[00:00:00] Welcome to the Good Talent Podcast. My name’s Tony Nicholls; I’m the CEO and founder of Good Talent Media, and we help organizations get their messages across in the media. We’re a team of ex-journos. Great to have your company.

[00:00:28] I’d like to address the culture wars. Identity politics: it’s a very real thing in today’s media, as you know. How do you navigate that as you deal with the press and attempt to increase your profile and strengthen your brand? The facts are the news platforms are huge platforms and huge audiences for you to propel your reputation and profile. But how do you navigate identity politics and the cultural wars? It really does depend upon the side that you play on in dealing with the press and getting your issues out there.

[00:00:58] I’ll never forget working with the Islamic Council of Victoria. That was the first time in their history they were opening mosques. They wanted some press for that. They were opening mosques. And I came up with a line that we were opening mosques to open hearts. It was a nice line and it was true. So they were looking to reach out, and reduce discrimination, and build relationships, and open mosques in order to open hearts. So it was an opportunity for us to go into a mosque and get tours and understand Islam more. So it’s a beautiful initiative.

[00:01:29] So we get that story out into the media because one of the ultimate aims for the Islamic Council of Victoria was just to be harmonious with society, and to love and be loved and be Aussie like the rest of us. But at the time there was a lot of pushback. It was pretty tough: it was the time of the Newman hater shooting, and a lot of really tough issues in this city and this country. So they’re on the front foot. Now we approached News Limited. So it wasn’t enough, really, for my client then to get ABC coverage, or Guardian coverage or Fairfax coverage, because that would be pretty easy, in a way.

[00:02:03] You gotta remember when you’re thinking about identity politics, and the culture wars that are a real thing, that you’ve got sides of the media that are very interested in your views, and you’ve got sides of the media that aren’t interested in your views. But they’ll all say otherwise, right? And in speaking to journos: I’ll never forget a high profile News Limited journo saying to me once—[I] asked him about the culture wars—and he said, ‘Well how boring… What a boring topic,’ and I thought that was a good line to deflect from the question. But the facts are: they’re real.

[00:02:31] Now you go, ‘We are opening mosques to open hearts,’ let’s say, with the Islamic Council of Victoria: the ABC are right into that, cause they want to see that happen: it’s part of their charter to help minority groups. Fairfax is right into that, similarly, and so is the Guardian. But when you go to News Limited
that’s not necessarily the case, because it’s not necessarily the side of the cultural wars that they’re peddling. So they might be a little bit more click-baity, and prefer to pedal a little bit of fear on that side of the media spectrum.

[00:02:59] So I would say you have to acknowledge, with the different issues that you are in the middle of that you’d like to raise awareness and education for, you just have to know where you fit in the news cycle. If you’re in progressive politics and you’re on the left politically, there’s a whole world of media there ready to help you get those views out.

[00:03:18] But if you’re on the right politically, there’s another smaller world, but there’s still a whole world of press to help you get those views out as well. See the 3AWs the 2GBs, News Limited, the Australian Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, et cetera, et cetera. I’m totally cool just to call that for what it is cause I think it’s true, and it doesn’t bother me; I’m not offended by that, I just think that’s the truth. And then when I’m helping my clients, I’m dealing with the truth and I’m navigating the press on their behalf to give them the most coverage possible.

[00:03:46] We do have some clients, though, who know that they can get a lot of left leaning press for their issues if they package stories correctly, right? Just because you are on your media partner’s side of politics doesn’t mean they’re gonna run everything that you’ve got. You still have to package it up nicely. There has to be a case study. It has to be strong calls to action. It needs to be newsworthy.

[00:04:06] But after many, many, many years of doing media, we have clients say to us, ‘Well, we can get as much ABC coverage as we like. We want to turn around the people who don’t believe in us. And don’t like us. We want to be in the Herald Sun, we want to be in News Limited, cause we want to capture another audience.’ And I think it’s a very worthy aim; more difficult to achieve, absolutely. If you’ve got a very progressive issue and you’d like to start getting very strong, favorable coverage. And News Limited press, for example: that’s gonna be harder cause it’s not usually how they would treat you, but it’s worth aiming for. I don’t think you should discard the huge platform you’ve got in your media allies on the left, let’s say, who like running your stories. I think if you’re getting that all the time and you’ve got huge coverage and you are growing your tribe as a result, you shouldn’t discard that as just, ‘Ho-hum. That’s something that we’ll always get.’ It’s still incredibly valuable. So I think you need to dive deep into those relationships that are working for you in the media. Don’t take them for granted and stay on their platforms because you know it’s building your tribe enormously. A lot of those people spill over to social for you and expand those audiences as well.

[00:05:15] Remember also, ultimately the key audience view quite often is the government departments and the government decision makers that can make your life much easier. So they’re consuming the progressive press as well. And if you’re all over that, you’re projecting yourself as an industry leader and that puts you in a really good position.

[00:05:33] I prefer to be honest about the culture wars. I think if you’ve got a right leaning issue—so if you’re all about profitability and employers and growing businesses—obviously you’ve got the press that are very interested in that. If you’re all about individualism, News Limited are there for you. But if you’re about the collective and trying to make for a better society, then it’s really the perfect time right now to lean into the left part of the press. We’ve got a Labor Albanese government right now who’s still in a honeymoon period. And I think if you partner with the left politically and you partner with the left in your media, you can really increase your profile and strengthen your brand really quickly. And for those of you on the right, I think you can get moving very quickly with the News Limiters and the like.

[00:06:14] But ultimately, for both sides of the culture wars, here’s what the press want: they want you to get off the fence and have very strong calls to action. They want you to stand for something. Don’t place safe and be in the middle with your industry and your views, thinking that you’re gonna put people out by having this strong view. If you have very strong calls to action, you’ll stand out in the media and you’ll get a run. Make sure you support that with what we call a case study, so some lived experience is what we are talking about.

[00:06:42] So for Opening Mosques to Open Hearts, obviously we had mosques that the media could visit. And in fact, I recall that story: we did get the Herald Sun into that story, cuz they were interested in the fashion elements of it. There were some young Islamic women studying at university. They were involved with creating fashion. So the Herald Sun did some beautiful photography of those young girls with their different fashion pieces, but the story never got up, so it was on the chopping room floor.

[00:07:10] So I think you can still reach out to the other side of identity politics that you’re not part of. You can probably expect tougher interviews, but if you’re prepared to say something really strong, you’ve got a case study someone with lived experience to back up your thoughts, I don’t think you’re gonna be the top of their run sheets. You’re more likely to be closer to the cutting room floor, but it can’t hurt to pitch those stories in as well.

[00:07:33] So, when it comes to building your profile and strengthening your brand, the facts are: There’s a left leaning part of the media and there’s a right
leaning part of the media. Just be cool with what side that you are on. I personally don’t get upset about it. I just like dealing with reality. If you’ve got more progressive views, there’s huge media there waiting for you. And if you’ve got more right leaning views, there’s still a very strong media waiting for as well. And you can use both sides of the spectrum to build your profile.

[00:08:00] Thanks for listening.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.


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