31 December 2009

Nothing to do with PR

Cane toads and common sense. One has little to do with PR. Correct, cane toads. Common sense, on the other hand, does.

It's why I'm writing about an edict by the WA Department of Environment and Conservation that cane toads are not allowed to be gassed.

The volunteer group Toad Busters is trying to stop to spread of these insidious pests in WA. They do a great job, but are being hampered by the Department's lack of common sense.

Just because people work for the Dept. of Environment & Conservation doesn't mean they're always right.

Cane toads certainly don't conserve anything. I say do what it takes to get rid of this pest and let Toad Busters get on with the job. At least they're doing something.

I lived in Bundaberg years ago and the cane toad situation there was frightening. Just wait until they get to Perth.

Like I said, this has nothing to do with PR, although I guess the Department might consider the "bad media" they are getting.

15 December 2009

Rudd "smart" on climate change

That Kevin Rudd is a clever fella. He's bagged other nations to make it appear as though he's tough on greenhouse emissions, knowing the others would never reach the targets. This makes Australia appear to be the world policeman on emissions. More importantly, it makes Rudd look like a concerned citizen at home. It's all about the next election, of course. Countries are only concerned about their domestic affairs.

05 December 2009

O'Dwyer interviews puzzling

I just watched two puzzling video interviews at propenmic.org with the legendary Jack O'Dwyer.

In one he talks about how PR deals with public. Correct, Jack. No arguments from me. But in another he talks about how PR people should only deal with journalists, in the same way lawyers only deal with lawyers.

Suddenly, I'm confused (by Jack). What the heck is he saying? Am I reading his comments incorrectly? It's a problem when someone as learned as this makes contradictory statements, particularly when it's on a web site for students.

He goes on to say PR should not be dabbling in social media. Well, I'm not sure Jack's been paying too much attention lately.

While I'd like to follow his approach, and just deal with journalists, it's a bit late to pull up the drawbridge. The "heathens" have already entered.

17 October 2009

Bikies' PR company taking a risk

The Brisbane PR company that represents bikies has this to say on its web site: "We will not support business activities that we believe cause fundamental harm to people, communities, or the environment."

With reputation management a cornerstone of PR, I wonder if they're risking their reputation by having the bikies as a client?

Whatever the effect this will have on the PR company (whose ethics I find hard to fathom) certainly the bikies are spending up big. The campaign they're running has all bases covered, including a raft of web sites (national and State bodies in NSW, SA, Qld and WA). Some are on Twitter. However, I do wonder why one of the links leads to a gang in Norway.

The angle they're taking is that the proposed legislation, curtailing the right of freedom of association, will affect everyone in the community. Certainly, they have a point. But, as WA Police Commissioner Karl O'Callahan pointed out, it only applies to groups with criminal leanings. Scouts, fear not.

11 October 2009

Australian professional sport a turn-off

Several items on the TV news this week made me wonder whether Australian professional sport is heading for extinction.

First you had the Socceroos asking for more money when playing for Australia. Given the relatively small financial balance of soccer in Australia, that's a BIG ask. There's only so much money you can wring out of a competition that doesn't really deliver the spectator numbers that equate with wages. I thought it would be enough that the players would be honoured to turn out for their country, rather than make financial demands.

The Wallabies were at it, too, wanting to be paid for what amounts to training, for a Possibles versus Probables match prior to their tour of Japan and Europe, complete with a fourth irrelevant Bledisloe Cup match in Tokyo. So the national rugby union players also seem to have lost their pride in the gold jersey. On this season's performances they are lucky they're getting paid anything at all.

The national cricket team, fresh from victory in a seven-game, one-day series in England, had no sooner won last week's World Cup in South Africa, yet here the players were (in contrived regional teams) at it again in some limited-overs tournament in India. More money. Maybe that can work financially, as it seems the Indians have an unlimited supply of money to throw at a sport played in a handful of countries, just like ...

Netball. Last night I watched as some ridiculous international tournament was being played. It's ridiculous because, it's always the same few Commonwealth nations that play one another, so it's boring. But they have now given "fans" a shortened version of the game, the World Netball Series, complete with rolling substitutions, shooting from outside the goal circle and power plays. God help us. Never mind the "world tournament" has only six teams, including those "powerhouse" sporting nations of Malawi, Jamaica and Samoa. Interesting, no South Africa.

I'm just not sure where sports watchers can find the energy to watch this too-often-repeated diet of mediocrity. If they're like me, they have long ago switched off. I'm going for a swim.

02 October 2009

Good one, Mal

I'm no fan of Mal Turnbull, but his no-nonsense language this morning was welcome.

Finally a politican who can say it like it is. Yes, Mal, those smart arses should put up or shut up.

The trouble is, Mal is showing no political nous. I reckon he's got a month before the "mad monk" takes over.

-- Posted from my iPhone

30 September 2009

Advertised PR jobs increase in September

The number of advertised PR jobs in Australia and New Zealand rose in September.

There were 134 jobs advertised, which was almost double that of August, which recorded only 70.

The worst period for job seekers was November and December last year and July this year, with only 52-54 positions each month.

The increase may indicate that PR reflects what a lot of people are saying about the economy: that it's picking up.

If you're in PR and looking for work, the best places to be are Sydney (38 per cent share), Melbourne (21%) and Brisbane (16%). The worst places are Perth and Adelaide, with only three per cent of advertised positions. New Zealand, with eight per cent is a better choice.

The survey has been running for the past 11 months and looks at fulltime jobs advertised nationally on line by Seek, Career One and Randstad.


26 September 2009

Wounded soldiers deserve recognition

The decision by the government (via the Department of Defence) not to name 83 Diggers wounded in Afghanistan is a disgrace. So disgraceful is is that on Monday I will tender my resignation from the Defence Force.

Defence says it is acting in the interests of the soldiers: protecting their privacy. Well, that's the spin, isn't it?

The real reason for the cover-up is the government doesn't want the public to know about the injuries. There's an election due soon. It doesn't take a genius to know what the continual reporting of battle casualties will do for for Rudd's popularity.

As reported on today's front page of The Australian, this is at odds with the wishes of soldiers serving in Afghanistan. They want the public to know the truth. Their view is backed by former Chief of the Defence Force, Gen. Peter Cosgrove, and Lt. Col Dave Lewis, from the SAS Association.

I've spent 23 years in Army PR (for of them in the Regular Army) and served in East Timor in 2001. Sorry to say that ends on Monday.

20 September 2009

And now, mobile blogs

Today's episode coming straight from the park down the street. I'm just trying a nifty new iPhone app called Blogger. Now everything is in my phone - email, calendar, Twitter, camera, video, music, etc. For someone who's 53, it really is amazing. The technology, that is.

-- Posted from my iPhone

18 September 2009

Twitter can keep my material

Some people are getting into a lather over Twitter's new terms of service. They're worried Twitter has right to use your material. I'm not one of them.

If you don't like the terms of service, shop elsewhere.

For me, Twitter is about sharing, and that implies you're not putting a commercial value on your contribution. If you think your material is worth dollars, go somewhere where they'll pay.

Twitter gives you something for nothing. Surely they're entitled to some return (particularly as they still haven't worked out how to make money).

15 September 2009

How to pitch to media

There's been some discussion on Mumbrella about emailing media releases to journalists. It was prompted by the suggestion of what type and size of files to attach.

Well, here's a tip. Don't email. Just call the journalist. Of course, that depends on whether or not you have a working relationship with them. But, hey, that's what you're supposed to do if your a PR person.

Simply calling a journalist makes it more personal (something we seem to be losing in PR). You can have a chat about the weather, sport, film, and then run the storyline past your contact. You'll at least save yourself the time of having to write the release.

As for attaching files, I wouldn't recommend it. But check with the outlet you're sending to. If in doubt, don't send anything but your words (six paragraphs maximum).

I would think most country publications and radio stations would not enjoy receiving large attachments (the paper at Denmark, WA, sure doesn't). Better to send a simple link to a multi-media rich web site and let the receiver decide what to use.

As an aside, when I was working on the Gold Coast three years ago, ALL media outlets wanted their releases by fax. Strange but true. It may have changed. However, the thinking was they received so many emails, that anyone serious about PR would go to the trouble of faxing.

I couldn’t understand that logic, though, as you can fax from a computer.

10 September 2009

Women on the front line a nonsense

The Department of Defence has done it again: producing that old PR angle of pushing of women to serve on the front line.

The PR blitz hit the media yesterday, with the story even reaching the 7.30 Report. Neil James from the Defence Association was interviewed, and so was some obscure Liberal who served as a grunt for 10 years. They even had some grey-hair libertarian-type woman who said it didn't worry her if women wanted to be killed in battle.

The only reason Defence takes this position is because they can't get enough blokes to fill the ranks. Air Force TV ads currently focus on female mechanics, technicians and heavy-lift loadmasters.

The Army was even saying women could serve as commandos and in the SAS. Imagine the guffaws from the Regiment at the prospect.

The Brigadier in charge of 1 Brigade supports the move. Sure he does. Yes, he said the ladies can share the same risks in Afghanistan. Hmm. I wonder what would happen to GI Jane when she is captured by the Taliban?

Whatever you think about having women serving in direct combat roles, the actual clumsy approach in promoting it in in dire need of a rethink. They're still using the same PR methods employed in 2001, when I was serving in East Timor (and A Current Affair pursued it, without success).

The female reporter, who had a brother in the Army, wanted to go the the "front line" (the border with West Timor). The deal was if she could carry a standard pack up some stairs to the helicopter pad we'd take her. She never got it off the ground.

Hello. Men fight wars. Always have, always will. Perhaps Defence should focus on how to attract and retain them. Oh that's right, they have, and failed. So out comes PR plan B.

21 August 2009

PR links

Being a sharing, caring guy, here's 170 or so PR resource links. These have been collected over a number of years, and I don't check them regularly, so some will be "dead", and I don't have the time to make them active links, so you'll have to copy and paste. I've listed them in response to a post (can't remember where) by Richard Bailey, who was responding to another post.
















































































































PR STUDIES (for students)





































































20 August 2009

Gas deal a sell out

This has nothing to do (directly) with PR. But then again, it does, as it deals with a perception ... my perception.

Surely it says something that we’ve signed a LNG deal with China, followed by the provision that is has to pass environmental scrutiny.

Logically (and morally) shouldn’t the environmental studies come before the deal is sealed? It shows how much importance this government places on the environment, and our future. Does this make Peter Garrett superfluous?

It’s also disturbing that all this takes place amid the continuing detention of Australian mining executive Stern Hu.

A report in the Globe and Mail (20 Aug) said: “The LNG deal shows that China’s growing demand for gas, uranium, iron ore and coal – and Australia’s investment needs – will overshadow any short-term political rows.”

Indeed. Doesn't it always?

19 August 2009

PR fighting a losing battle?

UK-based academic Richard Bailey always produces provocative comments. In his latest post he examines why PR is losing the battle to get people to understand what it is.

I can't understand what the problem is. It must be the academics who teach PR. After all, they form the opinions of most people practising PR today - apart from some of those who came from the era when journalists entered PR (and some still do).

At the University of Notre Dame Australia (Fremantle) we have a combined marketing/PR degree, situated in a School of Business - an ideal combination. In their first PR lecture (2 hours) there are two topics - the history of PR (a US perspective) and the difference between PR and marketing. One of the first essay topic choices is on the difference between marketing and PR.

It's a simple process ... unless academics just don't get it (which I imagine many don't). Then again, I heard a senior PR "professional" talking about PR as just being about media. Hmmm. Maybe we are losing.

12 August 2009

Professional sport not worth a zac*

Clearly, the boss of Aussie Home Loans, John Symond "gets it": reputation management, that is. It's also quite clear the that boss of the ARL and CEO of the Melbourne Storm don't.

How many more times do rugby league players have to transgress normal levels of decency before something is done to reverse the situation?

Storm player Greg Ingliss, it seems, can do no wrong, despite allegedly assaulting his girlfriend. As the Storm chief said: "He has a future in rugby League."

What I can't fathom is why this behaviour continues to be tolerated. These are (apparently) "professional" sports people. Sport is their job. If it was you or I, we would have been sacked long ago.

As a society we really do have to question our own values when we continue to be part of this sham that is "professional" sport. I certainly wouldn't give a zac to watch the game.

Of course, other sports are no better. Over here in WA we have the case of State and Australian player Luke Pomersbach allegedly running amok in two alcohol-related hit-and-run incidents. They weren't his first run-ins with the law.

It seems the attitude of administrators are to let these people continue to play. Winning, it seems, is all that matters.

At least the Cronulla club has the "guts" to sack their troublemakers. The club now is in last place. But coach Ricky Stuart says it was the right thing to do for the game.

Stuart obviously "gets it".

*A zac is sixpence (now five cents)

07 August 2009

Where the PR jobs aren't

For those in the profession, the latest (fulltime) job trends in public relations may be of interest.

I've been tracking them since November last year, through Seek and Career One.

They provide some insight into the state of the industry.

These figures do not take into account jobs that are advertised in local newspapers. And, of course, there are many jobs that aren't advertised.

There were a total of 670 jobs advertised from November 2008 up to last week. The pie chart shows the percentage distribution.

The bar chart shows the national monthly breakdown, and the trendline shows, well, trends on each city (Sydney green, Brisbane pink, Melbourne blue).

30 July 2009

Twitter not for students

All this talk about Twitter. Just who is using it? Certainly not young university students, if my research this week is correct.

I asked for a show of hands in all my PR and business communication classes this week. Of the 180 or so students, perhaps 15 of them were using Twitter. Most just stared blankly at me when I mentioned it.

Facebook, it seems, is the social network tool of choice among this demographic. The question remains: why? Some more research needed.

29 July 2009

Twits on Twitter

The excellent Mumbrella site recently began a conversation about people you don't/shouldn't follow on Twitter.

Because of the limited space on Twitter, here's my list of those I don't follow, which really makes my paltry 58 follows lame. But I'm choosy.

1. People who use Twitter with the aim of building their business, simply by asking people for referrals. How dumb is that?

2. People who don't have a decent biography.

3. People who tweet during movies/TV shows.


17 July 2009

Rudd's blog fails the democracy test

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has dived deeper into cyberspace with his blog. This follows his folksy tweeting.

Unfortunately, the blog is a cynical and futile exercise because (a) it is not really his blog, and (b) it is not democratic.

Is anyone gullible enough to believe he produces it? Sure, he may write the occasional post, but he has plenty of PR people to do the technical hackwork, and reading and vetting comments.

I joined the throng and made my first comment on climate change ... and was rejected – presumably because I had a link to my web site.

However, that's where the democratic nature of the web is being usurped by the PM. Allowing a free and frank flow of information is essential on the Net, and in any healthy democracy. If the PM can't stand the heat, the he should get out of the kitchen.

As I mentioned, he's not really monitoring it, as any blogger worth their weight in words does.

Personally, I'm not really interested in what simply appears to be another PR exercise, aimed in re-election.


05 July 2009

I'm outa here

Craig Pearce's blog has echoed my sentiments. There is must not enough time to do all this social media if you want a normal life.
Apart from getting some useful information (like how social media is ruining my social life) I find that all this really comes to naught. So what? People read my blog or tweet. But what action do they take and does it influence their lives? Anyway, I’ve mastered to tools, so now I can teach them and let the younger generation worry about their time. I’m off for a bike ride and a (real) surf. Catch you @prlab

30 June 2009

Rubel abandons blogging ... almost

One of the (apparent) world experts on social media, Steve Rubel, says he is abandoning blogging because it's not instant enough. "Blogging feels old. Publishing today is all about the flow," says Rubel.

Instead he will focus on what he calls his "lifestream", which incorporates things like Twitter, facebook, etc. In fact, Steve has 15 tools he uses to communicate.

I'm not so sure, Steve. I just posted a Tweet and a Blog within a minute of each other, using the one piece of software, Blogo.

For me, "the flow" needs to slow down a bit. Blogging lets me do that, by making me think a bit more carefully about what I'm thinking.

Sure, Twitter and Friend Feed have their places. But in the end, they're all just tools which serve different purposes and audiences.

25 June 2009

When is enough?

Just when is enough social media too much? That's the question I'm pondering now. To tell the truth, I'm just flat out keeping up with reading newspapers and watching/listening to broadcast media. Oh, my aching eyes.

20 June 2009

Reputations at stake in Rudd car deal controversy

In all the hubbub about whether or not the Prime Minister (or his office) was allegedly involved in giving a car dealer mate a good deal, spare a though for the Public Servant at the centre of the controversy.

Sure, someone's going to be a political reputational winner and someone a loser. But what will be the effect on Treasury official Godwin Grech's career once the dust has settled?

I'm betting he may come out of it with his reputation (and job) intact. He doesn't strike me as someone prone to making such damaging insinuations.

16 June 2009

It's urine ... and you're drinking it

The Water Corporation in WA has started to introduce the notion of people drinking recycled sewage.

Last night's TV news carried a spot, so it's a safe bet the frequency of media coverage will increase in proportion to the sinking levels in our dams (currently 39%).

It will be interesting to see who's first to oppose the move, and who runs a strong "anti" campaign.

From the PR Lab

14 June 2009

Another image problem for PR

Here we go again. Another TV sitcom portraying PR as being full of party girls, glitz and glamour.

The City
, a US show, follows the dramatic life of a young PR woman in New York. Whitney Port and Olivia Palermo seem to run the public relations department, work at the fashion shows, network - and still have time to spend time each day shopping and creating drama while wearing 9 inch heels and having perfect hair.

No wonder PR has an image problem and only seems to attract females. This was the core of my PhD study (soon to be published as “The Feminisation of Public Relations - but an old web site at http://people.aapt.net.au/~net/study).

What is it that attracts TV producers to put out shows on PR, anyway? We’re up again being called spin doctors in the news media, and as being fluffy events people in the entertainment media. It’ simply a lose-lose situation.

Time for national PR campaigns (US, UK, Australia, Canada) to battle this. Maybe that means attacking the TV shows.

See more at the PR Lab

11 June 2009

Rugby League's ham-fisted approach to PR

The National Rugby League's attempt at smoothing over its clubs' lamentable treatment of women could not have come at a worse time.

Apart from being an all-too-obvious attempt at trying to win back favour with fans and the media, the timing was ruined by yet another sex scandal: this time involving the CEO of the Cronulla club.

The NRL says it wants to attract women to the game. Well, there's a little more to it than having lunch at a pub (of all places) and saying women should be in leadership roles ... in a male sport, mind you.

The sport first has to tackle the cultural problems (notably alcohol and sex) that beset it, and many other sports codes. This is clearly not happening. Of course, it's a tall order, given that these problems come from society as a whole.

05 June 2009

Banana wars

The people who manufacture Mars Bars have reduced the size of the product by 11 per cent (while increasing the price) ... all in the name of combating obesity.

They reckon they're helping combat Australia's growing obesity problem. The Australian Banana Industry has hit back, saying a banana is far healthier, and cheaper.

It's brilliant PR by the sweets company.

Brilliant. They reduce their costs and increase the profit margin. Oh yes, they also get the free publicity to sell more of the price-inflated product.

And I keep noticing that Australia's favourite biscuits and chocolates are getting smaller, and that cordial keeps getting more watery, and jam gets less fruity.


04 June 2009

Where the PR jobs are (or aren't)

I've been monitoring national PR jobs for the past six months. It comes in handy to let students know where their best chances are (numerically, anyway).

Being in Perth, the students (and professionals) are at a disadvantage. There are more PR jobs in New Zealand than here.

In the past seven months (from Nov 08-May 09) there have been 553 fulltime PR jobs advertised through Career One, Seek and TPA (which I think may have gone bust). This also includes overseas positions which filter through.

As you'd expect, most jobs (182, or 33%) are in Sydney, followed by Melbourne (109, 20%) and Brisbane (96, 17%). NZ comes in next with 54 jobs, or 10%. Thereafter, it's slim pickings.

Poor, old Perth languishes with only three percent, or 19 jobs, in that time.

The trend lines show a spike in February (113 positions), with a dip in April to 75, then picking up again to 87 in May.

Blogs v Twitter

It's interesting to compare the number of Australian PR blogs to the number of PR people twittering. There's only 40 PR blogs. I thought there'd be more.

I recall from a list released a couple of weeks ago there were far more people Twittering. (If I could only find that list).

I'm not sure what this means. Maybe it's just easier to Twitter, maybe it's because blogging is regarded as past its use-by date.

It all depends on what you're using either medium for. Of course, there's still a place for blogging. These are just two tools in the PR arsenal.


29 May 2009

Social marketing playing catch-up

Not sure why social media marketing is mentioned on a PR site (seems PR2 Squared has its wires crossed - in more ways than one).

That's obvious when you read the line from a recent article: "The focus of Social Media Marketing should be on the organic growth of long-term relationships. When you have a long-term relationship with a brand, you’ll give them the benefit of the doubt when they pull off a stunt; you are likely to enjoy it; you might even pass it along."

Well, knock me over with a feather. I thought PR had been doing this for years.

23 May 2009

Reserve Bank blind to conflict of interest

The Reserve Bank of Australia has a problem, but doesn't know it.

Its assistant governor, Robert Rankin, is involved with a company that has been linked to shady deals (Africa and Asia) overseas. Worse, that company supplies polymers (used to make money) to the Reserve.

Wait. There's more. Another two Reserve Bank appointees are also linked to the company.

Is there any acknowledgement from the Reserve there's a problem? Not a jot.

All the Bank says is that it will ask the company, Securency, about its methods.

Am I missing something?

17 May 2009

Sex and sport: when reputation doesn't matter

Something's not right when, in this day and age, peak sports bodies don't take action when they know there's an issue. I'm referring to the sex scandals involving Cronulla Rugby Leagues Club and the Australian Soccer Federation.

Sure, they will say they took action. But the Cronulla group sex act occurred seven years ago, and the Australian Youth soccer player appeared in court last September. The ASF says it didn't know its player had been charged. Really?

Their apparent (immediate) lack of concern for alleged victims is appalling. Their understanding of reputation management practices is also astounding.

This attitude is perhaps reflected in the response over the past three weeks to a national survey I am conducting of major sports bodies and clubs on reputation. Of 91 communications "professionals", only 16 bothered to respond.

Perhaps I can salvage something from the survey and ensuing interviews. I doubt whether these clubs can.
The sports media is compliant in all these "affairs". I spent 17 years on metro dailies. The journos don't report it because if they do the clubs cut off contact with them, so they're effectively out of a job. Liam Bartlett was the journalist who broke the Ben Cousins story, as he had nothing to lose. And on it goes.

It probably doesn't matter (well it does for the victims) because I believe much of professional sport will "eat itself", either because of the inability of Australia to support so many professional sports (e.g, basketball) or due to the continuing scandals (e.g, Manly, Cronulla) or a combination of both.

09 May 2009

Time for PR campaign on water

If ever there was a time for PR to demonstrate it's value, it's here in Western Australia.

In Perth we're all sitting around in t-shirts. The dams are at 39 per cent capacity. There has been no rain this year. Indeed, for at least the past five or six years we've had exceedingly dry winters. Global what?

I reckon it's about time the Water Corporation campaigned to ban all lawn watering. If ever there was a waste of water, this is it. After all, lawn is a weed.

26 April 2009

Shaky state of PR in Perth

National firm Rowland closed its Perth office this week, apparently without much warning.
Manager Carla Shearman praised staff in an email sent to clients and colleagues, but didn't elucidate on the reasons for the closure. It's sudden, though, because they only just moved offices.
It highlights the tenuous nature of the profession, particularly in Perth.
I've been conducting a longitudinal study of PR job in Australia (past six months) which shows that there are more PR positions in New Zealand in Perth.
Meantime, Carla's half a dozen staff have to find jobs.

09 April 2009

Knox Grammar heads into the abyss

On 26 February I wrote about the sex scandal enveloping Knox Grammar, saying it would get worse. Well, yesterday it did. A fourth teacher was arrested for alleged sexual molestation.

Yet the school remains mostly silent. Wrong (PR) move. But they don't listen. I rang the school when the second arrest occurred. They weren't interested in my advice.

I believe this situation will get worse. Obviously this will happen when the accused appear in court. But I also believe there may be something more sinister. In time, the special police task force may uncover it.

08 April 2009

Time for Turnbull to give credit

It’s about time Malcolm Turnbull stopped carping from the sidelines.

No matter what the government does, Turnbull opposes it (yes, he is in Opposition).

But the latest plan by the government, to introduce a fibre optic network has merit – if not just for the thousands of jobs it will create.

But big Mal just waded right in to rubbish it.

There are times when some credit might just help Mal's flagging popularity.

06 April 2009

Prime Minister's media man should go

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's press secretary Lachlan Harris should resign, or be sacked, for lying.

Harris, who is actually a "novice" when it comes to public relations (he's more a political operative) denied the Prime Minister had upset an Air Force flight attendant because the meal he ordered wasn't available. Trivial stuff, really, but enough to warrant an official RAAF incident report.

If Harris lied about that, what lengths would he go to when it comes to more sensitive issues?

26 February 2009

School sex scandal a classic

The sex scandal enveloping Knox Grammar in Sydney will go down as one of the “best” examples of PR mismanagement.

My Issues and Crisis Management students began studying the case after the first teacher was arrested. At the time of writing (a week later) three teachers had been arrested. It's a "living" case study - one I knew would become "hot" because the pattern has become so regular, and I've been through a similar school system, in which abuse is covered up.

One of the most bewildering aspects of the affair is the School’s reaction: say nothing. It even went as far to instruct its alumni to stay silent. Amazing, but sadly true. Possibly this is a reaction to legal advice.

But the school digs its own grave by admitting it knew of the issue five years in advance. This indicates (a) scant regard for the truth and (b) a pitiful approach to risk and reputation management.

If all they had done was show some concern for the alleged victims, then things may not have gotten so out of hand.

Meantime, the PR students at Notre Dame have a “living” crisis, which is sure to get worse before it passes.

For the school, the damage to its reputation will be hard to fix.

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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.