Challenge: In spite of storied history and impressive track record of delivering independent and scientifically significant reports since 2005, the general public’s attitude of the importance of ‘climate change’ and ‘climate science’ has been on the decline in Australia in recent years. This, coupled with a rise in the politicisation of the issue during an election year, led to a situation where The Climate Institute was having an increasingly difficult time mobilising stakeholder groups and convincing the general public of the importance of taking small actions to achieve a more sustainable and less-carbon dependent economy. And because the organisation is so focused on producing world-class scientific research, they weren’t in a position to be able to allocate resources to ensure their communications efforts were adapting to an ever-increasing social and digital communications model.
Strategy: Ogilvy Public Relations has supported The Climate Institute through a strategic communications partnership for the past several years, offering the Institute an integrated team that spans their media, policy, communications, and events activities. In 2013, Ogilvy recognised that one of the critical areas where The Climate Institute was most vulnerable was across its digital and social media efforts. To ensure that a series of upcoming Institute report releases and high-profile events were strongly attended, by both the general public as well as relevant climate stakeholders across government and industry, the Social@Ogilvy team embarked on a two-pronged strategy to better understand the social listening related to climate change in Australia (and how to best position The Climate Institute to participate in those conversations) and to develop a targeted influencer strategy that could greatly amplify the Institute’s thought leadership and positioning.
Results: Across a four month period (between mid-August 2013 and mid-January 2014), the Social@Ogilvy team worked closely with The Climate Institute to develop and execute two separate live events, that were also amplified in real-time via social media. The first event, dubbed “Climate of the Nation”, served as a mini-debate to take advantage of the impeding election and featured renown climatologist Dr. Graeme Pearman and researcher John Scales on 29th of August. The event was moderated by The Climate Institute CEO John Connor. In addition to the max capacity 85 attendees that joined in person (media, bloggers, government policy makers), the event was live-broadcast on twitter where questions were sourced from the platform and photos were shared in real-time. The #ClimateNation hashtag was used approximately 360 times during the 60-minute event and reached approximately 415,203 Australian twitter users (approximately 20% of the entire Australian twitter community at the time). The event’s social footprint was so successful that morning that the hastag was trending across Sydney for the majority of the morning. In addition to the Climate of the Nation Event, social@ogilvy also partnered with the Institute to run another event focusing on sustainable investment in the Australian Superannuation sector. During that 60 minute session, the Institute reached over 312,000 twitter users through 182 mentions of the #ClimateSmartSuper hashtag. Overall, twitter has proved to be an effective channel for The Climate Institute in reaching and engaging new audiences. On top of simple growth of the account, there has been a positive shift in sentiment and engagement as well. During the four month period, the twitter channel grew approximately 19.5% from 6775 ‘followers’ in August to 8093 in February.
OgilvyEarth has been a proud Major Climate Partner of The Climate Institute (TCI) since March 2010, supporting TCI’s vision for Australia to lead the world in clean technology use and innovation. Part of our contribution to this partnership is supporting the TCI team with strategic communications planning and media outreach.
This year, OgilvyEarth has had the pleasure of being involved in the promotion of a number of world first initiatives led by TCI, including the launch of the Climate Advocacy Fund – a joint initiative with Australian Ethical Investment. The Fund works on the ‘power in numbers’ principle to influence Australia’s biggest companies to better manage climate change risk through constructive engagement and the provision of Australia’s first climate change shareholder resolutions. The Fund gives shareholders the opportunity to positively shape corporate behaviour in relation to sustainability. Media interest in the Fund has been positive, with stories reported by The AFR, The Age, SMH, Business Spectator and ABC News.
More recently, TCI in conjunction with Vivid Economics launched a pioneering research report that compares Australia’s efforts in driving carbon pricing within the electricity sector against its major trading partners China, US, UK, Japan and South Korea.
The report, titled “Putting a Price Tag on Pollution: Driving Competitiveness in the Clean Energy Economy”, revealed for the first time that Australia is lagging significantly behind its major trading partners in putting a price on carbon, therefore dispelling the myth Australia is at risk of leading the world and ‘acting too soon’ in making businesses responsible for pollution.
To maximise media coverage of the report, an interactive media release (IMR) was used in place of a traditional media release. The IMR featured the announcement of the report, links to an executive summary and the full report, an infographic, video interviews with two key spokespersons, and links to TCI social media platforms.
Media coverage of the report has been phenomenal with over 170 pieces of coverage appearing on the day of launch, including local stories in the AFR, SMH, ABC News and The Economist. The report has also attracted international coverage in the UK, US and China. The IMR drove a great response online, both from the media and international government staff and policy makers. Numerous bloggers posted links to the IMR and infographic, there were over 1260 views of the infographic on Flickr and over 345 views of the YouTube videos.
The report has been recognised by industry experts as an important piece of work which uncovers where Australia really stands on the issue of carbon pricing:
Dr Martin Parkinson, Secretary of the Department of Climate Change: “Vivid and the Climate Institute are to be congratulated for attempting to quantify the implicit carbon price imposed by policies to reduce emissions”
Heather Ridout, CEO Australian Industry Group: “I think it really does attack that idea that Australia was going to go it alone, that was a straw man and it’s been shown to be one.”
Professor Ross Garnaut: “The Climate Institute analysis was a very good first step that probably underplayed how far Australia was behind China and the US.”
Our team at OgilvyEarth continues to support the great work TCI is doing to make clean and low carbon a part of our everyday life.