The Australian Defence Medal (ADM) was established in 2006 to recognise the contribution of all Australians who served in the defence of their country, whether overseas or in Australia.
It is estimated that over one million Australians are eligible for the ADM. However, at the time of the pre-Anzac Day ADM media campaign, only 140 000 medals had been awarded. The goal of the campaign was to maximise the number of eligible people who receive the award.
The objectives of the campaign were to increase the awareness of the ADM and to encourage applications for the award. These two steps were necessary to achieve the primary objective of increasing the number of ADMs awarded.
In the two-week period in the lead-up to Anzac Day newspaper advertising was placed, media releases were distributed and broadcast interviews were initiated.
The campaign was evaluated by media coverage, increases in calls to the medals inquiry line, increases in hits to the Department of Defence medals website and increases in the number of applications for the ADM received. It is estimated that the campaign reached an audience of five million people, and awareness of the ADM and the number of applications for the award significantly increased.
The Australian Government established the ADM because it is committed to recognising those people who have served their country but may not have been formally recognised by another award such as a campaign medal or recognition for bravery. The Australian Defence Medal (ADM) was established on 30 March 2006 to provide this recognition. The Department of Defence estimates that over one million Australians, living and deceased, are eligible for the ADM. However, since it was established only 140 000 medals have been awarded.
Most of the military medals that Australians are familiar with are either bravery decorations or campaign medals. Bravery decorations are awarded when individuals are nominated for them so recipients do not need to apply for them. Campaign medals are awarded for service in particular operations, such as World War II, Vietnam or Iraq. In both of these categories the medals are usually issued shortly after the act of bravery or the operation.
The ADM is different from these types of medals in that it was established in 2006 but eligibility was backdated to 1949 – to the end of World War II. The vast majority of the eligible recipients of the ADM have either died or left the Services some time ago. In order to award the ADM the address of recipients or their next of kin needs to be established. As this is difficult to do through Defence or other government records, and because of the complexity of the eligibility criteria, potential recipients need to actively obtain, complete and submit an application from.
The majority of the 140 000 people who had already received the ADM fell into three categories: currently serving members of the Australian Defence Force who are automatically issued with the award on the completion of the eligibility period, people who are connected with the ex-Service organisations which were consulted during the process of determining the eligibility criteria for the award, or people who heard about the award through media coverage of its establishment.
Public relations was needed to reach the vast majority of people who are eligible for the ADM – or who have a member of their family who is eligible – but were not aware of the need to apply for the award because they do not fall into the above three categories.
The information previously promulgated about the ADM was reviewed to ascertain which groups of eligible people were already aware of the need to complete an application form in order to receive the award. An analysis of the ADM applications that had already been received by the Department of Defence also contributed to this review.
Previous activities designed to raise awareness of the ADM included a series of ministerial media releases, a stall at the Australian National War Memorial Open Day and associated media interviews, a small newspaper advertising campaign, the establishment of the Defence Honours & Awards Newsletter which covers medals issues including the establishment of the ADM and is circulated to a wide audience, communication within the existing Defence channels and a mail-out to offices of the Returned Service League.
Anniversary of National Service Medal
The introduction of a similar award, the Anniversary of National Service Medal 1951-1972 Medal (ANSM), was also examined. It was also established well after the end of the military campaign to which it related. An analysis of the success of the information methods used to stimulate applications for this award was used to identify successful and unsuccessful strategies.
Like the ADM, recipients of the ANSM needed to apply for the award. It was established in 2001 and the first medals were awarded in 2002. Of an estimated 330 000 eligible recipients, as at the end of 2006 only 114 378, or 35 per cent, had received the medal.
Publicity for the medal consisted of a series of ministerial media releases over the period 2001-05, word of mouth and the distribution of kits. The kits contained brochures and application forms and were sent to federal members of parliament, Returned Service League clubs and national servicemen’s associations.
The communication methods used for the ANSM produced 20 per cent of the total applications in the first year. The application rate dropped to less than 10 per cent in subsequent years, with a total of 35 per cent of eligible recipients having applied for their medals within six years of the announcement of the award. This showed that the methods used were not particularly effective in maximising the awarding of the ANSM to eligible recipients.
The intended publics for the ADM campaign were identified as former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) who meet the eligibility criteria and, in the case of deceased members, their families, excepting those who have already received the award. As eligibility includes ADF members who served after the end of World War II, the target age range was up to 80 years of age.
The majority of the people who have already received the ADM fall into three categories: currently serving members of the Australian Defence Force who are automatically issued with the award on the completion of the eligibility criteria; people who are connected with the ex-Service organisations which were consulted during the process of determining the eligibility criteria for the award; or people who heard about the establishment of the award through media coverage at the time of its establishment.
The target publics for the media campaign were the vast majority of people who are eligible for the ADM – or who have a member of their family who was eligible – but who did not fall into the above three categories.
The two-week period in the lead-up to Anzac Day was identified as the time when the public would be most receptive to messages about military medals. Widely targeted newspaper advertising, and radio and media releases were assessed to be the most cost-effective media to use to reach the maximum number and widest range of people which was identified as the target public. Strategic electronic media interviews were also used.
See Appendix A for a summary of the media coverage, an example of the newspaper advertisements, the text of the radio and media releases, examples of press coverage and a transcript of the television interview.
Advertisements were placed in a large number of selected metropolitan and regional newspapers over the period 11 to 23 April 2007.
A radio release, which combined a traditional media release with audio files, was distributed to radio newsrooms by email and via AAP Newswire and National Medianet. The audio files contained grabs of the relevant minister, the Hon. Bruce Billson MP, the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence, talking about the ADM.
Two media releases relating to the ADM were released by the minister and Mr Billson, together with a recipient of the ADM, the Hon. Jeff Kennett AC, were interviewed on a national commercial television program on Anzac Day about the medal. Defence spokesperson Ms Irene Wilson participated in several in-depth radio interviews on networked ABC radio programs in the period leading up to Anzac Day.
The ultimate success of the media campaign will be judged by the success in reaching the primary objective of maximising the number of ADMs awarded but, as the assessment and presentation process can take over 12 months to complete, an interim assessment of the campaign was based on the size of the public reached by media coverage and on increases in calls to the inquiry line, hits to the website and the number of ADM applications received.
Details about the evaluation the campaign are contained in Appendix A. Over the period of the media campaign and the following two weeks it is estimated the media campaign reached five million people (see Appendix A.A). This coverage means that the objective of increasing the awareness, understanding and knowledge of the ADM was achieved.
Calls to the medals inquiry line increased by 300 per cent (see Appendix A.B), hits to the Defence medals website increased by 233 per cent (see Appendix A.C), and the rate of application forms received by the Directorate of Honours and Awards by 240 per cent (see Appendix A.D). These results showed that the objective of motivating people to obtain, complete and submit an application form was met.
Several factors could have impacted negatively on the effectiveness of the campaign:
- The high number of calls to the inquiry line led to a significant number of ‘abandoned calls’ on some days of the campaign. ‘Abandoned calls’ are people who hang up before their call is answered, usually because they have been on hold for a long time.
- A delay in updating the message that callers heard while they were on hold or when the call centre was closed meant that an incorrect web address was given out.
- There were anecdotal reports of the Department’s medals website being ‘down’ or ‘slow’ during the campaign period. No quantitative data about this is available.
- The minister sent out a media release about the ADM application process on 3 April 2007 – before the period of this campaign, and it received some press coverage. Media outlets which had already run stories about the ADM were unlikely to be inclined to run another ADM story two weeks later.
Factors which may have inflated the figures measuring the success of the campaign were:
- The Department had an information display in Melbourne for the Anzac Day march. Information about the ADM was given out at this event.
- Improvements to the Department’s medals website went ‘live’ on 5 April 2007. Information about the site was distributed by email and through internal departmental communications between 5 and 12 April.