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Is yesterday’s McGrath Foundation poll a case of great publicity, or a lesson in why we should all mind our own f***ing business?


by Suzzie Harvey, memery PR Strategist

The McGrath Foundation public poll was clearly the news of the day yesterday; every commercial radio station was conducting call back’s on the topic; it was plastered over every major newspaper and featured on all news reports and current affairs programs.  I presume this predominately grabbed the attention of females all over the country so for all the uninterested males or the people who were hiding under a rock this is a summary of what happened:

Glenn McGrath’s own breast cancer charity, The McGrath Foundation, raised questions in its recent national poll regarding the cricketer’s engagement to Sara Leonardi.  The national poll was set up to gauge public opinion on his new relationship asking whether it is disrespectful if the next Mrs Mcgrath (to be) accompanies the champion to the Ashes and whether the new relationship had made a change to public opinion of the foundation.

The recent Wii Cricket commercial, I suspect, may be what initially sparked public comment about the cricket star ‘moving on’ too quickly with his engagement to Sara and that she is too forward in her public appearances with the cricket star.  Perhaps the Foundation received some negative feedback on this campaign or saw a significant drop in donations recently? Perhaps they have merely taken the bull by the horns and chosen to converse with their stakeholders one on one? From a publicity perspective maybe having Sara in the commercial was a bit confronting for public lovers of Jane & Glenn.  Surely she was not an essential part of the TVC promotion of the cricket game and this campaign was destined to spark public comment about their relationship and her instant landing in the limelight.

However, from a personal perspective I think it was a great opportunity for the couple to show the world that they are together and that the McGrath family have welcomed her as a serious part of their family.  Regardless of my flipped coin perspectives I think the reality is that the Foundation recognised that public comment was not all in support of the couple’s public profile and rather than pushing it under the rug they have faced it head on with a poll proactively requesting public comment.

Let’s be honest here, there are so many breast cancer charities out there so ultimately their focus must be kept on engaging with their stakeholders and consistently creating awareness around breast cancer and their own organisational objectives. Whether we like it or not publicity is essential to every business and with a huge percentage of the Australian public now accessing the world of social networking, it is becoming increasingly difficult for any entity to sweep negative comment under the rug.

So I think what we have seen here is a charity facing an issue head on and as a result generating a huge amount of publicity. So how has it rated in terms of publicity performance?

Maintaining public image (of Glenn McGrath):

What I experienced yesterday on all the call back radio shows was in fact that there is a very large amount of public support for Glenn and Sara. Many callers who have been in the same position as Glenn gave listeners insight into what it means to lose a loved one and the emotional processes that may come with it.  I think the focus on these listeners’ real stories potentially could have transformed a lot of people who were condemning the new relationship into supporters or at least empathisers…

Maintaining public image (of the McGrath Foundation):

It seems that so much of the publicity is actually addressing the new relationship and whether people think that Glenn has moved on too quickly. The issue of the actual poll seems to have taken the back seat.  I think that yes perhaps the issue around the Foundation releasing such a personally intrusive poll may have tarnished the foundations reputation but realistically only the poll results and the donations received post the poll will confirm or reject this.

Maintaining media presence:


I cannot begin to try and calculate the press coverage value the McGrath Foundation has received in the last 24 hrs but whether you agree or disagree with the poll, and whether you love or hate publicity you cannot deny that The McGrath Foundation currently has reached top of mind when it comes to charities associated with Breast Cancer awareness.  And I would love to have access to the websites analytics over the past 48 hrs!

If this was my client and I was reporting on publicity reached I would be very pleased to be presenting my campaign analysis report.  The amount of conversation this poll has generated about the McGrath Foundation (positive or negative) has surely increased general awareness about the charity and their core activities.

So I have made a point of discussing what I think is a great example of tackling a potential issue head on rather than sweeping it under the rug and hoping it will pass.  But what are my responses to the poll questions?

–          Is it showing disrespect if the next Mrs McGrath-to-be accompanies the champion fast bowler to the Ashes?

–          Whether the relationship had made them change their opinion of the foundation.

Personally I am disgusted in the whole debacle and somewhat annoyed that it has consumed me for almost 48 hours now. Glenn is a human being and to be honest it is none of my god damn business if he has moved on with his life or not, and had this poll not been raised I would never have even known the name of his fiancé!

It is such a personal topic that I wouldn’t dare to respond to the poll’s questions; however, thanks to the media coverage that this poll has gained, I have visited their website for the first time and am now aware of what the foundations core objectives are:

–          to raise money to place breast care nurses in communities right across Australia

–          to educate young women to become breast aware

Seems to me that this poll and the McGrath foundation will and should be the winner in the long run.

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One Response to Is yesterday’s McGrath Foundation poll a case of great publicity, or a lesson in why we should all mind our own f***ing business?

  1. Pingback: Jumping into the blogosphere and my thoughts on the McGrath Foundation poll « suzzieharvey

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