Category: Public Relations

In 2019, you should finally get that crisis planning done, because your job depends on it. Despite what the PR industry says, a reputation crisis rarely creates long-term harm to a business (see long-term impact). This year, research has convinced us that the real impact of a crisis is on the jobs and reputations of…

When the Government announces a review into an industry, we advise clients to use the initial publicity to influence the outcome. At this early stage, most organisations hope against hope that the issue will go away or the outcome will be benign. So they avoid saying anything, except blandly claiming they “welcome the review”. This…

The reaction of pundits to Nike’s “believe in something” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick is so confused that it offers no lead for companies about the wisdom of doing something similar.   It’s common for PR experts to call any whiff of controversy a #PRfail, but some have claimed that the vitriolic US reaction against Nike…

A new study released by PR company BlacklandPR, shows that New Zealanders think Waikato is largely cows and a river, and it appears that locals think the same.   Unprompted, the one thousand participants were most likely to associate the Waikato with dairy or farming in general (16%), the Waikato river (10%) and Hamilton (8%)….

There is an answer for all those who argue that a company, industry or region needs a “story”.   The answer is to not to say we need a story, but to write it – provide the content and the words.   Story writing is hard. When written by corporates the result is usually a…

We’ve reached peak virtue-signalling by businesses.   More research has emerged that customers don’t want businesses or CEOs to be social activists.  Last year the American Association of Advertising Agencies found that while brands and their agencies are keen on values-based marketing, the majority of consumers don’t like it one bit.   Similar research this…

On RNZ’s Checkpoint this week, John Campbell ridiculed comments by Genesis Energy CEO Marc England on the basis that he “could hear the media training” in them.   Campbell meant that the England’s message about Genesis becoming an energy management company was boring and unnatural.   His frustration revealed that a lot of what CEOs…

BlacklandPR Waikato is moving into Panama House next week as we expand our business in the Waikato. It’s a lovely site overlooking the mighty Waikato river. We look forward to sharing it with our Waikato clients.

The simplest way to acknowledge colleagues and gain free publicity for your organisation is back again; the 2019 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards. You should nominate someone for a category in this award.   Nominations close at midnight on September 17 and can be submitted online at www.nzawards.org.nz.   Awards categories include:  …

Some intriguing research has recently revealed that people must notice change before they remodel their predictions and expectations.   Apparently, the main purpose for memory is to model the future (if fire hurts to touch, it will hurt next time).  If we encounter changes in real life, we alter our memories to improve the predictions….

Within minutes of a power outage in Wellington today, punters were speculating on the reasons.   Power began being restored after two hours, along with a reason for the outage – a substation equipment failure.   But rumours about the outage had already spread rapidly on the streets where office workers unshackled from dead computers…

The controversy over origin of World’s fashion wear shows us the two major factors necessary for a controversy make the leap into public consciousness.   A Spin Off story revealed that although World’s clothes may be assembled in NZ, materials were made in Bangladesh and China. Most New Zealanders can hardly be troubled by this…

A fascinating thing about the demise of the house safety meth test is how a social phenomenon of many years ended in one day.   In a stroke, the PM’s Chief Scientist Peter Gluckman tore down an incredible and ephemeral practice that had mutated into a form of hysteria. The meth test policy led to…

In terms of Waikato’s role on the national stage, growth is a double-edged sword. Our city, our institutions and our companies will be scrutinised with the same fervour applied to Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.   The scale of our success and operations means there’s either many customers or supporters involved, or a large amount of…

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…

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…

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…

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…

A new analysis of the removal of Sevens Rugby from Wellington has blamed the organisers, including NZ Rugby, and the police for the decline in crowd attendance. The Report, Demise of the Wellington Sevens, by public relations consultancy BlacklandPR, concludes that organisers collaborated in a “moral panic” led by police and the Wellington “establishment” against…

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…

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…

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…

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….

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…

Donald Trump has been elected US President despite months of intense, high-profile condemnation from the political and media establishment, and social media shouters.   No previous candidate in living memory, not even Ronald Reagan, has been so vilified. Critics even questioned his right to stand as a candidate – his right to a place in…

A challenge of our social era is that it is hard to ignore headlines, but more necessary than ever before. The challenge of good PR judgment is knowing what headlines matter, and which don’t.   WeightWatchers copped bad headlines when it sent a lightbulb to female journalists encouraging them to leave the light on when…

24 hours after being vilified for firing a disabled worker who stole a colleague’s drink bottle, the chief executive of Bunnings went on Newstalk ZB to explain the sacking. The explanation gave enough hints to suggest that there was more than one side to the story.   “These decisions aren’t taken lightly… it’s just not…

Did Brexit win because the word sounded better than Remain? An argument in the referendum wash-up is that ‘Brexit’ was snappy and active, while ‘Remain’ was dour and static.   Brexit supporters were Brexiteers – adventurous, swashbuckling. Those supporting staying were Remainers – boring and against change.   Words are critical to persuasion. They can…

A survey by UK-based PR week found journalists think half the PR people they deal with are not good at their jobs.   The main complaint of journalists was that PR people don’t spend enough time looking at the output of the media they pitch to, making the stories of their clients irrelevant.   We…

The Wellington Rugby Union hit trouble over its response to player Losi Filipo escaping conviction for a vicious fight in Courtenay Place.   The WRFU initially decided to support Filipo’s court case, and stand with him under public scrutiny. But after 24 hours of pressure, the WRFU ‘mutually’ agreed to end Filipo’s contract.   Many…

There is an easy way recognise the people in your networks and to get some effortless publicity for your organisation; nominate a staff member, friend or acquaintance for the New Zealander of the Year Awards.   BlacklandPR has been working with the Awards for five years and is an official sponsor.   Nominations close on…

It has been fascinating to study performance of the “transparent” approach to communication adopted by councils over contamination of the Havelock North water supply.   We’ll put aside the initial slow response to connect the dots, as that’s disappointingly normal for all of us facing the uncertainty of contamination.   Once the water supply was…

We live in in a topsy-turvy, hyper-sensitive era, where photos of staff playing the fool get a public treatment worse than dangerous malfunctions that risk lives.   AirNZ declared itself “appalled” at photos on social media of a pilot kissing a blow-up doll and video of a flight attendant spitting water, and taking the issue…

In our Mind the Gap function this week over 30 professionals working in agriculture addressed the effects of a growing divide between urban and rural New Zealand.   Data presented by Andrew Fraser of DairyNZ and Emma Higgins of Rabobank, illustrated an alarming lack of familiarity with the rural sector among urban New Zealanders.  …

According to research by the Economist Intelligence Unit, CEOs say reputation is their organisation’s most prized asset. But they also say it is the most vulnerable and hardest to get right.   It is the capriciousness of reputation that makes CEOs wary of engaging when their organisation is criticised in public. When you’re not certain…

The tether that once bound urban and rural New Zealand has come loose. Urbanisation has disconnected us. Some people even contemplate a country without rural industries.   I don’t.  I am convinced we need to rebind urban and rural New Zealand for the better of our economic and cultural future.   We need to build…