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Australians Deserve Fair and Affordable Access to High Speed Broadband

Client: 

TERRIA

PR Company: 

n2n Communications

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2009 C2 - 2

Year: 

2009

Executive Summary: 

Australia has suffered from inadequate and expensive broadband services. With Rudd’s promise to deliver high-speed Internet services to all Australians, eight local telecommunications companies formed a consortium, TERRiA, to drive regulatory reform to ensure fair and affordable access to broadband.  

 

The impact of regulatory reform on the sector and consumers would be wide-reaching. TERRiA needed a public affairs communications program to support its ambitious plans.

 

n2n developed a multi-faceted public awareness campaign that targeted direct decision makers including Ministers, Members of Parliament and advisors. In addition, external influencers were targeted through direct advocacy, media and analyst relations, and electronic communications (blogs, podcasts).

 

Testament to the success of the campaign, discussion of regulatory reform was central to all coverage achieved.

 

Most significantly, major regulatory reform of the telecommunications sector was a core element in the outcome of the NBN Request for Proposals (RFP) process.

Situation Analysis: 

One of the Rudd Government’s core election promises was to build, in partnership with the private sector, a National Broadband Network (NBN) that would deliver high-speed Internet services to 98 per cent of Australians.

 

Under existing telecommunications regulation however, Australians faced some of the most expensive and slowest broadband services in the world. 

 

TERRiA believed that the NBN process provided a unique opportunity to amend telecommunications regulation to ensure all Australians had fair and affordable access to broadband services.

 

Its goal was to gain Government support for its principle of regulatory reform, to successfully win the RFP process to build the NBN or, alternatively, that structural reform was central to the winning bid.

 

TERRiA was officially established in May 2008. It had a timeframe of just six months to establish credibility, secure Government commitment to its agenda and position itself as a serious contender to build the NBN.

Research: 

Research conducted included:

·      Media/online audit to determine the current level of debate and key players

·      Economic modeling on the cost impact of a lack of regulatory reform for businesses and consumers

­   Consumers would pay 15 per cent more for broadband if the NBN was delivered without regulatory change (Appendix A, Item 1)

·      Interviews with CEOs and Regulatory/Government affairs managers in TERRiA’s member base (e.g. Optus, AAPT, iiNet) to determine key media and government relationships that could be leveraged to influence opinion

 

The research established the need for consistent, yet differentiated messaging by audience:

·      Media – covering the debate and key influencers of opinion. Typically confused by issues around regulatory reform 

·      Government, regulators/advisors – committed to delivering the network.  Final decision on the need for regulatory reform would sit with the Prime Minister, supported by key advisors

·      Consumers – skeptical of cost vs. return/benefit of a NBN rollout

·      Analysts and Industry – concerned about cost to shareholders. Need to address commercial outcomes of regulatory reform

 

It also highlighted a need to:

·      Conduct regular background/off-the-record briefings with key media and parliamentary advisors

·      Prioritise direct advocacy with Ministers, Members of Parliament and advisors with a direct line of influence to the Prime Minister

·      Implement a media relations campaign that addressed the impact of current regulatory regime on consumers and businesses

 

Target Policies: 

The target publics were split into two categories:

 

Decision makers:

·      Prime Minister

·      Treasurer

·      Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy

·      NBN Advisory Panel

·      Senate Select Committee

·      Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

 

Influencers:

·      Government and opposition Ministers, Senators and Members of Parliament – front and back benchers

·      Advisors

·      Media

·      Industry

·      International telco companies that had experienced regulatory reform

·      Analysts

·      Consumers

Communication Strategy: 

The strategy for this campaign was two-fold:

  1. To influence key decision makers through a direct advocacy program 
  2. To raise awareness with influencers through a communications campaign

 

The first phase was used to refine target audiences and identify the most appropriate communication channels. Given the wide-reaching nature of the NBN and the potential number of interested parties, it was important to focus on the most influential in achieving regulatory reform.

 

The results of this phase determined how the strategy would be executed: a six stage program over the timeframe (details in implementation section).

 

Although operated as discrete programs each with its own budget allocation, the stages were designed to overlap for maximum impact.

 

Key elements of the strategy included:

  • Simplifying the complex topic of telecommunications regulation reform into key messages and sound bites. These were used by all spokespeople and refined as the media and political agendas moved
  • Dedicated executive profiling campaign including one-on-one educational/interviews for the Chairman, the Hon. Michael Egan and Managing Director Michael Simmons
  • Building a presence in and around Parliament House to demonstrate that TERRiA was engaging in the influencing process and was a serious contender
  • Relationship building with and education of senior media commentators

Ongoing media relations and industry analyst briefings to ensure the issue of regulatory reform remained high on the agenda and was included in any NBN discussions

Implementation: 

The strategy for this campaign was two-fold:

  1. To influence key decision makers through a direct advocacy program 
  2. To raise awareness with influencers through a communications campaign

 

The first phase was used to refine target audiences and identify the most appropriate communication channels. Given the wide-reaching nature of the NBN and the potential number of interested parties, it was important to focus on the most influential in achieving regulatory reform.

 

The results of this phase determined how the strategy would be executed: a six stage program over the timeframe (details in implementation section).

 

Although operated as discrete programs each with its own budget allocation, the stages were designed to overlap for maximum impact.

 

Key elements of the strategy included:

  • Simplifying the complex topic of telecommunications regulation reform into key messages and sound bites. These were used by all spokespeople and refined as the media and political agendas moved
  • Dedicated executive profiling campaign including one-on-one educational/interviews for the Chairman, the Hon. Michael Egan and Managing Director Michael Simmons
  • Building a presence in and around Parliament House to demonstrate that TERRiA was engaging in the influencing process and was a serious contender
  • Relationship building with and education of senior media commentators
  • Ongoing media relations and industry analyst briefings to ensure the issue of regulatory reform remained high on the agenda and was included in any NBN discussions

 

The campaign was executed between June and November 2008. It consisted of six stages:

 

Stage 1 – Planning and Preparation

 

n2n developed a comprehensive advocacy plan that included:

  • Written plan: time lines, responsibilities and itemised budgets (Appendix B, Item 1)
  • Clearly defined roles for teams and regular communication on progress
  • Identification of decision makers and influencer targets

 

As TERRiA was launched in May 2008, there was no existing collateral, brand materials or online presence for the consortium. In addition to drafting materials to support the public affairs campaign, n2n had to build a brand presence for TERRiA.

 

Tactics during this phase included:

  • Development of website including all content and media resource page (Appendix A, Item 2)
  • Establishment of RSS feed to disseminate all new content on the website
  • Development of key message framework for key spokespeople (Appendix B, Item 1)
  • Development of presentations
  • Copywriting

 

Stage 2 – Direct Advocacy

 

Identifying, educating and informing the opinion of decision makers in the NBN process would underpin the campaign. During the preparation phase it was identified that, although a number of decision makers were conversant in the debate about telecommunications regulation, for many it was a complex and foreign topic.

 

Arming these stakeholders with the appropriate information to understand, discuss and question key issues in the debate was crucial. 

 

 

 

Government/Regulator Relations and Advocacy

 

  1. Ongoing advocacy program targeting government and opposition Ministers, Senators, Members of Parliament and backbenchers – included face to face meetings and letter campaign (Appendix B, Item 2)
  2. Specific opportunities including a CEO lunch with the Victorian and Queensland Premiers

 

Consumer and Industry Communications

  • Broadband Manifesto for Industry: content drafted and industry signatories identified. Issued to government in the form of a petition on telecommunications regulation reform (Appendix A, Item 3)
  • ‘What is the NBN?’: consumer brochure to raise awareness about current regulations and broadband pricing

 

Stage 3 – Influencing the Influencers

 

To ensure the issue of regulatory reform was high on the NBN agenda of the key influencers, a media relations campaign was developed to generate sustained coverage.

 

Media engagement was increased in the lead-up to significant milestones in the RFP process.

 

  • Media interviews, issues commentary and proactive news opportunities (Appendix A, Item 4)
  • Background briefings/educational – to build relationships between the media and key spokespeople

 

Stage 4 – Regional Australia

 

One of the key differentiators in TERRiA’s approach to the NBN roll-out was to address regional areas first. Historically regional and rural Australia have always been last to receive technology infrastructure. The goal of the regional campaign was to highlight these issues and gain support from stakeholders.

 

  • Town hall meetings conducted in regional centres with strong economies and a diverse business mix
  • Media relations targeting regional print and broadcast media
  • Local MPs, business leaders and community members invited to attend to discuss the impact of a lack of affordable, reliable broadband services in regional areas
  • Information packs were developed as leave-behinds for businesses and consumers (Appendix A, Item 5)

 

Stage 5 – Monitoring, Evaluation, Modification

 

  • Weekly activity reviews mapped back to achievement of objectives and KPIs
  • Ongoing refinement of plan

 

Stage 6 – Momentum

 

  • As the program progressed, media, analysts and Government began to approach TERRiA proactively for expert opinion and insight. The agency’s role was to assess opportunities and ensure they mapped back to the goals
  • Key messages were modified as the debate progressed

 

Results: 

The overall objective of driving the need for regulatory reform was achieved.

 

The outcome of the NBN tender process was announced on April 7th, 2009 by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Minister Stephen Conroy. One of the core outcomes was a commitment to make significant regulatory changes to enable a competitive and effective telecommunications industry.

 

This represented significant change in telecommunications policy.

 

Refer Appendix A, Item 6 for Minister, the Hon. Stephen Conroy comments regarding regulatory reform

Evaluation: 

Objective: Key messages

Result

Develop and disseminate key messages and talking points among consortium members

100% achieved: See Appendix B, Item 1 for key messages and talking points

Objective: Education and awareness

Result

Positively educate and raise awareness among key stakeholders about the need for regulatory reform

Largely achieved: Perception shift among majority of key stakeholders as measured through press and industry comments:

 

Government/Regulators and Advisors:

 

Tony Windsor, MP, Independent Federal Minister for New England – 20 Oct 08:

 

"….despite Telstra's and previous Government guarantees of equity of access for country people to telecommunication services supposedly 'enshrined' in legislation, country people have had to accept second best.”

 

"Bring on the competition to Telstra - bring on TERRiA - they'll nip at Telstra's heels.”

 

 

 

Influencers:

 

Alan Kohler, Editor in Chief, Business Spectator - 4 Jul 08

 

“…Telstra’s furious response to the regulatory submissions made to the government on the National Broadband Network (yes, all of them) is a fair sign that it is in trouble.

“…Conroy would have to have a very good reason indeed to accept an integrated Telstra bid over a separated Terria bid.”

 

 

 

Objective: Media coverage

Results

Minimum 60 articles including 10 in regional press

Exceeded:

·      More than 500 pieces of print coverage

·      More than 300 pieces of coverage online

·      More than 20 pieces of broadcast coverage

·      15 pieces of regional coverage

Minimum 75 per cent of coverage in tier one media

Exceeded: 85 per cent in tier one media including, The Australian, The AFR, BRW, The SMH, The Age, ABC etc.

Minimum 75 percent of coverage including one key message

Exceeded: At least one key message in each piece of coverage

More than 50 per cent of media coverage re NBN to include reference to TERRiA

 

Exceeded: More than 80% of articles commentating on the NBN process and telecommunications regulation featured TERRiA

Conduct 1 background/off-the- record briefings per month

Exceeded: Secured more than 30 background briefings and 45 off-the-record briefings

Conduct 4 interviews per month

Exceeded: Secured more than 100 interviews over 6 months

 

The results of the campaign were summarised by the client:

 

“We had a very short time to establish TERRiA and communicate the brand’s values to Government, potential investors and other stakeholders.

 

 

 

 

 

“The mark of the overall success of this campaign was that, within weeks of the media launch, we could go into meetings with industry stakeholders and Members of Parliament and everyone knew who we were and what we stood for.”

 

“Ultimately, we were able to achieve our goal of ensuring that regulatory reform was central to the NBN decision.”

 

Michael Simmons, Managing Director, TERRiA