Reputation is everything

Lately it seems reputation management issues in Australia are occupying centre stage.

First it was seafood giant Kaillis Brothers (see following article). Now, one of Australia’s most revered and respected organisations is in the spotlight – for all the wrong reasons.

The Returned Services League, or #RSL, has been assisting Military Veterans since 1916.

However, financial questions are being asked by the national broadcaster (more on that later) about it’s operations.

In early October the deputy president of the RSL asked the organisation’s federal president Rod White to stand aside, following allegations of money earned as a consultant while he was a board member (LINK).

Today, the NSW arm of the RSL is being accused of hoarding ,millions, which could be used to assist #Veterans (LINK).

An investigation is underway into the first claim. However, this latest allegation is yet to be acted on.

This is tremendous problem for an organisation as old and trusted as the RSL, which has built it reputation on Australia’s war history and military. There are few organisations that would come close to having such community respect. It is the guardian of the word ANZAC.

However, blind Freddy can see these two issues (strangely following closely from each other, both revealed by the ABC) have the potential to cause tremendous harm to the RSL.

Certainly it seems there could be something unseen at play, as both stories were “broken” by the ABC. Anyone wanting to achieve maximum impact on a national organisation would use the national broadcaster. After all, these issues seems confined to the NSW branch of the RSL. I don’t see the need to embroil other States, whose operations vary markedly from NSW.

Those State branches of the RSL would be well advised to make themselves aware of the situation and prepare contingency statements so their operations are not affected.

As they say in the Classics: “All will be revealed”.

ARTICLE 2: Kaillis has much to lose from its namesake

I’m not sure Kailis Bros keeping the name for its local restaurants is a good idea.

Kailis sold the wholesale arm of its seafood business to a Chinese company. That arm is still called Kailis.

Trouble is it’s been receiving bad publicity for incorrectly labelling its products.

When it comes to food, Australians don’t like to be lied to. With brand integrity so vital these days, the negative impact of the wholesale seafood company on Kaillis’s seafood restaurants (Fremantle, Leederville and Trigg) could be immense.

The other PR outcome from the most recent episode (reported in local media on the weekend) was the poor response from Kaillis (wholesale) about the dodgy labelling and an alleged incident of food poisoning.

A company spokesman said “there was some ambiguity” over the labelling.

I’ll bet there was, with companies skating as close as they can to the labelling laws (to infer an imported product is home-grown).

For the local Kailis operation, perhaps a name change might be best, given that the practices of many overseas operations seem to be always doubtful.

No company can sustain ongoing reputational damage like this; especially when the offender has the same name!


How not to answer questions in parliament

Junior federal minister Stuart Robert today showed how not to answer questions about integrity and, in the process, damaged the government.

Three times the Opposition asked Robert to define the actual capacity he attended a ming industry function in China. 

Because the government has referred the matter to the head of the Public Service, Robert used the “out” clause of “the matter is under investigation, or lack of words to that effect.

By inference, Robert has given the impression he could be guilty, simply because he hasn’t provided an open and full answer.

It’s the age-old wrong PR tack to take: avoid an answer until you’re in the clear … or not. 

All well and good if Robert is hedging his bets but, as I said, he has damaged the government by not being up-front. 

See his answers here:

Let the (no fun) games begin

Get set for the hard slog.

Federal politicians returned to Canberra today. You know what that means? Electioneering. Yep, we vote (seems like yesterday) again this year.

Malcolm says it will be August, September or November. Wonder of he could be more specific? Then again, that’s Turnbull. He’s quite non-specific (flaky would be my descriptor).

The latest version of the Liberal Government has had time to show its stuff Can’t say it’s much different from the previous Tony Abbott-led version. I think perhaps a little meaner, with increasing attacks on the most vulnerable (cuts to pensions and cutbacks to health to the forefront). Of course, there’s the possible increase in GST, which will also hurt the weakest. I haven’t heard any pledge of how pensions will rise by the same amount.

On the other hand, the wealthy get away with “blue murder”. The hundreds of major companies which don’t pay tax (or very little) in Australia is well documented. In fact, it’s astounding. Among them is News Limited, Rupert Murdoch’s Aussie arm of his global media empire. And Murdoch papers have the temerity to attack people ripping off the welfare system (not that I condone it) – just the hypocrisy of Murdoch.

Back to Malcolm.

The honeymoon is well and truly over. It’s time he stopped the rhetoric (polite word for bullshit) and spelt things out. Where do we stand as a nation? There’s lots of things happening (i.e., gay marriage, the republic, war on terror). But where are we going as a nation, when all I can see are average people struggling to get ahead?

Unemployment is way up, despite “offical” figures saying otherwise. You only have to work for an hour a week to be classed as employed and/or for a job to have been created. Never mind the thousands who have been laid off by the mining, banking and manufacturing sectors (with more to come).

8e691ece55eca46507767bcc36cc2877The smoother veneer Malcolm coats himself in (and that includes a highly-polished Instagram feed – some of the latest trading off the homeless, which have suddenly been deleted) hopefully will receive some scratches as we progress throughout the year.

Let the games begin.


Pic: Daily Telegraph


Is there hope for a town called York?

I visited the WA country town of York last weekend for the first time in probably 12 or so years.

Not much had changed, except that it probably looked a little more run down than I remembered.

The point is, not much had changed.

I took my wife, who hadn’t been there before. It was a great ride on the motorbike.

She summed it up, saying it looked like a half-deserted wild set town. Apt description. There weren’t any tumbleweeds, though there could have been, as the surrounding country was dry and dusty.

The district’s farmers are obviously doing it tough and this impacts on the economy, notably the town’s businesses. The Imperial Hotel is for sale. It has been for about a year. Another relatively newly-renovated establishment has gone broke.

York was in the news two weeks ago, with local businesses complaining the local council wasn’t helping them to attract tourists. The council said it wanted to see a plan. Fair enough.

One local businesswoman I talked with has been there for 18 months, but she still hasn’t got an online presence. Alarm bells.

If she’s typical of the businesses in York, then what hope?

I pointed out some of the wares she could be selling on line and how she should go about it (Facebook and Twitter for a start). I gave her my card, which shows me as a marketing communications professional with a PhD.

She didn’t get it and didn’t want to know much, saying she’d ask her daughter.

I wasn’t trying to pitch to her, merely offer advice, which she didn’t seem interested in.

God helps those who help themselves, so they say. But I doubt whether she’s going to get much help from above.

Like I said, I hope this isn’t typical of the town. If it is, heaven help York.

Australia vulnerable to “desperate” world, says Salt

Western Australia could find itself at the centre of growing international tension over its mineral wealth. And governments aren’t prepared.

Leading Australian demographer Bernard Salt made the prediction at a forum of WA Vocational Educational Trainers in Perth this week.

“The world wants and needs what we have, and there’s going to be a made scramble for all of these things,” Salt said.

“We have what the world wants. That makes us valuable, but also vulnerable.”

Alarmingly, the scramble will come sooner than later.

“Most people are predicting this will happen around 2070, but I think it will come by 2020,” said Salt, who was addressing 200 VET industry representatives in a forum sponsored by the Department of Workforce Training and Development.

“For me, this is the biggest issue facing Australia, and governments are doing nothing about it.

“Look at where our military presence is. We have Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. It was built in the sixties. What’s it protecting now? We have Robertson Barracks in Darwin, which was expanded during the East Timor crisis.

“But there’s no military assets of note between Darwin and Perth – an area that contains pretty much all of Australia’s wealth – about $43 million worth of gas and oil.

“The Chinese have already demonstrated they need the raw materials. Gorgon was about China shoring up its assets.”

Salt was quietly scathing of government inaction, saying while we had aligned ourselves militarily with the US, we expect our financial support to come from China.

“China is now the emerging power, but it remains to be seen how governments deal with the dilemma.”

Salt called for a massive boost to infrastructure, including a larger military presence with at least 5000 soldiers, and a regional town of 150,000.

“It only makes sense to put the military hardware where you are most exposed.

“This is the biggest issue confronting us.”

Who needs sub editors?

Bad of me to pose a question in a headline. Sub editing Rule 1: tell the reader, don’t ask.

I read an alleged memo to journalists from the CEO of Fairfax regarding the sacking of all it’s sub editors. The poor chap is a poor writer. Stilted and verbose. So he sent it to be “subbed”.

It came back; still verbose and lacking warmth. The sub also didn’t know the difference between alternate and alternative.

So maybe it’s a good idea Fairfax is ditching it’s subs. No. I jest. For the most part, subs are a paper’s energy source: certainly the source of information and knowledge.

I hope they all find alternative jobs.

Maybe Twitter not so popular

In setting up next semester’s “e-PR” unit for students the the University of Notre Dame Australia (Fremantle), I have created a google group, blog and twitter account. The students will use google as a hub to conduct a range of activities, including surveys and blogs.

In setting up Twitter I have grabbed some of the peope I’m already following from another account. In an effort to inject more local “content” (more Perth PR practitioners) I searched google for “Perth public relations”. In the first two pages of results, 10 companies were listed (not including paid ads).

To my surprise, only two companies mentioned on their web site they had a twitter presence. Given all the hype about the medium as a communications tool, I found this strange. I now feel a survey coming on. But I’ll save it for class.

Step in the right direction

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has taken a step in the right direction by announcing an independent enquiry in to the Australian Defence Force Academy. He will also hopefully be able to follow up with an independent psychological assessment of many senior officers and NCOs. Seems like massive cultural change is necessary. The immediate threat is to recruitment. Would you encourage your son or daughter to join? Peter Cosgrove, where are you?