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Yes and no. It depends on who you are, your organisation’s in-house expertise and how you approach budget preparation. This year really is different, and the new government’s “way” is an interesting and refreshing approach. 

Here’s how to adapt your own content, PR and client communication in response. If your goal is winning – whether in media, search or speed of responses – your game plan has to evolve. 

In a nutshell: 

  1. Budget night, used right, can be your single largest source of attention and new business 
  2. The game has changed, particularly under a new government 
  3. To win the budget newsjacking game, you must prepare for and understand it 


1. Winning the attention game

When we win at this, we win BIG. Media coverage, search, website traffic, new subscribers or database contacts, and leads are all possible. 


Budget night, the speculation prior, and the week after remain among the best sources of media mentions, impressions, readership and inbound traffic our clients have ever garnered. For some, this means record inbound inquiry or database growth depending on their goals.  

It takes planning, careful coordination with our client and yes, sometimes good luck. More often though it’s just a slog. Night one and this week - the moment right now – are the ideal and best windows. 


2. The game has changed, but only a little, under a new government 


“This is a federal budget of no surprises”, declared the headline in an article by Katharine Murphy, The Guardian Australia's Political Editor…. Believe it or not that wasn’t about last night. It was about Labor's October 2022 budget, which also saw its main provisions unveiled — or rather leaked — to the media over several weeks. 

So, is no news bad news for your PR?  

No. Governments leak budget announcements pre-budget. It’s a well-established pattern and it’s not necessarily bad for newsjacking. Yes. The ALP seem to have doubled down. 

We’re often asked this by spokespeople, technical experts, corporate affairs or marketers in the financial services looking for media coverage so it’s worth explaining how the budget announcement works. 

If this “no news” approach to budget announcements is a permanent feature of Labor budgets, here’s what to do. 

"Budget night" has long been an eagerly anticipated event for journalists and communication professionals. Journalists partake in a "lock-up" for several hours before the Treasurer's speech, granting them ample time to examine the documents and prepare stories for publication, but not before the speech commences. Traditionally, journalists leave the lock-up looking for reactions and commentary, presenting a great opportunity for media coverage of stakeholders across industries.  

From my on-the-ground observations, this wasn’t as much of a mad dash last night.  

There were no frantic calls, white-knuckled texting and or stern looks at the ALP’s official business event as the Treasurer spoke. From tech giants to insurers, banks to business lobby groups, the budget raised barely a flicker of response. 

People had reacted ahead of time, as the budget’s measures slowly dripped out over the preceding weeks.  

Labor’s reluctance to surprise with this budget is understandable. After almost a decade of Coalition governments, Albanese, Chalmers & Co may want to safeguard the ALP’s narrow majority by carefully meeting budget news in a way that “shows not tells” steadiness, stability and continuity in economic management.  

This is crucial for public and market confidence in the new government's approach.  

What’s far more interesting is the major change in tactics. This government genuinely appears more transparent and less concerned with attention-grabbing politics. If the policies are already prepared, why delay their announcements?  

Intense media attention on the government is hardly a valid justification for the “big reveal” unless your goal is a crescendo of attention. 

If your goal is leadership and a cooperative multi-stakeholder approach to running the economy when facing significant risk, the era of political fireworks might have ended.  

The Covid pandemic brought its share of shocks and surprises, and now, rising interest rates and the cost-of-living crisis have left Australians craving calm, steady, and modest leadership.  

If these conditions persist, we can anticipate a more incremental, less theatrical approach to fiscal policy and its media portrayal. 

3. To win at budget newsjacking, you must prepare for the game 


Does this mean that the efforts of economists, technical experts and corporate affairs people racing to get into budget news will be pointless in future?  

No. We’ll just have to get better at the game. The to-do list looks something like this… 

  1. Focus 
  2. Resource up  
  3. Think budget “month” not “night” 

Identifying opportunities in the continuous stream of announcements requires dedicated focus and often extra capacity. Increase your focus, resources and timeframe.  

Even if budget night presents few surprises, the national interest remains high, as do opportunities to reach your audiences, albeit in a more spread-out manner.  

That means being visible and adapting your messaging in response to the news over the entire pre-budget and post-budget period. 

Many of you who were well-prepared garnered coverage before Jim Chalmers took the floor in the house — you communicated weeks before the budget, not just on budget night.  

If that wasn’t you, start planning now for next year. Write a list of “good practices” and put a diary note in to pull your team together at least a quarter out. If that sounds hard, inbox me, and we’ll run a workshop for you. I’ve been doing this for 26 years… a lot is the same. 

This game rewards planning, news vigilance, steady attention and “doing communication” in a professional and disciplined way.  

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