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PR pros should expand their media diet

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pr tips for publicists

As niche as it gets.

Many of us have pledged fidelity to a healthier diet in 2016.  One secret to a healthier physique is to broaden one’s diet. You know – by consuming something beyond carbohydrates and Barcardi Breezers.

Professionally speaking, some of us have pledged to gain more media hits this year. One way to a healthier media profile is to broaden one’s media consumption.

This bizarre magazine on the left- focussing on the lifestyles of Japanese construction workers – got us thinking about the many off-Broadway media opportunities that exist for publicists.

Brett will train dozens of publicists this year and he’ll ask most of them for their media consumption habits. Some folk don’t wander beyond beyond commercial TV and FM radio – the media versions of empty-calories. Oh dear.

If you are to be a savvy publicist you need to deliberately expand your media consumption so you can familiarise yourself with new media opportunities.

Do you read the tabloids? How about the Weekend Australian including all its supplements? Ever grab a copy of the Australian Financial Review? You should as there’s some good reading there. If you’re an ABC devotee you need to turn the dial to the commercial powerhouses. Don’t worry – you just need to listen long enough to be familiar with the program, the segments and the presenters.

Many PR folk are comfortable with local media but count themselves out of state-wide media opportunities and still fewer feel they have something to offer national media outlets. Au contraire! Tip – don’t count yourself out; let the journalist say “no”.

Radio remains under-utilised in general. Hint – radio offers the most opportunities and is most likely to say: “Yes” to your pitch. And don’t forget weekend programming.

Ask yourself: Can I find ABC Radio National on the radio?

If not, you may wish consider a career change (management perhaps?) If yes, ask yourself:

How many programs on that network can I name?

There are some specialist shows about religion, foreign relations, books & arts,  music, philosophy, regional life along with many general programs. RN is a sea of tax-payer subsidised opportunity. Big audiences too!

ABC NewsRadio. See two questions above.

And you do pitch to AM / PM and The World Today, right? Right?

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Introverted accountant type people love to read.

Do you pitch to / consider trade publications? Some of these babies – such as Australian Human Resource Institute’s HR Monthly or the CPA’s In The Black are HUGE within their industry and might be the way into the hearts and minds of the right people. Is reaching any particular profession important to you? Every major profession has a dominant publication or website.

Free glossies: Every major city has a number of free glossy weekly magazines usually servicing more socially upward locations. They revolve around real estate but there’s editorial too.

Other magazines that are rarely considered are the membership magazines that come from insurers, automobile clubs such as the NRMA, unions, government departments supermarkets, frequent flyer and other loyalty programs and in-flight magazines. If none of these hold promise for you, quit today.

Did you ever call up radio news rooms? Not radio programs – aim for the poor suckers who put together the news. The news bulletins are the most listened-to minutes of the radio hour and – we promise – the most likely media opportunity to get you a Yes. Stations that have no news-based talk radio content may still feature you as part of their news bulletin. Huge opportunities are calling out for you on the hour every hour.

What about big online brands such as Mamma Mia or Mumbrella? These have big readerships and outsized influence with traditional media. Are there any significant bloggers or social media stars relating to your sector?

What about podcasts? Are there any podcasters who talk about your issues? Pitch to them. You’ll make their day!

What about writing opinion pieces? Thanks to publications including The Guardian, Daily Mail and Huffington Post Australian editions there is a dramatically increased appetite for opinion pieces from experts and people with insights. PS: another reason that opinion pieces are so popular is that they are cheap for publishers.

Public radio has some significant players. Melbourne is blessed with Triple R (all manner of specialist talk shows) SYN (youth affairs) PBS and 3CR (big on politics, Indigenous affairs, arts). Some of these smaller players may be a way for you to rack-up some air miles for inexperienced talent.

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One day, much coverage.

If this little blog post helped you be a better publicist imagine what a magical day together could do. Join us in Melbourne on January 28 at Media Savvy. More media coverage or your money back. Book your own anytime, anywhere.


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Breaking news breaks fast so break into a run

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We know you are not a media outlet and we know that you’re understaffed but when BIG news relevant to your organisation breaks you need to tell your supporters ASAP.

Last week saw some big news that was unexpected and – for lizards and those who love them – positive: the delay of the Adani coalmine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin.

First in, best dressed.

First in, best dressed.

It was with interest that we compared the response time of two leading environment groups – ACF and Greenpeace. (Left)

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Dr Sinclair we presume.

News quickly gets old. Readers will always appreciate you keeping them informed – especially if you tell them first. On this occasion ACF Paul Sinclair (left) wins by the best part of an afternoon over Greenpeace. Kudos Dr Sinclair.





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Movie review: Pink Ribbons

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Brett recently caught Canadian documentary Pink Ribbons at the Melbourne International Film Festival.The doco takes a look at the phenomenally successful pink ribbon movement in the US which, as here, raises funds for breast cancer research. Though flawed, it’s a must see for anyone in social marketing, health promotion, PR, cancer research or philanthropy.

pink washing

Pink washing is sometimes hard to stomach.

This documentary has a clear agenda – debunk the work of those in the pink ribbon movement, in particular the Susan G Komen Foundation which has raised about US$1.9 billion since its inception in 1982. That’s billion with a B. If you associate pink or pink ribbons with breast cancer you have this global cancer megacharity to thank.

When a charity raises that much money, it gains enormous power into how a disease is perceived, marketed and researched. As you’d expect, Komen Foundation has some detractors, many of whom we meet during the documentary.

There’s little time given to defenders of the Foundation or the movement more broadly. Much time is given to a number of women in the final stages of breast cancer who feel that associating the disease they have with pink and positive imagery is demeaning. They don’t like the terms “fight” “battle” or “survivor” which are used constantly by fundraisers.

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Showing great spirit but shown little respect by the film makers.

There are numerous long segments showing tens of thousands of people, mainly women, participating in feel good walk-a-thons and survivor rallies. They embrace pink and have no trouble with terms such as “survivor” but they are presented as chumps, full of good intentions, high-fives and pink merchandise being sucked in to an evangelistic movement.

No pink-ribbon-funded scientists are interviewed.

Author Barbara Ehrenreich, whose book Nickled and Dimed in America is a must-read, reveals a distinct lack of marketing nous as she complains that while undergoing treatment for breast cancer she found advertisements for pink fundraising teddy bears insulting. Well Barbara, the bears aren’t for you. They are bought by other people to raise money to research better drugs for women just like you. Glad to have cleared that up. Like others, she resents all the polished positivity.

pink washing

What says CSR more eloquently than a pink handgun?

Critics claim that corporations are “pink washing” their harmful products under the guise of being good corporate citizens. The filmmakers are on firm ground when they assert that the Komen Foundation seems willing to deal with anyone. Pink handgun? Sure thing. Pink buckets of KFC? Sure. Pink yoghurt and cosmetics laced with chemicals associated with cancer? No problemo. Just pay Komen its share. FYI The McGrath Foundation had a similar deal with KFC here.

While those deals with devils may make the stomach churn the film makers seem to find any corporate involvement unacceptable. One interviewee wonders why corporates are required at all and refers to the civil rights movement as achieving a lot with no support from business. We guess she forgot that civil rights progress required a change of conscience and legislation – not high priced global science. And we guess that the director forgot to mention this to her.

It’s been a tough year for Susan G Komen Foundation – it was broadly lambasted for defunding breast cancer-related programs at Planned Parenthood clinics across the US.

Unbalanced, under-challenging and overlong it may be but for an insight into what can happen when charities become too powerful, it’s worth your time. If you don’t believe me, read what the New York Times said.

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PR, statistics and big fat lies

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We’ve banged on about this before. Too many lobby groups – private and nonprofit – overstate their cases with statistics that simply don’t hold up to scrutiny. Too much is never enough.

How many people have your disease du jour? How many people does each new diagnosis affect? How many people enjoy community theatre each week? How severely will a round of redundancies impact on the lcoal economy? Really? That many?

This interview with Richard Denniss from the Australia Institute exposes some bad examples of overstatting one’s case. Get it? Overstatting.   And no you can’t use that as your own material.

Getting caught out with a loose and convenient mistruth would make for a bad day indeed. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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Astroturfing and fake twitter accounts

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This ABC Background Briefing report confirms what we all know – PR types are full of lies and have no ethics. Oh – and all those hot chicks who are following you on Twitter? They’re fake. It’s all pat of creating fake grassroots movements to make clients look more influential than they really are. It’s called AstroTurfing. It’s a good listen. We wonder if the Public Relations Institute of Australia ex-communicated any members who appeared in the story?


That lucky farmer will soon be able to set his water on fire. Cool. Thanks Big Mining.

AstroTurfing (the practice of creating fake grassroots movement) has been around for a long time but the interweb has made it more effective than ever.  

For instance, have a look at this website that argues in favour of coal seam gas mining. Not exactly AstroTurfing but a classic example of how, in the lobbying age, the big guys are always willing to spend their dosh to create the appearance of a groundswell of support.

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Budget in need of spending

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A smart, gung-ho member of a large Sydney nonprofit’s communications team called us with an enviable dilemma. She’s compiling her communications budget for the upcoming year and the task has just been made more interesting. Her boss has commented that there are some extra dollars available – if she can find smart ways to spend them. 

She wanted suggestions for new ways to spend money to improve media coverage and communications generally. Here’s what we came up with:

eNewsletter: establish, design and send. This of course actually saves money, not spends it.   

training, training, training: with Hootville, Hootville, Hootville. Enough said.

large scale introductory mail out to media: we’re talking a box (they get opened more readily than envelopes) with some merchandise, an introductory letter explaining the organisation and what it offers media, annual report, an invitation to a one-to-one familiarisation tour of the nonprofit’s impressive facility. The familiarisation would also include meetings with the CEO, researchers and some adorable kids.

research / survey / data: hire someone to create some data – a survey, a study, an analysis of existing data that could form the basis of some media coverage in coming months.

Polling creates media coverage.

Rush to the polls.

Newspoll: pay Newspoll or something similar to include a question on its regular weekly poll. Again the results become media fodder.

Speaker: fly in a speaker or case study. $10k in airfare, hotel and event costs may score you tens of thousands in media coverage and new relationships. Create an itinerary of public meetings, discussions with pollies and policy makers and of course media engagements. We like this tactic a lot. 

What are your suggestions?

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