What’s the easiest PR job in Australia?

When PR people judge how well a PR campaign has done the degree of difficulty is often a major factor in weighing the merits of various projects. But there’s not so much attention to the easiest jobs and campaigns.

 Currently doing PR for Tony Abbott would have to be up there among the easy ones. Just do nothing and craft a few populist sound bites and you will soon be advising a PM. Admittedly there would always be that worry that he might say or do something really, really stupid. But even then there is always the safety net that News Limited and the shock jocks provide. After all, imagine a situation in which the toughest questions you get all day from the interviews you arrange are zingers like: Do you think Julia Gillard should resign today or next week? Just how dishonest and incompetent do you think she is? read more

Anzac Day guide updated

One of the best things about the media and Anzac Day, the Anzac Day Media Style Guide, has been updated for 2013.

It is an invaluable tool for getting some of the basic facts right. That’s a much-needed antidote to some of the nonsense that gets reported and which some politicians spout.

The guide is available for download via the following websites: read more

Reputation management makes a comeback

Reputation management is making a comeback – except this time it is more for individuals than for organisations and has a new technological base.

There is an irony in this as the concept of ‘reputation’ had its origins in early modern history around notions of reputation and honour. J.H.Elliott, in his new book History in the Making (Yale University Press), remarks that when he first began investigating Spanish history he was struck by the frequency with which the word ‘reputacion’ surfaced in the political literature of the Spanish Golden Age period and the discussions in the Spanish Council of State. The concept, he says, “was bound up with the complex notions of honour that prevailed in early modern societies, and involved the standing and reputation of Spain and its monarch in the eyes of both contemporaries and of posterity”. It still has many of the same connotations in modern society – particularly in the sense of ‘losing face’ – but nobody is likely to fight a duel over it even if some nations rush off to war on the strength of it. read more

The great cham and media regulation

Reading the bleatings of the media, particularly those of the News Limited outlets, about the rather modest proposed Conroy reforms it was impossible not to be reminded of Samuel Johnson’s response to Americans objecting to British taxes.

Johnson said: “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?” Johnson, it should be said, can perhaps be excused some PC deficit given the times and the moral superiority of his position to that, for instance, of Thomas Jefferson.  Equally News Limited management are not slave owners, like many of the US Founding Fathers, but their defence of the ‘freedom of the press’ and the historic virtues of press liberty would be more convincing if any of their outlets actually resembled some principled fourth estate voice. read more

Communicating without communicators

The horsemeat scandal in Europe has an interesting sidelight – the company at the centre of the crisis, Findus, has sacked its entire senior communications team. Not, mind you, after the crisis hit but way back in 2011 as a cost-cutting exercise.

 Private Eye (22/2/13-7/3/13) reported that “smug cries of ‘I told you so’ are reverberating around (UK) PR land” after the crisis erupted and the news about the communication cutbacks was revealed. read more

Putting academic research to use

The attitude of many PR practitioners to PR academic research has always been puzzling. While a practitioner myself I was always glad that others neglected it because it was often a source of competitive advantage which those who didn’t use it missed out on.

 In contrast, the legendary and sadly late US practitioner Pat Jackson had two claims to fame. He worked from an office in New Hampshire which had to be the most attractive PR office in the world; and, more importantly, he was the first practitioner to think systematically about how PR and other social sciences research could be applied to doing PR. Indeed, the world’s most famous PR academic, Jim Grunig, once mused (perhaps a tad sadly) to me about how successful Pat had been in applying his, and other academic ideas, to how he did business. His firm Jackson Jackson & Wagner still exists (http://www.jjwpr.com/JJW-Patrick-jackson.html) and his former partner, Isobel Parke, is still involved. Both were great influences on my thinking about the PR business and successful consultancy. read more

Not even close

Just as the opinion poll forecasts were wrong in last year’s Presidential election so were the vote percentages called on the night.

 While the Electoral College vote result was very clear cut it appeared last November that the popular vote was actually pretty close. However, David Wasserman of The Cook Political Report (subscription only unfortunately but if you are a US political fan the cost is $US350 annually) looked at the figures after the final canvass by electoral officials. On the night the vote was called as 50.4% Obama to 48.1% Romney. Since the canvass it emerges that the final figure was Obama 51.06% to Romney 47.21? – a shift from a 2.3% win to a 3.8% win. read more

Communication certainties

There are two certainties in the communications business: first, that whenever the subject of communication comes up in any organisation everyone in the room is an expert; second, that whenever anything starts to go wrong everyone says the organisation is not communicating well enough.

 How this paradox comes to pass when everyone is an expert has always been a puzzle to me. Generally the answer to the puzzle is that the self-styled experts are not so expert or they are in denial about some more fundamental problem. But it isn’t any the less of a puzzle to me with the departure of Ted Baillieu as Victorian Premier, allegedly because of his failure to communicate the Government’s achievements and narrative. read more

Taking a break – but some odds and sods before then

The blog is taking a break for a few weeks while we travel to places with poor Internet connections (yes Virginia they do exist!).

 But before we go a few odds and sods

 Never trust the conventional wisdom or PR shorthand for market trends

 At the start or 2012 the markets were full of doom and gloom. Analysts and pundits listed all the problems – from the debt cliff to Europe – which would ruin us all. The outcome, despite the predictions, was that markets achieved their best performance since before the Great Recession. Now, one year on the analysts are talking about the ‘great rotation’ from bonds etc etc etc to equities as investors will shift their investment behaviour. read more

A grand old party

“The Republican Party must be known as a progressive organisation or it is sunk. I believe that so emphatically that I think far from appeasing or reasoning with the dyed-in-the-wool reactionary fringe we should completely ignore it and when necessary, repudiate it.”

 Clearly not the views of a Fox News commentator but an interesting view of the GOP even if it is now more than half a century old. The comments were by a Republican President, Dwight Eisenhower, who would no doubt be regarded as a RINO by the Tea Party. It sits well with his more famous comments about the ‘military-industrial complex’ although that comment was expressed in a speech while the view of the GOP was contained in his diaries and cited in Jean Edward Smith’s biography, Eisenhower in War and Peace. read more

An insider’s view of how public relations really works