Square Kilometre Array – the world’s biggest telescope

July 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Case studies, Consumer, Featured, SKA

Issue: Ogilvy Public Relations was engaged by the Department of Innovation Industry, Science and Research (DIISR)  to get the Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) public behind the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) bid to bring the world’s biggest telescope to Australia. With the bid element of the project nearing crunch time (early 2012), it was time to ramp up public awareness, build excitement and most importantly gain the public’s support.

Challenges: Ogilvy PR had to overcome several challenges in order to successfully execute the campaign objectives:

  • Creating the news hook: Given there were no new bid milestones during the campaign activity period, Ogilvy PR had no timely news hook to engage media around.
  • Making a complex message relevant and engaging for the public: The SKA is a technical scientific feat had previously only received interest from the science community. The radio astronomy jargon had to be broken down and the question “why should I care about a telescope?” had to be answered before gaining the support of the ‘man on the street’ for the project.
  • Overcoming negative perceptions such as the project cost and environmental impact:  The SKA will cost the international community over $2 billion to build – to some, a perceived waste of tax payers’ money. Many Australians were also feeling uneasy about the way in which 3,000 dishes would change and impact the Australian landscape.

Public Relations Strategy: To create mass awareness and gain the support of the Australian public, Ogilvy PR developed a number of media opportunities to feed to the media over the three month campaign period. In order to build these opportunities, Ogilvy PR:

  • Put a personal face to the story: Science commentator, author and radio presenter, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki was engaged as the campaign ambassador; a spokesperson which the Australian public could relate to and who transcends the science community, taking the story out of the “geek” world and into the everyday. Dr Karl took part in a media tour supported by additional spokespeople relevant to different audiences and media outlets
  • Created a unique media experience: To provide media with new and exclusive content, Ogilvy PR coordinated a media visit to the proposed SKA site in Western Australia. TV, online and print journalists attended capturing photographs and footage of the site coupled with interviews with various key spokespeople
  • Generated tailored stories that would spark interest with the different audience groups:Ogilvy PR created a number of different angles to bring to life the bid for different media. This ensured the SKA message reached everyone from school children to young males, from the working professional to the tech savvy individual.

Outcome: Ogilvy PR achieved 50 pieces of coverage, exceeding the KPIs by 185%, with a campaign reach of over 38 million Australians. Coverage highlights included: The Sydney Morning Herald, The Daily Telegraph, ninemsn, News.com.au, Sunday Times, The Age online, Herald Sun online and Today Tonight. The overall return on investment for the DIISR came in at 6:1. Having successfully brought the message of the SKA to the Australian public, Ogilvy PR look forward to the SKA bid announcement, due to take place in February 2012.