Public Relations

What you’re about to read is a piece of original journalism, brought to you by the sugary zing of Old Brown Cola. Ahhh, you can’t beat the refreshing taste of Old Brown.

Barilla pasta is in no way sponsoring this Greg Barila article. Picture: Jim Trifyllis

That statement isn’t true. There is no such company and this article isn’t brought to you by anyone, or any brand, whose core business isn’t (and hasn’t always been) journalism.

But it’s 2012. How sure of the independence of all the sources of your information can you really be?

Latest 2 of 40 comments

View all comments
  • PhoenixGirl says:

    11:36am | 13/07/12

    How is this any different to the current batch of “journalists” that we have. They spend their time spruiking stories that push their own personal political agenda instead of “telling true stories”. I don’t necessarily agree with it but find it entirely hypocritical to claim that this “brand journalism” is… Read more »

  • Greg Barila says:

    11:41pm | 12/07/12

    @Susan, I highly recommend you watch the Social Media Week discussion linked above. It’s a good, deep discussion on this subject, defines the terms and provides several examples of branded content/brand journalism for you to go away and look at for yourself. But we can always continue this discussion on… Read more »


It’s official. The climate change dialogue is getting loopier. Maybe the weirdness has been been brought on by heat-stroke.

Yesterday’s Daily Telegraph reported that Tim Flannery and the Climate Commissions’s Professor Lesley Hughes warned that mental illness and all kinds of other maladies would increase with a few extra hot days. For those of us who believe the consequences of climate change could be catastrophic on a global scale, these kinds of statements are trivial to the point of public nuisance. They are like prank calls to 000.

So here’s the real news. Scientists don’t actually believe heatwaves will send us all mad. They’re just saying stuff like this because they’re desperately fumbling for new ways to grab the public’s attention. How do I know this? Because Tim Flannery himself told me (and a small room of other people) pretty much exactly that this very weekend.

Latest 2 of 265 comments

View all comments
  • Leningen says:

    01:51am | 19/05/12

    Scientists communicate quite well. Considering the complexities of their various fields, the overall alignment of their scientific beliefs is actually quite solid. The problem is the commentary on the science:;= My own opinion on this topic is that Flannery and Monckton are both in danger of being raped by… Read more »

  • Michael Crichton says:

    11:43am | 18/05/12

    Not it wasn’t. Why are you lying? Read more »


When Vogue published its February 2011 profile on Asma Al-Assad, the English-born first lady of Syria, her husband’s totalitarian regime already had blood on its hands. 

The face of Syria as seen by American Vogue

President Bashar al-Assad has ruled Syria since the death of his father, Hafez al-Assad. They are members of the Baath Party, Arab nationalists who have ruled Syria under “emergency law” since 1971. Under emergency law the government can arrest people without warning, launch police operations against suspicious citizens and jail them without trial.

Yet Vogue, the glossy bible of all things fabulous and fashionable turned a blind eye. Describing the regime as “not as secular as we might like” while salivating over Asma Al-Assad’s long-limbed and analytic beauty. A “desert rose” in the heart of Syria. It’s the safest country in the Middle East, they cooed.

Latest 2 of 61 comments

View all comments

    06:59am | 16/02/12

    Hi Bella Starkey, Thanks & my point exactly!  There are always certain events leading up to revolutions!  They do not actually happen overnight,  very unlike what we might have imagined & witnessed just watching News Networks.  Just like we have seen in our recent past, sometimes an average of 35… Read more »

  • Robert Smissen of country SA says:

    08:11pm | 15/02/12

    Does anyone remember Julia Scourge of Australia, had a photo shoot & a 60 minutes shoot, not different Read more »


Twitter. It’s smarter than the average marketing company. More powerful, in its way, than the cleverest corporate PR machine. It’s loud, fierce, fast and honest. It’s the tool of the people and it’s here to stay.

Lesson 1: Here's how it works. People say what they think, not what you want to hear. Photo: Sky News.

Just ask Qantas. Not for the first time this year, somebody at The Occasionally Flying Kangaroo got the wrong end of the stick.

Yesterday’s #qantasluxury hashtag campaign was intended to boost goodwill for the company. They asked their customers to tweet their ideal luxury flight to generate some good publicity. It was meant to be the social media equivalent of a head massage. But it backfired.

Latest 2 of 36 comments

View all comments
  • The Badger says:

    06:48pm | 24/11/11

    *sigh* You obviously don’t get it either timmie. sad very sad. back to the bucket of KFC, your greasy games controllerand your sad sad reality. Read more »

  • TimB says:

    04:57pm | 24/11/11

    You know what does an even better job of that Badger? Email. What kind of quality research can you expect from correspondence bursts of 140 characters? Awful. Even worse problems occur if the feeds are public. Discussions on flu virus research, right out there on the internet? Freaking genius. Read more »


It is time Parliaments joined Governments to ensure all professional lobbyists are registered. All lobbyists should be required to adhere to a code of conduct. And interest groups and think tanks should be required to disclose who their members and donors are.

Show us the money. Photo: NSW Police Media

Recent developments in the debate about plain packaging of tobacco and carbon pricing have in turn kicked off a debate about the role of lobbyists, interest groups and think tanks. In particular, who influences the influencers?

Political parties have for many years been required to disclose significant donors. The current debate is about the threshold at which donations should be disclosed.

Latest 2 of 23 comments

View all comments
  • Oranges says:

    05:17pm | 10/06/11

    And what about big pharma pushing THEIR nicotine, “on behalf of Johnson & Johnson Corp who are a major nicotine replacement manufacturer around the world”. Don’t be blinded by bias. They are ALL as bad as each other these days. No integrity at all. Read more »

  • Oranges says:

    04:59pm | 10/06/11

    Now don’t forget those in the pay of Big Pharma also, not just Big Tobacco. BigPharma being drug pushers and all. Read more »


Like the proverbial frog dropped into cold water and boiled slowly, we have grown accustomed to paying people to twist the truth.

Cartoon: Jos Valdmann

Every now and then we have a little skirmish and a little outrage at just how much government spin doctors are paid, but overall it has become an intrinsic part of how information flows (or doesn’t flow) to the public.

Last week we saw the SA State Government, when all eyes, hearts and minds were on Christchurch, drop the news of cancer-causing chemicals in underground water - an issue the Environment Protection Authority knew about for a year and a half.

Latest 2 of 29 comments

View all comments
  • Dave C says:

    06:58pm | 01/03/11

    I have to agree with the author and Nossy, at a state level many ALP Govts (and the only reason I mention this is because for 5 years we had wall to wall ALP at state level) used the spin techniques mentioned by Nossy very well. I dont know if… Read more »

  • acotrel says:

    05:34pm | 01/03/11

    @Tom. Is that worse than the people who were sucked in by the kids overboard bullshit?  Or the lies about Aborigines getting into pornography? - Something which was obviously included to ward of criticism by true christians in the Liberal Party! Australians fall for the three card trick, over, and… Read more »


Imagine the same people who ran Australia’s big four banks ran your local Italian restaurant. It’s the little things you would notice first – the asterisk at the bottom of the bill alerting you, in six point type, to the $2 cutlery retrieval fee imposed the moment the waiter brought you a knife and fork.

Oink…Sean Leahy in The Courier Mail.

Looking at the specials board would also incur a $2 charge. So would asking for a high chair.

If on one unfortunate night you had a soggy carbonara and they forgot the garlic bread, you would have to return to the restaurant to organise a meeting with the owner, explain that it was nothing personal but things weren’t really up to scratch, fill in an exit form and pay them $1000 before you’d be able to transfer your custom to the trendy new bistro which had just opened up the road.

Latest 2 of 95 comments

View all comments
  • jf says:

    03:40pm | 11/11/10

    (1) & (2) “Compared to what?” Compared to zero. However, I’m agreeing the standards are to low. What is wrong with you Sandy? You seem to have a pathological need to disagree regardless. As to accountants. Please. I have an accounting degree (plus three post-graduate qualifications including a masters) and… Read more »

  • Sandy says:

    12:50pm | 11/11/10

    @ jf (1) & (2) “way higher now” Compared to what?  Who was giving advice? Reality is that most advisors were accountants whose education is WAY higher than the current AFSL system.  Reputation was fiercely protected because it was the main instrument for generating income.  Basically all the AFSL system… Read more »


Ten years ago I had the good fortune of sitting next to Paul “The Chief” Harragon, hardman for the Newcastle Knights rugby league team

We shared a generally enjoyable conversation until discussions turned to a player who had become the media focus for – what else – excessive drinking.

Pamela Anderson at last year's London Fashion Week, where the ethics of spin-doctoring was not discussed.

Harragon was genuinely staggered that the drinking exploits of a league star would make tabloid fodder.

“If a plumber goes out and has a few to many,” he said, “no-one thinks of writing that up in a newspaper.”

Latest 2 of 22 comments

View all comments
  • Acai Berry says:

    08:50pm | 11/07/10

    I found your blog on google.I would like to offer my site: <a >Acai Berry</a> Read more »

  • John H says:

    11:20am | 10/07/09

    I have become aware of this interesting debate and I must declare at the outset that I am a member of the Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgery. On the one hand we have ACCS which is seeking regulations from authorities to help govern cosmetic surgery ( that will include all… Read more »


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free newsletter