2020: The Kick up the Arse PR Needed

· Marketing, Public Relations

Why the focus on volume KPIs hurts the PR profession, encourages transactional media relationships and undermines marketers’ abilities to measure true impact. 

2020 has been one of the busiest news periods on record. From bushfires to COVID, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen the kind of slow news day where PR fluff passes editorial scrutiny. The bar has been raised and only the most timely, relevant and engaging stories hit the press. 

While readership and audiences are up, it hasn’t been easy to navigate for many PR professionals whose success is measured by volume. But like many industries, it’s also a crisis we shouldn’t waste in resetting the goalposts. 

Why the Numbers Don’t Stack up 

The focus on developing data-led strategies, optimising campaigns and reporting with hard metrics means many marketers are plugging numbers into spreadsheets, and compiling platform analytics like a data scientist. 

Yet, for too long, media relations programs have sat as a separate, touchy feely and intangible part of the marketing mix, unmeasurable by anything but vanity metrics like clip count, circulation or advertising equivalents. 

It’s worth pausing for a second and reflecting on how archaic a metric like clip count really is. Measuring the number of media stories a brand is mentioned in is inherently simplistic and provides no insight into quality, value or impact. 

When I worked as an issues and crisis management specialist a decade ago, the thought of measuring achievements by clip count would have been laughable. In fact, seeing no story at all was often a win. 

With continued contraction at major mastheads, I believe it’s now more important than ever to be promoting quality journalism and meaningful relationships with media. Rather than an approach to PR focussed on hitting a volume KPI, we need to be pursuing respectful media relationships built on value for audiences. 

Why Is PR Measurement Stuck in the Dark ages? 

If I tapped one of my marketing colleagues on the shoulder and asked about the great work they’d been up to lately, they’d talk about the impact of their work. The moonlighting mathematician would cite the results of campaigns driving engagement, traffic, or generating conversions. 

Why? Because marketers are looking for performance data. They’re analysing what works and what doesn’t and optimising campaigns to reduce wasted resources along the way. 

So why is this not the philosophy when it comes to earned media? Why can’t we reframe our picture of success from the pure existence of a story to it being the right story, reaching the right audience at the right time, connected to real business objectives? 

Striving for Quality over Quantity 

Fed up with fluff, we’ve taken a big step away from measuring coverage by high-fives and pats on the back. 

Over the last five years, Keep Left has developed a more qualitative approach to assessing and reporting on the impact of media coverage. It involves having clarity on a single set of metrics that paint a picture of the ideal piece of coverage for each individual client and campaign.  

We’ve called it the Impact Score, and, essentially, it allows us to empirically prove what constitutes a ‘home run’ for each campaign. It factors in more than 50 metrics — things like length or page placement, social media engagement, brand and spokesperson prominence, message penetration, sentiment, imagery or inclusion of case studies. It can also include unique elements for each client; for some that’s having the brand in the headline, for others a backlink to their website.  

It holds us accountable with a hard score out of 100, keeps us laser focussed on the right activity and allows us to re-align our approach mid-campaign to maximise results. But most of all it elevates the strategic dialogue we have with clients.  

For example, we noticed initial coverage generated lower than anticipated scores for a financial services client at the start of a recent campaign we launched. On closer inspection through the impact score we noticed only one of the key messages was getting through. So we were able to re-brief our spokesperson to hone in on the other messaging and share them with a bit more colour — the resulting pieces scoring much higher.  

So What Does Success Look Like?  

This nationally syndicated 7News piece announcing Kathmandu’s Uber deliveries last month was almost two minutes long and packed full of key messages, product visuals and brand mentions. Its Impact Score was a tidy 95 out of 100, length and social media shares stopping us from cracking the ton. 

On the B2B side, this national Newscorp piece, secured at the start of August for COVID venue contact tracing solution GuestCheck, was the exact story we aimed to achieve to influence government and business decision makers. It scored 93 on the Impact Score. The only thing holding it back from perfection? Spokesperson prominence. 

This qualitative and customised approach to measurement has enabled our clients to think beyond mere volume to a value-driven mindset that aligns with their business strategy. 

Ultimately, if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. So, let’s start thinking about earned media reporting in a more sophisticated way. Want to find out more about the Impact Score? Join our Head of Communications, Tim Lele on Thursday, October 8, at 2:00pm as he discusses why 2020 is the year to ditch the clip count and more with the Public Relations Institute of Australia.  

For more details and to register, Click here

Riverina Fresh Milk Campaign Shows What Supporting Local Really Looks Like

· Client updates, Content Marketing, Creative, Marketing

Sure, we’ve been missing our office coffees with a splash of Riverina Fresh milk this year. But we’re also excited to have launched a digital and retail-focused brand campaign with the Aussie dairy company, which you may have seen in your local Woollies store this week.   

Riverina Fresh has been supplying fresh milk to Australians for almost a century from their Wagga Wagga pastures. They’re the leading choice of milk for local baristas and have spent the ongoing lockdowns helping their cafe partners pivot to grocery stores by stocking their great-tasting milk. You may even recall our Barista Zoom Calls with the country’s top coffee talent during the early lockdown. 

But their agility in a tough year is not the only thing worth celebrating. They’re also 100% Australian owned — a key differentiator in a milk industry that traditionally only focuses on Australian made.  

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All of our milk comes from the same herds, from the same dedicated group of dairy farms every day. We're proud to be a 100% Australian-owned, regionally-based independent dairy manufacturer supplying award-winning products from the Riverina region since 1922. Pictured are Phil and Jo Burn, two of our Riverina Fresh dairy farmers. #Bestfromourbackyard #AustralianOwned #AustralianMilk #RiverinaFresh #Milk

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During COVID-19, the brand noticed that while support for local provenance was growing, consumers were not as aware of the importance of buying from an Australian owned company. Keep Left was engaged to create a digital and retail campaign based on the insight that shoppers needed to be educated on the difference – in the few seconds it takes to make a decision at the supermarket fridge.  

That’s where the idea of ‘Double Good’ came to life. We wanted to get customers to choose Riverina Fresh milk in the dairy aisle – not just for its great taste or local provenance, but also because the company is dedicated to keeping profits in Australia, at a time where supporting local matters most. While all milk is Australian made, only a few brands are Australian owned. And that’s what makes Riverina Fresh double good.  

Riverina Fresh CEO, Rob Collier, explained: “We’ve done a lot of adapting this year to keep great-tasting local milk on your shelves, so it’s incredibly exciting to be able to recognise and celebrate not just our homegrown produce, but our Australian ownership too. Because supporting local isn’t just about choosing milk that comes from our local pastures. It’s also about keeping profits in Australia, and ensuring that we keep the dairy aisle proudly local for years to come — pandemic or no pandemic.” 

The Double Good campaign takes the form of a digital and social campaign, and in-store retail assets that you’ll spot in supermarkets and online for 4 weeks from September 16. 

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We are excited to launch our “Double Good” consumer campaign in Woolworths stores throughout NSW, ACT and Victoria this week. The campaign highlights our double good message – great tasting milk that is also 100% Australian owned. That’s Double Good! Please follow the link in our bio to find out more. #DoubleGood #RiverinaFresh #AustralianOwned #GreatTaste

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Keep Left CEO, Caroline Catterall, said: “It’s been a year of constant adaptation, and it’s been particularly inspiring to work alongside Riverina Fresh as they prove themselves in Australian ingenuity. From pivoting their events to live Zoom panels, to leading the ‘support local’ movement, it’s been an honour to help our favourite barista-quality milk stay on the shelves and inspire others to follow suit.” 

Next time you’re buying milk, look out for the 100% Aussie Owned and Made sign on the supermarket shelves. 

Keep Left’s 2020 Q2 in Review

· Client updates, Marketing, Public Relations

We’ll skip the niceties — this quarter has been rough. The pandemic that shall not be named has knocked us all for six, but there’s something to be said about adversity and what it breeds.   

This shift in paradigms made us produce innovative campaigns on timelines we didn’t think were possible, tallying reach numbers and Impact Scores as unprecedented as the climate. 

All our successes over the past few months come from working with people we’re proud to plop our name beside — internally and externally — on stories we enjoy. And we think some of the fun and Aussie larrikin spirit shines through in the ideas we and our clients brought to life.  

For a taste of what we mean, let’s start with the puppies… 

Guide Dogs Australia

PR / Digital Marketing / Virtual Event Management

Being forced to pivot doesn’t mean you’re forced to compromise. Our celebration of International Guide Dog Day (IGDD) with Guide Dogs Australia is testament to that.  

The event is our opportunity to celebrate Guide Dogs and raise awareness for the important work they do. This year we planned for a grand event — but not a pandemic. We had to shelve our first idea and think fast.  

Enter: Zoom. Both the conference call platform helping many of us through COVID-19, but also a newborn puppy. When Zoom the Labrador puppy was born, we saw it as the perfect idea to introduce the world to him, and his profession, virtually.  

We brought IGDD to an international audience via an online puppy party. People logged on for a midday hit of cuteness and in the process learned the events importance from our panellists.   

Media outlets loved the idea and coverage was extensive. Morning news, evening news, print — you name it. Along with the 2000 live viewers, nearly 400 publishers and channels covered the story giving us a cumulative reach of 90 million people.  

Lateral thinking made this one of our most successful IGDDs yet, raising much needed awareness for the crucial work they do – and brightening the public’s day while doing so.  

NEFF Kitchen

Social Media / Content Production 

Half-baked ideas aren’t our strong suit. But ideas that involve delicious treats baked using some of the finest German engineering — piece of cake. This year we indulged ourselves with our most successful NEFF Best Bake Competition yet.  

With everyone already honing their baking skills with iso sourdoughs, a climate for a great bake has never been better.  

And with over $25,000 in prizes, including a luxury Blue Mountain escape, NEFF appliances, and baking packs from Le Creuset and Gewurzhaus, it was the perfect culinary storm. 

The results?  Almost 1000 people entered by uploading picture and recipe for their best bake, with 465 entries coming as a direct result of our Facebook adsThey say the proof is in the pudding, well with 20,275 people visiting the competition landing page, 2,289 completed video views and a total reach of 245,184 people, the numbers are just as sweet. 

HERE Technologies

Public Relations / Content Production

HERE Technologies are a ‘behind-the-scenes’ company. It’s unlikely that you’ll have their maps in your phone, but they power around 70 per cent of embedded navigation in Australian cars, including Audis, Mercedes Benzes and BMWs.  

This quarter, we helped HERE launch two important, timely projects.   

HERE WeGo provided vital help to small business owners, enabling them to run their own delivery software without cumbersome build costs. In fact, because of COVID and sweeping customer demand, HERE WeGo was made free for a limited time. 

Customers were able to adapt business plans without footing a commission bill from delivery partners and stay functioning during a time they otherwise may not have.  

Sydney cafe owner Robert Reid told Dynamic Business of the doors Here WeGo opened for them: For six years we were all about coffee, homemade bakes and brunches… never did we think we would be an online grocery business! But it’s been a great way to continue supporting our local suppliers and keep our cafe afloat.” 

The other project was Where to From HERE, a report that mapped New Zealand traffic attitudes and gave insight into how the pandemic was affecting commutes.    

We scored an exclusive feature in the NZ Herald, the country’s largest paper, featuring interactive maps demonstrating HERE’s findings, and secured comment with HERE Aus/NZ director, Daniel Antonello. The glowing article helped Kiwis understand commuting during COVID, and presented HERE’s unique capabilities to a huge audience; print reach was a tidy 477,000 and online reach was a staggering 7,910,000 

Riverina Fresh

Public Relations / Virtual Events / Video

If you ever wanted an example of why great ideas spread quickly, it’s Riverina Fresh. Their company values came to the forefront during COVID-19 when they highlighted the importance of supporting local business.   

Our integrated PR digital campaign championed cafe owners innovating during COVID. Working with Riverina, we conducted interviews with baristas and cafe owners to hear about how the community had supported them in lockdown. Aussie ingenuity was at the forefront, and owners had great praise for Riverina’s role in helping them pivot to grocery sales and in turn keep the doors open.  

This is footage from our ‘Home Ground’ industry round table which streamed on Facebook.  

The good ideas didn’t stop there. Our partnership with Riverina also saw a creative UGC campaign come to life in the #HomeBaristaChallenge. Those perfecting their homemade brew during iso sent in imaginative videos to compete for a beautiful La Marzocco. We met young baristas, we met slick baristas, we… well, we’ll just show you: 

The results? A combined audience reach of nearly 15 million and an Impact Score of 84.5… now those are results we could shout until the cows come home.  

Saxo Markets

Public Relations

Saxo Markets is a trading company that brings multi-market access to users of all sizes. They’re new to Australia, but in the short time they’ve graced our shores we’ve done big things. 

So far we’ve averaged more than one key piece of coverage per week, with some highlights being the Saxo Rewards loyalty program featured in Financial Standard, Saxo’s impressive Q3 outlook covered by Sky Business Weekend and Money News, and Australian Fintech outlining Saxo’s Exchange Traded Options.  

We also helped showcase Saxo’s international experience thought leadership, with Saxo’s CEO, Adam Smith, telling Investor Daily how open banking may shape the future of investment.  

With all this done in such a short (and not to mention testing) time, we’re excited to continue amplifying Saxo’s message to a local market. 

Charter Hall

Public Relations

We’re immensely proud of Charter Hall’s communications this quarter. And with an average impact score of 78, and audience reach of 8.55 million, you can’t blame us.   

A winning comms strategy has shone light on Charter Hall’s stellar performance. Their achievements in the 2020 NABERS Sustainable Portfolios Index were recognised by The Fifth Estate, and the development approval of its visionary Westmead Innovation Quarter precinct was shared by The Daily Telegraph.  

We’ve worked with Charter Hall to position their spokespeople as leaders in the Australian commercial property sector, and their professional insights were particularly helpful during COVID-19. Head of office development, Andrew Borger, contributed to The Urban Developer’s Workplace in Focus webinar, and head of operations, Lorraine Lee, shared her insights with Facility Management Magazine on the importance of data-driven building management.

Coming Up…

With Q2’s projects signed, sealed, and delivered, we’re looking forward to tackling the next half of 2020 with just as much gusto — and with restrictions ramping up in Victoria, we’ll need it.

We’ve got some big announcements coming up, including a programme launch with environmental services company GreenCollar, a virtual event for PAWGUST, and exciting developments on our Impact Score… stay tuned.

Coronavirus COVID-19 apple ad

Why all Coronavirus Ads Look the Same and How Yours Can Be Different

· Marketing, Strategy ·

We’ve all seen the research reporting that consumers want us to keep advertising to them during lockdown. And that’s great news for those brands that have the resources and budget available to do so. But there’s a problem, and it was highlighted by a video showing that Every Covid-19 Commercial is Exactly the Same.

The video cuts together the coronavirus advertising from over 30 brands and they are all startlingly similar — the same visuals, the same copy, the same sentiment. It’s quite astounding.

Yes, it’s admirable that brands like Apple, Facebook, FedEx, AT&T and Google – to name a few – have spent their advertising dollars sending message of hope and support to customers. But when everyone is doing it and doing it in exactly the same way, the message loses impact. It becomes less about connecting with customers and more about brands being seen to do the right thing. This homogeneity has no real value for the customer, and, it can be argued, very little value for the brand.

If you’re spending advertising dollars mimicking competitor messaging, look and feel, how is that helping your brand stand out? How is it helping your brand to create unique associations or bonds with customers?

Don’t let pressure to be seen and heard by customers trick you into parroting platitudes. Before reaching out, think about whether your message makes sense for your brand.

It’s true the consumer psyche is changing, and brands are responding to the current need for safety, security and comfort. It makes sense to go out with messaging that says ‘we care’ and ‘we’re with you’. But responding to the consumer psyche is just one half of the picture.

The real question marketers should be asking themselves is ‘how?’ How does your brand care? How is your brand there for its customers? We’re past the point of bland motherhood statements. Now consumers are looking for real-life value. They’re settling into the norm of social distancing and looking for something new.

To find the value you can add, you have step away from the consumer and go back to the fundamentals of your brand. What can your brand offer that is authentic and true, and how can that add value to customers’ lives right now?

It’s the brands that first understand themselves that will cut through and connect, because they’ll be looking within for inspiration and their communication will be unique and true.