Mark Blackham
& Nick Gowland
Directors of Blackland PR.

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  • Jumped Up Jargon: Does it work? Posted 18 hours agoSome US Research suggests that people are more likely to rate as leaders those who use business jargon in the language. But are they really leaders? The study, undertaken by the University of Southern California found that those who used abstract language were perceived as more powerful than those who used concrete language. Most of us would have direct experience of leaders in society and business using jargon. So our subconscious calculates that jargon-users must be leaders. The study shows one very important thing: that talking in a certain way sends signals to the audience about how to categorise you. Conforming to a stereotype helps you be that stereotype. It’s an important lesson about presentation. But being in a leadership role, and actually being a leader, are two different things. The study did not ask people to rate whether jargon users showed other leadership traits, or were even comprehensible. The problem with jargon is that it is either context-specific, or unspecific. For example, within an organisation, staff may know that ‘ducks in a row’ refers to a plan to build a factory when sales increase. ...
  • Real Responses: Just a little fun Posted 22 hours agoNew World’s Little Shop Campaign has come under fire from Gareth Morgan. Morgan’s research- sidekick Geoff Simmons said ‘New World wants to turn your kids into Zombies’. He claimed that the 50 miniature replicas rolled out in this year’s campaign are over represented by junk foods and ‘cultivate a lifetime of addiction’. Supposedly, the toys encourage children to pester their parents to buy junk food. And will end up contributing to childhood obesity statistics. We might pity the parent whose child is currently playing with a matchbox sized Ferrari. New World replied that the collectibles can be used as a teaching resource about healthy eating, maths and other subjects. But did New World need to buy into the argument? Did it need to make spurious claims to justify it? Maybe. Parents might need to rationalise the toys to feel better about getting them for their kids. Like many of us rationalise take-aways as an occasional treat or wine as actually good for you. But we think not. Sometimes, engaging with the spurious argument of a critic gives the argument validity. Sometimes it’s best to completely ...
  • Social Media Magnification: What it is to go viral Posted 5 days agoIf you are going to put yourself out there.  Be prepared to read all about it. Where celebrities and businesses leaders in the public eye were once untouchable, the internet has bought everybody closer. The degrees of separation between you and your client, fan club or critic are now almost non-existent. Twenty years ago voicing an opinion meant a Letter to the Editor of your local paper. The letter; a structured few sentences, was detailed to impart your outlook about a certain something to a discerning audience. And very rarely did it actually make it to print. Nowadays though, our opinion can be imparted to the millions in just a split second. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Instagram and Online Publications have all become outlets for opinion and discussion. From celebrities sharing what they had for dinner, a politician making a statement or a corporate entity sharing their latest deal, social media is a quick and easy way to reach an audience. However, it also magnifies every decision made and once these hit the internet it is almost impossible to sweep anything under the rug. Social media ...
  • Real Responses: Mining through the meaningless responses Posted last weekMedia coverage about a highly charged resource mining issue reminded us about the difficulty of losing control of your message. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) this week revealed a 175 page report which seemed to stump Chatham Rock Phosphate’s proposal to mine phosphate 450 kilometres east of Christchurch in an area known as the Chatham Rise. A Radio New Zealand story paraphrased Chatham Rock Phosphate’s response. It said CRP claimed its proposal was technologically robust, environmentally sound, economically attractive, socially responsible and based on scientific research and consultation with stakeholders. To listeners, this response was totally unsatisfactory and not remotely convincing. A series of statements is not persuasive. They need evidence that encourages the listener to make the conclusion you want from them. In this case we can’t be sure if the company did that, because the reporter decided to paraphrase the company’s response so blandly. But we can be reasonably confident from the journalists’ decision, that there was nothing in the company’s response that was worthy of direct reporting.   It illustrates the vital importance of getting your message past the first hurdle: the journalist ...
  • Real Responses: Radio competition has the edge Posted last weekKiwi radio station The Edge have always pushed the limits when it comes to competitions and when it comes to nuptials The Edge know how to put on a show.  But their latest Love You Man gag has sent a married same-sex couple into fury. The Love You Man competition is calling for two best mates to get married.  The ultimate in ‘Bromance’ will however win the two males a trip to the Rugby World Cup 2015. The Rotorua based wife and wife pair called the prank offensive and demeaning to every married couple. The outraged couple argued to media that they would call for any celebrant willing to take the ceremony to be deregistered and that they have not fought for the right to gay marriage only for it to be made into a parody. The response from The Edges spokesperson was great, and he kept it simple. He said the station was not out to offend, and was simply making entertaining radio.  He said they had a great response to the competition from their audience.  This point – ‘their audience’ is ...