Bayes beats baying banalities

Are people sick of politics, sick of the way it is practised, sick of the way it is reported in the media or some combination of all of the above? For the blog it’s mainly media coverage and the obsessive and largely irrelevant speculation and prediction which accompanies it. Indeed, about the only reason for reading most political reportage is to identify who inspired it, why, and whether as a result it is likely to be wrong or right. read more

Another piece in the Australian PR history jigsaw

The distinguished historian, John Poynter, has added another piece to the jigsaw which is Australian PR history with his new biography of L.L. Smith.

The book, The Audacious Adventures of Dr Louis Lawrence Smith, is another example of how mainstream historians are including depictions of how people, regimes, organisations and power are represented through strategies and tactics which Dr Tom Watson has dubbed proto-PR. The Poynter biography is of a remarkable Victorian who was, as Poynter says, “a doctor, an art collector, politician, writer, publisher, speculator, vigneron, farmer, breeder and rider of racehorses, and finally, guiding hand got thirty years of Melbourne’s great exhibition complex.” He was also a gifted publicist whose often brilliant promotions marked every stage of his career. read more

A paradoxical risk communication problem

Risk communication may well be the hardest thing most PR practitioners will ever need to do. The complexities of innumeracy, emotion, confusion and deliberate distortion which bedevil most risk communication problems present massive problems for practitioners.

Recently the blog has seen just how difficult it can be, and just how perceptions can change according to the standpoint of the protagonists, sometimes in the most paradoxical ways. The blog’s local council is proposing to remediate a local park and arts centre by removing the park soil and trees; removing underlying  contaminants; putting in a new layer of soil; and, replanting the garden. The park and arts centre were once the site of a Victorian Gas & Fuel operation which was closed with the advent of natural gas and rationalisation of operations and converted into a park. The historic buildings on the site are now a flourishing arts complex which the blog supports. read more

Abbott government communications

One of the paradoxes of the communications business is that when you are working within organisations everyone has an opinion on what the communication problems are, how they should be fixed and how if they are fixed all the other problems will go away. Yet when it comes to observing politics the blog has found people are far less certain – although politicians themselves do tend to blame communications rather than policy or anything else if they are travelling badly in the polls. read more

Geoff Shaw and liberty

There are probably no other politicians of any era as unalike as the 18th century British Parliamentarian, John Wilkes, and the Victorian MP Geoff Shaw.

One was one his era’s most famous libertines, a member of the notorious Hellfire Club, a notable wit and inveterate gambler, a pioneer of the reporting of Parliament through the North Briton  and an opponent of autocratic government. The other – well he’s Geoff Shaw MLA. But despite the differences there is a similarity – their situation and the question as to whether parliaments should expel MPs because they disapprove of them. Obviously if the Constitution provides for certain disqualifications such as bankruptcy, accepting an office of profit from the State, criminal offences and so on then breaching those can lead to expulsion. In the recent scandals about British MPs rorting their allowances some repaid them and stayed on; some were found guilty of crimes went to gaol and out of Parliament; and some were voted out at the next election. But none of them were voted out just because a majority in the Parliament thought they should go. read more

The dangers of Anzac myths

While it is easy to focus on the mythical nonsense about Anzac traditions and politicians’ exploitation of the myths, there is a far more worrying  aspect of the myth-making – the extent to which it distorts debate about military readiness, war and what strategies and training Australia and its military should pursue. read more

A new arts approach in Victoria

The blog was, some years ago, in one of a number of small groups being consulted by the State Library of Victoria about its future directions and corporate planning. The consultants running the session trotted out all the usual gobbledygook and managerial newspeak which you expect on these occasions. read more

Ignorantia affectata

Tabloid media, nowadays a term which conveniently describes an approach to news rather than just a newspaper format, has much to answer for in terms of pain, suffering and distortion.

Much of its deleterious impact is on politics and the most vulnerable or most gullible sections of society.  Even more seriously, for example, the enthusiasm with which news media absorbed and amplified the lies and distortions in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq may not have been responsible for the thousands of deaths which occurred but it helped create the climate which made it possible. read more

Interns continued – again

New PRIA President, Mike Watson, has passed on to the blog a number of initiatives the PRIA is taking on internships – plus some research on what Registered Consultancy Group members think about interns.

First, the good news. The PRIA conducted a survey of 30 consultancies across Australia in September  2012. Just over half of respondents were from NSW, with Queensland and Victoria both contributing 15% each. Multiple consultancies from WA, SA and Victoria also participated.  40% of consultancies participating were small (1-5 staff), 27% mid-size and 33% large or multinationals. It found that: “80% of consultancies did not host tertiary work experience students to just observe in the office. The small number who did host work experience students offered only short time periods, generally only one or two weeks.”. read more

Interns and exploitation continued

Internships exploitation in PR is obviously not only a widespread problem but one which provokes some strong feelings.

The blog was a bit taken aback when students at RMIT started to unload on the system and was rather more taken aback when horror stories started to roll in. As readers will have noticed the blog does not provide a comments section partly because of lack of time to moderate it and partly because, while writing for the online newsletter crikey , the blog became aware of the combination of vitriol and insanity among many of those who felt compelled to post reactions. But working in an industry full of resourceful people comments came from many who used old-fashioned email to give their views. read more