Time to get Government PR working again

Recent issues surrounding Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s leadership come down to one word and two questions. The word is ‘trust’ and the questions are simple. 


After all the unsettling leadership talk can the Australian public trust Mr Abbott and his government to do the right thing by all sections of the community? Can his own backbench team trust him to act in their interests while pursuing a conservative ideology that has alienated many people.

Trust deficit

The public airing of these questions comes as the US-based PR agency Edelman has just released its 2015 Australian Trust Barometer. For the past 15 years Edelman has measured the levels of trust that people around the world have in the institutions that make up the fabric of modern societies – government, business, media and NGOs.
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Trust levels hit new low

For the past 14 years giant PR company, Edelman has surveyed the levels of trust that people around the world have in  government, business, media and NGOs – the institutions that provide the fabric of modern societies.

The 2015 Trust Barometer is alarming, revealing trust has hit lows not seen since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2009. In Australia trust is down for government and business and right now we are seeing the issue of trust play out in the troubles surrounding Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

This 2 minute video summarises global trust levels and what the ‘big end of town’ must do to restore reputation.
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New Chief Minister is quick on the social media draw


Most Australian politicians use social media  to blast out messages without interacting with those of us at the receiving end.  They use it like a one way platform or digital brochure. It can be discouraging but yesterday I got a pleasant surprise!

The new ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr is a prolific social media user, and as I discovered yesterday, willing to use it to engage.

Since the start of the year three local issues have unsettled me.  So yesterday I direct messaged the Chief Minister on Facebook to express concern and suggest a better way of running the Territory – which is ambitious of me but hey I vote too.
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Does shopping shorten women’s lives?

Does shopping shorten women’s lives?  Yes! By 30 days each year according to John Henry Austral, Freda Gates and Mavis Bronson, fictional characters in a Freeland Advertisment 19471940s radio serial that is an early example of content marketing in Australia.

Image: State Library of Queensland

Image: State Library of Queensland

The three starred in the serial John Henry Austral which ran on Australian radio from February 1948 to December 1949. The Liberal Party of Australia sponsored the show in a bid to win the 1949 Election and warn listeners about the socialist direction the (then) Chifley Government was taking.

Today we would call John Henry Austral content marketing. 
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Communications during Sydney siege

In a time when trust is low Australians can be reassured by how Government and the media communicated the drama of the Martin Place siege.

The hostage siege in Martin Place ended at around 2:00am this morning with three people tragically killed.  As the necessary legal processes take their course it will be sometime before the complete picture of what happened is known.  Already some communications issues have emerged.martin-place-siege-sydney

Authorities respond well

Well done to the national and NSW State authorities from the Prime Minister down for the way they managed communications. Throughout the 16 hour siege they communicated with clarity, confidence and compassion – the hallmarks of effective crisis communications.
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What’s your PR personality?

I have been incredibly lucky to work on small PR campaigns which have been adaptive, creative and passionate and ultimately successful.  There must be larger organisations with these qualities but surveying the current state of Government and corporate Australia, give me the small outfits every time.

What type of PR campaign would you prefer to work on? For me, smaller PR campaigns especially those involving not for profits and community groups are always attractive.Picture1

I guess it is counter intuitive to be in business and aim for small rather than grand communications campaigns. After all isn’t business about making as much money as possible?
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Content marketing clock ticks for government

Todd Wheatland is pioneering content marketing in Australia

Todd Wheatland is pioneering content marketing in Australia

This week Todd Wheatland spoke to Canberra communicators about governments and  content marketing. With extensive international experience Todd is pioneering content marketing in Australia.

Todd has an understated, relaxed style and his presentation unfolded logically, and with lots of case studies.  You could see many government PRs and marketers in the audience, nodding in agreement, as he smoothly built his case.
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Caveats are killing our communications

The fictional Malcolm Tucker of the UK series 'In the Thick of It' was a master at masking communications

The fictional Malcolm Tucker in the UK series ‘In the Thick of It’ was masterful at manipulating communications

Overusing caveats is one reason trust in government and corporates is disappearing fast 

Today so much official communications is shrouded in caveats and it’s getting harder to separate substance from spin.

Phrases like these are commonly used by spokespeople, ministers and managers to stall media, protect reputations and hide information: We can’t talk about this because the matter is:

  • Before the courts
  • Commercial in confidence
  • Impinges on privacy
  • Involves national security
  • A decision has not been finalised
  • Negotiations are continuing

I’m sure each probably originated for perfectly good reasons, but now they are often the response of first choice and thrown up as barriers and reasons not to communicate.
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3 musts for PR managers (and those who aspire to be)

manager 1 Don’t read this unless you manage a PR team or aspire to manage one.

Top communicators in any organisation have a tough job and it’s often lonely sitting astride the PR pinnacle.

Which is why you need to be surrounded by a good communications team, one that can get results, win respect and boost your profile while they build their careers. A good team lies at the heart of good PR because they’re the ones who provide the daily momentum so necessary for good communications.
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