Social media heading up

Maximising launch events – a change in thinking required

For PR managers aiming for maximum launch event activity impact, a change in thinking is now required.

Previously, print coverage delivered big time for all layers of the company hierarchy. Online media has changed that forever.

A full-page story reporting on launch activity in a tabloid newspaper used to please the CEO, who coveted the brand exposure, and possibly a quote or two under his name.

The Marketing Director quite liked the (‘free’) exposure for the new jigger, complementing the brilliant new ad campaign messaging, while the PR manager quietly ticked off another of the KPIs, and waited excitedly for the monthly share-of-voice figures to quantify his or her genius.

Meanwhile, at street level, the retailer of the new device gazed lovingly at the coverage, eagerly anticipating the impending stampede of floor traffic through the sliding glass doors in the wake of the coverage, perhaps even enhanced by the urgings of an artfully-placed local advertising campaign, thought up in-house.

But the new paradigm is a lot more complex.

Print is scaling back. We are well past the beginning of the end of newsprint as a daily information staple. The rise of the tablet is the bitter pill on which print is slowly choking.

We are moving towards the ultimate end of the primacy of print. Editorial departments are shrinking fast. Increased ‘content sharing’ and cost-reduction is the new game.

The disease is not restricted to newspapers. Magazines too are showing stress cracks.

The winners are web site proprietors, who not only offer instantaneous information, but can display their previously crafted critiques indefinitely.

The downside of this is that a hastily-penned new product review in all its un-subbed glory can damn or delight forever, putting even more pressure on the launch event to be right first time and show off the product perfectly. Today’s hasty thought bubble is no longer tomorrow’s fish wrapping.

The aphorism ‘You never get a second change to make a first impression’ has never been truer.

But for the street level retailer, with less local newsprint exposure, greater reliance on the amorphous internet means a loosening of the community relationship between the retailer and the local customer base.

The marketing and PR campaign now takes on a national, borderless, one-size-fits-all approach.

For the PR professional, the task is to engage more thoroughly with the purveyors of on-line content; to win them over and treat them like the coming kings they will be.


Alexander Corne

Australian politics heats up

Who are they talking to? Communication management in Election 2013

For communication professionals there is nothing like the hotly contested Federal Election 2013 to highlight the naked workings of audience targeting, communication and message management.

The volume of media commentary on the current Federal election campaign is enough to drown out the original message of the combatants.

But through the fog of the so-called analysis the key questions remain – who are the major parties trying to reach and what are they trying to tell them?

The key audience is neither the comfortable middle class in leafy suburbs nor the inner city social progressives. Most of them have long ago made up their minds.

Most of the messages are crafted and directed at the group that used to be called ‘Howard’s Battlers’ – the working class and lower middle class families in western Sydney, the outer suburbs of Brisbane and the urban fringe of Melbourne.

With Victoria being a federally traditional red state the big game is Western Sydney and South East Queensland.

A short ride in a Sydney taxi will give you a pretty clear view of the groupthink of the West.

While Alan Jones or John Laws may be enough to make Southerners cringe, there is a reason their shows are almost exclusively listened to in Sydney’s cabs – Jones and Laws reflect what their audience is telling them.

Rupert Murdoch’s Sydney tabloid is no different.

It is no accident that the Herald Sun has not run against Labour as aggressively as the Daily Telegraph. News Ltd knows it can push the envelope past breaking point in Sydney because their research tells them that their audience is receptive.

While Victorians may not be too concerned about asylum seeker boats floating up the Yarra and find the whole ‘get-tough’ talk repugnant, the issue generally won’t change their votes.

Meanwhile, those in western Sydney, for whatever reason, see the ‘flood of illegals’ as a clear and present danger to their economic and social well being.

It may be difficult to rationalise and understand some of the more trenchantly held views in key battle-ground electorates but that makes them no less likely to determine the outcome.

It is no surprise that when it comes to policy substance the parties have worked to minimise differences. The ETS and the yet-to-raise-much-money Mining Tax, are about the only real points of variance.

Whilst there is a debate about economic management, the Coalition has always had a stronger position on this. However, they too have to make some promises to secure the base, meaning they also find themselves in a bit of a budget bind.

Now that the thin veil of positivity has been stripped away the true messages are being rammed home.

Both are incontrovertibly negative.

For the Coalition it is “This lot stuffed up the last 6 years and can’t run a chook raffle. Why would you give them another 3 years?”

For Labor it’s “Tony Abbott is going to strip away your government services and benefits and raise the GST, plus he is a sexist and a homophobe.”

We can expect further shrill and alarming presentations from both scare campaigns as we hurtle towards election 2013.

For Labor another late change of leader is a clear attempt to break with immediate past history and frame a debate around the perceived greater popularity of the resurrected Rudd over the fear of an unbridled Abbott.

Rudd is correct that the government is the underdog in this fight. The mathematics of having to win seats to stay in power makes it a very tough ask.

The accepted wisdom is that governments get thrown out of office, not elected. Even Obama’s groundswell in 2008 was largely motivated by a generational desire to throw the other lot out.

Although Tony Abbott could completely throw it away with one major gaffe, I’m prepared to call a Coalition win on September 7.

The past three years of fairly disciplined (albeit robotic) message management suggests the fatal gaffe won’t happen.

Post People’s Forum Note:

Quite apart from the “does this guy ever shut-up” moment that would not have changed one vote, each leader’s final pitch in the Brisbane head–to–head stuck entirely to script. To paraphrase, Abbott, ‘his mob have been hopeless, don’t reward them’. And Rudd, ‘he and his mob are scary don’t trust them.’ 

No reason to change the prediction.

John Kananghinis

Asiapac economics – no-one told China the mining boom is over

A view from the drivers of Asian economics: no-one told China the mining boom is over.

On Thursday August 8, Mr Wang Jiahua, Executive Vice Chairman of the China Mining Association, spoke to over 600 people at a Melbourne Mining Club luncheon (listen here).

In essence, he said the boom precipitated by China’s inexhaustible demand for commodities was far from over – and could run until around 2030.

Mr Wang gave very precise reasons why the boom was sustainable. He was also expansive about what Australia needed to do to clean up its act and take full advantage of the boom.

The main points of his speech are covered in the below (click notes to enlarge):

China Mining Association speech notes

In this light, the widespread claims that the mining boom has finished look pretty limp.

Garry Oliver

Launch control

“Houston, we have lift-off” – launch events with precision

NASA provides a great example of a precision launch event. Every time a Saturn V Rocket successfully launched an Apollo spacecraft past our earthly bounds it was worth a celebration. Its success, however, was attributable to the even greater deal of work, effort and resources that went into planning that amazing feat.

A successful launch is much more than a party to introduce a new product or service.

A successful launch needs careful thought given to exactly how best to introduce the product or service to media, opinion leaders, dealers, clients and staff.

The automotive and personal technology industries are amongst the most intensive launchers of new products. The constant flow of new models and technologies not only introduces consumers to new and improved goods, it also keeps the commercial wheel of regular customer update turning.

Auto and technology makers walk a well-trodden path of building anticipation and desire to convince consumers they must have the latest release of car, phone or device.

Leaks, design studies, “spy shots”, sneak peeks, non-official testing pictures, analyst and industry writer briefings and launches are all part of the product and service introduction tool kit.

Companies such as Apple are masters at building the ‘fervour for the new’.  The eventual clamour for first purchase is managed to create a religious experience for true enthusiasts.

Stage-managing the entire process may be out of the scope of local subsidiaries. However, making sure the key local audiences are exposed to the right message and the optimum first product experience is a vital part of the process.

The sugar-hit image of celebrities with your product splashed in the gossip columns will soon fade. The true sweet spot is launching an ongoing appreciation of your offering that creates the target audience’s genuine desire for ownership and brand buy-in.

Want to learn more? Visit RMKA Launch Control


John Kananghinis