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Facebook Says Conversations Are Now More Important Than Reactions

By Uncategorised No Comments

Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about the upcoming changes to Facebook’s newsfeed has a lot of us talking. Coincidently, that’s exactly the desired outcome that he wants for the platform. These latest updates will place higher value on comments and sharing, so any content with an empty comments stream will reach less people. Ultimately, he believes these changes will ensure “the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.”

He says that Facebook was built to connect family and friends. These types of connections make us happier and that’s important. Yet somehow, we’ve ended up in a place where there’s more brand and publisher content than personal content. To fix this, the ranking system in Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm will be adjusted.

How it is now?
Rankings place high value on clicks and reactions, placing content that attracts a lot of these types of engagement higher up in our newsfeeds. Sponsoring this type of content almost certainly earns you a place in people’s newsfeeds based on the type of targeting you employed and any engagement will increase reach.

How will it be after the changes?
More value will be placed on content that people share with friends, as well as content that they comment on. Sponsoring will not necessarily guarantee you a place in your audience’s newsfeed any more, unless a certain amount of active engagement is garnered first.

Why? Because Facebook wants us to talk to each other more, click on website links less and actively engage with content. According to Zuckerberg, watching a video or clicking like is considered passive engagement, commenting and sharing is considered active engagement.

This move is back-tracking from previous strategies, in the past 12 months Facebook has pushed video content and supported publishers, relaxing restrictions on sponsoring content. At this point, it’s clear that the platform had lost much of its original purpose. Users are sharing less of their personal stories, and even if they do, they will often get buried under sponsored content. These proposed changes will reverse this effect, bringing us closer to how the platform used to operate a few years ago.

What does that mean for a brand’s PR and social strategy? It means that content posted on social channels needs to focus on things that are sharable and start conversations. Any content that purely drives to websites will most likely suffer a sharp decline in reach. Content that typically drives a lot of reactions (likes, loves, laughs, etc.) will probably suffer the same. Videos may also suffer if they do not generate any “active” engagement.

At this point, before the changes kick in, current evergreen social strategies need revising, especially if it is sponsored content. These new changes will make it much trickier to reach people unless share-ability and conversation are at the core of the content. However, it’s important to remember that, at this point, we have no true understanding of how these changes will manifest. Each brand page will be affected differently and whilst content calendars should be revised, it’s a matter of adjustment, not abandonment.

The Brand Launch

By Uncategorised


The brand launch: while it’s not rocket science, even the minds at NASA – you know, the guys who sold a nation on ‘The Moon’ – will tell you that there’s an art to telling a story that people connect with. Of course, not every brand has the benefit of captaining one of mankind’s greatest achievements, but with some careful planning and consideration, any story worth hearing can find its audience.

When we were given the task to launch Alternative Meat Co’s range of plant-based meat alternatives to market, one approach might have been to lob their brand story aimlessly into the sky and hope it would take off. We decided against this. Instead, we opted to create a campaign that would get people fired up and create a bit of controversy, and ultimately drive consumers in-store to purchase the product.

The premise of the campaign was to ignite a conversation with two tinder sparks:
1. Meat alternatives are inferior in taste
2. Eating meat makes you more Australian

Based on these insights, we rolled out a two-part integrated campaign that used well-known Aussie comedian and vegetarian Dave Hughes to kickstart the conversation. Phase one of the campaign saw a disguised ‘Hughesy’ serving kebabs to unknowing customers, grilling them on what they thought of the taste, before revealing the kebab was made with a plant-based substitute. Video of the Kebab prank divided an impassioned audience on social and traditional media and was viewed more than a million times.

Phase two successfully newsjacked the launch of Meat & Livestock Australia’s (MLA) annual ‘Eat Lamb on Australia Day’ campaign. With Hughsey again at the helm, our video parodying MLA ads hit on a hot topic and was distributed to a selection of key media outlets.

Having reshaped the narrative, we worked with popular millennial publisher Junkee Media to create a native content video depicting ‘What Australia Day looks like without meat’, which positioned the brand as an Australia Day meat alternative. The video attracted more than 80,000 views and 750 engagements.

While the campaign didn’t put man on the moon or cultivate a nation of would-be astronauts, it did successfully generate significant amounts of coverage and conversation across traditional and social media, with a total combined reach exceeding 90 million. The result of this being a tangible increase in brand awareness and, perhaps more importantly, consumer action – sales figures quadrupled in the week following phase one of the campaign and almost tripled in the week following phase two.

We also picked up a shiny award for Launch Campaign of the Year at Mumbrella’s CommsCon.

Winner, winner, (faux) chicken dinner.

I moved from advertising to PR for one reason: social media

By Food for thought, Opinion Piece, Poem news

Siona Singletary never thought she’d work in PR, but then something massive happened: Facebook became the biggest news site in the world.

For the past 16 months, I’ve been working in PR. There’s a sentence I honestly never thought I would type. I cut my teeth in advertising and never looked for anything outside of it. Back then, PR was something I simply did not understand, or admittedly care that much about. My main experience of PR came from working on integrated campaigns and “integration” was a buzzword used for show.

But then, something big happened. The king of social platforms, Facebook, made the shift from a photo-sharing platform to a news source. In fact, it became the largest referrer to news sites in the world (overtaking Google in 2015). Suddenly the platform became a source of information, a place to tell and share stories. This shift made conventional social advertorial content stick out like a sore thumb. People no longer wanted to a see a photo of a product, they wanted to read a story about it.

Fast-forward to today, and people are more ad savvy than ever. 96% of the people that discuss brands online do not follow those brands’ owned profiles. Dark social – the sharing of content in places marketers can’t track, like WhatsApp and email – accounts for 75% of all online content sharing, with no sign of change. So even if people are reading your product story, it’s now difficult to fully track who is sharing it.

What’s the challenge we are facing?

This brings about a question: What’s the ultimate goal with social content for brands? In an ideal world, I’d love to say sales, but unless e-commerce is fully integrated into social platforms there will always be barriers to conversion. Furthermore, can a social platform be an e-commerce platform at the same time, or must one eventually give way to the other?

Let’s rephrase the question: What are the ultimate and achievable goals? I believe they are engagement and conversation. Social media is our post-postmodern-day word of mouth and we all know that’s the best recommendation you can get, it’s genuine and it shows intent. A RadiumOne study recently told us that those who share brand content are nearly 10 times more likely to convert. If that share was a dark share, it’s also believed to be more impactful with the recipients, as it’s more personal. So, if we kick those goals of engagement and conversation, consumers will be driven in-store and online to purchase by their friends and family. Which is much more meaningful.

If we take this onboard when planning a campaign, the first problem we have is how we track all this dark activity? The second is how do we make content that people want to talk about and share? Those billboard-style brand and product ads that used to clog up chronological newsfeeds have long been redundant as a stand-alone approach to retaining humans’ attention on social. Humans won’t share ads, for many, many reasons:

1. It’s an ad.
2. It’s most likely not very interesting.
3. It’s not adding any value to the user – it doesn’t give them any social currency (make them seem funnier/more interesting/smarter).
4. It doesn’t connect with them, they cannot see themselves in it.
5. It’s an ad.

PR ideas on social media

So, what does engage humans? The ever-elusive viral social campaign (that we can’t really track properly) relies on one thing now more than ever. A good story. A good story, with the right human insight can connect a consumer with a brand and instigate action. And here’s the kicker, good stories like these have been created by PR professionals to generate scores of editorial articles for decades.

Editorial articles are objective and hold authority, they can affect the way consumers think about a brand, even more so than a brand campaign perhaps. PR, by nature, is designed to make a lot of noise and traditionally this noise was enough of a KPI. However, social has opened the possibility for this noise to be measured, analysed, optimised and retargeted. Now we can control who we share the story with and understand how engaging a story was.

We already know that a newsworthy story makes for good social content and now we have access to the means to prove it and fine-tune it. A newsworthy story based on a solid human insight is what makes a piece of content sharable. Fundamentally, PR and social are highly compatible and highly effective when it comes to moving people.

What am I suggesting? Let’s put an end to the traditional process of advertising as the default lead. This isn’t the answer in 2017, especially if we always fail to integrate. How about leading a campaign with a PR idea? A shift in the perspective of many marketers is still long overdue.


Siona Singletary is Digital Strategy Director at Poem Group.


Is the PR degree going way of the dinosaurs?

Should PR degrees go the way of dinosaurs?

By Food for thought

Is the PR degree going way of the dinosaurs?

Is the PR degree going extinct? When I embarked on my university journey in 2016, I chose to study public relations because I thought it sounded cool. Apart from the information collected by skimming through university brochures, I wasn’t exactly sure about the content of a PR degree and its worth to the market. 

This choice was especially challenging considering some of the latest publications on the industry. Companies such as IBM have challenged assumptions that college degrees are necessary assets for successful careers.

From a personal perspective, I have encountered many people asking me why I was studying PR at all. During an interview for an internship position in a Public Relations company, the director questioned the worth of having a PR degree and told me that he got into PR ‘by accident’, working his way through. I discovered later that he had a degree in archeology.

So what is the relevance of a public relations degree today? For me, it comes down to three things; competitive edge for job seekers, market respect and attracting a certain kind of person.

The PR industry is growing at an average of seven per cent annually, and its ranks have swollen to nearly five professionals to every single journalist, a ratio that has more than doubled over the past decade. While journalism is facing difficult times – Fairfax Media management’s recent announcement to cut a quarter of all editorial jobs comes to mind. As the industry is growing, the job market is becoming increasingly competitive with more professionals on the look-out for qualified students.

One of the arguments made after the recent 457 visa changes suppressing ‘PR Manager’ title from the skilled visa list was the surplus of qualified Australian students. In the future, it will therefore be nearly impossible to climb to the top of the PR professional ladder without the appropriate qualifications.

From a market perspective, hiring PR students is a testament to the value of the profession. Regardless of the growing relevance of Public Relations as a profession, the industry is not always labelled as fully mature because no consensus has been reached on how best to evaluate a PR campaign’s contribution to results. Hiring PR professionals who don’t have a degree could potentially contribute to the wider market questioning the profession’s value and legitimacy.

Finally, students that study PR are worth much more than their qualification. Most people drawn to PR possess skills beyond writing and research such as creative thinking, strategic development, the ability to communicate, open-mindedness and curiosity making them attractive on the job market. Gina Ramson-Williams, group talent director, Europe, at Weber Shandwick explained that she looks above all for inquisitive minds and drive when she hires PR graduates.

I was struck by the importance of creativity in the profession. A career in PR offers countless opportunities to be creative, not only in terms of writing but also in coming up with new ways to promote businesses and approaching new clients. PR is a profession which constantly calls for fresh ideas and lateral thinking so having those skills can be crucial to bring career success.

Having studied PR and had on the job training, my one concern is that educators work closely with PR operators on a regular basis to ensure the skillsets taught in PR degrees are always updated and kept relevant. PR continues to change so quickly, that a rounded practical education across social, digital, creative and strategy is essential.

Although some doubts prevail upon the future direction of PR in a fast-changing media environment, one thing is certain; PR degrees will not meet the same fate as the T-rex. Just like the PR market itself, the degree will adapt, evolve and flourish – rather than die out.

Alternative Meat Co Product Range Featured on Social Media

Social Media Strategy & The Decline of Organic Reach

By Food for thought, Poem news, Uncategorised

Businesses on Facebook have a new challenge to overcome, the decline of organic reach. In 2016 alone, the organic reach for Facebook pages fell a massive 52 percent, meaning it is and will become even more of a challenge to utilise social media marketing to effectively reach a large online audience.

Before you freak out and abandon your social media strategy, there are some things to consider moving forward. Content creation, optimisation and the digital strategy involved will naturally have to evolve as businesses battle to reach a lot of the same consumers that are all within the one space. Basically, content needs to be unique, effective and relevant for it to gain traction online.

Take for example our 2016 launch of Alternative Meat Co. With an audience unaware of the product, we created a content led campaign that featured Dave Hughes sparking conversation around meat free substitutes in a playful and comedic way. In a room dominated by meat eaters, a vegetarian/flexitarian voice was heard.

A kebab shop stunt video that saw Dave Hughes dupe self confessed meat lovers into eating Alternative Meat Co’s plant based meat substitutes achieved a huge organic reach of 2.79 million, which massively outperformed our paid reach of 1.89 million. We then released a second video within an hour of the MLA’s annual Australia Day TVC which sought to give a voice to the vegetarian/vegan population of Australia. Again, the organic reach (2.59 million) heavily outperformed the accompanying paid strategy (911k). Apart from high social traction, the well timed Australia Day video was also covered by around 160 individual editorial publishers both on and offline.

The reasons for the success of the organic reach was due to strong granular targeting and retargeting based off audience ad recall, insight led content and the use of graphic supers and a hook to encourage engagement and discussion on the posts. This allowed for our paid strategy to complement the already existing strength of the organic reaction and meant we were able to communicate to an even broader and larger audience.

The social strategy and content optimisation meant the video was able to act as a conversation starter which snowballed the organic reach as viewers tagged their own audiences and shared their thoughts on the product and the campaign itself. The Alternative Meat Co campaign went on to win Mumbrella’s Comms-Con Launch Campaign of the Year.

The holy triumvirate and careers

By Food for thought

Careers are funny things. Careers are what develop when you’re trying to grow as a human being, to learn, be happy and be interested. My career is something I didn’t really give much thought to until I changed jobs recently, but I updated my socials and there it was: a product of my actions until this point and a compass into what could be my future.

I never wanted to get into PR. I was always going to be a psychologist (and before that, an astronaut/firefighter/etc), and studied the field in my BA, supporting myself by working a series of bartending jobs. Holy crap psych is interesting. I mean, how could the study of human behaviour not be interesting, learning what drives people, makes them tick.

I reached my final semester of Social Science (Psychology) before I had the sudden realisation I no longer wanted to be a psychologist. Funny that.

Time to pivot. But not straight away – I was onto a good thing with the bartending. It helped me learn how to chat and shoot the shit. How to manage my time and juggle a few different things: Coordinating five drinks in one order from three people, with 13 ingredients in total, washing glasses while keeping the bar clear, asking Terry what Barry wants before exclaiming to Sharon she’s gonna have to changes rosés again.

Fast forward a couple of years and I was not longer happy in the service industry. I’d learned what I could and it was time to move on. And move away. I wanted to move into a new “career” but I thought I’d better learn a spot more before pulling on my big boy pants. PR stood out. One year later I had my Masters in Comms and a starting position in the industry.

From there it was a matter of learning as much as I could, as quickly as I could. Early on in the piece I found that bartending, strangely, put me in good stead. The chat, the multitasking, the long hours and the quick wit all seemed to help. Not to mention, the knowledge of booze helped with the occasional alcohol client. I liked it. I was busy, I was learning, and I was happy: the three ingredients to a fulfilling life.

I realise now how important those three ingredients are. They’re crucial elements that by-and-large have always been something my employers to date have paid attention to. I’ve been lucky to experience this holy trinity at most workplaces, and I realise how short-lived the ones were that didn’t care to tick those three little boxes.

PR is great because it provides you with as much stimulation as you need. It’s a creative industry, first and foremost, and fosters the weird and wonderful thoughts we create sometimes. It’s also an industry of structure, requiring order and the ability to keep plates spinning. Finally, PR is an industry that requires constant learning: You need to stay abreast of so many facets of human life in order to remain effective.

I’m almost five years in to PR now, and I’ve noticed a bit of a career formed when I wasn’t looking. Praise Jebus it’s one I bloody love.

‘Like a ship emerging from the fog’

By Poem news

The dictionary definition of ‘emerging’ is to… ‘come forth into view or notice, as from concealment or obscurity – like a ship emerging from the fog.’ 14 months ago Poem wasn’t concealed or obscured; it just didn’t exist. Today we’re sailing hard like we’ve been in business for the last five years, working with the likes of Google, Expedia, Cartoon Network and The Cancer Council. And amazingly, through all this hard work, we’ve been noticed. A couple of weeks ago we sat at the Mumbrella Awards with all our peers as finalists for Emerging Agency Of The Year, against The Special  Group and Emotive; two highly successful Australian agencies that we hugely admire. What a privilege and reward for what’s already been the best year of our careers. Our friends at Special took home the final honours, but that didn’t stop us from celebrating like we’d won, because we still felt like we had.

Can agencies have a role in their staff’s personal development?

By Poem news

A couple of weeks ago we celebrated completing Poem’s 1st year of business by taking the whole team skydiving. Is that weird? It’s definitely not normal, but we figured we had to do something epic to match what’s been an epic year. We were all up in that plane together. We jumped out one after the other. We shared that stomach churning anticipation followed by the exhilaration of landing and the three day high that follows. It was truly the best thing that I’ve done at work with colleagues and for some, it was a real personal challenge and life changing experience. What is strange though for me, is that it’s led to a whole lot of thoughts in my head about what a work place’s role in its staffs’ lives should be and where to draw the boundary.

My first media world job was in London fifteen years ago at Freud Communications.  I was there for over five years predominantly because I had great mates there, I knew the work was forward thinking and the place inspired me. We worked hard, played hard and Matthew Freud, the owner did some kick ass motivational talks. I wouldn’t say it helped grow me as a person, but it was a key stage of my life and gave me a good work ethic. Since then I’ve worked for a total of four other companies until deciding to start Poem, however they’ve all been steps up on the career ladder as opposed to life changing periods.

I wonder whether there is actually a role for companies to have in staff’s personal growth rather than just career. Can we be more than just a wage, fair working environment and career progression? Can we inspire and encourage staff to be more and develop as people? I don’t know.  Maybe not as we grow bigger.  But right know I feel like we have an opportunity to do something amazing. I’m not saying it’s about extreme sports at a once a year party.  But since we’re starting from scratch, can we build in ways to give staff more trust, flexible time, annual leave without policies. I think my biggest bug bear about climbing the career ladder, has been the policy on a 20 day a year holiday allowance with two weeks maximum to be taken at any one time. It limits you to holidays as opposed to meaningful travel experiences that can’t be had within just two weeks. We want to change that.

Everything is changing (I guess everything always is), however right now because of new technology, commonplace high speed internet and changing demands of a Millennial generation, it feels like we’ve hit a real high step change, which a lot of established agencies are struggling to see over. I’m hoping that agency and career life changes for the better and that we manage to break the restrictive mould that’s existed in offices since the 60s. Being a year old I reckon we’re in a good position to help that change happen.

– Rob

The launch of the world’s first cold pasteurised milk.

By Client news, Poem news
This month we launched Made By Cow, a world first innovation by an Australian company that’s used cold pressure to kill all the bad stuff in untreated milk as opposed to boiling it. It’s totally safe to drink, contains more of milk’s natural goodness and it’s unhomogenised, so there’s a tasty layer of cream on top – just the way it should be.
There was a lot of preparation that went into this campaign. The messaging had to be perfect and how, when and which media we went to in order to break the story was key, as milk surprisingly, is a complex subject full of polarised points of view and passionate opinions.
We decided on ABC News and Fairfax as the two exclusives. They were given access behind the scenes to the farm, the cold pressure technology and interviews with Saxon, the founder and our nutritionist, Lyndi Cohen. These two opinion forming media let the rest of the country know we were onto something serious, so the rest of the country and then the rest of the world’s media also got on board. By the end of the week we been across the whole of Fairfax, News Corp, The Daily Mail, Huffington Post, Mashable, Ch 7 News, Ch 10, ABC TV / radio and online amongst many others.
To help educate people about the process and why cold pressure is so much better than heat pasteurisation, we worked with The Explainers to create a short 1 minute animation made for Facebook and targeted relevant geographical and interest-based audiences.
As a result of this publicity and social content only, Made By Cow sold out within the first three days and is still hard to find in store. Whilst initially being stocked in just Harris Farm Markets and About Life Stores, retailers both here and abroad have been requesting further product every since. The issue now, which is a good issue to have, is keeping up with demand.


Green tea gastronomy with Peter Kuruvita

By Client news, Events, Food

We recently worked with celebrity chef and long-time Dilmah ambassador Peter Kuruvita to introduce Dilmah’s excellent new Ceylon Green Tea range to Aussies, with a tea gastronomy event.

Dilmah built a shiny new green tea factory on its home soil in Sri Lanka, so we could have access to quality, ethically sourced green tea. To help spread the word, we invited media and influencers to a special lunch event at Pullman Hotel Circular Quay hosted by Peter. We were joined by the likes of The Jugernauts, Better Homes and Gardens, Simon Food Favourites and Australian Women’s Weekly.

Peter created four tasty dishes infused with Dilmah’s new green tea varieties to bring the flavour up a few notches, matched with glasses of Dilmah tea. We munched our way through mini lamb pies infused with Moroccan mint green tea, green tea with lemongrass kokoda, green tea with jasmine pickle and kingfish sashimi and Ceylon green tea onigiri with salmon pearls. 

While we treated our tastebuds, Peter talked about the new green tea range and the things that set Dilmah apart, like how they help thousands of Sri Lankans every year with their MJF Charitable Foundation and their commitment to producing sustainable, ethical and single-origin tea.

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