How the ABC can better help small business

Many small businesses are struggling, so here’s how the ABC can make life easier for them.

ABC News in Brisbane

A few years ago I managed to get one of my clients on the evening news.  My client was a school Headmaster and the story was debating Australia’s educational results.

When the news aired that evening, there was my client being interviewed but the caption left me feeling a bit flat.

The caption displayed the name of my client but the only descriptor the news bulletin applied to him was: School Headmaster.

No mention of where he was a Headmaster.  While people could have Googled his name to find out more about him, there was nothing else to indicate the brand I had hoped to promote.  So, from a PR perspective, it was a bit disappointing.

Now, there are ways to combat this.  Make sure your client wears a shirt with the company logo on it, stand in front of a company logo, or finding a way to weave the company name into some of your answers are just a few examples.

However, it’s also an area of media reporting where there can be glaring inconsistencies.

Today, for example, many businesses are struggling to make ends meet because of government-mandated restrictions.  Coffee shops, clothing stores and more could really use some good PR.

This brings me to the ABC.  Last week, ABC TV News in Brisbane ran a story detailing how Bundaberg Rum and the Mercedes Formula One team were repurposing their manufacturing resources to produce materials to help tackle Covid-19.

They also ran another story featuring a couple of small businesses around Brisbane who were doing likewise.  One was a clothing store and the other was a coffee shop.

I’d love to mention the names of those smaller operators, but I can’t.  Why?  Because the ABC didn’t mention their names.

Now I know the ABC has a policy of not advertising commercial services, but this didn’t stop them mentioning Bundaberg Rum and Mercedes Formula One.  Why mention the large companies thereby giving them free advertising but not mention the smaller ones who need all the help they can get?

And it’s not just stories related to Covid-19 where this happens.  Sports bulletins do something very similar.  Sports presenters/news readers will go out of their way to refer to Suncorp Stadium as Lang Park, while in the next story talk about Red Bull Formula One or Ford V8s.  I mean, look at the photos in this story.  Talk about free advertising for myriad brands!

I reckon the ABC and other TV news organisations should at least name the company of the talent they are interviewing in the captions.  This hardly counts as free advertising, especially when the company Mercedes has had a spoken mention and a caption mention in the previous story?

And in a time where we are apparently “all in this together”, a small plug for struggling small businesses wouldn’t go astray.  And I hardly think that the ABC would be breaching its charter by doing so.