The second annual report, by executive search firm Salt & Shein, resulted from on-line surveys in December of 324 mainly-Sydney-based in-house corporate affairs professionals. There were plenty of interesting findings but what surprised me were the responses to a couple of questions.
The first was when people were asked to nominate the most significant issue they thought they would have to deal with as a communicator in 2013 and beyond. The clear leader in the concern stakes was social media, which, when variations on it were added, came to 36 per cent of responses. To give some idea of the gap, the second biggest coming concern was dealing with flat or reduced budgets and resources, and that came in at 8 per cent.
In response to another question, an overwhelming 75 per cent said they believed that the role of social media had become more important over the past year. Nothing too surprising in those findings, except when you compare those concerns with company action.
Despite the communications experts’ fears, just over 50 per cent reported that their organisations had committed no dedicated resources to social and digital media, a similar figure to last year. Of the 44 per cent who said they did have social media resources, the average team consisted of 1-2 staff.
The phrase ‘accident waiting to happen’ springs to mind.
It took the launch on Tuesday of the updated Climate Institute/GE Low-Carbon Competitiveness Index to bring home the underlying message about climate change. That is that while climate might be the agent of change, our focus has to be on risk.
Lord Nicholas Stern, the author of the Stern Review – the highly influential 2006 UK government-commissioned review on climate change, spoke at the launch via teleconference. He pointed out that the world had not seen temperatures rise by more than three degrees above the long term average for the past 3,000,000 years – when sea levels were around 20 metres higher than at present – yet we are now looking at a four to five degree increase in the next 40 to 50 years. Just what effect that is going to have on life and death matters like food security, the availability of water and extraordinary climate events – let alone the upheaval caused by the forced migration of millions of displaced people – is best left to the experts.
What I do know is that the likelihood of such occurrences is now so persuasive that businesses and organisations must look to including climate change in their risk analyses in the same way that they factor in any other risk.
Chi Mun Woo, the director of Climate Change and Sustainability at KPMG, perhaps put it best at the launch when he said of some boardrooms in which “there are rational decisions being made for a world that doesn’t exist anymore.”
Lord Stern has said recently that he had underestimated the risks and would have been “a bit more blunt” in his report had he known the effects of the past six years. At the launch he pointed out that China, which was reorientating its economy, had jumped up the Low-Carbon Competitiveness index to third place behind France and Japan.
In the interests of transparency, I should tell you that Ogilvy PR partners with the Climate Institute and I sit on its strategic board. In the interests of even further transparency, I should tell you that I do it for my beautiful six-year-old daughter and couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t think I was doing at least something: after all, it’s not worth the risk.
By Kieran Moore.
The tumult began when ALP-elder Simon Crean announced to the media that he had urged the Prime Minister to call a ballot for both the Leadership and Deputy Leadership of the Party and thus the Government. Crean proposed this as a “circuit breaker” – one which in his view would serve to stabilise the Labor Party in the lead-up to the Federal Election, and would finally put an end to continued speculation and internal politicking regarding the Party leadership. Crean announced he would run for the Deputy’s position, currently held by Treasurer Wayne Swan, and though he hadn’t had a conversation at that point with the ex-PM he was certain that Kevin Rudd would nominate for the leadership position, and win.
At the beginning of Question Time the Prime Minister announced there would be a vote on the positions at 4.30pm and the media frolicked outside the ALP Party Room anticipating another historic coup d’état. Yet it was not to be. Unfortunately for the former PM it emerged his lobbyists and number crunchers couldn’t count, and that he would not have enough support to win a ballot. Consequently he announced he would not be contesting the leadership position and said he would stick with his oft-stated position he wouldn’t challenge.
The highly anticipated coup d’état suddenly became a farcical non-event. No vote for either leadership position took place and Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan both retained their positions unopposed. Though Gillard and Swan are notionally unscathed, it is the Labor Party itself which is now in tatters as Rudd supporters resign from their Cabinet positions, with Ministers Crean, Bowen, Ferguson and junior front-bencher Richard Marles being the most prominent early casualties.
The only winners from the whole debacle have been the Coalition, which has been fed more material to support their claim that the Government is terminally unstable and unfit to lead the nation.
Perhaps the greatest casualty of the day, however, was the apology to victims of forced adoption. To a morning gathering in the Great Hall, and in a spirit of bipartisan and genuine regret, Prime Minister Gillard and Opposition Leader Abbott both gave heartfelt apologies to those who continue to suffer from Australia’s forced adoption policies of past decades. For Julia Gillard, the speech was remarkable, beautiful, and on any other day would have been declared a highlight of her career. For the sufferers of forced adoption, the afternoon chaos diverted national attention away from what should have been a day of recognition, healing and reflection.
By Michael Hartmann.
As it seems that everyone wants to comment on the Federal Government’s proposed media laws, let me throw my opinion into the mix. Before coming to PR around four years ago, I spent 35 years as a journalist and for four of those years I was a Fairfax representative on the Australian Press Council.
My thoughts from that time are that virtually everyone – including News and Fairfax – agrees that the media needs some regulation. However, self-regulation doesn’t work. The media in Britain – despite a succession of increasingly dire warnings from governments of all persuasions – has shown that the media can’t control itself. While the situation here is nowhere near as bad, doesn’t anyone remember the axiom about horses and stable doors?
What seems to be forgotten amid all the over-the-top rhetoric about “Stalinist” government control is that the biggest beef the public have with the current Australian Press Council is that the APC is under the control of the media, who pay for it and who have shown in the recent past that they are quite happy to use their financial muscle to regulate its composition where necessary.
The government already pays for judges and magistrates, just as it would pay for a person to oversight the existing media regulators. Is anyone suggesting that their actions are directed by the government’s cheque?
By Sam North.
There comes a time in life when your body tells you that it is not as young as it used to be. You can never predict when this will occur, but the symptoms are pretty clear. If your kids can beat you at your favourite sport, then you are probably there. If the idea of chasing a soccer-ball causes a warning twitch in your left hamstring, then you are probably there. If your kids suddenly realise that you never played for the Wallabies, you weren’t a ruckman for Collingwood and you never even laid eyes on Bradman let alone bowled him for a duck, then you most certainly are there.
So what do you do? For years there has been but one solution… take up golf. It’s great! You get an excuse to frequent the pro-shop and a justification to purchase ridiculously expensive Titlelist graphite clubs and flashy clothing. You get to subscribe to golf magazines where you learn new tips, meet your heroes, and read about those dream courses that you just have to visit. You make new mates, keep yourself fit, forge a new interest and get to stay up all night watching the US Masters. And you get all this with the added bonus of being able to “get away from it all” for a few hours on the weekend. Best of all, you also finally have a sport that doesn’t interest your kids, meaning there’s still one that you can beat them at.
But lately there has been a vigorous competitor knocking golf off its pedestal – and that is the sport of cycling. It’s great! You get an excuse to frequent the cycling-shop and a justification to purchase a ridiculously expensive Bianchi carbon bike and lycra clothing. You get to subscribe to cycling magazines where you learn new tips, meet your heroes, and read about those dream rides that you just have to do. You make new mates, keep yourself fit, forge a new interest, and get to stay up all night watching the Tour de France. And you get all this with the added bonus of being able to “get away from it all” for a few hours on the weekend – while still being able to beat your kids!
Here in Canberra, cycling is huge. In fact there is a push to change the acronym “A.C.T” to stand for “Australia’s Cycling Territory”. Not only is Canberra the perfect venue for the sport with great bike paths, long smooth rides, numerous hill climbs (if you want them), and resident Olympians; it is also a city full of middle-ages executives itching for a sport that ticks all the boxes yet doesn’t involve a ball.
Hence, it made tremendous sense for the Canberra bureau of Parker & Partners to form a cycling team, making its inaugural appearance on March 3 in the “Big Canberra Bike Ride” – an event which raises funds for the Amy Gillett Foundation. The entire Canberra team of Parker & Partners (ie: Michael Hartmann) participated in the event. Resplendent in custom-printed lycra, Michael managed to complete the 110 km ride, raising around $700 in the process. Though grueling with plenty of leg-busting hill climbs and headwinds, it was much more a social and fun event than it was a race, and allowed the opportunity to meet other competitors and network with corporate teams, laying seeds for potential future business.
By Michael Hartmann.
Not long ago, a research report from Forrester made headlines when it claimed that less than 1% of online transactions reviewed in the study could be traced to a specific social media post. Despite all the hype, the report concluded, social media was failing to generate any results, and businesses were being lured by the bright lights and shiny new platforms only to end up empty handed.
So I suppose I should pack up my things and leave my pass and snake oil certificate with reception?
Well, maybe not just yet.
As my colleagues in the US have identified, there is much more to social media than getting people to click through to buy from a single post. As they correctly identified, the report from Forrester was based on 30 days’ worth of data – not much when you consider that 2.5 quintillion (two and a half billion billion, or 25 followed by 17 zeros…) bytes of data are created every day – which presents two problems in my eyes, and two core principles behind business success in social media that this report fails to address.
Firstly, social media is not a 30-day campaign, or a 60-day one for that matter. Social media requires a long-term view and commitment to develop tangible results. There is no switch to flick which will lead to instant business success. Unfortunately it’s not just Forrester that is critical of the short-term pipeline issue around social media, with many Australian businesses adopting the perception that a Facebook page will result in increased revenue. Why? Will having a website without a clear strategy and mapped user journey lead more people to buy your product?
We need to move our thinking away from ‘what can I get from social media?’ to ‘what potential can I unlock by integrating social media as part of my broader communications and business activities?’ and we are starting to mature in our approach. This attitude is beginning to shift, with marketers locally beginning to understand the importance of developing a relationship before earning the opportunity to sell to customers. In fact, a recent report from iStrategy revealed almost 50% of marketers have ‘engagement only targets’ for social media, while one in five had already implemented ROI targets for their businesses. For me, this indicates that marketers are still struggling to pin down the exact measures for their social media activities, but it also suggests there is work to be done in developing a clear understanding of customers’ needs and how to use social media channels to engage them.
For Aveeno Australia, the brand was looking to drive awareness of a new product launch while also activating brand ambassadors and driving word-of-mouth around its product suite. It understood its customers and prospective customers, knowing there was a disconnect between awareness and consideration. However, once the product was tested, customers were convinced and converted to using the product. Based on this insight, Aveeno developed a campaign targeting Facebook users to drive consideration and purchase, seeing a 7% increase in sales as a result of the campaign. While the sales increase was welcomed, the CRM benefits of capturing an audience of potential advocates to engage with around future product launches and brand activities was a valuable secondary outcome.
Secondly, social media requires investment in building and nurturing relationships, understanding stakeholder needs and meeting them wherever possible. You may not produce an instant sale or conversion, but you will develop stronger ties to those with whom you will do future business, both in the B2C and B2B environments. Social media provides the opportunity for businesses to connect with people where previously impossible. While your enewsletter or direct mailer may not make it past the trash, engaging in conversation via a LinkedIn Group with your target audience affords you the opportunity to showcase expertise and value with an audience where no formal working relationships previously existed.
One of the best examples of this investment in relationships comes from American Express who, through its OPEN Forum online community, provides a unique value proposition to small businesses online. Rather than trying to generate immediate sales, Amex has developed a collaborative forum offering advice and insight to SMBs, providing them with the tools and expertise to do their jobs more effectively. Far from being a one-trick pony, this community engagers influencers, showcases real business success stories, ties in offline campaigns (like the Small Business Saturday movement), and ultimately directs users to Amex products and experts for conversion. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a comprehensive social media listening and monitoring process ticking away in the background as well. This concerted effort to have a conversation with stakeholders rather than push product ensures Amex better understands their needs and provides an enhance service as a result.
Ultimately, if the only value social media provides for business is driving less than one per cent of sales, I expect corporate investment will rapidly taper off and companies like LinkedIn and Facebook should probably start jettisoning stock immediately. But if businesses use social media channels to develop a clear understanding of (and engagement with) their customers, choose the environments or platforms they are active in, communicate via compelling and engaging content, and create a sound social strategy based on listening to customer needs and wants, there is no reason why they can’t drive not only sales but valuable, lasting business relationships.
Published 26 October, 2012, in Marketing Magazine
By Roger Christie.
Sitting down to write this blog is ironically one of the most daunting tasks I’ll carry out for Ogilvy PR, despite finishing my internship a week ago! How does one sum up all of the amazing experiences, invaluable guidance and insurmountable kindness, patience and friendship that was gifted to me by my colleagues at Howorth in just a few short paragraphs? Let’s see if I can do this justice.
Each day of my internship at Howorth was different, which meant I was always learning new skills, interacting with different people, and being presented new opportunities. I was so fortunate to be surrounded by such creative and experienced professionals on a daily basis.
For me, the aspect of my internship at Ogilvy PR of which has made a lasting impression on me, is the radiant culture. It is built on hard work, support, but also creativity and a lot of fun.
During my (all too short) month at Howorth I was given the reign to write press releases, by-lines, draft case studies, client profiles, create media lists, conduct volumes of research and attend brainstorms among many other activities. I even found myself writing personalised travel guides for people that were going on holidays to places I’d been!
I was fortunate enough to attend several learning seminars and presentations given by people from the wider Ogilvy PR group, which provided a fantastic overview of other ventures, achievements and creativity from across the board. I participated in brainstorms with Social@Ogilvy digital analysts, who were kind enough to put time aside out of their busy schedules to chat with me.
My advice for prospective Ogilvy PR interns (without giving away too many of my secrets):
- Be proactive
- Be memorable
- Think outside the box
Thank you to all the brilliant professionals that I had the privilege of working alongside. It’s only been a week and I miss it terribly. This internship has given me the confidence to aspire to greatness and drives me to do my best every single day. I hope one day, to ooze the same professional zeal, playful creativity, and cupcake baking skills that I was lucky enough to sample on more than one occasion.
I hope this blog has done the Ogilvy PR experience justice; in reality, it’s all of this and more. Like anything in life, it is what you make of it. An internship at Ogilvy PR is no exception.
By Rebecca Booth.
It’s been a good week for carbon pricing. On Monday, a Nielsen poll suggested 54 per cent of Australians haven’t felt a negative impact since it was introduced. And yesterday afternoon came news that the government would link the Australian emissions trading scheme to the European Union scheme, which has been in operation since 2005.
This was not a surprise – the Climate Change Minister, Greg Combet, foreshadowed the link at the COP17 Climate Conference in Durban in December. However, this announcement has the potential to further swing public opinion around to the idea that carbon pricing is not so bad after all.
Most of the media response has focused on the removal of the floor price. When the carbon ”tax” ends and the emissions trading scheme kicks in on 1 July 2015, the 200 or so Australian companies with a liability under carbon pricing have two options: reduce emissions themselves, or buy from others.
The floor price was designed to guarantee a minimum payment to these sellers. Now that it is gone, reducing emissions will be cheaper, at least in the short term, for Australian companies. They will be able to source credits from Europe, which yesterday were trading at $9.80 per tonne. They should be happy. So too should other Australians, because the cost to the economy of meeting Australia’s emissions target just came down.
However, the longer-term public relations boost to the government comes from the link with the EU. The climate debate in Australia has been bedevilled since the Copenhagen climate conference in 2009 by the claim Australia is too far ahead of other countries in dealing with the issue – that we are doing more than our fair share.
Other countries do price carbon. For example, parts of China are trialling emissions trading, as are parts of the US, and India has a carbon tax on coal. In fact, 30 per cent of the global economy will be covered by emissions trading by 2013. This has been lost in the debate, not least because Australia’s floor price made it one of the more expensive schemes around. However, now that it will effectively be synchronised with emissions trading in 30 countries, it will not be possible to mount the argument that we are going it alone. From a public relations perspective, this may be the single biggest benefit of the announcement.
Other aspects of the announcement are interesting from a PR perspective too. Why did the government choose to drop this good news now? Would it not have made sense to negate some of the more furious criticism about the cost of the scheme a few weeks ago? The timing of the announcement may have been planned, or it may simply have been that the negotiations with the EU did not reach a conclusion until now. Whether it was deliberate or not, the timing could not have been better.
The carbon price is in place, as is the sky. Australians are beginning to question whether the policy will actually cost them that much at all. Power bills for the first period to include carbon pricing have mostly not yet arrived. The government is making the most of this window – while critics of the scheme are feeling under pressure – to deliver another punch: it’s going to be cheaper than you thought, and we are falling into line with the rest of the world (or at least 30 other countries).
Added to this, governments tend to avoid reneging on agreements they have reached with other countries, regardless of who was in power at the time of the agreement. Some might argue it was reckless to commit the country to an approach predicated on a policy that the Opposition Leader has made clear he would like to repeal. There are no legal impediments to walking away from this deal with the Europeans if the scheme is repealed – but it’s not a good look.
There are negative aspects to the move. It’s bad news for some hardened climate activists, who support climate action but not emissions trading. It’s also potentially bad news for those who support preserving tropical forests as a means of storing carbon, as the EU does not accept these credits into its scheme.
But there can be little doubt this announcement has been a PR win for the government. In June, the Climate Institute, a think tank, released polling showing only 44 per cent of Australians believed the Coalition would repeal carbon pricing if they won power. This number must now surely drop further. Carbon pricing just got more difficult to dislodge.
Andrew Ure is managing director of OgilvyEarth, a sustainability communications company, and a former official with the Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
By Andrew Ure.
In 1962, mixed-up confusion was killing Bob Dylan. His head was full of questions, and his temperature rising fast. Forty years later, amid other rising temperatures, mixed-up confusion is confounding Australia’s efforts to respond to climate change.
One the one hand, the case for action seems straightforward. The debate over whether or not anthropogenic climate change is real is over, at least in the scientific community. Treasury modeling of
the potential impacts of climate change makes it clear that taking action on climate change is in Australia’s national interest. Much of corporate Australia agrees with this. And all major political parties advocate taking action on climate change.
So why, according to figures just released in the Climate Institute’s annual survey of Australian attitudes towards climate change, Climate of the Nation, do 65 per cent of Australians believe that there are too many conflicting opinions for the public to be sure about the claims made about climate change? Where does all this confusion come from?
It certainly does not come from a lack of information. If Bob Dylan had a cent for every media mention of climate change, he would probably never have got the tombstone blues, the freight train blues or even the subterranean homesick blues. Australians have had climate change shoved down their throat. Thousands of views have been canvassed, thousands of views have been offered.
Amongst this discordant cacophony, no one has been able to make their message resonate – not the government, not the opposition, not scientists, not climate science ‘deniers’, not NGOs, not community activists, not the private sector.
This has confused the population, and clouded their response to carbon pricing. Only 28 per cent of respondents in the Climate Institute poll (carried out by John Scales for JWS) said they supported the government’s scheme. However, when basic aspects of the legislation are explained, the number jumps to almost 50 per cent. This is not to make a comment on the merits or otherwise of the government’s particular scheme – it rather illustrates the point that people don’t support things they don’t understand. And they don’t understand carbon pricing.
This is fair enough. As public policy goes, it is complex and nuanced. Even the policy wonks struggle to get their heads round it at times. Several popular criticisms of action on climate change stem directly from misunderstandings about how the government’s scheme might work (these criticisms may also be leveled at other schemes). Here are three key sources of confusion:
- It won’t make a difference because Australia is only a small part of global emissions
- It won’t make a difference because industry will move overseas and pollute from there
- It won’t make a difference because we are going to compensate the polluters – so there is no reason for them to act.
There are very good answers to all three points. But this is entering a level of detail beyond the point at which the public would normally engage in public policy. Debunking incorrect information is necessary. But arguing the toss on the details of particular arguments is pointless – people end up confused and disengaged. Instead, advocates of climate change action would do well to focus on some key communication approaches:
- Appeal to the emotional: Use language and imagery that appeals to people’s emotional rather than intellectual side. This is something marketers have honed for decades.
- Use third-party advocates: There is no academy of science in the world that disputes the science. Other voices lend credibility to your arguments.
- Point to peers: Highlight what others, faced with the same problem, have done. The vast majority of countries have some form of measure in place to combat climate change.
Talk about the alternative: Instead of allowing the debate to focus on the intricacies of different schemes, focus on the costs of inaction.
Make it local: Talk about the impact of climate change on insurance bills and front lawns.
A recent poll by Fergus Hanson for the Lowy Institute showed that 38 per cent of Australians felt they had become ‘more concerned’ about climate change since the debate in Australia began. If this concern is to be harnessed into support for action, we need to do a much better job of telling the story, and a much better job of debunking the myths. “Sometimes it’s not enough to know what things mean,” Bob Dylan once remarked, “sometimes you have to know what things don’t mean”.
By Andrew Ure.
The word internship is often associated with terms such as making coffees, photocopying and stamp-licking. Thankfully for me this was not the case when I joined the Social@Ogilvy team for two weeks. Hard yet rewarding work, incredible advice, teamwork and great people, are in my eyes, the terms accompanying an Ogilvy internship.
Before even stepping into the Ogilvy building, I was made to feel welcome with warm greetings via LinkedIn, anticipating my arrival come the following Monday. With an abundance of great people working around and with me, my understanding of what it takes to be a part of the biggest social team in Australia quickly became clear. From the get go I was given real life experience as my short-term and long-term goals were shifted into overdrive. I had the opportunity to participate in brainstorming sessions for a nationwide campaign, client meetings entailing development of B2B social platforms and research for brands.
I was introduced to ‘Radian6’, an online data collecting tool, a great asset to add to my resume when on the hunt for jobs! I was also given the opportunity to be included in the presentation of the research findings, which showcased how important research is to every task involved with a client. I Working on the development of competitions and community management allowed university theory to transform into physical practice and gifted me further skills which I will utilise upon my return next semester. Joining conference calls to international and local clients, enabled me to learn and grasp how PR practitioners search for insights in all aspects of business to develop the most appropriate strategy to solve a problem.
Always made to feel a part of the team, I was invited to client meetings in the CBD, the annual costume themed David Ogilvy party and learnt how to construct a pitch. Being part of a production piece for David Ogilvy’s birthday celebrations was another highlight of my time at Ogilvy. Not only was the Social@Ogilvy team great, I was invited to a Pulse Communications brainstorm and everyone in the in the building was always extremely helpful and friendly.
Interning at Ogilvy taught me four important aspects to succeed in my chosen industry:
- Research is essential
- Work fast
- Work creatively
- Effectively communicate
Upon completion of my internship I walk away gaining expert knowledge, priceless experience and having met some great people that hopefully one day, I will work with again. Thank you Ogilvy for making the 5:30am starts and two hour train rides worth it!
By Joel West.