Huffington Post Australia Is Here But Not Everyone’s Happy

News website The Huffington Post has arrived in Australia as the 15th news platform in its growing global network, partnering locally with Fairfax Media.

HuffPost has the largest news audience in the US with 214 million unique visitors per month.

“HuffPost Australia will be dedicated to producing great original reporting about the critical issues that Australians face, and to telling stories that focus on helping Australians live more fulfilling lives, while opening up our blogging platform to voices from all across the country to start a conversation on the topics that matter to Australians most,” founder Arianna Huffington said at the time of launch.

Huffington post

Former journalist and News Corp editor Tory Maguire has been appointed Huffington Post Australia inaugural editor and will oversee a team of staff based in Sydney with many of them coming from Fairfax’s various titles. Other high profile hires have been made including former ABC and SBS political editor Karen Barlow.

HuffPost utilises a lot of contributed content from bloggers on a variety of topics and has been criticised heavily for not paying them but rather offering them ‘exposure’.

Dee Madigan, creative director, Campaign Edge told ABC Lateline she was sent an email by The Huffington Post’s blogging platform asking if she would contribute in return for “exposure”.

“They said, ‘We don’t pay, we’ll give you really good exposure’,” Madigan told Lateline.

“I’m a professional writer. This is how I make my living. I can’t pay my mortgage with exposure.”

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance chief executive Paul Murphy has indicated that any journalist who was approached to write for HuffPost should be paid.

The reality of course is that there will be many contributors happy to supply original stories and opinion free of charge to build their profile and utilise the site’s reach.

Others welcome the competition and the extra hiring of local journalists at the site. With the general culling of journalists which has happened over a period of time it is a good thing to see new opportunities for professional writers created in Australia.

Fairfax will bolster the operation in Australia also with advertising sales and technical support.

Other international news organisations have already established their Australian presence including Guardian Australia, Daily Mail Australia and Buzzfeed Australia.

Arianna Huffington, also a prolific author, was a conservative commentator before engaging in liberal politics and starting The Huffington Post in 2005. Of Greek background she has lived in Great Britain before moving to the U.S. At one stage she ran for the California governorship against Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Arianna Huffington image from 


Up Yours Fox Sports (Your Headline Is A Promise, Stop Breaking It)


Like many people, Facebook has become the largest non-direct way I access news. I ‘like’ just about every major Australian news organisation and then some. With so may options coming into my stream I rely heavily on headlines for selecting which stories I read.

After many weeks of frustration this morning I gave Fox Sports Australia the punt with a very aggressive click on the ‘Unlike this page’ button. I hope I never see them in my stream again. The reality of their content had simply failed to meet the promise of their headlines on too many occasions. They annoyed me and then they lost me.

More often than not they promised ‘the best’ of something, usually a video, only to deliver a very mediocre something. “The Best Goal You Will See This Year” followed by a video of a very average goal (more often than not a 15 second clip preceded by a 30 sec ad!). “Jarryd Hayne Stuns NFL Commentators”, followed by a couple of commentators saying the Aussie is ‘not doing too bad’.

I’m sure they don’t care but I also have on a very short leash and they are likely to get the chop by the end of the week if they don’t change their ways.

Your headline is a promise

As any first year marketing student will know, failing to meet customers’ expectations for your products and services is one of the surest ways to damage your reputation.

In a competitive content space your headline is your promise. If the content doesn’t deliver on the promise, you are damaging your brand.

The temptation in a competitive market is always to over reach, make your content sound like something it’s not, just get the click at any cost.

If ‘get the click at any cost’ is your headline writing strategy you better be prepared to pay the price. You may get away with it for a short period by replacing dis-enfranchised readers with new readers (attracted by great headlines) but eventually you end up annoying everybody. It will quickly become a death spiral for your readership as the pool of new readers shrinks and the pool of ex-readers grows.

Content is a long game, clickbait is short term

Just as great content has the capacity to grow customer engagement, it also has the capacity to grow dis-engagement.

Unlike traditional advertising and marketing mediums, content is not about achieving an instant sale; it should be about delivering a lifetime of sales. Your content should build trust, respect and likability. This doesn’t happen with one story, one video or one infographic, it happens over time across multiple interactions and multiple pieces of content.

Luring customers with the false promise of a headline that can’t be justified by the substance of the content is the surest way to undo all of your hard work.

Simple tips for great headlines

Creating a good headline has the capacity to make or break an article. Here are a few tips to keep you on track.

  • Create your content and then write the headline
  • At least 25% of the time spent writing an article should be spent on the headline and first par.
  • Test your headline with a colleague or a customer
  • Don’t trick people into reading something boring; draw them into something exciting.
  • Be descriptive and detailed, while still being punchy
  • Consider the context – will the piece be read online or offline (magazine etc)? Does it work on the social net? Who is the target audience?


media release

Why It’s Not Worth Sending Your Media Release Too Widely

media releaseOne request from clients that public relations people typically dread is “show me the distribution list” for a media release.

This is because we suspect they are hoping to see a very long list but the truth is that in this area, bigger is not necessarily better.

In fact, if the distribution list for a media release is extended well beyond the small number of publications that are likely to run it, the effect can be similar to “crying wolf” – it desensitises the journalist to your future releases and makes them more likely to be overlooked even when they are relevant.

This is an issue that we see from both sides because we send and follow up media releases for many clients but we also operate as de-facto journalists providing news content to a number of publications.

In this capacity we receive media releases so we get to see who is routinely sending out irrelevant material.

From my observation, the biggest culprit is organisations who are using a media release distribution service instead of a public relations firm.

There are a number of these services in Australia and it is easy to get them to distribute a release to many hundreds of journalists at once, but instead of improving your chance of a run, this just annoys people.

To take one example among many, we have a client who runs a publication for the property industry.

In the past month or so, this client has received releases from the CSIRO with titles such as:

  • Technology brings iconic ship to classroom shores
  • Glowing fingerprints to fight crime
  • Seashells to deliver new drugs and vaccines

Needless to say these are completely irrelevant to the publication and we have never heard from the CSIRO with a follow up call or anything to indicate they know we exist. Someday they will no doubt send us a media release relevant to the property industry but we will likely miss it because we will assume it is more spam. By contrast, imagine if we had never received a release from the CSIRO and one arrived for the first time. We would read it with interest. If it was relevant, that would assure we read a second release down the track and so on.

Sadly, this situation is not unusual for a company relying on a media release distribution service.

If you doubt that this approach is counterproductive, don’t take my word for it. Here is former Fairfax section editor Dan Kaufman in his book: Dealing with grumpy editors.

“You might think you have nothing to lose by sending these releases off to every publication in town but all it does is desensitise us to anything associated with your company or your client,” Kaufman said.

“The gamble will not only probably fail, but it will put the odds even further against you for future releases.”

“Aside from the ethics of taking someone’s money when you know what they’re asking you to do is going to lead to failure, in the long term it’s also bad for business – remember it’s the PRs who only send newsy and relevant releases that editors and journos always pay attention to.”

As PR’s we are all guilty from time-to-time of sending media releases to too many journalists but if you eliminate the element of personal judgement and use a generic list from a distribution service you can virtually guarantee that this will happen every time and your announcements will fall on increasingly deaf ears.