Consistent, clear messaging requires constant change

03/04/2019 - 14:55

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Major public and investor relations firms in Perth are finding new ways of specialising and adapting to market trends.

Consistent, clear messaging requires constant change
Clarity co-founder Anthony Hasluck (left) with director Phil Vaughan, and co-founders Kellie Hasluck and Daniel Carroll. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Major public and investor relations firms in Perth are finding new ways of specialising and adapting to market trends.

The business of corporate communications has battled through major media and digital changes during the past two decades, but some of Perth’s top agencies have a clear idea of what keeps them on the front foot.

Maintaining second top position after nearly a decade in the top three of the BNiQ ranking of the state’s public and investor relations firms by number of consultants is Clarity Communications, which recently celebrated 20 years in business.

Co-founder and managing director Anthony Hasluck told Business News an early decision to combine the public relations side of the business with a branding aspect had been crucial to its longevity.

“In Perth’s corporate environment, because of the nature of the mining and resources industry, there’s a lot of requirement for communications and branding, but not necessarily for full-on advertising,” he said.

Over two decades, Mr Hasluck has keenly felt the effects of corporate trends.

During the late 1990s, clients heavily represented the mining and agriculture industries, he said, with the addition of many oil and gas players many years later in the period leading up to the GFC.

“Over 20 years the resources sector in particular gave the state a real kick, and on the back of that many more people came here to live,” Mr Hasluck said.

“That led to a whole lot of other economic activity, which we have seen play out in property, aged care, health and education.

“The other big change is many more international companies.”

Clarity now has a number of client relationships approaching two decades, including with CBH, Wesfarmers, and the European Space Agency.

Topping the BNiQ list for the third consecutive year is Cannings Purple, with a team of 40 consultants.

The top six firms have retained the same rankings, but both CGM Communications and Citadel-MAGNUS have boosted their consultants and moved up the list this year, with the former to seventh and the latter up to eighth.

Similarly to Clarity, Hunter Communications was established with a niche in mind.

The company retained its ranking of sixth on the BNiQ list.

Managing director Nicole Moody told Business News that despite the young firm having a small team of 10, it had experienced rapid growth over nearly four years.

Ms Moody said she founded Hunter in order to combine the strategic focus of corporate PR with the creativity of consumer PR, straddling both large and small clients.

The firm works as the local contact for a number of national clients, including AGL Gas, Coles and SGIO.

Ms Moody suggested most of these companies found the PR landscape in Perth more difficult to navigate than those in other states.

“We only have one daily newspaper, and we have that ownership by the Seven West group, which is such a dominant force in Western Australia,” she said.

“That’s one of the biggest challenges we have, a very small pool of platforms we can use to promote our clients.”

Ms Moody said the line between marketing, social media and PR was increasingly blurry, and Hunter was using a suite of emerging platforms, including influencers, local social websites and podcasting, to give clients exposure.

She described podcasting as the biggest trend of the past 12 months, adding that even big brands were increasingly aware of the need to adapt and be flexible.

The digital evolution has also been a driving force of change for Clarity.

As Clarity’s digital offering grew, the decision was made to split the company, creating Firefly360 as a specialist digital arm in early 2018.

Mr Hasluck said clients had previously found it difficult to recognise what the Clarity brand offered, and Firefly360’s specialty could now better assist businesses to work in a digital environment where instant feedback and scrutiny was high, and there was no room for error.

“Since we started you’ve seen the rise of social media and the smartphone, as well as a change in the speed of communication, the style of communication, and the ability of organisations to communicate directly with people,” he said.

“People have the power to communicate in ways they never could before.

"In terms of future we can see various trends; in particular one is a swing back to PR, stakeholder and reputation activities, after many years of clients being entranced by social and thinking it was the cure for all communications."

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