A Sanders Presidency?

There is always something remarkable about US politics – if remarkable is a sufficiently appropriate word. But according to some recent research Bernie Sanders could become President.

Now the blog knows that is remarkably unlikely and the odds on Trump winning the Republican nomination are lengthening. But the blog’s friend John Dyett (readers should visit his Facebook page which, along with that of Race Mathews, is one of the most consistently informative Facebook pages around in Australia) has recently sent it a link to the New York Times which outlines the numbers which make it possible. read more

Is perception reputation reality?

Among post-modernists, PR people and business academics there have been some decades of reputation debate about whether perception is reality or not.

An amusing example of how it can be, even if only briefly, occurred recently when the Cameron Government put a tax on sugar. UK share market traders immediately pushed the price of Tate and Lyell shares down. Yet Tate and Lyell had sold its sugar business in 2010 and was no longer one of the world’s major sugar operations. Now share market traders are probably not much of an example – we know that irrationality is an important characteristic of many markets – but briefly until a few people realised what was real and what was perceived we did see a clear case of perception (however ignorant) shaping reality. read more

Government communication – the real problems

The problem with most government communication is that, however skilled the public service communicator, the politicians and their minders constantly get in the way.

Ministers tend to think the answer is advertising, paid for by the taxpayer, despite the overwhelming evidence that government advertising is regarded by the public extremely cynically. Needless to say the ad agencies and research companies involved in these campaigns are reluctant to share that reality with their clients. read more

Annual, biennial – and does it matter

There is much debate (possibly also in Adelaide) about the wisdom of making the Adelaide Festival and the Writers’ Week annual rather than biennial. The blog tends to think that for the former it was a mistake and for the latter a bit of a problem, given the retreat of publishers from the grand days of the Week, but a problem which is surmountable simply because from time to time during any Writers’ Week you learn about a new writer or some new idea. read more

What is it about Louise ?

The blog hasn’t read Nicki Savva’s book and probably won’t – but it’s difficult to avoid the media stories and commentaries about it.

Well before the blog’s rare hard copy of The Age landed in the front garden a couple of people had sent it the link to an article in the paper on the book by Louise Adler. Within a few hours later the blog had also been sent by various people details of a Tweet link (don’t worry the blog has not sunk to Twitter) from the Saturday Paper’s Martin McKenzie-Murray to a speech Peta Credlin made to a an MLC Foundation event www.mlc.vic.edu.au/files/dmfile/Peta Credlin MLC Foundation  in which Ms Credlin had said some things about Ms Adler as Ms Adler had some things to say about Ms Credlin in The Age. No doubt the Saturday Paper on 12 March will have more to say about it. read more

Faith in Fakes

It is always a sad day when one of your favourite authors dies. No more books (perhaps a posthumous one completed by a colleague and for some a collected works) and as a result no more of that frisson of anticipation you feel when you hear of the author’s forthcoming new book.

It is a doubly sad day when it is Umberto Eco whose work as a cultural critic has regularly informed the blog’s work as a communicator; whose novels are endlessly satisfying; and whose essays are constantly thought provoking. Talking about his work in 1986 (all dates are first English publication) when Faith in Fakes was published Eco said: “My way of being involved in politics consists of telling others how I see daily life, political events, the language of the mass media, sometimes the way I look at a movie. I believe it is my job as a scholar and citizen to show how we are surrounded by ‘messages’, products of political power, of economic power, of the entertainment industry and the revolution industry, and to say that we must know how to analyse them.” read more

Whither/wither the PRIA and universities

There is much to be said about the Public Relations Institute of Australia – after all it is capable of being anomalous, anachronistic, irrelevant and from time to time very irritating.

The most irritating, for the blog at least, is the insistence of some of the leadership on talking about the industry as a profession. Quite evidently, while PR people can be professional, just like any other industry, it is not now nor has ever been a profession in the accepted sense of the word. Although a blog (non-PR) friend did once say there may be some point in the description – if only in the sense of the usage coined for the ‘oldest profession’. read more

What not to do: community consultation case studies

An organisation which embarks on an issues and risk management strategy around a contaminated site and can’t win support from neighbouring residents; and, which launches a widespread community consultation project on future directions, policies and budgets with a preliminary leaflet which gets ignored probably has significant cultural and communication problems. read more

Odds and sods

Dunbar’s number

Social media has changed everything! Well despite the frequent assertions of that it apparently hasn’t changed the validity of the Dunbar number.

In 1993 Dr Robin Dunbar of Oxford’s Department of Experimental Psychology came up with the number, a rough measure of the number of stable relationships that people can manage, while looking at the size of the neocortex of different species of social primates. He then applied the findings to humans and postulated that we should have social circles of about 150 people. Looking at archaeological and other records he identified that people had traditionally organised themselves into groups of between 100 and 200. This has become known as the social brain hypothesis although commonly termed the Dunbar number. read more