One of Australia’s most experienced communicators, Rob Hadler, gave the recent IABC Victoria Bronze Quill Gala the benefit of his experience.
We all know what we want from a keynote speaker; a compelling story, an engaging presenter, a bit of humour and few, if any, powerpoint slides. Very occasionally, if you are really lucky, you also get to roar with laughter, stamp your feet unprompted and clap till your hands hurt.
Diners at the IABC Victoria Bronze Quill Gala this month were the lucky recipients of just such a speech.
Our keynote speaker was Rob Hadler, who has managed some of Australia’s biggest corporate issues and crises. These include helping to defend National Australia Bank’s corporate reputation in 2004 during the rogue foreign currency trading scandal, managing communications for the Australian Wheat Board during the weapons-for-wheat scandal in 2006 and managing Coles’ corporate affairs over the last five years as it battles Woolworths for a greater share of the $80 billion supermarket sector.
In a communication career spanning nearly four decades, Rob has seen a change or two in the tools communicators use to do their jobs. Beginning his working life in 1979 using a biro, a typewriter and a landline telephone, Rob has witnessed the birth of desktop computing, the internet, mobile telephones, wifi and iPads, along with social media in all its current forms.
Rob said these inventions have changed the way we operate. The old working week of eight hours for five days has been replaced by 24/7. People are expected to respond within minutes if not seconds to sms and email and everyone can post photos of news as it happens.
“However,” Rob said, “the fundamental principles of good corporate communication have not changed.”
Rob then outlined his 10 Golden Rules for communications professionals:
- Have a plan: The best one is the corporate plan.
- Keep it simple: Focus on one goal, at Coles it was customers first.
- Under promise and over deliver: Do not set targets!
- Tell the truth: Never lie, it comes back to haunt you.
- Walk the talk: Live the corporate values.
- Apologise if you make a mistake: If the lawyers let you.
- Fix the mistake: Don’t let the culprits escape.
- Embrace the internet
- Choose who you work with: Life is too short to work for bastards (Yes, that one got howls of agreement and laughter).
- Beware the 3Rs!: Remuneration, reputation and revenge; Rob ended his list making the point that each of these issues can contribute to a former employee becoming disgruntled and damaging your brand, so it is critical to focus on minimising harm.
Big speaking shoes to fill at next year’s event, Rob. Thanks again for generously sharing your time and experience with IABC Victoria’s members and guests.