Holiday wishes for a year unlike any other

This year we’ve all faced so much disruption and isolation, and my biggest challenge came when my elderly mother suffered a life-threatening illness and was hospitalised in another state with its borders closed to me.

Once I secured permission to enter Western Australia from Victoria, and completed two weeks of hotel quarantine, I really appreciated being able to spend a few months caring for Mum after months of strict lockdown in Melbourne and thankfully, she is now well on the path to recovery.

A heartfelt thank you to my clients for your ongoing support and flexibility which helped make it possible for me to spend this time supporting my mother back to health. The lines between work and home life became more blurred for all of us this year as we honed skills in remote working. In addition, I really appreciated being able to continue delivering your important projects while working across Australian time zones.

Thank you also to the clients who entrusted me to help you plan and prepare for issues and crises, and to navigate the pandemic by putting in place communication strategies and implementation plans to help people in your organisation and networks manage through uncertainty, isolation and change.

Amid the trials of the year, 2020 has also brought a good reminder about what’s most important. Top of the list for me is the people with whom I am connected – my family, friends and clients – the opportunity to spend time in our natural environment, and maintaining good health.

This festive season, I’m planning to savour the simple joy of spending time with people, while supporting local businesses and enjoying the diverse beauty of Melbourne and Victoria.

Our office will be closed from 24 December to 6 January 2018, reopening on Thursday, 7 January – but please don’t hesitate to reach out if it’s an emergency.

I look forward to continuing our conversation in the new year about how effective communication can help you achieve better business and community outcomes.

Whatever your beliefs and circumstances, I hope the festive period brings you an opportunity to stop, refresh and reconnect with people who are special to you, and with our community and natural world. Above all, please stay safe and well.

Best wishes
Mairi

PS: Thank you to my talented sister Janet Robertson for the use of her beautiful hand-drawn mandala on our Christmas card this year! 🙂

Digital communication award memorably delivered by mail amid COVID-19

A digital communication project led by Pinch Yourself Communication has been recognised with a Bronze Quill Award in 2020 by the Victorian chapter of the International Association of Business Communication.

It’s a mark of our socially distant and disrupted year that the award was conferred by mail in recent weeks due to COVID-19 restrictions. Our thanks to IABC Victoria for their significant effort to ensure winners received the recognition they deserved despite challenging times.

The project for which Pinch Yourself Communication was recognised – with both a Gold Quill and Bronze Quill in 2020 – was delivered for a wonderful non-profit organisation that’s also been grounded by the pandemic this year.

Our Bronze Quill award was presented for the Fearless Flyers digital hub, an integrated digital and social media strategy and channels including a new website: fearlessflyers.com.au, developed in partnership with our Fearless colleague Vicki Huggins. This has given Fearless Flyers a low-cost, resource-effective way to connect with potential new clients and foster a community among inspirational course graduates, backed by the digital processing of bookings and payments.

The Bronze and Gold Quill Awards are presented annually by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in recognition of communication excellence.

We hope circumstances will enable our pro bono client Fearless Flyers to find their wings again soon and in the meantime, we send our best wishes to all their volunteers and to everyone in the aviation sector who continues to do it tough due to COVID-19 impacts.

It’s been a year that has also mobilised and tested the communication profession globally, and as communicators rose to meet those challenges and help people navigate uncertainty, isolation and change, they have undoubtedly laid down the foundations for some stellar entries for the next Gold Quill awards.

All the best to all our fellow communication professionals who are working on their Gold Quill entries over the next month and congratulations to all our fellow winners for 2020 – Bronze and Gold – from here in Victoria and right around the world.

These awards reflect a standard of innovation, impact and excellence in communication that makes a real difference for our profession, for the organisations with which we work and for our communities.

Gold Quill Award recognition for our Fearless work

Pinch Yourself Communication’s Mairi Barton has been recognised on the global stage today with a Gold Quill Award in 2020 for her pro bono work with client Fearless Flyers Inc.

We are delighted to share this honour with our Fearless colleague Vicki Huggins – a dedicated and skilled volunteer, communicator and stakeholder manager – and all the aviation expert volunteers who make Fearless Flyers so special.

Fearless Flyers is a non-profit organisation staffed by expert aviation sector volunteers and we’re proud to contribute to their mission to help people overcome their fear and enjoy the freedom of air travel.

You can learn more about their great work at: fearlessflyers.com.au – including the history of the inspirational female aviators, such as Nancy-Bird Walton, who helped pioneer the organisation’s courses.

It’s a bittersweet time for this award given the disruption to the aviation sector, with so many aviation companies and workers facing uncertainty, and Fearless courses on hold for now. We will get through this and Fearless will get back to helping people overcome their fear of flying.

The Gold Quill Awards are presented annually by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in recognition of communication excellence.

Gold Quill Award: Website – Fearless Flyers Digital Hub

Our award was presented for the Fearless Flyers digital hub – an integrated digital and social media strategy and channels including a new website. This has given Fearless Flyers a low-cost, resource-effective way to connect with potential new clients, foster a community among course graduates, and process bookings and payments.

It is an honour once again for Pinch Yourself Communication, and another of our wonderful clients, to be recognized among so many outstanding communication professionals and organisations globally.

Congratulations to all the winners, including all those from here in Victoria!

Our work recognised with Bronze Quill Awards for communication excellence

Our work to help build stronger community engagement and internal communication for Ambulance Victoria was last night recognised by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Victoria with two Bronze Quill Awards for 2019.

The two pieces of work have previously been recognised with IABC international Gold Quill Awards for 2019.

The two Bronze Quills were awarded for:

  • The Better Together program.

When we set out at Ambulance Victoria to improve community engagement we never looked at it as a one-off communication and engagement campaign.

Backed by real commitment from the leadership, we were given the freedom to develop a new model for community and stakeholder engagement, working to fundamentally shift the way the organisation used community insight and participation to plan and manage its business, and meet local and diverse needs.

It’s wonderful to know that our efforts to give the community a greater say in their ambulance service will contribute to better patient experiences and better health outcomes for Victorians.” Mairi Barton

  • The 30 Years of Women in Ambulance commemorative album.

The first female paramedics permitted to work in Victoria arrived for duty in an all-male ambulance workforce in 1987 and paved the way for many women who have served since.

The courage and resilience shown by pioneering female paramedics Andrea Wyatt, Pat Richards, Mel Buckingham and Georgie Hall in pursuing their career dreams is truly inspirational and the history of these first female paramedics has been preserved in a commemorative album.

“It was an honour to help share the stories of women in ambulance to celebrate their significant contribution, show how far we’ve come and to open a conversation about the work that’s left to do to create a gender-balanced workplace.” Mairi Barton

Last night’s gala dinner in Melbourne also commemorated the 20th anniversary of IABC Victoria. Pinch Yourself Communication acknowledges the outstanding contribution to developing our communication profession by IABC Victoria over the past two decades and congratulates all the outstanding Bronze Quill recipients recognised last night.

Thank you to Ambulance Victoria for the opportunity to contribute to their important work and congratulations to former Executive Director Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Kate Bradstreet on a total of three Bronze Quill Awards in 2019 for communication projects at Ambulance Victoria.

Two Gold Quill Awards for 2019 leave us pinching ourselves!

Outstanding internal and external communication strategy and implementation by Mairi Barton, of Pinch Yourself Communication, for client Ambulance Victoria was this week recognised by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) with two Gold Quill Awards for 2019.

Gold Quill Awards are presented to the best of the best globally and we’re thrilled to receive this prestigious recognition for our contribution to the Ambulance Victoria (AV) team building stronger community engagement and internal communication to employees.

The two Gold Quills were awarded for:

  • The Better Together program.

This program is not only improving the way Ambulance Victoria engages with the community and fosters community participation in a local health emergency, but is also enhancing the way this government agency operates and continually improves its business to meet local and diverse community needs.

The judges offered congratulations on reaching and achieving the program goals and objectives.

“Community engagement models have likely experienced lots of changes over time. Yours could be the one that creates a blueprint for true two-way communication and engagement.”

“Great uptick in community feedback. Challenging budget and resources!”

Gold Quill Award: External Communication – Community Relations

  • The 30 Years of Women in Ambulance commemorative album.

This album told the stories of the female paramedic pioneers who entered an all-male workforce in 1987 and the women who have followed in their footsteps, both to demonstrate progress and to build further momentum for diversity and inclusion at Ambulance Victoria.

The work was described by the judges as masterful and inspirational.

“(The album) both commemorates a milestone and also was presented as a catalyst to conversation and advocacy of women’s roles throughout the system at AV. It is inspirational. By focusing on stories of pioneers and current AV staff, interwoven with statistics and also challenges in the environment, the message came through clearly.”

“Healthcare can be an emotionally appealing topic and you’ve done a masterful job of going beyond the story of delivering care to develop the key message around progress in diversity and inclusion.”

“It recognises the past in a series way…yet it is still light-hearted and human. It also sets the stage for the future with public commitments to continue the progress of women in leadership and technical roles.”

Gold Quill Award: Internal Communication – Publication

Pinch Yourself Communication would like to thank Ambulance Victoria for the opportunity to contribute to their important work and congratulate Executive Director Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Kate Bradstreet and her division on the total of three Gold Quill Awards for Ambulance Victoria in 2019.

Congratulations to all the 2019 winners, who represent the considerable value being delivered for organisations by the strategic communication profession globally.

Gold, Silver and Bronze for Communication Excellence

Smart and creative communication approaches which helped break down workplace stigma around mental health have earned Mairi Barton, of Pinch Yourself Communication, and client Ambulance Victoria recognition at the international, Asia Pacific and state levels.

This month (September 2018) Mairi was presented with a Silver Quill Award for the Asia Pacific region and a Bronze Quill Award for the state of Victoria for her work as part of a team at Ambulance Victoria delivering the organisation’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

This follows the Gold Quill Award, a prestigious international award for the same piece work by Mairi for Ambulance Victoria, announced in April by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC).

“Only exceptional work earns an IABC Gold Quill Award,” said Cindy Schmieg ABC, IABC Fellow and Chair of the awards committee.

“Each entry is rigorously reviewed by multiple experienced communicators from around the world who are trained in applying IABC’s Global Standard of the Communication Profession.”

“The award winners represent our profession of ethical practitioners contributing to organisational outcomes.”

One tactic highlighted by the IABC judges for its smart and creative thinking was the use of interviews with family members of paramedics – a husband, a wife and a mother – to help start the conversation given stigma prevented paramedics from speaking openly about mental health issues.

Gold Quill Award: Internal Communication Management

What the judges said about the internal communication campaign developed and implemented for Ambulance Victoria:

“It demonstrates good research, thoughtful planning, a clever approach to reach primary stakeholders, tight implementation of the plan and (not surprisingly) very good results. It’s great to see it all line up.”

“This campaign was well thought out and well executed from start to finish. They completed the appropriate research to clearly identify the need and then formulated their strategy with each stakeholder in mind.”

“The work is well-researched and presented. The strategy is aligned to the business need and the stakeholder analysis. There is a wide range of tactics to engage key stakeholders, including a clever work-around involving family stories. It demonstrates that a well-planned campaign, with clear business objectives – even one done on a shoestring – can deliver big results for an organisation. Great work!”

“Inclusion of family members’ stories demonstrates smart and creative thinking for capturing the attention of stakeholders and influencing them.”