Are Canberra businesses and bands getting their fair share from Enlighten?
By Tim Benson, Publisher B2B Magazine.
***Before we start: I am a big fan of Enlighten, have nothing against Sydney band Tigertown and don’t believe all entertainment and services should be provided to ACT Government events by Canberra based businesses.
I recently received an email from a Sydney based public relations company promoting Canberra’s Enlighten. It was all about how great Enlighten was and the great line up of bands and other entertainment that was going to be performing. This included ‘international’ acts, and ‘Sydney darlings’, Tigertown.
Now, this got my goat up for several reasons. Why was a Sydney based public relations company being paid by the ACT Government to promote a Canberra event back to the Canberra media? And second why is the ACT Government booking international acts and bands that are known as ‘Sydney darlings’, instead of Canberra bands and acts?
I fired off an email in response to the initial email from the Sydney based public relations firm stating:
“I’ve got to say that I’m very disappointed that all of the bands aren’t Canberra bands. ‘Sydney darlings’ is a huge turn off for me. I’d be interested in doing a story on the local Canberra content and spend versus the spend to Sydney bands and businesses. Can you please provide me with stats or do I need to go to the Minister’s office? That would of course include why a PR agency in Sydney is doing the marketing for this Canberra event?”
Quick as a flash I get an email from a PR and Media officer in Events ACT (Chief Minister’s Directorate) telling me that ‘Enlighten is not just for Canberra’ and that ‘Each year as the event grows and develops, so does our audience and their thirst for diverse and engaging event talent’ and ‘Please let me know if you need more information’.
Well, yes, I thought to myself, I would like you to provide the answers to the questions I had actually asked …
So, I responded:
“Thank you for this response. Unfortunately, it doesn’t answer any of my questions in relation to local spend for bands and businesses v outside Canberra spends (especially Sydney).”
“Can you please provide me with these figures. I’d also be keen to know why a Sydney PR firm is doing PR for Canberra events?”
“I’m also keen to know what you mean by ‘Enlighten is not just for Canberra’. Can you elaborate please?”
Boom. Ring, ring, said ACT Government PR and Media officer is on the phone to me questioning why I believe PR for ACT Government events should be promoted by Canberra based PR companies – well how about because its ACT taxpayer money being spent here and I’m sure we can promote our festivals to Queensland and Singapore just as well and anyone else … and the Sydney based PR firm doesn’t have an office in Canberra and doesn’t have anyone at the festival … and is promoting the ‘Sydney darlings’ Tigertown.
In relation to my question about bands and businesses from overseas and interstate v local bands and businesses the PR and Media offer said, ‘You know that there are people from Singapore coming to this event?’ I said, ‘Do you really think they are coming to hear the ‘Sydney darlings’ Tigertown?’
My initial enquiry for figures was made on Wednesday 8 March.
On the 15 March I received and email from the ACT Government PR and Media officer saying:
“As promised, I spoke with my Director regarding what we can provide you with in terms of financials regarding local bands vs. interstate bands.”
“At this stage, we are finalising all invoices (as you can appreciate, quotes and final invoices are subject to change). Additionally, each artist is procured either via an agent, or direct, so these figures also vary. In understanding this, I am unable to offer you final figures at this point.”
Once I can, I’ll be in touch.”
“Thank you for your response. Just to clarify I am looking for the spend on bands and businesses. I find it difficult to believe that you do not have access to these figures. Can you please give me an idea of when you will be providing me with this information? I will also be contacting the Chief Minister’s office with my concerns.”
Response on 15 March from ACT Government PR and Media officer:
“I’ll check in with my Director regarding when we may be able to provide you with what’s been requested.”
We’ll, it nearly lunchtime on Thursday 16 March and no response yet. As stated above I’m a big fan of Enlighten and other Canberra events, I have nothing against Tigertown, and I’m not saying all bands, entertainment and services, provided to the ACT Government, need to come from Canberra.
I am interested to know, though, whether Canberra businesses, bands and entertainment are getting their fair share of business from Enlighten and other ACT Government events.