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Issue 4 September 2011

On the Move

Graphic detail

Staff moves


Matt’s Chat

Changing positions

in Focus

$½Million+ & China

A relook at magazines VM World Conference

My Business Upcoming awards

Melbourne Conferences & Events Powering ahead


Solar Progress magazine Roads — a clean sweep


Bio Corner of new comers Weddings & pampered pooches

Back page

Fresh off the press.

On the Move Matt’s Chat

Above: View from the new Melbourne office.

Reflections on 2010-2011 growth On day one of the financial new year I circulated a summary of the achievements clocked up during FY11, explaining that in terms of preliminary results it looks like we will hit $11.3m in revenue which

We’ve been rather busy recently and I’ve circulated emails keeping everyone up to date, but in case you missed some of the announcements here they are.

Cementing the path

is 23% growth and EBITDA (Earnings before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation) of around $1.6m to $1.7m which

CommStrat had good reason to celebrate in late August with funding

is up 236% from FY10.

approval to roll 100% of the Vendor Debt; a move that was based on

Considering we lost AWA, didn’t do the COSBOA small business

our great results in FY11 coupled with the very positive feedback on

summit and missed the AAPA conference due to it being a bi-annual

the opportunities that exist for a business such as ours. In plain English

event, the result is even more impressive. Cashflow has been tight

this means we have secured a bank loan that has enabled us to pay the

mainly due to investing in business growth; however the Board

business vendor the full amount agreed upon and owing.

and I are confident the turnaround has started.

Southern branch’ office move Rating the climb

In other big news, the Melbourne office shifted from Brighton to smart

Looking back on the year, the business achieved the formation of

new offices in St Kilda road that offer superb panoramic views across

Association Services group led by Simon Davis and also a studio to

Albert Park Lake and Port Phillip Bay. Those who are yet to visit can enjoy

handle, books, magazines, sales brochures and conference material.

instead a virtual look courtesy of the three-pic image (see above) in this

We launched the GTR brand and mybiz expos; clocked up Job Boards’

issue of CommStrat Chat.

growth of 46%, aided by the launch of Health and Education. The Melbourne office moved; there was a great contribution by


Focus with approximately 10 top-notch quality books delivered or

As you all know, we recently restructured the Sydney GTR and

off to the printers.

mybusiness teams into the ‘Sydney Events Team’ and ‘Sydney

Melbourne Conferences got a new lease of life under Scott Matthews, and a schedule of events 18 months out. Madi

Publishing Team’ (incorporating online). This industry standard move (and one that does not impact on Focus,

and Dan’s successfully fended off of an Iraqi web hacker. Baz sorted

Studio and Adrian’s PEM) which was prompted by the less-than-optimal

out IT; and we welcomed back familiar faces Kim Coverdale (for

individualisation of teams will enable us to better develop our events

Melbourne Conferences) and Scott McKinnon (who as you all know

services and other business aspects.

heads up the newly formed online division). This list is not conclusive; other significant events propelled CommStrat’s growth which sets the stage for continued expansion. I’d like to thank all staff for their input and energy in over the past

Welcome aboard In early May the CommStrat Board welcomed Nick Love, a man who brings considerable experience around media and especially online

12 months.

business. Among other high profile appointments he oversaw

Matt Johnson

Fox Interactive Media.


Above: Ankit Desai “Wiggles” signature.

se”. e Hong, the “Treehou May, Carolin rat team in Fotia, Tony ey CommSt e. le el yc dn nt Jo Sy ha e: ny C , ov To d Ab ter Ratcliff Benson, an From left, Pe ard, Simone lle Ti ve ie ev Gen

With an MBA and Masters in International Relations, Nick has successfully managed periods of rapid growth and downturn, from start-up phase through to organisational change, merger and liquidation and his track record in commercial strategy, business development and developing and leading people is of the highest quality.

The CommStrat Board now comprises: Paul Wilson (Chairman, Non Exec. Director) Matt Johnson (CEO); Craig Edward Higgins (Non Exec. Director); Alex McNab (Non Exec. Director); Mark Sowerby (Non Exec. Director), and Nick Love.

Staff movements Donning my HR hat, we warmly welcome several new staff: Tracey Etheridge — as CFO Tracey has authorisation on all financial matters in the business. Chantelle Fotia — Sydney receptionist and PA to myself.

Centre right:

Barry Chambe

rs, Matt John

son, Odette

Boulton and

Richard Hann


Odette Boulton — Graphic Designer in Sydney (who has hit the ground running designing various magazines). Bobby Sciacchitano — Website developer in Melbourne. Claire Cooper — Campaign Manager charged with the task of polishing the various marketing campaigns for increased effectiveness. In Sydney we also welcome Peter Ratcliff, Richard Hanney; Shant Safarian and Brendan Jinks. And in Melbourne: Ankit Desai; Damien Lennen; Daniel Furphy and Darren Grande. Accounts temps George Mwangangi and Joanne Zhou will also be around for a bit longer while accounts assistant newcomer Kintan Shah settles in.

Fond farewells July and August saw the departure of Fiona Second, Paul Donaldson, Steve Congerton, Phil Brown, Jay Huxley, Sandi Makary and Meg O’Brien.

Above L to R: Odette Boulton, Monica Lawrie and Richard Hanney supping pomegranate cocktails (round two!).

ISSUE 4 · SEPTEMBER 2011 | 3

Graphic detail The Art Team welcomes aboard two ‘new’ members. The fresh energy of Odette Boulton (see previous page pic) and the official instillation of Peter McKim from the GTR magazine team. It’s great to have you both. Odette actually owns her own LetterPress machine. Check-out her website: Peter is well known to many of you already and brings to the team a passion for new media. And speaking of new media, the Art Team is currently exploring iPad and tablet adaptation for books and magazines. Peter has been successfully testing file conversions to the new formats, including video and audio. Stay tuned — there’ll soon be some live examples to share with the CommStrat team.

More Matt Chatter

Detangling webs

A relook at magazines

websites that saw many months “wasted”, fending off or addressing

There’s a strong collaborative

web sites being continuously hacked. Unfortunately due to the poor

spirit amongst the Art Team.

construction of the sites there is no way they can be secured 100%.

Monica, Annette, Odette

Steps have been taken to remedy frustrations with our business

Why so? Sites were constructed so that they are all interconnected, therefore if one is hacked, all of them suffer. Where to from here? All sites are under Scott McKinnon’s

and Tim have had their

tte, Monica, Nigel

ne Cultural soirée: An

(Monica’s partner)

attention focused on redesigns of several current magazines and one new publication. These included the “Irrigation Journal”,

direction, with Madi taking the lead on technical guidance and input

the “Connections” magazine, plus the launch of the new “Solar”

and assistance from Dan and Bobby.

magazine. Both “Roads” and “PWE” (Public Works Engineering journal)

Priorities aimed at rectifying the situation include rebuilding the Job Boards, association websites and events pages. Stage 2 covers

& Tim.

are also in their sights for review and modernising.

the balance of the sites and additional work is being scheduled to

The power of books

secure the remainder of web sites.

The Art Team are deeply committed to good book design with several projects that, unlike magazines, are usually worked on over many

IP security warning

months of design, photo research and development. Newly completed

Data security is an important issue for CommStrat. From a legal

books include the fifth volume of “Powering Australia” and the new

perspective, all data gathered and used while employed by

“Water” book, plus “Stories from the Road“, with a shared project for

CommStrat remains the property of the business.

the Commonwealth Bank’s 2012 centenary book. Externally designed

It cannot be used for personal purposes during or post

is the “Meat & Livestock” book. Currently in development are the

employment. Similarly, it cannot be taken offsite, copied or

Australia/Japan book, Motorama’s 50th Anniversary book, the Australian

downloaded for any use other than that required by the business.

Scientist book, new volumes for both Powering Australia and Water

Any such use is a criminal act and will be pursued by CommStrat to

books, plus two new projects — the “International Year of Co-Op’s” and

the full letter of the law. Measures have been taken to ensure use

the “Australian Year of Co-Op’s”.

can be monitored.

The Art Team also recently created updated designs for our corporate

For example, dummy email addresses

branding with new business cards and a new association (more about

have been included by default in all

this next time). In between these projects the Art Team keeps a weekly

Traction subscription databases and

Skype meet-up Sydney/ Melbourne, with the occasional cultural soirée.

are being monitored and tracked.

Thank you The Art Team couldn’t do without the help from Russell Montgomery (Production manager), Sam Collier (project coordinator), the brilliant Peter Hock (our Focus’ Editor) and Jaqui Lane (Focus’ master-mind) and Richard Hanney (keeping the Focus book sales moving).






AND in breaking news… Russell Montgomary is heading to China to oversee the production on the $½+Million publishing of the Comonwealth Bank’s Cenntenary book “100 Together”. While the American agency involved with this project is reported to have exhausted themselves, Russell is tireless in his efforts to get this to print, including spending weekends and numerous late nights testing and adjusting the book for what is hoped to be a smooth print run.


ISSUE 4 · SEPTEMBER 2011 | 5

My Business and GTR

In Simon’s words: What are we up to? Hmmmm… My Business is close to judging for the 2011 awards. We have a smattering of entries and anticipate the usual late rush.

In other news, GTR’s first Government Suppliers Guide has emerged and looks mighty fine. For our next issue we have also secured an excellent exclusive:

This culminates in the Awards ceremony held in Sydney in October.

the tale of how the Victorian electoral commission gets ready for

Editorially we did a very well-received China issue and as for

election night.

September — Monica did an outstanding job of the front cover photo shoot. “I got a shot of the three men from Pollenizer but it turned out it was low res which led to a teeth-gnashing time, more ups and downs over

We’re going to turn it into a feature about big one-off events in government by combining it with a story about the census and some other big one-off events we think of. Also a recent GTR cover is cutting edge. We used a word cloud

their ability to sit for us again… in the end Monica was given just five

generator at, fed it a month’s worth of Julia Gillard’s

minutes to capture a cover shot and she nailed it. The picture for the

speeches and superimposed the result over Gillard’s official portrait.

cover of September My Business is one of the best we’ve produced to date.


The result is stunning and took the art team a lot of work, but they loved the challenge and picked up some good new skills along the way.”

In late August Simon jetted off to the USofA to attend the three-day VM World conference in Las Vegas. Billed as covering ‘the latest virtualization technologies and strategies which can help your organization realize its vision for a cloud computing approach to IT’, the conference features 175+ in-depth sessions and labs and hundreds of exhibits showcasing the latest advances in virtualization and cloud infrastructure technology. From Las Vegas Simon will be filing stories direct from the US, live from the conference … “ASIC is presenting and I’ll sit and record it as a podcast for the GTR website which we’ll turn into a feature,” he said. “At 3.30 pm Tuesday Sydney/Melbourne time I’ll be going to the VM World press room, recording the event then file a story by 9am Melbourne time the next day for Annette to set in the next GTR before it goes to print.”

Hmmm… that’s some schedule.


Meantime, hot on the heels of the Melbourne MyBiz Expo, the team (Gen, Simone,Tony May and newcomer Tony Joyce) are busy finalising details and exhibitors for the Sydney Expo that takes place in early October at Australian Technology Park.

Images clockwise from top left: Events Coordinator Simone Benson with sponsor, Simon Sharwood chairing the NBN seminar, Matt and Jay, Sandy and Gen from the MyBiz Expo team with Bruce Billson, Shadow Minister for Small Business, special guest speaker Ron Barassi.


Strategic Business Development “A big congratulations goes to Madhuraka who has lead the technical development. Madhuraka was also ably assisted by Dan and Bobby and the jobs team of Blake, Ebony, Jeanne and Damien.” There is more … Stay tuned for the imminent launch of GovIT jobs … yet another milestone achievement that builds on the GTR brand and cements the role of CommStrat in the sector.

Jobs and more jobs In late July the Jobs Board Team at CommStrat proudly welcomed their new EnviroJobs website seen at Manager Scott McKinnon sums up recent progress in his domain of online developments as follows: •

New and secure hosting solution found and implemented. Major holes in ‘old’ code fixed.

• •

Strategic and structured plan to re-develop all sites in secure

The new website now features a brand new modern and easy layout, easy search engine, featured advertisers and a new look newsletter sent out every Tuesday at 09.00am. Damien Lennen who is Sales and Advertising Manager announced all job board newsletters would be published at 9.00am on their selected days.

platform (Joomla).

A reminder of the schedule:

Completion of re-development of three sites in new platform

Tuesday: EngineeringJobs, EnviroJobs, PlanJobs,

(Focus, Powering Australia and MyBusiness).

RoadJobs & WaterJobs

New events management platform operational and in use.

Deadline: Monday 05.00pm

Release of phase one of re-development of Jobs Boards.

Scott McKinnon added that all nine of the job boards had been successfully re-developed and launched. No simple task, given the array of sites:,

Thursday: EducationJobs & HealthServicesJobs Deadline: Wednesday 05.00pm

Friday: ResearchJobs & LGJobs Deadline: Thursday 05.00pm,, au,,,,, and “Not only do the websites and weekly eNewsletters have a new look and feel, they also have a completely redeveloped backend,” Scott said. “This will significantly increase ease of use, functionality and  security.

Blake takes time out to check shipping movements up and down the bay, the name on the telescope says it all ...


Melbourne Events Team Scott Matthews who heads up Melbourne Events reports that the team continues to expand its range of conferences and events whilst

Solutions will also feature a large number of chargeable seminars. However events such as the AAPA International Flexible Pavements

also broadening its delegate target base from Local Government

Conference and Small Bridges Conference do already feature

to include the broader Public Service for a number of events. +

large exhibitions.

Infrastructure continues to remain a strong focus for the team as well. The remainder of 2011 sees conferences being run on Local Government Benchmarking, the Power Industry, Sustainability, Water Treatment and Building Maintenance/Management. Two of these are completely new events for CommStrat, and a third in Powering is new for the team. The Public Sector Business Solutions Exhibition in March 2012 also

This year’s AAPA conference has maintained its strong international flavour with 19 International Speakers in addition to a strong Australian contingent. Adding to this are exhibitors from Italy, Germany, Switzerland, India and the USA. 2012 will see the team further expanding into new areas with Conferences planned in areas such as Social Media and Green IT. 

sees the team conducting its first trade show style of event. Business

Good for the environment… Ben is justifiably pleased with the turn up for the Government Sustainability Conference he organised that took place at Melbourne’s Sebel Albert Park on the cusp of spring. The event featured nearly 50 speakers plus workshops spread across two days. With about 200 delegates attending, it was one of CommStrat’s most successful environment conferences in a while. Good one Ben!! 10 | COMMSTRAT CHAT

What else is new at CommStrat? July 2011 saw the launch of Solar Progress, the magazine CommStrat now produces on behalf of the Australian Solar Energy Society (AuSES). Compliments flowed in over the content of the magazine that was led by editor Bill Parker, and the “new” style and look of the mag that design guru Monica can take credit for. In recent times the solar industry has feature prominently in the news and the rollercoaster ride looks set to continue in the transition to a clean energy future. Never a shortage of stories. Hot on the heels of the publishing deal with AuSES, Simon Davis secured management of the AuSES conference and Brian Rault is going gangbusters securing sponsors and exhibitors for the event taking place at the end of this year. Meanwhile Genevieve Tilleard is helping progress the speakers’ agenda and other details.

Did you know? Enough sunlight falls on the earth in one hour to meet the world’s entire energy needs for a year. It’s just a matter of harnessing and distributing that solar energy

Dr Bill Parker (editor of Solar Progress) at the launch in Sydney this July.


inPublication Redesign Rex Pannell who among other things edits Roads magazine is thrilled by the new design and layout prepared by designer Monica. The first new look issue appeared in June/ July this year and “The feedback has been great,” Rex said. “The magazine had a tired, dated look and has really benefitted from the fresh new appearance. The treatment of images – bigger and better – works a treat.”

Associations The lucky Simon Davis is spending a few weeks in France with his wife’s family. In his absence the Association team of Naomi, Joanne and Nadia are ably managing all matters.

Newcomers and boomerangs Here we get to know some of the new faces around CommStrat. Those not featuring in this issue of Chat will appear in the next installment.

Bobby Sciacchitano – Web developer

Kim Coverdale – Conference Producer This marks my second spell of employment

In mid June I joined CommStrat as a Web

at CommStrat, having previously spent

Developer in the Melbourne Office.

four-and-a-half years at the company, working

I’ve been working in IT for roughly seven years with the last four-and-a-half in digital and web development. My last role was with a company called

Tracey reading her favorite mag

Tracey Etheridge – CFO

as a journalist and writer, from 2005 to mid-2009. In June 2009, I left for the bright lights of

Tracey previously worked for four years as the Finance Manager of dmg world media.

London where I spent 18 months working as

Other experience includes five years with

Monkii where I was involved in the

a sports content writer for an online betting

professional services firm SHL Australia.

development of major websites for ACMI,

exchange and indulging my interest in tennis

Melbourne International Comedy Festival,

and cricket, while exploring the UK and Europe

CommStrat, it’s an exciting and interesting

Melbourne Fringe Festival, ABC, and also several

with my fiancé, Julian.

business with the variety of business sectors.

digital campaigns for Clemenger and GP Y&R.

After nearly two years away, however,

My primary skills include application design

we decided to head home in time for me

and development and implementing social

to witness the resurgence of the mighty

media strategies.

Carlton Blues.

In my spare time I like to keep fit, read,

My return to CommStrat comes with a

“I’m looking forward to working for

Being Brisbane based, Tracey will regularly visit Sydney and Melbourne. “I live with my Partner Alex in Brisbane, we moved here two years ago from Sydney for a warmer climate and more relaxed lifestyle.”

and go to the cinema. I’m hoping to have

career change, and I am now immersed in the

Not just empty words – Tracey and Alex

to opportunity to travel more in the future

world of developing and marketing conference

enjoy regular camping trips and taking their

particularly to eastern and central Europe.

speaking programs.

4WD for “beach driving” adventures.


Wedding Belle Jaqui Lane and her fiance, Mike Penistone, were married at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney on Saturday August 27.

Fun times Friday July 15 marked the end of week one in the new offices and time for Melbourne staff to kick up their heels. CommStrat’s very own rock star — the legendary Brian Rault – staged a special show. His band BigCityBeat presented the Megastars2K Show at The Palms at Crown at the glittering Crown Casino adjacent to the sparkling muddy-brown Yarra River. Staff were treated to near three hours of full–on entertainment. The Monday after — Do ya wanna rock? was heard echoing around the office. It’s Brian’s signature warm up line – possibly unnecessary given the fervor whipped up by his presence on stage (and off). The legend — who now signs off as

Brian Rault National Sales Manager


Excellence in modern dance said “In recognition of the generous support by the company for the

When rehearsing for a gig Brian substitutes a microphone with a banana

show I have developed a new dance routine called “The CommStrut”!!

Tim ties the knot Tim Hartridge and his fiancé Tori Collins tied the knot at Woollahra’s Hughenden Hotel on Saturday August 13.


Dog-a-log A cheeky looking Terrier-cross that was on death row in an animal pound in country Victoria has found a new home with Rex Pannell and partner Crissie. Not much is known about Hermione – aged three – but one thing is certain; she’s found a house of dog tragics to pamper her. Rex, Crissie and their resident pooch Zoe had to meet Hermione to see if they all “hit it off” and were then subjected to a home inspection to see if they were dog friendly. Once the resource centre gave its approval,

Minie and Zoe, the patter of new paws in Rex’s house

Hermione had a new home and now gets on famously with Zoe. Pampered puss Jessie is less than impressed with the new arrival, but is slowly coming to realise Hermione is there to stay.

The name Hermione comes from the Greek language and roughly translated means “messenger”, but the shorter version “Minie” which is easier to pronounce seems to have stuck.

Pampered pooches By coincidence we spotted pics of that very same hotel in a ‘Pets in Paradise’ feature in Woman’s Day magazine (the one with Scott Cam on the front – next time around Tim…) More on the Hughenden. Dogs and cats are welcome in the historic boutique hotel – they are even welcomed into the dining room. pampers pets and provides VIP grooming. Very Important Paws, that is.


r ie em y pr dl el ’s en ot ey Fri e H dn et qu Sy P uti Bo

Nearby Dogue (rhymes with vogue we assume)

CommStrat yells for Cadel It was a victory a lifetime in the making, but a scintillating time trial on the penultimate day of a nail–biting Tour de France ensured that Cadel Evans would ride into Paris wearing the coveted yellow jersey. And as Cadel took the podium’s highest position on the Champs de Elysees at the race’s conclusion, at long last in the much anticipated outcome: our local hero had come good. A popular win by all accounts, given the man has forged a strong following the world over. Although Cadel was born in the Northern Territory, he’s claimed Barwon Heads as home and that’s good enough for Melbourne– ites to claim him as a favorite son. On a truly ‘august’ day — Friday August 12 to be precise — thousands gathered around Melbourne’s Federation Square to catch a glimpse of Australia’s latest and arguably greatest sporting hero.

Bobby with Cadel memorabilia

Among the fans was a CommStrat contingent of Matt, Scotty McKinnon, Bobby, Daniel and Darren Grandie who ‘rode on a high’ for the remainder of the day having been caught up in the euphoria that gripped Melbourne during the hero’s homecoming.

What the… ?

Does the word Tartsmmoc ring a bell? In a flash of inspiration sales supremoYuri M figured it was CommStrat backwards.

No prizes then for guessing Tidellah…

Needing time off? A wee reminder… … about company procedure for Annual/Holiday Leave, Personal/Carer’s

Those who are unwell and unable to come into the office should

Leave (in the place of Sick Leave), Compassionate Leave, or Leave

advise the office or their Team Leader first thing in the morning. Medical

Without Pay (LWOP).

Certificates are required for personal leave for periods longer than two

The appropriate Leave Form (available on the Y drive) needs to be completed and if possible a month’s notice should be given for annual

days, but management understands that this is not always possible. Chantelle will keep a schedule of all annual and sick leave taken; if you

leave. The form needs to be authorised by your Team Leader (or myself)

have had leave approved or are sick, email the details and signed leave

then forwarded by fax, email or post to the finance department in

form to

Melbourne for processing.





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