ANZAC Day as an expat

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ANZAC Day is a sombre experience. Children grow up learning April 25th is not a happy or heroic day in Australia. It is a day of remembrance and reflection. Each year city streets are lined with volunteers selling small poppy flower pins and brass broaches to raise money for veterans. And on the day we hold our breath as the beagle plays at dawn, trying to imagine how it would feel being surrounded by your mates and war on a beach.

There isn’t as much a sense of patriotism as there is mateship for your fellow man and woman. There are sporting, religious, cultural, fashion and foodie differences that may divide us on varying levels of friendly banter to hateful misunderstandings, but what shines through is our open – maybe not always agreeable – but open nature to stand by your mate. We cheer for the underdog and don’t need an excuse to hang out over a beer – perhaps that is why one of the most popular Prime Ministers was the one who could skull a scooner whilst being cheered on.

Living abroad for the first time and experiencing ANZAC Day from the outside, so to speak, reminds me of how lucky I am to call Australia home. Australia has provided me with endless beaches to explore, too much sun, an education that lead me to university to study in a field I am passionate in, and a safe place to come back to when I have quenched my thirst for travel. It keeps my family and friends happy and healthy and provides a good laugh to strangers when you joke about riding kangaroos to school growing up. Which is all you could want really – to laugh like a silly galah with new and old mates.

It was the first year away, and it may not be the last, but I will always remember the ANZACs. With the coming of the day and the going of the night their legacy will live on so we can remember the sacrifice others made in the hopes of our futures above their own. So don’t waste it. Lest we forget.

The Ode, by Laurence Binyon

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Sweet potato and cranberries

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You would think that after moving overseas I would be more excited about the 17th century church down the road rather than grocery shopping. But, then again, for those that know me and my obsession with markets and local produce this may not come as such a surprise.

While some of my cooking (mainly baking) can be pretty shocking, I am becoming more and more aware of how my style of cooking and use of ingredients is changing – and improving! Sweet potato and cranberries are not foods I would put together in Australia, but when it came out of the oven tasting amazing here in Manchester I did a little research and found it is a popular combination! Maybe I had been walking around and subconsciously saw a dish where they were combined?

Sweet potato and cranberry bake is the most common recipe found online with different complementing ingredients, such as maple, apple, walnut, cinnamon, and raisons. You can also find it as a stuffing recipe or salad with spinach, quinoa, and pine nuts.

I kept mine simple and savoury as a bake adding a few herbs and extra virgin olive oil to the dish and roasting it for an hour. I served the potatoes with a marinated Spatchcock (poultry or game bird that has been split open and prepared for cooking) that I roasted for the same time and temperature with the potatoes as a source of protein. It also saves power using just the oven for one meal. It was delicious, so I’ve put the ingredients below to share with you!

Spices 

  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Coriander seeds
  • Chilli powder
  • Salt and pepper

I used about half a teaspoon of each spice for one big sweet potato cut into chunks. Place into a baking tray and add 4 whole cloves of garlic (peeled), and a handful of cranberries. Drizzle the lot with extra virgin olive oil and use your fingers to make sure the sweet potato and cranberries are coated with herbs and yummy goodness.

Bake in the oven at 180°C for 60 minutes. If you’re cooking with meat don’t forget to let the meat rest for 10 minutes so the juices are retained when you cut into it. With a whole chicken I found an hour was a good time and didn’t try out the meat.

Food plays such a huge part in our daily lives – in a lifetime the average person will spend just over 6 years cooking and eating food!

Travelling overseas you get a snippet of the culture, but living somewhere else you are completely immersed, and while sweet potato and cranberries does not come close to a revelation I cannot deny the exposure of so many new cultures and cuisines is influencing my cooking – and I like it.

Cookie monsters or helpers?

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In public relations looking through data, measuring statistics, and tracking consumer demand is a huge component to planning and implementing campaigns.

How would you even begin to justify a budget for a campaign video without a small history of how video content has become a preferred source of information?

You simply couldn’t.

Well, you could, but then you would just be throwing vague statements out there, such as, “I have been watching a lot more videos lately on Facebook, and I think it’s because the algorithm changed in favour of viral videos and quick news bites. As a full-time employee who only gets a small amount of time in between work, exercising, seeing friends, blogging, and doing house work I don’t like watching long videos. If I apply the same logic onto our target demographic of full-time business managers they are going to have so much more on their plate. Therefore I think if we keep the video to 30 seconds and share it around lunch time I’m sure our audience will watch it and appreciate the short bite we have to say about our company”.

Cringe.

Without even realising we have quickly become reliant on Big Data and what technology can do for us on a campaign side of a B2B or B2C relationship. Quicker than what we can handle, even, because there is still so much untouched, or “raw”, data we haven’t analysed. We depend on numbers, click-through-rates, page views, shares, likes, love’s, haha’s, wow’s, sad’s, and angry’s to tell the story of what certain consumers think of our content and key message – as well as when and where they view it.

And it is mostly done through cookies.

You may have noticed little banner messages at the top or bottom of your computer or mobile screen saying, “We use cookies… close and accept”.

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What are cookies?
Cookies are messages your web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox) sends to a web server (Lonely Planet, Contently, eBay).

There are different types of cookies, meaning they can send different types of information back to the web server. Consumers can control the information being sent to web browsers by limiting or forbidding a web browser to send cookies back to the web server.

What do they do?
When a cookie, or message, is sent to the server about a web page you have landed on it identifies you as a user and suggests other web pages you may like to personalise your experience.

For example, if I were to go on Contently and read an article about SEO I may scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and see sponsored articles with “related” blog posts about SEO techniques and algorithms.

How does this impact businesses? 
Personalisation and user experience is key for a business’ online presence. There is a great article by McKinsey & Company with a modern marketing example following a mother purchasing yoga pants for herself, having a blog post about keeping an active and healthy lifestyle reminding her of the purchase, and then receiving a push notification a couple of days later alerting her of a 15% off sale where she makes another online purchase.

Lead generation, personalisation, and nurturing the customer journey goes beyond a click and check out or log-on log-off experience. It creates a relationship between your brand and customers founded on a two-way model of communication constantly updated through cookies. Resources spent profiling target markets are reduced significantly and accuracy is improved making your job in marketing/communications a lot easier – thank you little cookie helpers!

Why may a consumer feel uneasy about cookies and block them? 
It can feel as if you’re being followed! Not everyone is going to like how stalkerish their favourite brands can be, but then that is the sign of a good integrated campaign. When a consumer has a buying pattern of new clothes for the weekend you as a business want to be the first ones on their list to click. If they see you first your targeting demo- and psychographics are on the mark.

But then cookies can also be embarrassing. I haven’t connected my Netflix account to our Smart TV because I don’t want my house mates seeing how many RomComs and historical period dramas I really consume.

Why am I only just seeing references to cookies now? 
Businesses are required to tell you if they are accessing your information. How many times did you search ASOS for Saturday nights’ outfit only to scroll through Facebook and see an ad for a dress on eBay that looks almost identical? Yep, that’s what I thought. It’s the same with holidays. Looking up jumpers? Why not fly to somewhere warm for under $200 and escape the cool instead? Genius!

There are countless conversations held over coffee with friends trying to justify impulse shopping because you couldn’t get those earrings you saw out of mind (or were you just surrounded by sponsored advertisements?). Depending on your shopping addiction and the contents of your wallet those cookies can be monsters.

We are a generation that wants things on demand, in the now, who are driven by purpose and want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We don’t have time to be searching too long for something in store when we can be cooking dinner and purchasing next week’s groceries at the same time from home.

You would think anyone would be excited about all of this technology enabling businesses to show you clothes, travel destinations, or blog posts specific to your current needs, right?

Nope. Not everyone likes being tracked, but we expect a seamless experience when it comes to purchasing goods and services…

So are they cookie monsters or helpers?