Taking a break…but in the meantime some odds and sods

The blog is taking a break – not for maintenance this time – but while it’s away here are some odds and sods which have caught its attention lately.

PR ethics

Given the controversy over the PR company Bell Pottinger’s issues it is worth noting that the UK Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) set up an ethics hotline some two years ago to provide advice to members on ethical questions. So far it has received nine calls. It should be said that Bell Pottinger was a member of the UK industry body, not the CIPR, although individual employees may be CIPR members. read more

Convincing media opinion leaders that climate matters

No one will ever convince the US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Scott Pruitt, of the reality of climate change. Well at least while he stays in the pocket of the Koch brothers and the administration as a whole continues to be staffed by former lobbyists who have gone from spreading climate change denial propaganda to being put in charge of decisions on the problem. read more

The Bully Pulpit and the shaping of US public policy

The Bully Pulpit has been a US term for presidential speeches which seek to influence, define or shape public policy.

The phrase was coined by Teddy Roosevelt to describe an excellent platform for his reform agenda. At the time the word ‘bully’, one often used by Roosevelt, conveyed the sense of superb or wonderful rather than something which might describe a Trump tweet. read more

A guest appearance

The blog’s neighbour, friend and former client manages to get lots of letters published in The Age along with a number of other regulars who obviously strike a chord with whoever is left on the outsourced letters page subs desk.

He sent the blog copy of his latest, not expecting it to get a run in The Age, but the blog thought it was worth a mention particularly given that the ‘little lying rodent’ –  as one of his colleagues called him – is re-emerging like a creature from the Black Lagoon to join his acolyte, Tony Abbot (sic), on the same sex marriage campaign trail. read more

Facts, fact checking and perceptions

The last blog post focussed on the resilience of facts and how online search can generally uncover them. However, a distinction needs to be drawn between searching for facts and how facts and news are received.

The distinction is important when it comes to how people respond to online news feeds, how they select them, and how effective the various fact checking services attached to some of the services actually are. Arguably, however, while these issues are important they are neither new nor are they simply the product of the proliferation of online media. read more

A shameful story

There have been a number of shameful episodes in Australian history.

The dispossession of indigenous Australians and the many massacres committed against them will always be the worst of them. But the Australian treatment of East Timor (Timor Leste) will for years to come be regarded as a case study of Australian duplicity and consent to war crimes – all for a half a century of a determined attempt to procure benefits from Timor Strait oil and deliver some of it to the people who were the architects of the policy. read more

More on history and its lessons

“History does not repeat, but it does instruct.” A few days after posting last week’s effort about learning from history the blog picked up Timothy Snyder’s new book On Tyranny and the quote above was the book’s first line.

Snyder wrote the book Bloodlands which is an astonishing record of the death and destruction in Europe in the 20th century caused by Hitler and Stalin. In the latest book he applies his deep knowledge of the impact of tyranny on humanity and derives ‘Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century’ for those living today. read more

The creation and use of stereotypes

Much of what many of us believe is based on a series of stereotypes. Some of them are just mental short cuts but others are created by politicians, activists of all political shades, the media and even people who segment markets.

Research indicates that people have stereotypical views of Muslims, the unemployed, various national or ethnic groups and various socio-economic groups within their own nation or even suburb. Facts do little to dislodge the stereotypes in people’s minds – for instance Australians and Americans consistently over-estimate the percentage of Muslims in their countries. It is common – prompted by conservative governments – to believe that the unemployed are pot smoking slackers who don’t want to work. Pointing out the massive disparity between job vacancies and the number of unemployed does nothing to shake the stereotype’s hold on people’s beliefs. read more

Who on earth thought blaming the customer was a good idea?

A recent survey of Australian and New Zealand companies by the PR company, SenateSHJ, found that more than half of executives surveyed reported that reputation is now harder to manage than any other risks.

What the survey didn’t investigate was the extent to which company executives were themselves the source of reputational risks and damage. Two recent cases illustrate the problem. The first is the long running NBN saga. The NBN organisation – not content with offering an expensive second rate product – is now blaming its customers for the problems. Faced with consumer anger about slow speeds and high costs the company has blamed customers for not knowing what speed they are receiving and a lack of awareness of speed choices. read more

An insider’s view of how public relations really works