This feature is the second in a special investigation Spinning the Media — a joint Crikey/ACIJ investigation. Over the past six months, more than 30 investigative journalism students and freelance writers, based at the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism at the University of Technology, Sydney, have been researching the role of spin in Australian journalism in conjunction with Crikey. Across December and January, Crikey will be publishing a series of investigations on this theme.
Pitching stories to journalists is standard practice for PR companies, and in a competitive and time-sensitive environment, the internet is a convenient way for PR companies to get their message out there.
So far, so obvious. But what if the fish refuse to bite? Might a quick survey with interesting results be a good hook for a hungry journalist?
In the spirit of the holiday season, we present the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism and Crikey Christmas Media Pudding:
1 quick survey commissioned by PR company’s client;
1 press release announcing the results and explaining how the problem indentified can be helped by using the client’s product;
1-2 audio/visual grabs of social commentators discussing the results (prepare these the night before);
1 healthy dose of media outlets running on skeleton staff for the holiday season.
Combine the following ingredients, lob it into the inboxes of various media outlets, and leave the whole thing to stew. Presto! Christmas Media Pudding!
Here are three we prepared earlier:
Giftvouchers.com and the Gift Finding Crisis:
PR Company: Howorth Communications, a subsidiary of Ogilvy PR.
Goal: To persuade consumers to buy gift vouchers instead of Christmas presents for their loved ones.
Hook: “65 % of Christmas presents will go unused”
Survey details: Survey was conducted by Retail Decisions (ReD) aka Giftvouchers.com. ReD polled 221 people around Australia aged 18-45.
Media package available: Press release announcing the results and audio grabs of interviews with Sonia Ciaglia from Giftvouchers.com.
Media coverage: An edited version of the press release that mentions Giftvouchers.com was picked up by “staff writers” at News Ltd. and repeated across its subsidiaries The Australian, the Herald Sun, Perth Now, and Adelaide Now.
According to Howorth Communications, the story was also picked up by 2Day FM, Nova, Triple M, 2CH, and 2GB.
Telstra’s Reminder to Call Ya Mum:
PR company: Carl Byoir & Associates, a subsidiary of Hill & Knowlton.
Goal: To remind consumers to use Telstra BigPond’s services to get in touch with loved ones over the Christmas break.
Hook: “Up to two thirds of Australians will spend Christmas away from their loved ones”.
Survey details: Survey was conducted online by market research company Pure Profile. Pure Profile polled 1005 Australians in metropolitan and regional areas about their Christmas holiday plans.
Media package available: Press release announcing the results, and audio grabs of interviews with social commentator Mark McCrindle, and Nan Bosler, president of the Association of Seniors Computer Clubs of Australia. The full media package can be found on Telstra’s webpage.
Media coverage: The press release was recycled via AAP by News Ltd., and subsidiaries The Australian, Herald Sun, Perth Now, Adelaide Now, and NT News. Picture-perfect copies of the press release can be found at International Business Times and Smarthouse.com.au.
According to Carl Byoir, the story was picked up by Sunrise, 2UE, 4BC, and Triple C.
PayPal and the Exhausted Christmas Shoppers:
PR company: Edelman
Goal: To persuade consumers to do their Christmas shopping online using PayPal.
Hook: “70% of Australians believe that Christmas shopping is stressful.”
Survey details: Survey was conducted by market research company Pure Profile. Pure Profile polled 1009 Australian from December 3-4 2009.
Media package available: Press release announcing the results, and audio grabs of interviews with PayPal’s managing director Frerk-Malte Feller and Professor Timothy Sharp from The Happiness Institute.
Media coverage: According to Media Monitors, 1071 AM picked up the story and invited Professor Timothy Sharp in for an interview. The story was repeated on Inside Retailing Online and Westender.com.au, and was also given a local spin by GoldCoast.com.au and Australianwomenonline.com.
Sounds like a very merry Christmas for PR professionals Australia wide.
Michelle Loh is a Masters of Arts in Journalism student at the University of Technology, Sydney. Crikey will continue its investigation Spinning the Media with the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism in January 2010.