A paradigm shift for PR

Over the almost 50 years the blog has been in the media and PR businesses there has been ongoing debate about what the PR business was, where it was going and how practitioners should be educated and trained.

Now a new book, Strategic Public Relations Leadership, by Anne Gregory and Paul Willis has set a new direction for that debate and raised some important questions for everyone in the industry. read more

The ALP – what is to be done?

If only Kim Carr and Stephen Conroy cared as much about Victorian ALP internal reform as they cared, respectively, about the future of manufacturing industry and the level of licence fees for media owners and how quickly the Finkelstein media inquiry could be buried.

Between them – and their factions – the movement towards party reform in Victoria has not only stalled but gone into reverse. Late last year the ALP ginger group, Local Labor, got commitments from both leadership contenders, Shorten and Albanese, to extensive party reforms. Most of the reforms they favoured stemmed from the successive reports on party democracy from key recommendations of reviews such as by Mark Dreyfus (1998), Hawke/Wran (2002), Faulkner/Bracks/Carr (2010) and Alan Griffin (2011). read more

The US and climate change activism

What with the Tea Party, the religious right, Fox News and others it’s easy to think that there are only few US citizens with a handle on reality or a concern about issues such as climate change and the state of their nation.

For instance, most Americans have little grasp of the realities of just how unequal US society is (http://www.upworthy.com/9-out-of-10-americans-are-completely-wrong-about-this-mind-blowing-fact-2 ) even if they are generally aware that there is a problem and are increasingly angry about it. On the other hand there is now significant evidence that large numbers of Americans are not only concerned about climate change but want to do something about it – despite the blog’s rather dismissive (and partly inaccurate due to hyperbole) comments in its last post. US Secretary of State, John Kerry, in a visit to Indonesia recently compared climate change to weapons of mass destruction and one wonders whether the message might also have been directed to Indonesia’s neighbours. Moreover, despite the views of Australians such as Newman, Warburton, the IPA et al it seems the weapons of mass destruction are, in this case, more real than the ones many of the climate change deniers in Australia were so certain would be found in Iraq. John Kerry plans to make a number of speeches on the subject around the world in the next year and hopefully one of them will be in Australia. read more

Climate change and evolution: a Shakespearean drama

Climate change, evolution and Shakespeare have two things in common. First, the evidence for all three is settled. Second, there are an awful lot of people who don’t accept it.

The blog got to pondering this after a recent Humanities 21 meeting when Dr David McInnis, was talking about Lost Plays (www.lostplays.org ) in the time of Shakespeare. He didn’t actually talk about the Shakespeare authorship debate but he did highlight how much theatre from the period has not survived and what we know about Shakespeare’s collaborations as a result of the study of many plays. Before the talk the blog accidentally overheard a conversation between two women, in which one was explaining why we should doubt whether temperatures were rising read more

A funny thing happened on the way to the forum

Up there with the Michael Palin scenes from the Life of Brian is Zero Mostel in a Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Both share a quality – making you laugh in the face of tremendous embarrassment.

There was a new form of embarrassment for Australia when the International Monetary Fund found a funny thing happening on its way to the forum. The IMF was carrying out a study of reforming tax expenditures (otherwise known as tax breaks) in Italy. Without saying so they chose Italy because it is in a spot of bother and were looking for reforms which might help. The IMF says in a working paper prepared by Justin Tyson: “Tax expenditures are government revenues foregone as a result of differential, or preferential, treatment of specific sectors, activities, regions, or agents. They can take many forms, including allowances (deductions from the base), exemptions (exclusions from the base), rate relief (lower rates), credits (reductions in liability) and tax deferrals (postponing payments). International comparisons are complicated by different methodologies and assessments as to what constitute a tax expenditure, but the practice is pervasive…” read more

The war to frame the war

The inevitable war as to who frames, and how they frame, the WWI centenary commemorations has started.

The first shots were fired in the UK where the Tory Education Secretary, Michael Gow, in the Daily Mail  called for a patriotic celebration that battled “left wing myths which belittled  Britain”. Now in the UK Gow is considered a sort of intellectual in politics although, it being England, he is handicapped by a reputation for being clever. It is a bit unclear which myths he is referring too but it seems he wants to present the British Labour Party as unpatriotic although they and the trade unions embraced the war with as much jingoism as anyone else. However, the critique of the war which has probably inspired more myths than anything else, “lions led by donkeys”, was formulated by the late Alan Clark who was probably one of the most right wing MPs ever elected to Parliament. He was probably also the most prolific seducer of woman in British political history as well as being an entertaining diarist. London Mayor, Boris Johnson (himself no slouch in the history and seduction fields), fuelled the controversy saying the “the sad but undeniable fact” was that the war was “overwhelmingly the result of German expansionism and aggression.” Fortunately the popular version of this view (“two World Wars and one World Cup”) has no chance of being altered by coming events in Brazil. read more

The pre-history of PR

Except in a few pockets of US practice, as the blog has mentioned previously, hardly anyone still subscribes to the once dominant view that PR was a US invention which developed through schematised stages from the 19th century to a globalised industry today.

One of the major figures in making that happen has been Professor Tom Watson of Bournemouth University who is not only a distinguished PR scholar but also the organiser of the International History of PR Conference held in Bournemouth each year. Proceedings of the 2013 one are available at http://microsites.bournemouth.ac.uk/historyofpr/proceedings/  The next conference will be held on July 2 and 3 this year. read more

PR disasters of 2013

Lists are an unfailing source of media coverage, discussion and sometimes even debate. Someone somewhere is always excited by lists from best-dressed to the most powerful lists. Lists of best books and best films are even sometimes very useful although what is often best about them are subsequent exposures of undisclosed links between recommender and recommended. read more

What gets lost

One of the key characteristics of constitutional structures which divide responsibilities and funding sources is an enormous capacity to shift costs and political blame for unpopular decisions.

In Australia the Abbott Governments Commission of Audit is allegedly going to address these issues although one suspects the outcome will be a series of ideologically-driven recommendations masquerading as efficiency proposals which will cut back government services while preserving subsidies for business and industry. read more