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Bucking the trends in business – Tim Benson

By Suzanne Kiraly - 7 August 2017 0

He plays the trumpet every Friday night in the house band at Casino Canberra and loves the written word. A self-confessed entrepreneur by nature, Tim finds his own opportunities in life. After a series of interesting high-level public service jobs, mostly as a political media advisor, there came the time when he felt the need to dance on his own parade. This happened after a year as Executive Officer with the ACT Emergency Services Authority (ESA), which was established, post the 2003 Canberra bushfires. After a casual chat about future careers, the ESA Chaplain had told him:

“Sometimes, Tim, you have to get out of the boat and walk on the water.”

But more about that later…

As a student growing up in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (pre-independence), Tim tells me that he had had a dream childhood for almost ten years there. Returning to Australia, after a brief stint in Sydney, Tim’s family settled in Canberra 38 years ago and he’s never looked back. That’s probably enough to qualify him as a ‘local’, wouldn’t you say?

Having fallen in love with music Tim attended the School of Music, where he studied jazz and classical music. But of course, after graduating he had to choose between a career in journalism or in music? As journalism held the promise that he wouldn’t starve, and music was the bigger gamble, Tim chose to pursue journalism. He continued with his music passion on the side, though, playing trumpet in a series of community, and local commercial bands.

After not quite finishing his journalism degree, Tim was fortunate to have a series of appointments at a high level, working for John Langmore MP, and then to Senator Bob McMullan, when he was Minister for Trade, and then a series of other portfolios including: Industry and Technology, Indigenous Affairs, Arts, and even as the Shadow Treasurer. They were rich pickings for a young, communications professional and Tim learnt so much at that time too.

In 2002 Tim got married and jumped across to the ACT Government to work for Rosemary Follett MLA, and then Bill Wood MLA. In 2003 (after the Canberra Bushfires), he was appointed Communications Manager within the Department of Justice and Community Safety. A short time later, he was offered a position as Executive Officer to the Commissioner at the newly created, Emergency Services Authority. They were all exciting times, as he recalls.

But even so, Tim’s urge to have his own business grew stronger and recalling the words of the Chaplain, he finally took the plunge and got out of the boat.

Tim’s public relations (PR) company, “Man Bites Dog Public Relations” was established. The name he chose was most apt, for a PR firm. According to Wikipedia:

“It was coined by Alfred Harmsworth (1865–1922), a British newspaper magnate, but is also attributed to the New York Sun editor, John B. Bogart (1848–1921).”

What does it all mean, though? Well, in the world of journalism it means this:

“When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

And Tim’s strength was knowing what was newsworthy; he had an edge that managed to attract some excellent, high-profile clients from the very start (clients like RSM Bird Cameron and CPA Australia).

Life was becoming busy for Tim in 2003; he had married and then came the arrival of his daughter, Alexandria, which kept him hopping. And then it just got busier still, when an opportunity came knocking, that Tim couldn’t resist, and he opened the door without hesitation.

In 2006, he was given the chance to work as a writer and editor on the B2B Magazine. Twelve months after it was established, Tim bought it. He grew the magazine over time, and it slowly but surely became part of the local business community. Australia Post was distributing 10,000 copies per month and the magazines were also delivered to 150 cafés. Everyone in Canberra knew them.

After a few years of building B2B, Tim then expanded his business further and bought the highly acclaimed, Capital Magazine. It was a full-gloss, prestigious magazine that catered to the educated readership in Canberra; it celebrating art, politics, culture, and everything community throughout the ACT and it was a ‘Vogue-style’ glamorous publication. People loved it from the very beginning and couldn’t wait for each edition to come out.

The next few years found Tim consolidating his publishing business with these two publications and then, just as he was considering the online, digital platforms, which he knew was critical for the future of publishing, he found himself in talks with Michael McGoogan and Tim White. The talks culminated in a recent announcement, that he had joined the ranks of The-RiotACT. B2B and Capital Magazine would be merged with The-RiotACT.

Tim confesses that he is so excited about this latest challenge.

“It was an excellent move for me, my business clients and the Canberra business community.”

The serendipity of it all for Tim is that he is confident that both B2B and Capital Magazine will live on, and that his contribution to The-RiotACT will also be a valuable one.

Tim has also joined RiotACT Digital Regional News, as business development manager.

“One of the things that attracted me to the new RiotACT is the vision of the new owners, and the rapid growth plans they have for Digital Regional News. We are looking to form partnerships (such as incorporating B2B Magazine and Capital Magazine) with all other media organisations in Canberra and the region.

“RiotACT Digital Regional News is one of the most visited websites in the ACT.”

If you, or your business, would like to find out more about Tim’s new role at RiotACT then email him at tbenson@the-riotact.com or call on 0402 900 402 and organise a time to catch up for a coffee.

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