TELUM TALKS TO LEISA GODDARD
Telum Talks To Leisa Goddard, Managing Director, Adoni Media
What is your approach to media training?
If you are going to do media training, you want to do it with somebody who has been in the sort of situations and covering the stories that you’re likely to face. A key part of it is giving them some real experiences or real examples of what we’ve done, how the media managed it and how I approached it. We do one-on-one interviews with them, press conferences, live crosses, the whole gamut of what they can expect when they confront the media. They’re getting the same tough questions that I would use when I was on Today Tonight or A Current Affair or on the news. It is very real, and we use proper camera crews and equipment. It can be intimidating but you want them to learn that and overcome that in training so they’re ready when they go out and do it for the first time.
Which aspect of PR did you want to focus on getting right, coming from working as a journalist.
In all my 25+ years as a reporter, I would turn up to countless media events where the spokesperson wouldn’t be fully prepared or there’d be TV crews invited and there wouldn’t be anything to film and the person would be standing there at lectern in front of a white hall. That’s not making the most of a media opportunity. It’s so difficult sometimes to get the media interested to come to an event. Once you’ve got some there, you need to give them everything they need to make a story, so I think that’s what we do differently. I know from being on the other side that I don’t want to frustrate journalists by giving them a media call and not providing everything they need to make that story, so that’s our point of difference.
What are your tips for managing your client’s reputations in a digital age?
I quickly learnt that PR was closely entwined with digital. So, I set up the communications department at Adoni, and then within months of putting on staff, set up a digital department as well. It’s important for companies to recognise that the same messages that they’re putting out through their PR and publicity need to be mirrored in their digital. If they’re going to invest money in a digital campaign and they’re going to invest money in PR, they need to complement each other because the material you promote on TV media or print can be cross-promoted across your digital channels. Too many people are putting money in one agency pot, and some more in a different agency pot and not getting a combined result.
When you set up your agency, you were also continuing on with your reporting work. How did you juggle those two hats and what lessons did you learn from that experience?
I juggled building a new company, working full-time as a national TV journalist and being a mum of two, so there wasn’t much down time or too much sleep. I learned how important networking is when you’re building a business. As a journalist, our job is to always ask questions. You’re not stupid for asking questions and I’ve learned to do exactly the same in business. You need to be able to ask questions, to learn, to grow and to become better at what you do.
Adoni has also started the Leisa Goddard Scholarship for Excellence in Media. Can you tell us a little but more about that?
I started when I was sixteen as a work experience girl at the local newspaper in Ipswich and I’ve always been a strong advocate of ‘get as much experience under your belt as you can as soon as you can’. I set up an internship programme here at Adoni, and we have an internship in the PR department and one in the digital department. It’s great because I see young people coming through and a number of them have gone on to get full time work and one of the girls is now working here, so to watch their progression and to be part of that is great.
The scholarship was just the next step to help them get through their final year of study, because we all remember what it was like going through uni. It’s five thousand dollars for that final year towards education costs and then of course promoting the internship as well so they can get some experience.
What do you think sets Australian media apart?
Our work ethic. If you look at those young journalists who so eagerly pick up work in London, it’s the ones who have a work ethic that gets them over the line. If you look now at the current climate with the fake news that’s dominating everywhere, Australian’s trust in traditional media actually rose from forty-six percent last year to sixty-one percent this year, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer Survey. So many of us get news from Facebook and Twitter but with that whole cloud of fake news, people are returning to trust in journalists and traditional news sources, and that’s great and we should hold our head high for that.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their media career?
Always ask questions. If you don’t know something, always ask a question. You’re never the stupid person for doing that. Learn as much as you can and never say no to an opportunity that pushes you outside of your comfort zone. It might scare you and you might feel completely overwhelmed but that’s where you learn and grow.
Most memorable media moment?
That’s actually hard because I’ve covered everything from the Oscars to Hurricane Katrina to terrorist attacks, but Afghanistan would probably be the most memorable. We were coming under rocket fire from the Taliban who were less than a hundred and fifty meters away and we were in a tent. The vulnerability that you feel, you can’t explain it. So that would be the most memorable. On top of that, I said before that I’m a mum, a businesswoman and a journalist, so if you’re talking about mother guilt, the night that we came under attack from the Taliban was my little girl’s third birthday.
On the flip side to that, last year we created and launched a Government relations campaign called “Your Health, Your Choice”, which grew to become Australia’s campaign to protect natural medicine. It took a lot of work and countless hours or reaching out to people and writing content that they would really connect and engage with. We built that campaign to be a credible source of news and I was extremely proud of that. It won national awards and accolades, so it’s a huge feather in our cap at Adoni Media.