In a world characterised by ‘post-truth’ becoming the OED 2016 word of the year, fake news and a US President who in slightly less than 500 days in office has made 3,251 false or misleading claims (6.5 a day) it is unclear whether a new campaign designed to encourage people to fight misinformation and protect truth and facts is a reason for hope or despair.
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.”
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.
The City of Port Phillip’s communications, issues management strategies and community consultation processes are always instructive guides for communicators on what not to do.
The blog is almost reluctant to draw attention to the latest effort – a new cultural policy called Art & Soul – after it has used so many Council communications as case studies in what not to do so often. But this latest effort is both careless and potentially contentious.
Just imagine the situation for a moment…… marauding bands of black robed zealots emerging from the desert to attack Palmyra. And when they did they destroyed temples, statues half a millennium old, murdering innocents, decapitating the huge statue to Athena one of the wonders of Greco-Roman culture and a monumental rebuke to the believers’ monotheism.
When companies are in trouble there is always the urge to ‘do something’ and there is always an advertising agency prepared to roll out some full page print, social media and other ads to meet the need.
But what if that’s the worst possible response? The blog thought this while waiting for the main feature in a cinema and being subjected to an nbn Australia corporate ad with the tagline “Australia we’re taking action” and stating that 3.8 million premises had been connected to NBN already with 95,000 just last month. Given that the blog lives a few kilometres from the centre of the city; might get NBN in 2019; will get a sub-standard version at a grossly inflated community cost; and, will need to employ and closely supervise a non-NBN contractor to prevent the usual connection contractors from vandalising it’s property – the ad didn’t warm it’s heart nor convince it of much. Indeed, in contrast it just made it angrier than normal about nbn Australia (far above and beyond even the blog’s irritation at the faux lower case corporate name)
Every day we are confronted with statistics and – worse – with media, political and pundit interpretations of what they mean.
For instance once a fortnight we see the Newspoll results and the thousands of words devoted to analysing one or two percentage point shifts in a sample with a plus or minus error range of around 2.5% and undisclosed assumptions about preference distributions. The Australian unemployment figures are searched for significance even though the methodology underlying them, and the failure to account for people who have given up looking for work, mean that the real unemployment rate is probably double the official one. The Roy Morgan Research estimates are probably a much better guide to the real situation than the official ones.
If you key in leadership for an Amazon book search you get 60,000 responses. If you key in military leadership you get 10,000.
The blog didn’t feel like checking any individual titles when it did this yesterday but it illustrates a fundamental truth about leadership – much talked and written about, but rarely practised well or understood.
The compelling evidence about Australian greed and perfidy over East Timor and the oil and gas rights to the rich resources between the two countries has been added to by recent documentary releases in a running AAT dispute between the National Archives (effectively the Australian Government) and Kim McGrath the author of Crossing the Line: Australia’s Secret History in the Timor Sea.
Last year the blog decided it would take off to the UK to attend the Cromwell Association Annual General Meeting – a trip which it had been hoping to make for many years.
The fact that the meeting was being held in Shrewsbury – within striking distance of Liverpool, Wales, Bath, Bristol, Stonehenge and Avebury – was another attraction but having been a member for 40 odd years the blog thought it was about time. Indeed, it followed on from the blog’s decision in the same year to participate in an Anzac Day service for the first time in the 48 years since it got back from Vietnam. For those interested in that address it can be found here.