UTS Library

The Hard Yard DVD

Client: 

Victorian Department of Primary Industries

PR Company: 

Victorian Department of Primary Industries

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2008 C5 - 3

Year: 

2008

Executive Summary: 

The Hard Yard DVD was produced by the Victorian Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to help farmers better cope with stress and manage change.

The concept was brought to DPI’s Marketing and Communication (M&C) Branch by field staff with fi rst hand experience of the pressures from farming. At the time, the M&C Branch was in the process of developing strategies to reach those farmers who were eligible for support, but had so far been unwilling or unable to access it.

The DVD concept presented an opportunity to let farmers hear directly from other farmers about tactics for coping and steps for managing change in their own time.

The DVD was integrated into a communications strategy to inform farmers about the information and services available from government (both State and Commonwealth) in relation to drought.

Market research indicates that the DVD has been successful in achieving its goals, and while there were 3,000 copies initially produced, a total of 15,400 were distributed free to farmers and community organisations around Victoria.

Situation Analysis: 

In late 2006, as the majority of Victorian farmers were experiencing the worst drought in 100 years, DPI field staff and agency staff were reporting increasing incidents of farmers withdrawing from support networks.

At the same time, within DPI and more broadly, there was a growing realisation that while substantial variability in rainfall, temperatures and extreme events have long characterised farming, farmers were now confronting something different – a changing global climate.

However, market research indicated that many farmers were still hopeful that the drought would ‘break’ and there was a strong feeling that the only way governments could help was though financial hand outs.

“The amount of money that’d go into it (the DVD). Honestly, I don’t think it’s worth it. Give everybody a thousand dollars off their Shire rates.”1

The challenge was to develop a campaign that would be cost effective and engaging, while providing practical advice. This required a strategic communications approach, based on solid market research and firsthand experience from field staff.

1 Sweeney Research Report, ‘Drought DVD Attitudinal Research – Farmers and
Farmers’ Wives, Ref. No. 5891, February 2007, p. 32

Research: 

In mid February 2007, four focus groups were conducted by Sweeney Research with farmers in Shepparton and Horsham2. These regions were selected as they were affected by drought and allowed for a mix of farm types to be represented.

Apart from testing general attitudes to the concept of a “Drought” DVD, market research was required to…

  • Ensure the DVD content and “tone of voice” is appropriate
  • Identify the issues that are of importance, relevance and concern to target audiences
  • Identify the target audiences’ information requirements
  • Probe for additional issues.

The focus groups supported and reinforced anecdotal information from field staff:

  • Respondents in all four groups spoke of people in their area who were not coping well, suffering from depression or withdrawing from social contact. Suicides were also mentioned.3

This validated the need for the campaign, however the market research also revealed that a number of issues (including water allocations, import competition and lack of access to drought assistance) were negatively colouring views of government.

The research indicated that if a DVD were to be offered to the farming community, it would be launched into a discontented environment.

  • Therefore, unless the DVD is perceived to be constructive and helpful at a practical level, it and the government will be criticised severely by the farming community.4

2 Ibid., p. 11.

3 Ibid., p. 19. 

4 Ibid., p. 2.

Target Policies: 

The target publics are farmers, those needing support but not accessing it, rural communities and support agencies that come into contact with those affected by drought.

Support agencies, including SANE Australia and Wimmera Uniting Care, were engaged in early planning and provided valuable input regarding content, messaging and distribution.

It was clear that if the campaign was to be successful, word of mouth was vital. Stakeholders, including the Victorian Farmers Federation (VFF), the Country Women’s Association and DPI and DHS staff, were crucial in generating grassroots momentum.

Communication Strategy: 

DPI worked closely with other relevant departments, particularly the Department of Human Services, and drought/counselling support agencies to ensure that content was both engaging, practical and accurate.

A publicity campaign was also essential to create awareness of the DVD and outline its content. This campaign included a media launch and free media, as well as TV and radio community service announcements.

There was consideration of launching the DVD at the Spirit of the Bush Drought Concert, held near Horsham in March 2007. However, the concert was about providing temporary relief from the pressures of drought, and would be inappropriate.

The DVD was launched by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture at the farm of Byrnside farmer Paul Quirk, who featured in the DVD.

Distribution was a key issue and delivering it unsolicited to every farmer in Victoria was not a viable option due to cost.

It was decided to make it available through DPI’s Customer Service Centre, or Drought Information Line, as well as through fi eld days, the VFF’s statewide network, church groups, women’s networks and DPI staff.

TV and radio community service announcements were produced to direct farmers to the Drought Information Line. The call to action was that there is practical advice and support available, there are people who will listen, call the Drought Information Line on 136 186.

Implementation: 

Due to forecasts of Autumn rain in late March to early April, which never eventuated, the campaign was developed and implemented within a tight timeframe.

In mid January, DPI sought to secure the services of a Victorian Government Marketing Services Panel supplier to produce the DVD, and on January 24 the first pre-production meeting was held with advertising agency Marmalade.

The final script was approved in early February and production began while the focus groups were underway. The findings of the market research had a significant impact on the overall tone and type of information included.

The communications plan was finalised in early March and the final cut was approved on March 6.

Duplications were produced and sent to key stakeholders. DVD slicks (or covers) were produced for the media launch on March 16. A transcript and copy of the DVD was placed on the DPI website.

TV and radio community service announcements were produced in February and went to air between March 17 and April 17.

DPI negotiated a sponsorship arrangement with the WIN TV network to screen footage from the DVD along with highlights from the Spirit of the Bush concert nationally on Saturday 24 March.

Results: 

The Hard Yard has been distributed free to over 15,000 farmers around Victoria, and a year later it is still being discussed and screened at conferences and community events6.

Sweeney Research7 conducted 96 interviews with callers to DPI’s Customer Service Centre who had requested the DVD and key fi ndings of the survey included:

  • 17% of respondents who had watched at least some of the DVD have changed their views or attitudes on how to cope with hardships
  • 64% of respondents who have watched at least some of the DVD said they have adopted ‘a lot’ or ‘a little’ more positive attitude to coping with their current situation
  • 96% of respondents who had watched some of the DVD said they had either recommended the DVD to others or would recommend it to other people to watch.

The Hard Yard generated substantial positive media coverage, with a total equivalent advertising value of $31,1348, not including WIN TV’s Spirit of the Bush special which reached a national audience of 406,671.

6 See Appendix A.2

7 Sweeney Research report, ‘The Hard Yard’ DVD Research, Ref. No.16067, June 2007

8 See Appendix A.3

Evaluation: 

Evaluation against Objectives

  • To produce a DVD that is engaging and inspiring, while providing practical steps to managing stress and change. The fact that 96% of respondents who had watched some of the DVD said they had either recommended it to others or would recommend it to other people to watch, would indicate that The Hard Yard is engaging. That 17% of respondents who had watched at least some of the DVD have changed their views or attitudes on how to cope with hardships, indicates that a significant number of people learnt something about coping with stress or change from the DVD.
  • To distribute 3,000 copies of the DVD to Victorian farmers, regional communities and relevant stakeholders. A total of 15,400 copies have been distributed around Victoria, exceeding all expectations
  • To generate a substantial increase in the number of calls to the Drought Information Line. From March 1 to April 20 the Drought Information Line received 329 calls and 283 requests for copies of the DVD. Although this did not equate to a substantial increase in the number of calls - in January the Drought Line received 344 calls and in February (due to the Spirit of the Bush concert) 789 calls were received - there was a reported change in the nature of calls received. Callers were increasingly depressed and/or distressed. Whether or not this was as a result of the campaign or due to the worsening drought is difficult to tell.
  • To engage key stakeholders in the promotion of the DVD. Numerous stakeholders publicly supported The Hard Yard and participated in its distribution around the State.
  • To generate positive media coverage regarding the DVD and its key messages. As of April 2007, The Hard Yard had attracted positive media coverage with a total Ad $ value of $31,134.
  • To broadcast the DVD, or a re-cut version of the DVD, on TV in order to reach a mass audience. The special achieved high ratings with the national audience peaking at 406,671, equivalent to Ad $ of $161,475. In Victoria the concert had an average of 76,289 viewers with a 23.5% audience share. The screening won its timeslot in home sub-market of Ballarat & Western Victoria – 31.4% share compared to ABC 25.3%, Ten 20.3%, Prime 17.7%.