Client: Beam interviewed by CNBC

This week Shezan Amiji from mobile tech startup Beam was quizzed by CNBC on the company’s recent acquisition in the UAE by Majid Al Futtaim.

To read about Shezan’s thoughts on the future of mobile payments, head over to CNBC’s site. There’s a short extract below:

“Mobile payments solutions are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist today. You need to offer the consumer and the merchant something that they can’t get,” Amiji said.

“The value proposition of convenience is too narrow to shift consumer behaviour at scale, so you need to have value in the system in order to incentivise change and drive adoption at scale,” he added.

Four tips to become a DIY PR Pro

SmartCompany - Four PR Tips - Liam Fitzpatrick - Commswork - B2B tech PR agency Brisbane Sydney Melbourne.

This article was originally published on Smart Company.

The results are in. And startups across Australia have spoken. Media coverage is the number one need for founders in the next six months according to the latest Startup Muster report.

So you’ve got a great product, what do you do next?

Well at the very early stages you probably don’t need an agency. The time to think about external support is when you have a working product with a pipeline of regular news and the need for customers, staff, partners or investment I’d say as a rough guide.

These steps should help with taking what you want to say and turning it into something the media will care about.

      1. Finding your angle

As a founder you’ll be used to giving your elevator speech at networking events. Which is great. However you’re not always going to use the same pitch for securing media coverage. And only telling people what you do won’t be enough. Unfortunately you’re not the only one spruiking your wares. And sadly not everyone will care about your startup or the product you’ve just launched. So maybe hold off on the press release for the beta launch of version 4.1.

You need to give a journalist a reason to write about your story. A hook.

– Do you have a product/service which is genuinely new and different?
– Or has a tech giant like Facebook, just bought a company that operates in your space?
– Or has the government allocated more funds for R&D in your industry?

2. What makes a story?

    Tying yourself to the news agenda will give the journalist a better chance of getting a story greenlit from their editor – because not only is it topical, but it’s part of a wider trend which is in itself newsworthy. Give them what they need.

    Firsts – has your startup created a world-first or global breakthrough in research?
    A familiar product/service with a new twist – are you the Uber…for gardeners?
    An interesting backstory (profile interview) – did you meet your co-founder while dancing naked round a fire at Burning Man?
    New research or data – particularly if it backs up or disproves assumptions
    Opinions – there is space, for articles like this one, from those with advice or opinions targeted for the audience of that media outlet
    Reaction to big news – if a journalist is going to be writing a story anyway, why not send your thoughts for what it means for your industry as they’ll require sources to stand up their story – e.g. comment on what Instagram’s latest update means for retailers.

    Look at what the journalist you’re contacting has written before and suggest something similar or a well argued follow-up. Don’t add to the 100’s of irrelevant emails a journalist receives on a daily basis.

    Key Takeaway – create a ‘why now’ moment for a journo, focus on how you differ from competitors and tailor your approach by taking it to someone who will care.

    3. Know your audience

      You wouldn’t try to sell an industry-leading-proprietary-turnkey-SaaS-tech-stack-solution to a market greengrocer. So don’t try and convince a journalist who focuses on entertainment that your marketplace for pigeon fanciers is the hottest ticket in bird-tech right now.

      While we’re at it, keep your writing simplified. Jargon, like the paragraph above, seeks to exclude others. Buzzwords indicate a lack of understanding. And cliches demonstrate a limited diction.

      PR needs to be targeted, just as your startup needs to be appropriately positioned in market. If you’re speaking with a startup journalist, there’s a good chance they’re going to be interested in funds you’ve raised or the new way you’re targeting the market.

      If you’re speaking to a writer with a retail beat (subject they cover), why not focus on the impact or behaviour change your product is having on customers.

      Journalists are consumers too. They don’t understand your internal corporate-speak. A quick litmus test is if your parents can’t understand how you’ve explained it, you haven’t simplified it enough. And remember personality and even humour is allowed in pitching.

      Key Takeaway – research what has worked previously with a journalist and add your own unique stamp on it.

      4. Be available

    Journalists have deadlines which are increasingly short. By reading what they write about, you’ll get a sense for what might be coming up and when you can pre-empt with an authoritative viewpoint. Through providing value to them, you can start to become relied on and even have the journalist coming to you for comment. So make yourself available and deliver on any promises. There are enough people that don’t to make you stand-out.

    Key Takeaway – It’s all about showupability.

    Liam Fitzpatrick is founder of Commswork and host of ‘Cut the Cliches’ podcast

Episode 6 – Sarah Kelly

Sports Marketing is the topic for episode 6. At University Queensland we caught up with Professor of Law & Marketing, Sarah Kelly, to find out why sports sponsorship is a good investment. The fact it’s a universal language is a good starting point. She is also Brisbane Lions Deputy Chair. We cover the burgeoning esports sector – where she is Director of the Global Esports Institute. The commercial impact of sports-stars’ indiscretions for sponsors, the tribal behaviour of fans, the brand opportunity within female sports, we also touch on the ‘Sandpaper-gate’ scandal which rocked Aussie cricket along with the buzz Nike was able to generate with its purpose-marketing Colin Kaepernick campaign.

Research, lack of commercialisation and Australia’s $315bn opportunity

This article was first published on StartupSoda.

We must choose door A.

The advice of CSIRO’s Data61 chief exec Adrian Turner, presenting a new report during his keynote at D61Live yesterday in Brisbane.

He explained that Australia is at a crossroads. A very important choice will fork our future one way or the other. Door A involves us creating our own digital exports – the stark reality is that we currently lag at just 20% of the rate of our OECD peers in this area.

Australian industry lags behind in data competitiveness

Door B results in lagging further behind, and that’s just the start of the problems that would begin.

It’s an argument which Matt Barrie has been making for a few years. Few of the top 10 most valuable companies in Australia make their own digital products. The youngest of our big four was established in 1911! Scaling and exporting in the digital world becomes harder when this is not the case.

Dr Andrew Charlton from AlphaBeta, one of the authors of the report, added that many of the constraints which Australia previously suffered reduce in a digital economy. Challenges of smaller local market, greater distance between population densities and higher wages matter less when competing on the global stage, so “we need to think differently about comparative advantage”.

Adrian made the point that many of the algorithms we use today, have been around since the 70’s – but “we don’t have the tech talent”, we’re already behind and every day “that delta is only going to grow” added Dr Charlton.

From idea to market

The question across the whole day was how to turn the great research which Australia is responsible for, e.g. Wifi, into a product we can commercialise? How can we bridge the gap between breakthrough and branding, taking the product all the way to market? Why is R&D going down comparatively with other OECD countries?

Aussie public investment in R&D is largely indirect

Brisbane’s Chief Digital Officer, Cat Matson, was keen to emphasise that there’s no one party responsible for Australia succeeding as a country. “It’s about how do we still get everyone together” she added, focusing both on celebrating what we can do fast, while still painstakingly and rigorously testing efficiency and market-fit in the background.

However some of the timeframes imposed by academia for collaboration are too slow. AI specialist from Queensland’s Office of the Chief Entrepreneur, Dr Natalie Rens, spoke of experiences with academia, where it can take a year to form partnerships because of administration. “It’s difficult in Australia as research is tied to universities who typically demand extensive IP agreements and take a 30% equity stake in the end product…we need to be more like the States where it’s a one page agreement, maybe 5% equity and let’s go.”

One solution is to focus on specific problems, entrepreneur Bevan Slattery offered. We need more imagineering and problems with a social license which can be approached from a state and national level, life the Reef. We need to ‘reshot’ and find our solutions through science and innovation – which is what the Data 61 Challenge program is doing with its first mission Food Provenance (managing transparency in supply chain) – it’s about “grabbing great thinking, capital and solutions through partner networks” says Data61’s Ben Sorensen.

Mega Trending

When is a trend not a trend? When it’s a megatrend – typically a large cluster of smaller trends.

Six interconnecting, venn-diagram-piecing trends the latest CSIRO report on the issues focuses on include:

– Intelligent machines
– Digital dividends (improving productivity)
– Data driven
– Burning platforms
– Online burnout
– Reality bites

Six digital megatrends

Discussion around Industry 4.0 and the future of automation, brings a unwarranted amount of scaremongering. The megatrend of ‘intelligent machines’ comes with the harbinger of a stat that 47% of jobs will be taken by automation within a couple of decades. In reality though, jobs redefine and augment with technology rather replace. A lot of the repetitive roles may go, but hopefully this will free up time for humans to be more human and add value through creative thinking and applying the technology in additive manner.

The benefits are clear, Dr Wen Wu explained the Case Crunch (2017) experiment which pitted 100 commercial London lawyers against AI when it came to predicting the outcomes of cases, given all of the facts. Needless to say the robots outperformed their human counterparts 87% accuracy compared with 62%. There are benefits of standardising elements of decision making.

But there are issues around bias both in the way we think about cases, but also those coding the algorithms responsible for coming to these conclusions. Ethics was a bigger issue which Day 2 panels were looking to address. What happens when all of the coders are white men?

It can’t just be in isolation

The final thought should go to Adrian Turner who warned attendees of the danger of having conversations in an echo chamber alone.

We don’t have the answers but data can certainly help and Australia must become more targeted in its approach to claw back its position on the global stage. All of our futures depend on it.

“Part of challenge is in communications, how do we get public to understand that the things that got 27 us years of economic growth aren’t going to get us through the next period.

“I’m more optimistic than ever that we’ll get through. Because we have to. But also because there’s already been a shift in the last three years” since coming back says Turner.

Episode 5 – Ben Beath

Digital still means differing things, depending on who you ask. So for us at ‘Cut the Cliches’, we turned to a man who has decades of experience in the field, leading his agency through the era of mobile, through to the customer experience focus, which his agency has today.

Ben Beath, MD at Loud & Clear helps brands transform internally to become more digitally enabled. Simply put, he’s taking legacy infrastructure and making processes streamlined for today’s increasingly time-poor workforce. This can, and often does involve automation, as we discuss the impact of Industry 4.0 on how jobs are viewed.

Ben has worked with some of Australia’s leading brands including AGL and FFA, and our man on the ground Liam Fitzpatrick caught up with Ben in his Melbourne office.

Episode 4 – Jalaluddin Shaik

In episode four, ‘Cut the Cliches’ speaks with Shaik from GameFace.AI about the rise of sports analytics.
Host Liam Fitzpatrick catches up with Shaik in Sydney where we discuss the difference between AI and machine learning, how GameFace rebrand is going, how sports teams are increasingly turning to video to support coaching and tactics and what might be next for the use of tech across sporting codes.

We headed to Melbourne for Blockchain APAC and this is what we found…

“The doers will win”.

A rallying-cry, that felt more akin to the opening of a concert than a #Blockchain event, but for local-Melbournian Steve Vallas, it was more of a promise. Just 10 weeks after deciding to go through with his idea, Australia’s largest enterprise blockchain event was here and packed out.

Blockchain technology is big business. But what happens when big business gets serious about the blockchain?

There was a lot of education throughout the sessions as Vallas had ensured there were plenty of use cases for how the technology is affecting industry today.

A need comes before the solution

Aussie champions, Katrina Donaghy and Louise Mercer from Civic Ledger and Everledger respectively, were on hand to talk about their experience with Optus’s Cindy Nicholson.

Louise Mercer explaining “yes we do want to work with corporates”

Donaghy spoke of the need to focus on the customer first. Working together with the Queensland Govt, Civic Ledger discovered a market and had the problem validated first, then “we built out our focus on registry and marketplaces”.

Mainstream success needs collaborative consortiums like ANB

One of the biggest announcements came from Data 61, IBM and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. As iTNews reported: “The CSIRO’s Data61 research and development shop is set to pilot a new blockchain-based, internet of things (IoT)-enabled platform to streamline the way Australian businesses exchange data, cement deals and work together”.

Business Insider reported Herbert Smith Freehills stating: “The ANB will enable organisations to digitally manage the lifecycle of a contract, not just from negotiation to signing, but also continuing over the term of the agreement, with transparency and permissioned-based access among parties in the network.”

So how do you develop a Proof of Concept (POC) for Blockchain?

Gendry Morales — CEO at Flight Plan, ran attendees through the 4 key steps on how to get your POC up and running.

Flight Plan CEO Gendry Morales

Her biggest pieces of advice were to:

– Drill down into the key customer problems you’re trying to solve and create customer profiles to really ensure you understand their needs.
– Ensure you really understand the reason why you’re using blockchain. Is it for disintermediation? Maybe it might be due to authenticity, permanence or scarcity? It’s crucial you work this out during you planning phases.
– Use a Blockchain Product Canvas (see below) to help you clearly address each element of your POC.

We’re just getting started

Elsewhere a number of speakers compared the situation with blockchain with where the web was in the mid-90’s. “We’re at 1.0”, said Louise Mercer, “so look at where the tech needs to evolve”. There’s a lot of opportunity.

The Red Cross showed its latest collaboration with TypeHuman and FlexDapps for using blockchain to sign up volunteers and authenticate their credentials.

And the energy from both streams was palpable — especially from Jason Lee who spoke about NEM, the non-for-profit platform, which had a couple of startups spruiking its appeal in the shape of Rocket Shoes and Copyright Bank.

Proof of Location on the way….

We were blown away by the knowledge and expertise of Kiersten Jowett, a researcher and blockchain educator.

Talking on the panel ‘Applications and SAAS Use Cases’, Kiersten spoke passionately about a range of topics from Proof of Location and how the Blockchain is more reliable than GPS — through to ways corporates can experiment with the fast-paced tech.

Joined on the panel by Steve Dyso — Partner at Deloitte, Scott Ni — Senior Director at Alibaba and Apurva Chiranewala — Strategy & Growth Lead at Sendle, Kiersten encouraged corporates to get involved in supporting blockchain projects. Her advice: ‘invest in a startup that’s disrupting the market and send your clients to them and then once the market matures absorb them’.

But can Blockchain help humanity?

Well according to Lina Lim — Director Blockchain Philanthropy Foundation, Head of Technology NSX, Chris Zhong — Digital Industry X.0 Blockchain Lead at Accenture and Rose Thompson — Project Manager at ConsenSys APAC it already is.

According to the landscape, Blockchain for Social for Impact is growing pretty quickly:

Rosa Thompson also spoke passionately about the connection between data ownership and the current concentration of power by oligopolies and monopolies.

The ConsenSys Project Manager spoke about how the potential of blockchain could help to distribute power from these multinational corporations by way of data sovereignty.

Rosa Thompson— Project Manager ConsenSys APAC

What comes next?

Murray Galbraith hosted Stephen Alexander from ConsenSys to wrap up proceedings with advice on how to implement what people had learned during the course of the day:

– Jason Potts, professor at RMIT Blockchain Innovation Hub opened the event with a keynote, and Stephen Alexander noted that his offerings contributed to making this one of the most comprehensive, intelligent and insightful blockchain events for applied business blockchain he had experienced. It included observations like “the fulfilment of trust accounts for 35% of the cost and effort across all supply chains today”. Alexander added that when the value of this is captured and tokenised then the tradable market value of trust within that sector alone will amount to billions of new value-based tokens.

– Cindy Nicholson of Optus raised the key question — what is the business value of adopting blockchain? Alexander, said that if you cannot predict, create, capture, validate, tokenise and then trade meaningful value — then it isn’t value, it’s just a vague benefit masquerading as value.

– The future trends of DApp development has been articulated by Joseph Lubin and the future can be summed up in one word…Coexistence.

– He noted that we are just at the beginning of deconstructing legal instruments and embedding them into the DNA of the next generation Internet such as the ethereum. He also explained that we would only need three of these instruments to be in use to aggregate the entire demand chain and for the first time in human history, match that with the existing supply chain via blockchain based exchanges. The era of search would be over. We couldn’t agree more!

– Embrace blockchain yourselves, become sovereign individuals and you can aggregate your collective tribal power says Alexander — in that way we can avoid next year’s event becoming a Groundhog Day.

This article was first published on the Beam Medium page.

Episode 3 – Steve Sinha

Episode three of Cut the Cliches, and host Liam Fitzpatrick is in Sydney to get the thoughts of Steve Sinha COO (and acting-CEO) of the Australian Alliance for Data Leadership.

We chat with him back in the middle of winter, when we both had colds and England were still in the World Cup. Discussion topics ranged from his background, the role for agencies, the changing role for marketers, the rise of customer experience and what’s next for AADL.

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.”

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.