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

Good PR and bad PR – nothing in between

April 24, 2009


While away chatting with a journalist last Thursday night at the official launch event of The Sebel Surry Hills, he put forth the comment “there are good public relations practitioners and there are bad public relations practitioners – nothing in between”. Michael Jackson’s lyrics suddenly come to mind. This comment couldn’t be more ‘black and white’. However I found my head nodding profusely in agreement. 


Why is that journalists often shudder when they hear the two words ‘public relations’ echoing down the phone line? In my opinion, there are simply too many PR practitioners missing the mark out there, subsequently smearing a dirty mark on the industry’s reputation with the media.

Take these comments for example. Dynamic Business editor and blogger, Jen Bishop often gets frustrated by pestering PR practitioners: “All I want for 2009 is for PR people not to call me every time they send a press release to see if I received it. I mean, if I didn’t, it would have bounced back, right? If I was interested, I would have replied, and if I wasn’t, well, that’s why I didn’t get back to you! End of”.

British business journalist Dan Martin, is completely fed up with receiving irrelevant PR material that he decided for two days in February he would only accept pitches via the social network Twitter: “If this two-day experiment works, I may well extend it and say goodbye to having to clean out my inbox and listen to irrelevant voicemail messages on a daily basis!”


When journalists start requesting a 140 character ‘tweet’ rather than receiving a media release – something has to be going wrong.


Personally, I believe there really should be no excuse for public relations practitioners landing themselves on the wrong side of the media. If a PR consultant puts in the hard yards before hand and:  

  •           researches the media and specific journalists thoroughly, knows their deadlines, particular interests, stories covered in the past, etc. 
  •           thinks creatively!
  •           compiles a well written and newsworthy media release
  •           prepares all additional material and spokespeople before sending the release
  •          sends the release within an appropriate time frame only to targeted and relevant individuals
  •          responds to media requests efficiently and promptly
  •          refrains from contacting media without a specific purpose to their call (“did you receive my release?” doesn’t count!)


THEN and ONLY THEN will PR material sent to journalists become regarded as valuable information – and not simply the next victim of the inbox ‘delete’ button.


Journalists and PR practitioners can be friends. But it requires the players on the PR team to continuously work at finding out what the media wants and then, never stop putting in the hard yards to deliver. Only then the partnership will flourish.


People working in the PR industry and journalists – I would love to hear your thoughts on this one?


– Gemma Crowley





The best conversations are two-way

March 13, 2009

The more I learn about social media the more I realise that it is really about conversations and what I know as a PR practitioner is that communication aims to start or continue a conversation.


The main challenge businesses have with social media is to stop talking ‘to’ their target audiences and start conversing ‘with’ them. But knowing this new audience can be a daunting task. The online audience can be fickle and scathing in its attack but yet it also gives voice to the fans and champions of a brand.


Just by listening, social media can be a fantastic tool of gathering customer information and feedback. Dell has done a great job of doing this with its Ideastorm  site   that allows anyone to comment, provide feedback or give suggestions about Dell’s products.


The main thing we recommend to any business entering the online arena is that the online community isn’t interested in your marketing messages rather they are interested in what you have to contribute. The worst thing a company can do is go out gung-ho and spread their marketing-speak.


For instance, the National Australia Bank’s hit and miss attempt to reach bloggers and those commenting on blogs with blatant sales messages resulted in a blogger backlash.



The businesses that are achieving success with social media are those that are offering interesting insights and most importantly a human personality.


Telstra’s BigPond ISP is on Twitter. The micro-blogging site Twitter is often used by user’s to vent their frustrations and as it is easy to track mentions of brands and topics, BigPond are quick to respond to these outbursts by offering to help solve problems and offer information. Their account attracts many questions and is a good example of a large corporate engaging and conversing with its audience.


Conversations aren’t just limited to the online realm. Any communication issued by a business should seek to engage an audience. Engaging an audience isn’t just about talking about your brand as the best in its field, communicating involves listening to your audience and tapping into what is relevant to them.


I guess it just comes down to, if you want to be heard, join the conversation.


Jo Gitsham

What is the difference between hiring a PR consultant or an in-house PR professional?

December 19, 2008

I can’t believe that I’ve been working in PR for nearly 21 years. I started out as a very green communication graduate in February 1987 as a junior consultant with Vion-Rutzou which later became Edelman and worked my way up to senior consultant level with Dennis Rutzou PR.

In 1993 I decided it was time to try something new and moved to an in-house role with Panasonic. This led me to a number of in-house roles including Dick Smith Electronics, Woolworths, Integral Energy and now back with DRPR. So I feel I’m quite qualified to talk about the difference between consulting and in-house.

Both have their merits and drawbacks which I plan to share with you.

Because I’m currently working as a consultant I’ll start with the benefits of hiring a PR agency like DRPR.

Our number one selling point when we are talking to prospective clients is our objectivity. As we are outside a client’s organisation, we can offer them a unique perspective. When you work inside an organisation you tend to be blinkered and, in some cases, a bit indoctrinated. So you can find it impossible to be objective.

Another major benefit of outsourcing to a consultancy is that you can hire someone (or a team) with more experience for the same budget. For example, if you were paying your consultancy $85,000 per year you’d be getting a senior PR person with up to 20 years experience, backed up by one or more junior level consultants. If you hired an in-house PR Manager for $85,000 per year you might get someone who had say five to seven years experience.

There are of course benefits to hiring an in-house person. They can absorb the company culture and have more accessibility. When I worked at Panasonic I became the organisation’s key resource for company history and the person who was called upon when no one else knew the answer.

An in-house person is also available to the organisation full-time so they don’t have other clients to command their attention. Having said that, they are still entitled to four weeks annual leave and at least five days sick leave so if you only have one PR person, you’ll have to do without them sometime during the year.

Often a compromise that many organisations settle on is hiring a relatively junior in-house PR person who is backed up by a more experienced agency. This scenario cashes in on the benefits of both consultancy and in-house and can work well for many companies.

Either way professional communication is something that most organisations need on an ongoing basis or at least from time-to-time so give us a call if you want to talk about how you can enhance your company’s image.

Nicola Rutzou