Tuesday, November 02, 2010
As a public relations professional, I’m often accused of being a “spin doctor”. Many of those who use the term do so in a disparaging way, coming from a view that all spin is “bad” and designed to mislead the audience.
But is that right? Is spin in itself a bad thing?
Consider this example:
• From one point of view: You work as a licensing inspector at the motor vehicle registry. You implement rules that make it harder for me to get a license and register my car. Your work costs me time and money.
• And from another: I work as a licensing inspector at the motor vehicle registry. I implement rules that ensure drivers and vehicles on our roads are safe. My work saves lives.
So which is spin and which is the truth?
The fact is, they’re both. Both these points of view tell the facts as they are. But they are overlaid with context that gives meaning to those facts. In the case of a licensed driver, the additional context is that rules and regulations do make it harder to get yourself and your car on the road. As an inspector, you know the job you do contributes to safer roads.
So spin is simply the telling of the truth from the context of your own position. You add meaning to the bare facts by putting them into context. And let’s face it, each of us tells the truth from our own viewpoint.
So why has “spin” attained such a bad reputation? And when is spin wrong?
• When it is designed to hurt or defame
• When it deliberately misleads or omits important parts of the truth
• When it is a lie.
There are ways to ensure your public relations consultant does not take you down the path of unethical spin doctoring.
Choose a professional who is a member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia or related world-wide professional body. They are bound by a Code of Ethics that prohibits them from such behaviour. And the Code is enforceable through the institute.
When choosing a consultancy, check they are a member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s Registered Consultancies Group. Not only are these consultancies bound by an additional Code of Conduct, their Managers are also required to ensure all employees act in an ethical manner.
Tracy Jones is the principal of Creative Territory, a Registered Consultancy Group member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia. She is a Fellow of the institute, a former National President and currently serves on the national board.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
These are questions Darwin based public relations agency Creative Territory is helping local companies answer through its new crisis communication workshops using iPads.
Recovery was developed by Creative Territory to help organisations work through the steps of a crisis without actually getting their fingers burned.
Creative Territory Managing Director Tracy Jones says the new training module is like a create your own adventure for crisis communication.
“We put participants through a simulated crisis with the iPad, allowing them to make choices about how to deal with the communication challenges that come along,” she said.
Recovery uses expert facilitators and iPad-based consoles to provide a safe environment in which participants can learn about how a crisis develops, grows and can be managed.
Drawing on Creative Territory’s extensive experience in dealing with major issues and crises here in the Territory, Recovery is the only crisis communication simulation that takes the special needs of the Territory into account.
It is an Australian first, using an iPad interface to take you through a crisis scenario, the end of which is determined by the decisions you make along the way.
For more information on Recovery contact Tracy at Creative Territory on 8941 9169.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
The awards were announced in conjunction with the National Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) annual conference, which is being held in Darwin for the first time this week.
The President's Award recognises outstanding service to the PRIA and its President.
Tracy has been a member of the National Board of the PRIA since 2004 and is the current National Treasurer. She served for two years as National President until 2009.
For more information about the Golden Target Awards winners, see
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Fellowship is one of the highest honours bestowed on a member of the institute.
The induction ceremony comes just days after Jeannette was elected President of the NT Division of the PRIA.
Creative Territory’s managing director Tracy Jones said the team was proud of Jeannette’s achievements and wish her well as she now carries out duties at a national level.
“Jeannette is one of the Territory’s most senior and experienced public relations professionals and a role model for others,” Tracy said.
“She has chaired the National Conference Committee that arranged this week’s PRIA national conference, which is being held in Darwin for the first time."
Friday, October 22, 2010
The campaigns for Alice Solar City were planned and implemented by Creative Territory.
“Alice Solar City is changing the way central Australian residents live and work by harnessing the power of the sun,” Creative Territory Managing Director Tracy Jones said.
“It’s a great initiative and we’re proud to have been part of its success.”
Tracy and Laurelle Halford won a Gold award for the overall Energy Champions campaign. Laurelle also won a Highly Commended award for 100 Days of Solar, a campaign to convince 100 Alice Springs residents to install hot water systems in 100 days.
“Alice Solar City was Creative Territory’s very first client when we started four-and-half years ago, so these awards are special to us,” Tracy said.
Tracy also congratulated other Northern Territory award winners, the Michels Warren Munday team for the campaign Support NT Caught on behalf of the NT Seafood Council and Eleanor Sheppard from the Department of Education and Training for Recruiting Quality Teachers to Deliver Quality Education.
All NT award winners go into the national Golden Target Awards to be announced in Darwin next week.
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
GRIND has many purposes. It aims to be a positive website that is genuinely "by youth for youth". It provides a supported vehicle for a youth voice, promotes the positive contribution that young people make in our community, provides an outlet for youth culture and expression and debunks the negative stereotypes so often portrayed in mainstream media of young people.
GRIND, one of Council’s key projects, presents and coordinates diverse activities such as large scale music gigs, skills workshops and youth community consultations.
The entire production of GRIND from running team meetings, design of the site, editing, interviewing and administration is undertaken by the GRIND youth team with support from Council's Youth Services. All decisions relating to the running and production of the website are made by the GRIND youth team. Visit the site: http://www.grindonline.com.au/
“I would like to congratulate those involved in the GRIND website, one of Council’s key youth projects. Too often these days, young people receive bad press – GRIND is an excellent way to showcase and demonstrate to the Darwin community and on a national level just how vibrant, creative and active these young people are,” Lord Mayor Graeme Saywer.
This recognition continues to showcase Council's excellence in providing high quality websites. In August Darwin City Council’s website scored the highest rating in an independent website usability study by 600 people of Australia’s capital city council websites.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
There’s a revolution going on in the social media world that will change the way retail and hospitality businesses interact with the public – Foursquare.
And anyone who thinks they can ignore this platform like all other social media networks should think again – your business is probably already on it.
Foursquare is essentially a tool that allows people to mark places on an electronic map and post comments about them. Using mobile phones, users can “check in” to these places and share their views with the world.
The places people tend to mark are shops, restaurants, cafes, hotels and entertainment and tourist venues.
What makes Foursquare different from other social networks is its ability to locate nearby places and tell you in full detail what other people think of them – good and bad.
Here’s how it works. If you stand in the middle of Smith Street Mall and log into Foursquare using your mobile phone, the application brings up a list of places nearby including cafes, apartments, hotels and bars.
Now click on the “Tips” and you’ll get a list of what people think about these places. Here are a couple of real examples (without the names of the venues):
• “The banana spring rolls are tremendous.”
• “Not a fan of the prices here.”
• “One of the best restaurants in Darwin.”
• “Try the rice noodle soup with crispy chicken … delish.”
• “Girl at the front desk is rude.”
• “Avoid this place like it’s on fire.”
My bet is that 90 per cent of the Darwin businesses listed on Foursquare now have no idea they are there, let alone what people are saying about them.
If you’re not convinced about the value of being on Foursquare yet, here are four good reasons you should reconsider:
1. Go viral: If one person checks in to your business, they share the news with 50 or more friends on Facebook and Twitter. If 10 people check in, that’s 500. You can do the maths…
2. Get honest customer feedback: If someone checks in and loves your steak burger, you’ll find out straight away, along with all their friends. Conversely, if someone hates your schnitzel, everyone will find out. But at least you can do something about it.
3. Offer special discounts to people nearby: You can check out Foursquare places that are close to you and see if they have any special offers for anyone who checks in. Curve Café at Darwin Waterfront offers a “buy a drink and get a drink for a friend” for every second check-in. Worth a visit.
4. Reward your loyal customers: Get a loyalty program without the expensive set-up costs. Offer a free meal for every 10th check-in to your business. It’s easier to keep existing customers than to find new ones.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
After one day on the job young construction trainees at Marrara Christian College are on track to build a house in just three days.
Students from the College’s Fabrication and Construction Trade Training Centre – which includes 65 per cent Indigenous students – have installed the walls, floors and roof trusses on the revolutionary wooden flat-pack house.
Marrara Christian College Trade Training Centre Manager Richard Hart said the shell of the house will be complete at the end of day two.
“Today the students will concentrate on completing the ceiling and start on installing some windows,” Mr Hart said.
“The wiring and plumbing is underway and will also be finished before the day is out.”
The quick build home uses a unique panelised building system by Carter Holt Harvey which allows a home to be constructed on site by trainee construction workers under supervision and is perfect for remote communities where labour and accommodation costs can be high.
“With this new panelised building system, we can build a house from the ground to lock-up in just three to five days using construction trainees under the supervision of qualified tradesmen,” Mr Hart said.
Members of the public are invited to watch the house under construction.
The home is under construction at the training centre at the school in Amy Johnson Avenue. Visitors should follow the signs to the centre from the school entrance.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
- - -ends - -
Media are welcome to attend all events at the conference at the Darwin Convention Centre from 25 to 26 October 2010.
To arrange an interview, or to attend one of the keynote addresses, please contact:
Monday, September 13, 2010
But in delivering our training, something has always been missing – the consequences. Most crisis training includes some type of scenario exercise, but they are virtually all linear. The scenario plays out the same regardless of what people decide in the workshop itself. While they promote discussion, there are no consequences for choosing the right or the wrong path.
For six months we’ve been working on a way to get some real interactivity into the mix, so people could make choices along the way and see the consequences of those choices.
Thanks to the iPad, and a lot of work scenario planning, we’ve developed a way. And the feedback has been amazing. See Recovery in action with a free demo at this link.
Here are some comments from our first workshop, held in Alice Springs last week:
“We’ve only been going for two minutes and I’m already more engaged in this than I have ever been in a workshop before.”
“The iPad delivery is cool. We were all sitting there waiting for our turn to play.”
“At first I wanted a whiteboard to write everything down on, but then I realised we didn’t need one.”
“It’s great that there are consequences for what you decide. It makes it more real.”We’ve called our new workshops Recovery, because we teach our clients that this is where your decisions need to be leading whenever you are faced with a real or potential crisis. The decisions you make and the things you say in the heat of the moment can have a lasting impact on your reputation and bottom line.
Recovery is presently undergoing trials in the Northern Territory and Queensland, with plans to launch it in Darwin in October.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Stephen Attenborough, Head of Astronaut Relations for Virgin Galactic, has been announced as one of the keynote speakers for the 2010 Public Relations Institute of Australia National Conference.
Other speakers announced for the conference include:
- Sean O’Sullivan, Public Relations Manager of James Hardie
- Andrew Fraser, Managing Director of 5 Oceans Media (media campaign manager for Jessica Watson’s solo around the world voyage)
- Jeff Bullas, Founder of JeffBullas.com
- Anne Gregory, Board Member of the Global Alliance of PR and Communication Management
To find out more about these and more than 40 other speakers visit http://www.acevents.com.au/pria2010
Monday, August 09, 2010
• It is highly visible and seen/ heard by a lot of people
• It reaches customers who don’t already know about you
• Imparts new information to those who do (such as special offers and discounts)
• If done well, can have high recall
• Places you into people’s consciousness, even if they don’t need your services right now.
• It can be expensive to make the ad and then run it (depending on the media chosen)
• It will not reach people who are not watching and listening to the place where your ad is.
Is advertising for my business?
Before you consider advertising, you need to have a thorough understanding of your target audience and what they watch, read and consume. Try asking some of your existing customers where they heard about you. Have they seen any of your latest advertising? What magazines do they read? What radio stations do they listen to and when? What other advertising have they noticed?
Which advertising works best?
There is no easy answer to this question. It really depends on where your customers are at. But some media is better at some things than others, as shown below. We've used examples of Northern Territory media to demonstrate.
Newspapers: Examples include the NT News, Darwin and Palmerston Sun, Centralian Advocate and regional weeklies such as the Katherine Times, Territory Regional Weekly and Eylandt Echo. Newspapers have a short shelf life but high circulation. Depending on the publication, they can be really cheap to advertise in. You pay more for Saturdays and Sundays, colour and specified pages. Be aware that public notices cost more per column centimeter than regular advertising and the ad size is smaller. At the same time, public notices offer highly qualified traffic – people looking in the cars section are actually looking for cars. Newspapers are best for imparting lots of information. Design and layout of your ad will be an additional cost of between $100-$500 depending on size and style.
Magazines: Examples include Darwin Life, Resident, Intensity, fishing magazines and Top End Arts. Magazines generally have a longer shelf life, which means your ad is seen for a long time. Most magazines are also directed as specific target audiences, so readers are better qualified. Some magazines also offer complimentary editorial if you buy advertising. Design and layout of your ad will be an additional cost of between $400-$1500 depending on size and style.
Radio: Examples include HOT 100, MIXFM, Territory FM, KIKFM, Larrakia Radio, 8HA and Sun FM. Each individual advertisement on radio is relatively cheap, so you run a lot of ads. Set a budget and ask the radio station to design a campaign for you. Production of your ad will be an additional cost of between $100-$1000 depending on style, voiceover, music and sound effects used.
Television: Examples include Channel Nine, Southern Cross, Imparja and Channel Ten Digital. Television advertising can be expensive, but ask your salesman to work to a Budget. Less watched shows can be much cheaper to advertise in, along with morning and daytime timeslots. Production costs vary wildly – from as little as a couple of hundreds of dollars to over $100,000. Most businesses can make a simple but effective advertisement for $1000-$3000. Beware of special approvals needed for TV advertising and allow plenty of time for production.
Online: Examples include news websites like www.ntnews.com.au, Facebook and Google AdWords. Online advertising is cheap to produce and run. With improvements in targeting, they can also bring you very qualified inquiries. First consider whether your audience is online.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Director Tracy Jones said delivering the workshops to attendees was a privilege.
"Not-for-profit groups are able to deliver PR campaigns on a shoestring with passion for their fuel," she said.
"It has been great to work with so many dedicated and inspiring people."
Details about the new workshop series will be released soon.
The national conference of the Public Relations Institute of Australia is being held in Darwin in October with the theme PR in a Different Space.
With early bird prices expiring 30 July, now is the time to get online and book your space.
Go to http://www.pria.com.au to book your spot now!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
One of the most hated terms in the marketing and public relations world is “author’s corrections”. We hate charging for them, our clients hate paying for them and our designers hate doing them.
Having got that off my chest, I’ll admit that they’re an inevitable and necessary part of our business. But there are ways to make them far less painful for everyone involved.
What are author’s corrections?
Author’s corrections are changes made to the instructions, the scope of the project, the text or the photos you have supplied after work has commenced.
Your agency writes a radio script. You request changes. They make the changes and you sign off on the script. This will not incur author’s corrections. However, if you continue to change the script, you may be charged additional costs. If you change the script after your agency has produced the commercial, the costs will obviously be much higher.
Your agency designs a poster. You like the design but want the logo and heading bigger. The agency makes the changes and sends it back to you. At this stage you have not been charged author’s corrections. You approve the second design, but then ask the agency to replace two of the images and change the words in the heading. This may incur author’s corrections because you have made changes to the original instructions.
Why do they cost so much?
It seems simple on the surface to change one or two words. Unfortunately, in many cases this can be a time consuming process. For example:
• If you change the words in a 30 second radio commercial script, you might make the commercial longer than the original 30 seconds. We will need to test the new script to see if it fits in the timeframe and may need to edit other sections of the commercial to reduce the length.
• Graphic design files are very large. That’s what makes them such high quality once they are printed. These large files take time to load and also to save changes. By the time a designer locates the file (which is often stored off the server on a disk because of its size), loads the file, works on the changes, saves it and creates a low resolution copy for you to view, it can take up to 30 minutes to make a minor change. That’s why we ask you to send through all author’s corrections in one go if possible.
• If you add new words to a brochure that has already been laid out, you can push words onto a new line and make the document longer than it was previously. This can bump photos out of place and make columns spill over onto new pages. Once we’ve added the new words we need to check the document to make sure that hasn’t happened. If it has happened, we need to take the time to fix it.
How can I reduce the costs?
• Make sure your text, headings and image choices are approved before you send it to your agency.
• For projects that require design, filming or audio, organise approvals before your agency proceeds to the production stage. It is much easier to change a word in a text document than to reshoot a TV commercial.
• If your agency is working in a text document, consider updating the document yourself rather than marking it up and sending it to the agency. That way you won’t be paying for the agency to make the changes.
• When you receive a draft make sure everyone provides their changes at the same time. Send all the changes through to your agency at the same time. It costs more for the agency to change five words on five separate occasions than to change all five at the same time.
• If your agency sends through something that you are not 100% happy with, tell them what you like about it and what you don’t like about it. This will make it easier for them to get it right.
Most importantly, if you are worried about author’s corrections talk to your agency about it. Any good agency will be happy to provide advice on how to keep costs down.