Stingy media moguls finally cough up some cash for the tsunami victims.
Some of Australian’s richest and most publicity-conscious companies, our big three commercial TV companies, have finally coughed up with some hard cash for the various tsunami appeals.
Both Seven and Ten tipped a quarter of a million bucks each into Saturday’ night’s televised concert and appealathon that raised almost $15.2 million.
These rich (well Seven is still a bit pressed financially compared to Ten and Nine) companies however were upstaged by the ANZ which tipped well over $1.4 million into the appeal with a single contribution of $250,000 from the ANZ CEO, John MacFarlane. Read more here.
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Even though his six years at ANZ has delivered him more than $30 million in salary and share profits, John MacFarlane is nowhere near as wealthy as Kerry Stokes the owner of Seven or Kerry and James Packer.
Nor is he anywhere near as wealthy as Nine, Ten or Seven or John Fairfax or APN, for example but his individual contribution matched or surpassed the cash donations from some of these groups.
His cash donation has also matched that of Westpac, which is giving more in other forms of assistance.
Eddie McGuire told the nation on Saturday night that PBL will announce its cash contribution during the broadcast of the one day international cricket game from the MCG.
Valuable as their contributions are after days of silence, the media companies can learn from the way the banks have steadily ramped up their donations and handled the publicity.
They can particularly learn a lot from one major company, Westpac, how to carefully announce and spell out their commitment. The way Westpac has done it is a model for all other companies, but more of that later.
During the first one day match involving Australia A and the West Indies on Saturday, the Nine Network ran a ‘house ad’ in which sports presenter Ken Sutcliffe exhorted corporates to donate to tsunami relief for Monday’s one day charity game.
Good ad, but I bet its cost will be noted down as a ‘contribution’ by Nine, a sort of contra-based ‘donation, much like the ads involving Sydney news presenter Mark Ferguson who urged viewers to give, and give especially to the Australian Red Cross.
But try as I can I could not find any mention at the PBL website of a Nine (or PBL or ACP Magazines) donation, nor at rivals Seven and Ten.
The silence of the TV groups was becoming a bit conspicuous, especially when you go to the website of Australasian regional media group, APN and discover that not only has that company given $100,000 but its newspapers and radio stations have raised a further $1.1 million. Or you can go to the website of John Fairfax, where CEO Fred Hilmer explains the contributions to the appeal and the way the company has covered the tragedy.
For a company bagged by the Packers and others within PBL, Fairfax has shown its bigger and richer rival how to reasonably explain something as sensitive as donations to this appeal and detail the resources the company has devoted to covering this enormous story, without going over the top about beating its own drum!
But then perhaps the problem for PBL is that it has no way of explaining itself now that former media person Jill Campbell has departed for the AMP.
Before she left in late December her name and phone number appeared on the media/news section of the PBL website. Now there’s a note saying contract the PBL switchboard. It is a bit hard to quote a switchboard!
But how do you explain Seven and Ten? After all they have staffed and fully operational media units, as does the Nine Network for that matter.
Somehow, perhaps it is summer ennui, no one has had the sense to ask, ‘how much have we spent on free advertisements, on setting up and broadcasting this concern on Saturday night, the cricket on Monday?’
But most companies could take the lead from Westpac. The bank originally promised $100,000 and said it would review that.
Now it has increased the amount, carefully spelling out the components of the aid and its stance on those hated bank fees (there are none, including merchant fees). Westpac’s cash contribution has risen to $250,000, with a similar amount promised to match staff contributions, and the other half a million dollars reserved for further aid and redevelopment over the next year. Solid, sensible and carefully spelt out.
The Australian certainly liked the Westpac approach and gave them this huge splash on the front of Saturday’s business section.
The Commonwealth Bank made a promising start, with an early announcement in the first week and an upgrading of its donation last week, but note there’s no mention of those bank fees and charges!
The question of corporate donations was still generating some heat over the week with this report in the Sydney Morning Herald but the argument about the Australian Shareholders Association stance seems to have split the ASA with attempts being made in Saturday’s Herald Sun to smooth over the ruckus.
The ASA trotted out that old chestnut that the ASA’s Stephen Matthews’ views had been misrepresented.
Really? The ASA showed no judgment whatsoever in buying into the argument. It should have merely said that on this issue we leave it to the good sense of the company involved to make the right decision for the situation and to think of shareholders, customers, suppliers and those people affected by this terrible disaster and act accordingly.
Simple, to the point and throwing it back on companies to donate in whatever way they could.
But at least companies like the CBA, Westpac, APN and John Fairfax have spoken and highlighted their decisions. Yes there is some element as Crikey said yesterday that ‘My donation is bigger than yours” (which that Katie Lahey of the Business Council picked up and used) but it is all money or services that will come in handy in the aiding of the victims and redevelopment.
Are those sniping at why corporates are donating saying that the money is ‘tainted’ in some way and should not be accepted, or offered?
The silly Tim Costello led charity, World Vision did that to gambling money from NSW Registered Clubs and missed out on half a million dollars that went to Care. Anyway, NSW clubs and hotels should be giving millions!
Finally, a look at the Crown Casino website, part of the Packer empire, shows no announcement of any donation whatsoever. Now some of its clients had to come from some of the affected countries. Talk about stingy! Let’s hope PBL comes up with a 7 figure cash figures during the cricket on Monday.