Countdown. Good, but where’s the mongrel?

Countdown needed to come out fighting. The limp written statement from the Australian owned supermarket giant in response to Labour MP Shane Jones’ stinging claims, made under Parliamentary Privilege, was never going to cut it. So finally this afternoon they did what they should have been doing from the first moments this storm hit them. They fronted up.

Mike Hosking’s interview with Countdown NZ managing director Dave Chambers, aired this evening, moved Seven Sharp back into the watchable current affairs zone in a single leap. More…

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The Trouble with ‘Toxic’

This was published as a guest column in Fairfax titles Northern News and The Bay Chronicle this week:

The mining debate is being hijacked by an emotive and misleading slogan, argues Peter Heath of business communication firm Due North.

Words matter. Which is why we should treat the phrase ‘toxic mining’ with suspicion. More…

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“You guys”? Choice, bro

My heart went out to him. There he was – a North American with a smart suit and tie and a Powerpoint presentation (from 1’45” in the video here), trying to make nice at a Northland hui where establishing some form of beach-head in public opinion against oil exploration was the objective.

He was never going to get anywhere. And we wondered afterwards if getting anywhere was ever the intention. It had all the hallmarks of a box-ticking exercise. More…

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It’s how you tell ‘em!

About six months ago I met a senior business leader. “What do you do?” she asked, politely. “I’m a PR consultant,” I said… and watched as her eyes glazed over.

Three weeks ago I met her again. “Ah yes – I remember you,” she said. “You do something with marketing, don’t you?”

This time I was ready for her. More…

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Jilted at dawn

Aah – the trials and tribulations of a flashy media lifestyle. There I was. All set up and ready to chat with Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB this morning about the Len Brown train-smash. They’d called me from out of the blue yesterday evening to see if I’d be willing to talk about it and I’d lined up a series of dazzling one-liners worthy of the show.

Then, at the appointed time, instead of my ring-tone I hear the dulcet tones of Billy Ralston. Telling my story. But using his own dazzling one-liners. Jilted, I was. Jilted! More…

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Firm masters cup cake


Kudos to Core Builders Composites, the Kiwi firm that built Oracle Team USA’s America’s Cup-winning boat, for textbook issues management. Instead of retreating behind locked doors when the NZ media came calling they embraced the communication challenge and… well, what do you think of the result? More…

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Credibility missing in Northland mining debate


Last week I helped judge the Lions Young Ambassador Award hosted by the Opononi and Districts Lions Club. I was struck by the speech made by Samanatha Scahill, a 17-year old student at Kerikeri High School. This young lady, who hopes to read medicine at university next year, put her finger neatly on one of the key ingredients missing from the debate over mining currently dividing Northland communities – the voice of reason. More…

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100% Incredible

It’s a slogan. Not a guarantee. The furore over Tourism New Zealand’s 100% Pure campaign would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. The scale of the investment involved in creating what has to be one of the world’s most effective tourism marketing slogans makes the prospect of ditching it deeply unpalatable.

100% Pure has served us well. Continues to serve us well. And should be allowed to work its magic well into the future.

But for this argument to remain credible its proponents need to stop calling black white. Let’s stop trying to kid ourselves, and the world, that 100% Pure is less to do with our great outdoors and more to do with something called “the total visitor experience.” More…

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Mum, media luvvies over-react after boy, 12, not hit by car

Mum asked to pay up after son, 12, hit by car’ was New Zealand’s weightiest story yesterday, the headline screaming out from the front page of the NZ Herald.

It wasn’t the biggest news du jour, of course – but it was the story with the potentially juiciest headline and the one which would sell the most papers.

Which would be legit if the headline was accurate. How the NZ Herald chooses to position itself on the sliding scale between The Economist and The Daily Tattle is entirely up to it.

But it wasn’t accurate. More…

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“Enjoy your lunch”: Pope Francis shows CEOs how it’s done

It seems the Vatican has a media rock star on its hands. Pope Francis is, from the earliest moments of his Papacy, displaying communication skills the Catholic Church has long been in dire need of.

His early teachings extend way beyond the theological. As CEO of one of the most traditional, inflexible and hide-bound institutions the world has ever seen, the new Pontiff is showing business leaders a thing or two not only about the value and importance of effective corporate communication, but also about how it’s done. More…

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