‘Loveable and Liveable’ are retail property’s future: Property Council of Australia Retail Outlook Breakfast

Loveable, liveable, and sustainable buildings are the future of retail property development. That was the view of Barrie Barton, Founder at Right Angle, who delivered the key note speech at the Property Council of Australia’s Retail Outlook Breakfast in Sydney last week.

Barrie entertained and inspired almost 500 attendees with his unique insights into the future of retail property development. It is no longer enough for shopping malls to just deliver local and international retail offerings…people are now demanding more. In the age of online shopping, where a new pair of shoes is available at the click of a button (often with a friendlier price tag), retail developers must appeal to the “human health” aspect of shopping and focus on delivering an unforgettable experience.

According to Barrie’s research, shoppers go to malls for food and beverage, a ‘liveable and loveable’ socialising area, breathtaking architecture and design, and of course world-class retail offerings. Going to the mall should offer human connections you can’t get through a strategic right-click.

The expert panel included General Manager of POPAI, Carla Bridge; CEO of AMF Bowling, Nicole Noye; Head of Retail at the GPT Group, Vanessa Orth; and Managing Director at AMP Capital Shopping Centres, Mark Kirkland, and they all agreed.

The panellists said the rise of millennials meant a shift in marketing and design tactics towards value-based offerings. For Ms Noye, this meant appealing to millennials’ values of connection and oversharing using the power of social media and the rise of selfie-media. The “selfie-worthiness” of the ‘King Pin’ seat and crown and hundreds of bowling pins hanging from the ceiling was one of the most successful tools AMF used to reach its target millennial audience.

It is an exciting time for forward-thinking Australian retail property developers who are ready and willing to embrace change. Creating liveable, loveable, and sustainable destinations will ensure a bright future for the retail property industry.

Avoiding PR fails: How to win friends and influence journalists

A few weeks ago we came across a blogpost by Fairfax journalist Larry Schlesinger. It resonated a lot with what we believe in. So we asked Larry if we could republish this piece here too.


I recently sat down over an informal lunch with a large real estate group in their high-rise office.

It was an opportunity to meet some of their new team members at the start of the new year and make new contacts.

But it was also an opportunity for them to ask me questions about the how the newspaper business works and essentially explain how stories – perhaps their own property deals – might end up in the paper I write for, the Australian Financial Review.

As we chatted over sandwiches, it occurred to me that I was answering many of the same questions I’d answered a number of times before at similar “meet the press’ type meetings and that it might be useful to others to summarise some of the things we discussed.

So here it goes, from the horse’s mouth: A journalist’s top tips for dealing with…journalists:

1. A short email or phone call is often better than sending a press release.

Every journalist is bombarded with media releases. Dozens appear in our email inboxes everyday and throughout the day. It’s impossible to carefully read every one and find the time to work on stories at the same time. A much better option is a short email outlining the story idea in a few dot points and a contact number for the journalist to ring to get more information.  If you are going to send a press release, keep it short and to the point. No journalist has the time to read an 8 page press release. Alternatively, pick up the phone and call, but not before you have read point 2 below.

2. Don’t ring a journalist when they are on deadline.

It’s incredible how many experienced PR consultants still ring journalists at my newspaper at 4 or 5 pm in the afternoon as we are frantically filing stories for the next day’s paper to pitch ideas or just to “chat”. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a conversion, even if for a few minutes about something that’s either irrelevant or can wait while you are trying to finish a story. Incredibly some people go on pitching stories even after you say you are on deadline. If you’re going to ring a journalist find out when the best time to call is. For those writing for newspapers, the morning is usually the best time to ring.  If you are going to ring on deadline, make sure it’s a REALLY, REALLY BIG story.

3. Think before you speak

Once you tell a journalist something, it cannot be untold or unremembered. (Think of us as bottomless receptacles of information rather than sieves). Before you call, think about what you are going to say and write down some key points. It’s amazing how many people ring journalists, provide all kinds of great insider information, slag off their competitors and then are amazed when these quotes appear in the newspaper the next day. The same goes for facts. If they are true and you tell us them, we will report them. (Of course journalists also love salacious people like this and…there are equally some people who love dishing it out, but just be prepared to see it in print the next day as a direct quote).

4. Exclusives are what we want

Exclusives are the life blood of journalists and newspapers. If you can offer a journalist an exclusive and it’s a worthy story, you are almost assured of getting a good run in the paper. However, there is nothing more annoying for a journalist to read the exact same story they have been pitched and are writing appear in another publication. Of course you are perfectly entitled to pitch your story at multiple publications but you should be upfront about that and let the journalist know that they don’t have the story to themselves.

5. Be patient

Even a good story may take a few days, even a few weeks to get a run. This may be because of space (in the case of a print publication) or resources (journalists are generally working on a number of stories and have to prioritize based on what their editor wants) or the type of story: for example rural stories may run on a certain day of the week.  A good story will always get a run. By all means follow-up on the story – NOT ON DEADLINE! – but don’t bombard journalists with multiple daily emails. If the story needs to run by a certain date, then let the journalist know. If they can’t meet that date, then you are perfectly entitled to take the story elsewhere, but tell them first if you want to keep a good relationship.

6. Expect journos to quote you accurately but don’t expect a certain type of story

Journalists that deliberately misquote or take remarks out of context are to be avoided. Mistakes do happen. However, good writers don’t simply regurgitate press releases verbatim. Remember we are story tellers and are writing for our readers – not for you or your clients. Often those two audiences will overlap, but not always. Sometimes a passing comment or a small point may have greater and wider resonance – in the eyes of the journalist or their editor – then the main subject of a press release or briefing. Have an open mind about what you might read in the paper or online.

7. Don’t pester a journalist’s colleagues with the same story

Most journalists work in a team, whether it’s a specific beat like politics or property or the arts. We often sit together and discuss story ideas. It’s amazing how often a PR firm will contact a journalist with a story idea that doesn’t get traction and then ring all their colleagues with the same idea. This is not a great strategy. It smacks of desperation. If you really think a journalist is missing a good story my suggestion is to ring them and ask them why they won’t cover it. If you still think it has legs tell them you will contact their editor to pitch the story or a colleague, but don’t just send it out – scatter-gun style – to all and sundry.

8. Don’t give misleading information

This may seem an obvious one, but it’s quite common for someone to embellish a story idea or even a formal press release with inaccurate information, half-truths or outdated information to generate interest. Good journalists will verify facts, but we expect to be given accurate information in the first instance especially if its in a formal media release. If you are not sure, then say so. Being deliberately misleading is the quickest way to get you on a journalist’s blacklist.

9. Share market intelligence to build rapport

A great way to build a relationship with a journalist is to share information you have about the market and what your competitors are doing “off-the record” (see point 10). This may not get your name in the paper, but will help when you pitch your own story idea. Journalists treasure market tip-offs as much as they do exclusives.

10. Understand what “off-the-record” means

A lot of people I think have misconceptions about what it means when you tell a journalist: “This is off-the-record”. This does not mean that a fact or tidbit won’t be reported. All it means that if it is reported, it will not be attributed to you. Either it will be stated as a fact or something along the lines of “market sources said” or “people close to the deal said”. One thing I would stress is be wary of sharing information off-the-record that could only conceivably come from you. (See point 3 again). That always ends badly – for you, not the journalist.

11. Don’t pick fights with journalists

Of all the idiotic things President Donald Trump has done, one of the silliest has been to pick fights with the main stream media. It’s incredible that he has gone to war with some of the most respected global publications like The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN which have huge audiences. Pick up the phone if you are unhappy with a story, don’t send a ranting email or abusive text message – we have thick skins and long memories.

Originally published in Freshlyworded in January 2017

Disintermediation: what is it and why is it transforming communications?

Disintermediation is a big word with a popular following. In a world of disruptors, removing the middleman from a transaction is an effective way to put downward pressure on prices, or bring customers closer to the businesses they deal with.

It’s a trend that has been reshaping the media landscape for some years now. As user-generated content comes to the forefront, and media outlets shrink, individuals and companies have become publishers in their own right.

More now than ever, we are seeing a growing demand for insightful and interesting commentary from companies, delivered directly to their stakeholders. You only need to look at ANZ BlueNotes and Henderson Global Investors, to see companies going to great lengths to create content hubs that rival the quality of professional media outlets.

Here are my top three tips for financial services firms and listed companies that are wanting to maximise content development opportunities:

1.    Gated website content can be a great lead generator 

Company websites have evolved to become a hub of information and a home for your best thinking. Creating your own content gives you complete control over the messages you want to convey.

The key is to create a cohesive series of curated communications, on a regular basis, to build engagement. Gated content asks the user for personal details in exchange for providing information, such as report or e-book. Once you’ve captured these details, it provides a lead nurturing opportunity to capture and engage with prospective investors.

Consideration should also be given to increasing the understanding of your content by adding in a visual element. Developing infographics and video content to complement the written content responds directly to the trends in how investors are consuming information.

2.    Social media channels are growing in size and number

There is a plethora of statistics supporting the use of social media channels, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to spread company information more widely and drive greater understanding of important milestones.

Social media channels such as Livewire and Listcorp are also having a dramatic impact on the dissemination of investor information and insights, providing investors with direct access to the company information, stock ideas, research and insights from Australia’s leading investment professionals.

These channels present multiple ways to share and target consumers through free and paid sponsorship opportunities. Again, the addition of infographics and video are important elements to amplify your social media engagement.

3.    Investor-targeted publications are thirsty for content

As financial services specialists, we have seen a direct correlation between the rise in the number of self-directed investors and SMSFs and the amount of freely available financial information accessible online.

Specialist investment publications and other online resources are now widely read and highly regarded by investors looking for investment ideas that were traditionally gleaned from mainstream media.

These publications tend to be free and a lot of them accept contributed content. This presents another opportunity to build your profile and showcase your independent thinking.

What does this mean for communications firms like Honner?

While media remains an important channel, the role of communications professionals has evolved to encompass multiple channels and modes of delivery.

We have strengthened our digital and social offering, and deepened our bench of technical and specialist writers in response to greater content creation needs of our client.

Like any industry, we need to recognise and understand the impact of the changing communications landscape and most importantly, we need to evolve our offering to ensure we support our clients in achieving their communications, and business, objectives.

Honner announces key senior appointments

Specialist financial communications firm Honner today announced a number of senior team updates, reinforcing its position as the leading provider of communications advice to Australia’s dynamic financial services sector.

General Manager and equity partner Paul Cheal has been promoted to Managing Director, reflecting his increasing role in managing the day to day operations as well as the strategic direction of the business. Paul has been with the firm for five years.

Account Director and equity partner Susie Bell has been promoted to General Manager, adding a range of team and business management duties to her role. Susie will continue to lead account teams servicing some of Honner’s largest clients. She has been with the firm for eight years.

Paul and Susie will continue to work closely with founder Philippa Honner to drive the growth and direction of the firm. Philippa will become Executive Chair of Honner and remains the majority owner of the business. The team changes were effective 1 January 2017.

Global networks and expanding client base

Honner continues to grow its Australian-based team as well as expand its global communications network. Honner recently announced it was a founding member of the Global Fintech PR Network – the first network of PR agencies specialising in financial technology. The network complements Honner’s longstanding membership of the prestigious global corporate communications agency network GFCNet, which recently celebrated its 20-year anniversary. Honner is the Australian representative for both networks.

During 2016 the Honner team enjoyed two staff exchange postings with Asia-based GFCNet agency partner, Ryan Communication, as well as hosting network team members from France and Hong Kong.

Honner has also appointed Rashmi Punjabi to the role of Senior Account Executive, based in Sydney. Rashmi brings five years’ experience in public relations, investor relations and equity research and joins Honner from GFCNet partner agency AdFactors PR – India’s largest PR firm. She holds a Masters in Economics from The University of Warwick, with specialisation in global finance and derivative securities and markets.

New clients that have joined the agency over the past year include MetLife, Henderson Global Investors, Cromwell Property Group and Liquidnet.

Honner also continues to expand the firm’s listed credentials, working with a growing number of ASX-listed clients as well as supporting the successful 2016 IPOs of listed investment companies Antipodes Global Investment Company [ASX:APL] and Watermark Global Leaders Fund [ASX:WGF]. The listed portfolio is led by Account Director Rebecca Piercy.

Honner also continues to do a range of pro-bono work in the financial sector including ongoing work for industry super fund mental health initiative SuperFriend.

Founder Philippa Honner said she looked forward to another year of growth in 2017, which will mark the firm’s 20th year.
“We hold a unique position in the financial communications landscape. Our deep insights, industry network and strategic approach enables us to deliver integrated communications programs to blue chip brands across the spectrum of financial services.

“We go into 2017 following another strong year of development and new partnerships, and will continue to expand our range of communications services to meet the changing needs of our clients and their stakeholders.

“I congratulate Paul and Susie on their promotions and thank them, and the whole team, for their commitment to building strong and enduring partnerships across the financial sector, and to delivering quality outcomes to our clients.”