29 December 2007

PR without real meaning

Some companies do things by the book – the PR textbook. The result is often an insincere response to the issue or crisis.

Take BHP, one of the world's largest companies.

The Sydney Morning Herald (29 Dec) reported the company's coal mining activities could damage a heritage-listed canal, which in turn could affect part of Sydney's water supply.

With big dollars at stake, the company produced a mealy-mouthed statement from a PR spokeswoman.

The statement surely came out of a PR textbook: it was clinical, highly-structured and jam-packed with 'quaint' words like "stakeholders, infrastructure owners, structural integrity, rigorous risk assessment, independent peer review".

This is nothing more than BHP (the same company whose Ok Tedi mine gouges out pristine wilderness in Papua New Guinea) saying: "we went through the motions but we were always going to mine".

I'd have thought they could have written it without the jargon. If they're going to ruin the landscape, and perhaps part of Sydney's water supply, they could at least sound sincere about it.

This type of amateurish PR response should be consigned to the archives.

PS: BHP is currently being sued for $5b by PNG villagers.

26 December 2007

Green is good (PR)

Today's Boxing Day news says more companies are climbing aboard the "Green" bandwagon, following the Bali climate change talks.

That's great news, but I suspect it has more to do with turning a "greenback" (if you'll pardon the Americanism) than actually turning "green" for altruistic reasons.

According the the Sydney Morning Herald, two major retail groups have approached Planet Ark for information on what they can do on climate change.

That's good news. But, like the just-ousted Liberal Government, the issue of global warming has been prominent for more than a decade. It is just too much

While I'm sceptical about companies' motives for suddenly altering their stance due to a change in the political wind, the environment (hopefully) will be better for it.

17 December 2007

Snow job in Bali

For the life of me, I can't see much of anything that resulted from the world climate conference just concluded in Bali.

The US used the word "consensus" (agreeing to talk about setting emission levels at the 2009 Copenhagen conference). The organisers used the word "road map". These are (PR) weasel words, used to describe nothing in particular. The Middle East has had a "road map" for many years, and that had not led very far.

Yes, Australia has at least ratified the Kyoto Protocol. But there really has been a backdown in affirmative action. Everyone will wait until 2009 to talk about it again. What happened to setting targets NOW?

All that's happened is 190 nations have agreed to have a think and meet again (in another attractive location - why not in a place deeply affected by global warming, say the Arctic?).

So we might see emissions reduced by 25-40 per cent by 2020. There's an awful lot of carbon monoxide going to be dumped into the atmosphere between now and then. Ah, but the profits the coal and oil companies will be okay. By 2020 it probably won't matter about targets, because oil will have run out anyway.

It's simply too little, too late.

02 December 2007

Apparently this is worth something

There's this widget that (apparently) tells me/you how much my/your blog is worth. Here's my worth. However, I have an identical blog at Wordpress, which is worth $2822.70. How do they work that out? It's an interesting comparison. I'm running two parallel blogs to see which gets the better response.

My blog is worth $564.54.
How much is your blog worth?

01 December 2007

Defence PR silence deafening

Yet again the Defence PR machine swings into silence over the alleged death of Afghan civilians (Defence silent on civilian deaths, SMH, 1 December).

This is typical of the way the Department has been run for the past eight or so years. "No comment", is the usual response over anything controversial.

You'd think with more than 180 people employed in PR they'd be able to come up with something better than that.

The trouble is that these people are simply doing the government's bidding. They are the front-line example of the way the Liberals controlled information to excess.

Over to you, Joel Fitzgibbon.

About Me

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The PR Lab is a consultancy, specialising on research, reputation management, social media, media relations and the development of measurable strategies that produce results. It is run by Dr Greg Smith, a former journalist and PR professional. Greg worked on daily newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. He held senior PR positions in the Australian Defence Force, Sydney Olympics and national not-for-profits. He has also lectured in PR at Edith Cowan University and the University of Notre Dame Australia.