Dave | Spoken Word Communications - Part 2

Destinations with Dave Sydney, Australia: Take a Virtual Tour of the Land Down Under

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If there’s one piece of advice I could give anyone before they visit Australia’s largest city, it would be simply; bring your camera! Sydney is a selfie lover’s heaven, with iconic buildings and views around every corner. Of course, any trip to Sydney must start with a stop at the world-famous Sydney Opera House. Besides being one of the most identified buildings in the world, the Opera House serves as Sydney’s cultural center with performances of various shows running throughout the year. I was there at Christmas time and was fortunate enough to see The Nutcracker and can attest to the amazing acoustics for which the building is famous for.

Next up, for the more “adventurous” ones, is a climb to the top of the world-famous Sydney Harbor Bridge. After suiting up in their special suit (which assures nothing falls from the bridge), it’s time to make the one-hour climb atop the massive steel structure for what can only be termed as one of the best views in the world. I treated my sister to a trip to Sydney for her 21st birthday, so she was more than happy to flash a 21 once we got to the top. And yes, cameras are allowed on the climb but that’s about it for what they will allow you to take up with you.

The Opera House and Harbor Bridge both overlook Sydney Harbor, but there’s also Darling Harbor, which is lined with restaurants and shops and is a must visit as well. Like most major cities, Sydney has a Red Bus tour available for tourists, which I typically frown upon (I like to navigate a city myself), but for Sydney I recommend due to its massive size and lack of good public transportation.

One stop the Red Bus will take you is perhaps the most famous beach in the world, Bondi beach. Packed with people on any sunny day, the beach is “shark proof” out to about 50 yards into the sea. Outside of the shark barriers, swimmer and surfers take the risk of an encounter with Sydney’s most famous underwater predator, and there is certainly no shortage of news stories every year from those who ventured further out than they should have and paid the price.

The only slight negative about Sydney is the prices. It’s one of the most expensive cities in the world, especially when it comes to food and drink. While Australia is a massive country, they unfortunately still must import a lot of their food items, thus driving up the price. However, there are deals if you look hard enough and don’t mind eating somewhere without a view. One thing that was worth paying for when we were there was watching the world’s largest fireworks display from underneath the Sydney Harbor Bridge. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we will remember forever and was well worth the cost.

You won’t have any trouble finding things to do or places to see when you go to Sydney. It’s an unbelievable city with a culture all its own. I’m sure you will enjoy it just as much as I did. Until next time, safe travels!

Six Ways to Say Top Priority

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Each of us have been inundated with emails from brands with their action plans to combat COVID-19. It’s great to communicate, but what happens when everyone is saying the same thing?

At a recent media training, we were diving into the true meaning of the term “thoughts and prayers.” Like a lot of kneejerk phrases, it’s lost its meaning.

A training participant raised her hand and offered, “I’d say the same is true for top priority.” The group groaned in resigned agreement.

I hadn’t thought of it before she raised the issue, but in a crisis, especially if you are caught unprepared, so often we resort to the first words that pop into our brain. We don’t have the time and space for creativity or second thoughts, so we stick with the first ones that come into our mind.

“Safety is our top priority…” or “The safety and security of our employees is our top priority…” pepper crisis statements and the dozens of emails we’ve received over the course of the past week of COVID-19 news.

Spoken Word is here to help. As soon as you finish reading this post, open your crisis plan documents and search for “top priority” or “highest priority.” Wherever you see this overused phrase, replace it with one the following phrases. Now, your audiences will know you took the time to truly make your communications a top priority.

  • Our commitment to (priority) is unmatched.
  • We focus every day on (priority).
  • Our daily operations center around (priority).
  • We do everything we can to (priority).
  • (Priority) is at the top of our list.
  • We are putting (priority) first.

In our age of transparency, we must be authentic in our communications in order to cut through the clutter.

Hot take: Spoken Word Experts Observe COVID-19 Communications Efforts

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COVID-19 is all we are talking, reading and hearing about. Here’s our first hot take on how leaders around the world are handling this crisis, which is sure to be studied for years to come.

“I think the biggest question our clients have been asking me is how much they should communicate.  My advice thus far to them has been I would much rather them lean on the side of over-communicating versus under-communicating.” – Dave Scallan, Founder and Principal

The cloud of initial medical misinformation surrounding COVID-19 demonstrates the void that occurs when there is no one credible subject matter expert speaking during a complicated crisis.” – Beth Archer, Managing Director, Crisis Practice

Here is my equation for organizations and leaders to follow during periods of crisis:

Compassion + Competence = Credibility

Transparency + Truthfulness = Trust.

Conversely a lack of compassion and competence equals a lack of credibility and a lack of transparency and truth equals a lack of trust. Organizations and leaders who understand this will distinguish themselves.” – Ralph DeSantis, MPA, APA, Senior Counselor

So many lessons to be learned about how society has responded to COVID-19! In terms of information, I believe this crisis will make many businesses and organizations re-evaluate their technical infrastructure, systems, chain of command, and tone. Every day provides an increasing number of examples of agencies communicating differently. At the end of the day, one can only hope that the decision-makers at corporations that did not communicate proactively, learn from their mistakes.” – Claudia Deschamps, Senior Counselor

Transparency is everything in a crisis. The need for open and timely communications to deliver key messages effectively, provide factual updates and keep audiences on side in the fight against coronavirus were major factors in the UK Government’s decision to change their stance and start holding daily televised briefings.” – Clive Hawkins, Senior Associate


Digging Out from Political Turmoil: A Case Study

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What happens when the media spotlight turns and you find yourself having to defend your actions but are constrained in what you can say? 

This was the situation a private bank found itself in when, at the center of a highly charged political environment in Malta, it became embroiled in government money-laundering allegations and had its banking operations called into question. 


Malta assumed the EU Presidency in early 2017 and had a high international profile. However, allegations of financial wrong-doings involving one of its newly established private banks, led many to question the country’s due diligence approach and appropriateness as a banking global hub; ultimately contributing to a hastily called government election later that year.

As a financial institution and regulated entity in Malta, the bank operated to strict financial and regulatory disclosure rules which prohibited them by law from commenting on any clients, transactions or regulatory interactions. The banking allegations led to the bank coming under huge public scrutiny, receiving unsubstantiated accusations and a crisis of credibility.

Media Spotlight

This proved a testing time for the bank’s executive team. Despite voluntarily participating in a magisterial inquiry as a witness to provide regulatory and independent auditor reports and confirm compliance with all financial laws and regulations, the bank was constrained with what it could say in public.

It also had to re-assure correspondent banks and investors, address employee concerns and continue to operate in line with regulatory requirements while trying to stem the flow of negative headline news. 

Spoken Word Communications was engaged to develop a communications strategy to help restore the bank’s reputation and position it positively with key stakeholders in Malta and abroad by:

– creating a new company narrative

– producing position statements and QAs

– establishing social media channels

– filming executives to provide a ‘human face’ for the bank

– implementing a proactive media relations program

– undertaking media refresher training for executives

– strengthening the bank’s internal communications 

– monitoring media coverage and addressing inaccurate reporting

Communications Step-Change

Over the next few months, the bank saw a positive change in its communications delivery with more balanced media reporting, greater positive interaction with key stakeholders, and stronger employee engagement – all contributed to help restore trust with key stakeholders, rebuild its image and sense of pride in the bank.

The Bank’s Chief Operating Officer summed up: 

“The crisis management and communications training provided by Spoken Word proved invaluable to ensuring our team was prepared to communicate clearly and effectively with various stakeholders and media outlets. Their expertise was instrumental in bringing structured methods and strategies to what otherwise were unstructured and unpredictable events. I highly recommend them for proactive communications training.”

Next Step

To learn more about how Spoken Word Communications can help you in a crisis situation, contact us at Dave@SpokenWordGroup.com

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