Being a super social company we’re always keen to be as open as possible, and share as much information about us as a company, us as individuals and all the great stuff we do. So we thought the best way to start introducing Craig Thomler – our new Australia MD – to the world was via a quick interview. We did a couple a few months ago with Alison and Verne in Australia, so thought we’d use the same format (and questions).
So, here you go – first question . . .
When did you first use the internet, and what did you use it for?
I was using bulletin boards back in the 1980s before there was a publicly available internet in Australia, using a 900 baud modem, using it for games and chatting.
In 1995 I could see the potential of the internet – even though there were only a few thousand Australian users and I went to work at one of the first five commercial ISPs, running their customer service section for a few months before a group of us took off to found Australia’s first web content development and community management company.
What’s the most awesome online engagement project you’ve worked on?
Hard to pick one, but my heart always goes back to the work I did helping Telstra manage online engagement for the Wireplay gaming service in the mid-90s.
When it launched the service struggled technically to achieve smooth gameplay and there was an extremely vocal bunch of gamers criticising both it and Telstra. Though continuous community engagement and demonstrating how the community was being listened to, via online forums, we managed to turn views around. Some of their biggest critics even ended up working for Telstra!
What’s your top community engagement tip?
Listen to the community with an open heart and mind. Your community will almost always see things differently to you, have different concerns, wishes, perceptions and fears. Unless you listen actively you will never hear the true issues and will spend your time addressing symptoms – a more time-consuming, inefficient process that doesn’t deliver long-term outcomes.
Who’s your hero [and why]?
I prefer ‘small heroes’ to large heroes – there’s no-one I really look to as a perfect rolemodel, but there are tens of people who have one to two characteristics or skills I’d like to have. So here’s a list of a few people who have been heroes to me in various ways:
My wife Madeleine Clifford, who is one of the deepest thinkers and most effective strategists I know, who understands intuitively how to engage stakeholders, win and maintain their trust and deliver win-win outcomes
Pia Waugh, whose energy, enthusiasm and ability to build community and support is legendary
Rose Holley, whose vision for digitalising newspapers through crowdsourcing at the National Library is one of the most enduring and successful open government initiatives in Australia
Bernard De Broglio, who has almost single-handedly put Mosman Council on the global map as a Gov 2.0 leader
James Kliemt and Kim Charlton from Queensland Police, who have changed the game for emergency public engagement in Australia through the QPS Facebook and Twitter pages.