies like Coca-Cola seek to add value in activations like its global World Cup trophy roadshow Fort said. However tech brands simply choose sport sponsorship as the cheapest approach for brand awareness. And without consumers as their target market, there’s no need to offer value for fans was his contention.

The key to future success according to Accenture? Nailing four challenges:

Credit: Dinsdale’s Accenture BOSSummit presentation

(Phygical – a discordant and now cliched pairing of digital and physical)

Time to initiate a different mindset in your organisation by questioning the status quo and looking at how to benefit your audience. Fan insight has never been more valuable.