What’s the difference between pitching a story to a commercial broadcaster and a public one? Today Nic Hayes plays mediator between two experienced broadcasters — one from the publicly-owned ABC (our own James Lush) and the other fresh from a long and distinguished career with commercial station 6PR (Nic’s new team member, John Solvander) — to find out what each medium is looking for, who their audiences are, what they have in common, and what differences marketers need to keep in mind when dealing with each.

Here are some key take-outs:

  • Commercial versus non-commercial media have different requirements to meet their audiences needs.
  • Non-commercial broadcasters often need to “tick boxes”, like ensuring they present a diverse range of views or a diversity of people.
  • Commercial broadcasters are able to promote brands, whereas non-commercial broadcasters, like the ABC, are not.

“It doesn’t mean to say you can’t give credit where credit is due, but you don’t make a big deal of highlighting that this is the person and this is the company. It would stand out and the audience would complain.” — James


  • At commercial stations, if a brand has paid for a mention that has to be declared, whether it is a recorded ad, a “live read”, or a segment. If money has changed hands, that has to be understood by the audience.

“This rule about not mentioning a brand is archaic and redundant. Commercial broadcasters don’t have the same restrictions.” — John


  • Often on public broadcasts you have longer to tell your story because they’re not restricted by ads.
  • But don’t believe public broadcasters don’t care about ratings — they do. And they still “live and die” by them, professionally.
  • If you’re the best person in your space and you’re good at being in the media, whether it is commercial or public you have an excellent opportunity at becoming a regular guest.
  • Commercial broadcasters are less inclined to pick up issues that aren’t “sexy”, where as public broadcasters tend to cover issues that might be important but perhaps less exciting.

“You just have to be really good when you’re on there. You don’t have to have the best story in the world, but you have to tell it well. It is a performance. For five minutes you have to give it your all to the point where people remember it.” — James


Have you heard the one about…

Recently James, Sarah and Nic took a close look at using humour on social media and trying to go viral.

And here’s a discussion about in-person events and why they are such a successful form of marketing.


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