What’s the difference between pitching a story to a commercial broadcaster and a public one? Today Nic Hayes plays mediator between two experienced broadcasters — one from the publicly-owned ABC (our own James Lush) and the other fresh from a long and distinguished career with commercial station 6PR (Nic’s new team member, John Solvander) — to find out what each medium is looking for, who their audiences are, what they have in common, and what differences marketers need to keep in mind when dealing with each.


Here are some key take-outs:

  • Commercial versus non-commercial media have different requirements to meet their audiences needs.
  • Non-commercial broadcasters often need to “tick boxes”, like ensuring they present a diverse range of views or a diversity of people.
  • Commercial broadcasters are able to promote brands, whereas non-commercial broadcasters, like the ABC, are not.

“It doesn’t mean to say you can’t give credit where credit is due, but you don’t make a big deal of highlighting that this is the person and this is the company. It would stand out and the audience would complain.” — James


  • At commercial stations, if a brand has paid for a mention that has to be declared, whether it is a recorded ad, a “live read”, or a segment. If money has changed hands, that has to be understood by the audience.

“This rule about not mentioning a brand is archaic and redundant. Commercial broadcasters don’t have the same restrictions.” — John


  • Often on public broadcasts you have longer to tell your story because they’re not restricted by ads.
  • But don’t believe public broadcasters don’t care about ratings — they do. And they still “live and die” by them, professionally.
  • If you’re the best person in your space and you’re good at being in the media, whether it is commercial or public you have an excellent opportunity at becoming a regular guest.
  • Commercial broadcasters are less inclined to pick up issues that aren’t “sexy”, where as public broadcasters tend to cover issues that might be important but perhaps less exciting.

“You just have to be really good when you’re on there. You don’t have to have the best story in the world, but you have to tell it well. It is a performance. For five minutes you have to give it your all to the point where people remember it.” — James


Have you heard the one about…

Recently James, Sarah and Nic took a close look at using humour on social media and trying to go viral.


And here’s a discussion about in-person events and why they are such a successful form of marketing.


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The news been really depressing lately, with so much death, destruction, doom and gloom. Why is it that the news always seems to focus on the negative? And is there room for more positive news? James and Nic take a look at good news versus bad news and the opportunity that creates for marketers.

Here are some key take-outs:


  • Reporters aren’t just looking for the negative in a story, it’s their job to test the positive. It’s how they cut through the “spin”.
  • But the media, recognising the public distaste for the negative, has now said “let’s make space for the positives”. And that’s creating an opportunity for brands.

“There’s an appetite for the positive and brands need to find a way to make something that’s a negative in tone and turn it into something that can be seen in a positive light. — Nic


  • Out of every negative there’s a positive that can be found around it.
  • Social media is a great space to spread a positive message. It’s a place people go to escape and have a laugh. It’s also where people go to find a new angle or an interesting twist on a story.

“When we turn on the television, turn on the radio or open the newspaper, it may well be a very different discussion to the one we’re seeing on social media. What you see come out in social media is some of the human stories and some of the positive stories.” — James


  • Make sure your “good news” message is still aligned with your brand.
  • A good story will continue to circulate.


Here are the links you might need


Have you heard the one about…

Recently James, Sarah and Nic took a close look at the art of public speaking.


And here’s a discussion about how to pitch to journalists.


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Journalism is changing fast. Newsrooms are shrinking, news is published online first, and the “hungry beast” that is publishing requires more content than ever before. So how do we communicate with journalists effectively to give our story pitch the best possible chance of success?

Simon Holt, a veteran journalist with Australia’s Fairfax Media in Brisbane, has written a book crammed with useful tips for anyone communicating with reporters. It’s called 101 Ways to Connect with Modern Newsrooms. James and Nic spoke to Simon Holt:


Here are some key take-outs:

“This book has put in writing the words that every journalist has been wanting to say.” — Nic

  • As newsrooms go “digital first”, they are also shrinking. That’s where the opportunity exists for public relations.
  • Digital news comes with a lot of analytics that help journalists tune their stories to what people want, which couldn’t happen in print.
  • Don’t sell a story to a journalist, sell a story to the audience the journalist is serving.

“There is immense opportunity for the PR industry to capitalise on what’s happening. — Simon Holt

  • Journalists are not experts in everything and they’re open to actual experts contacting them to share their knowledge because it helps the debate.
  • You don’t need to be controversial to get coverage, you just need to be different.
  • Make it easy for the journalist. Get to the point quickly and provide everything “on a plate”.

“The little hook — the point where people’s eyebrows raise and they say ‘tell me more about that’, that’s where the story needs to go — that’s the gist of it.” — James

  • Don’t send it out mass press releases; target a reporter and a publication with a tailored communication.
  • Journalists are not the enemy. If you understand them and their audience you will succeed.

Here are the links you might need

  • To take advantage of Simon Holt’s offer to Brand Newsroom listeners of free postage with a copy of 101 Ways to Connect with Modern Newsrooms, email him directly at sholt@fairfaxmedia.com.au.
  • You can also buy a copy of Simon’s book here.  
  • Follow Simon Holt on Twitter


Simon Holt’s book

Have you heard the one about…

Recently James, Sarah and Nic spoke to Jo McManus from Edith Cowan University about the future of brand journalism.


And here’s a discussion with Carla Johnson, author of Experiences: The Seventh Era of Marketing.

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When brands pursue content marketing, they usually focus on publishing through the Internet and social media. Does this inhibit them from reaching their full potential? This week the Brand Newsroom team discusses how business can capitalise on traditional media to extend the reach of their content.

Find out why your content gets a stamp of authority and credibility and where many brands go wrong in their approach. With years of experience working in the space, Nic Hayes and James Lush share insider tips on changes you can make to your content in order to appeal to traditional media outlets.