Last Thursday, the Property Council of Australia’s New South Wales branch hosted “Friend or foe? The role of the media in the housing affordability crisis.” The event featured a keynote address from Rob Harley, and a panel discussion with Ben Pike, Carolyn Cummins, Ben Wilmot, and Turi Condon, moderated by Joe Aston.
Here are some of the key insights from the event.
1: Giving audiences what they want
There’s no question that coverage of the property and housing markets is substantial. Indeed, it has been speculated that this high level of coverage was designed to feed a hotter property market, furthering the housing affordability crisis and in turn driving more coverage.
The data, however, tells a different story. As explained by Carolyn Cummins, a key driver of what gets written about for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age is what most interests subscribers, a sentiment echoed by the rest of the panel. So while it may seem that coverage of the housing market is unrelenting, that’s because audience interest in it is just as insatiable.
2: Humans interest
As Ben Pike explained, a property story can go from boring to brilliant when you’re able to add in the human factor. Pike recounted one instance where he uncovered that a large development in western Sydney was proposed by Meriton. When initially contacting Meriton for comment, Pike received a straightforward and simple response about the development.
Pike, knowing the story would do better with a human interest angle, then spoke to Harry Triguboff, Meriton founder and Managing Director, who provided him with an engaging quote that elevated the story significantly and added a layer of personality.
3: Expertise is key
One key theme throughout the discussion was the importance of expertise and experience. The panellists discussed how knowing the field they were reporting on was key to properly representing it in their coverage. While the panel didn’t necessarily agree with the idea that a lack of property specialists in television and radio news discounts the coverage of the property market by those mediums, they did agree that the presence of dedicated property reporters in print and online news delivered an additional depth to their property coverage.
4: Demand isn’t new
In his keynote speech, Rob Harley talked about his long-term perspective on the Australian market. At several points, he provided examples of how surprising demand wasn’t new to the market. From a shortage of beachside property in Tasmania many years ago, to shock when houses first started clearing $100,000, exceptional demand for Australian property is nothing new.
5: The media can be a friend, not a foe
At the conclusion of the panel discussion, Joe Aston asked all panellists if the media was a friend or foe to the Australian housing market, and the verdict was unanimous: the media had been a friend, rather than a foe. Properly understanding the media and how to best work with it is key to ensuring it is your friend, and not your foe.
To hear all the insights from the session, listen to the keynote speech and panel discussion here.
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