Changes afoot for Perth PR

10/04/2018 - 11:37

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Adapting services to include new digital platforms is a key focus for the major players in Perth’s communications sector led by Cannings Purple, which has maintained its top spot on the Business News ranking of the state’s largest public and investor relations firms.

Warrick Hazeldine has built Cannings Purple over the past 14 years to become the state’s largest public and investor relations firm. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Adapting services to include new digital platforms is a key focus for the major players in Perth’s communications sector led by Cannings Purple, which has maintained its top spot on the Business News ranking of the state’s largest public and investor relations firms. 

Cannings Purple started as a two-person operation on West Perth’s Ord Street in 2004, and has since become Western Australia’s largest strategic communications group with 29 consultants, as ranked on the BNiQ Search Engine.

Making its debut on BNiQ this year is new player Chapter One Advisors, headed by former PPR national director of capital markets David Tasker.

After a decade at the head of the pack until last year, PPR, which is 100 per cent owned by international public relations company WPP (the same company that owns 49 per cent of Cannings Purple) has dropped to ninth place, shrinking its team from 33 consultants in 2017 to eight currently.

Cannings Purple co-founder and managing director Warrick Hazeldine, a former 40under40 winner, said the business’s services across corporate affairs, government and investor relations, had provided a client base of local and international companies.  

“We started with a laptop and a second-hand desk and now we’re in Brookfield Tower 2 in the heart of the Perth business district,” Mr Hazeldine told Business News.

“We’ve grown, credit to the quality of our clients and the people we hire – a team of specialist practitioners, people who are experts in their fields.”

The Cannings Purple team includes The West Australian’s former business journalist Peter Klinger and past commercial property editor Fran Lawrence, as well as previous Deloitte national chairman Keith Jones, as its chair.

Mr Hazeldine said the biggest change to hit the PR sector during Cannings Purple’s lifespan was the emergence of multiple communication platforms.

“Corporates need to be examining difference ways to tell their story,” he said.

“Providing rich compelling content that engages your market and audience in different ways whether print, video, podcast, or a live event … it can take your message further.”

The Cannings Purple office houses a green screen and a crisis management room, which enables the team to analyse real-time social media traffic, and also offers social media master classes for business leaders.

Mr Hazeldine said social media was becoming increasingly more important in the investor relations space with ASX company guidelines outlining the need for listed companies to monitor social media 24/7.

Another firm to rise up the BNiQ list is local agency Hunter Communications, which has jumped up from 11th to sixth place.

Established in 2015 by former PPR general manager Nicole Moody, the business has grown to 11 consultants. 

“I saw an opportunity, PR was changing,” Ms Moody told Business News.

“Traditional PR has evolved and now the people that have a really great integrated communications offering are the ones rising to the top.

“The media pool in Perth is shrinking, so you have to be much more creative about the ways you proactively bring attention to your clients.”

Nicole Moody established Hunter Communications in 2015.

Hunter Communications has a mix of corporate and consumer clients, including SGIO, Vicinity Shopping Centres and Western Power.

Beyond media engagement, the business offers issue management, with its most recent client being Catherine Marriott, the woman who filed the sexual harassment case against Barnaby Joyce.

“I think there are traditional PR agencies that have been around for a long time, but haven’t responded to the different platforms of communicating, that are potentially shrinking,” Ms Moody said.

“Years ago it would be maybe we’ll use social media, maybe we won’t – but now you need to use social media as part of your mix.

“You’ve got to be on your toes and making sure that you’re aware of new platforms and new outlets; the rise of the influencer in the social space has been the biggest change in the market for us and another example of a response to the traditional media pool drying up.”

As a result, last year Ms Moody established The Influencer Agency, a separate entity to Hunter Communications that specialises in pairing influencers (i.e. bloggers, or Instagram users with a major following) with businesses as another means to reach their target audience. 

“The communications space is really evolving,” she said.

“I look at some of our biggest competitors and they are actually some of the advertising agencies as well.

“We do a lot of social management for our clients, which includes things like videographers and (brand) activations.

“Suddenly there’s a lot of common territory, particularly because of the evolving of digital and also due to a tight market as everyone has been repositioning their business.

“So the lines between marketing and PR are blurring, we’re all becoming communications agencies just with strengths in different areas.”

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