Did you hear the news? Probs not, if you’re on FB

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While still reeling from the discovery that the new cool generation (the so-called Zoomers) are deriding my age bracket for our love of side parts, skinny jeans and the cry-laugh emoji, the snap change to our Facebook feeds this morning has demonstrated how quickly the digital world can change on you.

In case you haven’t seen the news – if you rely on Facebook for your news then you literally wouldn’t have – the leading social networking site has removed news content from its platform after negotiations with the Australian government came to a head when the Media Bargaining Law passed in the House of Representatives.

From major national outlets like the ABC to cultural sources like Pedestrian TV, all news has been removed from our Facebook feeds, with their pages wiped of all posts, displaying only the sad, bare bones of ‘about’ content. Even popular satirical news site Betoota Advocate hasn’t been saved from the slaughter.

So, what does this mean for publishers?

In the goliath vs goliath battle between the world’s most popular social media platform and the duopoly of the Australian publishing world (through the actions of the government), it really does come down to who gets to keep the money made from our eyes. With advertising spend dwindling, publishers have been losing money for years and have turned to subscription models to stay afloat. But the ability to share their news (or at least their headlines) to unpaying audiences is integral to building out their future revenue.

We can’t forget about the thousands of independent ‘Davids’ who also had their promotional tap turned off. While they might swing wildly from seemingly unbiased to propaganda mouthpieces, small fry publishers have relied on the platform to build their audience and now face a hard slog to keep their readership.

Perhaps most worryingly, when our access to news and information is restricted, it’s the Australian people who lose out. Whether we find ourselves pushed deeper into our confirmation bias rabbit holes, or lose our alert systems for major events, the divide between us will only be heightened by the lack of information, education and public discord. Especially in a pandemic, where social media has become our physical community.

Is there any good news?

Well, news isn’t dead just yet, if you’re looking for a silver lining. A quick survey of the Keep Left office show that many of us had already shifted away from Facebook to other news sources, with many going direct to multiple publishers to get an unbiased view of the world.

(Caveat: We are a media-obsessed company, so our thirst for a variety of knowledge may skew our responses in this area. Plus, we can afford it).

For our Digital and Content Marketing clients, we may even see benefits. Consumer brands will still be able to share their content directly with their customers on Facebook and become authorities on relevant topics as they won’t be competing with large-scale media companies for airtime – this could result in greater reach and cheaper costs. Robust content marketing strategies should support multiple channels and outputs so that we can hang on when the floor drops out beneath us.

Why Lefties primarily check Facebook – with most checking multiple times per day

Meanwhile, over at Google… 

Of course, this law wasn’t just directed at Facebook. The number one search engine in the world (Google is literally synonymous with ‘searching the web’) has taken a different approach to the law and are already negotiating deals with some of the major publishers, starting with a nice $30 million a year to Nine.

As we’ve seen when a similar law passed in France, these deals often favour the big players with the big bucks and exclude smaller independent publishers from the conversation.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook’s knee-jerk reaction develops and whether we see a decline in daily active users on Facebook in the coming months as a result of people seeking other sources for their news.

I for one, will miss the seeing opposing viewpoints come together for a mix of polite debate and wild insults in the comment sections… and will make sure I’m following my preferred news outlets on Instagram (which is not affected by the ban).

Why You Can’t Forget about the Video News Release

· Marketing, Public Relations, Uncategorized

Video marketing is no new phenomenon. We’re so deep into video’s golden age that it’s going platinum — each year platforms evolve, proliferate, and adoption increases. But this isn’t about the TikTok and Instagram Reels opportunities you’re missing, this is about an old classic you may have overlooked. 

The video news release (VNR) has been around for years, in fact it’s been the framework for every evening news promo for generations. That’s not to say that it’s played out, quite the opposite: it’s evergreen. 

GreenCollar, Australia’s leading environment markets company, were launching the first-ever Reef Credits (think carbon credits but for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef). They secured their first major customer, the financial titan that is HSBC, and needed to get the word out. 

VNR was the only tool for the job. Why? It’s about controlling the narrative. Our story involved multiple stakeholders, each with their own part to play in the announcement, and the VNR allowed us to capture each voice in one succinct package, telling it the way we wanted it to be told. It also means that we were able to disseminate the message to the Queenslanders it was directed at — rather than hosting a media call in one location we were able to compile interviews and footage relevant to the area. We also sliced the footage into a series of talking heads for owned and paid media — add to this that a VNR navigates long commutes and COVID restrictions and it was a no brainer. 

The result? The story featured in all major commercial stations across regional Queensland, but the flexibility of the format meant that our b-roll was picked up by ABC at a national level, and BBC World News took it global. 

Those tossing up using the VNR for their own PR should consider some of the following benefits. 

Naturally, there are counterpoints to weigh up — the big one being cost. Effective planning is the salve here, as building the VNR into the campaign from the get-go will manage expectations. But VNR costs aren’t as hefty as most video production because they’re all about mastering the basics. 

A good VNR is a no-frills, honest depiction of the story. It’s tempting to impart emotion onto content, but a good videographer knows the news is unbiased and they’ll present the story as impartially as possible. You can have an interviewer and videographer shoot in the morning, get selects to the comms team in the afternoon, and have the final VNR with internal notes done by the end of the next day. 

The art here is navigating the thin margin of error. Turning around footage fast means nailing the b-roll by knowing which shots of the interview subject will naturally interpolate with the audio and being able to work in any situation. Is the location a factory floor? There’s every chance you’re going to shoot some tight shots and do the interview in the car. 

A VNR isn’t always relegated to client work, either. In fact, as our senior account executive Jacob Schnackenberg recently figured out, they’re not always done just for clients.

As part of a grand scheme to propose to the missus, he had planned a trip to Tacoma to re-enact Heath Ledger’s performance of ‘Can’t Take My Eyes off of You’ in 10 Things I Hate About You, marching band and all. But, because of COVID, he had to get creative. He recreated the scene on home turf down in Phillip Island, and put together a VNR not only to give them something to remember, but also to shout his love from the rooftops.

And it worked. 9News picked up the story and we were all able to revel in his proposal on the tele.

What are the key learnings from a VNR proposal? Jacob says mastering editing time and knowing the location is crucial. He was capturing footage on a location that had to be chopped together and uploaded from a remote area with poor internet, all done that day before 3pm. Preparedness is essential.

Oh, and her answer? She said yes. KPI achieved!

We're Hiring — PR Account Manager, Sydney

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We’re Hiring!

The Company

Keep Left is a marketing communications agency that takes a data-driven, audience-led approach to communications. With a team of 40 across Melbourne and Sydney, Keep Left operates four business units: Insights + Strategy, Creative, Digital + Experience, and Public Relations.

We’re an award-winning, independent agency with a reputation for great ideas executed well. The Keep Left culture emphasises collaboration, pushing boundaries, and watching each other’s backs. Our work environment is like a Cirque du Soleil production: talented people, doing what they love, pushing each other to achieve the impossible, while putting on a great show for our clients – all with a sense of humour.

About the Role

We’re seeking ambitious PR practitioners at Account Manager to Senior Account Manager level to join our growing Sydney and Melbourne team to work on a mix of clients ranging from startups to national and multinational technology, finance, sustainability and social change organisations.

This is a great opportunity for a consultant who is seeking a challenge, professional development, interesting client briefs and working in a tight-knit team, including mentoring from senior management.

You will be the engine room of our client programs and responsible for the day-to-day client experience. You will lead the implementation of communication strategies and oversee the work of junior staff, ensuring all activity is delivered on time and meeting the set objectives.

The Person

You will be a strong writer and have a natural hunger for storytelling, a pulse on the news agenda and a desire to push boundaries. You should be highly organised, an excellent writer, communicator and manager of clients and junior team members. You will also have a little black book of media relationships and be able to demonstrate examples of campaigns you have managed to achieve great results.

You’ll have a minimum of four years’ experience, ideally working in an agency environment, and be hungry to take the next step in your career within an integrated agency. While your skills and experience are important, a positive attitude, open mind, hunger for new challenges and problem solving, and glass-half-full persona is what we’re looking for.

Key Selection Criteria:

To apply

If you want to help shape a growing agency in a fun, collaborative and rewarding environment, we’d love to hear from you.

Please send your CV and a cover letter detailing your relevant experience to [email protected] by April 12, 2021.

Lefties on location: if you go down to the woods today…

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…you’re sure of a big surprise!

Last weekend, a break-out faction of Keep Left’s content production team headed out to Kinglake National Park, north of Melbourne, to undertake a secret task for our outdoorsy client Kathmandu.

Mission ‘Hidden Retreat’ had been months in the making, with the busy bees at Kathmandu and the Keep Left team arranging clandestine calls, photo shoots and site recces in the lead up to the big day.

The idea?

Set up the ultimate campsite in a secret location somewhere in Australia for the public to find. Those who could break Kathmandu’s cryptic clues on social media and uncover their Hidden Retreat would be in with a chance of winning the ultimate campsite set up, worth over $4,000, along with an excellent range of runner-up prizes.The concept was the brainchild of Thomas Rennie, our Art Director and magic ideas machine. When we asked him what the inspiration was for the Hidden Retreat, Rennie told us that as a kid he used to make forts in the woods near his house. “I liked the idea of someone else coming along after me and finding this place all set up and waiting for them. There’s something quite Hansel and Gretel about it!”.
A tent in the woods at Kathmandu's hidden retreat

With the help of Account Director Jasmin, Consultant Mary and the Keep Left team, Rennie’s vision was brought to life.

The set up

An ultimate campsite doesn’t just set itself up. Under the cloak of two inconspicuous rental vans, with Jasmin and Mary at the wheels, our team of Lefties and an audacious amount of bug spray departed the big smoke in the direction of the countryside.

“I’m an outdoors kind of guy”, Rennie tells us, as though we didn’t already know. “There’s nothing like the satisfaction you get when you put the final guy rope in place, but it was a bit different with the Hidden Retreat. We sat back after we nailed the first tent, and realised we had seven more to put up! We paid a well-earned visit to the Kinglake Pub that night.”

The ultimate campsite at Kathmandu's hidden retreat

Blood, sweat and tears, alright.

But there’s no rest for the wicked. At 5.00am the following day, the team were bright eyed and bushy tailed, and back on the campsite to put the final touches to the Hidden Retreat.

The Keep Left team puts the finishing touches to Kathmandu Hidden RetreatA few hours later, and with Jasmin in a high-vis vest doing her best bouncer impression, over 100 happy campers arrived at the site keen for some competition.

After a spot of clue trivia and a gruelling game of quoits (the athletes’ game of choice), the overall winners were announced. Congratulations to Jamie and Mark, who had driven over two hours to get their hands on the prize – here’s to many happy camping trips!

The winners of Kathmandu's Hidden Retreat Challenge with their prizes

The after party

But the festivities didn’t end there. With the secluded spot in the woods packed with hungry competitors, it was time for the great Aussie tradition of a cook out. “We’d set up seating areas and games so people could enjoy the sunshine, and having food meant that the runners-up also had a fun day out with their family, so it wasn’t all about the winning,” Jasmin told us.

“It was just like a big family picnic,” Rennie added. “That BBQ, too – the food was homemade by a local caterer, and those were the best burgers I’ve ever eaten.”

Given the number of burgers Rennie has put away in his life, that is some accolade.

Keep Left sign at Kathmandu Hidden Retreat

Quick facts

WHAT: Kathmandu Hidden Retreat
WHERE: The Gums, Kinglake National Park
WHEN: Saturday 24th February 2018
WHO: Jasmin, Rennie, Tash, Jacob, Mary, Ben and Johanna from Keep Left + Wombat + the Kathmandu team + 100 happy campers

Lefties on location: out of the office and into the wild

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Last week, a small contingent of Keep Left’s content and PR specialists swapped their colleagues for giant bugs and impromptu client picnics on an exciting shoot – this time a little far out from our regular leafy South Melbourne office.

Bugs aside, the team was tasked with shooting a teaser video for an upcoming activation campaign, and a good hearty dose of wilderness was compulsory. “Despite the 33 degree heat, it felt good to take Keep Left out of the confines of an office for a day, and we can’t complain – it was a pretty picturesque satellite office,” says Jasmin Watts, one of our Account Directors.

Keep Left on location

The team is beyond happy with the raw footage, and is looking forward to utilising it in the coming months as the campaign rolls out. We’re really proud of the team and it was invigorating to work so closely with the client and collaborate so successfully on a challenging but beautiful project.

Thomas Rennie, our Art Director, was beaming quietly when he showed us some of what they captured: “I just had the best day,” he sighed.

 Keep Left on location

Keep Left appoints new CEO

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Melbourne-based PR and Content Marketing agency announces appointment of new CEO.

PR and content marketing agency, Keep Left, has today announced the appointment of Gillian Yeap as CEO, with former CEO and founder Caroline Catterall transitioning to the role of Executive Director.

Yeap is stepping into the role after eight years with the agency, having become a co-owner in 2015 and Keep Left’s Director of Strategy for the past two years.

As CEO, Yeap will oversee the running of the core PR and content production business, implement the agency’s strategic plan and nurture key client relationships alongside Keep Left’s long-standing management team.

After 15 years as CEO, Catterall’s transition to Executive Director will see her focus on the growth areas of the business with a particular focus on content marketing.


Yeap explained: “This move will allow us to keep the core business solid, while Caroline focuses on developing our capability in content marketing, exploring new tools and technologies and establishing relevant partnerships that will help future-proof the agency.

“The launch of our content production studio has been game-changing for the agency and for our clients, and we’re keen to continue innovating with our creative and digital services.”

With 11 years’ experience across a diverse range of sectors including property, social change, food, travel, health and technology, Yeap joined Keep Left in 2009 where her progression through the agency has seen her rising up the ranks in eight years. Since becoming a partner, a succession plan to CEO has been in place.

As part of the internal reorganisation existing team member Sarah Robertson has moved to the role of Strategy & Marketing Manager. Keep Left has also recently appointed Brooke Stephenson as Marketing Coordinator and Elena Goh as Finance & Operations Manager.

The announcement comes after a period of significant growth for Keep Left, with Catterall and Yeap achieving a 20 percent increase in revenue since they launched the content production studio in 2016.

Content team expansion

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Melbourne-based PR and Content Marketing agency expands its Content Production team

Melbourne-based PR and Content Marketing agency, Keep Left, today announces the expansion of its content production studio seven months on from launching the content marketing arm of the agency.

Jordan Gold has been appointed Production Manager for the studio and brings a mix of production and editorial expertise to Keep Left, having previously worked at innovative integrated media businesses within the UK market, such as VICE and Konbini.

Jordan Gold Keep Left's Content Production Manager

Jordan Gold, Keep Left’s new Production Manager

He is joined by three recent Content Producer recruits, Ant Dinham, Kate Tärtsus, and Corinne Innes, who will work alongside the studio’s Copywriter, Laura Carpenter Davies, and Art Director and Designer, Thomas Rennie. The expansion brings the agency’s staff up to numbers of 25.

CEO and founder Caroline Catterall said: “It’s been great to add this creative bow to our services. Jordan’s appointment comes at a critical period for Keep Left, as we continue to branch into content marketing and content production, and integrate our new services with PR.”

In July last year, Keep Left launched its integrated PR, content and digital offering to reflect the value that brand storytelling informed by data can have for an organisation wanting to connect with the hearts and minds of its audience.

“Our aim is to move clients beyond the traditional ‘safe’ PR to future-proof and to elevate their communications” Catterall added.

Keep Left’s clients include Dairy Australia, VicSuper, Tassal, Red Nose and ME. Find out more about Keep Left’s content production services on the website.