All posts by Noel Turnbull

Imagine the uproar

What about sovereign risk? was a question asked of a guest speaker at a lunch the blog recently attended. What about sovereign risk indeed the blog muttered under its breath.

On the tram on the way home after the lunch the blog, however, got to thinking about what other glib defences PR advisors would use to characterise policies powerful interests opposed; what might get the powerful interests agitated in the future if a change of government occurred; and, what framing the advisors would recommend in such situations. read more

A new Dunbar number

Robin Dunbar, the Oxford Professor of evolutionary psychology famous for the Dunbar number of 150, has come up with some new Dunbar numbers.

In a paper, Functional Benefits of (Modest) Alcohol Consumption, in the journal Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology and an article in the Financial Times (11/12 August 2018), on the social benefits of alcohol Dunbar looks at some major studies and comes to the conclusion that “we devote about 40% of our available social time (and the same proportion of our emotional capital) to an inner core of about five shoulders–to-cry-on. And we devote another 20% to the next 10 people who are socially important to us. In other words, about two-thirds of our total social effort is devoted to just 15 people”. read more

When was America great?

Yuval Noah Harari, the Israeli historian and author of Sapiens and Homo Deus, recently wrote: “When a thousand people believe some made up story for a month – that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years – that’s a religion”; and, “Questions you cannot answer are usually far better for you than answers you cannot question.” read more

Connected – really???

If you counted the number of times the word connected was used in common communication you would almost reach the number of connections us human are supposed to have these days.

Thanks to the FAANGs we are all allegedly linked wherever we go and Dunbar’s number – the suggestion by the British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, that 150 is about the limit of stable relationships an individual can have with other people – has theoretically been rendered null. read more

Cromwell and Australia

The blog was asked to write a piece for the Protector’s Pen the magazine of the Cromwell Association of which the blog is a Life Member – not of course because of any eminence in 17th Century history but because it was easier than transferring money to the UK in the decades ago when the blog joined. As few  blog readers probably read the magazine and some might be interested here ’tis……. read more

A few political axioms

There is one overwhelming reality, confirmed yet again by the four Australian by-elections on July 28, about political media commentary – it is axiomatic that the conventional wisdom in the Press Gallery is almost always wrong.

One can imagine that, after studying Australian political media,  Aristotle and Euclid might have come up with some new axioms which we could use as a basis for deriving various proofs and conclusions. Unfortunately they are not around so the blog, with some immodesty, would like to suggest some they might have developed. read more

What do words about probability actually mean?

Every day the political, sporting and other media, along with lots of other Australians, use words about probability – how likely is rain, when’s the best time, perhaps, pretty likely, a dead set certainty. Yet the words are often less a form of prediction or probability assessment but more ways of providing a sense of safety to those who speak them. read more

A few odds and sods on PR

It is reassuring to find that publicists can still get blatant puff pieces into quality newspapers – even when the content is nonsense.

The Saturday Age (7 July 2018) included a My Career piece in the business pages headlined: “In a league of his own” – a story about a former journalist “using the art of storytelling to turn the public relations industry on its ear.” read more

What are the hottest issues and crisis management topics?

Probably everyone in PR has celebrated an anniversary of some sort or other. The blog’s old firm even successfully celebrated a 57th – for Vegemite – some years ago. After all it’s often a quick way to generate some coverage.

This year – not so much in PR but rather the world – there have been lots of significant 200th anniversaries including those for Karl Marx and Emily Bronte’s birth as well as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. But in PR there has been an anniversary – not quite so significant as these perhaps – but definitely instructive and of interest to practitioners. read more