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A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 9 – Respectful Disrupter

The title on Alan VanderMolen’s bio is Respectful Disrupter – in his words, our industry, and the environment in which clients operate, is being greatly disrupted by technology. At the same time, we’ve seen the massive disruption in the media ecosystem. So in that environment, Alan’s role at WE Communication is to disrupt the agency’s business model to make sure it is keeping pace with the external environment.

Alan was in Australia recently to launch WE Communications second global Brands in Motion research.

Listen here or download on iTunes

The research challenges the traditional concept of brand perception as a static indicator, by arguing that all brands are constantly in motion – either driven by, or inspired by, technology.

In this episode, Alan, takes us through a few of the key findings:

Consumers still want a high level of innovation. However, given real concerns about data security consumers are getting nervous about the pace of innovation and now expect brands to use technology and innovate ethically and responsibly

Consumers and B2B decision makers are defaulting to rationality. That is, show me, prove it, versus tell me. Consumers have become increasingly weary of being talked to, and marketed at, and want to be engaged with.

Consumers have become binary. They tend to love you or loathe you, there is not a lot of in between and that has been a big change over the last 12 months. In this environment, it is more difficult for brands to be consistently loved.

On the hot topic of brand purpose, 72% of respondents think it is important for brands to take a stand on important issues. There is a nuance to that – the brand has to have permission to take that stand. Permission is given by having a good product or service from an organisation that is operating ethically and responsibly – then consumers are  very interested in the brand having a purpose. In other words, brands need to start with do – do what they say will do; move to the how – act in a way that meets community expectations; and then end with the why – the broader purpose of the business.

So what it means for PR professionals? For Alan, this represents a call to action for PR professionals to take responsibility for the moral and ethical behaviour of brands and not just be focused on promoting products and services.

Beyond the research Alan believes the future for the profession is a positive one. As issues become more real time and more transparent, the communications function will re-establish itself in the C-Suite. We’ve seen communications subsumed to marketing in the past three to five years but that trend is reversing. Alan believes you will see communication re-emerge primarily because there is a massive call for responsibility and ethics to be embedded in innovation and that is clearly the domain of PR versus marketing.

In the news this episode, I share another survey that follows on from Brands in Motion. Global Creative Agency Future Brand recently released the 2018 Future Brand Index .

The Index looks at the world’s 100 largest companies and ranks by brand perception two key trends to emerge:

  1. A strong corporate purpose and better experiences are key to those brands who outperformed; and
  2. Surprisingly it is not necessarily the ”new era” brands of Apple, Amazon or Netflix that dominate the rankings.

Actually this year it was Walt Disney Company that ranked number one in the company – despite being the 51st largest company in terms of market capitalisation. It proves established companies can cut though even in this time of continuous change and upheaval.

There’s a good Echo Chamber podcast from the Holmes Report featuring Future Brand’s chief strategy officer Jon Tipple, if you want to hear more about the research.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 8 – Insights from the nexus of PR and media

David Skapinker is a Corporate Affairs and media relations specialist having spent his career working  in agency (consumer), in-house (corporate), and today in a self-described tech start-up – having founded the Australian office of Telum Media in 2014.

Telum Media, in David’s words, looks to alleviate the friction between PR professionals and journalists and make that interaction a little smoother. Telum Media also delivers news services covering both the PR and media industry.

It is insights from this this unique viewpoint that David shares in the latest episode of Smoke Signal. Trends, issues and themes we discuss in this episode, include:

  • The number of journalism jobs is actually increasing NOT decreasing. While the big media houses have consolidated and are clearly shrinking; the media industry more broadly is definitely not shrinking, if anything it is growing. Journalism jobs today though are more likely though to be outside the traditional media houses.
  • Never has there been more media. There has never been more content being produced and consumed. The publications that are doing well are the ones that have a well-defined audience that is appealing to advertisers. Relevance is key – geographic or industry – those are the titles that are growing.
  • PR practitioners are being asked to do more than ever. They are being asked to consult on advertising, social and many more areas. There’s just a huge range of skills that PRs have had to pick to up very quickly.
  • The Asia Pacific PR sector are looking far more regionally and far more global than Australian practitioners. PR professionals in Asia are spending a significant portion of time looking at Australian media where Australian PR practitioners aren’t, on the whole, looking at regional media.
  • Measurement: It’s a difficult thing to do and nobody has got it right.

In the news this month, I touch on the rise of brand purpose and the move by Nike to feature controversial American footballer Colin Kaepernick in its latest Dream Crazy campaign.

Brands are increasingly being expected to not just be good corporate citizens but take a position on issues and stand alongside their customers on issues that are important for them.

A recent UK study found that nine out of ten people think businesses should take a stance on societal issues. Specifically hard to crack issues that Government can solve themselves.

Nike certainly has stepped into controversy but the campaign is achieving what it set out to achieve  – it has had impact, reignited an important conversation and set further set Nike in the ultra competitive consumer sector.

Don’t forget to subscribe via my blog or on iTunes – just search for Smoke Signal Podcast.

 

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 7 – Jim Macnamara Keep Learning

“Distinguished Professor of Public Communication at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) former journalist, PR practitioner and media researcher” – Jim Macnamara’s twitter profile was the briefest descriptor I could find to summarise the career of Jim who started as a journalist; has worked in agencies; owned and sold his own business; is a published author; award winning researcher; and today a Distinguished Professor at UTS.

I’ve had the privilege of being both a student of Jim’s during my Masters of Public Communication and a colleague when working as a casual tutor and lecturer at UTS. I am excited to have Jim as a guest on this episode of Smoke Signal.

Listen here or download on iTunes

In the field of Public Communications Jim has many passions (he truly believes society is communication) and among other things I was thrilled to talk about three of them in this podcast: education; measurement and evaluation; and organisational listening

The changing face of PR education

After months of research and feedback from industry bodies, agencies and alumni, UTS has recently unveiled two new Public Communications Masters degrees – Master of Strategic Communication and Executive Master of Strategic Communication. The former is for recent graduates and international students with little or no working experience; the latter is for working professionals and delivers advanced learning that applies back to their roles.

The degrees will include a lot of new material such as digital media; creativity and innovation; communication and media law; and research to understand audiences.

However, Jim is quick to point out education today is more than just sharing knowledge or what you can teach students today but rather is about creating an environment that gives students a life-long thirst for learning. Helping them be open to others, to be flexible, to be creative. These skills are what will help practitioners be able to adapt to new technologies, new challenges and new opportunities.

When it comes to Strategic Communication, Jim firmly believes it is important for students, and practitioners, to think more holistically. It shouldn’t matter if it is paid, owned, shared or earned. Practitioners of the future will not sit in silos but rather use whatever means is most appropriate/effective to solve a communication issue and reach and engage stakeholders.

Measurement and evaluation

Jim has worked with the PRIA, AMEC, the UK Government and the European Commission and the US Standards body and strongly believes, echoing the words of Abraham Lincoln, that the need for measurement and evaluation should be self-evident.

However, he realises the industry has lagged in this area for years and this is often because the majority of practitioners are creative people and measurement requires a more pragmatic approach.

For Jim, this needs to change. And the reason? Because until we measure outcomes, PR is simply a cost centre, not a value-adding centre.

And there is no excuse, as there are many many methods to measure from low cost and simple through to sophisticated, but it requires practitioners to build their knowledge.

Brexit didn’t surprise me as the government wasn’t listening

We’ve treated communication for many years as disseminating organisational messages but the reality is we need to do more listening, as that is the only way to regenerate the continuing falling trust in organisations.

Jim is in the midst of an international research project looking at communication in 55 organisations globally, looking at how often they are talking, i.e. disseminating messages, versus how often they are listening to their stakeholders. The shocking conclusion is that 80-95% of what we call corporate communications is actually putting out information and messages from the organisation

For Jim, if the UK Government had listened they would have seen Brexit coming.

Jim sees a great opportunity for tomorrow’s practitioners to shift strategic communication from mass, top down communication. The reality is, Millennial and Gen Z don’t tolerate that approach and organisations, and communicators, are struggling to adapt with a new generation that is more educated, that want to be listened to, want to be involved, want to participate and want to have a say. The organisations that do adapt and engage in true communications will be very successful.

Following the discussion with Jim, in the news this episode I look at the recent investigative series into the state of journalism by Mumbrella. The statistic that just one quarter of journalism grads find a job in media was one that resonated with me.

I have long been concerned that while journalism courses continue to rise in popularity, and universities continue to pump our journalism grads, the number of journalist roles is falling. So where will they all go? This, to me, this is an issue not just for the journalism profession or PR practitioners but society more broadly as we should be encouraging and supporting the next generation of journalists.

 

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 6 – A chat with the new PRIA National President

In this episode I speak to newly appointed National President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia – Sylvia Bell.

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“It is a really important industry in that it gives voice to people, issues and programs that otherwise wouldn’t happen”

Sylvia, who originally studied science, has for the past two decades worked in both in-house and consulting roles across the education, health and sciences sector.

As a former member on the NSW PRIA Council, a fellow of PRIA and Chief Judge of the Golden Target Awards for the past two years, Sylvia brings a deep knowledge and passion for the industry.

Sylvia has a clear mission in her role as PRIA President;  to advocate for the profession and be an authentic voice for the trends emerging in communications not only among the direct membership but the broader corporate community.

In this podcast, Sylvia also discusses:

  • Her commitment to continuing to build a PRIA community of practice, providing education and networking opportunities for practitioners at all levels.
  • The importance of measurement and evaluation, citing the recently launched PRIA Measurement and Evaluation Framework to really measure the impact of your programs
  • The PRIA Professional Development Framework and how this could form the basis of a more formal designation in the future.
  • The value of Awards such as the Golden Target Awards in breeding an increase in quality across the profession.

In the news this week I recap the Cannes Lions Awards and discuss some of my favourite campaigns.

Blog: Taking inspiration from awards

The 2018 Cannes Lions Awards have been won and run for another year and it’s worth checking out some of the great campaigns and ideas.

Despite the ongoing debate and disappointment that many of the PR campaigns continue to be attributed to advertising agencies, there are some great ideas that are a tribute to the continued evolution of the practice of public relations.

Grand Prix Winner Trash Isles is clearly a great campaign, centred around the creative idea of transforming a pile of trash in the middle of the ocean into an officially recognised country – complete with a currency!

A few other personal favourites were:

  • Turning Beer into Water where Anheuser-Busch re-tooled its production line to produce canned water (rather than beer) to deliver fresh drinking water to people caught up in natural disasters from California to the Gulf Coast.
  • KFC ‘FCK’  where simply changing one letter in their name, and authentically responding to (literally) running out of chicken, turned a crisis into a great PR stunt.
  • The Most German Supermarket saw a German supermarket, to showcase the importance of diversity in this age of Trump and Brexit, open a store with groceries it would sell if they banned ingredients from other countries (i.e. not many)

As we’ve heard across a number of podcasts, creativity is an important currency for all PR practitioners. So awards like these provide a great source of inspiration to keep challenging the status quo.

Next month I’ll be judging the PRIA Golden Target Awards and look forward to seeing many great local campaigns.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 5 – Creating a tribe of change makers

Why after 120 years don’t we have a universally accepted definition of public relations? According to UK pracademic (practitioner and academic) Andy Green it is because we have been asking the wrong question.

Andy is spearheading what has been called, The Dublin Conversation. As described in my earlier blog There’s something going on in the world of comms, this includes proposed definitions of PR, comms, advertising and brand and is a starting point for 100 conversations in 100 days.

Listen now or subscribe on iTunes

After seven years of struggling to arrive at a definition for public relations that was fit for purpose, Andy finally realised that previous thinking was blinkered in trying to define PR in isolation rather than as part of a bigger universe.

In this podcast, Andy discusses a new theoretic PR canvas, based on the work by Nobel prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman who identified that five things govern all social interaction – being known, liked, trusted, front of mind and being talked about.

According to Andy, and as detailed in the Dublin Conversation, these conditions form the foundation stone of any communication campaign as you are invariably looking to do these five things.

On that canvas – which we are all operating whether you are in public relations, advertising, digital marketing or any ‘comms’ role – there are then four channels of interaction: paid, earned, social, owned (PESO).

In this world of ‘comms’, advertising and PR work in polarity of each other with advertising being born out of the need to be known and PR out of the need to be trusted. In other words, advertising leads with paid (PESO) and PR has earned at its core (ESOP).

At the heart of PR is earned trust and PR five prime activities:

  1. Managing the activity of earning, growing and measuring trust
  2. Champion of corporate listening to its wider environment
  3. Advice and counsel on brand character
  4. Building social capital
  5. Managing narrative, storytelling, media relations, and content marketing or inbound PR

The reality of existing PR practice is that we tend to focus on the last point, so by broadening this out further creates a whole new extended platform of future PR practice

The good news, this validates existing global definitions of public relations but also gives us as practitioners greater clarity and focus on what we can/should deliver in practice and always with earned trust as the cornerstone of what we do.

Join the conversation here, or write a comment below. I look forward to the debate.

Blog: In an age of distrust; trust matters

A survey released by Roy Morgan last week found the ABC is by far Australia’s most trusted media organisation.

Trust in the ABC was driven by its lack of bias, quality journalism and ethics. It is an interesting result after further cuts to the ABC budget in the May Federal Budget and recent speculation that it may be privatised.

Roy Morgan spoke to 4000 Australians and asked then which brands they trust and which they distrust.

At the other end of the spectrum Facebook – and social media in general – is deeply distrusted by the Australian public.

Social Media has what Roy Morgan calls a Net Trust Score of minus 42%.

To put that in context, the banking industry, which has been battered by the Royal Commission, has a Net Trust Score of only minus 18 so that shows you the level of distrust in social media in an age when fake news has become a common meme.

Roy Morgan outlines 5 reasons why distrust matters:

  • Distrust triggers audience churn
  • Distrust kills audience engagement
  • Distrust kills advertiser spend
  • Distrust is the tipping point for reputational damage
  • Distrust is the bellweather for an unsustainable future

The Walkley Foundation in its recent submission to the ACCC digital media inquiry said: “Fake news is simply easier. Shaping a fake story takes less time than digging out true stories. In fact, it’s so simple that bots can do it. This means that the sheer volume of manufactured news overwhelms true news.”

However, the rise of fake news has eroded trust – especially in social media – and according to Roy Morgan the rise of distrust can have significant commercial implications.

 

 

BLOG: There’s something big going on in the world of Comms

You may not be aware but the very foundations on which public relations has been built is being discussed, debated and (potentially) redefined.

The Dublin Conversation, as it has been called, is a 100 day challenge (starting from May 22) to make sense of how public relations practice needs to evolve and change because “there has never been a more critical need for a redefined, revitalised and rejuvenated public relations”.

I’d encourage you to get involved here.

In a whitepaper to start the conversation, UK-based PR practitioner Andy Green, with help from numerous supporters, outlines seven steps to understand why the Dublin Conversation is needed. At a high level these are:

  1. What was previously an academic debate about ‘What is public relations?’ is now an urgent task for our society.
  2. You need to be looking from somewhere completely different to define ‘public relations’. It’s emergent.
  3. We have witnessed the emergence of the ‘Comms’ era and need to evolve the PESO model
  4. You cannot define ‘Public Relations’ in isolation – it exists and works in polarity with advertising
  5. Earned trust is the pivotal touchstone for public relations – and validates existing accepted definitions
  6. Public Relations activity is scoped by the process of earning trust
  7. It’s urgent. We need to begin an emergent, bottom-up conversation for change

And the goal at the end is to come up with a Dublin Definition on Public Relations which in its current (draft) form is:

Public relations is born out of the need to earn trust for any social interaction. Effective Public Relations creates better influence, relationships, reputation, social capital and word-of-mouth conversations.

Public Relations operates in a ‘Comms’ environment, working alongside advertising and other communication disciplines to achieve familiarity by making you more known, liked, trusted, front-of-mind, or being talked about through using Own, Shared, Earned, or Paid-for channels.

The goal is to encourage a bottom up debate to refine and evolve this draft definition, and debate and agree the underlying principles, with the outcome to be presented a major international PR conference in October in, you guessed it, Dublin.

The paper builds on current theoretical models, brings in new concepts and approaches and most importantly looks to link theory to practice.

There will no doubt be things in here you disagree with, things you may not have known, things you may not have thought about, or things you may have been championing for many years.

For every practitioner, there is a clear call to action to get the Dublin Conversation going:

  1. Reflect on what you currently define as ‘public relations’. Compare and contrast with the draft Dublin Definitions
  2. If you have new feelings, insights or ideas share them at www.prplace.com
  3. Spread the word. Tell at least two people.

I hope at least two people reading this put their views forward. I am certainly be adding my views and I am excited to see how this debate evolves.

 

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 4 – Continuing Education

At its core, public relations is a set of vocational skills that can best be learnt by doing, that is the view of Sarah Mason who shares with us the mission of HSPR in helping improve the professional standards of the PR industry.

Listen below or subscribe on iTunes

HSPR is the only Registered Training Organisation dedicated to the PR sector and helps deliver professional development to emerging practitioners, career progressors, senior executives and career changes who may be coming to PR for the first time later in life.

Sarah has a clear passion for the professionalisation of the PR sector which she believes will  help attract a more diverse workforce, new ideas, new thinking, new perspectives and help keep good practitioners in the industry longer by supporting them to do great work.

In this discussion we touch on:

What makes a good grad: It is all about attitude and a willingness to keep learning

How to teach ethics: It’s common sense – do as you would be done by and be true to yourself

Skills that as an industry that we need to get better at: Creative thinking is our industry’s currency. Creativity is really the only thing that can differentiate us

Diversity: We need to step out of our echo chamber and build a deeper understanding of our audience we are speaking to

Digital and social: Our skillset remains the same just broadening opportunity to engage directly with stakeholders

You can find our more about HSPR and its courses here and follow Sarah Mason on LinkedIn

And do you believe PR is a Bullshit Job?

In the news this episode I look at a new book by David Graeber, an anthropology professor at the London School of Economics, who says over half of all jobs today – including PR – are BS jobs.

 

 

Blog: The rise and demise of Sir Martin Sorrell

It’s been a month since Sir Martin Sorrell was ousted from the head of the global agency holding group WPP.

He built the world’s largest advertising agency and in the process became an accidental PR mogul, whose empire grew to include some of Australia’s (and the world’s) biggest PR agencies, including Ogilvy, Hill & Knowlton and Burson-Marstellar.

A lot has been written and said over the rise and demise of Sir Martin Sorrell, so here’s five articles that give a good snapshot of one of the most unexpected industry stories this year:

  1. The New Yorker on the rise, reign and fall of Martin Sorrell
  2. Arun Sudhaman and the Holmes Report give a wrap of industry response to the news
  3. An insider’s guide to working with Marin Sorrell
  4. David Brain on Martin Sorrell’s advocacy for agency model
  5. The Wall Street Journal on why WPP may be better off without Martin Sorrell

But it may not be all over yet with the FT reporting Sir Martin Sorrell may ‘start again’.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 3 – The PR Warrior

In Episode 3 of Smoke Signal I speak with Trevor Young, a.k.a. the PR Warrior.

Trevor is well known on the PR circuit, having been a practitioner for over two decades, a regular speaker at industry events, and one of Australia’s earliest PR bloggers and tweeters. His blog, PR Warrior was ranked in the world’s top 100 PR blogs to follow in 2018 (#33).

Listen below or subscribe on iTunes

 

The lines between PR and content marketing have certainly merged in recent years. In fact, in a recent global PR survey (which I speak more about in the In The News section of this podcast); nearly two-thirds of PR practitioners surveyed believe that in five years the average consumer will not be able to tell the difference between paid, earned and owned media.

In this context Trevor Young talks about the need for brands (and individuals) to embrace content marketing as a way to deeply engage and influence consumers.

Trevor defines content marketing as “strategically creating, publishing and amplifying original content that is of interest, relevance and value to a specific audience with an ultimate goal of influencing a desired outcome.”

He believes it is VITAL (Visibility, Influence, Trust, Advocacy and Leadership) that individuals and brands use the tools that we have available to make a connection with the audiences that are important to you.

Trevor admits today there is a lot of junk content out there but the common denominator among organisations who do it well is passion. They embrace it and have a culture of content in their organisation.

We discuss the different types of content and that while utility-based content (FAQs, informational needs, addressing pain points etc) is useful, and every organisation needs to do that, it is through leadership content where you can really set yourself apart by pushing the boundaries and inspiring people to think differently.

And the biggest mistakes when it comes to content marketing: wanting instant results;  doing things as a campaign (it is not a campaign); and succumbing to pressure to repeatedly talk about your own products and services (follow the 80:20 rule).

You can follow Trevor Young on twitter (@trevoryoung), on LinkedIn or via his blog.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 2: The Creativity Coach

In this episode Andy Eklund, a.k.a. the Creativity Coach, takes us into the wonderful world of creativity.

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According to Andy, who defines business creativity as the act of combining two different ideas in an unusual way to create something unique, useful or new, creativity is one of the most important life skills that everyone should learn. He believes it should also be taught in schools!

Creativity seems and ever more important skill for PR practitioners where creativity is becoming more and more vital as brands look to differentiate themselves and cut through the clutter.

Andy currently runs his own creativity coaching business, having held both in house and agency roles, including Global Creative Director for Burson Marsteller in the 1990’s where he was involved in 4-6 brainstorms a day.

According to Andy brainstorming gets a bad wrap. In reality brainstorming is simply the act of your brain coming up with an idea – whether that’s in a formal team setting or a chat in the hallway.

Some of his tips on brainstorms that he discusses in this podcast are:

  • You need ice breakers to help participants become creative
  • Understand 90/10 rule – it’ll take at least 10 ideas to get one good one
  • To brainstorm in the absence of the audience is a complete waste of time

We also discuss the fact that while creativity is a right side of the brain, it also requires discipline and consistency that is left brain thinking. And relax, creativity can be taught, you just have to really want to learn.

In the news this week we look at what feels like the only story going around – the Facebook Cambridge Analytica controversy. The story has continued to roll on since I wrote this blog and it shows no sign of since Mark Zuckerberg appeared in front of Congress to admit guilt and apologise.

There is no doubt a lot more to come on this story but restoring trust will be a key challenge now for Facebook.

If you enjoy this podcast then do be sure to check out Andy’s blog www.andyeklund.com where you can get a lot more tips on creativity.

 

BLOG: You are not the customer you are the product

The Social Network forever engraved Facebook into contemporary pop culture, but its latest controversy is causing many to more deeply consider the personal information they have for a long time been giving away.

cambridge-analytica-facebook

The hits to Facebook’s reputation keep coming thick and fast with Cambridge Analytica data breach being the latest issue in a long list of controversies, some of which include:

The latest crisis has hit Facebook where it hurts most – its share price – and comes at a time when individuals are increasingly realising the importance of data.

While there has been much written about how organisations can benefit from the rise of big data, individuals are equally becoming aware of privacy implications and the value of the personal information they have, to date, freely shared.

The way Mark Zuckerberg handled the latest controversy was a PR lesson in how not to handle a crisis. But that is a story for another day.

The question for Facebook is how it rebuilds trust with users (who are now actually it product if you listen to some). In an age when trust in business, government, media and even more recently sport, is at an all time low, this will be no easy feat.

The #deletefacebook hashtag continues to trend, with big names such as billionare Elon Musk, actor Will Ferrell and numerous brands leading the campaign to stand up against Facebook misusing the personal information of users.

With 2 billion users Facebook its unlikely #deletefacebook will materially impact Facebook’s prominence in our day to day lives but it will be interesting to see how long it can continue to withstand controversies like this that go to the core personal principles of privacy and trust.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal Episode 1 – The Global State of PR

In episode 1 of Smoke Signal we speak with Editor-in-Chief and CEO of the Holmes Report, Arun Sudhaman.

Listen here or subscribe on iTunes

“Bell Pottinger is probably the biggest story that I will cover in my career,” reveals Arun in episode one of Smoke Signal.

The demise of the venerable Bell Pottinger brand was not only the biggest story in the last 12 months but of his whole career, a big call for a journalist who has been covering the PR sector for over a decade.

As well as giving an inside view into the collapse of Bell Pottinger, Arun shares his views on some of the key themes that he’s seeing as major influences impacting the practice of PR globally – the emergence of purpose as a key driver for brands; the increased role of data and analytics in creating and measuring campaigns; and the impact technology now plays in everything we do in PR today.

While the quality of PR campaigns across the globe has never been higher, as seen in awards winners being given globally, Arun believes there still a breadth of work that is “relatively average” that continues to plague the industry.

The cricket loving Arun (he hosts a podcast on this too), also shares his views on the increased presence of creativity; the role of awards in the PR sector; and the rise and rise of crisis management as an important facet in the PR toolkit.

In this episode we also take a look ‘inside the news’ at one of the more bizarre stories of recent times with ACT Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, telling a group of communications professionals that he  “hates journalists and is over mainstream media”.

Enjoy episode one of Smoke Signal.

A Public Relations Podcast: Smoke Signal – Pilot

In this pilot episode of Smoke Signal we kick off the podcast by taking a step outside of the PR bubble and speak with someone who is not in the day to day hustle – my wife Jennifer Cheal.

In this podcast we discuss the origins of Smoke Signal, the changing media landscape, the rise of social media and trust in this day and age of “fake news”.

Enjoy this pilot episode of Smoke Signal.

BLOG: Purpose is now a comms must-have, but it’s got to ring true to label

When it comes to publicising purpose, corporate organisations need to tread carefully in order to appear authentic, writes Paul Cheal, managing director of financial and corporate comms agency Honner.

March 6, 2018

Larry Fink’s annual New Year letter to CEOs received much media attention and emphasised the need for brands to not only generate profit but have a higher social purpose. The note kicked off a debate that has now well and truly hit Australian shores.

According to Fink, the CEO of the world’s largest asset management firm BlackRock: “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

For organisations, and in particular financial organisations, this poses many questions around proactively supporting and advocating for societal issues.

Ken Henry, chair of National Australia Bank, picked up this theme in recent weeks saying that businesses must demonstrate a social purpose that drives the way the firm operates. Organisations, he said, need to demonstrate that they are more than just profit.

The most publicised social purpose campaign in recent times was Qantas CEO Alan Joyce’s support for marriage equality – for which he received a pie in the face, but ultimately widespread praise.

Social issues don’t necessarily need to be controversial. Richard Branson says the focus at Virgin includes diversity and inclusion, giving back to communities, and many important global environmental and social issues – from climate change to LGBT rights to ending the war on drugs. All worthy causes.

Late last year, Honner worked with Ariel Investments to provide a joint submission to ASIC calling on the regulator to create a platform whereby local banks, investment managers and other financial companies can support financial literacy programs in Australian primary schools.

It is no surprise the rise of social purpose for organisations has grown as the number of gen Y and millennials grow as both employees and customers. More than eight in 10 millennials (81%) expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.

Brands are increasingly responding to this trend.

In a recent interview with the Australian Financial Review, Coca Cola Amatil CEO Alison Watkins said stakeholders expect more than simply short-term profit delivery. “At Coca Cola Amatil, we need to be leaders in reducing obesity and waste. I also recognise that I am responsible and accountable to our shareholders; however, I look at that as a long-term responsibility even though we have some short-term shareholders.”

From a communications perspective, building a consistent message and projecting your organisation’s values builds trust and generates commitment — whether from employees, customers, industry or other stakeholders.

However, the social purpose needs to be true-to-label. It needs to reflect who you are as an organisation and it needs to resonate through your entire organisation. Alan Joyce drove the marriage equality debate from the top down; Virgin’s values flow through all it does; Honner works to educate individuals on financial services every day.

Anything less than an open, transparent and true-to-label approach will be quickly spotted.pexels-photo-207896.jpeg

This blog was first published on Mumbrella.

BLOG: PR more than just media

And it is not flattering to say the least.

One of the interesting findings from the primary research undertaken of senior PR and journalist figures and outlined in the book is more about what PR does that is not seen, than what is visible.

Titled the “Other Invisible Side of PR” by Macnamara, he highlights that the “more invisible element of PR unseen and unrecognised even by journalists” is “PR as Counsellor”.

That is providing  strategic advice to senior management. In fact, Macnamara’s findings reinforce the fact that “much PR is nothing to do with mass media.

You can’t go a day without reading about the changing media landscape. Driven by the rise of online, social, digital, the consumers are now producers (“prosumers”) of news.

The mass media is struggling to transform its business models in response. Crikey.com reported this week that Seven in 10 Australians aged over 18 say they have no intention of paying for online news, according to an Essential polling, saying that mainstream media would need to revert to “content marketing” or “native advertising” to survive.

So too PR needs to adapt – and it is. As this research by Macnamara shows, senior professionals recognise media is still an important channel, but just that, a channel. Not the be all and end all of our profession.

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