Keep on message

August 12, 2010
The term ‘keep on message’ is one that we are familiar with during an election campaign as political leaders try and repeat the slogans that have come out of research as the sentiments that will best appeal to those important voters in the key marginals.
But why do they do it?
The simple reason is that repetition is how human beings remember things. It started with the repetition of the two times tables when we first started school and the same principle applies in all other instances where we need to remember something, or someone else feels we need to remember it. Cramming before an exam is an obvious example of the need to remember information in the hope that if we get that question our memory will be able to regurgitate the answer.
But how does this apply to you and communication about your business?
I have used the following phrase throughout my PR career to sum up how it works:
‘Effective communication is the repetition of credible key messages and the degree of repetition required is always underestimated’.  
You have to tell ’em, tell ’em you told ’em, then tell ’em again.
In every PR program we undertake, one of the vital first steps we do for our client is to develop the key messages, which are the ones that will repeated throughout the PR activities. I emphasise that they must be credible otherwise you risk shooting yourself in the foot as no one will believe you anyway.
Has anyone got any anecdotes of good, or bad examples of key messages?
@Dennis Rutzou

Where were you when history happened?

June 24, 2010

In the context of discussing the birth date of parents or older rels, my wife and I often speculate on the changes that happened in their lifetime.

 For example, my wife’s dad (who passed away quite a few years ago) was born in the late 1800s and from time to time we have commented on the enormous changes and events that occurred in his lifetime, such as two world wars, the motor car, radio, television, penicillin, telephone and computer. It is a long list, but was he really aware of these enormous changes and the impact they would have.

 The short answer is probably not. He was busy and got on with it on a day to day basis.

 So are we aware of the enormous changes that are occurring in our world today, or are we just getting on with it?

 I was sharply reminded of the dramatic changes that are and will occur by a YouTube video I saw the other day

So keep alert to what is happening around you. Remember, your grandkids may ask you one day, what it was like in the olden days?


Issues management – start with the two ‘Ps’

April 29, 2010


The management of issues that could have an impact on the business has always been a big subject to all in management and particularly to those in public relations.

It was important in the era of print, radio and television, but today it is even bigger with the impact of online media, particularly social media, blogs and twitter with the capacity to communicate and influence people by the millions in an instant.

We have all seen the FaceBook examples of ‘United Airlines smashed my guitar’ and Dell and Dominos online, but if you are in a responsible position in any organisation, what should you have done before those disasters emerged.

Try the two ‘Ps’ – planning and preparation. What can you do in advance to be prepared if disaster strikes?

Much of it is obvious and really based on common sense and knowledge of the media and how it works. There are also plenty of text books which set it out chapter and verse, such as the need for trained media spokespersons who can get the message across in an interview. But you should start at the organisational level and assess who should get together in the case of a crisis and ensure that they are all briefed so the ducks are all pointed in the same direction.

Strategy should be vital component of the planning process.

It is interesting to reflect on the issue of issues management and crisis planning in the current context of the Australian Rugby League and the ongoing media crisis of the Melbourne Storm and the salary cap situation.

It is a crisis that will keep going for months, distract from the game and have disastrous future consequences, but how should it have been handled?

If you don’t agree with the strategy that has been followed so far, what alternative should have been adopted?

I know it will be like shutting the stable door after the entire mob of thoroughbreds have joined the wild bush horses, but I would certainly be interested in some creative alternatives other than calling in ‘Clancy of the Overflow’?.

– Dennis Rutzou


Are media releases a new form of email spam?

April 8, 2010



Is this response greeting your media release?

Anyone with anything to do with the media is now several metres deep in indiscriminate emailed media releases.

I blame incompetent PR people, the DIY PR books and articles and those people who whip out media releases to all in the forlorn hope that some journo will find the story interesting.

Quite often the subject is irrelevant to the medium concerned and the story so badly written that it is hard to work out what they are trying to say.

For sixteen years I produced and presented a daily business radio program on the community radio network and as a result received a lot of media releases thanks to various listing on media guides.

Some releases were helpful and a handful of PR people had even listened to the program so I could schedule the occasional item or interview with their clients on a subject relevant to the listeners.

The program however ceased production on December 1998 and although I have managed to ‘unsubscribe’ to quite a few of the releases, some do not have that facility and my efforts to stop others have been ineffective.

As a result, the media releases still come. I am forever shocked at the irrelevance that continues to cram my inbox. 

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Climate change and the elephant in the room?

January 15, 2010


In all the current debate (for debate read hysteria) about climate change there is an elephant in the room that has gone largely unnoticed.

It’s over population and despite what we do about limiting our CO2 emissions, if we can’t stabilise or reduce the population of the planet; it seems to me that these efforts will be largely wasted.

A few years ago my client was the Freedom from Hunger Campaign which was a campaign connected with the World Health Organisation concerned with helping the world’s hungriest nations to feed themselves, not reply on handouts.

At one stage it held the Australian record of the greatest amount of money raised in one-day doorknock appeal.

The need to stabilise the population was very much part of this effort and not much seems to have happened to the two major causes of uncontrolled population growth, namely the lack of social welfare in the world’s poorest countries that creates the need for people to have many children so that some will survive to support them in their old age or religious dogma that forbids contraception.

My prediction is that when the dust settles in Copenhagen, the next big headline will be over population.

What’s your opinion?

 – Dennis Rutzou

How can you improve your email efficiency?

December 14, 2009


I received a business letter yesterday. It came through the post in an envelope with a stamp on the front. It was quite a novelty and a reminder to me of how email has overtaken daily business written communication.

So much so that many people starting business careers today would not know how to layout and compose a business letter.

Emails as a means of business communication are full of inherent faults and frustrations caused by bad planning, poor written construction and a failure of the recipient to read beyond the first paragraph.

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How much does a PR program cost and how is the amount determined?

December 9, 2009


Not surprisingly it is a question we are often asked. In a competitive situation where a potential client is trying to decide between submissions from rival consultancies, how can you decide which one offers the best value for money?

Let me answer the first question first. At DRPR, we charge a monthly professional fee (not a retainer), which is calculated in accordance with the potential level of involvement.

In other words we are pre-selling our hours which are calculated with the aid of a template based on extensive experience of handling similar situations in the past. We work on the principle that when the client opens the envelope and takes out the invoice, there are no surprises as everything has been agreed to in advance. The client can budget and we know what our obligation is towards the client. I have worked under other charging systems in the past, such as hours worked and retainer plus hours. The problem with this system is that everyone becomes preoccupied with how long it took to do the job and not the outcome.

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