After shock, or quake

Media reports of the latest quake in Christchurch refer to it being an aftershock. How can this be? I would have throught the magnitude alone made it an earthquake, not an aftershock. As it happened so long after the original quake, doesn’t this rate on it own?


Sunday, silly Sunday

Weekends are reserved in government PR circles for announcing those issues that would not usually rate highly, or which are controversial. Part of the logic is that if they are announced on weekends, they won’t get noticed in news bulletins, amid the fires and sport.

And so it was this weekend (the Easter long weekend) when Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon struck with an announcement on Sunday that we need more women in uniform, and in higher positions. Hardly news.

FItzgibbon must be kidding if he thinks a few hundred women in more operational positions will solves the military’s recruitments problems.

Sure, elements of macho culture exist within Defence. But let’s be honest; the sharp end of the military is no place for the feint-hearted. If that fosters a macho culture, then so be it.

I have served in the army for 20 years and have worked for he air force. There are Rambos out there, but you get this in any walk of life. Having fewer women on the front line will certainly skew the options for them reaching higher rank. Maybe that’s not fair. But then, there’s nothing fair about war.

Because this was announced on a weekend, I’m assuming the government PR boffins took the view this was something that should best escape under the radar.

Rather than playing the populist, I’d suggest the Minister start getting tough with the people who have been responsible for major blunders with Defence equipment contracts (Abrahams tanks, helicopters, jet fighters, destroyers), which have cost us billions.

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Words in my mouth

A local AM radio station interviewed me the other day. The 6PR afternoon drive-time host wanted comment on the new Labor government’s missive on telling certain agencies that all media material had to be cleared through the relevant minister’s office.


What the shock jock wanted me (being an ‘expert’) to say was that nothing had changed from the previous Liberal government. Cripes, Labor’s only been in power a few weeks and already the media’s beating it up.


All I could do was to continually reinforce my key message (developed quickly after his introductory comments and first question) that “it was early days and you had to give the government the benefit of the doubt”.


I doubt whether this chap was really listening. He had his agenda, and I really didn’t. After all, I was just there to comment.


For me, this interview was a prime example of the media trying to influence opinion, when it should be striving for balanced coverage. How blissfully naive of me – a former daily newspaper journalist.


Yes, it asked for an independent person to provide comment, but it becomes hard when the interviewer just doesn’t want to see the other point of view (or even a neutral one). It’s not entertaining radio.


All up, it was a pretty amateurish interview (not helped by the cliché of ‘spin’ as an analogy linked to the first cricket Test, which was being played between Australia and India).


I didn’t hear the interview, as I don’t listen to talkback radio. One of my surf club mates said he referred to me as Dr Greg Smith, from Curtin University. Well, he got the university wrong, which just proved my point about the amateurism. It was my last interview on 6PR.


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PR under the TV microscope

The ABC’s long-running TV program Media Watch will also include reports on poor PR practice from next year.Media Watch will be hosted by Walkley Award-wining journalist Jonathan Holmes.This is great news, as it will serve as a wake-up call for the profession. Hopefully, one of the byproducts will be a greater professionalism in the industry.I’ve long said that PR has been its own worst enemy. While I’m sure it will expose the charlatans, it could be a chance for PR to start to reposition itself as a serious business discipline.  More blog/s at: The PR Lab 

Pure theatre from Howard and Costello

Prime Minister John Howard performed the “best” PR stunt of the election last night by appearing with Treasurer Peter Costello on Today Tonight. It was almost as good as his donation of $500,000 to save the orangutan (complete with YouTube video and sick child).


Suddenly voters are supposed to believe all is well in the House of Liberal between these two, after two years or so of tension about the leadership. Sure.


It was a cosy setting. More interesting was that it was on Today Tonight, a pretty “low-brow” infotainment program (it long ago ceased to be about current affairs or news). I imagine it’s the Liberals’ attempt to reach the “masses”, seeing as though Howard isn’t disposed to using the fm stations to push his messages.


This morning there was another interesting “sideshow. The Liberals’ used a garbage truck, featuring a poster of Howard and Costello and some other politician. I couldn’t make out who, as I was driving back from the beach, and I usually don’t look at garbage trucks.


Not to be outdone, my son then got a text/voice/viedo message on his mobile from Kevin. This was actually an excellent use of the medium. You could also enter several areas of policy and read the details. The only drawback was that it is unsolicited. But then again, so have been the pamphlets appearing in our letterbox over the past two weeks.

Toyota’s PR coup

Toyota’s PR people must be patting themselves on the back with the airtime they received on the main Channel 9 bulletin in Perth tonight (and I assume on all its capital city affiliates).

Respected journalist Peter Harvey spruiked the virtues of the latest model of Lexus.
are helped promote a vehicle that is well short on environmental standards.

I take back my remark about being Harvey being respected. This was rubbish from any angle … especially in news value.

Criminal hires PR firm

Convicted corporate criminal Rodney Adler pulled the most appalling stunt by hiring a PR firm on his release from jail.

Speaking through the PR firm, Adler said he met many people from “many walks of life and different religious backgrounds” while in jail, that he wasn’t about to travel or invest in real estate or write a book about his experiences.

Alleluia. We should all be so glad that he won’t be doing those things.

Adler (the Sydney morning Herald called him “Mr” Adler) was jailed in 2005 for his part in what became Australia’s largest corporate collapse, the $5.3 billion disintegration of the insurance giant HIH.

Having the gall to hire a PR firm to tell us basically that he was okay in his multi-million dollar Vaucluse residence is an indication of the contempt Adler treats people with.

The PR company that took the brief is Sefiani Communications Group, run by Robyn Sefiani. Talk about a lack of ethics … well, maybe morality. Representing someone who has caused thousands of mum-and-dad investors to lose everything is not a good move. I guess money talks.

As one SMH letter-writer said: “Please, Rodney, spare us the vomitous output of your PR spin doctors … carefully crafted press items about your empathy and respect from people … make the hypocrisy meter go gang busters.”