'Less journos' seen as opportunity for PR industry

Mango's Tina Alldis: cynical, tactless ... and basically correct

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

Staff cutbacks at Fairfax and News Ltd are "great news" for the public relations industry.

That's according to a guest post by a PR on Aussie media and marketing site Mumbrella from a staffer at DDB-owned Mango, which works on both sides of the Tasman.

The post drew vitriol on social media last night (under the hashtag #MangoPR).

Many objected to both the post's sentiment, and its author's clumsy grammar (it referred to "less journos" rather than the plural "fewer journos").

Fairfax plans to lay off 1900 of its 10,000 staff over the next three years, and share more content "across platforms and across geographies".

News Ltd has also announced sweeping consolidation plans.

On Mumbrella, Mango PR's Tina Alldis wrote:

Less journos will also mean that publications will be looking for content they can syndicate across the networks.

And with a significant number of Fairfax Media and News Limited employees likely to be on the hunt for new roles, it would be remiss not to expect that there will be an increasing number of former journos joining the ‘dark-side’ of publicity.

All in all, it’s an exciting time to be in PR.

A hatestorm has hit the Mango PR operative last night, and it's likely to drift across the Tasman today.

At 7.30pm (9.30pm NZT), Ms Alldis' boss added to the end of the original post: 

I would like to apologise on behalf of the Mango team for this opinion piece. While I encourage my team to have opinions and be active in the industry and media landscape, this piece is insensitive. We hold journalists in high esteem and apologise for the offence caused.

Ms Alldis also apologised, and offered to call anyone who was offended.

I'm not so sure any apology was in order.

Ms Alldis was tactless, and lathered her spiel in excruciating jargon.

But essentially, she was telling it like it is.

PRs have long out-numbered journalists.

Quite naturally, spin doctors have attempted to exploit under-resourcing at publishers, and the hamster-wheel internet news cycle.

It's up to reporters to kick back.

A number of tweeters have offered "News is what they don't want you to print; everything else is PR" (a paraphrase of Sir Harold Wilson's "News is what someone wants to suppress; everything else is advertising.")

A spokeswoman for Mango NZ said while part part of the group, the local operation has separate management, and operates independently.

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34 Comments & Questions

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Have a good look at the poor standard of NZ journalism and editorship - the industry is rife with spin and sensationalism to sell ratings, and there is very little honest, balanced reporting left in NZ. Re this article, so what? We get spin anyway, at least the PR people admit it,

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Just goes to show that PR people need to take the same care with their own communication as they (one would hope) do for their clients...

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"Fewer" journos, surely.

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Correct Marvin. It's a losing battle though.

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She's on the money isn't she? Many experienced and connected journalists hit the job market and give agencies and corporates a pool to choose from. Could drive PR wages down in Australia with the increased competition in the comms sphere.

I couldn't agree more with Digby (above). Newsrooms all over the country run a HUGE amount of pitched stories every single day because they don't have the resources (or sometimes the knowledge) to find their own. The good journos stand out from the screeds of others being handed press releases and talking to talent that's been set up by the PR agency, Department of Conservation or whoever else. When you've worked in both corners it's very very easy to see.

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I saw some figures recently for Australia. It compared the number of journalists with PR numbers highlighting the fact that the number of PR people would soon out number journalists. I guess the Fairfax move with make sure it happens.
Totally agree with Digby. Journalism standards have gone through the floor in the last 10 years.

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I thought the notion that column inches somehow equals communication/understanding/trust (and therefore more column inches syndicated across the Fairfax network means we must have achieved heaps of communication) went out decades ago.

Keep churning out those press releases love...you're making a difference...really...

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The piece was insensitive. My apologies on behalf of the Mango Sydney team.

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It would be better said the piece was released with insensitive timing. There is a difference, especially given this was obviously an industry piece or written for internal communication. More to the point Ms Alldis did not once directly say "less journos is good for PR". Unfortunately the article was swamped with gutless bandwagoning by people who did not have the correct facts, perhaps without having fully read the article. In fact, it was rigorously misquoted and taken out of context. Essentially, an opinion piece with just one blaring grammatical error, insensitive No? Poor timing? Yes

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Don't apologise to those cretins - give your staff member a payrise through - you can't "buy" publicity like this!

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Completely insensitive and unprofessional - no other words for it.

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Well hopefully the blatantly left leaning and biased media will now start to actually report a full, ballanced article.

Journo's remember - no matter who you work for (or not as the case may be) you only ever have 1 chance at journalistic integrity, so balance your story with actual facts - not propaganda spoon fed to you by unions and left leaning PR spin merchants - because when the time comes to apply for employment somewhere else - you can bet your career on the fact that an editor / employer will want to see a well thought-out piece of credible journalism - not spoon fed propaganda regurgitated by a churnalist.

So - journo's - how about you start reporting on the unions? The missing $4Million here in NZ by the MWU and their 6+ years delay in filing proper accounts - and in Aussie - the sheltering of Thomson by the current PM.

Investigate - don't just use "CTRL + v"

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Don't be lecturing on the proper way to report news when you can't even use an apostrophe correctly.

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Clueless as to the correct use of the 'em-dash', too.

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*Fewer* journos at Fairfax = more journos knocking at PR consultancy doors. Especially those in need of people who can string a sentence together grammatically. Not so much an opportunity for Ms Alldis, perhaps, as a threat!

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Fewer journos also = cr@ppier media = fewer readers and less credibility and consequently less demand for the services of profession. All in all, not such an exciting time to be in PR.

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Agree with your view of the impact on media. Disagree with your view of the prognosis for PR. It's a hugely exciting time to be in PR as other channels of real (ie; two-way!) communication between an organisation and its audiences start to move to centre stage.

PR has been blinded by over-dependence on (largely uni-directional) mainstream media to talk AT people (instead of engaging WITH them) for way too long.

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The journalists incorrect use of the language only goes to emphasise the poor teaching standards in Australia and New Zealand over the past 30 plus years. First year law students are struggling to comprehend law texts to the extent they are giving remedial English lessons. Pathetic but not surprising. We have teachers who cant read write or do add up teaching their poor grasp of those skills. What a shambles.

[Remember Mr Apostrophe - CK]

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The Sydney Mango lady was -- gleefully -- irreverent, that's all. Not hard to prick the journos' vanity, because their skins are gossamer-thin. They can dish it out, but they can't take it.

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Journos will increasingly jump from journalism to PR anyway. I wonder what the average life-span of an incoming journalist is now. 4 years? 5 years?

It's not only about the new wave of journos not being "up to the job". The ones that are and have a solid interest and more than sound knowledge of business, finance or even politics, will just jump ship because the appetite real, in-depth, news WITH NUMBERS is gone. If you're happy to dumb it down then you'll stay, if you think readers/viewers are more intelligent than that you'll get the hell out and get a real job!

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The NBR and interest.co.nz actually do look at the numbers and go a little further. Television etc seem to look at the dollar, the dollar, the dollar, petrol prices, petrol prices, the dollar,... and then the OCR (regardless of whether it's moved or not!).

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Less journalists will mean less negativity which has to be great for the country.

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I'm with @ChrisKeall. It's marginally offensive, pretty cynical, but mostly just true.

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PR shop apologises for staffer telling the truth in public. I wonder if the irony escaped anyone?

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For investigative ACTivism - you could always check out www.dodgyjohnhasgone.com ?

Kind regards,

Penny Bright
'Anti-corruption campaigner'

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The great thing about Tina Aldis' comment is that it is the very opposite of spin. She just came right out and gave a raw un-vetted comment. And as far as poking the media/PR nervous system, it hit the nerve perfectly.

Insensitive? No. Quite correct in principle. Bad timing? That depends on our perspective. To be accurate, her timing would have been bad in the worlds of news and PR if she'd waited until the story was out of date. That's how we'd view anyone else making a comment when the topic was no longer relevant, isn't it?

This reminds me of the "churnalism" discussion back around '08/09.

In reality, she's a perfect example of what we'd teach a journalist or PR person about commenting in social media. Go on. Admit it.

Drew

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The problem is to many inexperienced journalists, who pedal ideological cr*p, based on their own political views, rather than really in depth analysis of the issues (e.g. the issue of so called "asset sales", when in reality that is not what is happening).

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That's 'too' many journalists.

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This woman isn't actually very intelligent. For the last 10 years there has been a swathe of journalists leaving the profession to earn double in PR. its called a glut. That drives PR wages down.

Its generally best not to ask most middle-management PR staff what they think about anything. They aren't terribly intelligent.

Oh and yes, I am speaking from experience.

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"Oh and yes, I am speaking from experience."

What, as the office gofer?

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Check your facts about the woman who "isn't actually very intelligent"
To all the journalists commenting and repeating the "fewer" vs "less" comment/ jumping on the bandwagon. Shouldn't you be directing this to Mr Tim Burrowes, editor of Mumbrella who edited the original document (and wrote the byline)- written for industry and clients?

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Journalists in New Zealand are paid appallingly and can easily double their income by moving to PR. That more don't is testimony either to their desire to produce real journalism or their lack of social skills in acquiring a partner/family that demands food, shoes and warm housing.

When I started in journalism in 1997 the average rate for a freelance reporter was 40c/word. Today it's about 25c/word, assuming you can find a publisher who will take your work - it's much cheaper and easier simply to take free copy from the PR agencies who offer up such stuff.

Journalism has a valid and vital role to play in any society.

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Paul I agree. I left journalism for communications because of money and the lack of appetite from editors/seniors for real business content.
For some journalists, like myself, it's not that there's a lack of knowledge or a lack of wanting to go in-depth. It's instead the constant kickback from those editors/producers saying "no, the audience won't understand that. Keep it simple. Joe Bloggs needs to understand it."
The belief that the 'audience' is as thick as two planks drove me out.. as well as the poor pay.

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Note today's ad on Seek for a tech editor paying up to $45k a year. What a joke salary that is.

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