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It seemed something we could all relate to as business communicators – having big ideas, but with little budget to implement them.Lyn Swinburne

But from the moment Loren O’Keeffe from DanComeHome and Lyn Swinburne (founder of Breast Cancer Network Australia) took the stage to tell their personal stories, we knew we were in for something altogether different.

Loren’s story of her personal campaign to find her missing brother Dan, and of the amazing support received from the public and lack of support from other quarters left the room full of communicators speechless.

Lyn’s personal journey to improve the experience of women diagnosed with breast cancer was as powerfully moving.

If their stories weren’t inspiration enough, both speakers generously reflected on their experiences to share their thoughts on what lay behind the success of their campaigns.

Loren shared numerous insights into what had turned her personal search for her brother into a national (and even international) campaign on behalf of families in similar situations via the Missing Persons Advocacy Network.

  • Be consistent – the use of ‘DanComeHome’ as the campaign’s URL, Twitter name, Facebook page, hashtag etc helped drive awareness and recognition
  • Edit meticulously – you never know who or how large your audience may be
  • Make it easy to get involved
  • Never miss an opportunity to promote your message
  • Listen to your followers – they can be a source of great ideas
  • Good design is of paramount importance
  • Be visible on a range of platforms
  • Be prepared. Be persistent. Be patient.
  • Ignore the trolls
  • Get creative – keep looking for new ways to promote your message
  • Give your followers something to like and engage with – promote the message in positive, fun, interesting ways
  • Interact with your public, and follow up leads promptly
  • Accept help and trust people
  • Use your networks
  • Keep an open mind

Lyn Swinburne outlined the key factors that turned her personal experience and crusade into Breast Cancer Network Australia:

  • Develop a platform for people to share their experiences (website, newsletter). There is power in people knowing they’re not alone.
  • Develop a mechanism for people to be heard by those In authority (public forums)
  • Personal stories are powerful, even moreso when they’re combined and amplified
  • Have a compelling and motivating purpose. Lyn’s was not to create a support network, but to change the treatment and support system. Identify a real need and articulate a clear vision.
  • Make a big splash to gain attention, like placing thousands of pink ladies representing breast cancer victims on the lawns of parliament house. Build a strong brand.
  • Empower and mobilise your community as activists and ambassadors. Give them tangible opportunities to get involved. Identify and harness champions.
  • Dream big, take risks, share your passion.

By the end of the discussion, everyone was inspired by not only the personal stories of these two remarkable women, but how they have created major successful communications campaigns on miniscule budgets. Judging by the conversations over drinks afterwards, the audience was brimming with ideas (and inspiration)to apply to their own communications challenges.

To help thank our speakers, please take a moment to check out DanComeHome, follow on Facebook and Twitter, and share with your friends. And check out Breast Cancer Network Australia for ways in which you can get involved and support their important work.

Written by Clayton T Ford, Sponsorship Chair IABC Victoria


Big ideas, Small Budget Loren O'Keeffe Loren O'Keeffe