The theme of this year's Walkley Media Conference is 'What’s the story?' It’s about how we develop a powerful narrative and "make our stories sing and sell", a very contemporary theme at a time when social media allows us to become our own marketing machines. But it’s also possible to lose the plot -- which is what happened when the MEAA decided to invite Exxon Mobil to be the Golden sponsor of the Walkley Media Conference.

As Exxon Mobil public affairs told ABC PM’s Jess Hill, on Wednesday: "We're always very interested in hearing about how a powerful narrative can help." Public relations help is certainly what Exxon Mobil needs. It’s not easy to spin a story about being environmentally responsible when you are the world’s biggest oil corporation trying to live down the nightmare of the Exxon Valdez Alaskan oil spill at a time when oil spills suddenly shoot to the top of the news agenda.