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Identifying risk – Known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns

It was US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who most famously opined about “known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns”.  It was 2002 and the US was on the brink of the war on Iraq. Rumsfeld was musing about the lack of evidence linking the government of Iraq to the supply of weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups.

It was a clumsy turn of phrase, but arguably an effective summary of the reality facing anyone making decisions under uncertain conditions. Placing the politics of war to one side, in today’s world of cut-throat business, leaders are compelled to make choices every day which are impacted by factors known and unknown.

The challenge for businesses looking to minimise risks is to better understand their known knowns and known unknowns and, most importantly, have contingencies in place for unknown unknowns, which Rumsfeld correctly identified as the “category that tend to be the difficult ones”.

It is often risks which fall into this unknown unknowns category that are most prevalent in matters of reputation, brand and engagement.

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Queensland State budget 2019: How to create comprehensible content out of complex material

A few days ago the Treasurer, Jackie Trad, handed down the Queensland State Budget. As with the recent Federal Budget, the budget release was followed by  piles of content, analysis and commentary, including our own Budget Snapshot. However, while businesses across Queensland jostle to provide unique perspectives on the content of the budget, the budget process itself is a fascinating piece of communication.

Australian budgets are unique political events, the opportunity for the government of the day to both develop a detailed policy offering and convert that into a clear political message to sell to the electorate. It is an exercise in turning highly complex information into understandable, and marketable, messages. So, what lessons can businesses learn from Australian budgets?

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Earned vs. Paid media – what’s the difference and why does it matter?

As media organisations struggle to find revenue sources to support their journalism, the line between genuine news and advertising has blurred.

With a rise in sponsored content, ‘editorial partnerships’ and social media influencers using marketing techniques to promote products and services, paid advertising is, in some circumstances, very difficult to distinguish from genuine editorial content.

Despite the similarities between both forms of news copy, there is still a fundamental divide between what public relations professionals call ‘earned media’ and paid advertisements.

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The gag order that wasn’t – courts and the media in the 21st century

News of the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for historic child sex offences has consumed Australian media over the past week. But as the dust begins to settle on this horrific affair, some Australians are wondering why they’re only now hearing about the conviction, when Cardinal Pell was convicted in December 2018. As many outlets have since reported, Australian media were under a court-imposed gag order, preventing them from reporting on the verdict until now.

Despite this, many Australians had already read about the verdict because a number of international publications defied the court’s order and published the story online in December. While authorities were able to geo-block some of these publications, others remained online for Australians to see. Not to mention the fact that many Australians were able to hear about the conviction from friends and acquaintances across social media.

So, what does this tell us about the ability of courts to suppress information in the digital age? Read More

Everyday creativity: More than those proverbial turtlenecks and beanbags

If you were asked to picture a ‘creative’ business person, what image would come to mind?

Perhaps it would be a marketing professional, working in a pristine open plan office, conjuring up their next campaign from the comfort of an oversized beanbag.

Or maybe it would be an architect; labouring over a set of plans in a black turtleneck.

Or even a hoody-wearing, twentysomething game designer, trying to code the next Candy Crush (that was an online game that took the world by storm a few years ago, for those not in-the-know).

The problem with these stereotypes is that they obscure the everyday creativity of people across a multitude of industries and in many different roles. Read More