COVID-19 is a profound and evolving challenge.

What does it mean for Australia’s farmers and for agriculture? What does it mean for food production?

The longer implications are less certain.

A record low dollar makes Australian produce more internationally attractive but global trade is becoming more restricted and challenging.

What are we recommending to agribusiness clients – remembering agribusiness is a sector, and farmers are just part of that?

Three things matter.

  1. Follow advice to protect the health and safety of staff and customers
    Agriculture has a duty of care to staff, customers and the communities where they work and live. The average age of the Australian farmer is 57, with a large percentage of farmers in high-risk categories of 60-69 and 70-79.
  2. Find a way to help agriculture overcome and succeed
    Communicate opportunities (e.g. domestic market access, online retail, import substitution) and threats (closure of international markets). A characteristic of agribusiness is matching resilience with resourcefulness. Communicate!
  3. Provide calm, optimistic leadership to reaffirm Australian agriculture’s vital role
    Australians are worried about food and fibre security. Demonstrate to normally apathetic consumers the underlying strength, innovation and reliability of Australian farmers, agriculture and food production.

Published 26 March 2020.


Struggling Australian media

COVID-19, Australian media’s tipping point?

COVID-19 has placed an unprecedented strain on Australia’s already beleaguered media industry.

Collapsing advertising revenue has forced media companies to substantially and rapidly reduce costs, despite Australians’ news consumption and trust in media soaring since the pandemic began.

The question is, can substantial rises in TV and online news offset dramatically falling revenues for our media companies? The answer thus far is sadly no.

Southern Cross media has raised $170m to pay down debt, while Seven West Media has suspended trading of its securities to deal with its own debt crisis. Australian Community Media, in charge of Fairfax’s old regional titles, has cut senior editors and News Corp has told its staff to brace for significant change.

And at Australia’s vital regional and suburban newspapers, print editions are being ended and taken online, and journalists laid off.  Deputy PM Michael McCormack’s forecasted relief package for regional media cannot come quickly enough.

In this environment predictions are fraught, but one thing is clear: the unprecedented nature of COVID-19 is shaking media business models to their foundations.

For Porter Novelli, this is a sad reality and a call to action to communicate. With shrinking newsrooms, it’s important we work alongside our clients to produce accurate, engaging information that keeps consumers engaged in democracy – both as the pandemic continues and when the slow recovery can begin.

Published 9 April 2020.


How to boost Digital Engagement and Advocacy

Face-to-face Vs Digital

Traditional face-to-face meetings and events offer multiple opportunities to engage with colleagues, clients and stakeholders alike. Often, the focus is on the ‘main event’: a panel discussion, a breakfast presentation or an expo with multiple events. However, when we look at a person’s journey through the lens of a physical event, an individual will have dozens of touch-points with different people throughout their experience. When we look at these touch-points, we begin to see just how many peripheral engagement opportunities (beyond the ‘main event’), there are to engage with different people and stakeholders.

As we are forced to move our meetings and events into the digital space, there are existing platforms to facilitate the ‘main event’ (Webex, Zoom, Adobe Connect, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc.). These platforms help move presentations to the digital space, but do they really help us to replicate a true event experience?

The answer is, “Well… not really.”

For most virtual events, the host can share content with the attendees, but the ability for other attendees to connect and engage with each other is lost. These are the touchpoints at every stage of a ‘traditional’ event such as casual conversations over a breakfast presentation, or standing in line and chatting while waiting to check into the event or even talking while waiting for your coffee before entering for the day.

These missed opportunities are already being considered by many organisations and employees who rely heavily on events. New and innovative apps and tools have been created to replicate face-to-face networking opportunities, either organically or by using artificial intelligence.

Below are some examples of apps and tools that could be used with general online platforms, to bridge some of the engagement gaps which appear when digitising events.



Swapcard is a smart event engagement platform, powered by artificial intelligence that aims to: will help you digitise your social wall for any virtual event and helps to:

There are also several Q&A specific apps available such as PigeonHole and Slido, both of which can help to maintain engagement levels during a digital event.

Other considerations for virtual events

Capture data

One significant benefit of virtual events is the ability to tap into the data that they generate. By being online, you can capture the behaviours and signals of participants during the event in a much more synthesised approach. You can follow the question and answers of each attendee, how they respond to polls, their direct feedback, what they are tweeting and efficiently collate it all under their online profile. These different data points will help to make marketing smarter and more effective.

Protect data

Digital events and experiences are prone to cyber-attacks, which could significantly impact the event and the reputation of your client. The privacy of attendees and participants’ data should also be a consideration and a priority, as thousands of business professionals will tune into the live stream. Greater protection and stricter firewalls may need to be utilised for these events.

Published 31 March 2020.