The Australian Avocado Growers Federation is the Peak Industry Body for Australian Avocados. Made up of Australian Avocado Growers along with associated businesses, industry people and managed by Horticulture Australia, the Federation was set up to work with all elements of the supply chain from farming through to consumers, to continually grow and develop the industry ensuring a sustainable future for all members as well as a high quality and safe product for Australian consumers.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
With the devastation of drought which lead to extensive marketing budget cuts, it was essential that the 2003 season saw an increase in sales despite the substantial decline in advertising spend for the period.
Focusing on increasing current avocado consumers consumption, Beyond The Squares challenge was to re excite this market, creating new and further uses of avocados via increased media exposure throughout the 2003 season.
Leveraging the Ave an Avocado Today tagline, Beyond The Square proposed a Public Relations Program profiling the different Avocados varieties, educating consumers on the differences of each variety and encouraging consumers to try each.
Kick started with a media familiarisation tour to an avocado farm, followed by extensive one-to-one media relations, the results were significant resulting in 482% increase of media coverage from the previous year plus an increase in sales.
A critical time for Australian Avocado growers, following a lengthy drought period and extensive budget cuts, the Australian Avocado Growers Federation was looking to leverage and maximise the Public Relations Program to substitute for the declined advertising spend and ensure steady sales figures throughout the year.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
The initial internal media audit found most media only generically referred to Australian Avocados or default to one specific variety as apposed to the gamut available seeing an enormous opportunity to educate the educators on this element.
The first challenge was to re excite the media on Australian Avocados, via communicating the gamut of varieties and all year round availability seeing Ave An Avocado Today everyday!
The second challenge therefore was to create new and further uses of Australian Avocados providing media with factual and interesting information to secure extensive media coverage. All to be communicated in a credible and contemporary manner, via effective communication vehicles.
The third challenge was for this message to filter through to Australian consumers providing them with interesting information and a variety of new uses for Australian Avocados.
Internal and external research analysis were utilised to identify the communication opportunities and establish the strategic direction of the program. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
In determining the most effective media angles for the 2004 PR program Beyond The Square carried out a media audit, posing key questions to a variety of media as to what information they would like more of and in what format.
The following media were audited:
Print Media, including Monthly glossy Magazines as well as Metropolitan and Suburban Newspapers
- Australian Good Taste
- Australian Table
- Super Food Ideas
- Woman's Day
- The Daily Telegraph
- Cumberland Newspaper Group
Broadcast Media, including TV and radio
- Burkes Backyard
- Fresh TV
- Radio 2GB - Sheridan <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Rogers
The audit highlighted the medias perception of Australian Avocados, what they generally use them for (limitations), which Australian Avocado is generally used, what each media were interested in receiving, in what format and familiarisation tour preferences.
2002 sales figures were sourced and analysed to gain an understanding of on average, how many Avocados Australian consumers purchase per person / per capita.
Primary Audience<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
- · Key media, including:
- Food media;
- Health-based media;
- Womens magazines;
- Family/parenting media;
- Retirement publications;
- Metropolitan newspapers;
- General suburban and regional newspapers;
- Metropolitan radio programs;
- Relevant television programs, and;
- Trade media.
- Consumers of Australian Avocados, in particular women aged 25+
- Australian Avocado growers, and;
- Retailers, in particular produce managers and buyers.
To achieve the set objectives, Beyond The Square Communication developed a focused three-pronged strategy, incorporating <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
- Spokesperson Endorsement;
- Media Familiarisation Tour, and;
- Media Relations.
On the onset of the program, Beyond The Square identified the need to source influential spokepeople who would assist in communicating the programs key messages, gaining the program further cut through, credibility and exposure.
Spokepeople were negotiated and briefed including
- Christine Manfield - High profile and well respected <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Sydney chef with restaurants in London and the Middle East
Christines main role was to profile each different Australian Avocado variety, voicing her opinion on the differences of each including taste, texture as well as different cooking / recipe recommendations. Also, Christines culinary skills were also utilised, preparing and demonstrating her favourite recipes to fellow food media.
- Rob Kemp Extremely knowledgeable and established Australian Avocado grower with generations of history in the industry
Officially hosting the Media Familiarisation Tour, Rob Kemp provided years of experience and knowledge to all elements on the growing, harvesting and seasonality of Avocados.
Media Familiarisation Tour
Due to lengthy lead times required for some magazine editorial, it was crucial for the familiarisation tour to be conducted early in the year to ensure year long media coverage.
In total, 12 media attended the day long event at Mr Rob Kemps farm located in Sydneys CentralCoast in April 2003, seeing them arrive at the farm as one group then split into three smaller groups to proceed on a personalised tour of the avocado farm, each with an avocado grower.
Each stage of Australian Avocado production was featured and discussed in the farm tour including plantations, growing, maintenance, harvesting, sorting, packing and distribution. All issues and myths were also discussed and dispelled including insecticides, retailer relationships and drought impact which ensured a highly educational and interesting day.
Further to the tours, celebrity chef Christine Manfield performed an interactive cook up and open Q&A session to further educate the media. Proceeded by lunch served at the farms homestead and joined by each Avocado grower, and their families.
The aim of such a famil was to educate the educators and allowing them to
- Learn more about Australian Avocados and experience first hand how they are grown and harvested;
- Meet and interview Australian Avocado growers;
- Discuss market trends and issues with industry experts;
- To participate in Australian Avocados cook ups with the celebrity chef;
- To experience Australian Avocados taste and flavour through key food tastings, and;
- To provide the media with enough information and inspiration to develop media coverage on Australian Avocados.
Beyond The Square Communication co-ordinated the media famil including:
- drafting an attendance list development and distribution of invitations;
- development and co-ordinating of the order of proceedings;
- developing and briefing spokespeople on key messages;
- liaising with media to secure their attendance at the event;
- sourcing and co-ordinating facilitators, celebrity chef;
- logistics implementation;
- attending and onsite coordination of the event;
- preparing and providing information kits to all participants, and;
- personalised post event follow up including evaluation.
The advantages of such an event were two fold. Firstly, to create a forum to communicate Australian Avocados key messages and build good relations with media, while gaining media coverage.
The underlying objective was to ensure a consistent flow of media coverage throughout the entire year; therefore an ongoing media relations program was implemented to support the launch.
Four individual media releases were developed on all five of the profiled Australian Avocado varieties (including Shepard, Hass, Sharwil/Wurtz and Reed) and released each strategically throughout the year to ensure a drip effect was achieved in media coverage.
Each media release outlined the distinguishing differences of each variety, when and where they are grown, best in season time, how to select and store each plus nutritional benefits followed by a current and topical comment from an Australian Avocado grower. Also, Christine Manfield (the programs celebrity chef) provided a what to do with it recommendations for each.
Recipes are of interest to both the media and consumers and to continue to provide new uses, highly regarded food stylist Yael Grinham was recruited to develop four new Australian Avocado recipes. One new recipe was distributed with each of the above media releases.
- To generate a 50% increase in national publicity throughout 2003 to counteract reduced advertising presence;
A significant and consistent level of coverage was secured for Australian Avocados. In total, 144 media clips were achieved in the press over the twelve month period, seeing a massive 482% increase from 2002 media coverage.
- To ensure media coverage communicates the programs key messages leading to new and further uses, including
- Distinguishing different varieties have you tried a Reed avocado?
- Ave An Avocado Today tagline instilling daily/regular consumption, and;
- All year round availability and usage - not just a summer salad inclusion.
All media releases and both spokespeople reinforced the key messages throughout the program; as a result, these key messages were reflected strongly in the media coverage achieved.
- To professionally manage a familiarisation tour with a minimum of 10 key media representatives to cement solid relationships and promote positivity about Australian avocados; In total, 12 media attended the familiarisation tour, including
- Australian Womens Weekly,
- Good Weekend, F
- Family Circle,
- Womans Day,
- Super Food Ideas,
- Thats Life,
- Australian Good Taste,
- New Vegetarian and Natural Health,
- Sun Herald,
- Radio 2UE, and
- The Daily Telegraph
- To maintain national sales despite a massive decrease in advertising;
Only Sydney and Brisbane sales figures were available. Both saw an increase - Sydney sales increased by 1.42% while Brisbane sales increased by 1.43%.
- To maintain good relations with key retailers ensuring the Australian Avocado Growers Federation are continually seen to be proactive in a competitive fresh produce arena, and; Media coverage was secured in seven trade outlets including foodweek, Food Australia and Rural Weekly.
Evaluation of the program was based on:
- Analysis of the initial media audit and feedback and take up of the specified information;<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
- Number of media attending the familiarisation tour and their feedback;
- Sales of Australian Avocados in Brisbane and Sydney;
- Increase of media clippings and circulation figures achieved throughout 2003 including percentage increase, and;
- Determination from the Australian Avocado Growers Federation of a greater Public Relations budget for future campaigns.
This evaluation highlighted that:
- In the past, media have only featured either a generic avocado or focused on one variety;
- The inclusion of key spokespeople can have enormous impact on the results seeing both spokespeople very popular with media and excellent take up of their comments and advise, and;
- Food media want more than just to be wined & dined it is essential to be imparting new and topical information in an exciting & grass roots format.
- Evaluation forms were completed by the media attending the familiarisation tour with the following feedback documented -
"The event went beyond expectation. And I had a fabulous time and learnt so much from it. The highlights for me were speaking to the farmers during the tour of the orchard and Christine Manfield's demonstration."
"Thanks for yesterday - again a very successful and informative event."
"I wanted to thank you both for such a lovely and well organised day. Many thanks. Visiting the farm and seeing how avocados are grown was a definite highlight."
'Christine was great to watch - a nice change of pace from the walk and talk session. There was a good selection of info and a nice treat to find avocados in the bottom of the media bag!."
The highlight for many was simply experiencing first hand how Avocados are grown and having the opportunity to talk to the growers first hand. Also, Christine Manfield's Avocado dishes and the demonstration, which worked well and contrasted well with the tour of the farm. The uses and seasonality of Avocado was also a hot topic on the day.
At all times, Beyond The Square Communication adhered to the PRIA Code of Ethics, our own company standards and operating principles ensuring the program was developed and executed with excellence in the highest ethical practice and professional competence.