Adapting to PR trends with Communications Collective


December 5, 2023

Member Spotlight

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Director Genevieve Brannigan, to delve into her unique perspectives on the PR industry and explore the journey that has shaped her views along the way.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Director Genevieve Brannigan, to delve into her unique perspectives on the PR industry and explore the journey that has shaped her views along the way.

Working within the communications industry, it is crucial to stay up to date with ever-changing PR trends. The team at Communications Collective talked us through not only understanding their consumer priorities but also making sure they adapt accordingly. Situated at The Commons Wellington Street, Communications Collective goes beyond the scope of a typical PR agency. They boast a dedicated team of communication experts with diverse expertise, allowing them to work across various genres and offer a wide range of services.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Director Genevieve Brannigan, to delve into her unique perspectives on the PR industry and explore the journey that has shaped her views along the way.

What is Communications Collective?

We are a team of creative communications experts working across the property, architecture, design, art and cultural spheres. We are committed to challenging industry standards and redefining the art of communications through a deep understanding of our clients and the landscapes they operate in.

Our bespoke approach to our work is what sets us apart. We think about our clients holistically– from their business strategies and operations to their core values - we communicate their point of difference to the people, places and publications with maximum impact. Our practice is highly collaborative. We offer a complete scope of communications services that support businesses in reaching their target audiences, and far beyond.

We also have a sister business, Collectivity Talks, which is a unique series of discussions and events uniting industry leaders and change-makers across our key focus sectors. Exploring important and newsworthy topics, our clients become dynamic collaborators in the series, providing opportunities for network expansion and reputation building.

What brought Communications Collective to The Commons? How has it helped your business journey?

Post Covid, we realised that it no longer made sense to operate our large independent office. With much more flexible work weeks and periods of rolling lockdowns, it became challenging to both maintain office operations and have a strong sense of culture.

Having an office at The Commons allows us to have the best of both worlds. We maintain our strong CC culture, while also drawing energy and inspiration from the broader collective culture and atmosphere at The Commons locations.

From an operational perspective, we have access to so many more meeting rooms, collaborative and leisure spaces, and we no longer need to manage things like IT, printing, and the stress of broken-down coffee machines! While our HQ is at The Commons Wellington Street in Collingwood, we absolutely love being able to work from The Commons office locations across Australia. Talk about flexibility!

What advice would you give others starting their own business?

It’s important to be clear on what you are offering and what problem you are solving for your clients. You won’t attract the right clients unless you can clearly define what you can offer them, and what your place in the market is.

Take the time to understand each of your team members and develop effective ways to lead instead of micromanaging. Remember, achieving quality results is about empowering people to do their best work.

Be prepared to step up to the plate. The business becomes your boss, and you must take full responsibility and accountability, particularly when challenges and hurdles arise.

Be prepared for long hours and lots of hard work, especially in the early stage of your journey. Invest time into networking and building positive relationships with your clients, suppliers and broader industry networks. This is just as important as delivering the ‘work’ itself.

It's also very important to set aside time for yourself and practice self-care, no matter how busy you are. For me this means routine meditation, eating well, exercising every day, and taking time out to do things that inspire and nourish my creativity.

On the operations front, ensure you have a good accountant you can rely on. I’ve seen many businesses fail due to cash flow, tax issues, and other financial problems that could have been avoided if they were managed correctly from the outset.

Mistakes? We all make them. We’re human after all! What matters most is your ability to learn from your mistakes for future growth and improvement. Resilience is your highest power as a business owner!

"Invest time in building the right team around you; like-minded individuals who are genuinely enthusiastic about your business’s offering, the sectors it operates in, and the clients you work with."

What are some current trends in the PR industry, and how is Communications Collective adapting to them?

1. The rise of values-based businesses has had a big impact on how we approach marketing strategies and understand consumer behaviour. Values-based businesses cater to consumers who prioritise their principles and values in their purchasing decisions. We need to understand their target audience's values and effectively communicate how their products or services align with those values.

2. The need for authenticity and transparency means that marketing and communications professionals must be honest and open about a brand's core values, practices, and impact. This is the only way they can build trust and credibility with their target audience.

3. I think emotional storytelling is also being used to connect with consumers on a deeper level. Businesses create an emotional connection with their audience by sharing stories that resonate with their values and mission. Marketers can craft narratives that appeal to consumers' aspirations, beliefs, and desire for positive change, effectively communicating the brand's purpose and impact.

4. There is, of course, an ever-increasing focus on digital PR, including influencer marketing, social media management, and online reputation management. Coupled with this, is data-driven PR which leverages analytics to measure the effectiveness of campaigns, gather insights about target audiences, and make informed decisions based on the data collected.

5. Tailoring messages to specific audiences and utilising bespoke communications approaches is becoming more important in PR. This allows companies to connect with their audience on a deeper level and build stronger relationships.

6. Content is king! PR and content marketing are converging, with PR professionals increasingly involved in creating and distributing valuable content that aligns with their clients' messaging and brand positioning. This means a big tick for creativity.

7. Finally in this age of digital connectivity, managing and responding swiftly to crises has become crucial. Companies are investing in robust crisis communication strategies to effectively handle and mitigate potential reputation-damaging events.

Can you share some examples of recent successful PR campaigns or strategies that have aligned with these trends?

We supported award-winning Australasian architectural firm Hayball on creating its overarching 40 Years of Social Value campaign to align with its 40-year anniversary this year. As one of Australia’s most values-driven architecture businesses, Hayball’s enduring commitment to designing for social value was amplified to media, industry and the public through a strategic campaign showcasing the practice’s legacy of designing spaces that positively influence the wellbeing of people and communities.

Our bespoke approach to crafting comprehensive PR strategies for large-scale government initiatives was demonstrated in our work for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and its Future Homes Victoria pilot program. We created a PR strategy that educated industry, media and target audiences about the key pillars and objectives driving the project, which aimed to increase housing diversity and density by facilitating high-quality and accessible apartment developments across the state.

We recently supported client Geelong Design Week with a holistic PR and media campaign which spanned everything from media outreach, to event awareness, to the development of engaging and creative content for social and digital media reflecting GDW’s dynamic 2023 program, key event collaborators, and Geelong’s unique standing as UNESCO City of Design that has earnt it global recognition.

Key tips for businesses or individuals looking to improve their public relations efforts:

1. Clearly define what you want to achieve through your public relations efforts. We always look to align PR goals with our client’s broader company vision.

2. Identifying what your brand, business or organisation’s unique story and values are, and communicating these with clarity and authenticity. Create a comprehensive PR strategy aligned with your values, goals and target audience.

3. Do your research. Take the time to understand your target audience, including their knowledge level, interests, and media consumption habits. The deeper your observations and understandings, the more your content and PR approach will engage them.

4. Ensure the content, tone and imagery is aligned with the publication you are targeting. Editors are very busy. If you can’t engage their attention in the first paragraph of your media release or pitch, you won’t. Use the 5 W’s to frame this all-important opening paragraph – Who, What, When, Where and Why.

5. Don’t underestimate the power of networking and proactive outreach to build strong connections with relevant journalists and media outlets, as this will be likely to increase your chances of positive coverage. Seek out opportunities for media coverage through industry awards, speaking engagements, or thought-leadership articles.

6. Stay informed about industry trends and developments, listen to feedback, and continuously refine your PR strategies for long-term success. And remember, when it comes to PR, you must show – not tell! Case studies, data and third-party experts are key!

How can a small business or start-up with limited resources effectively utilise PR to grow its brand and reach a wider audience?

Identify your goals and the resources you can utilise to achieve them. Firstly, I recommend determining your brand positioning and values, and find your unique story. Start asking questions like: What does our business really stand for? Where does it currently sit in the market and what is our vision for the future? What is our point of difference in a competitive landscape?

Research the media landscape that is most relevant to your business and look for opportunities to tell your story, especially to local and community media or channels that might already be familiar with the business and what you’re offering. Invest time and creativity in building your “owned” channels such as social media and eDM’s, and if you don’t have the budget to engage an agency, try and pinpoint the person in your business that can champion your PR and marketing program to keep it engaging and consistent.

What is next for Communications Collective? Where do you see the business growing?

We see a number of key areas for growth. We love working with values-based businesses, as well as ambitious, design-led property development projects, several of which we have in the pipeline. We will also continue to expand our portfolio in the hotel sector. As a nationally-regarded practice, we are experiencing strong growth in the Sydney market, so watch this space!