Del Irani in the #CommsCorner


DelHeadshotThis week in the #CommsCorner we chat with Del Irani, a Presenter on ABC News Breakfast, which airs from 6-9am nationally. As well as being a TV and radio presenter, Del is a highly experienced and sought after event host, moderator and emcee. She has recently returned from moderating for the United Nations’ International Labour Organisation in China, and was also the host of our client’s Shared Value Forum in April. Del is also a board member of the Western Bulldogs Football Club Community Foundation.

What’s your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?

I’m a warm and energetic TV presenter who has hosted shows in Australia and around the world. I currently work for ABC News in Australia and was a former BBC News Presenter working as a correspondent in Mumbai, India. I am an Indian-Australian who has lived and worked in more than 20 countries.

Tell us about a typical day working in the media?

There is no typical day. From the time my alarm goes off at 3.30am, I check my phone for news alerts and read up on any developments overnight. Then I arrived in the office just after 4am, flick through the papers and talk to the producers about the main stories they’ve identified for the show. After a brief chat and informal editorial meeting, I start writing my scripts and lining up the vision. Then it’s off to hair and makeup. Once I’m ‘studio ready’, I update my scripts, particularly the financial markets which are closing at 6am, and I’m on air by 6.05am.

When did you first know you wanted to be a journalist?

I really didn’t know. I didn’t study journalism. I studied business and psychology. However, when I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, I was offered two graduate positions. One was in the corporate world and the other one was for an obscure media production company based in Belgium that required a lot of travel and being a fresh graduate at the age of 22 I decided to take the latter. It was only after working for this company for several months I realised I was often the only one at press conferences who would be standing up and asking questions or challenging the status quo. Many of my colleagues pointed out that I had a natural gift for interviewing, and it was after these experiences that I decided to pursue journalism.

Which journalist from around the world do you most admire?

I really admire Christiane Amanpour who has worked her way up from an entry level desk position to being the Chief International Correspondent for CNN.

What communication tools can’t you live without?

Contact with people. Being a journalist is about telling people’s stories!

What are the biggest challenges you face? And what are the biggest opportunities?

The biggest challenge is to keep up with technology and the way it’s changing journalism. There’s a constant need to keep challenging yourself and adapting to stay ahead of the curve, especially when it comes to social media because that’s a big part of how we now communicate with our audiences. Any resistance can be a real set back. I also see this as one of the biggest opportunities. If you embrace new technologies you can access new audiences and have a global reach.

Tell us about the news coverage that you’re proudest of?

My proudest moment is providing live coverage in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks for BBC World News. As someone who was born in Mumbai, and has family in India, I was proud to be able to highlight the enduring resilience of Mumbaikers.

What’s been the biggest change to the newsroom since you began your career?

Social media. I began before Twitter and Facebook Live and Periscope (which has already become extinct)..

What should every aspiring journalist read?

BBC World News have an outstanding standard of journalism. I think you can learn a lot from their style of writing and their online journalism school has some great tips – and it’s FREE.

What tips do you wish you’d known before starting out in journalism?

Trust yourself. I lacked confidence when I first started out in front of the camera and one of the best pieces of advice a senior producer once gave me was talk to the camera like you’re talking to your best friend. I’ve followed that advice and never looked back.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’ POWER

Catriona’s content

Catriona’s content

CatrionaFrenchSandDunesIf you’ve been following us on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram lately, then you may have seen one or two of our posts about Catriona Rowntree’s new travel site Journeys to Come. Who doesn’t love travel?!

We’re excited to be working with Catriona and loving the excuse to talk travel!

Catriona is currently creating content for the site, and filming for Getaway, in France, where she recently recorded her latest Facebook Live from atop the Eiffel Tower. Hats off to Catriona, who has taken to Facebook Live like a fish to water!

If you haven’t already, add some more travel to your day via:

A site dedicated to sharing Catriona’s love of travel. Each week she shares regular features including a Guest Traveller piece, Ask The Concierge and Come Fly with Me. She also shares her own travel adventures and tips and tricks.

Do you have a travel story to share? Email with details of the holiday you would like to write about!


Every Wednesday, tune in for a travel tale from a different part of the world. So far we’ve discovered the best hotels in Australia, travelled beyond Paris to Normandy and Lyon, met a group of Aussie trailblazers in Dubai, and found our ultimate travel term: BLeisure!

Subscribe via Apple Podcast.

Weekly Travel Update

CatrionaShareYourJourneysEvery Thursday, Catriona fills your inbox with a little travel inspiration. As well as sharing her latest adventures, Catriona brings you travel pics from her growing travel community, and provides handy links to all the great content on the site! PLUS you can win your own travel adventures thanks to regular competitions.

Subscribe to Catriona’s updates here.

And of course, social media

Fill your feeds with more travel! Join us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Farewell Mr Scaramucci, we barely knew thee


Well that was a short, sharp drop at the end of a rope.

In true The Apprentice style, Antoni “The Mooch” Scaramucci, was ‘fired’ a mere 10 days after taking on the position of White House Communications Director.

Several days after receiving praise for smooth talking his way through his first press briefing (in marked contrast to outgoing Communications Director Sean “Spicey” Spicer), the Mooch made a fatal PR mistake. He aired the White Houses’ internal dirty laundry to a reporter, taking aim in colourful language at arch nemesis (and WH Chief of Staff) Reince Priebus.  The Mooch later complained that he wasn’t aware the conversation with New Yorker reporter Ryan Lizza was on the record. The twittersphere erupted with a barrage of biting commentary, the general gist of which can be summed up as;

A few days after Scaramucci’s profane rant he was summarily pushed out of the administration by new chief of staff John Kelly.

There are so many threads to follow with this story. The continuing chaos and disruption at the heart of the Trump presidency; the sheer morbid spectacle of watching a bunch of eccentric characters eat each other alive to get to the top. But as a communications professional it’s hard not to focus on the predictable failure of someone so unqualified and inexperienced taking on one of the hardest PR jobs in the world.  Scaramucci, like so many in Trump’s administration do, has a background solely in finance and business, and limited experience in PR and communications. It takes years and years to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to do the job well and not make embarrassing, high-profile errors. The Mooch didn’t have a chance.

So, what are some of the PR/Comms lessions that Mr Scaramucci may do well to learn before he applies for his next position?

Don’t let yourself become the story

In a week when the White House desperately needed to focus on some success stories, the story ended up being Scaramucci calling a fellow co-worker “a f—ing paranoid schizophrenic”. This is no the way to control the message.

Don’t be crazier than your crazy boss

We’re all aware that Donald Trump’s gonzo communications style is what got him elected, but that sort of thing is lightening in a bottle. There’s not enough room for more than one volatile, unpredictable actor in this play. And Mooch, even the best performer needs good content.

Learn what ‘off the record’ means, and when to use it

If a journalist asks you a question, and you want it to be off the record, always start the conversation with “this is off the record”. Coming out later on Twitter to bitterly complain about your unfair treatment at the hands of the Lügenpresse is, well let’s just say the optics aren’t great on that one. And, if you want it to be off the record, just don’t say it!

Do all you can to convey a trustworthy reputation

If you’re asked about your relationship to the President, don’t answer with the line “I can tell you two fish that don’t stink, that’s me and the president”. Try to avoid turning the workplace into the sequel to the Godfather where loyalties are tested in a life and death grudge match. This includes firing Republican National Committee staffers with comments like “I know you’ve been serving two masters in this place”. Forget PR, you should be writing movie scripts.

Other Do’s and Don’ts

Don’t publicly and privately brag about breaking company rules. Don’t threaten fellow employees (full stop). Don’t swagger into meetings you aren’t invited to, just to throw your weight around.

And probably, most importantly of all, don’t overestimate your autonomy and leeway on the job due to the close personal relationship you feel you have with the boss.

How to help kids navigate fake news and misinformation online

File 20170623 27922 1pfhfwb
Research has shown kids can be duped by native advertising.
Syda Productions/Shutterstock

Joanne Orlando, Western Sydney University

Young people get a huge amount of their news from social media feeds, where false, exaggerated or sponsored content is often prevalent. With the right tools, caregivers can give kids the knowledge they need to assess credible information for themselves.

Being able to identify the trustworthiness of information is an important concern for everyone. Yet the sheer volume of material online and the speed at which it travels has made this an increasingly challenging task. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook provide a loudspeaker to anyone who can attract followers, no matter what their message or content.

Fake news has the power to normalise prejudices, to dictate us-versus-them mentalities and even, in extreme cases, to justify and encourage violence.

We have become obsessed with getting kids off their devices at the expense of developing their understanding of the online world. This is not about surveillance, but rather about having open conversations that empower children to understand and assess the usefulness of information for themselves.

Fake news is tricking children

Young people are growing up in a world where distributing large volumes of misinformation online has become a subtle yet powerful art.

It’s no surprise then that research published in 2016 by Stanford University suggests kids “may focus more on the content of social media posts than on their sources”.

For example, of 203 middle school students surveyed as part of the report, more than 80% thought a native ad on the news website Slate labelled “sponsored content” was a real news story. A majority of high school students questioned by the researchers didn’t recognise and explain the significance of the blue checkmark on a verified Fox News Facebook account.

With the amount of content we see in a busy day, it’s possible that these subtleties are being lost on many adults as well.

Minimising the harm of fake news for kids

Helping young people navigate online spaces requires better skills in verifying what is true and what isn’t.

Here are five questions to start the conversation with children.

Find an online post that you consider to be fake news and talk with the child about it. Shape your conversation around these questions:

  • Who made this post?
  • Who do they want to view it?
  • Who benefits from this post and/or who might be harmed by it?
  • Has any information been left out of the post that might be important?
  • Is a reliable source (like a mainstream news outlet) reporting the same news? If they’re not, it doesn’t mean it’s not true, but it does mean you should dig deeper.
Kids are not always able to identify verified accounts on Facebook.

Clues for children to use

Detecting fake news can be like a “spot the difference” game.

These questions are clues for kids that a source may be dodgy:

  • Is the URL or site name unusual? For example, those with a “.co” are often trying to masquerade as real news sites.
  • Is the post low-quality, possibly containing bold claims with no sources and lots of spelling or grammatical errors?
  • Does the post use sensationalist imagery? Women in sexy clothing are popular clickbait for unreliable content.
  • Are you shocked, angry or overjoyed by the post? Fake news often strives to provoke a reaction, and if you’re having an intense emotional response then it could be a clue the report isn’t balanced or accurate.
  • How is the story structured and what kind of proof does it offer? If it merely repeats accusations against the people involved in an incident without further reporting, for example, there’s probably a better version of the story out there from a more reliable news source.

Get to know the rules

Many social media sites are now also cracking down on the spread of fake news. Showing kids the restrictions these sites are imposing on their users will help them get a rounded understanding of the problem.

For example, asking kids to read the rules by which Reddit will remove content from r/news is a good starting point. Facebook also offers “Tips to Spot False News”, suggesting readers check that other sources are reporting similar facts and that they look out for weird formatting, among other hints.

Growing up in a world of fake news doesn’t have to be a heavy burden for kids. Rather, it requires extra support from adults to help them understand and navigate the digital world.

The ConversationOur goal should be not only to help children survive this complicated online world, but to equip them with the knowledge they need to flourish in it.

Joanne Orlando, Researcher: Technology and Learning, Western Sydney University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Every airline needs a Coulter


Have my seat … photo via SDASM Archives on Flickr

Right wing provocateur Ann Coulter and Delta Airlines have been locked in a bitter and high profile battle of wills this week… over $30. Two of society’s great malefactors have been duking it out on Twitter after Ann was bumped from the god-given “extra leg room” seat she had paid for in advance.

Coulter, no doubt hoping to generate sympathy by taking on an institution even more loathed than herself (especially after the misadventures of other US airlines in recent months), drastically miscalculated when she posted a picture of the poor, innocent woman who had been placed in her seat. Delta hit back, counter-tweeting that Coulter’s derogatory and slanderous comments were not apropos. Suddenly we had a natural experiment occurring, with two equally loathed competitors duking it out for glory. Coulter then brought out the heavy artillery, linking to an article in the Washington Times detailing some of our most common complaints about modern airlines

“Americans are sick and tired of being treated like chattel by airlines. Seats are smaller, legroom is far less ample, fees come fast and furious, lines are outrageously long, customer service is about a zero — or less — and complaints, no matter how valid, are handled with the most dismissive of attitudes that seem to sneer, yeah, we switched your seat, yeah, we lost your baggage, but what are you gonna do about it?”

The airline then stated that it would refund her $30 for the preferred seat she bought, adding, “Delta expects mutual civility throughout the entire travel experience.”

Game. Set. Match.

Well, not really. Coulter has since been doing the rounds on the conservative news carousel, waxing lyrical about her mistreatment by the social justice warrior airline. More fair-minded publications, as well as the liberal Twitter hoards, are pointing to Coulters’ behaviour as boorish and, dare we say it, “Trumpesque”. Squirmishes have continued for days, with no sign of a ceasefire on the horizon



Moving past our first reaction (bafflement that someone as high-profile as Ann Coulter chooses to spend her valuable time – $10,000 just to book a flight – flying economy AND makes her own bookings), what does this incident tell us about the current state of airline-customer relations?

Everyone can understand Coulter’s frustration at being re-seated. However, the bottom line is that Delta reserves the right to move passengers around, for example, when they need to accommodate customers with certain types of requirements. And having flown with a number of people with special needs over the years, I can guarantee you they don’t like having to sit in a specific location, but it’s much better for them and everyone else when they are located in an appropriate section.

The bigger issue is that Coulter’s Twitter tirade is indicative of an emerging norm.  The airing of ones’ grievances at customer service via social media.  And we’re all guilty of it! In this instance, the company’s response only seemed to inflame Coulter’s ire further, with a minor incident blowing up into a supernova of fraught and uncontrolled media exposure for the company.

That media exposure may work out well for Delta. The airline has been praised for its direct and quick response, employing the best strategy they could to make the best of a potential PR nightmare (see aformentioned United Airlines fiasco). In the words of one PR executive “They saw an opportunity to execute on their values, take an adult perspective and call out Ann Coulter and, in essence, others who have taken what may be a discretionary customer service move on the part of the airline and significantly overreact.”

On the other side of the equation, when someone like Ann Coulter uses her celebrity clout to tweet out a complaint, it reflects badly on her own public profile.  Not only does it give the impression of selfishness and petulance, it also says ‘I’m more important’ than all the other customers who must go through the regular channels to place their complaints. And when the company responds through that channel, as they must, it only exacerbates the problem.

All in all, this type of situation is risky for all involved. The Company, whose primary concern is anything that will affect its bottom line (i.e. bad publicity). Delta will deploy a far more rapid response for Ann Coulter because of her 1.6 million twitter followers, then it will for Jo Blo twiddling his thumbs while on hold to the 1800 number. Jo is not going to see his complaint allocated anywhere near the efforts to address the “Ann Coulter Twitter Tantrum” issue. No wonder ordinary folks are driven to act out on social media.

So what is the lesson? It seems fairly simple from our perspective. The customer continues to be key. Companies need to spend more resources on ensuring that those who have paid for their products are satisfied with their experience.

The other lesson: every airline needs a Coulter and hopefully she’ll make the switch to United.

Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

PS. While we’re talking transport … did you see the story about the 15 year old who took over the Twitter account for the UK’s most hated train company.

TV ‘idea’ creates head spin



There are some ideas that should go straight to the cutting room floor.

Case in point: the Melbourne PR consultant’s pilot for a Gruen-style TV show about the public relations industry.

While this pilot doesn’t deserve any more airtime, I wanted to share a few thoughts on the cringe-worthy concept. I also asked a few colleagues to share their instant reactions and I’ve included a few of their comments below.

Before I add my two cents worth, I wanted to say CAPS off to Fee Townshend from Eleven who shared her views in ‘Don’t spin it, bin it’.

Now to the ‘idea’. It presents an outdated concept of a PR professional. After years of hard work moving the profession away from the spin stereotype, a show like this, even a poorly animated pilot, could wash a lot of this hard work down the drain.

And the cast. Rather predictable and more befitting a reality TV show than a panel about PR. I mean seriously, where is the homage to Spicy Spicer?

What do you think? Would you watch?

We asked some colleagues to share their thoughts. Here are a few they shared with us:

Any PR agency worth its salt would run a million miles from this but, then again, it might help to expose the greedy ‘at any cost’ agencies still lurking and willing to engage in dodgy practice. While there are still many companies out there willing to put profits before people or the planet, it’s becoming easier to find them out. Ps ah, they’re missing the whole point of Gruen!

Just sounds boring. “Gruen” meets “Hypothetical” with Geoffrey Robinson. And totally inappropriate to be discussing crises in this context – let’s “spin” Grenfell Tower. Entertainment out of catastrophe.  Maybe the crisis that is Channel 10 would be interested.

Would have thought someone with the professional background he claims would have a more informed knowledge of PR … an attempt at self promotion?

Very sad to see such a terrible and total misrepresentation of what we do as communicators. It highlights a clear disconnection between its creator and the modern, dynamic profession that exists here in Australia. It should get as much attention with networks as I give to my dust-gathering keyboard. I urge the industry to set it aside and continue with the fantastic work being done in Australia. 

This show undoes any progress we’ve made in establishing the credibility and scope of what Public Relations covers. It distills our profession into a farce that ‘makes and destroys reputations’.


Cheers, Jack & the c word crew

Chief tweets boost for companies



The wise owl not only helps us with managing content across multiple social media platforms, she also provides useful insights into social media more broadly.

Last month, Hootsuite, the most widely used platform for social media management, released a report, “The Social Executive: How to Influence Trust, Transparency, and the Bottom Line,” highlighting the impact of executive social media activity on the trust, perception and credibility of Australian companies.

With trust in chief executives at its lowest in recent years, research found that Australian companies led by CEOs who are active on social media – “social executives” – are perceived 23 per cent more positively than companies without. This highlights the opportunity for executives to influence their organisation’s perception, build brand trust, and drive employee advocacy.

Analysing the social media behaviours of ASX200 chief executives across Australia and New Zealand, Hootsuite established a Digital Perception Index (DPI) to provide an indication of public sentiment towards a company, analysing more than 145,000 social posts from 1 October 2016 to 30 April 2017.  Thank goodness for the automation of Hootsuite, or that would have been a lot of clicking!

Key Findings

  • Companies with social executives are perceived 23 per cent more positively than those without

  • While 66 per cent of ASX200 chief executives have a social media presence, only 10 per cent are active on social media

  • 86 per cent of Asia Pacific executives believe social CEOs have a positive impact on a company’s reputation, with 76 per cent believing it enhances their credibility

Marketing Leadership: Partners to the Social Executive

Whilst Australian CEOs are ahead of their global counterparts, 34 per cent of chief executives do not have any public social media presence. Those with trusted, capable communications counsel from their marketing leadership are better armed and ready to deploy and benefit from the strategic use of social media.

“Corporate reputation and business performance are increasingly dependent on social media. Social executives have more success inspiring employees, attracting new customers and talent, and building loyalty and trust,” said Rich Meiklejohn, General Manager, Asia Pacific, Hootsuite. “Having the support and involvement of all teams within an organisation is crucial to help executives build an active professional brand on social media channels.”

Leading by example: Australia’s top social executives

With customer engagements becoming increasingly more digital, traditional business models are changing and with it, the role and expectations of executives.

One of the social executives, Cindy Hook, CEO, Deloitte Australia, said: “Clients and business are being increasingly disrupted and we are all looking for new ideas and ways to address the business challenges we face. It’s a digital world and we are all connected so why not take advantage of it.”

Offering insights from some of Australia’s most identifiable and influential company leaders, Hootsuite’s report aims at changing attitudes of executives towards social media, and empowering marketing and communications leaders to drive this change.

For those looking to join the conversation, Hootsuite identified social executives that are harnessing the power of their own social media channels to build sentiment for the brands they lead.

Top Australian Social Executives (in alphabetical order):

Have you engaged with a CEO on social?

Cheers, Jack and the c word crew