UTS Library

Australian International Documentary Conference 2004


Screen West

PR Company: 

Mills Wilson

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2004 D 1



Executive Summary: 

Mills Wilson was engaged to manage the public relations and marketing for the 9th Australian International Documentary Conference, held in Fremantle in February 2004. 

The event was a tremendous success, attracting more than 400 local, interstate and international delegates and securing its place as one of the documentary industry's key events.

Mills Wilson developed and implemented a comprehensive communications campaign ? combining a mix of marketing and public relations activities with a targeted multi-media campaign to industry.  Tools adopted included direct mail, promotional flyers, on-line promotion, publicity and media liaison, branding, relationship marketing and events.

The results were extremely positive ? with press coverage secured in all major industry publications, tens of thousands of hits on the event website, and overwhelming attendance both at the conference sessions as well as the ancillary and social events.

More than 23 media releases and bulletins were prepared and distributed, generating more than 30 press clippings and 135,000 web hits in February alone.

Key messages about the nature of the AIDC and the specific program details for the 2004 event were clearly and effectively conveyed to potential delegates and the industry at large. 

Situation Analysis: 

Explain the context of the program and the problem or <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />opportunity it was designed for<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The 9th Australian International Documentary Conference was held in Fremantle, Western Australia in February 2004.  The three-day international conference ? which is hosted in a different region of Australia each year ? has grown to become a major event on the international documentary calendar for anyone working in factual film and television. 

Host cities have included Brisbane (1997), Adelaide (1987,1999, 2005), ByronBay (2003), Sydney (1993), Melbourne (1995) and Perth (2001). 

The conference attracts national and international delegates from a range of fields within the industry.

Mills Wilson was engaged to manage all publicity, marketing and promotions for AIDC 2004, including copywriting and production of all promotional materials, media liaison, branding, and design and print management for the event.

In addition, though not specifically related to this submission, Mills Wilson was the event manager and corporate sponsorship coordinator for AIDC 2004.

Mills Wilson faced a number of challenges with the public relations for AIDC 2004:

  • This was the first time AIDC had become an annual event.
  • It was an international event requiring comprehensive international and interstate promotion.
  • There were significant barriers to securing corporate sponsorship after poor and ineffective sponsorship management in 2003.
  • Long travel distances for many delegates' coming to Perth.
  • There were significant time pressures ? less than a four-month period to promote the event program and speakers.
  • We were part of a combined team that had never before worked on an event of this magnitude, or indeed worked together before.


Provide details of the research used to plan the program<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Mills Wilson undertook thorough research in the planning stages of AIDC 2004.  This research included:

  • Thorough desk research to develop a comprehensive understanding of the documentary sector
  • Discussion with members of the Local Advisory Committee
  • A comprehensive review of previous AIDC events
  • Discussions with the AIDC 2003 Conference Director and the 2003 Publicity Manager.
  • A review of the anticipated 2004 public relations budget for AIDC 2004
  • Liaison with more than 70 sponsors from previous AIDC events to gauge marketing and publicity expectations
  • A review of materials, programs and outcomes of other industry conferences
  • Drawing on in-house expertise developed through other events
  • Circulating expressions of interest to potential delegates to determine interest and to better target PR campaigns
  • Liaison with industry heavyweights in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Perth ? including coordinators of the Perth International Arts Festival and the Revelation Film Festival.

Target Policies: 

Nominate the publics involved, Their significance and/or relationship to the organisation/client<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The target publics for AIDC 2004 included:

  1. Host agencies ? ScreenWest, Government of Western Australia and Lotterywest
  2. Sponsors ? more than 50 sponsor organisations from Government and private industry
  3. Local industry
  4. Session producers and speakers
  5. Members of the AIDC National Board
  6. Members of the Local Advisory Committee
  7. Media ? local, national and industry-specific
  8. Potential delegates from the documentary and film industry, including:
    • Filmmakers
    • Directors
    • Producers
    • Broadcasters
    • Commissioning editors 
    • Film Agency representatives
    • Distributors
    • Editors
    • Sound recordists and mixers
    • Research, production and office crew
    • Web programmers and designers
    • Academics and students
    • Archivists and researchers
    • Industry suppliers
    • Funding agencies.


Communication Strategy: 


Communication Strategy and Implementation<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

Explain the program's strategy AND methods used to implement this strategy

An intensive and comprehensive marketing and publicity strategy was implemented by Mills Wilson from July 2003, with the most intense period being the 12 weeks from November 2003 through to February 2004. 

The communications strategy for AIDC 2004 was simple and effective ? combining a mix of marketing and public relations activities with a targeted multi-media campaign to industry.

Methods used to implement the strategy included:


Mills Wilson developed the branding and design for AIDC 2004 and produced a range of materials used in the marketing and promotion for the event, including the 2004 logo, stationery, website, and printed promotional materials.  (Samples attached).

Direct mail

A direct mail campaign was circulated to a database of more than 4000.  (Refer supporting materials).


AIDC postcards were produced and circulated so potential delegates could mark their diaries and/or register their interest in the event.  Mills Wilson delivered these postcards to more than 40 film festival organisers, peak bodies and film agencies

Targeted registration brochures

Mills Wilson produced and circulated targeted registration brochures were sent to:

  •  ANU Conference
  • <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />MurdochUniversity industry event
  • Science and History Congress
  • SPAA Conference
  • IF Magazine
  • FTI News
  • 13 Australian tertiary institutions known for their film studies

Web promotion and event listings

Mills Wilson also approached more than 90 international and national websites and requested information about AIDC be posted and/or links developed.  Some of these sites included:

  • Docos.com
  • Film Festivals Entertainment News
  • Yahoo Group
  • YIDFF - Film Festivals
  • World Congress of Science Producers
  • Canadian Film and Television Production Association (CFTPA)
  • C21 Media
  • Netribution Film Network
  • Canada in Australia
  • Cinema.com


Mills Wilson prepared and distributed 23 media releases and bulletins to local, national and international media between 19 November 2003 and 29 February 2004(copies attached). 

In addition, Mills Wilson prepared copy for ScreenWest's Screen Online email bulletin. 

Six of these bulletins were circulated to the ScreenWest database.

Briefing notes

Extensive briefing notes were prepared for a number of media outlets, including The Australian, The West Australian, The Melville Times, The Fremantle Gazette, Encore, RealTime, Metro and IF Magazine.  Extensive media liaison was also undertaken.

Promotion of special offers and tailored packages

Mills Wilson established working relationships with industry groups to access membership bases, and where possible offered special offers and tailored promotional material to these groups.  Refer supporting materials).

Relationships with State bodies

Mills Wilson developed strong relationships with the State funding bodies ? e.g. Pacific Film and Television, NSW Film and Television Office, and Screen Tasmania ? to allow us to tap into existing networks. 

Alliances with industry publications

Mills Wilson negotiated with ScreenHub to coordinate daily bulletins for each day of the conference.  In addition, we maintained regular contact with the four key media players in the industry ? Metro, IF, Encore and RealTime.

Face-to-face meetings

Mills Wilson arranged and attended meetings with the Perth International Arts Festival, Revelation Film Festival, Luna and the Australian Writers' Guild to access promotion opportunities and ensure cross-promotion.

Promotion of ancillary events

Mills Wilson actively promoted the range of ancillary and social events on the Conference calendar to boost delegate attendance at AIDC 2004.  Promotion and publicity efforts included those for the 2004 Videotheque; feature film screening; pitching competitions; special events for international delegations; and social events.

International and interstate industry events

Mills Wilson developed a comprehensive calendar of industry events and, where possible, facilitated the attendance of members of the Local Advisory Committee at these events.  We also provided promotional materials to be sent to these events.


Outline what the program achieved AND provide evidence of the results<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

The publicity campaign for AIDC 2004 was a tremendous success, with all of the public relations objectives achieved (refer to pages 13-14).

Significant press and radio coverage was generated prior to, during and after the event.  In addition, Mills Wilson secured the attendance of Channel 31 for three days. 

Specific results include:


10 radio interviews featuring conference speakers and/or session producers, featured on RTR-FM, ABC Radio Perth and <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />

93.7 Nova Drive



More than 30 press articles, including articles in Inside Film, RealTime, C21, ScreenHub, Encore, Metro Magazine, The Australian and The Sunday Times (samples attached).

Accredited media known to have attended the AIDC 2004 included representatives from Screen Hub; Metro Magazine; Encore Magazine; The Australian; The West Australian; and IF Magazine

Ancillary and social events

Mills Wilson's efforts ensured strong attendance and/or support of social and ancillary events, including:

  • Videotheque ? 100 submissions secured
  • Feature Screening ? 100 attendees
  • Pitch 'n' Punt ? 200 applications received for two pitching competitions
  • Special events for international delegations ? three sell-out events
  • Welcome Cocktail Party ? 204 attendees
  • Conference Party ? 267 attendees
  • Leeuwin Sail ? 88 attendees


The AIDC website consistently received more than 50,000 hits per month from September 2003 to February 2004, and more than 90 international and national websites posted information about AIDC, or added web links to their sites.

Promotional materials

A comprehensive and effective range of promotional materials was produced for AIDC 2004.  (Refer supporting materials.)


Assess the outcomes of the program in relation to its objectives<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

1.   To secure more than 350 delegates for the event

Total delegate registrations for AIDC 2004 totalled 429 ? more than 20 per cent above target.  International delegates from 11 countries joined those from every State in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Australia at the event.

2.   To actively promote the conference program and speakers

Mills Wilson prepared and distributed 23 media releases and bulletins to local, national and international media in a 12-week period.  In addition, more than 90 web postings were engaged.  The AIDC email bulletins and a direct mail campaign were directly responsible for securing the attendance of 19 per cent and 14 per cent of delegates respectively.

3.   To develop and promote an engaging social program to complement the formal conference sessions

As outlined previously, the social and ancillary events were well received at AIDC 2004 ? with strong attendance and support across all activities.

4.   To generate strong media coverage of the event, speakers and outcomes

More than 30 press clippings and numerous radio interviews were secured, as per Appendix A (2) and clippings attached. 

5.   To generate sponsor coverage

Sponsors were successfully promoted through the website, banners, signage, AV screens, speaking opportunities, advertisements, satchel inserts and logo display.

6.   To promote AIDC as a forum for discussion, debate and networking, and as an industry marketplace

The two most significant reasons delegates chose to attend AIDC were for the networking opportunities (33 percent) and to promote a personal project (21 percent) ? indicating considerable success in achieving this objective.

7.   To actively promote the AIDC website as a tool for speaker and program information

Total hits to the AIDC website were consistently above 50,000 from October to February 2004.  Notably, hits to the AIDC website more than doubled from November (63,292) to February (135,986) during the heaviest promotional period for the event.

8.   To promote the AIDC's mission and aims

The AIDC's missions and aims were promoted on the AIDC website ? with these pages rating consistently in the top ten pages accessed on the site.

9.   To generate interest from a wide spectrum of the industry ? particularly new and emerging filmmakers

AIDC 2004 hosted delegates from a range of roles within the industry ? from public broadcasters and government funding organisations to academics and independent producers.  Importantly, 17 per cent of delegates to AIDC 2004 were new or emerging documentary filmmakers.

10.  To secure media attendance at the event

AIDC 2004 was attended by representatives of all of the key industry publications as well as local and national media ? a total of 10 media representatives attended the conference for its duration.