Another Brit fed up with fast-paced London life and the unending grey weather deciding to move halfway across the world to glistening Sydney? I know what you’re all thinking – ground-breaking. You’ve heard it all before.
But a detailed insight into the nuances and complexities of Australian healthcare media and how it differs from London? Perhaps not.
Being in PR, having an understanding of the media landscape you’re operating in is your bread and butter. Throwing myself into the Australian media landscape and its many local quirks was therefore, to be honest, one of the more expected stumbling blocks in my transition to life down under. I thought some people therefore might find it interesting, and perhaps even helpful, to hear some of the things I wish I knew about Australian media before moving to Sydney.
1. Australia must have way less news than London – so they’ll all be dying to hear about my press release, right?
Wrong. A country with a very strong regional framework, there’s much more of a local culture, where people are more tuned in and interested in what’s happening around them, and how things impact them. Coming from an international hub, there’s such a barrage of global news thrown at Londoners every minute of every day that it’s hard not to tune out and feel dazed by it all. You rarely feel part of a local community. But here, everyone feels very switched on and aware of the local news stories, local politics and connected to what’s happening around them. In that sense, you have to be much more strategic in your media relations in Australia to cut through, and ensure that your story has that ‘local angle’.
2. Everyone knows everyone in Australia. And they talk to each other. A lot.
London is undoubtedly one of, if not the largest, media hub in the world, with a virtually unrivalled number of media outlets, TV channels and radio stations. Despite there being over 8 million people living there, and maybe actually because of that fact, the media networks and outlets often operate in silo and can actually be quite disconnected. It’s nearly impossible to be abreast of all the media moves happening in London with such a global remit, and therefore you can quite easily feel detached from the media, not interacting or building relationships with individual people. In Australia, print media is dominated by either News Corp or Nine Entertainment, and TV is serviced by three major networks. With that in mind, everything operates in a very connected environment, with papers and TV stations speaking to their regional counterparts daily. Careful, considered media interactions and understanding relationships is therefore crucial before pitching.
3. Media are much friendlier to speak with. Why? Because they’re Australian!
I know it sounds cliché, but…it’s true! Listen, everyone knows journalists are busy, and therefore constantly jabbing them with stories is never fun. Maybe it’s because of the lifestyle, the weather, or just generally having a more laid-back approach, but the interactions I’ve had with Australian media so far have genuinely been far more enjoyable. A culture rooted in egalitarianism, having a good ‘sense of humour’ and informality, their relaxed and open attitude seemingly extends to journalists, with one even taking the time to walk me through the different audiences they aim to reach with their publication. Calls lasting longer than 25 seconds? Unheard of. So you can ring up to pitch a story, sure, but just be prepared to have an actual conversation!
4. Health is a high priority for Australians – and media
Having created the world’s fastest growing fitness franchise, F45, produced global fitness fashion brand Lorna Jane, and started the hipster cult phenomenon ‘avo toast’, Australia clearly harbours a culture which fosters innovation in health, fitness and wellbeing. But why? It seems the favourable Australian climate not only produces delicious food, but also promotes an outdoors and active lifestyle. Many Australians are born with a backyard, “bush”, beach, or farm at their doorstep, so people grow up very active and with an appreciation for being healthy. This appreciation trickles over into media too – with health stories dominating mainstream headlines on a daily basis. This means health stories are usually more welcome compared with the UK (I say hesitantly), with journalists ears pricking up at the whisper of a new survey which found Australia is the 7th healthiest country in the world…
5. Health media is politically charged in Australia
Not that it’s not in the UK. But in Australia there seems to be a strong political aspect to any health story, usually linking to either price or access. Most likely that’s down to the complex nature of the healthcare system here, which is semi-private semi-public, and delivered, operated and funded by the Federal, State and Territory governments, the private sector and not-for-profit organisations. That means there’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen. And all these cooks are involved in making healthcare decisions at many different levels, all of which strongly influence how Australians access and pay for medicines. So having a deep understanding of the political backdrop surrounding your client’s product is extremely important when creating a story.
Well that’s all folks. Wishing you the best of luck in future pitches, and hey, maybe I’ll see you in Sydney sometime soon? No doubt landing a national TV story, after the advice above. Kidding obviously, but, one can dream.