The ABC: Ethics, Integrity in Marketing and Journalism?

With thanks to Wikipedia - this is the Lissajous figure on an oscilloscope - what Bill Kennard used to design their current logo. Will be interesting to see how ABC revise their act!

With thanks to Wikipedia – this is the Lissajous figure on an oscilloscope – what Bill Kennard used to design their current logo. Will be interesting to see how ABC revise their act!

For my awesome North American and United Kingdom friends reading this article – let me give you the very fast back-story to our own Australian Broadcasting Corporation (“The ABC”).  According to Wikipedia they started in 1923 and are an Australian Government Funded Public Broadcaster.

Even though it is funded by the government, Wikipedia states there is the “Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983” that exists to keep it editorially independent.  About 1 week ago from when this article was first published – our Prime Minster Tony Abbott made a public radio critique of the ABC in terms of it being “unpatriotic”, said it takes “everyone’s sides but Australian’s” and also pointed out the facts that it has been taking a position against the Australian Navy and Security forces.

Now as a strong Liberal / Conservative / Right Wing character who fought for his country in a variety of Military & Intelligence roles – anyone who takes a position against our Services, Defence and Law Enforcement immediately has my eye on them.  Even though the ABC technically shouldn’t be left leaning at all (according to the Broadcasting Act) if they are all good I think.  It would be nice if they were more center in their political views.

Tony’s comments (with a pending government review coming) has started a massive debate in Social Media with the “Pro / Against” ABC camps emerging.  Even though I have been a lover of ABC for years and they are still my homepage when I boot up Google Chrome – before our PM Tony Abbott made that comment I was seriously starting to doubt their ethics and integrity in Journalism.  Besides appearing as anti-political-right (which they shouldn’t be – be it the right or left side run the ranch) they seem to have crossed the line when it was being critical of over-expressing it’s opinion of Australian’s Security and such.

The Against / ABC camp is growing in it’s number and what was interesting is that the ABC don’t have much of a counter argument.  As they are very left leaning, obviously don’t like our right wing government at all (even though they are funded by the government and should have a center view) I and many think that the ABC have fell into that unfortunate trap of chasing headlines, biasing content to suit a vocal part of their viewer base / audience and even worse (and I hope I am wrong on this point) have made a point of criticizing Australian Defence & Security personnel over other issues which may be just as important (but probably won’t grab headlines like this does).

It quite saddens me actually that the ABC have been walking this slippery slope in that I have been fans of them for years, they have been my Google Chrome Home Page and left leaning or not – I felt they gave fair coverage to everything.  Lately it certainly hasn’t been the case and I am right behind our great PM Tony Abbott on this one.  I think the review will hopefully clean them out and get them doing what they are meant to be doing – reporting news without bias and being equally critical of both governments – be it right or left.  Also – I really do hope they lay off picking on the Australian Defence Forces – they obviously have a hidden agenda against them and I am sure it will come out in the wash.

Be it Marketing, Journalism or just general communications (and of course relating it back to Awesome Small Business Owners & Entrepreneurs like ourselves) whenever we or companies cross that line and go too far in headline grabbing / spin over fact we are putting ourselves in a slippery slope. After all, if we tell a “Slight White Lie” and our Ratings / Sales go up – we can commercially justify “Lying” to increase ratings.

Then over time as many have suspected the ABC may have done – we can start believing what we tell ourselves and start defending it as pure fact (when it’s really a loose house of cards).

The ABC is certainly under the spotlight right now and I certainly am not betting on them to win this one.  Attacking the Australian Military and the hardworking Men and Women who defend our countries and shores is in my book one of these most unpatriotic things that one can do (next to of course being an enemy of our amazing country).  Besides the ABC really upsetting me in what they have done against us – it has really got me thinking about the importance of integrity and ethics when it comes to our own marketing messages that we put out there as Small Business Owners.

How much do we sell? When does speaking positively about the facts turn into us misleading messaging? How will the public react?

As a Marketer of many years before I went Marketing Mentor – our rule of thumb was always “If you feel uncomfortable about making a claim you probably have gone too far”.  That is – let’s say you are selling a “Life Coaching” service that has the potential to change peoples lives.  Saying that you “Teach Life Changing Survival Skills” is one thing – but then running around saying “You will change peoples lives ” and charging unreasonable amounts for this is another.

As Small Business owners it’s critical I think that we explore that balance between Marketing / Selling and Lying / Misleading. Sometimes it can be a very fine line and my personal preference and recommendations I make to my clients is always lean on the cautious side.

Talking the ABC I think they have crossed this line long ago and gone from “Reporting the Facts” to “Promoting their views”.  This is not going to go well for them – and I think to not only keep their funding but also regain public confidence they have got a lot of work to do.

I certainly do hope they take responsibility and learn their lesson – they are one amazing station and I have enjoyed their reports for many years.  As for me and my own learning from this – it has really reminded me as to the responsibilities we have as small business owners and community leaders.  People do listen to what we say and are quite influenced – so we need to be careful and take care of that responsibility to give people the facts and NEVER twist those facts to suit our own commercial objectives.

My advice? Think through your Marketing Communications both ways.  Where are you “Over-Selling” and have crossed that line? Pull that back or express it differently.  Conversely too – if you are being too conservative and not getting your strength across then turn up the temperature.  After all – you deserve the success out there.  And like always, make sure you check out my Online Course “The Awesome Marketing Vault” for more great stuff (no overselling here LOL).

Thank you for the great read, will be interesting seeing what the ABC do and have a great day / night from Edward Zia – Marketing Mentor who is looking sideways at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation right now x x