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THE TOP 20 TRENDS FOR PR PRACTITIONERS IN 2011 The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011




his report originated last year as a short article in The PR Report, and listed a few trends that would impact PR practitioners in the year ahead. The feedback was positive, so it’s time to expand.


Trends will vary depending on the sector you work in. Our subscribers are all PR practitioners but come from different sectors, so the challenge is to be relevant and insightful to your world. To do this we’ve kept to what we believe are the top 20 trends that will impact Australian PR practitioners in 2011. It’s not the top 20 PR trends; a subtle but important difference. Inevitably, we’ve left some trends out; we haven’t covered the OECD countries sovereign debt crisis, or the rising demand for healthcare for example.

The biggest trend to impact PR is globalisation, and we see evidence of this in the growth of global PR agencies, which have grown by following their clients around the world. We’ll look at various aspects of globalisation in this report; Facebook and social media are examples covered.

It used to be said that if America sneezes, we all caught a cold. The last two years have shown an Australian economy stronger than Europe/USA, with a stable (Government supported) banking system, thankful for high commodity prices and high demand from China. The decisions that Australia makes on the varied challenges and opportunities in 2011 is, like every democracy, open to debate, lobbying and influencing public opinion. Every country has its own unique characteristics, and we hope ours are reflected in this report.

WHY SHOULD YOU READ THIS REPORT? It’s food for the brain. PR practitioners should know about the trends likely to impact them, analyse the risks, and prioritise. PRs should plan ahead and look for opportunities, know how maximize all the activities that the organization is engaged in. The PR role is to protect and enhance reputation, boost shareholder value (private sector), and ensure policy objectives are achieved (Government). We hope reading this report is a part of this process.

WHERE DO STORIES COME FROM? ONE SUGGESTION If I could offer one additional suggestion, it’s this: talk to lots of different people. Talk to business leaders (CEO, CIO, CFO) to find out their objectives so that your communication can be aligned to the corporate objectives. Also talk to people in sales, in finance, on the front line; this is where you’ll get ideas for stories on how people are helping customers, each other and the wider community. I’ll explain the photo on the front cover on the final page of this report. As always, your feedback is most welcome.

Kind regards, Glen Frost Editor The PR Report Tel: +61 2 9476 3333 or email: Website:


The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011






The growing importance of narrative


The (consistent) business narrative, China trending slower


The (changing) Government narrative


Trends in journalism


The new news; Is Ten the (friendly) Fox News of Australia?


Increasing opportunities from social media


Goodbye big ad, hello PR


Ad-skipping and Facebook


Keeping the b*stards honest


Greater choice


The business of the soul hires PR


The Merchants of death: a growth sector of PR


Increasing cultural outreach opportunities


Watch out for workplace harassment


Transition to a tobacco free economy


A price on carbon, Earth Change


Understanding risk


The rise of social media for crisis communications, use of location based services


Data theft and increased IT security


Retail trends online, more to follow The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011






arrative, or stories, are an important part of our culture and are part of human communication to illustrate points, to inform, to entertain and to persuade. Narrative is a crucial part of building identity and creating meaning from complex and separate events.

PR is corporate storytelling, so understanding the power of narrative is a crucial part of the job. As our economy becomes more complex, and more services orientated, the people who create the corporate story become critical to the organisation [the term corporate covers Governments, NGOs and charities]. The big picture for PR is that all this activity is helping to shape, or create, meaning. US communications expert Marshall Ganz, who helped Barack Obama get elected, suggests that communication for leaders (CEOs, Ministers etc) follows a basic formula: ...narrative is woven from three elements; a story of self; a story of us; a story of now... A story of self communicates who I am – my values, my experience, why I do what I do. A story of us communicates who we are – our shared values, our shared experience, and why we do what we do. And a story of now transforms the present into a moment of challenge, hope, and choice. Sometimes we are so focused on daily news, weekly opportunities, monthly schedules, quarterly financial reporting, AGMs, the three or four year political election cycle; our jobs and our employers shape our world view, that we forget we need to take time out to take stock and review what it is that makes us successful. I’ve been fortunate to meet a number of great speakers over the years. One speaker I met in 2010 stood out for his insights into this idea of the big picture, how it defines and motivates others. PAUL RITCHIE’S BOOK ON THE IMPORTANCE OF NARRATIVE WILL GIVE YOU AN INSIGHT INTO THE VALUE THAT PUBLIC RELATIONS CAN CREATE. UNDERSTANDING HOW TO DRIVE THE NARRATIVE IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN PUBLIC RELATIONS. PAUL’S AN AUSSIE, SO THERE ARE LOTS OF GREAT AUSTRALIAN CASE STUDIES.


The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011




Business (and the business media) will always want to discuss: 1.

Lowering taxes


Increasing productivity and profitability


Share prices, dividends


Increasing efficiencies (especially labour market flexibility)


Reducing red tape


Politics; especially the impact of new legislation on the profitability of any business or sector


Voting trends (because of the impact on the above)

PR practitioners wanting to engage the business media should frame story pitches using any of the above angles. Within the business community there are many different types of companies. Some industries are cautious; like the insurance sector. Some not so: like fashion retail. Established business leaders seek continuity, security and prosperity (and prefer to settle issues privately). New companies seek disruption, opportunity and prosperity. Who you work for often determines the media relations strategy.

China trending slower The biggest “wild card” trend to watch is China. China didn’t have a bad time during the financial crisis in 2007; they relaxed credit to boost the economy, which went into construction and has now generated a house price bubble. If the Chinese authorities can engineer a consumer boom, then all’s well. However, China is slowing (as evidenced by declines in the forward freight/shipping contracts). China is also an economy of contradictions and stresses: fixed exchange rate, large trade surplus (recycled to US borrowers; China is now a major banker to the USA), environmental degradation, corruption (see milk contamination scandal), social tensions and the aforementioned property bubble may all converge in a negative way for China in 2011. If the China house/credit bubble bursts, then Australia could catch a cold. This will be also bad news for Australian Government tax revenues. The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011


#3 Trend



2. 2

Federal trend: the future is a shade of green, with a dash of independence. Balance of power (BOP) in the lower house is with the Independents, and the BOP in The Senate post July will be held by The Greens. The trend means the end of the duopoly (Labor vs Libs), and a new era of minority Government. Less predictable, but more opportunities for lobbying. The trend for the ALP will be focused on returning the Budget to surplus, jobs, being seens as competent financial managers, managing immigration and “border security” (not the TV show) to ensure it isn’t a wedge issue, health (esp reducing obesity, cost of ageing population) and the role of public vs private sector in delivering services (education) and infrastructure, and finally a price on carbon emissions.

3. 3

The Liberals will fight hard to make the ALP look incompetent on all the issues above. 2011 may be a “do or die” year for Tony Abbott. Winning over independents (difficult) or a marginal Labor seat byelection (possible) could land him power; but if he can’t land a knockout punch to PM Julia Gillard, the Libs won’t want a loser as Leader no matter how fit he is, and he’ll be replaced with Hockey or Bishop.

4. 4

Keeping Federal MPs alive – one death and ALP could lose the fragile balance of power

5. 5

Keeping Federal MPs honest – one resignation and, as per above

6. 6

State political trend: moving to the right? Victoria ditched Labor in 2010; NSW elections in March 2011; expect change. A new Government often means a period of instability for PR practitioners in Government departments as the new political leaders implement their priorities and look for some quick “wins”. The private sector will need to prepare for changes, be responsive to change and work with the new political leaders.

7. 7

Local Government. Councils share many trends, such as their limited ability to increase revenue and the ever present development scandals. Does “local media” cover local issues well?

New opportunity for local news There’s a lot of local news that isn’t covered in local newspapers or radio. Talkback radio is an exception, often driven by topics with a left/ABC vs right/commercial agenda that follows the print/TV agenda. One of the likely reasons is that local newspapers are a monopoly and the Editor may have a fixed view of the Council and issues in the area. This is problematic for Councils. Many Councils buy advertising space in their local newspaper to run a “Message from the Mayor” column. Telling the Council’s story is difficult. There’s now an alternative 6

The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011

#4 Trend



here are are number of trends impacting journalists, and the biggest is the rise of the web. The web has taken both revenue and audience from traditional media, and has led to publishers cutting back on journalists. Less journalists means less investigative journalism, and a decline in the quality of news, according to bodies like the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (the union for Journalists). Another trend is the rise a better educated, and increasingly cynical public. Television programs like Hollow Men, Absolute Power, The Hungry Beast, documentaries like Super Size Me, Sicko, as well as films like Thank-you for Smoking, add to the general understanding of, and cynicism towards, the relationship between the PR industry, Politicians, business and the media. If media brands are perceived as little more than channels by which celebrities, companies and Governments funnel their version of the news via PR generated content, the credibility of both will suffer over time. This is a worry for the PR industry. As the PR industry grows, an increasing number of PRs will pitch more stories to a decreasing number of journalists; a recipe for tension? Fake blogs and astroturfing give the PR industry, and corporate PR, a bad reputation. It not just that you shouldn’t do it, or let your PR agency do it for you, in many countries it’s now deemed misleading and deceptive conduct. If you need an example of why, use Wal-Marting Across America. If you want an example of a succesful (and transparent) approach to a blog, see Tourism Queensland’s Best Job in the world. IF CONSUMERS DON’T TRUST THE MEDIA, THE INFORMATION CONTAINED THEREIN BECOMES DEVALUED. The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011


#5 Trend



istorically, commercial TV news followed a formula: older male as lead presenter, with attractive younger female by his side; Australian news first (if it bleeds, it leads), politics, consumer issues causing outrage, possibly some foreign news (or Royal story), sport, finish with a story about overcoming adversity, unless a tale of a crazed croc in NT available. CHANNEL TEN’S THE 7PM PROJECT HAS A NEW NEWS FORMULA FOR PRIME TIME: YOUNGER MALES WITH OLDER FEMALES. A FEMALE ALWAYS LEADS TOO! The picture above shows The 7pm Project presenters, who offer a blend of news, and discussion of the news, in a friendly, non-confrontational way. Commercial TV executives have (at last) acted on demographic fact; over 50% of their audience are female, and many of those females are aged 35+ and, how to put this, are above size 10; and maybe those females want to watch a good looking young male read the news. This is commercial TV however, so the female presenters are still blond. The female presenters are often Mums, and will frequently discuss being a parent, or how their kids relate to the issue in question. Each program usually contains one item that is an exclusive corporate/Govt/agency PR-supplied story that lasts approx 2 to 3 minutes. Whether it’s delivering laptops to kids in the outback or helping the homeless, the program offers many opportunities for PR practitioners.

Is Ten the (friendly) Fox News of Australia? Australian mining billionaire Gina Rinehart is now a substantial shareholder in the Ten Network, and has a board seat alongside Lachlan Murdoch and James Packer. Will their influence mean Ten follows the US Fox News trend of news/commentary that leans to the political right? Is the US Fox News formula too aggressive for Australian audiences? Perhaps we’ll see interviews with Joe Hockey, the friendly face of conservative Australia, every other evening? Maybe. Not Tony Abbott though, he doesn’t rate highly with female audiences. Like The Oprah Winfrey Show, there’s often a faith based story in The 7pm project. 8

The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011

#6 Trend


Increased threats too: be careful when drinking and tweeting. Is social media the best long term investment opportunity for PR practitioners? Possibly. That’s not to discount traditional media relations. Building your own brand (via Twitter) and building your own audience (via Facebook, YouTube etc) presents an opportunity to create an unfiltered relationship with customers. A dialogue. PR practitioners have been burnt when untrained staff have engaged the public on social media; the potential to destroy the corporate reputation is very real. Nothing is truly private on Facebook, despite your settings, as “friends” can make electronic copies of your posts. Facebook owns all your content, forever. Even if you delete your post(s), someone somewhere may have a copy that can be used against you in the court of public opinion. Does this make your corporate website look more attractive? Probably. However, dealing with your CIO, or IT department can be difficult and time consuming. You’re not alone; this issue comes up a lot. But, you need to understand the pressures on IT people. CIOs fear breaches of the corporate firewall and data theft happens all the time. These risks are very real, and should be understood by PR people. SUGGESTIONS: 1.

Ask your CIO if corporate data has been stolen in the past 12 months


Develop a social media strategy, with choices/ideas for social media engagement (one size does not fit all)


Work on tagging and SEO issues for online copy and media releases


Use digital photos and video (and tag them): people will link to great images and videos The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011






n the past, Tourism Australia ran expensive TV advertising campaigns (the “big ad”). Now, subtly, there’s a switch to PR, to creating events like Oprah’s visit that generate huge media coverage. To ensure great media coverage you need great celebrities; TA hired the best, no-one tops Oprah.

Reminds me of a comment from a publicist: “Celebrity is the answer, now what’s your PR question?”

Need more media coverage? Suggestions below: 1.

A survey (“According to a recent survey by...), which could also be used for a list. Everyone likes a list (“The top 20 trends for 2011”)


Create an event (with a celebrity!)


Launch a competition (Best Job in the world)


Make sure your media release has the facts, a case study and a quote from an academic


Write a well researched speech for your CEO and invite the media (“Industry leader says...”)


Create National Something Day, or week, or month (like “Movember”)


Journalists are interested in the big picture. Rather than just discuss your product or company, help them understand where your company/product fits into the big picture. It’s that narrative thing.


Focus your news release on the issues, and the problem being solved


Good quality photos get published! Buy a decent digital SLR camera


Exclusives matter. If possible, divide a story into different exclusives


The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011

#8 Trend



Queen Mattress Only + 12 mins

NEW Body Contour


e love Channel Ten’s The 7pm Project in the Frost house. However, we call it The 8pm Project because we record it at 7pm, and watch it at 8pm, so we can skip the adverts.

In the photo above, “x2” is the phrase that appears on the TV screen when a FOXTEL viewer presses the “fast forward” button to skip the adverts. As more people buy digital recorders, this trend will lead to more opportunities for PR practitioners to get involved in telling the brand story. Why? Because PR practitioners are comfortable with what is called “earned media” rather than “bought media”. Earned media tends not to be skipped. Interestingly, TV is a bit uncool now; the youngsters have discovered a new place to be; Facebook.

Trend: Facebook usage booms When I was a teenager, I wanted to watch TV when I got home from school. My eldest daughter comes home from school and wants to go on Facebook. She’s not interested in TV. This trend is a generational change in media consumption habits. Australians are the highest users of Facebook in the world (hours per month). Probably four reasons; high penetration of broadband and computers/mobiles, high percentage of people with family overseas, limited choice on TV; and how can old media compete with the fun of facebook? Sharing photos with friends, applications like Farmville and messaging seem to absorb hours of time. Facebook is of great interest to PR because (a) it has a potential audience of 500m+ people, and (b) it offers a huge number of free services that are easy to use and these services enable people to share information. Facebook is important because that’s where the crowds are. PRs are finding ways to build communities and have direct relationships. This offers opportunities to inform, educate and entertain. Facebook might IPO this year, meaning more changes as the owners seek to “monetize” the user base. There are risks with facebook. You are in an unregulated space; you are giving away control and there are privacy issues. Social media is fickle, subject to “the madness of the mob” as much as “the wisdom of the crowd”. Because it’s social (and unedited), not “professional media” (edited), it’s easy to forget the boundary between “me as PR” and “me” has disappeared. If you’re really cool, you’ll be integrating Facebook, Twitter, Flickr (et al) with your corporate site. SUPPORTERS SAY YOU ARE GIVING AWAY CONTROL BUT GAINING INFLUENCE AND TRUST. YOU DECIDE. Get yourself a Facebook PR strategy. The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011


#9 Trend


PR is the primary “reputation management” tool for any organisation. PR is successful when the following formula is applied:

WHAT YOU SAY = WHAT YOU DO This formula seems to have been forgotten by some of the leaders in the political and business world. Reputation cannot be easily manufactured in the web 2.0 era, and WikiLeaks is a salutatory reminder of this. An unscientific survey by The PR Report [under 50 people] suggests that many Australians are secretly proud of Julian Assange. Punching above his weight on the world stage, Assange isn’t afraid to take on the might of Uncle Sam and expose the military-industrial complex. To date, there’s been a release of classified documents (and videos) on the Iraq war and US diplomatic cables. THE TREND? REPUTATION MANAGEMENT JUST GOT MORE COMPLICATED. PR PRACTITIONERS MUST UNDERSTAND THIS TREND AND DEVELOP APPROPRIATE RESPONSES. Memo to banking industry: you’re next. Assange says WikiLeaks will release insider information on tax evasion and specific banks as early as March this year.




Advise your CEO that any comment made to a Minister in the privacy of a meeting, could be published in the future


Many organisations instruct senior staff to take notes (on paper and/or on computers) of conversations, telephone calls, tips and rumours. This too could be published in the future


Case study: the people of Tunisia kicked out their corrupt Government in January 2011 because of information revealed on WikiLeaks.

The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011

#10 Trend



he PR agency sector is more diverse than ever before, offering more choices for clients, individuals and agencies. Whatever your communication challenge, there is an agency for you. You can pick from a range of specialist services and from a range of agency sizes and structures.

If you have global PR challenges, you can talk to a global PR agency. If you have a unique, specific, local challenge, you can talk to a local PR agency... or a freelancer. This trend offers greater employment opportunities and more business opportunities - including for those entrepreneurial PR people looking to start their own PR agencies. Staring your own PR agency is an exhilarating experience. Read Peter Mayle’s funny book “Up the Agency” as a primer. Here’s a summary of Mayle’s advice: ensure you start your agency with a foundation client willing to put you on a monthly retainer for a contracted period (say 12 months) with margins high enough to allow you to employ others to do the client work, leaving you time for new business development (i.e. winning new clients). Understanding how to price for work is the key factor for the financial health of your agency, along with strict financial control (especially cash flow and accurate billing). Ensure agency time-sheets and invoices are meticulously accurate. Ensure a regular client-agency review where both sides discuss all aspects of the work. Staff are your key asset; it’s a people business and you’re asking people to trust you. IF YOU DON’T LOOK AFTER YOUR STAFF, THEY CAN EASILY WALK OUT THE DOOR.

The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011






n 2010 Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson spoke about his thought provoking book in which he states the Catholic Church acts above the law, the Vatican is a “rogue state” and the Pope should resign because of his continuous failure to act on child abuse by Priests (Robertson says there are about 100,000 abused victims worldwide). Also in 2010, a collective of 15 Australian Churches (Anglicans, Baptists etc) hired a marketing & PR agency to run a $1.5m advertising/PR campaign called “Jesus – all about Life”. The campaign’s intention being to promote Jesus (and his values), rather than the church itself (the organised part of religion).

CO-INCIDENCE? The Churches campaign was probably a strategy to divert attention away from Robertson’s critique of organised religion (covered in depth by much of the broadsheet print media), and, one suspects, to bolster support amongst the core supporter base, in case they’d started to doubt their Church. PR - all about trust, all about reputation. Expect two trends:  A rise in faith based communication and lobbying to counter the increase attacks on organised religion.  Future Church campaigns to focus on case studies of the good work that Churches do in Church run/ owned schools, retirement homes, hospitals, caring for the elderly and so on. Controversy and competition will always lead to an increase in PR activity. 14

The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011

#12 Trend


In the film “Thank you for smoking” Aaron Eckhart plays Nick Naylor, a lobbyist and PR practitioner who works for a PR agency. The agency, and Naylor, handle PR and lobbying for a tobacco company. In the film Naylor and his peers, a firearm lobbyist and an alcohol lobbyist, regularly meet to discuss their work, and jokingly refer to themselves as the “Merchants of Death”.

If “Thank you for smoking” were made today, who else would be added to the group? Thanks to the book “Deadly Spin”, what about the US private health insurance sector? What about coal fired power stations? Following the US gulf oil spill, what about oil companies and oil drilling subcontractors? Thanks to the film “Death on a Factory Farm”, intensive farming of animals?


The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011


#13 Trend


AUSTRALIA IS A MULTI-CULTURAL PLACE. MAYBE NOT A MELTING POT OF DIFFERENT CULTURES A N D E T H N I C I T I E S , M AY B E MORE A PATCHWORK QUILT. The trends is a rise in the number of multi-cultural, or ethnic, celebrations and the willingness of the mainstream media to cover them. This is a PR opportunity. Multi-cultural events are great for Australian cities; the trend for Governments and companies to support and help different communities makes good business sense (bi-lateral trade, improving cross-cultural understanding), and it makes our cities more vibrant, and this attracts more vibrant people to live and work here. There are lots of opportunities for PR practitioners to reach out and connect different communities with the media. Events, festivals, insights into customs, food, music, dance, all offer great media opportunities. 2011 IS THE CHINESE YEAR OF THE RABBIT. KUNG HEI FAT CHOI ! 16

The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011

#14 Trend


Kristy Fraser-Kirk worked in the Publicity/PR department at David Jones. In 2010, her boss, CEO Mark McInnes, acted inappropriately towards her, and subsequently resigned. She sued him and David Jones. The case never got to court; according to media reports, Fraser-Kirk settled for $850,000.

Both sides hired PR agents/ agencies.

What can PR practitioners learn from the McInnes/Fraser-Kirk saga? 1.

The issue for PR practitioners: Directors must have clear policies for themselves and HR to deal with, and manage, complaints. Not knowing, and not acting are not excuses.


The personal issue: if you’re a female in PR, you need to take extra care because your job probably involves working at events/functions where alcohol is present, often late in the evening.


This issue didn’t have a long-term impact on sales or the share price for David Jones Ltd. Customers (mostly women) carried on shopping and shareholders felt comfortable that the issue wouldn’t cost DJ’s a great deal, or further heads to roll. It may not be that way for your organisation.

SUGGESTIONS: Professionally: ensure your organisation (Directors and staff ) knows how to treat complaints. Include unplanned employee/Director resignation/termination for inappropriate behaviour as part of your standard crisis communication plan. Personally: Write a diary. Don’t drink alcohol at work functions. Use a buddy system in meetings and at events. Agree expenses for cabs home. See a lawyer if something happens. Know your options.

There’s some excellent advice here from a PR lady: The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011


#15 Trend



ustralia is a world leader is the transition to a tobacco free economy. We have a large and effective quit smoking and anti-tobacco lobbying and campaigning sector. With the help of Government legislation, cessation products, quit smoking campaigns and increased taxation, smoking rates have fallen to 17% of the adult population. A great result, but it’s been at 17% for a while now; the quit smoking campaign needs some fresh thinking and ideas. Together, we can help. The PR Report has founded Lung Hour, an open source collaborative project that offers any PR or advertising practitioner the opportunity to create a quit smoking campaign. It’s your chance to make a difference and create a name for yourself. The PR Report will launch an annual award for the best campaign. HERE’S ONE SUGGESTION:

Advertisement: A message to cigarette smokers:

WHAT’S YOUR DEATH PLAN? Smoking cigarettes causes cancer; they’re a proven killer; it says so on the packets. This advert is not going to tell you about the chemicals in cigarettes, or how cigarettes cause cancer. THIS ADVERT IS ASKING YOU TO CONSIDER HOW YOU’RE GOING TO DIE. If you get lung cancer, it’s likely you’ll have a painful death. This is difficult for you, and extremely traumatic for your family and friends. What’s even more problematic is that you may only have a few months to sort out all your personal and financial details before you die, including what your family will do if you are the main income earner. You’ll need to discuss your terminal decline and pain management with your doctor, and your doctor can advise who can help and counsel you, and your family, during and after the period of your death. You’ll need to discuss a death plan with your doctor and family.

This advert was created by Lung Hour from the personal experience of the author after his brotherin-law died from cancer. After being diagnosed


The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011

with Stage Four brain and lung cancer, he lived for another 6 months. The Macmillan Trust UK provided support and counselling.

#16 Trend



xpect frenzied lobbying and media commentary on the need to put a price on carbon in 2011; our PM has promised action this year, and we all know what happened to the last PM that made that promise. How do our political leaders view the transition to a low carbon economy?

Here’s a quick quiz: 1.

What political party wants to introduce a market based price on carbon emissions?


What political party prefers direct action to tackle carbon emissions?

Answers: 1.


Liberals used to prefer market based economic theory (prices drive decision making), and Labor preferred direct action (Governments drive decision making). Having the second highest carbon emissions in the world (per capita), and some confusing party-political economic theorists, the transition to a low carbon economy will be difficult trend for Australia, but this offers opportunities for both lobbyists and PRs.



UK Conservative Party Secretary of State William Hague MP had to say on his visit to Australia on 19/1/2011: “Low carbon growth is fundamental to the UK’s strategy for domestic economic prosperity, and, I believe, to the world’s future. I will be interested to hear Australia’s plans for tackling climate change and to share our experiences in the UK, including lessons we’ve learned from our emissions trading scheme.”

*** New trend: Climate change now Earth change *** In 2011, Australian scientists will publish research that models and analyses how the earth’s crust will react to the dramatic changes in weight/pressure from melting ice due to climate change. The evolution of the climate change debate may move towards using the term “Earth change”

The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011


#17 T Trend


his page seeks to help PR practitioners understand how to define and analyse risk and the potential impact to corporate reputation. We have chosen a real example to illustrate the point that greater competition leads to greater risk, and as many business sectors in Australia are experiencing increased competition, we believe it’s a key trend to watch. Australians are drinking less beer in an increasingly competitive market with new brands entering all the time. That’s the trend. What is the brewing industry doing to counter this trend? Brewers have asked their ad agencies to come up with new ideas for campaigns to advertise beer. Ad agencies are fans of “the big idea” when pitching to clients – this is ad industry speak for an idea that satisfies the client (“you’ll own the category”), is memorable (aka award winning) and sells more of the product. The ad agency hopes “the big idea” can be used year after year, thus providing an annual fee for little additional work. A classic example is the Heineken campaign used for 10+ years featuring the tagline “Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach” With increased competition amongst brewers, pressure increases to create a memorable new campaign, and so creative risks are taken. This increases the risk that the advertising will offend. The greater the outrage, the greater the potential for reputation damage, and that’s important for PRs. Let’s look at a recent example created by Saatchi & Saatchi for Tooheys New, owned by Lion Nathan: is the campaign “Tooheys New – the official currency of the beer economy” a high risk campaign? In the adverts, various transactions are given a beer exchange rate. Gone are the days when you apologised to your mate and bought him an individual beer; the adverts state that certain transactions are valued in slabs. Does this encourage the average person to buy more beer? Maybe, after all, that is the purpose of spending money on advertising, but that’s not the risk.

If a company talks about “the beer economy” then this implicitly covers “externalities” as well as “benefits” of the beer economy. The term “externality” is used by economists to refer to costs not borne by the business. For the alcohol industry, externalities would include costs of traffic accidents from drink driving, for example. Does the phrase “the beer economy” conjure up images of tragic car accidents or alcoholfuelled domestic violence, and does this lead to a sense of outrage from the public towards the alcohol industry?



The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011

#18 Trend


The PR Report has a free crisis communication and social media report for PR practitioners. Frocomm has produced a number of events on Crisis Communication & Social Media over the previous years. The Crisis Comms report is free and available here: (scroll down to the bottom of the page). The report was written by Craig Pearce of CP Consulting and Bluegrass Consulting. The focus of the conferences was on social media’s relevance to crisis communication. Presenters made it clear that any contemporary crisis communication plan that does not include social media is incomplete and seriously flawed. Key themes for PR practitioners: • The need for social media guidelines for employees • Understanding social media before entering it • The power of pictures and video, especially YouTube • Use popular sites like Facebook and Twitter; that’s where the audience is • The influence social media-driven information is having on traditional media coverage • Social media should not be used at the expense of existing media • Use apps and integrate information with Google Maps wherever possible

Key trend: rise of location based services Many people struggle to find a use for apps and/or services that tell you your location and the location of your friends/contacts. However, for mission critical activities, managing emergency personnel or personnel distributed over a large area, location based services offer a great advantage or opportunity in a crisis situation. It may also allow the boss to monitor staff movements. The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011






obiles, emails and texts all carry personal, sensitive and valuable information. In 2006, a large number of politicians and celebrities had their mobile phones hacked by a private investigator working for UK newspaper News of the World. The editor at the time was Andy Coulson. Coulson resigned, without admitting any knowledge of, or participation in, the scandal. Coulson then went to work for the UK Conservative opposition leader David Cameron. Cameron then won the election and became PM. How lucky was Coulson!

But the issue hadn’t gone away, merely buried to re-appear in 2011... With fresh investigations and scrutiny, Coulson resigned as UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s senior media advisor on Friday 21/1/11. This story has it all (Prime Minister, Murdoch, PR agencies, celebrities and their managers); it will run and run. However, this story is indicative of a much wider trend that impacts the lives of PRs; data theft and IT security. The trend towards a more fiercely competitive media, all clamouring for exclusives and inside information, all needing something to give their outlet the edge, the scoop, led some individuals to break the law to get that information. Has your organisation been hacked? WHAT YOU CAN DO: Ask IT to advise on security issues and, at a minimum, update password protection security for employee mobiles, email and any other applications that employees use for communication.


The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011

#20 Trend



strong Australian dollar. Broadband penetration in almost 100% of homes with

above average income.

Holiday season, Xmas. Need to buy presents. Need to satisfy your own retail therapy? There’s a website for everything. Online shopping allows buyers to compare prices, offers global product choice, ease of selection and delivery. About 50% of products on EBAY are at a fixed price. The trend for business to move online is a trend that has been gathering pace since the commercial web began in the early to mid 1990’s. Online shopping boomed in 2010 because of a strong Australian dollar, and the trend will continue in 2011. Shortly after Christmas 2010, billionaire retailer Gerry Harvey publicly suggested taxing overseas purchases made online by Australians; that is, that prices for Aussies should go up. No wonder he received an immediate rollicking on social media. However, I do agree with Gerry’s comment on the language used by some of the Twitterati; there’s no need for people to use the c-word; there are plenty of alternatives. Your argument falls flat the moment you start using expletives; a point Gerry implied in interviews following the initial launch of the campaign. I wonder how many calls Gerry received from PR agencies after he made those comments? We look forward to a more considered communication campaign from Gerry in 2011...

iHarvey 2.0 ? The Top 20 Trends for PR Practitioners in 2011



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Front cover photo explained: clarity and simplicity in communication This photo was chosen as the cover photo because: (a)

You probably won’t have seen it before


It demonstrates that effective communication is an art. The sign is clear and simple, yet it’s not quite right. Communication is a fundamental part of human interaction, but it’s subjective. Maybe something always gets lost in translation, even between people that speak the same language.


The photo was taken in 1993 in Bangalore, India. The language is Kannada (underneath the English)

The PR Report Top 20 Trends 2011  

The PR report Top 20 Trends 2011