Bank PR may haunt Labor

Prime Minister Ben Chifley was responsible for the worst media release in Australian history.

In 1947 Australia’s banks launched a PR campaign against Prime Minister Ben Chifley.

This article first appeared in the Canberra Times, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

You can almost hear the ghost of Prime Minister Ben Chifley applauding Bill Shorten’s calls for a Royal Commission into Australian banking.

Yet while Chifley might approve Shorten’s efforts he would probably think they do not go far enough. In 1947 Chifley, the train driver turned politician, led a Labor Government that legislated to nationalise Australia’s banks. In doing he triggered one of the largest public relations campaigns in Australian history, one that finally led to the defeat of his Government.
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Donald’s PR trumps politics

Trump #1Donald Trump is working a pretty sophisticated PR ploy with the fingerprints of reality TV all over it.


The American Establishment has been busy predicting Donald Trump’s demise since last June when he announced his run for the President of the United States.

Yet he has consistently led the national polls for the Republican Party nomination.

Trump was a reality TV star for 14 years and his show ‘The Apprentice’ made him an international celebrity. Now it seems he has migrated the essential ingredients of that genre into a campaign style that has delivered considerable success.

Trump is all about show.
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New PM good for Canberra communicators


Malcolm Turnbull is promising more open communications

Australia’s new Prime Minister is changing how the Government communicates to Australians. In recent days the slogans that plagued us for the past two years are gone and the tone of Ministers is less shrill.  They seem more willing to answer questions and explain policy.

Prime Minister Turnbull has committed his Government to a more open communications style which will be good news for Canberra’s public sector communicators. In recent times they have ‘done it tough’ because the previous Abbott administration centralised information flows, restricted information and closed down dialogue.

Turnbull has been a parliamentary pioneer in social media which probably means agencies will place more focus on digital and social outreach in coming days.
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Major media release fails

Prime Minister Ben Chifley was responsible for the worst media release in Australian history.

A media release from Prime Minister Ben Chifley was among the most damaging in Australian history

Recently a strong community backlash forced the cancellation of a scheme to put black-clad officers of Australian Border Force on Melbourne streets checking visas.

The Government reacted by saying it was a big misunderstanding and named the culprit – a poorly worded media release cleared at a ‘low level in the organisation’.

Border Force media release – right thing but the wrong way

This media release did all what media releases are supposed to do. It captured attention. Unfortunately it was the wrong sort of attention and spiraled off into a media and social media storm, street protests and public ridicule for Border Force.
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Can Border Force regain reputation?

Australian Border Force (ABF) is only weeks old yet its first major public relations effort has been a disaster.


Yesterday a strong community and media backlash quashed plans for Operation Fortitude where ABF officers were to join Victorian Police and other enforcement officers to crack down on anti-social behaviour in Melbourne.

The ABF’s role appears to have been to check on people overstaying visas.

Poorly conceived

Putting darkly clad public servants on city streets to check immigration papers was never going to be popular.  There is no Australian precedent and while compliance raids have taken place for years previously they were targeted at specific, suspected illegalities and announced after the fact.
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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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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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Operational security or public support?

Australian Government PosterIt is time to call uncle on Scott Morrison’s obsessive secrecy surrounding asylum seekers.

Last week a boat with Tamil asylum seekers aboard disappeared with no information on their fate. It is suspected they were picked up at sea by the Royal Australian Navy with the view to being handed over to Sri Lankan authorities.

Again managing asylum seekers is shrouded in mystery and claims of operational security.

Contrast this with the US. Last week the US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson gave a TV interview on the practicalities of securing US borders while treating undocumented immigrants in a humane way.
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