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Analysis shows 2019 a contentious year for NZ

New Zealand had more challenging events and issues than it has experienced in a decade, according to an annual analysis by Blackland, a Wellington-based public relations company.

The company which reports every year on the toughest communication challenges, said it had been an extraordinary year for the sheer volume and scale of events and issues.

“Since starting our annual analysis, we’ve not seen a year more fraught with contentious and emotional debate, nor with a higher number of errors and tragic incidents,” says Director, Mark Blackham.

Over 140 individual events and issues made it over the company’s initial threshold for inclusion in the analysis, based on profile and impact – almost double the amount from previous years.

Of those 140, the three most challenging matters were the Government cancelling a capital gains tax and passing the Zero Carbon Bill, and the Ministry of Health managing an outbreak of measles.

Blackland’s team concluded that the plans for a capital gain tax was the hardest issue to manage because it affected the largest number of New Zealanders economically, and involved complexity and political commitments.

“Changing your mind or reneging on a promise is the hardest thing for any of us to do, and politicians are no different. When hundreds of thousands of people are affected by your decision, and you staked your reputation on different course of action, it’s difficult to know the right thing to say.”

BlacklandPR uses a scoring system that ranks issues out of 10 for four factors –Profile (media coverage and ‘talkability’ in everyday life), Impact (how many people are consciously affected directly or indirectly), Emotion (the intensity of emotional reaction), and Complexity (complications and technicalities of the issue).

In previous years BlacklandPR’s PR Challenges ranking has been headed by issues such as Metiria Turei’s benefit fraud confession, petrol price rises, food contamination, the Fonterra botulism issue, and the Flag Referendum.

Another year dominated by politics

Mr Blackham says political challenges dominated the rankings. Fourteen of the Top 20 challenges were faced mainly by political organisations. “The predominant role of government in New Zealand’s daily life is again reflected in this year’s rankings,” he said.

Toughest PR gigs 2019: Ranking


1GovernmentCapital Gains Tax Policy proposal997833
2GovernmentZero Carbon bill887730
3Ministry of Health / District Health BoardsMeasles outbreak968730
4Emergency services / Defence ForceResponse to White Island eruption959629
5SparkRugby world cup streaming service848828
6Ministry of EducationTeacher strikes 878528
7White Island ToursDeaths and injury to customers 939728
8Auckland CouncilCity rail link866727
9GovernmentGun laws 949527
10FonterraBusiness performance

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