Public Relations

Talking Shops: Coronavirus and Australian Retail Comms

· Public Relations, Strategy · , , ,

Right now, if Australian retailers aren’t peddling 2-ply toiletries (or anything else deemed ‘essential’) then you can bet they’re in crisis mode. 

Business strategies that have perhaps enjoyed a period of stasis are being stress-tested to incorporate foreign facets like ‘social distancing’ and ‘self-isolation’, and bricks and mortar stores unschooled in reaping traffic of the URL variety are struggling without its IRL equivalent. 

And while retailers’ B2C divisions are being whittled into skeleton crews and closures, B2B stakeholders are watching very closely to see how they’re responding. Is it with silence a la Corona brewers, or solidarity like Guinness brewers? And more to the point, does it even matter? 

DISCOURSE BY DATA

According to the numbers: yes — at least if you’re selling to tomorrow’s customers.

Via Deloitte

The Deloitte’s Global Millennial Survey 2019, which recorded views of some 13,000 millennials and 3000 Gen Zs over 42 countries and territories, found that consumer sentiment towards business is increasingly negative. Only 55 per cent thought that business had a positive effect on society, which is a steep decline from the 61 per cent recorded in 2018. 

Pertinent to a COVID-19 world, 32 per cent of millennials thought that businesses should try to improve society, and 37% said they would ‘stop/lessen’ their relationships with businesses because of ethical behaviour. As Deloitte put it, this is because millennials think businesses “focus solely on their own agendas rather than considering the consequences for society.” Not to be left out, a significant number of Gen Zs were also found to put their money where their values are by patronising brands that mirror their progressive ideals. 

ACE Metrix, an advertising analytics company, add context to this in terms of brand responses to coronavirus. They report that 42 percent of consumers surveyed are in favour of brands addressing the pandemic, while 44 per cent added the caveat that it depended on the brand and message. “Actual action, not just words” was the key take-away, as 75 per cent placed the onus on brands to help out during the pandemic. 

In light of Victoria’s stage one shutdown, the importance of brand communications has heightened. Search interest for ‘coronavirus retail’ saw vertiginous, yet volatile, spikes after Sunday’s announcement. ‘What retail stores are closing in Australia’ was a breakout term, meaning the query increased 5000 per cent over the previous period. 

WHAT’S A BRAND TO DO

So, the demand for intel is there. Now what? 

Retail consultant and 12HIGH founder Nathan Bush recently advised that “now is not the time for elaborate promotions or whimsical story telling.” In other words: keep it simple, stupid. Some brands are already getting called out for ‘panic marketing’ (founded or not), and Buzzsumo’s data shows that coronavirus headlines from Australian domain designators have clocked over 33 million engagements in 2020. Over 27 million of them will come from March alone, meaning any virtue signalling disguised as brand altruism will raise more eyebrows than a sneeze on the train. 

Giving back is obviously the knee-jerk reaction. But while big-box retailers like Woolworths can afford charitable responses like their dedicated shopping hour, others may benefit from straight-forward transparency. 

One standard approach across the board is to take to socials and speak directly to your community. Yeti’s Instagram post is a model response, incorporating brand ideals (the great outdoors) into a message informing their customers of closure dates and what it means for their staff. And their community liked it; looking at Yeti’s last nine image posts, they liked it approximately 155 per cent more. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by YETI (@yeti) on

Even those enjoying the contemporary gold rush that is the toiletry business are responding in kind. Who Gives a Crap notified their customers of reduced stock, assuaged those with subscriptions, and tied in brand messaging by urging charitable giving through a #plyitforward campaign. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

While we work to get stocks back, we’d love if people with extra toilet paper could share with the folks in need. Let’s fight panic with kindness! Share this post to let your friends know that you’re down to #plyitforward.

A post shared by Feel Good Toilet Paper (@whogivesacraptp) on

Ancillary to social posts, brands like Arc’Teryx have addressed COVID-19 through creative content. Their ‘Together for What’s to Come’ article gave an uplifting message of unity in uncertain times, before outlining how the virus would affect their people, operations, and community.

Kate Morris, founder of Adore Beauty, is exemplary of how you can take charge with thought leadership. She set up a ‘war room’ community on Slack strictly for owners of e-commerce stores. Over 130 people joined to trade in knowledge and support.

BEING REALISTIC

Providing a sense of stability, keeping positive, and communicating is important, but as business leadership author George Bradt wrote in Forbes, it’s important to manage your brand through the crises. And that means being realistic about the immediate future. 

Finance reporters have been cataloguing the permanent closures of either stores or whole brands like Collette by Colette Hayman, Ishka, and EB Games across Australia. This weekjewellery juggernaut Michael Hill closed 300 stores ‘indefinitely’ and Aus swimwear brand Tigerlily went into voluntary administration. Both citing coronavirus as the main reason. 

ING Group are reporting that COVID-19 closures of Chinese factories will reverberate up the supply chain. Apart from Australia’s standard dependance on Chinese trade, IBIS World highlight Australian retail sectors most likely to take a knock from Chinese imports include electronics and footwear. Beyond that, OEC data on Australia’s 2017 Chinese imports indicates which other wares coronavirus could spell trouble for. 

Of course, there are areas of opportunity for growth — even if you’re not selling 2-ply toiletries. Live video, virtual services, and e-commerce are but a few poised to benefit, and the cyclical nature of economics stipulates that a bust is followed by a boom. While you hunker down for the uptick, take note from others in the space. Take stock, avoid empty rhetoric, and be transparent with your customers. If there’s any luck, doing your bit to ‘flatten the curve’ might even salve flattening sales.

Why marketers need to ditch clip count as the measure of PR success

· Public Relations, Trends · , ,

Volume KPIs are detrimental to the PR profession, encourage transactional media relationships and undermine a marketers’ ability to measure their true impact.

These days, marketers need to add ‘mathematician’ to their job description. The focus on developing data-led strategies, optimising campaigns and reporting back on business impact with hard metrics mean marketers are plugging numbers into spreadsheets, calculating percentages and compiling platform analytics like a data scientist.

Yet, for too long, public relations, or more specifically media relations programs, have sat as a separate, touchy feely, enigmatic and intangible part of the marketing mix. Unmeasurable by anything but the most basic of metrics – clip count and circulation.

It’s worth pausing for a second and reflecting on how archaic a metric clip count really is: the count of how many media stories a brand is mentioned in, initiated or influenced by a PR team.

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

When I moved into a more traditional PR agency role at Keep Left, the majority of our campaigns were focussed on achieving as many pieces of coverage for our clients’ stories. Our approach is much more nuanced these days – more on that later – but the reliance on clip count as the most important and widely understood metric persists across many of our clients and the broader industry today.

With the terrible news of AAP’s closure, 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 and the objectives of our clients.

Why is PR measurement stuck in the dark ages?

If I tapped one of my digital marketing colleagues on the shoulder and asked about the great work they’d been up to lately, they wouldn’t say, ‘I ran three link ads on Facebook, a sponsored story on Instagram and 30 display ads”. They’d talk about the impact of their work. The results of their campaigns driving engagement, traffic, or generating conversions that aligns with business objectives.

Why?  Because marketers are looking for efficiencies. Analysing what works and what doesn’t and optimising campaigns to minimise wasted resources and dollars 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 and driving real business objectives?

pr- reporting

Striving for quality over quantity

I’ve seen first-hand the impact that just one high-quality piece of coverage can achieve for a client. And how ineffective one hundred pieces of tier two coverage can be.

We recently secured a profile piece for one of our start-up clients in a tier one airline magazine which resulted in more investor engagement and support for the business than the 15 other pieces combined. Because it was a high-quality engaging story that included all our key messages, stood out on the page and most importantly targeted the right ‘captive’ audience.

For the last 5 years at Keep Left we’ve been evolving 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.

Essentially it asks us to think about what a ‘home run’ looks like for your business and makes that the benchmark. The type of coverage which generates a round of high-fives. The perfect score out of 100. We call it the Impact Score.

While it’s still a simple, one number metric, it packs some punch.

The Impact Score factors in elements like publication tier, length, sentiment, key messages penetration, social media shares, brand mentions and dozens of other factors. And because it’s 2020, we’ve proudly evolved it into a cloud-based digital platform accessible anywhere to our clients, on any device, at any time.

This more qualitative and customised approach to measurement has enabled our clients to think beyond just volume, to a more value-driven mindset, that’s aligned to their business strategy.

Being a live digital platform, we don’t have to wait until the end of a quarter or end of a campaign to know if we’re hitting the mark. We can learn, adjust and optimise as we go. Again, you wouldn’t let a Facebook campaign run for three months without checking its performance.

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 – and weening ourselves off the belief that more equals better.

Click here to learn more about Keep Left’s Impact Score.

Keep Left’s Impact Score quantifies the value of earned media

· Public Relations, Trends

How to effectively measure and communicate the value of earned media, is a question that’s plagued the PR industry for years.

Marketing communications agency Keep Left has taken a step forward in solving this with a major update of its proprietary earned media evaluation and reporting tool, the Impact Score.

Available from February 2020, the all-new Impact Score will allow clients to better understand the quality and impact of their earned media coverage through live reporting and in the context of their specific business or communications objectives.

The Impact Score’s algorithm grades each piece of media coverage out of a possible score of 100, based on how well it performs against a broad set of success metrics, as well a specific metrics relevant to that client. The higher the score, the greater the impact.

The Impact Score is now a cloud-based, digital dashboard that can provide live reporting, supporting a more data-driven approach to public relations, with greater accountability.

Keep Left CEO, Caroline Catterall, said: “The Impact Score ensures our team really has their finger on the pulse in terms of campaign performance, and can share live updates with clients.

“This means we don’t have to wait until the end of quarter or end of campaign to know if we’ve generated the results our clients care about, and that truly add value for their business.”

Catterall added this major update to the Impact Score had been born out of half a decade of learning and fine-tuning. “We first launched the Impact Score in 2014 and over the last five years have refined the evaluation methodology to factor in shifts in media landscape. The new algorithm applies all these learnings.”

Charlie Spendlove, Head of Marketing & Communications at Guide Dogs Victoria and NSW/ACT said: “Guide Dogs have worked with Keep Left for the past seven years. We introduced the Impact Score as part of our earned media analysis when it launched in 2014. It ensures activity is always results-driven and based on Guide Dogs’ overarching communications objectives.”

Other updates to the Impact Score include customer KPI tracking against a project’s scope of work, the ability to measure syndicated coverage, coverage log generation, and the inclusion of podcasts as a measurement option alongside TV, radio, online and print.

The Impact Score is available free of charge to Keep Left’s clients. From mid-2020, multinational clients will have the option to licence the platform to their international agency partners so that all markets can report on their impact, using the same methodology and platform.

Keep Left wins PR account for Melbourne Star Observation Wheel

· Client updates, Office updates, Public Relations · , ,

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel has appointed marketing communications agency Keep Left as its national public relations partner, to drive external communications in collaboration with its in-house sales and marketing team.

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel has tasked Keep Left with increasing the brand exposure of the Melbourne Star, along with growing visitation with both the locals and tourists.

The scope includes public relations, influencer management, strategic partnerships and events.

Keep Left’s appointment comes alongside strong growth in visitation for Melbourne Star, which recently reported over 25% year-on-year increase in the international tourism market.

Melbourne Star Observation Wheel’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Nicole Hill explained that Melbourne Star is looking to reposition from a tourist attraction to an experiential venue ahead of its two millionth passenger in 2020.

“Melbourne Star Observation Wheel has been successfully operating as an attraction for six years, and we continue to see significant visitation growth from both local and international markets,

“Bringing Keep Left on board is a strategic move to position Melbourne Star as an intrinsic part of Melbourne – a natural extension of the city’s popular events, celebrations and must-do tourist itinerary.”

 

Keep Left CEO Caroline Catterall said the agency – which has just celebrated its 18th birthday – welcomed the opportunity to work more closely in the travel and tourism space.

“The addition of Melbourne Star Observation Wheel to Keep Left’s diverse portfolio leverages industry expertise across our Strategy, Creative, PR and Digital + Experience departments – as well as the teams’ passion for the industry.

“We’re excited to support Melbourne Star in its next phase of growth, re-positioning it to become an intrinsic part of the tourism and events scene in Melbourne.”

Keep Left’s client portfolio across its multi-disciplinary business includes Kathmandu, ME Bank, University of Melbourne, FIJI Water, NEFF, Charter Hall, Experian, and Guide Dogs.

Keep Left and Save the Children launch creative campaign to illustrate the impact of child abuse

· Campaigns, Creative, Office updates, Public Relations

Leading child rights organisation Save the Children has launched an integrated marketing campaign called ‘Living in Fear’ to fundraise $100,000 in seven days, to help tackle the scourge of child abuse in Australia.

Every day, 88 children suffer abuse in Australia. That’s one child every 16 minutes.

The campaign designed by marketing communications agency Keep Left will be rolled out across Save the Children’s owned media channels, as well as paid and earned media.

Keep Left based the creative on the insight that child abuse, whether emotional or physical, may have a lasting impact on the social and intellectual development of children. Without appropriate care from their families or support services, this may carry into adulthood.

As a result, many victims live in fear, which can make the most innocent things terrifying. This insight has been conceptualised in the campaign creative through the playing of the popular Australian children’s game ‘Duck, Duck, Goose.’

Save the Children Head of Marketing, Caroline Reid explained: “Childhood is supposed to be carefree, but in Australia, a child is abused every 16 minutes. This isn’t some foreign statistic; it’s occurring right around the country. The creative illustrates the shocking effects of abuse on children, and it’s a problem Australia needs to address.”

Keep Left CEO, Caroline Catterall said: “This was a difficult, but extremely important topic to tackle creatively. No child should live in fear and it’s our hope the funds raised through this campaign will help make large strides towards this being a reality.”

CEO of Save the Children Australia, Paul Ronalds said: “Save the Children is known for its work overseas, but child abuse in Australia is no less significant, yet much less understood. We have been developing Australian programs to help children suffering from abuse for over 100 years, but we need the nation to recognise the issues occurring in their own backyard and know how they can help save a child’s life.”

Consumer research linked to the campaign shows 35% of people don’t believe abuse is an issue affecting children in Australia, despite over a third saying they have been abused or know someone who has been.

“Intervening now could make a difference to thousands of lives. Child abuse, whether emotional or physical, is proven to have a lasting impact on the social and intellectual development of children that they may carry into adulthood,” concluded Mr Ronalds.

Help save a child from abuse by donating now via www.savethechildren.org.au

 

Campaign credits

Save the Children

 Keep Left – Creative Agency

 Keep Left – Production Company

 Keep Left – Strategy & PR

 Keep Left – Digital Media

Kicking off ski season with Kathmandu

· Content Marketing, Public Relations

At Keep Left, we don’t necessarily buy into the stereotype that PRs love to a throw a party – but we aren’t against a night of New Zealand wine, if it help us tell our story.

Last month, we celebrated the start of winter with a collaborative event highlighting Kathmandu’s first ski range, Styper and Tourism New Zealand’s 2019 ski season with more than fifty media, influencers and key stakeholders in attendance.

Held at the Kathmandu Bondi Junction store, the launch event, resulted in an initial social media reach of 350,000+ and over 20 pieces of social and media coverage, with editorial coverage still pending throughout the winter.

Sydney lifestyle, travel and parenting media across online, TV and radio were in attendance including The Daily Mail, Lifestyle.com.au, Sunrise and NOVA along with freelance travel writers and influencers like Brittany Hockley, Shaun Birley and Matt Doran.

The launch of the Styper range could have been achieved with a standard sampling campaign, but we decided to take it to the next level with Tourism New Zealand and use it an an opportunity to speak face to face with travel and lifestylemedia– you only get to launch your first snow range once! And what better way to take on the amazing NZ ski slopes than by wearing gear tried and tested by experts on the very same mountains.

 

In terms of event management, everything as far as the eye could see was inspired by the mountains of New Zealand.Guests were treated to authentic New Zealand wine and a grazing table created by chef Justin North.

For entertainment, there was live music from New Zealand artist, Brendon Hui and an open photobooth encouraging guests to photograph themselves in the New Zealand ski fields wearing Styper gear.

 

Speakers at the event included Kathmandu Ambassador Nomadasaurus, Darren Barry from Kathmandu and Andrew Waddel from Tourism New Zealand.

All guests also went into the running to win two return flights to New Zealand with Virgin Australia and a four-day lift pass to the mountain of their choice or a Kathmandu Styper Ski Pack.

Every attendee also left with a gift bag with Kathmandu product. Now that sounds like a party we can get behind.

Education marketplace Candlefox has come blazing into our client portfolio

· Client updates, Public Relations

Keep Left is excited to announce our newest client Candlefox, Australia’s largest education marketplace provider.

For more than six years, Candlefox has been working with education providers to increase student enrolments in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

With multiple consumer-facing brands including tafecourses.com.au, shortcourses.com.au and training.com.au – they are basically the carsales.com.au for the education sector!

Candlefox’s offering has evolved into far more than just streamlining the student acquisition journey, they have a wealth of data at their fingertips (our favourite thing ever at Keep Left) and provide in-depth market insights, sentiment indices, forecasts and competitive analysis for their clients.


This is the second recent win in the education space for the Keep Left team, following University of Melbourne. Speaking of which, check out the results our first University of Melbourne campaign, Music as Medicine here.

Stay tuned – we are going to do what we do best, take data and make it newsworthy.

Check out one of our previous data driven campaigns for HERE Technologies.

 

How can PR adapt to a more concentrated media landscape?

· Campaigns, Public Relations

The Nine Entertainment and Fairfax Media merge is one of the most significant events in Australia’s media history. This will have a profound impact on public relations specialists who need to adapt to provide valuable media relations in an uncertain broadcast future.

For PR teams to cut through, an integrated approach to client storytelling is crucial. Only the most agile agencies who can offer multimedia content packages with data, expert opinion, case studies and cross-channel graphic content will survive.

Want to learn more about how to succeed in a post-Fairfax world?

Check out this Mumbrella article, featuring out Head of Corporate Communications, Tim Lele.