Category: Public Relations

What do you mean?

When people communicate, we often use words we know other people like. But this causes trouble when our meaning of the word is different to theirs.   For example, it’s de rigueur to talk about “vulnerable” people. But what we mean by using this word is extremely variable. Is it poor, aged, adolescent, female…? And Read More …

How to deliver public warnings

New research reveals that New Zealand institutions are failing to deliver effective public communication about imminent natural hazards.   Most of us know the story of the boy who cried wolf. In the versions popularized in the 1500s, the tale-telling boy is not believed when a wolf does appear. In some versions of the story Read More …

Telling unchanging stories

For a career that has become a profession, the political class perform surprisingly badly at the job. Here’s two lessons you can learn from their mistakes last month.   1) Tell your story, then stop. Journalists are very good at spotting weaknesses in stories.  Bill English kept telling them his story about Todd Barclay each Read More …

Using human instinct to your advantage

When public safety is threatened people seek reassurance in the simple answers, even though they may be the wrong ones.  Organisations can use this to their advantage.   In the weeks following the Grenfell fire a particular type of cladding has been singled out as the cause.   Of course, the cause of the fire Read More …

Dress up to persuade

Three brothers were part of a team that invented a portable medical diagnosis device for an innovation competition.   Which of the two photos above is the best one to help tell the story about their technology? The one of the three brothers dressed up as Star Trek figures holding their Dr McCoy version of Read More …

What it takes to communicate

A journalist commented on our Communicator of the Year award; “You’d expect them to be good communicators because it’s their job.”   That made us smile because it imagines that communication comes easily. It assumes that ‘news’ is made by people whose job it is to make news.   There are thousands of people with Read More …

Taking charge at the Oscars

The Oscars hired PwC to run a process that didn’t lead to errors in awarding gongs. They would have been better hiring a PR company to focus on clarity of leadership and communication.   That’s because when the process went wrong, as process inevitably does, brave communication and leadership is the only thing that could Read More …

The weakness of media policies

A strict “media policy” on who can speak to journalists only works if those who do speak are good at it, and free to use their skills.   Muffin Break illustrated the weakness recently when media inquiries about “maggots” in a chicken wrap were referred up to its national office by the Upper Hutt outlet. Read More …

Throttling the goose

The death throes of the Wellington Sevens illustrate one of our favourite business maxims: act in the interests of your audience, not your peers.   A few years ago the Sevens reached its crazy hedonistic zenith. Criticism of the audience took hold among Wellington influencers and decision-makers.   Anxious to assuage the critics, the organisers Read More …