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.
Yesterday morning Ogilvy PR Australia hosted The Climate Institute’s (TCI) “Climate Smart Super” panel discussion for the launch of their latest report. Media and guests arrived sharply at 9:30am to listen to an esteem panel including;
- John Conner, CEO, The Climate Institute
- Dr John Hewson, Chair, Asset Owners Disclosure Project & former leader of the Liberal Party of Australia
- Blair Palese, CEO, 350.org Australia
- Bill Hartnett, Head of Sustainability, Local Government Super
The new report launched yesterday looks at smart long-term investment. TCI challenges Australians to rethink our superannuation choice and ask where and how our funds are being invested, by highlighting both the financial and environmental risks involved in current superannuation investment.
Currently, 55% of superannuation funds are invested in carbon exhaustive assets. In stark contrast a mere 2% were recorded to be a low-carbon initiative investment. Bill Hartnett raised the point, that investing in carbon-intensive projects only offers limited short-term returns, and superannuation funds should be focusing on long term returns on investment. He attributed this prevalent investment behaviour to the dominant existing investor mindset that ‘Today is yesterday’s long term’. This has to change.
With over $1.6 trillion of funds to invest annually, there is an opportunity to divest funds from a fossil fuel based economy to low-carbon alternatives, which in turn will be more rewarding financially and environmentally.
Dr Hewson spoke about the role boards and directors play in organising portfolios which were fundamentally risky, and our role and responsibility as investors to question our fund managers’ investment decisions. Blair Palese acknowledged that Australia is better represented in the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) rankings than most, and even more encouraging, Australians are now actively shifting their funds to safer investments. However, the majority of our fund managers’ investment decisions are still influenced by short term thinking.
The TCI report does not seek to play the role of financial adviser, but rather, as stated by John Conner, to encourage “active and engaged citizens, who make climate responsible decisions”, to vocalise their beliefs. To find out more about how to be climate smart in your superannuation investments you can read the full report here.
Ogilvy PR Australia has announced that David Bell, Westpac’s former General Manager, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, will join the consultancy in the newly created role of Group Managing Director, Corporate.
Mr Bell comes to Ogilvy PR following a distinguished career in communications, high-level management, corporate brand reputation and government. Prior to Westpac, Mr Bell was CEO for the Australian Bankers’ Association and has headed corporate affairs at both NRMA and Telstra, and served as Managing Director for prominent public affairs company Gavin Anderson & Kortlang (now Kreab Gavin Anderson).
In his new role Mr Bell will oversee a number of the companies and product offerings within the Ogilvy PR group, including leading public affairs company Parker & Partners, employee engagement and change communication consultancy Ogilvy Impact and sustainability communications practice OgilvyEarth.
Kieran Moore, Ogilvy PR’s CEO, welcomed Mr Bell’s appointment, which comes after a nine-month international search.
“David is a highly-credentialed practitioner who will bring an enormous amount of knowledge, insight, energy and connectivity to this role. We are delighted to have him on board to add further impetus to already strong brands,” Ms Moore said.
“The current managing directors of each of the companies will remain, but we see David’s role as drawing together our existing strong abilities in areas like thought leadership, issues and crisis, corporate reputation and housing them under one umbrella so we can offer them as a more compelling option to the market.
“We wanted someone who would be able to draw on the obvious synergies that exist between the various Ogilvy PR brands and David’s background and ability makes him the ideal candidate for such a senior role.”
Mr Bell said he was looking forward to the challenge of further enhancing Ogilvy PR’s standing as Australia’s leading agency.
“There is no agency respected more in Australia, and none with as impressive a client list,” he said. “I see this as an incredible opportunity and challenge to take a number of our brands, services and people and make them even more successful.”
Mr Bell will commence at Ogilvy PR on April 15. He will be based in Sydney but will work throughout Ogilvy’s Australian offices.
Ogilvy PR is a joint venture between WPP and STW Group, Australia’s leading marketing content and communications service group.
For further information, please contact:
Rebecca Tilly, STW PR on 0410 501 043
About Ogilvy Public Relations
Ogilvy Public Relations (Ogilvy PR) is a global, multi-disciplinary communications leader operating in more than 85 offices across six continents. In 2012, Ogilvy was named Cannes Lions Network of the Year and Most Effective Agency Network by the Effie Global Effectiveness Index, named Public Affairs Consultancy of the Year by the Holmes Report, won Consumer Consultancy of the Year in Asia Pacific (Holmes Report), and won the WPP global, top award (WPPed Cream, Crème de la Crème) for the fifth time in six years. Ogilvy PR integrates deeply with all Ogilvy & Mather disciplines (advertising, direct marketing, activation, promotional, digital and entertainment) through the proprietary Ogilvy Fusion™ approach to delivering comprehensive, business solutions through content creation, community building, and communications with measurable results. For more information, visit our Web site at www.ogilvypr.com.au or follow us on Twitter at @ogilvypraus.
And it can cut through debates that are otherwise characterised by complexity, confusion and rhetoric.
For the last few weeks, OgilvyEarth, our community and environment practice, has been delighted to host an exhibition of photographs documenting the challenge of climate change, here at Ogilvy House. They were taken by renowned Australian photographer Michael Hall and generated a huge amount of interest among Ogilvy’s clients, and the several hundred people who work here at Ogilvy House, where the exhibition was held.
The photographs are the result of a collaboration between Hall and the Climate Institute, Australia’s foremost climate thinktank. A near fatal cycling accident with a semi-trailer in 2007 and a life-changing period of recovery and reflection led Hall to start the project, capturing over 300 photographs from around the world, covering a range of issues affected by climate change. Hall was awarded the Climate Institute’s first Creative Fellowship in mid-2012.
OgilvyEarth is proud to be a Major Climate Partner of the Climate Institute.
And we are delighted that the Institute is pioneering new ways of communicating this issue to people.
Although Hall’s Fellowship has received seed funding, additional partners are needed to bring his work to life. For more information see www.climateinstitute.org.au.
Challenge: The CDP Australia and New Zealand Climate Change Report 2012 analyses climate change disclosures made by ASX200 and NZX50 companies through the CDP to its 655 institutional investor signatories with US$78 trillion in assets. These companies represented 85% and 91% of the total market capitalisations of the ASX200 and NZX50 respectively.
This annual report, written by Deloitte Australia, provides an annual update on greenhouse gas emissions data and climate change strategies at the largest listed companies in Australia and NZ.
OgilvyEarth was briefed to develop and execute a communications strategy which placed the key findings in mainstream news media.
Strategy: The report was scheduled to be launched at Carbon Expo Australasia in Melbourne so OgilvyEarth worked to leverage interest in the event and align the results of the report with broader environmental issues in the current news agenda.
OgilvyEarth identified and targeted key business and environment writers and offered embargoed interview opportunities with James Day, CDP’s Director for Australia & New Zealand, in the lead up to the launch in order to maximise launch day coverage.
Immediately following the launch event, OgilvyEarth issued a press release announcing the results of the report and continued to reach out to key media, offering media interview opportunities and byline articles written by James.
Results: The coverage achieved for the CDP Australia and New Zealand Climate Change Report 2012 was the most coverage received for any CDP Australia and New Zealand report to date.
OgilvyEarth achieved a total of 110 pieces of coverage for the report in key print, radio, broadcast and online publications including the Australian Financial Review, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Canberra Times, ABC News Online, ABC 702 Sydney, Sky News, and Climate Spectator.
OgilvyEarth rings opening bell at New York Stock Exchange to celebrate Carbon Disclosure Project report
OgilvyEarth Global President Kim Slicklein today joined Paula di Perna, the Strategic Advisor of the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP), to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange. CDP is a non-profit organisation that provides a global system for thousands of companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share environmental information. It does in part this by working with 655 institutional investors holding US$78 trillion in assets to encourage companies to improve environmental disclosure and performance.This is instrumental in global efforts to drive greenhouse gas emission reductions and promote sustainable water use.
“The ringing of the bell marked the launch of CDP’s annual S&P 500 Climate Change Report analysing how the largest listed companies in the US are progressing toward a lower-carbon future. OgilvyEarth is CDP’s official Australian Communications Partner and the two organisations work closely together to ensure that CDP’s important messages resonate.
CDP is a great partner for OgilvyEarth here in Australia. CDP’s Australian office is located at Ogilvy House in Sydney, and CDP shares OgilvyEarth’s commitment to professional excellence. In a 2012 survey of 850 sustainability professionals carried out by GlobeScan/SustainAbility, CDP was ranked as the most credible corporate sustainability rating system in the world, ahead of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indexes and the FTSE4GOOD Index Series.”
You can find out more about CDP on their website: https://www.cdproject.net/
Ogilvy PR has entered in to a joint venture with TODAY Ogilvy & Mather which will result in the first multinational public relations firm to be established in the country. Teljya has been seconded from the Australian office to help grow and develop the practice in an evolving PR landscape.
“This is fantastic recognition of Teljya’s work in Australia and is an exciting opportunity for her to work with an existing network of international brands, as well as new clients as the market opens up on a global level,” said Ogilvy PR CEO, Kieran Moore. “It is also testament to the great career opportunities that working in the largest PR networks in the region can offer our people” she said.
Teljya will be joined by communication consultants from Singapore as the office grows.
“As Myanmar is strategically located between India and China and is the largest country in mainland South East Asia, the opportunities for this market are immense. I am thrilled to be part of the Ogilvy PR adventure in Myanmar and am truly grateful for the opportunity” said Teljya.
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.
When a group of 300 companies operating across the Australian economy, including Westpac, GE, and IKEA, wanted to communicate their support for carbon pricing they contacted OgilvyEarth. We had 72 hours to come up with a media strategy that would give profile to the group, Businesses for a Clean Economy. The timing of the public relations campaign – on the eve of historic climate change legislation being introduced – meant there was strong competition for media space, but great opportunities if the right strategy was employed.
Drawing on experts across Ogilvy Public Relations’ network, we created tailored content and took a strategic approach to media engagement, including holding a press conference that was streamed live on ABC News 24 and Sky News. We also set up a media tracking team, including social media experts, who monitored and responded to developments as the day unfolded.
The result was over 210 pieces of overwhelmingly positive press coverage, including:
- Front page coverage of the group’s position (SMH and AFR)
- Coverage on all major national television news programs
- Reference to the group by the Prime Minister
- 70 radio clips
- 115 articles online
- Retweets that reached over 200,000 followers
Best of all, as a result of the coverage, a further 88 companies joined the group (a 29% increase in membership) adding their support for positive action on climate change.