Insights from Sam Rockliff, Senior Consultant at Honner

Sam leads relationships with some of Honner’s asset management and diversified financial clients.

Here’s what she has to say about changes she’s seeing in financial services communications.

Q: Give us a brief rundown of your career so far.

I started my career as a corporate lawyer in Brisbane and have a strong background in issues and crisis management as well as corporate reputation and project management.

I’ve worked across both institutional and retail wealth management markets, developing and managing communications strategies for a range of financial brands.

I joined Honner three years ago from AMP, where I spent a decade working in media and financial services marketing across multiple channels.

I’ve worked in financial PR, corporate communications and marketing for over 20 years (yikes!) in Sydney and London.

Q: You oversee a range of asset management and diversified financial clients. What changes have you seen in financial services communications in the past year?

One of the key changes among some of our clients has been a shift in focus from institutional markets to targeting wealthy individual investors and family offices – effectively moving from a business-to-business to sophisticated consumer audience.

From a communications perspective this has meant shifting the dial on style of content we deliver and the channels we use.

Getting messages out to consumers – even affluent and sophisticated investors – requires a more engaging and digestible style, using more diverse vertical channels. We’re using podcasts, video, infographics and influencers more often, as well as our clever written content for websites and target publications, for example.

Even visual content needs to be more engaging – people want diagrams and illustrations that visually tell a story in an interesting and engaging way. No one’s interested in a boring old bar graph!

LinkedIn can be useful in reaching people across a range of audience groups, but while we wouldn’t often use social media channels like Tik Tok and Instagram in targeting institutional investors, those channels can be valuable for reaching some consumer groups.

Q: What new skills or expertise have you developed recently?

It’s amazing how much you can learn in a short period of time. Five years ago, I can’t say I’d ever really thought about the advantages of investing in private credit, but I have literally dozens of conversations about it every day now! I even went to a wedding recently where I was sitting at a table full of private credit experts. It’s such a hot topic!

Q: What’s the best thing about your job at Honner?

My favourite part is getting to work with a large and diverse collegial team. We tend to work in groups of about three to five on each account but everyone in the broader team is always happy to jump in and support when needed, sharing ideas and opportunities. That might be sharing contacts or brainstorming ideas.

We’ve got such a wealth of talent, from ex-AFR and trade journalists to political junkies, platform and asset management aficionados, and branding experts. There’s always someone who has relevant experience and insights to contribute.

Learn more about Sam and our other team members here

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

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

Honner bolsters senior team

Honner bolsters senior team

  • Susie Bell appointed Managing Partner
  • Alison Kahler joins as Senior Consultant – Content
  • Rashmi Punjabi appointed Head of Business Development
  • New Senior Leadership Team to drive ongoing growth

SYDNEY, 3 April 2023: Honner today announced a range of senior team updates, reinforcing the agency’s position as one of Australia’s leading specialist corporate and financial communications firms.

Equity partner Susie Bell has been appointed Managing Partner, with a focus on leading Honner’s people and culture. Celebrating her 15th year with Honner, Susie works closely with Founder and CEO Philippa Honner to drive a range of management responsibilities in addition to leading Honner’s relationships with key clients including NAB, global asset manager Nuveen and global securities and derivatives exchange Cboe Australia.

Alison Kahler has joined the Honner team as Senior Consultant – Content, in response to ongoing demand for high quality, strategically driven content programs in the financial services sector.

Alison brings more than 25 years’ experience as a financial journalist and communications adviser for major publications and institutions. At Honner she will work across the firm’s financial services, corporate and technology clients offering content strategy development and delivery as well as strategic communications counsel.

She joins Honner from HSBC where she spent the past six years as a senior communications manager working across the spectrum of corporate communications, reputation management, issues and crisis management, content strategy and planning, and media relations. Prior to working at HSBC, Alison built a reputation as one of Australia’s leading writers on personal finance, investment and superannuation over more than a decade with The Australian Financial Review.

Rashmi Punjabi has been appointed to the newly created role of Head of Business Development. She will work closely with the CEO and Senior Leadership Team to drive new business efforts across traditional finance and new economy sectors, as well as leading on marketing initiatives for the Agency.

This month Honner also formalised its Senior Leadership Team, in recognition of the collective contribution the agency’s senior consultants make in managing a growing consultancy. The new Senior Leadership Team includes equity partners Philippa Honner and Susie Bell, as well as:

  • Judith Bence, Chief Operating Officer
  • Craig Morris, Head of Marketing Solutions
  • Samantha Rockliff, Senior Consultant
  • Fiona Parker, Chief Strategy Officer
  • Natasha Moldrich, Account Director
  • Rashmi Punjabi, Head of Business Development

CEO Philippa Honner said the appointments reflected the firm’s ambitions to continue broadening its offering across the Australian and APAC region.

“Each year we behave more like a traditional consultant – working with a wide range of stakeholders to deliver highly tailored, strategically driven programs that make a commercial impact,” Philippa said.

“We’re investing in our team, digital tools and infrastructure to support the next phase of growth – as clients continue to value specialist agencies that bring deep market insights and creative ideas to the table, operating as a dynamic and flexible extension of their in-house team.”

Managing Partner Susie Bell said continuous learning and global curiosity were strong contributors to the firm’s culture.

“The Honner team is our greatest strength, and we are extremely proud of our diverse range of talent. We’re committed to delivering relevant and future focused training and team experiences that add value and create a real impact. Through our deep global networks our team can access career-defining agency exchanges and virtual ‘next generation’ forums with their peers from across the globe, covering global best practice and the latest industry trends from ESG to generative AI. Having a global, and more rounded, perspective ultimately makes us all better and more informed practitioners,” she said.

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 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

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

Why diverse voices build better brands

It is a well-known fact that women hold crucial purchasing power in their households, with research showing women drive 70-80% of all consumer spending decisions, through a combination of their buying power and influence. Globally, female consumer spending is estimated at around US$40 trillion.

In the media, however, women are decidedly under-represented. According to United for News, a multi-stakeholder coalition led by international non-profit Internews, only 19% of experts quoted in the news are women – a figure that has changed very little in the past two decades.

Even in the influencer landscape, the numbers are not much better. Of the most followed YouTube channels, all of the top 10 are fronted by men and only 23 of the top 100 are led by women. This shows that the digital space is currently mirroring trends we see offline.

Both women and men want to identify with the faces being used in media and advertising and it is clear that those businesses that do not adequately represent their customer base risk alienating them and hurting the bottom line. 

Amplifying female voices 

Positively, there are currently a number of initiatives underway to amplify female voices in the media. 

United for News is currently working to increase both demand and supply of female voices in news. On the demand side, it is providing best practices and assistance for newsrooms to source more female subject matter experts, and on the supply side, it is providing women with the support and resources to step forward.

In 2019, United for News ran a pilot program in Canada, Ukraine and Iraq, with a view to rolling out its program more broadly in the coming years.

News outlets are also seizing on the opportunity to broaden the range of voices being heard in the media today. 

One of these is Bloomberg, which is seeking to build a definitive global database of women newsmakers in business and finance through its New Voices initiative. The program includes media training for women and other diverse executives who are under-represented on its broadcast airwaves. 

In the UK, for more than two years journalists and producers across the BBC have been tackling the gender representation issue by targeting a goal of 50:50 representation every month. 

The broadcaster’s nightly prime time news program ‘Outside Source’ started the effort in 2017 and took its representation of on-air contributors from 39% women to 50% within four months. Today more than 500 BBC shows have joined the project, highlighting the difference a sustained effort can make.

Takeouts for businesses

While the efforts of news outlets to increase the representation of women in the media is making some inroads, there is still more work to do on the corporate side.

According to Kantar’s What Women Want research, despite an increased focus on equality driven by movements like #MeToo, major brands are still not effectively acknowledging women’s priorities, or communicating with women in an empowering manner.

However, those that do successfully promote gender-balanced marketing are 4% healthier than male-skewed brands and 6% healthier than strongly male-skewed brands.

The female demographic offers huge opportunity for marketers, and brands that understand what women want are in a better position to capitalise.

Businesses should therefore avoid using stereotypes and instead use data and analytics to tap into the needs of their audiences.

Women are also more likely to respond to media spokespeople they feel are like them. All businesses should therefore take steps to ensure diversity in the voices they are offering to the media. For executives who are still building their media interview skills, Honner offers tailored media training to build confidence and know-how about the process.

There is no one-size-fits-all for connecting with female audiences. However, for businesses that want to truly understand their target market, one of the best places to start is to acknowledge that there are differences between men and women, and shape PR and marketing efforts on that basis.

It’s a wrap – Honner’s quarterly media roundup (Q419)

What’s news?

Media empires unite over press freedom

In a rare moment of unity, Australia’s biggest media companies came together to campaign for freedom of the press and protections for whistle blowers.  A coalition of news organisations including Nine, ABC, News Corp, Seven West Media, Ten and Bauer joined the campaign, which spread across the nation in print, digital, radio and TV.

National mastheads including The Australian and The Financial Review ran special covers with heavily “redacted” text to argue the media is subject to a regime of intense government secrecy.  As part of the campaign, Your Right to Know, a TV commercial was also produced to raise awareness about the lack of transparency from governments.

The coalition is pushing for stronger protections for media freedom after years of perceived deterioration that the outlets say has left journalists restricted in their ability to hold the powerful to account.  The campaign follows two police raids, on the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the ABC’s Sydney headquarters, last year, which drove the issue of media freedom to the forefront of public consciousness.

Australia’s press freedom protections are weaker than other Western democracies. Unlike the US, which enshrines free speech and a free press in its constitution, Australia has no strong legal protection for journalism and free expression.  Reporters Without Borders ranked Australia as 21st in the world for press freedom in 2019, down two places compared to last year, warning that investigative journalism is under threat from “draconian” laws.

Your Right to Know coalition’s demands include better protections for whistleblowers, exemptions for journalists from laws that would put them in jail for doing their jobs, and the right to contest the application for warrants for journalists and media organisations.
Rainmaker acquires Industry Moves

Rainmaker Group, published of the Financial Standard and Money magazine, has added to its growing media portfolio with the acquisition of executive recruitment and leadership title Industry Moves.  The move is the latest in a round of acquisitions for Rainmaker which in September purchased The Sustainability Report and Audacious Investing.

Crikey launches new investigative unit

Crikey’s new investigative unit INQ launched with a series of stories including revelations of partisan stacking of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal  and an exposé of the debt-collection industry chasing billions from people on government benefits.

Bauer Media buys Pacific Magazines, catches the eye of private equity

The media decks continue to be shuffled with Woman’s Day publisher Bauer Media buying its long-time rival Pacific Magazines, home of the New Idea, from Seven West Media for $40 million. It seems someone likes the look of the combined entity with the Australian Financial Review reporting that Mercury Capital is in advanced talks to buy Bauer for $150 million.

Warburton makes first acquisition as Seven CEO with Prime Media deal

It’s out with the old, in with the new at Seven West Media which a few days earlier, agreed to buy regional broadcaster Prime Media Group  the first acquisition by the group since James Warburton came on board as chief executive announcing a $444 million loss. Warburton says he remains on the hunt for deals as he works to turn the group around.

Nine lowers forecasts, points finger at lending restrictions

The weak advertising market caught up with the Nine Network, which told shareholders at its annual general meeting that full year earnings will be in the low single digits versus 10% previously forecast. The profit warning comes after Nine completed its acquisition of Macquarie Media and began integrating the AM radio newsrooms it acquired in the deal in an effort cut costs.

Report recommends media rules shakeup, after lobbying by regional owners

A Department of Communications commissioned report has recommended the wind back of media laws, which could allow for a wave of mergers and acquisitions in regional TV, radio and print. The Australian Financial Review reports that the recommendations include the removal of the one-market rule, which presents TV broadcasters from operating more than one TV license in a market. The recommendations follow lobbying by regional media owners cautioning squeezed earnings could force more job cuts.

Thomson-Reuters rebuffs suitors

Thomson-Reuters has rebuffed takeover interest in its newswire from suitors including KKR-backed German media business Axel Springer and a group of individuals including former Reuters editor-in-chief and ITN boss Mark Wood, according to a report in the Financial Times. Instead, the company is backing deal-making executive Michael Friedenberg, president of Reuters News, to give a jolt to the business that reported organic growth of just 3% in the third quarter.

Facebook unveils new logo, launches news service

Facebook unveiled a new logo and branding to distinguish the corporation from its social network with the same name, and launched a test of its news service Facebook News for select users.

Advertisers abandon Alan Jones

Alan Jones’s radio show has lost hundreds of advertisers since his comments about New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern.

ABC flags more job losses

Budget cuts are about to impact the ABC boss David Anderson warning there will be job losses due to reduce funding.

Insights & Opinion

‘Deepfakes’ for audio? Experts are worried, but podcasters are excited, writes Nick Bonyhady of the Sydney Morning Herald.

Youth broadcaster JJJ is undergoing its most significant shake-up in years as high-profile hosts may way for the new guard, writes Meg Watson in The Guardian.

With federal and state attorneys general set to discuss a major overhaul to Australia’s defamation laws, Josh Taylor and Paul Karp at The Guardian discuss what the proposed changes could mean.

Quotable Quotes

“The changes have been constant and meteoric.” – Media entrepreneur Eric Beecher on the “maelstrom” that has hit Australian journalism.

“I wouldn’t expect a huge effect in the short term, but ultimately when you’re selling newspapers … the ability to report is very important.” – Nine Chairman Peter Costello warning there could be a financial impact to the media sector if the government doesn’t safeguard press freedoms.

“This decision begins to change the content equation.” – News Corp Chief Executive Robert Thomson arguing the relationship between digital giants and traditional media is beginning to shift, after Facebook agreed to pay a significant premium for Wall Street Journal content.

“The category is in crisis.” – Australian Community Media Executive Chairman Antony Catalano on the state of regional media in Australia. 

“This is a pretty sad thing. And the greatest casualty has been, and will continue to be, the 6pm news,” – Prime Chairman John Hartigan arguing that without government intervention, regional news ‘will fail’.

“If you are old and white and wealthy and you live in Mosman, the ABC does a lot for you. But if you are not those things and you live in the outer suburbs of our cities the ABC is much, much less relevant to you on a daily basis.” – ABC director of news Gavin Morris admitting the public broadcaster has a “perspective” problem that has seen it focus on the rich, white and wealthy.

“We could’ve sold a long time ago if we wanted to sell.” – Seven West Media Chairman Kerry Stokes denying speculation recent deals, including the sale of Pacific Magazines and the merger with Prime Media, are part of a plan to boost the company’s balance sheet in preparation for a sale or merger.
Movers & Shakers

Charlotte Grieve is now at The Age, covering business. Charlotte formerly worked at The Citizen as a cadet journalist.

Laura Chung is now working at The Sydney Morning Herald as a journalist, after previously working at Nine Entertainment as a finance producer.

Eliot Hastie is now at as a business reporter. He was previously at Momentum Media, where he wrote across ifa, Investor Daily, Fintech Business and Wellness Daily.

James Hall is also at as a finance reporter, having previously worked at Australian Associated Press where he covered a broad range of desks including state politics in South Australia and the stock market from Sydney.

Mathew Dunckley has taken up the role of Digital Editor for The Age, having previously worked in the role of Business Editor at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

Journalist and presenter Jan Fran is the new host of The Pineapple Project podcast.

Tharshini Ashokan is now at Self-Managed Super as a cadet journalist.

Sybilla Gross is now at Bloomberg sitting in the cross-asset team.

Kristi Cheng has left Financial Standard. 

Gerard Cockburn has moved to The Australian as online business reporter. He was previously writing for The Courier Mail.

Glenda Korporaal will relocate to The Australian’s Sydney office to continue her role as a senior writer on business and corporate Australia.

Sarah Jones is now at Investment Magazine as Deputy Editor. She was previously in London for 12 years writing for Bloomberg.

Laura Daquino and Ahron Young are both now at Ticker TV—Laura as a business journalist, Ahron as presenter.

Trick or treat? Time to shine a lantern on open banking

February 2020 will be the stroke of midnight for open banking in Australia.  From this time forward, banking, and in the longer-term the broader Australian economy, will be transformed as the control of personal financial data moves from data holders to consumers.  But despite a tremendous amount of work by government and other stakeholders to build a robust and secure framework, whether open banking is seen by consumers as a trick or treat may hinge on effective communication.

Open banking is the sharing of personal financial data between consumers and financial institutions.  It has been presented as everything from an apocalypse for banks, with fintech beasts ready to strike, through to a wonderful new dawn for consumers. 
In May 2017, the Federal Government initiated a review into the potential introduction of open banking in Australia after its adoption in the UK, Japan and other countries.   A year later, all recommendations from the review were accepted.  These included the introduction of open banking from February 2020 starting with the big four banks, with eventual implementation across the entire banking sector, and longer term across other industries such as energy and telecommunications.

Importantly the recommendations also included the establishment of a consumer data right (CDR).  The CDR enshrines in law that consumers own their data, thus giving Australians the ability to obtain their financial data from institutions they currently deal with and share it with other providers.

CDR legislation was passed by parliament in August and the big four banks, as well as other institutions who want to participate in open banking from the outset, are now preparing for February 2020 when customers will be able to access the first tranche of their financial data.

The CDR is unique to Australia’s open banking model and paves the way for services that are tremendously rich in personalisation.  People increasingly want products and services that are highly tailored to them and open banking promises to be a thriller in this regard.   

From the overseas experience of open banking, we can see it has led to innovation in banking services and the emergence of new solutions.  Open banking was introduced into the UK at the beginning of 2018, and it has been estimated that it could realise £18 billion in value a year for consumers and SMEs.  However, take-up has been hampered by a lack of customer communication and education, and it is broadly viewed that much work still needs to be done in this area. 

Publics are also highly sceptical about the security aspects of open banking with many spooked by recent high-profile global data breaches.

Compounding this for Australia is a backdrop of distrust of financial institutions as the media continues to recall ‘horror’ stories that emerged during the Hayne Royal Commission.  Also, the CDR presents additional complexity to effectively selling the Australian open banking story to a wary general public. 

It is likely Australians will need to be convinced about the merits of open banking and then guided as to how to effectively leverage the CDR.  The onus will be on open banking providers to play this role and to earn an open banking ‘social license’. 

Open banking – and particularly the CDR – presents a great opportunity for Australian financial institutions, fintechs and consumers alike.  But the key to success will be to ensure people understand and embrace open banking rather than seeing it as something scary lurking at the front door.  It will be up to Australian financial institutions and fintechs to get stakeholder communication about open banking right, starting way before midnight.

It’s a wrap – Honner’s quarterly media roundup (Q319)

What’s news?

Seven West Media changes CEOs, reports large loss, goes hunting for acquisitions

The precarious state of free-to-air TV in Australia was highlighted by Seven West Media’s announcement that it recorded a full year loss of A$444.4 million. The loss was due to a dramatic write down in the Seven network’s TV licenses in the wake of recent advertising market declines.

The announcement came just days after new CEO James Warburton came on board following the surprise resignation of CEO Tim Worner. Warbuton said FY19 was a tough year in the economy and advertising markets, which impacted Seven West Media’s performance.

“But we have incredibly strong assets, and our focus moving forward is to speed up the rate of transformation while exploring opportunities for growth in our core and adjacent markets,” he said.

“We will be a hunter and explore M&A opportunities in both traditional media and non-traditional adjacencies that are positive for our shareholders.”

Despite the significant loss, Seven delivered a 13th consecutive year of ratings leadership in Australia. The network was also the number one network in the advertising demographic of people aged 25-54 across the day.

Nine bids for Macquarie Media

Elsewhere, Nine is continuing its acquisitive streak, announcing a bid to take the remaining stake in the Macquarie Radio business it doesn’t already own.

Nine has made an offer to acquire the remaining 45.5 per cent stake in Macquarie Media, which it gained majority ownership of through the Fairfax Media merger in late 2018.

The move would see Nine gain the Macquarie Radio business, which includes stations 2GB, 3AW, 4BC, 6PR and Macquarie Sports Radio.

Macquarie Media responded by recommending its shareholders accept the $1.46 per share off-market bid.

Former Sky News bureau chief launches Ticker TV

Former Sky News Bureau Chief Ahron Young has launched Ticker TV, an online business, technology and aviation channel.

Breaking news and highlights will appear across Ticker’s social channels, while a paid subscription model costing “a dollar a week” will offer users unlimited access to live programming via an app. Ticker will not feature ads, but programs will instead be sponsored.

New regional publication takes on Antony Catalano’s Newcastle HeraldIn regional media news, a new online only publication from News Ltd. is taking on the Newcastle Herald, one of the key publications acquired by Anthony Catalano in his purchase of australian community newspapers in April. The digital masthead Newcastle News is the latest title in a strategy by News Corp Australia to grow local audiences.

Rainmaker expands into ESG

Rainmaker Group, publisher of Financial Standard, has acquired sustainable investment specialist publications The Sustainability Report and Audacious Investing.

Effective October 1, Rachel Alembakis, founder of both publications, will join Rainmaker Group as editor of the titles.

Commenting on the acquisition, group managing director Christopher Page said the business had been looking for the right opportunity to expand into the ESG space:

“We have been following the sector’s development because of its growing importance to Financial Standard readers and Rainmaker Live’s diverse client base of institutional and wholesale investors,” he said.

The acquisition comes six months after Rainmaker Group purchased Money magazine, the longest-running personal finance publication in Australia, from Bauer Media.

Tech giants reject plan for fake news code of conduct

The industry body representing tech giants Google, Facebook and Twitter has rejected proposals for an industry code of conduct on fake news, warning that the recommendation would turn Australia’s media regulator into the truth police.

The Digital Industry Group made the warning in a submission to the competition regulator’s digital platforms review, arguing against eight of its 23 recommendations.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has recommended new codes of practice to ensure fairness and transparency in the digital advertising market and to govern handling of complaints about inaccurate information, to be enforced by an independent regulator such as the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

But Digi has argued against a “one-size-fits-all” code, arguing that what might be considered appropriate in one forum – such as the removal of a public post containing disinformation – “may be considered as intrusive and inappropriate on a private messaging platform”.

Google changes the way it presents news

Original news reporting will get new prominence and stay at the top of searches longer as Google addresses a major concern of publishers and reporters that their work was being swamped by copycats.

The changes follow sustained criticism from traditional media organisations that helped spark the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission inquiry into digital platforms.

Insights & Opinion

Australians young and old are consuming much more video, according to  Zenith’s Online Video Forecasts 2019 report. The average person will spend 100 minutes each day watching online video in 2021, up from 84 minutes this year, the report found. That’s the equivalent of watching 25 continuous days of video in 2021.

Takeup of newer media tech is also rising, with nearly one in five Australians now owning their own smart speaker, according to research from Nielson.

Ever wonder why you never got a reply back from a journalist? Overt marketing and irrelevant content are the two key reasons why journalists avoid PR emails, according to PR Newswire’s recent Asia Pacific Media Survey.

Most people consuming information online in Australia take no steps to verify its accuracy, writes Katharine Murphy, political editor at The Guardian.

Amanda Meade, also at The Guardian, analyses the role that philanthropy could play in changing the journalistic climate in Australia.

Quotable Quotes

“We have always supposed we have a free press. That belief has been shaken to the core in recent times.” – ABC Chair Ita Buttrose told the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, adding that police raids on the ABC’s Sydney offices and the home of a News Corp journalist had “tarnished” Australia’s standing.

“For us it’s really declaring that we’re open for business.” – Seven West Media CEO James Warburton on his plans to seek out a partner to launch a streaming business.

Movers & Shakers

Sarah-Jane Tasker has been appointed Business Editor at The Western Australian. Sarah, who started her career at The Sunday Times in Perth, has spent the past 11 years as a senior business writer at The Australian.
James Hennessy has been appointed Editor at Business Insider. James was formerly Deputy Editor at Pedestrian Group.
Ben Butler has moved from The Australian to the The Guardian Australia as Senior Business Reporter.
Rachel Alembakis, founder of The Sustainability Report and Audacious Investing, is joining the new owner of the publications, Rainmaker Group, as editor of the two titles.
Simon Thomsen is the new Editor of Startup Daily. He was previously Associate Editor of Business Insider Australia.
Hannah Wootton has moved from Money Management to the Australian Financial Review, where she is reporting on professional services and legal affairs.
Aleks Vickovich has moved from Business Insider to the Australian Financial Review, where he covers banking, wealth management and financial services.
Grace Ormsby left Lawyers Weekly and started at Momentum Media sister publication Nest Egg.
Jassmyn Goh has returned Money Management as a News Editor after working as a financial journalist in London.
Kylie Purcell from Your Money has joined Finder as Investment Editor.
Karina Barrymore has left News Corp to pursue freelance writing and editing, including authoring crime novels. Her new novel Where the Truth Lies, published by  Simon & Schuster, is due out in March 2020.
Effie Zahos and Maria Bekiaris have started at Canstar, as Editor-at-Large and Editorial Campaigns Manager respectively after leaving Money Magazine.
Elise Shaw, formerly Digital Content Editor at Commonwealth Bank, has been appointed Digital News Producer at The Australian.
Eliza Bavin, formerly a producer at Your Money, has started at Financial Standard.
Laura Daquino has moved from InvestSMART to Ticker TV, the new online channel started by former Sky News Bureau Chief Ahron Young.
Malavika Santhebennur joined Momentum Media as features editor for the mortgage titles The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
Cliona O’Dowd is back from maternity leave covering financial services and superannuation at The Australian.
Kristi Cheng has left Financial Standard, where she held a journalist title.
Sarah Kendell joined as SMSF Adviser as Deputy Editor.
Lachlan Maddock joined Investor Daily as a reporter.
Elliot Hastie has left Momentum Media, where he wrote across ifa, Investor Daily, Fintech Business and Wellness Daily, and is now writing for D’Marge.
Nicholas Grove is taking a break after leaving Livewire.
Hrishikesh Joshi has left SelfManagedSuper magazine
Pat Commins has left Australian Financial Review and is moving to The Australian.
Mia Kwok has left ASFA, where she wrote for Superfunds magazine.
Jason Clout left the Australian Financial Review where he was special reports editor. Mark Eggleton will take over the role.

It’s a wrap – Honner’s quarterly media roundup (Q119)


Some good news for regional newspapers

Nine Entertainment’s sale of 160 regional and rural newspapers to former Domain boss Antony Catalano and Thorney Investment Group raised hopes of better times ahead for regional publishing. The $115 million acquisition of Australian Community Newspapers, including The Newcastle Herald and The Canberra Times, is the first major divestment by Nine after it acquired Fairfax last year.

Catalano says he wants to “grow the business, not shrink it to greatness” , hopes to avoid shutting any newspaper, and doesn’t expect to shed staff, although acknowledging there is “some stuff” in the portfolio that doesn’t make sense. He’s flagged plans to invest heavily in seven of ACM’s larger papers – The Newcastle Herald, The Canberra Times, The Illawarra Mercury, The Border Mail, The Examiner in Launceston, The Ballarat Courier, and The Bendigo Advertiser – and said he wants to return the Canberra Times to producing its own political news and having a greater role in national debate.

Nine brings the subs back

After freeing itself of its regional newspapers assets, a more focused and cashed up Nine Entertainment announced plans to hire 24 sub editors at its major newspapers The Sydney Morning HeraldThe Age and The Australian Financial Review – ending an outsourcing arrangement with Pagemasters introduced by Fairfax in 2011.

James Chessell, editor of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, said the decision reflects the “strong financial position” of the mastheads and that having all aspects of editorial production in-house will help increase the quality of their journalism.

End of days for Your Money

The news isn’t so rosy in all parts of the media, however. It’s been a short life for the Nine and News Corp joint venture Your Money, which closed on May 17, highlighting the challenges of capturing the attention of self-managed super fund trustees.

The venture had hoped to capitalise on the rise of SMSFs and growing interest in personal finance. However, the JV partners said Your Money failed to attract the level of audience and advertising needed to justify continuing the venture.
Nine and News will look to redeploy staff from the JV within their organisations.

Printing error gives Tele readers a new perspective

News Corp. could be forgiven for rethinking its printing arrangements after pages from its arch- rival The Sydney Morning Herald mistakenly appeared in The Daily Telegraph.

Readers of the tabloid were treated to unusually progressive views including letters calling for more action on climate change and highlighting a need to reform Anzac Day.

After some confusion, it emerged that a printing error at a western Sydney printing plant had resulted in the content of the two mastheads getting mixed up. The two papers struck a deal last year to be printed at the same location in order to save costs.

Rainmaker snaps up Money magazine

Bauer Media sold personal finance magazine Money to Rainmaker, saying it wanted to focus on ‘core consumer brands’. The German company publishes several women’s magazines in Australia including Women’s Weekly and Woman’s Day.

Rainmaker, which is primarily a financial research house and also owns Financial Standard and some smaller B2B titles, said the acquisition fits its longer-term objective of growing its consumer media platform.

Investment Magazine phases out print

Investment Magazine’s May edition will be the last one in print, as it moves to online only. The frequency of the newsletter will be maintained – twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Apple’s news app cast as a helping hand for journalism

Apple Inc launched its news subscription service Apple News+, portraying it as part of its “commitment to supporting quality journalism”. Launch partners include The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, Vogue, National Geographic Magazine, People and ELLE. However, readers Down Under will have to wait. Apple News+ has launched in the US and Canada so far, with launches in Australia and the UK expected later in the year.

Meanwhile, Apple has also unveiled its own TV streaming service and credit card as it seeks to become an entertainment company and financial services firm, moving beyond its incarnation as a tech firm that makes iPhones, iPads and MacBooks.


Can Apple News kill fake news and save journalism?, asks Danial Eran Dilger at Apple Insider
Newspapers can thrive if they go back to their community roots, says Rachel Matthews, journalism lecturer at Coventry University.
The post Google, Facebook era could be a golden age for media, suggests John McDuling at The Sydney Morning Herald.


“They are morally bankrupt pathological liars who enable genocide (Myanmar), facilitate foreign undermining of democratic institutions. –  New Zealand’s privacy commissioner, John Edwards, lambasting Facebook over its response to the Christchurch terrorist attack.

“If they can write an algorithm to make sure that the ads they want you to see can appear on your mobile phone, then I’m quite confident they can write an algorithm to screen out hate content on social media platforms.” – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling for a crackdown on social media companies after the Christchurch attack.

“My experience in the past is to protect jobs. I’ve got a history of hiring, not firing. I want to grow the business, not shrink it to greatness. Not my style.” – Antony Catalano after acquiring Australian Community Media.


Effie Zahos and Susan Hely left Money Magazine following its acquisition from Bauer Media by Rainmaker. Michelle Baltazar, current executive director of media at Rainmaker publication Financial Standard, will step into the editor-in-chief role while Financial Standard editor Darren Snyder will move into the managing editor role at Money Magazine.
Zahos, who recently published A Real Girl’s Guide to Money, is staying at Bauer Media in a new role of finance editor, commentator and financial literacy campaigner.

Jamie Williamson,  associate editor of Financial Standard’s magazine FS Advice, will move to the role of editor at Financial Standard. Elizabeth McArthur has also started working at Financial Standard as a journalist.

Aleks Vickovich, former digital editor of the recently closed Your Money, has a new job as news editor of the Australian edition of Business Insider.

Laura Drew has joined Money Management as a senior reporter, having previously worked as deputy news editor at Investment Week in London. Drew is replacing Anastasia Santoreneos who has left Money Management to work as a finance producer with Yahoo Finance.

Stephanie Aikins left Nest Egg/Momentum Media and is now freelancing for travel magazines. She has been replaced by Cameron Micallef from AAP Medianet.

Alice Uribe, editor of Investment Magazine, has left the publication and is moving to US. Elizabeth Fry has taken over as editor of the publication.

Gina Baldassarre, editor of Startup Daily, has left to take up the role of content and communications manager at Qantas Super.
Chris Dastoor started as a journalist at Money Management.

Jackie Edwards of Bloomberg is moving into stock reporting, having previously covered equity markets. Matthew Burgess is now covering superannuation at Bloomberg and has moved to Melbourne.

Scott Murdoch, Data Room co-editor at The Australian, has left the newspaper.

Hrishikesh Joshi, started working as a reporter at Selfmanagedsuper magazine, having previously worked as a correspondent for Business Standard in India.

Tony Kaye has moved on from his role as editor of InvestSMART to start a new position as financial writer with Vanguard Investments, based in Melbourne.

Mia Kwok has started in a new role as Communications and Content Manager at the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA). In this role she will write and edit articles for Superfunds magazine, as well as managing media relations for the association. Previously Kwok was Commercial Content Editor at Business Insider Australia.