The end of scandal

30 April 2010

Written by: Christopher Scanlon

Do you have a service or product to sell and need to get the word out, but only have a miniscule advertising budget?

You may think that your options are limited to taking out a small display ad in the local community newspaper.

That may be so, but, what if there was another way; a way for you to reach a national prime time television audience with your product or service?

Sounds farfetched doesn’t it? But there is such a way. It’s called A Current Affair and it’s in Channel 9 every weeknight.

Take a leaf out of Roxy Jacenko’s book, for example. Ms Jacenko, founder of Sweaty Betty Public Relations recently penned this little instruction manual for using the ‘power of the press‘ (or ACA, at any rate) to get her clients’ products featured on ACA.

As Ms Jacenko explains, her PR agency picked up on a trend of retailers producing boots for women with larger legs. She pitched the story, and put them onto her client.

Roxy Jacenko in action on ACA

Those newshounds at ACA know a story when they see one and leapt into action. As Ms Jacenko writes, within 24 hours they had unleashed a crack team of camera people and a reporter to record some models trying on boots at one of the client’s stores and another to Sweaty Betty to get a comment from Ms Jacenko.

The whole thing worked a treat. ‘Television is the absolute pinnacle of all press coverage and you can see why — there’s already a waiting list for the featured boots’ wrote a delighted Ms Jacenko.

Kudos to Ms Jacenko and the people at Sweaty Betty. She’s a PR professional and is clearly very good at her job.

But what about ACA? While Roxy Jacenko is interviewed on camera, she isn’t identified as the head of a PR company whose client’s products are the focus of the story.

Sure it’s ACA, so this kind of thing hardly raises an eyebrow. But isn’t that just a little bit depressing too?

Has tabloid news and current affairs stooped so low that a PR professional can write a blow-by-blow account of how they got their client featured on the show, and we don’t even bat an eyelid?

Perhaps the true scandal of tabloid news and current affairs is not that this type of activity goes on, but that it has become so routine that it isn’t scandalous anymore.

Christopher Scanlon teaches journalism at La Trobe University