Last November, just as the weather was starting to turn in London, I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to swap Southwark for Sydney and visit our Brands2Life Global partner agency, Blackie McDonald in Australia as part of the Star of the Year initiative at Brands2Life.
The team were incredibly friendly, giving me a warm welcome from the moment I touched down and I was all set to get stuck in immediately, beating the infamous jet lag with a byline or two! They were keen to hear about PR and communications in the UK, including the latest market trends, and likewise, I was intrigued to explore the industry from an Australian perspective.
Beyond the near-constant sunshine and harbour-side location, there are a few other differences to the communications lifestyle in Australia. Although the basic principles of PR and communications are the same the world over, it’s only natural that each country will have its own nuances and it was interesting to explore these, along with the similarities, during my two weeks with the team in Oz.
Nationals vs regionals
We are used to the split of nationals and regionals over here in the UK, however, it was even more apparent in Australia, because of the size and scale of the country. There are only two national newspapers, compared with over 40 regional titles. As a result, it was notable that journalists were very specialised in certain topics, even more so than in the UK. Size and scale may also be a contributing factor to the rise of online media outlets and ever-increasing popularity and influence of bloggers.
Meet and greets
In the UK PR scene, we’re attuned to getting out and meeting our journalist friends face to face to build relationships and scope out potential story angles and news hooks. Whilst the team at Blackie McDonald make every effort to do the same, it’s inherently more challenging in a country where a coffee catch-up with a journalist could quite realistically entail boarding a long flight. Social media plays a far bigger role in this field when distance becomes a barrier and the team relish the opportunities that modern technology brings.
As part of the Brands2Life Global Network, we share some clients with our partners at Blackie McDonald and it was interesting to see the different issues that are affecting the markets over there. For instance, I was tasked with writing a by-line for Nuance, discussing how investment in developing employees’ tech skills can help to tackle the problems caused by the recent changes to 457 visa changes in Australia.
Although smaller than Brands2Life, the day-to-day running at Blackie McDonald is very much aligned, as is the ethos. It’s incredibly valuable to have such a strong cross-continent relationship and, having spent time working with the team, I have no doubt that Blackie McDonald will continue to be a close ally for many years to come. It’s just a shame we can’t extend our relationship to include weather sharing as well as knowledge sharing. Send some sunshine our way!