Over the past 10 years, the number of media outlets and mask-heads covering accounting and SMSFs has skyrocketed. And don’t get me wrong, I do not see anything wrong with this. I think it is great our industry is getting recognition for the contribution it makes to the financial health of the community.
I understand these media outlets run businesses and need to make a profit so they have added online advertising, seminars, awards and award ceremonies to their business. Again, I don’t see anything wrong with this. I do however, question the validity of some of the conclusions drawn from some of the surveying and resulting awards as the sample sizes and responses to questions are often very low. One recent survey, for example, included in its Executive Summary a conclusion based on just 2 responses (out of 66). It appeared to us this conclusion was reached as one of our competitors happens to pay for the report and we do not…
But what concerns me more is the more evidence I see everyday of cash for comment from some media outlets. It seems to me that if someone goes to the bathroom at one of our competitors this is now newsworthy!! By their own admission, they publish articles about self serving documents they have not even read!! But of course, the company they publish all this about, pays them a heap of money each month on advertising – BGL does not. And as a result, BGL is rarely mentioned in their publications.
But what came to my attention recently really disturbed me. One of the media organisations did a profile story on an ex BGL team member who has gone out and started an SMSF admin and audit business. And good on her. She was a great person to have had on our team and she has developed a great business. In her interview and the profile draft from her, she talked about the start she got at BGL, what she learned, and how this helped her get to where she is today. But because BGL does not advertise with this media outlet and was brave enough to call them out to their faces on their cash for comment, all of this was deleted from the published piece. Its a bit like the ABC reporting on climate change – you never get a dissenting view. Well this media outlet is a BGL free zone.
Whether media outlets report stuff – I understand is up to them – and I have no problem with this. All the media outlets tell me how they will not report stuff that is self serving for any organisation – and I respect that. However for some media organisations this is 100% true, but for others it is simply not. For some, if you spend a lot of money on advertising with them they will report anything as news – even when someone in their office goes to the bathroom.
Maybe next time you are reading our industry media publications, this is something to have in the back of your mind….