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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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