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May 19, 2020

Isentia Conversations with Campbell Fuller from Insurance Council of Australia

We talked to Campbell Fuller, the Head of Communications and Media Relations at Insurance Council of Australia about his experience working through Australia’s natural disasters.He shared his advice for communicating when circumstances are outside your control. Isentia’s Insights Director, Ngaire Crawford also shared some of the trends across social and traditional media as we move towards the recovery phase.

 

Isentia’s Ngaire Crawford talks about the recovery phase

4:15 – The narrative is shifting from an initial crisis comms response to a different media tone as we move into a recovery phase. Across Australia and New Zealand, the mainstream media is talking about:

  1. Easing of restrictions
  2. Practicality of restrictions
  3. Longer term economic impact

4:34 – On social media, people are excited about the return of social interactions but they are also anxious and confused about the changes in restrictions and how they can be enforced. 

5:05 – Google trends shows people across Australia are searching about the Coronavirus App; how it works and its security. And across Australia and New Zealand people are searching for information about the easing of restrictions.

6:04 – The next stage of COVID-19 communications can be categorised in three themes:

  • Clarity – this will continue to be extremely important in the coming weeks as restrictions change
  • Compassion – understand what is resonating with your audience to effectively communicate with them.
  • Creativity – A lot of organisations are delivering information in ways they weren’t expecting, or connecting with customers in a new way. Knowing your audience and your communication style is important when being creative. 

6:47 – The media is starting to dissect the event, how did it start? Were we too slow? And people are trying to apportion blame so that someone can take responsibility. There’s a thirst for an apology.

With so many new rules and restrictions in place, be as clear and specific as you can. Move quickly when there’s a mistake, acknowledge what you don’t know.

Campbell Fuller talks communications during crisis

8:12-  The Insurance Council has been flat out since September 2019 with very little respite. They’ve gone from the worst natural disasters season in Australia’s history into a pandemic. They’ve also been dealing with a number of government enquiries, as well as Parliamentary Inquiries, and growing expectations from regulators and various community groups. 

9:08 – New Zealand is fortunate with communicating throughout this pandemic. Their central government provides a very clear message with a single trusted voice. This pandemic will steer communications to be more direct and unified.

Q&A

10:17 – Comms Professionals are under so much pressure at the moment. How do you retain flexibility when it’s so outside of your control? 

10:41 – Campbell Fuller:

We haven’t had a pandemic in the past 15 years but we’ve had numerous issues and crises.  As an industry group, we have a very strong relationship with our member companies, with regulators, with politicians and with consumer groups. Even though the circumstances aren’t always familiar, the approaches we apply to them are well established and deliver the best outcomes. It comes down to having the resources you need, having the empowerment of the decision makers to take certain steps and to continually stress test your actions and your messages each day.

11:48 – Although we didn’t predict a pandemic, we can predict there will be external stressors and as an industry, we need to respond appropriately.

It’s important to know your product well enough to design or modify your messaging so that it becomes fit for purpose.

12:26 – Wherever possible, have a single trusted voice. Make sure you are in constant connection with your most important groups, i.e your internal audience. Manage their expectations from the start and let them know they are important.

13:16 – For the external stakeholders of the Insurance Council, whether it’s talking to the media, to governments or regulators, it’s critical to get our messaging and our approach right.  We also need to actively listen and monitor what others are saying, this includes listening to what is being said through our government, regulatory and consumer liaison channels.

14:33 – How do you manage consistency and continuity of comms, when overarching strategy is so unknown?

15:05 – Campbell Fuller:

Most of us would have some form of crisis strategy in place including how to identify issues, collate them, how to best respond to those issues, whilst also managing expectations. 

16:01 – Look at the issues you have and prepare for the worst, middle and best case scenarios and include the steps needed to achieve those outcomes.  

16:30 – No crisis management plan is 100% perfect, and the unknown always leaves the option to fine tune your plan. Where possible, always try and stay one step ahead of the issue.

16:50 – At the Insurance Council, we are in constant contact with our internal and external audiences. We look at the issues and concerns they’re experiencing and hear their thoughts about the direction they think the industry should be going. From this, we work out how it fits into our current policies and if it aligns with our approach. 

We are constantly stress testing every single thing we do which enables us to identify emerging issues or predict things to come.

18:39 – By early March it was quite clear we needed to take more direct action in regards to COVID-19. We were one of the first industries to put a line through our events including our major industry summit due to take place at the end of March. We cancelled face to face member meetings, moved them online and took proactive steps to demonstrate to our member companies we were concerned about the impact of COVID-19. 

20:53 – Are the themes; clarity, compassion and creativity here to stay? Do you think we are starting to see a media landscape shift and we won’t necessarily go back to business as usual?

21:04 – Ngaire Crawford:

Creativity during COVID-19 is particularly unique as it’s incredibly rare for a crisis to hit such a  wide audience with everyone experiencing the same issue at the same time. It does, however, enable comms professionals to deliver messaging in a different way. Organisations have had to pivot around things that previously weren’t thought to be an issue and the receptiveness to this new found creativity will have longevity. 

22:09 – Clarity is foundational in any crisis and is the result of people doing well during this time. Messaging needs to be clear and consistent from the very beginning. 

26:25 – What link have you seen between communicating during bushfire season and communicating during a pandemic?

27:37 – Campbell Fuller:

It’s important to have a single credible voice, monitor the conversation and know when and how to correct something.

27:54 – The first principle of communications is to understand who is speaking (if you aren’t), and look at what they are saying. Determine whether their messaging is what you would be saying. It’s not a time to say something for the sake of it. Who is the most appropriate person to respond?

28:27- There’s a lot of misinformation with insurance providers, especially during natural disasters, and it’s our job to correct it. We steer the affected communities to the right information so they can take the right actions themselves towards recovery.

32:38 COVID-19 has been used to blame many delays and other problems. At what point do communicators need to stop using COVID-19 as a catch all excuse? 

33:03 – Campbell Fuller: 

There is a risk people will get tired of using COVID-19 as an excuse. We need to shift our messaging from blaming to recovery led messaging. Everyone understands there are roadblocks at the moment, let’s focus on what we can do and how we can shape our responses to have a positive outlook. 

If you would like to view other Webinar Isentia Conversations: Communicating through Change:

Isentia Conversations: with Katherine Newton at RU OK?

Isentia Conversations: with Bec Brown at The Comms Department

Isentia Conversations: with Rochelle Courtenay at Share the Dignity

Isentia Conversations: with Rachel Clements at Centre for Corporate Health

Isentia Conversations: with Helen McMurdo at MTV

Isentia Conversations: with Daniel Flynn at Thank You

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The social trends and audience behind healthy drinking behaviour

While the pandemic and lockdowns made some people more likely to grab an alcoholic drink, audience interest in low alcohol or no alcohol drinks keeps growing online, both globally and in Australia. 

But what events are driving Australians towards the #sobercurious lifestyle? And which brands are piquing their interest?

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According to data from our sister company Pulsar, social conversation and search interest in low-no-alcohol peaked in April '21-Oct '21 as the press announced a $1 million government grant (as part of the Australian Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy) was awarded to Modus Operandi Brewery to manufacture a non-alcoholic ale, NORT. The mentions of low/no-alcohol experienced a peak in June, leading to Dry July and Sober October.

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Mention metrics show that health and socialising are major motivational drivers for Australians when choosing a drink of the low/no-alcohol variety. The two are closely related, as prominent tags associated with low/no-alcohol mentions are #mindfuldrinking, #soberissexy, and #soberdating.

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Meanwhile, popular millennial and gen z media outlets like Fashion Journal and Refinery29 are reporting on how-tos and the benefits of sober dating. Young Australians are reading that by avoiding the booze, their anxiety is reduced, and they are setting themselves up for relationship success.

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Mental health improvements associated with the trend aren’t the only benefits being publicised; the physical gains are too. Australian media personality Erin Holland told Women’s Health Magazine that her preparation for the popular reality series SAS Australia involved a strict no-alcohol rule. Rugby union Wallaby player Radiko Samo credited a no-alcohol stance to his improved performance on the field.

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The data also suggests Australians genuinely enjoy the taste of low/no-alcohol beverages followed by ethical reasons. For centuries, abstinence from alcoholic drinking has been tied to ethical beliefs, but open discussion and acknowledgment of Australia’s amoral history keep this motivator current. Aboriginal-owned and led non-alcoholic craft brewers SOBAH advocate for this and aim to break toxic Indigenous stereotypes by providing “healing opportunities outside the reliance on government funding and control."

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Globally, drinks like beer, vodka, and whiskey tend to be more popular, but Australian consumers are hitting the spirits and mixers. Non-alcoholic cocktail bars were springing up across Australian metropolitan areas like Brunswick Aces in Melbourne, giving non-drinkers a chance to socialise without feeling left out. From hotels to online delivery services, hospitality businesses connect with Aussies’ healthier lifestyle choices. In particular, small-batch distilleries and breweries utilising bush tucker flavours are getting covered in widely read hospitality and entertainment sites like Broadsheet. 

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Australian-made distilleries are also proud to represent the small-batch, independent ethos which aligns with the Aussie tendency to support one-of-kind artisanal producers over big-name brands.

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British and Australian brands Seedlip and Lyre’s appear as the most mentioned across media platforms between July-November 21. In the news, Aussie founded Lyres had taken out best non-alcoholic spirit for their Italian spritz at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Seedlip took out two non-alcoholic spirit awards in the Australian Drinks Awards held in November 2021.

While we might expect fitness enthusiasts to be discussing the benefits of lowering alcohol consumption online, a deep dive into the different audiences talking about low alcohol brands reveals this is a popular conversation amongst more niche subcultures.

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Across twitter, discussions of non-alcohol spirits are popular amongst Australian bookworms. Popular non-alcoholic brands like Lyres and Seadrift use old-fashioned or themed storytelling as part of their branding language—an aesthetic that lets  literary lovers know they ”can enjoy the mirth and merriment of a soiree or shindig” without alcohol. This group is also keen to share with their community the book they are currently reading and a matching mocktail.

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This trend continues to grow as Aussies aspire for optimal performance at work, in their social and romantic lives, and for their overall wellness. The data shows Aussies celebrating and sharing their alcohol-free experiences with their digital communities, and with the backing from the government and smaller brands taking out big awards, this trend continues to offer Australians an opportunity to get on the wagon.

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This blog was produced using data from our sister company 
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Thought Leadership
Australia gets on the wagon: what’s driving low and no alcohol trends
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The Philippine presidential candidates have had various strategies for their campaigns since their announcements via mainstream and social media. The public has had varied reactions to their movements.

Isentia, the leading media intelligence and insights solutions provider in the Philippines and Asia-Pacific, has created a report documenting the first 30 days of the Philippine Presidential Election campaigns.

The study seeks to comprehend the themes and sentiment of the media and digital public discussions on the identified candidates since the official campaign period from 8 February 2022 to 9 March 2022.

Fill up the form below to download the whitepaper and read more.

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Whitepaper
ISENTIA PHILIPPINES – The First 30 Days: The Philippine Presidential Race Campaign Period at a Glance

The Philippine presidential candidates have had various strategies for their campaigns since their announcements via mainstream and social media. The public has had varied reactions to their movements. The study seeks to comprehend the themes and sentiment of the media and digital public discussions on the identified candidates since the official campaign period from 8 February 2022 to 9 March 2022. Fill up the form to download the whitepaper and read more.

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IIt was just a week ago when I was asked to travel to Canberra to assist the Isentia Canberra team with the 2022-23 Budget. The team was preparing to provide our clients with a range of Parliamentary Services to support them throughout the Budget announcement and plethora of reactions, resulting in the most significant media day of the year. 

Isentia has an office right in the middle of the Parliamentary press gallery, above the House of Representatives, alongside the ABC, The Conversation, 9 News, 7 News and SBS had my head reeling. We are in the thick of the Budget conversation at Parliament House and have access to the Budget papers during lock-up. I am not going to lie, I would have loved to have gotten my hands and eyes on what lay inside the mass that is the Budget, but I was just as excited to be a part of Isentia’s first live stream of the conga line to deliver immediate stakeholder perspectives.

Lock-up team Whitney and Crystal ready to unpack the 2022 Budget for clients, pictured with Account Executives Melvic (right) and Nikhar (left)

This is my first time in Canberra and walking into Parliament House. It may sound ridiculous to some, but I felt the magnitude of decisions and words within this space as soon as I arrived. This could be due to the physical size of the building, the maze of corridors (I did get lost), or that Greg Hunt, Minister for Health and Aged Care, passes by you, or Laura Tingle, ABC political journo heavyweight, is standing inside the courtyard cafe – no longer just a revered top news journalist on my TV screen. I am tempted to approach her and ask her thoughts on any Budget revelations, but professionalism nips that one in the bud.

The live stream is my main priority and ensuring we capture stakeholder responses as soon as lock-up ends. With the cool, calm, and collected Melvic (Canberra Account Executive) by my side, I felt we were prepared to capture all the opinions and critical commentary on Frydenberg’s latest Budget. But as Melvic had said to me plenty of times over the past couple of days while in Canberra, “you can’t exactly prepare for Budget night.” Speeches can go on for longer, lock-up can be delayed, and elevators can stop working. It was 7.30pm, and we (Melvic and myself) could not get to the second floor, where the press gallery and the conga line were to be. After semi-frantically looking for a way to get there – the elevator wouldn’t go to floor two, and the staircase was blocked off – our prayers were answered in the presence of a former staffer who took pity and showed us to an elevator that could get us there. The doors opened, and we were awkwardly confronted by a crowd of diners enjoying a catered event, but after casually walking by, we were able to get to the gallery and stream the conga line.

I staked my claim on a small footprint of space to set up Isentia’s nimble streaming equipment among tall, solid guys supporting big TV broadcast cameras. As speakers were changing over, we had to pause for one of them to change their camera battery. The speakers were unfazed by the background buzzing of phones, regular triggering of Parliament House clocks and adrenaline-pumped chatter of people in the corridors. I was particularly moved by the words of Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director at the United Workers Union and a team of aged care workers who felt a lack of respect for what the Budget provided them. I wondered how journalists could keep it together when they were listening to the stories and concerns of people who really feel impacted by the decisions made here. These are comments and opinions that matter to our clients, and providing this service allows them to better inform their operations and objectives. After the last speaker, Melissa Donnelly, National President of the Community & Public Sector Union, had finished, the live stream was done. But the active alerts team weren’t.

Live stream conga line of Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director, United Workers Union & Aged Care Workers (Curtis, Marina, Shin,Teresa)
Live stream conga line of Carolyn Smith, Aged Care Director, United Workers Union & Aged Care Workers (Curtis, Marina, Shin,Teresa)

The team, rapid-firing live alerts to clients after lock-up release, are able to provide clients near-immediate knowledge of key topics concerning their organisation. This being my crash course introduction to the chaos of a Budget night, I was not expecting the personal understanding and touch that went into the live active alerting process for clients. I pictured images of machines whirring and topics automatically ticking through Budget content, machines that made a detached decision about what was relevant to clients and made blanket sends without consideration. How our Account Executives, Crystal and Whitney, understood the ins and outs of the needs held by our clients does make a real difference to accuracy and content relevancy.

With the speed and focus they applied to this product offering (active alerts), you would have thought they were machines anyway. But a machine is not going to have their ongoing long-term client relationship and understanding of client development.

 It’s a wrap! Budget 2022 Isentia team, (from left) Crystal (Account Executive) Loren (Marketing Executive ANZ), Whitney (Account Executive), Melvic (Account Executive), Nikhar (Account Executive), Russ (Chief Commercial Officer). 

After the last active alert was sent, you could still feel the adrenaline. The pace and unpredictable circumstances that this team worked under were staggering, but we made it in the end. After a justified amount of snacking, we packed up the Isentia Parliament office and found our way to the car park, where everyone there that night was in a state of buzzed debriefing as they crouched into their Ubers home. I doubt anyone there got more than 5 hours of sleep that night, but it was amazing to be a part of how Isentia offers a unique service to clients. We look forward to giving the same level of tailored content to clients during the election coverage.

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Blog
Isentia bringing the 2022-23 Budget to Clients

Our Marketing Executive gets a crash course in Budget night at Isentia. We provide tailored media intelligence offerings. Discover the Isentia difference!

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