Tag Archive for: media coverage

Media storm of the month – June 2011

One of the previous month’s biggest stories has been a tragic one – the murder of a Gold Coast police officer Damian Leeding. Shot in the head late in the evening on Sunday May 29, his family then had to make the heartbreaking decision to turn off his life support machine.

The media coverage of the murder and subsequent funeral was extensive with all mainstream print and broadcast media covering the initial reports, the following progress of the officer and then his state funeral on the Gold Coast, attended by thousands.

The sheer scale of the response was huge. The power of the media was used for good as all the major TV stations were asking the public to donate to the Damian Leeding Remembrance Fund for his young family left behind – more than $150,000 has been raised so far, a huge amount for what might have been a small local charitable fund.

Damian had one of the biggest state funerals ever with the public moved to show their support. The event was broadcast live and online and was a topic of much interest on the social networking site Twitter. The Catholic Leader printed the homily delivered at the funeral.

And other brands got in on the act to help out – the police officer’s young son even got to meet the Queensland State of Origin team.

The murder itself exposed issues of police protection – a new taskforce was announced following Damian’s death. There has been a spate of violent crime in the Gold Coast so far in 2011, predominantly linked to drugs and biker gangs. In fact, Damian’s boss was himself injured following a drug raid just weeks after his death.

Trying to make some sense of the increase in crime, the Queensland Police Union has linked it to the global financial crisis.

But as well as the heartbreak for Damian’s family and the tragic loss for his police colleagues, the media storm surrounding the current crime spree on the Gold Coast has further negative implications.

Local politicians have claimed it’s having an effect on education with foreign students cancelling their courses after seeing the recent stories in the news.

The evaluating committee for the 2018 Commonwealth Games, for which the Gold Coast is a contender, have had to make a statement saying that the crimes won’t affect Gold Coast’s chances of hosting, but it’s hard to see how it won’t.

And there are some indications that tourists are cancelling trips. The new CEO of Sunshine Coast Destination Ltd has even said that selling his destination as a safe place to holiday could help them attract the tourists now not visiting the Gold Coast.

If we want to help the Gold Coast now to try and stop these crimes happening we shouldn’t be deserting the area in its hour of need but keep visiting in our droves to keep the tourism and surrounding industry buoyant so that people can have gainful employment and less need for the drugs as a result of despair. It’s a simplistic viewpoint, but something worth considering. The media are doing their job in reporting the facts, but it would be good if they can help with the recovery as well.

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Media Storm of the Month – May 2011

By the time you read this, the media phenomenon that is ‘planking’ will have gone the way of Y2K, Napster and Rebecca Black – relegated to the scrapheap of dull irrelevant news from yesteryear.

But if you can cast your mind right back to the beginning of the month, you might recall the social media driven pastime was hitting the news in a big way, especially after the tragic death of an intoxicated Brisbane planker.

Fairfax papers had plenty to say after the incident:

It was a harmless craze just four days ago. Kerri-Anne Kennerley opened her television talk show lying balanced, face-down, on the back of a couch. Karl Stefanovic was lying flat on the Today show desk in front of the cameras.

But early yesterday morning, the ”planking” fad sweeping social networking sites proved fatal. Acton Beale, 20, was positioning himself on a balcony railing seven storeys up in Brisbane when he lost his footing and plunged to his death in the car park below.

Calls to ban the fad came thick and fast. News Limited described the phenomenon as “spreading like a virus around the world” and conservative commentators derided the youth of today and called for reinstated compulsory national service to give Gen Y something constructive to do.

So what gave the planking craze such strong media kudos? Sure 130,000 odd people ‘liked’ the Planking Australia page on Facebook. So what? More than four million people ‘like’ the page for chocolate chip cookies, but you don’t see Karl gorging himself on biscuits on Today, nor do we hear about the “cookie eating plague sweeping the globe”.

The answer comes down to a couple of simple journalistic rules known as news values.

The idea goes that any potential news item can be assessed for newsworthiness based on six or seven key criteria.

These are often defined as impact, timeliness, prominence, proximity, bizarreness, conflict and currency, or some combination of these.

Unfortunately for all of us, planking ticks a couple of these boxes with a big red felt pen.

First is impact. The story ‘grew legs and ran’ after the first death associated with the craze. This was made doubly appetising for media due to two extra factors.

1)      The man who died was a young person, i.e. under 30, and;

2)      The man who died was under the influence of alcohol at the time (Australia’s binge drinking culture is another hot media topic).

This brings us to the second key media value that planking satisfies perfectly: currency.

The rapid rise of social media has sparked an insatiable news appetite for the phenomenon. This means stories that might be insignificant on their own, for example bullying, infidelity or petty crimes, are given extra exposure whenever the issue is linked to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Don’t believe me? Consider how often you hear media reports concerning cyber-bullying compared with plain old garden variety harassment.

News values drive all news coverage and this often leads to criticism of media for ‘sexing up’ some trends far beyond what is warranted, while completely ignoring others which don’t fit the necessary criteria.

So, if you found yourself drowning in the sea of planking stories in May, hopefully now you understand a little more about why.

Media Storm of the Month – April 2011

We expected more of a ‘foolish’ start to April in the media than Triple M’s attempt at convincing rugby league fans the Logan Leopards would become the NRL’s 17th team. Perhaps, according to some people, the foolishness was saved for Kevin Rudd’s revelation on ABC television program Q&A that suggested his old Labor Party frontbench was opposed to a carbon tax – the same policy now at the forefront of the party’s pledge. The Gold Coast Suns also get a guernsey this month for their remarkable first ever AFL win, which almost outplayed Easter. Thankfully Anzac Day got the commemoration it deserved with marches across the country attracting record crowds.

And what timing it was in the month we pay tribute to our fallen soldiers that the Australian Defence Force Academy faced a heavy media onslaught for its “misogynistic” culture after an 18-year-old female cadet was broadcasted having sex via Skype to six other male cadets. In this month’s Media Storm of the Month let’s have a look at how this situation unfolded in the media.

We all empathised on April 5 when we read about the girl identified as ‘Kate’ who said “my whole world came crashing down around me” and she was “physically ill” when she found out what had happened. As one journalist wrote however, stories about the ADF are “heroes or villains”, and ADFA commandant Bruce Kafer was the first villain.

Soon after the incident came to light, Kate attended a poorly-timed disciplinary hearing for unrelated offences and Kafer was described by Defence Minister Stephen Smith as being “insensitive” over the matter. Some media protected Kate whilst others said she was not of the “doe-eyed” kind. There were even reports she was “forced to apologise to fellow cadets” for speaking out.

Kate was sent away on compassionate leave while the seven boys continued studying. Under growing pressure from a community desperate for answers, Smith announced six inquiries including a review into the treatment of women within the Australian Defence Force. Major newspapers reported headlines like “Smith ‘in stand-off’ with top brass”.

The media’s focus turned to the culture within the ADF and, in particular, its attitude toward women. If a news story didn’t mention “misogynistic” or “homophobic” it wasn’t on the money.

Is this behaviour unique to the defence force or does an episode like this just reflect a wider societal issue? The media compared it to sex texting and other scandals in the NRL and AFL, but should we be comparing the ADF to footballers? It would probably be fair to say the community demands greater discipline from our nation’s defence force, especially in this instance when a young woman was, effectively, assaulted.

It has been interesting watching this event unfold in the media – from the initial revelations, to the advancing behind-the-scenes dramas – and it’s certainly a good illustration of the hero and villain recipe the media thrives on.

In the wake of the media hype Smith has re-focused the story to take in the debate on women fighting in the frontline by announcing plans to open up frontline military roles for female soldiers. It’s a great opportunity to have a proper debate about this.

Jumping on the Royal Wedding bandwagon

As a Brit, I’m actually quite excited about the forthcoming nuptials of William Wales and Catherine Middleton AKA Wills and Kate; mostly because I want to see what she and the lady guests will be wearing. The media frenzy since their engagement was announced last November has been incredible. I can only imagine what it’s like back in the UK having been out in Australia since February, but even out here it’s huge. All the main TV channels have sent their key presenters over to London to cover the ceremony and everything they can possibly think of before and afterwards. A lot of people can be forgiven for getting ‘Royal Wedding fatigue’ before it’s even happened, but there have been a few companies, brands and quirky products that have caught my eye and shown that, with a bit of clever creative thinking, it’s still possible to stand out in a crowded arena.

1)      T-Mobile

Known for their ‘flash mob’ style adverts, which have caused surprises and smiles in places such as London’s Liverpool Street station and Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5, the mobile phone company created a spoof video of the Royal Wedding party dancing down the aisle. The video went viral, got a lot of media coverage, especially in the UK, and created a lot of positive sentiment for the company and its ‘life’s for sharing’ strapline.

2)      Legoland

A theme park in Windsor, UK, based around the popular children’s toy, Legoland decided to stage its own Royal Wedding outside its model of Buckingham Palace. Brilliant product placement and a great way to show the versatility and humour of the brand, it also manages to get in messages in the media coverage about its 15th anniversary and opening times.

3)      William Hill

Well-known UK bookmaker William Hill released its Royal Wedding odds earlier this week. It has actually been keeping the media updated with the odds on various different circumstances to do with the wedding long before they actually announced their engagement. What makes the story stand out is the obscure things they’ve managed to give odds for (and getting an exclusive with the BBC, which is quite strict in its promotion of brands). Odds on Wills being stood up at the altar? 100-1. What colour will the bride’s dress be? What will they be eating? What will the first song be? Which celebrity will be the first to arrive on the BBC’s coverage? Other bookies Ladbrokes and Paddy Power have also got in on the act. They’ll be taking bets on pretty much anything!

4)      KaTEA

It’s stupid but it made me laugh – a German company ‘Donkey Products’ managed to get worldwide coverage for its ‘KaTEA and William’ teabags, which make the Royal couple look like their having a bath in your tea cup.

5)      The Royal Family

The Royal Family itself is getting with the times and announced that all coverage of the wedding will be on its very own YouTube channel. Coverage starts at 7pm Brisbane time!

And finally, it’s a friend of a friend but this spoof music video of ‘K Mid’ rapping about her 99 Problems is ‘totes’ worth a watch!

Media Storm of the Month – March 2011

This is a new regular blog-slot where we look at a news story that has taken off in that month.

March has been awash with controversy and genuine news, from the aftermath of the Christchurch quake to the even more tragic Japanese earthquake and its resulting tsunami, rising death toll and imminent nuclear meltdown. Not to mention the  scandal in the AFL with player manager Ricky Nixon and allegations of misconduct with a 17 year old girl, to Charlie Sheen’s outrageous public outbursts and increasingly weird behaviour to the prospect of war with Libya and more floods in Queensland and New South Wales.

The story we’re going to touch on as a Media storm of the Month though is the story about the YouTube video of the Year 10 Sydney student being bullied by a Year 7 boy. The story broke around the time of the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. A video was posted online of a much smaller boy punching another boy in the face and body; after several rounds the larger child suddenly retaliates, lifting the smaller boy off the ground and smashing him into the ground and leaving him to stagger off.

Daily Mail grab: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1368886/Bully-bodyslammed-Casey-Punisher-says-s-sorry-blames-victim.html

Something that should have been sorted out by the school, the boy’s parents and the boys themselves has, thanks to the huge popularity and growth in social media and online networking sites, grown out of all proportion.

There was media outrage at the video and the attack and we now know that the larger Year 10 boy is 15 year old Casey Heynes, who has been bullied most of his school life and considered committing suicide last year, and the bully is 12 year old Ritchard Gale.

Both boys are now part of a media circus with interviews on major TV networks and coverage in all the main newspapers.

It has aired some interesting points and, it can’t be denied, was ‘good timing’ for a national bulling campaign. It has sparked a debate about bullying and violence in schools making other children affected not feel alone. Anti-bullying and children’s help charities such as Headspace, BeyondBlue and Kids helpline have all been able to jump on the bandwagon getting out their messages and contact details for all the other children who might be in need.

But the talk is also about what is it right to do to stand up for yourself? Casey had obviously been provoked and bullied for a long time, but was it right for him to retaliate with such force?

And how about the boy who filmed the whole incident on his mobile phone, shouldn’t he have been reprimanded as well? Should mobile phones be banned from schools all together? What can we do about this apparent rise in ‘cyber’ bullying?

But also, do children need to be protected from the media and journalists? In their desperate quest for ‘exclusives’ and ‘scoops’ the television news shows particularly escalated the issue and have effectively given credence to a schoolboy disagreement by asking ridiculous questions and adding weight to immature thoughts and feelings. Channel 9 even apparently showed Channel 7 interview coverage and claimed it as its own. A story about a schoolboy fight provoking a media battle, what is the media world coming to?

Good photography pays in PR

A while ago we discussed the importance of having appropriate photographs for press purposes (visit our previous blog here). Having a quality photo ready for media purposes can often make the difference between securing a full page feature or receiving a small mention in an article. Keeping journalists happy is our number one job so having the right tools to do this will enhance the results generated.

The only challenge we face in selling the idea to clients is that professional photos come at a price however, there are a myriad of ways to use the images and ensure you get the most value from a shoot.

Save on creative design

Purchasing photos for business use from sites such as iStock can be a nightmare. Royalty fees are often excessive (depending on the medium) and you can be charged per use making it an extremely expensive exercise.  The other danger is you are not guaranteed exclusive use of a photo and other brands could share your ‘unique’ identity. Hiring a photographer to take shots of events, staff, services, products or property will actually save you money in the long run and ensure any images will be better suited to bring your brand to life.

Fake paparazzi at events

Even a hint of free publicity is enough to make any CEO or businessperson smile. Though they aren’t ‘real’ paparazzi, professional photographers at your event will make guests feel special. Send the pictures onto the media later for post-publicity or use the images for future invites/ marketing materials. They can also be used to populate your social media sites.

Brilliant branding

Don’t make the mistake of cheapening your brand by using inferior product images in catalogues or other marketing materials.

A picture can tell a thousand words so make sure your product pictures don’t say ‘average’. A good branding photograph will often convey a ‘mood’ to build a strong emotional connection to your product.

Poor branding, poor positioning, boring, unprofessional

Shot 1: Does this make you want to buy this product?


Shot 2: Does this make you want to buy the product?

For more detailed information on photographs and a full list of official commercial photographers, visit http://www.aipp.com.au/

Creating media magic – the importance of appropriate photographs

One area I have discovered a lot of businesses will overlook is the way their company is visually represented in the print and online media. And I’m not talking about websites, design or logos – I’m referring to photographs.

It never fails to amaze me how much money companies will spend on improving their online presence, or various other aspects of their business, yet quality photographs of staff and products won’t get a second look.

Many regional newspapers, magazines and online sites will only have one or two photographers. These photographers are often freelance photographers (contract) who will only work at the media outlet part-time.

What this means when you are pitching to media is that the chances of a regional/small media outlet setting up a fresh photograph to go with your story, or product, is pretty slim. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It just means you are competing with the thousand or so other stories which also need photographs. Editors need to fill space. They also need to meet a quota of stories and have appropriate photographs to go with them.

If you are on a deadline – your photographer is already booked out – and you have a choice between a story with a photo versus a story with no photo the chances are the story with the photo will win out every time.

Of course saying that, the larger media outlets will always want to own copyright and have their own pictures…

If a company does have images for media a lot of the time these images will be old or outdated. You know the ones – the fresh faced CEO who looks about forty but when you meet them in person they are really sixty and look nothing like their official media photograph?

There is nothing the media hates more than a (pr) company sending them pictures to accompany stories which represent their clients -or products – in a falsified manner. Media outlets don’t want old images or ones which look dodgy and outdated. It reflects on the quality of their publication. Media outlets want a variety of quality images which accurately portray whoever or whatever it is they are writing about.

They also don’t want to print the same thing as all of the other media outlets you’ve sent your story to.

It is crucial your brand aligns with images which accurately represent the business products and which fit the overall brand strategy. If you are going to push products, staff and employees of your business in the media its important to make sure they are presented in a way which fits in with the overall marketing strategy of your business. Social media also needs to be addressed in this regard but that is a whole other topic altogether.

Depending on the size of your business and what is being promoted in the media realistically you should be looking at indulging in professional photography shoots at least once a year. If you can’t hire someone it is still easy to update your media images. All it involves is finding an amateur photographer and allocating time and resources to make it happen.

The best part about professional media shoots is that your company will own all of the images afterwards – you can reuse these images in marketing material, or online, as you choose.

Quality photographs are an excellent business tool and will always help to enhance your media coverage.

Claire Kelly – Media Relations Manager, Ignite PR and Marketing