Hughes PR

Could you live on $2 a day?

For the past five days I’ve been living on rations: tinned spaghetti, two-minute noodles and slices of bread.

No hearty breakfasts or lunchtime baguettes. No snacks during the day or beer after work. And as for my evening dinners, the irony of watching MasterChef while eating 69c cans of baked beans has certainly not been lost.

Living Below The Line - on Baked Beans

Living Below The Line - on Baked Beans

So what does this have to do with public relations? Well, nothing actually. Seriously, zilch. But I’m going to tell you about my week anyway.

A good friend of mine works for the Global Poverty Project whose vision is to end extreme poverty. Recently he told me about a new awareness and fundraising campaign called “Live Below The Line”, which has been designed to give participants a better understanding of the daily challenges faced by 1.4 billion people worldwide who are trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty.

The rules of the Live Below The Line challenge are that you’re only allowed to spend $2 a day on food and drink for five days. And no, you can’t use what you already had in your pantry or fridge and you can’t accept food from others. You can’t even “dumpster dive”.

Rather than simply donating a few bucks to the cause and going on my merry way in life like I normally do, this time I decided to get involved in the challenge alongside 6,000 other Australians this week, including the face of the campaign Hugh Jackman. Nothing like a bit of star power to rally the troops!

So last Saturday I wandered over to my local Coles and bought $10 worth of food and drink to get me through this week. I was so limited in what I could afford and so careful with what I bought that it took me well over an hour to finally settle on my purchases. Thank God for discounted milk!

And so my week has been testing – mentally as much as anything, but also physically. It’s hardly surprising how tired you get when you eat so little.

But while living below the line has definitely been tough, it’s also been a profound experience that has really rammed home how lucky I am … and how unlucky so many other people are. It’s also made for great conversation and has prompted many of my friends, family and workmates to stop and think about whether they could live on $2 a day – just like one in five people do across the planet.

I’m not sure how this experience will change my life going forward or whether it will realistically have any bearing whatsoever in the fight against extreme poverty. All I do know is that I’m much more aware now about the plight of others and am far better equipped to spread the word about how we can help improve the lives of those less fortunate.

When I wake up tomorrow morning, my week-long challenge will be complete. I’ll be able to eat or drink anything I want and my hunger pains will subside. Yes I’m excited, but if only it were that simple for everyone.

Read more about the Live Below The Line campaign or sponsor my efforts this week. – Kieran Hall.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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Hughes PR, Social media, Twitter

Twitter hashtags working out a tweet

If you’re not using Twitter yet, it may seem like an underworld realm – a strange communication platform made up of short, nonsensical messages called tweets.

Michelle Prak

Michelle Prak. Picture: The Advertiser

This social media network has achieved cult-like status for delivering breaking news, connecting people with world leaders and celebrities and making new friends.

Part of Twitter’s success has been the way its users have massaged it and helped it to develop to suit them. Twitter has evolved its own shorthand language and abbreviations.

A big part of the success of Twitter has been the invention of the Twitter hashtag.

Hashtags help tweeters make sense of Twitter.

Now, you may know hashtags as the symbol for “number” which sits above the 3 on your computer’s keyboard (#). But this innocuous little character has, for the past few years, helped tweeters to connect conversations together. Let’s take some examples.

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On any given day in Adelaide, there are hundreds of tweets containing the #Adelaide hashtag. This means if you type #Adelaide into Twitter’s search bar, you receive plenty of Adelaide news, musing and insights.

Think of it as the Adelaide grapevine on Twitter. If you want to ensure your news about Adelaide is seen by more people on Twitter, you should use the #Adelaide hashtag (rather than simply writing Adelaide). You may watch the ABC TV show Q&A and notice the tweets being published across the bottom of the screen. The way the producers of Q&A know that a person is tweeting about the program if they use the hashtag #qanda in their tweet. That’s the qualifying, categorising factor.

When you attend a major conference, chances are the organisers have designated an official Twitter hashtag for the conference, to enable attendees to publish their conference reflections in a unified stream. Thus people at their workdesks, who couldn’t attend the conference, can still learn of some conference outcomes. An Adelaide conference about fishing may, for example, use the hashtag #AdelFish2011

There are standard, well-known Twitter hashtags but the most exciting thing? You can invent your own hashtag, anytime. The trick is getting people to adopt it.

Michelle Prak

This article originally appeared in the Adelaide Advertiser on 10 May 2011. See the AdelaideNow article here.

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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