War, Theatre, Medical Research and Woolworths

I have long harboured a passion for the performing arts, in particular the theatre. I have the great honour of being on the board for Playlab, a long standing Queensland based Playwright development organisation and publisher.

This year Playlab will publish 40 new titles. But notably, already available in the Playlab catalogue for 2015 are two new scripts for very different, very compelling plays about Australian’s at War, Black Diggers by Tom Wright and The Long Way Home by Daniel Keene. Both of these plays have been produced, performed, toured and published at the perfect time to capture the piqued Australian interest for stories about our diggers – on the eve of the anniversary of 100 years of ANZAC.

Similarly, it isn’t a coincidence that our small screens have been graced with several re-tellings of stories of Gallipoli, both dramas and documentaries.

Most people won’t even think about it, but I think this is impressive. Our creative industries are smashing it with their long-term strategy skills. Finding the stories, writers, producers, funding, making it through development and onto our stages and televisions takes years. Yet right now Australians are spoiled for choice of quality storytelling about our complex war history. And, our television networks and theatre companies are enjoying a ratings and box office bonanza.

Last year I sat down with representatives and of the Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation to have a general chat about communication. It was an interesting discussion about two things mainly; 1. challenges relating to communicating about research, that can take a long time to produce discernable results and even then, results may not mean much to lay person and 2. how to communicate about fundraising.

My key advice to them on point two was they had a big opportunity ahead in 2015. Their foundation had a genuine link to helping Aussie war veterans and if they were going to leverage the interest generated about anything related to Gallipoli resulting from the 100 years of ANZAC anniversary, to gather new supporters, interest and funding for their work, they needed to get cracking.

I was delighted when I revisited their website this week to see they are really working hard during this centenary. They’ve announced Dame Quentin Bryce as a new foundation patron and their fundraising ball is sold out! People are responding to the authenticity of their campaign.

Which brings me to Woolworths… Last week the fresh food people tried (and failed) to link their business to the Gallipoli memory with their ‘Fresh in our memories’ campaign. You may not have seen anything relating to the campaign, other than the news stories, because it has been wiped as quickly as it appeared following fast and furious consumer backlash to Woolworths trying to stake a claim of something that they really had no genuine claim to. Ouch!

Communications can really take hold and take off when business gets it right. Have you thought about the next big national events and whether your business might have an authentic claim to leverage and what strategies you should be putting in place to make the most of it.

I know who will have – those creative industry peeps who are already sourcing their funding and lining up their writers.


PS: Both Playlab and Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation benefit from the generous donations of everyday Australians. Even small donations make a big difference for them.

If you would like to make a donation to support Australian Drama Writers please visit Playlab

If you would like to make a donation to support critical Medical Research, please visit Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation