The most powerful tool in modern PR: the truth

Public relations practitioners are often portrayed as being spin doctors; spinning and weaving a story with scant regard to the facts, or even telling downright lies!

Practitioners who practice PR in this way sooner or later get caught out. And it is usually the media that reveals the facts, often creating a corporate crisis in the process.

While telling the truth may seem a simple and straight forward principle to uphold, it is often the case that the version of the truth held by important stakeholders may be different to that of the company. This is where the skilled PR practitioner comes in.

Based in academic theory, there are four models of PR:

1. One-way press agentry/publicity = propaganda (truth is not important)

2. One-way public information = dissemination of information (truth is important)

3. Two-way asymmetrical = scientific persuasion (listening to stakeholders, but tailoring communication to tell the corporate view)

4. Two-way symmetrical = mutual understanding (listening to stakeholders and generating understanding).

If a PR practitioner proposes a propaganda-based campaign, run in the other direction as fast as you can! Modern PR is tending towards engaging with stakeholders and creating mutual understanding of the facts. And the most powerful tool a PR practitioner can have is independent, verifiable facts that support the corporate viewpoint.

Some companies though, may not have a factual corporate viewpoint that can be told without generating a crisis. If this is your company, then you need to get your corporate house in order — sooner or later the facts will leak out and become an issue for you, or even worse end up as front page news.

Remember, the most powerful tool in modern PR is … the truth.

Business PR goes green

Business Public Relations Group has taken positive action to minimise the impact of our business operations on the environment.

Environmentally friendly policies we have implemented include:


  • do not print documents – view on screen instead!
  • if the document absolutely needs to be printed, print double sided
  • use recycled paper in printers and copiers
  • recycle all waste paper.


  • where possible, store documents electronically
  • minimise hard copy storage and management
  • tag line on e-mail signatures, “Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.”
  • tag line in electronic document footer follower, “Please consider the environment before printing this document.”


  • use natural light when possible
  • energy efficient light bulbs installed in office.


  • computers and network devices set to power down automatically after a period of inactivity
  • turn off computers at night
  • recycle printer cartridges.


  • use E10 fuel in company vehicles.


  • support suppliers that also take steps to minimise their impact on the environment (suppliers must still be competitive).

We believe that these simple and practical initiatives will help to minimise our impact on the environment. It makes good business sense too.


Rohan Exton

What makes news?

Business Public Relations Group is often asked to publicise stories in the media. While most business people like the thought of getting their business on the front page of The Courier-Mail, or on the evening TV news, the reality is that the minority of stories are newsworthy enough for page one or the nightly news, and those that are, are predominately negative. Do you really want to be on page one with a negative story?

So let us be practical about what it takes to get some positive media coverage for your business, and the best way to go about achieving it.

Find the right media

E-mail and media databases make it very easy and cheap to distribute a media release to journalists all over Australia. Business PR subscribes to the comprehensive directory AAP Medianet and has ready access to the contact details of Australian journalists. But just because we have the contact details, does not mean that we should use them!

No doubt your business is near and dear to your heart, but that does not mean journalists will have the same view. A scatter gun approach is very costly to your business’ reputation as a provider of newsworthy comment – basically, journalists hate this approach! You should be trying to help journalists do their job by providing relevant, interesting story ideas – not spamming them.

The best strategy is to identify publications – be they print, TV or radio – and journalists within those publications who have previously reported stories similar to yours. Business PR can help you do this with our knowledge of the media, and access to publication and editor details via AAP Medianet.

What makes news?

Something that interests you may not necessarily interest anyone else. News items must appeal to a large variety of people who read a particular publication. As a result, what makes news in one publication is not necessarily newsworthy in another. For example, a business story in Queensland Business Review is unlikely to be of interest to Brisbane News. As part of the process, publications must be reviewed to identify what makes news for them.

Having said that, here are some general thoughts on what makes news.


For something to be of interest to someone, it has to affect them in some way. If a reader does not think the news will affect them, they probably will not be interested in reading it.

Does the news item have general appeal to a publication’s readers? Ask yourself, if you were not associated with the organisation or event, would you still be interested?


Every publication has a different audience. If you are aiming to appear in a specific publication, you will need to consider what the publication’s readership demographics and what news angle will appeal to them.


The medium is also important to think about. Images are often as important as words. Newspapers and magazines want interesting and attractive photos to go with their stories, so think about whether you can offer a good visual image. Television needs interesting moving images and a story will not be run unless there is a good accompanying visual.


Stories must be current. The media wants to report things as they occur and are mainly interested in events happening today or in the future. Daily publications will report on a story the day after it occurred, but weekly or monthly publications often want to publish news in advance of it happening!

Newsworthy angles

Often finding a newsworthy angle to your story is the secret to getting it published. Some newsworthy elements include:

  • human interest
  • proximity (is the story relevant to the local area)
  • prominence (does the news affect a large number of people)
  • new (trend or technology)
  • unusualness
  • conflict
  • disaster
  • money (large amounts involved or considerable loss or profit)
  • alcohol and drugs
  • animals
  • aged (young or old)
  • fun/novelty
  • picture opportunity
  • shocking
  • entertaining
  • saddening
  • surprising.

By following these simple guidelines, your story idea will grab the attention of journalists and have a better chance of being run in the media. Business PR can help you to negotiate this maze and get your story published.