A day in the life of a modern newsroom

Technology has transformed journalism much more than by simply replacing newsprint with websites. The immediacy of online publication and powerful analytics used by media outlets mean the traditional workings of a newsroom are changing quickly.

A page one story is no longer the most sought after by many newspaper reporters. Instead, they win kudos from editors for stories which meet benchmarks for online engagement – in the same way as reporters at digital-only publications.

These real-time analytics mean there’s no longer any doubt about which topics resonate most with an audience: granular data is often likely to determine the daily news agenda as much an editor’s gut instinct.

That’s why, for example, property stories continue to dominate local news coverage: click rates indicate it’s a topic in demand.

Some media can use colour coded systems to distinguish between items that attract readers and those topics that go largely unread, with stories ranked from “green” for the best read through to “red” for those that fail to gain traction.

Journalists can also be recognised for content which generates a new subscription – a customer journey which can now be tracked by the systems used by media companies.

Why it matters

For clients seeking press coverage, the implications of this shift are significant. Editors who focus on data can adjust websites to elevate stories generating traffic and relegate those generating no interest to the dark recesses of a site.

Giving a journalist a story which falls into the latter category is a sure way to limit your chances of successfully engaging the reporter on that same topic again, let alone generate meaningful exposure for your organisation. So, perhaps even more than before, it’s critical to know the elements of a good story:

  • A clear, sharp angle
  • A topic that resonates with a broad audience
  • Credible evidence to back it all up

Here are some other observations worth considering in a media relations strategy, or even your own organisation’s content:

  • Puns are out: Headlines of old based on clever word plays are less common. Today’s headlines are very literal and often short, perhaps because search engine optimisation is as much at play at news outlets as elsewhere. Journalists now often write their own headlines, unlike the past when sub-editors performed that role. And headlines may be changed if early traffic for a story doesn’t meet expectations.
  • Speed is key: The 24/7 news cycle means media comment needs to be delivered swifter than ever to get published – often within the hour (so forward planning is key if you want to comment on an upcoming event).
  • Remember trade press: The fact a story fails to generate clicks at a mainstream publication may simply mean that it’s targeted at the wrong audience. The financial trade press continues to give industry players a strong voice that reaches a dedicated readership.
  • Newsletters extend reach: Many news outlets wrap up regular coverage in newsletters to which readers subscribe by choice. More popular stories are included in these newsletters, which increases the chances of a story reaching the target audience. The Australian Financial Review, for example, has around 20 newsletters including Inside Property, Carbon Challenge, Wealth Generation and Before the Bell. The ABC’s weekly Your Money Explained newsletter is another example that directly targets readers with financial content.
  • Not clickbait: Relying on reader analytics doesn’t necessarily equate to clickbait. Authoritative and thoughtful comment remains in high demand for business news.

Media companies differ in their application of the above principles but the broad trend is evident.

Honner has strong relationships with mainstream media and the financial press that gives us a front row seat to the changing media landscape. To discuss any of the above in further detail please contact zoe@honner.com.au

Women making an investment impact

Honner CEO Philippa Honner met Future IM/Pact founder Yolanda Beattie nearly 20 years ago when she was a client working at Macquarie Bank. The pair forged a firm friendship after Yolanda ran Honner for a year in 2010, allowing Philippa to take maternity leave. Today the friendship includes working together to support the drive for more women in front-line investment roles.


Future IM/Pact is an industry initiative aimed at attracting more diverse talent into the investment teams of fund managers and super funds – many of whom partner with the program to foster emerging female investment talent. 


Q: Yo – Congratulations. Future IM/Pact has been going for more than five years now and is stronger than ever! What was the initial impetus to set the business up? 

A: I was part of the investor working group of the 30% Club, which was formed to advocate for more women on boards. The asset owner and manager CEOs and CIOs around the table acknowledged the challenge of getting their largely all male teams to effectively challenge board chairs on the topic given they weren’t doing much about it themselves. That sparked my curiosity that led to me galvanising industry to research the issue, and that research led to industry supporting the creation of Future IM/Pact. 

Q: In my 25 years working with local and global asset managers, I can count my engagement with frontline women investors on one, maybe two, hands.. What progress have you seen since you first started talking with asset managers and superfunds about the lack of women on investment teams? 

A: There has been significant progress in attracting more women at the grassroots level and a determined commitment from many leaders to recruit senior women too. Because there are still relatively few women in those senior roles, one fund’s gain is another fund’s loss with all fundies fishing from the same shallow pool. Our original research found women are 50% more likely than men to leave at the senior analyst level and up to 30% less likely to be promoted. That’s why more effort is needed to support, develop and promote women through the pipeline.

Q: You worked at WGEA as well as Mercer prior to establishing Future IM/Pact – how do the recent WGEA stats on the gender pay gap in Australia reflect on our investment and super sector? 

A: Published gender pay gaps reflect the power gap in organisations where men dominate the highest paying jobs and women are more concentrated in lower paying roles. Addressing these pay gaps require funds to evolve their cultures and practices so that more women can thrive in jobs they love as their family responsibilities and interests evolve. I’m happy to say the policies today are now best practice. The change must now come from every single portfolio manager and people leader connecting with the individual needs of women in their teams and asking what support they need to manage these competing interests, while helping them chart a path to more senior, decision-making roles. 

Q: You have some new research coming out soon that tracks gender composition and talent mobility within Australian investment teams – can you give us some hints on trends you are seeing? 

A: Our Gender Data Report, run in conjunction with Mercer, updates the foundationalresearch I ran when working at Mercer in 2017 which tracks composition, appointment, promotion and exit rates of women and men across 9 levels, broken down by organisation and role type. This granularity reveals where women are thriving across the industry and what pockets remain heavily male dominated.

We’re still collecting the workforce data so I don’t have full visibility yet – but I have completed about a dozen qualitative interviews and can say the super funds are doing the heavy lifting to create cultures where women feel equally valued and heard. Asset managers have world-best practices, and the embrace of flexibility/hybrid working has been a game changer – however the more hypermasculine culture in these teams is a turnoff for women who feel they have to fight so much harder than their male peers for recognition.

Q: What’s the biggest hurdle investment teams talk about when it comes to hiring more women? 

A: Finding them. Or more specifically, convincing them to leave their current employer. That takes more effort and a commitment to build a culture where women can see themselves being supported and challenged in all the good ways.

Q: As we both know – there are lots of smart and decent people in investment management who want to build diverse investment teams that deliver the best outcomes. What is your advice to those team leaders looking to improve diversity? 

A: It really comes down to a bespoke approach to every single hire and every single team member. And that doesn’t just apply to women – it’s relevant to men too, especially if you want to hire men who are different from your current crop of talent. That’s because this is a human issue more than it is a women’s issue. 

I encourage leaders to deeply connect with how they need to change and evolve to bring out the best in others, knowing that we all show up in ways that inhibit others fulfilling their potential, often unconsciously. Doing the work to discover and shift these blind spots is essential for building the curiosity, humility and humanity that great leaders are made of. 

Future IM/Pact is a pro-bono client of Honner. For more information go to Future IM/Pact.


Five government policies you can have your say on in 2024

A number of policies and legislative changes are set to provide financial services companies with an opportunity to add their perspectives on key issues impacting public policy in 2024.

Timely commentary which indicates strong conviction can also help build a broader public profile for an organisation. There are different ways to participate in debate:

Expert comment: Providing quick, reactive comment in response to RBA decisions, the Federal Budget or Treasury announcements can generate prominent profile and help build a relationship with journalists.

Opinion pieces: Organisations with a strong opinion or insight on a topic can pitch opinion articles which build a lengthier argument. This approach also avoids the potential for remarks to be taken out of context.

Policy submissions: Providing a response to draft legislation, recommendations or a policy paper are a powerful way to take a position. These submissions are read not just by government decision-makers but also other industry influencers and journalists who often report on the content.

Talking directly with government: A growing number of companies are liaising directly with regulators and members of parliament to address their concerns. This can involve writing to or meeting with the relevant authority.

Below is a list of five key policies already firmly in motion, where you can use these action areas to position your organisation and have your voice heard this year.

  1. Implementing the Quality of Advice Review in full
    The state of play: With the Government having now handed down its final response, the next step in the process is drafting legislation and seeking further industry feedback. This more complex process stems from the Government breaking down the reforms into multiple tranches to fast-track key recommendations. There has since been a flurry of media comment from people concerned that some changes – such as proposed amendments to adviser classifications and statements of advice – don’t meet the needs of consumers.What to expect in 2024: The first stage of the reforms have now been drafted and debate is expected to continue on the floor of Parliament from as early as February. The second stage of the reforms is likely to face further consultation and refinement in the first half of the year, with the hope for legislation to be debated before year end. As these amendments flow through, media commentary from both critics and supporters of individual changes is likely to continue.
  2. Providing regulation around cryptocurrency
    The state of play: There were a number of efforts made by Parliament in 2023 to work towards regulating cryptocurrency in Australia, including a Private Members Bill by Senator Andrew Bragg and consultation papers by Treasury on token mapping and AFSL obligations. There was also an investigation into the potential for an RBA backed stablecoin.What to expect in 2024: There may be outcomes around the above in 2024. In particular, there could be a response from the Government on the recent consultation papers around token mapping and AFSL obligations in Q2 onwards. It may move higher on the Government’s list of priorities given the recent approval of Bitcoin spot ETFs by the SEC in the United States and the potential for the ASX to follow suit.
  3. Optimising superannuation as Australians live longer
    The state of play: The Government has released a discussion paper seeking feedback on how the nation’s superannuation system can best provide income and security in retirement, particularly given our ageing population. The focus is on helping members navigate the retirement income system and supporting funds to provide better products and services.What to expect in 2024: The consultation period closes on 9 February 2024, meaning that a response from Treasury is likely towards the middle part of the year, pending competing priorities within the Government. From there, the Government can assess what regulatory updates and legislation may be required, and over what time frame, to enact these objectives. We expect to see a continued strong focus on decumulation phase / retirement income themes through 2024 and beyond.
  4. Finalising changes to super balances over $3 million
    The state of play: Proposed changes to taxation continued to dominate media headlines in 2023, shifting from the adoption of the Stage 3 tax cuts, to the proposition of reducing the tax concessions available to individuals with a superannuation balance of over $3 million. Media interest has remained consistent on the latter issue, with critics claiming that the additional super taxation is unfair, particularly for unrealised capital gains.What to expect in 2024: The latter policy has now been referred to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee for review, with submissions available to be made by the public until 23 February. From there, the Committee will review the findings and instigate further debate before handing down a final report by 19 April. Discussions around the Stage 3 tax cuts have already resurfaced in 2024, with the Prime Minister announcing the existing policy will be amended to prioritise low and middle-income earners. This will be of particular interest to those working in the financial advice and private wealth space.
  5. Formalising Australia’s Sustainable Finance Strategy
    The state of play: The Government has now released Australia’s Sustainable Finance Strategy, which is designed to support our pathway to net zero by reducing the barriers to investment in sustainable activities. This has been a key policy area for the industry over the past few years and one which is likely to remain prominent as companies adopt transition plans which align with the Government’s ongoing commitment to reduce emissions across all parts of the economy.What to expect in 2024: On 1 December 2023, the consultation process was completed, meaning the Government may formalise its approach in the middle part of 2024. Given the sustained focus of Government bodies like ASIC on issues such as greenwashing, the focus on implementation may remain a key priority. As conversations around the importance of all aspects of the Australian economy committing to net-zero are continuing to increase, this policy area will likely remain front of mind for regulators.

Jared Wright is an Account Manager at Honner. He previously worked in the electorate offices of former NSW Treasurer, Matt Kean MP and former Minister for Multiculturalism and Seniors, Mark Coure MP.

Alison Kahler is Senior Consultant – Content at Honner. She previously worked for the Australian Financial Review as a Senior Editor and Commentator.

If you would like to talk to us about how we can assist with policy advocacy, please contact Jared Wright at jared@honner.com.au

Team Honner kicks off the festive season at Hotel CBD!

The Honner team recently got together with clients, journalists and industry colleagues for a night of drinks, chat and networking – and a chance to welcome in the festive season. Thanks to everyone who came along – it was a great crowd and a fun time was had by all!

Susie Bell and Philippa Honner, Honner
Maria Lykouras from JBWere, Darren Synder and Susie Bell from Honner, Belinda White from First Sentier, Tamara Kolevski from JBWere
Pete Gunning from Russell Investments with Colin Bold from Bell Direct and Harry O’Neil from EQT Partners
Alison Kahler, Honner
Guy McKanna and Jared Wright, Honner
Tesa Arcilla from Ausbiz
Aleks Vickovich from Connexus chats with Lucy Dean from AFR and Annie Kane from The Adviser
Dr Jon Glass, retirement coach at 64 Plus, with Honner NED Barry Rafe
Mel Mak from Magellan with Andrew Lill from REST and Philippa Honner
Samantha Rockliff from Honner with Georgie Burrows and Daniel Sheehan from Lazard Asset Management
Annie Kane from The Adviser with Honner’s Holly Bagley
Nathan Walsh from Athena Home Loans with Ilan Israelstam from Betashares
Brett Jackson and Divyesh Bhana from Aviva Investors with Isabella Palmer and Leah Contos from Honner
Gabby Monardo from Blossom, Eleanor Pearson from Honner, Gaby Rosenberg from Blossom, Jeremy Steven from Honner and Craig Jackson from Blossom
Matt Smith from Australian Ethical with Morningstar’s Christine St Anne
The ABC’s Peter Ryan with Elizabeth Fry from Industry Moves
Honner’s Susie Bell (left) and Holly Bagley (right) with Jules Kudelko and Brent Spanhel from NAB
Honner’s Rashmi Punjabi with AJ Koch from StartUp Daily
Natasha Moldrich and Barry Rafe, Honner
The Australian’s Glenda Korporaal with Jane Clapcott from MA Financial and Bridget Carter from The Australian
Honner’s Guy McKanna with James Alexander-Hatziplis from architects Place Studio and Rose Mary Petrass from FS Sustainability
Aaron Weinman from AFR chats with AJ Koch from StartUp Daily
Judith Bence and Fiona Parker from Honner with Jacky Howe from Yarra Capital Management and Valerie Allen from Gallagher
Belinda White from First Sentier with Yolanda Beattie from Honner Pro-Bono client Future IM/Pact and Honner’s Barry Rafe
Angus Vidulich from Ausbil with Ryan Kilroy from Principal Global Investors and Craig Morris from Honner
Cordelia McLeay, Leah Contos and Hinal Parekh from Honner

Podcast Boom: A Financial Services Guide to Capitalising on the Explosive Audio Landscape

Australians listen to an average of seven podcast episodes per week, surpassing the United States as the nation with the highest podcast listenership. The financial services industry is no exception, with many professionals, asset management firms and super funds turning to podcasting to share their insights and expertise. It is estimated that there are already approximately 150 podcasts targeting individual investors, financial advisers and institutional investors in Australia.

As a leading communications agency in the financial services industry, Honner recently conducted detailed research into the financial podcast landscape. Our study reveals a trove of insights into the increasing popularity of podcasts among investors and financial services professionals – and how firms can integrate this emerging communications channel into an overall communication strategy.

We also identify our Top 10 Financial Podcasts for investors, advisers and institutional professionals.

Who are the most popular financial Podcasters?

According to Honner’s research, the most successful financial podcasters are those who have a unique perspective on the markets, offer actionable insights into how to invest successfully and have engaging guests.

Popular podcasts in Australia include The Australian Finance Podcast, which targets individual investors, consumers and young Australians, and the She’s on the Money podcast, which targets millennials and women and boasts over 1 million monthly downloads.

Institutional investors and advisers can benefit from podcasts such as the Financial Standard (FS) Podcast, which covers the latest developments in finance, investment trends and the economics shaping Australia’s wealth management landscape.

One of the most popular podcasts targeting institutional investors and CIOs in Australia is The Ideas Exchange, which is produced by the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). The podcast features interviews with leading experts in the finance industry, including fund managers, market analysts, and investment strategists and promotes the podcast to its vast audience of Australian investors (60,000 people currently follow the ASX LinkedIn page).

Looking offshore, the We Study Billionaires podcast is the largest stock investing podcast in the world, with 100,000,000+ downloads. It is hosted by Stig Brodersen, Trey Lockerbie, and Clay Finck. The trio interview and study legendary investment gurus such as Warren Buffett, Cathie Wood and Jeremy Grantham to uncover their valuable investing lessons and the strategies they are currently employing to manage the opportunities and risks of the stock market.

The Wall Street Journal and sister publication Barron’s now run 15 different podcasts between them. According to their media kit, their main podcast, The Journal, had close to 100 million downloads in 2022. Recent podcast titles include: The World’s Richest Person Is Planning for Succession, How Investigators Cracked a $3.4 Billion Crypto Heist and A $175 Million ‘Huge Mistake’, (covering JPMorgan Chase’s purchase of Frank— a college financial planning startup).

Do podcasts make money?

Yes. And it can be a very profitable. In terms of earnings, some of the highest-earning investing podcasts generate millions of dollars in revenue annually.

Paid podcasting models can take several forms, including fixed rates for guest appearances or recurring segments. Some podcasts also offer digital promotions, such as social media amplification, as part of package deals. Sponsorships and advertising slots, which can be purchased pre, mid, or post-episode, are also becoming increasingly popular in the financial services industry.

In February 2023 the AFR reported that, in Australia alone, Podcasts now make $82.5m in ads – but it could be double. Although it isn’t about finance, ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ podcast, hosted by UFC commentator and stand-up comedian Joe Rogan, is estimated to earn over USD$30 million annually. Rogan reportedly earns about $100,000 for each podcast episode. He is ranked as the world’s highest-paid podcaster.

Tips for Being a Great Guest on a Podcast

When you’re invited to be a guest on a podcast, it’s important to be prepared to maximise your engagement with listeners. Absorbing information through audio (often while doing something else at the same time) is different to reading. Like a radio segment – speakers need to be crisp and animated – delivering digestible chunks of information in a personable, conversational tone to keep listeners engaged.

Honner regularly provides clients with valuable opportunities to be guests on various podcasts, and we consistently see positive results. Honner’s media briefs are tailored to each client’s unique needs and provide valuable insights on how to make a successful guest appearance. Our team will work closely with you to ensure that you are well-prepared, with details on the host, format, topics to be covered and the audience who will be listening.

At Honner, we believe that authenticity is key – but this also takes thought and preparation.  We encourage clients to share their personal experiences, opinions and insights to create a more engaging and conversational podcast. Our team also emphasises the importance of engaging with the host to create a comfortable and relaxed conversation. In addition to preparing you for your appearance on a podcast, we also provide guidance on promoting the podcast through your own channels, such as LinkedIn, to increase visibility and reach.

In undertaking our research, Honner also reached out to a range of journalists with experience running a successful podcast, asking for their top tips for guests. Here’s what they had to say:

  • “I love hearing about people’s personal stories and experiences, so can you share a specific moment or challenge that really shaped who you are today?”
  • “Our listeners are always eager to learn something new, so can you tell us about a unique perspective or insight you have that might surprise them?”
  • “Use humour and levity to keep the conversation engaging. A light-hearted moment can help break up the seriousness of the discussion and keep listeners invested.”

It’s also vital to get the tech right – with an obvious focus on audio quality. First, consider investing in a high-quality microphone such as the Blue Yeti or Rode PodMic, to improve the listener experience. Additionally, try to record in a quiet, soundproof room, to minimise external noise and distractions. Adding carpet or rugs to hardwood or tile floors can help absorb sound and reduce unwanted noise. And finally, if you have the opportunity to record in a professional studio, that can also greatly improve the audio quality of your podcast episode.

Incorporating Podcasting into Your Communications Strategy

Australians clearly enjoy their podcasts – and it is becoming a fast-emerging channel to reach a wide range of target audiences who are selective and engaged.

As the podcast industry continues to grow, it is important for financial services companies to consider incorporating this channel into their communications strategies.

Many people find podcasts to be a convenient way to consume information and entertainment on-the-go, as they can listen while commuting, exercising, or completing other tasks. The highly personalised nature of podcast content also appeals to many listeners, as they can easily find and subscribe to shows that align with their interests and values.

Podcasts also offer opportunities to target a range of audiences, including Gen Z, Millennials, women and investors focused on particular themes such as climate change / ESG, real estate or cryptocurrency. Moreover, institutional investors and financial advisers are increasingly turning to podcasts as a way to stay up-to-date on industry trends and insights.

Get behind the mic!

Our team had a lot of fun talking to some of Australia’s most successful financial podcasters, who are blazing an exciting new trail for financial education.

Honner’s research provides a valuable resource for clients looking to incorporate podcasting into their communications strategies and we encourage you to have a chat with your account teams to see how you can get involved.


Some of the top Australian podcasts for investors, advisors, and institutional professionals:

  1. The Australian Finance Podcast – Hosted by Owen Raszkiewicz and Kate Campbell, this podcast covers a range of finance-related topics, from investing to budgeting to real estate. It is designed for individual investors, consumers, and young Australians.
  2. Equity Mates Investing Podcast – This podcast is hosted by Bryce Leske and Alec Renehan, who aim to make investing more accessible to the everyday person. They interview experts and provide insights into the world of finance. Equity Mates Media run eight podcasts in total, in addition to the Investing Podcasts. Thes include The Dive, which was the winner of the Australian Podcasts Awards 2022 (best business podcast) and ‘Get Started Investing’ and ‘You’re in Good Company’ targeting millennials.
  3. She’s on the Money – Hosted by Victoria Devine, this podcast is aimed at millennial women and covers a range of financial topics, including budgeting, investing and managing debt.
  4. The Australian’s Money Café. Hosted by The Australian’s Wealth Editor, James Kirby, business and finance experts discuss the biggest news in business, finance and economics, and what it all means for investors.
  5. Fear and Greed: One of Australia’s most popular business podcasts, it covers a range of business news, with business insights from journalists Sean Aylmer and Michael Thompson.
  6. My Millennial Money Podcast: My millennial money is an Australian podcast and community for Millennials, providing personal finance, property and career education needed to live life on your own terms. Hosted by Glen James – a former financial adviser, author and commentator.
  7. The Greener Way FS Sustainability podcast: Hosted by Rachel Alembakis, the podcast explores the big trending environmental, social and governance questions. Each week, The Greener Way focuses on deep conversations on the theme of how investors and companies are changing real world outcomes across environmental, social and governance issues.
  8. Relative Return podcast is part of the Financial Services Podcast Network. This podcast was just launched in May 2023. It is hosted by James Mitchell at Momentum Media, the publishers of Money Management, IFA and Investor Daily.
  9. The Investment Innovation Institute [i3] Podcast is hosted by Wouter Klijn and is focused on institutional investors at pension funds and insurance companies. They cover topics such as asset allocation, portfolio construction and investment strategy.
  10. (International Podcast) We Study Billionaires Podcast: The Investor’s Podcast Network co-founded by Danish investor and author, Stig Brodersen, and Preston Pysh, recently reached a new milestone of surpassing 100 million downloads on their flagship show, We Study Billionaires. It has been a staple Finance and Investing-focused podcast since 2014. The show has increased its publishing cadence from one episode a week to now four a week.

It’s a Wrap – Honner’s Quarterly Media Roundup (3Q20)

Welcome to the latest edition of Honner’s Quarterly Media Roundup, where we update you on all the news, insights and industry moves in the sector. A notable trend emerging is the launch of a number of new niche finance publications, as publishers respond in part to the phenomenon of Robinhood investors – the surge of new investors becoming participants in the share market for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What’s news?

New AFR newsletter targets young investors

Noting the rush of new investors trading in financial markets during the COVID-19 pandemic and experiencing a surge in younger subscribers, the Australian Financial Review launched Wealth Generation, a new weekly newsletter.

Bloomberg launches wealth vertical

Bloomberg launched a new content vertical Bloomberg Wealth to help readers make smarter decisions about their personal finances. Bloomberg Wealth will include six pillars: Investing; Savings & Retirement; Taxes; Living (where to live, renting vs. buying, divorce, etc.), Reinvention (education, careers, networking, starting a business); and Opinion and Advice.

New fixed income publication launches

RGC Media & Mktng launched Fixed Income News Australia, a digital portal dedicated to news and insights about Australia’s fixed income sector.  It is the second major news portal published by RGC following the launch of MBA News Australia in 2015.

Radio’s Money program expands into TV

Nine announced that Money with Brooke Corte, currently a radio program across 2GB, 3AW and 4BC, will become a multi-platform brand including TV, newspapers and digital. The program focuses on personal finance and investment.

Instagram launches rival to Tiktok

Instagram launched Reels, a challenger to Tiktok. Appearing as another content creation function within the Instagram app, Reels gives users the ability to create short-form, edited videos with audio and music. The launch comes amid rising global concerns that Tiktok and its Chinese parent company Byte Dance are feeding users’ data to the Chinese Government.

AAP turns to crowdfunding

Despite being saved from imminent closure by a team of 35 investors and philanthropists in June, AAP wasn’t out of the woods. The newswire turned to crowdfunding a few months later after finding itself under financial pressure, and then received a $5 million lifeline from the government.

Sky News posts best half-year result on record

Sky News posted its best half-yearly result on record. Its average all day audience is up 31% year on year, ranking as Foxtel’s number one channel for 22 consecutive weeks. Sky News said the first half results were “driven by its global coronavirus crisis coverage, top performing primetime line-up, exclusive interviews, investigative specials and documentary programming”.

Bauer Media closes magazines

Bauer Media closed the eight titles it paused during the COVID-19 pandemic — Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Instyle, Men’s Health, NW and OK — in another major blow for the media industry. The closures  impact about 40 jobs and are the first to take place under new owners Mercury Capital, which formerly acquired the business in July.

World first plan to make Facebook, Google pay

In a world first, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission released a proposal to force Facebook and Google to pay for news. The draft code allows commercial news businesses to bargain – individually or collectively – with Facebook and Google, in order to be paid for the news the tech giants publish on their services. Facebook responded by threatening to block Australians from sharing news across its platforms – warning the code would have a negative impact on the publishers who are calling for the change, as well as the tech platforms.

Insights & Opinion

Journalists are leaving the noisy internet for your email inbox, according to Marc Tracy at The New York Times.

It’s not ‘fair’ and it won’t work, writes Damien Story in The Conversation in an article about the ACCC’s plan to force Google and Facebook to pay for news.

Instagram is the home of pretty pictures. Why are people flocking to it for news? Dr Laura Glitsos addresses this question in The Conversation.

All of Australia’s national news directors are white men, with lack of TV diversity starting at the top, writes Brittney Rigby in Mumbrella.

And last but not least, Honner’s own survey reveals what COVID-19 has meant for the way financial journalists work.

Quotable Quotes

“It’s probably fair to say that things have been a lot tougher than we thought,” AAP’s chief executive, Emma Cowdroy, ahead of the launch of the newswire’s crowd funding appeal.

“Australia is drafting a new regulation that misunderstands the dynamics of the internet and will do damage to the very news organisations the government is trying to protect.” – Will Easton, managing director for Facebook in Australia and New Zealand.

“It doesn’t take a Boston consultant to see that it’s been increasingly difficult to turn a profit in magazine land…” – Kirstie Clements, former features director of Harper’s Bazaar, after Bauer Media announced it was shuttering the magazine and seven other titles.

Movers & Shakers

Gay Alcorn has been appointed Editor of The Age. Alcorn worked for The Age for nearly 20 years before leaving seven years ago to return to writing and join Guardian Australia as its Melbourne editor. She replaces Michelle Griffin who has been standing in since the departure of Alex Lavelle in June, and who will continue at The Age as World Editor. Meanwhile Stephen Brook, former media editor at The Australian, has joined The Age as a CBD columnist.

Kathy Skantzos, former managing editor at CEO Magazine, was appointed Finance Editor at news.com.au. Skantzos replaces Alexis Carey, who moved to a Senior Reporter role, covering general news.

There have been two senior appointments at The Australian Financial ReviewFiona Buffini has moved into the role of Deputy Editor (Digital) and Jessica Gardner has been appointed News Director. Meanwhile, Finbar O’Mallon also started as a reporter at the AFR in Sydney.

Tony Yoo started as a Senior Journalist at The Motley Fool, covering business and investment news. He formerly wrote for Yahoo Finance, Business Insider and Guardian Australia.

Christa Nicola was appointed as Ticker TV’s new Sydney reporter. Nicola joins Holly Stearnes who started as Melbourne reporter. Both are providing live reports across the Ticker News programs.

Adam Creighton is now a Co-Host at Sky News Live’s Business Weekend programme. He will appear on the programme each week between 11am and midday. This is in addition to his role as Economics Editor at The Australian.

David Donaldson finished as a journalist at The Mandarin, moving into communications.

Rachel Williamson wrapped up at Stockhead after three years to pursue her own freelance journalism projects.

Colin Brinsden returned to AAP as Economics and Business Correspondent, based in the Federal Parliament’s press gallery.

Finance Reporter Derek Rose departed the newswire and is now a journalist at Stockhead covering tech and biotech.

Annabelle Dickson started a new role as a journalist at Financial Standard, covering all aspects of wealth management. She previously worked at The Inside Investor and The Inside Adviser.

Elissa Ratliff has returned to Mamamia as head of podcasts after leaving last year to join Pacific Magazines.

Justin Hendry has been promoted from journalist to Deputy Editor at iTnews. He joined iTnews in 2017 after writing for public sector research house Intermedium.

Will Jolly has been appointed Senior Finance Journalist at Savings.com.au.

Roads and Infrastructure Assistant Editor Lauren Jones has been promoted to Editor of the publication.

Harnessing the Superpower of Visual Storytelling — Q&A with Our Video Partner Theo Fatseas

“Seeing is believing” is more than just a cliché. Humans are highly visual creatures. That makes video a powerful tool to engage an audience and communicate ideas. Research from Brightcove found more than half of all consumers and 66% of millennials reported engaging with a brand after viewing a video on social media. As businesses catch on to the medium’s potential, video has become the most commonly used format in content marketing, overtaking blogs and infographics.

During COVID-19, this trend is accelerating. The amount of time people spend online is surging and much of what they are consuming is video. A Nielsen study reveals a 60% increase in the video content watched globally. During these challenging times, the power of video to forge emotional connections makes it a valuable tool for building trust, strengthening relationships, and providing guidance to customers and investors – who are hungry for information, analysis, and reassurance.

At Honner, we partner with videographer Theo Fatseas to produce highly effective videos for our clients. The Honner team will help with the planning and scripting of your video and make sure you get your messaging right. Our experienced hosts can showcase the expertise of your spokespeople in on-screen interviews. And because we know appearing onscreen can be daunting, we offer digital media training, so you always look and sound your best. The filming and editing are handled by Theo, who delivers high production values and employs sophisticated film-making techniques to engage and connect with your target audience.

Theo is a former documentary maker who now produces corporate videos, including for the Livewire Markets platform, and is therefore a great fit for our financial services clients who want to reach out to their customers and investors with high quality visual content.  In this Q&A with Honner, Theo shares some insights on making compelling videos that resonate with audiences.

What elements of documentary making do you bring to your videos?

My experience as a documentary maker has given me an appreciation of the importance of authenticity and realism. When I look down the lens, I can tell if a person needs more direction, or if we need a second take. I can put myself in the shoes of the audience.

Another big part of it is understanding story structure. Every good story has a beginning, a middle and an end. When I’m filming, and when I’m piecing the video together during the editing phase, I’m keenly aware of the need to create a hook at the start to capture the audience and give people a taste of what they are about to see. Then you have the main body of the story, your Act 2, where you flesh out the concepts you introduced at the start. Act 3 is the closing – now that I’ve told you all this, what does it mean for the audience?

After a lifetime of conditioning from watching films and TV, people expect to be engaged. They want and expect the hook. They want to be invested in a video. If those boxes are not ticked, then you are making them do extra work.

Do you have any tips on what speakers can do to ensure a good onscreen performance?

Your performance on camera can mean the difference between being engaged and genuine or being boring and contrived. It’s a good idea to get some media training if you’re not experienced. You want to present as if you are talking to a person in a natural conversation.  While filming, actively imagine you are talking to a person one-on-one.

Is shorter always better?                         

When we started doing videos for LiveWire, the target length was 2-3 minutes. Now some go to 18 minutes. It depends on the content and how engaging it is. Mobile devices mean people can watch anytime so keeping it short isn’t as important anymore.

Longer videos don’t get watched during work hours – people will watch them during personal time. This suits videos that are made for a general audience.

A long video can be engaging if it has stock footage and attention to story structure, and a great, succinct presenter. An 18-minute video we made for Livewire Markets during the GFC went viral because it was very dramatic and talked about financial markets being on the brink of collapse.

How long does it take to produce a video?

It depends on the video. For an “About Us” style video, production would take a few weeks from the time of filming. A straight interview can be turned over in 24 hours. Something super urgent can be shot and edited on the premises, which is sometimes necessary with crisis management videos such as during COVID-19.

How are you operating during COVID?

I have been doing a lot of shooting in people’s homes. Some people are supplying me with video shot on iPhone or Zoom and asking me to edit it, but in terms of quality, you can’t beat old school camera and microphone. I’m now starting to return to shooting on location in the city.

If you’d like more information on using video to engage and communicate with your customers and enhance your brand, contact us at honner@honner.com.au

Honner survey: what COVID-19 has meant for the way financial journalists work

It’s not an easy time to be a journalist.

On the one hand, newsrooms are busier than ever, with reporters working frantically to cover the developing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on people, the economy and markets.

At the same time, the lockdown has not only forced them to rethink the way they work but also continued to put more pressure on an industry that was already being dramatically impacted by digital disruption. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our society at large, it is challenging media outlets both big and small and resulting in the loss of more journalist jobs as ad revenues continue to fall.

At Honner, we wanted to get a clear idea of how the lockdown has impacted Australia’s financial journalists, in particular, as they face the pressure of keeping up with the escalating pace of economic, market and corporate news from their loungerooms.
We wanted to know how journalists are coping, where they need help, and what their priorities are during this exceptional time.
So, we asked. In May, Honner surveyed a national database of active reporters from across the trade and mainstream financial press. Here’s what we found:

The news cycle is speeding up
More than 80% of respondents said they have been busier and working harder since the impacts of COVID-19 took hold in Australia in March.

A key pressure has been filing stories quickly as financial markets reel from daily COVID-19 news—made more difficult by the fact journalists are working in isolation.

People are worried about their jobs

Journalists also reported growing concerns around job security, with 60% saying they were much more concerned, or more concerned, about the security of their role.
Over the past three months, several newsrooms have closed permanently, and dozens of other mastheads have suspended operations, resulting in hundreds of staff being laid off or stood down.

Other journalists are feeling the brunt of cutbacks, including pay cuts, forced leave and reduced hours as the pandemic causes a sharp fall in advertising revenue in an already fractured media landscape.

They want insights – and it’s not all about COVID-19
When asked about the most important assistance market commentators could provide right now, journalists ranked news insights as number one, followed by research data to support story angles and ‘getting back to me quickly’.
Nearly 80% of respondents said they are not under pressure to deliver a COVID-19 angle for every story, but rather are looking for a more diverse range of stories.
The top areas of interest for financial reporters included investment strategies to navigate markets, the impact of COVID-19 on sectors such as superannuation, property and financial advice, and Australia’s economic environment.
Virtual story-gathering – from home
While working in isolation presented some difficulties, such as not being in a newsroom environment and not being able to interview people face to face, many respondents said working from home had proved less stressful. Thirty per cent of respondents said they didn’t miss the commute to work and 25% liked being able to work at their own pace and time of day.
A substantial 70% of respondents said they would prefer to continue working more days from home as social distancing measures eased.
In terms of changed work practices, the majority of journalists have embraced virtual news gathering as a new reality under lockdown. More than three quarters of respondents (78%) said they would like to attend more virtual briefings and nearly half (48%) said they would like to connect virtually with more offshore spokespeople to discuss events across global markets.
Virtual briefings should be short and snappy however, with nearly 4 in 5 respondents (79%) suggesting 30 minutes as the right timeframe for a briefing, and 21% suggesting 60 minutes. Twenty per cent of respondents said they would look to use video interview footage from briefings for broadcast purposes.
When asked about various ways they’d like to virtually connect for media interviews the humble telephone call remained the preferred method for an interview (68%), while 55% of journalists also chose written email comments as an option and 41% were happy to interview via Zoom.
Audiences are up
One of the positive factors that came out of our survey was that audiences are up. Nearly 50% of respondents said their audience numbers were up by greater than 20%. Twenty per cent of respondents said audiences were up more than 50%.
The whipsawing of financial markets in recent months has added to the financial worries of investors and savers across the country, and they have been thirsty for information.
With ongoing economic uncertainty, the pressure remains on financial journalists to deliver news and explain the impacts to everyday Australians, as well as those working across Australia’s substantial financial sector.
What this means for financial services brands
COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way brands engage and communicate – with media, but also with other stakeholders such as employees, customers and the industry at large.
In times of uncertainty, effective and timely communications is more important than ever. And with social distancing in place, we now need to do that differently.
To help clients cut through, Honner has partnered with a number of leading providers to help our firms deliver their message through visual digital platforms: engagement that is efficient, cuts through and is personable.
For a copy of our Business as (un)usual during COVID-19 – Engaging in a time of uncertainty deck or further insight from our journalist survey, please contact me on paul@honner.com.au or 0427 755 296.

Media in the new normal of COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has changed every aspect of our lives, and this has been especially true for the media, who have been working round the clock like any other front-line essential worker.

With everything else around the world practically coming to a standstill, the news cycle has picked up pace, buzzing with demand for trusted, timely and relevant information like never seen before.

Journalists have rapidly pivoted to remote guests, phone interviews and socially distanced press conferences. The speed and intensity of the crisis has also created wall-to-wall COVID-19 coverage, as every sector of the economy has been impacted.

This also created a shift in the working relationships of journalists and PR professionals as everyone was effectively adapting to the new normal.

I was fortunate enough to hear from Erin Bouda (Supervising Producer at Weekend Today), Michelle Stephenson (National News Director at Nova) and Aleks Vickovich (Wealth Editor at the AFR) as they discussed the media landscape in the new normal of COVID-19 in a recent PRIA webinar.

Below are my key take outs from this insightful session to help friends in the PR industry (and brands) understand the new best practice in working with print, broadcast and radio journalists, as well as what the future looks like for journalism after the crisis passes.

“Change is the only constant”

Greek philosopher Heraclitus couldn’t be more accurate when he said this. As the situation escalated in Australia and WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, news changed, plans changed, narratives changed, graphics changed, work and travel arrangements changed. Everything changed.

News bulletins were renamed as COVID bulletins, breaking news was scheduled for every 15 minutes instead of twice a day, and newsrooms were transformed to ‘home sweet newsroom’.

As the journalists in the webinar said, “who knew we can pull together a full newspaper or co-host a national breakfast show from home?”

Recognising that people are spending so much time in their homes due to social distancing restrictions, radio adapted quickly and started promoting their content available via smart devices such as Apple podcasts, Spotify etc.

In addition to the public health coverage, the economic reporting became equally important as a 10-year bull run in the stock markets came to a halt and various stimulus packages from the Government started to roll over, including the early release of super.

Opportunity for PR: Adapt or leave

All journalists in the webinar were unanimous in their opinion that the PR agencies and consultants who were agile enough to adapt quickly to this crisis, came off very well for their clients.

“It’s all about gauging the shifting appetite and the relationships you can tap into,” they said.

My understanding of the media’s expectation of PRs is to go through two self-assessment filters before pitching their clients or stories during this crisis.

#1: Is this what people want to watch / read / wake up to / care about today?

While the journalists admitted to their COVID-19 reporting fatigue, they also confirmed COVID-19 stories continue to attract the highest traffic and engagement from their audiences. So your pitch still needs to be relevant and pivot back to the pandemic.

Perhaps not so much on what has already happened, but more about planning life on the other side of this crisis.

#2: Is my spokesperson equipped to talk about this topic?

A one-size-fits-all approach may not be appropriate, as all companies and spokespersons are not thought leaders on a crisis. Experts that are reliable, and have relevant data and projections, or have made positive changes to their business should be unleashed as it’s their time to shine. If they don’t’ fit any of these criteria, don’t encourage them to speak outside their area of expertise.

Another evergreen best practice that is particularly relevant now is to present your pitch in the format that makes sense and saves time for the journalists who are already time-poor. For example, when pitching to radio, attach ready-to-use audio grabs to make it easier for the journalist and avoid all the back and forth in a rapidly evolving news environment. For television, if your client has previously spoken on TV or YouTube, feel free to share those clips to give the producer a sense of their talent.  

Broadcast journalists also admitted that due to virtual systems, expectations of quality have dropped in some cases. While this holds true for video interviews (mostly held over Zoom or Skype), audio grabs still need to have top sound quality.

In print media, however, readership has doubled for leading publications as they have attracted new digital subscribers. There is no question of compromise on the news quality to ensure new readers are engaged.

Lastly, while it’s easy to assume that since journalists are working from home, they’re more open to interviews, you might want to reconsider. They are under a lot of pressure and anything you can do to ease that pressure will go a long way in building a long-term relationship of trust.

“It is heartening to see people re-engaging with media sources again, and transparent reporting of how this crisis is affecting everyone, including us, has generated goodwill for the media,” the webinar ended on a warm and fuzzy note.

Honner will soon release a survey of Australian journalists looking at their experience of working during COVID-19.

Favourable news coverage is not a ‘great outcome’ – so let’s stop calling it that

I’ve decided to start this blogpost with a cranky headline. Much like Dr Bruce Banner before turning into The Hulk in the first Avengers movie, I will also let you in on my secret: despite not showing it, I am always angry… whenever I hear someone call news coverage “a great outcome”. It’s not… And calling it that can cause us to drift away from our objectives.

Don’t get me wrong, favourable news coverage does make me happy, especially whenever my team and I have been working hard to attain this. My point is the outcome of our PR strategy and activities – the actual communication outcome – is something that can’t be seen in any news coverage analysis. Positive coverage does not automatically mean positive reputation. That is a far-fetched assumption, especially if we’re only looking at earned media to asses reputation. To understand the outcomes of our campaigns, we must look beyond.

To begin with, communication happens not when news is published or advertising is displayed, but when our target market reads or listens to what we say or is said about us, and when they understand, accept or respond to the stories that involve us. Likewise, it also happens when we listen, understand, accept or respond to the messages from our target audience – that is, if we accept the notion of stakeholder capitalism. 

But even if we are still passionately attached to the old paradigm of shareholder capitalism, where the sole role of PR is to persuade a target market to think or act in a desired way about a brand or product, the real communication outcome can mostly be observed through market research, using techniques such as surveys, focus groups and in-depth interviews, among others, not by running news coverage analyses and making fancy-looking graphs with the clips achieved.

This approach to measurement and evaluation has been proposed by the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) since the publication of the Barcelona Principles in 2010 (updated in 2015), and more recently, with the appearance in 2016 of the Integrated Communications Measurement Framework. The framework distinguishes between Objectives (SMART ones), Output (our story and messages communicated to our target audience), Out-takes (immediate reaction of our audience and information recall of a story, organisation or product) and Outcomes (effects in the attitudes, opinion and behaviour of our audience towards a story, organisation or product). At least a version of this is worth considering for structuring an integrated communications program or campaign.

Let’s go back for a minute to the fancy-looking graphs. To clarify, these graphs with news coverage segmented by prominence, favourability, audience, reach, themes, message cut-through, visual impact, etc. do have a role, an important one even. They help us to stir a program in different directions if needed, and they might even be useful for generating KPIs. But if we’re aiming to have in place a sound strategy across all media with measurable communication objectives that can aid the organisation’s business goals, it’s critical to consider news coverage for what it is – which is, output, not outcome.

It’s also important to note for anyone that made it this far down in this cranky blogpost that a clear taxonomy of concepts is not an end in itself. The ultimate benefit of referring to news coverage for what it is is that it allows us to look at the big picture, which is first and foremost, our communication objectives. What is it that we’re trying to do? Is it increasing brand awareness among a specified segment of the market from 10% to 15% in the next 12 months? Is it to replace A for B as the most associated brand attribute, assuming A will help the organisation to increase leads or conversions? Is it to decrease from 20% to 15% the percentage of people who are currently not considering buying our products in the near future? Is it to lower from 60% to 20% in three years the amount of people with a specific misperception about our organisation and its services? All these are examples of the right questions to ask whenever communicational objectives are discussed and agreed on in writing.

Only once these communication objectives have been achieved, can we truly say that our integrated program across all media teams has jointly achieved a “very good outcome”.