Credentials – Karen Balstrup
Here are some examples of my expertise in production, editing of content and materials including website publishing and management, social media and visual content editing. I have a network of influencers and bloggers that are part of generating publicity for my clients or employer.
Researching communication patterns, especially using Big Data, assists to predict human behaviour and customise engaging content.http://www.futurelearn.com/statements/8cfl83b
I have an extensive background in Public Relations and FMCG marketing, stakeholder management, events, sponsorships and issues and crises management plans for brands and organisations.
Most recently at Towncars Networks Australia Pty Ltd, I updated their website http://www.towncarsaust.com.au/
Researching competitor’s sites was the starting point to choose the template style that uniquely identified the franchise company. I managed a photo shoot to produce imagery that reflected the service, quality and reliability of Towncars in a competitive hire car marketplace. Key messages were written into the content and menu selection to assist accessibility. Links were added for customer assistance during the booking process.
Sliding website template
Using visual content editing tools, I wrote a series of Facebook ads to be used in a campaign across 30 local franchisee Facebook pages using PowerEditor. I used Canva to make the advertisements which were targetted at stakeholder groups such as Business Travellers and Family Travellers. I am also familiar with Adobe InDesign and LucidPress, Evernote and Pixlr. Recently I studied extracting big data from Google Trends and Wikipedia using R code on RStudio to produce graphs and analytics about behaviour trends.
To ensure measurement of interaction, I set up a Landing Page which became a filter for any engagement with the Facebook ads. The Landing Page, with unique booking details, measured results to present to the franchisee stakeholders paying the budget.
Analytics were used to measure the performance of the ads and to provide statistics in a report prepared for franchisees.
Identifying bloggers and influencers in market sectors is a key strategy to generate publicity for clients or employers. For example, to reach the audience of parents, “Mummy” blogger or influencers were identified, offered a free HC trip to the airport in return for them posting on their social media feeds. In their posts they point out the positive features of the product/company eg. the driver arrives with the correct child seats in place when you need to get to the airport on time. In addition working with Facebook or LinkedIn Groups is an excellent way to communicate with target audiences eg. North Shore Mums has 20,000 members in it’s facebook group and also runs a website.
Community management of 30 local Facebook pages was undertaken on a daily basis along with regular content posting following an annually planned social media calendar. I have recently overseen the management of social media to assist CrowdFunding for Mary’s House, a refuge from domestic violence, being built in North Sydney. Using social media we successfully doubled our target!
I have set up and run many commercial pages on Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Twitter using analytics available to report to stakeholders.
I have experience setting up keywords and tags within the search friendly content written and posted provides the most effective optimisation and return on investment. Indexing, links on websites, ranking, click-throughs and conversions can be managed. The use of Google Adwords is also an excellent marketing tool especially in crowded marketplaces.
Email Database Marketing
Writing content and distribution of email newsletter style communication was undertaken by me using MailChimp. The analytics relating to the subscriber databases, following the open and click-through rates offer excellent ways to improve growth and relationships with the stakeholder base.
Collateral or Print Production
My public relations background has involved writing, laying out and printing hundreds of brochures, annual reports, sales flyers, information pamphlets and other materials. Most recently I produced a Sales Brochure with key messages on front and back to be kept in reception areas to book the hire cars. I also developed a postcard that franchisees delivered to letterboxes each time they dropped off a passenger or handed out in shopping centres. I updated the company imagery and logo for ease of identification on the cars.
Digital Advertising Campaign
Each franchisee contributed marketing dollars to a digital advertising campaign focussing on local publications in their area. I brokered the package with News Ltd and oversaw the placement and creation of the advertisements.
During my public relations career I have been involved in managing stakeholder relationships and more recently with the franchisees and board members of Towncars Networks Australia Pty Ltd. Initially projects included community groups involved with The National Trust of Australia and it’s goal to increase membership and hence heritage conservation, and with the National Australia Day Committee, to encourage Australians to celebrate through engaging local councils for Australia Day parties or for the stakeholders involved in Bicycle Safety in the NSW Govt. Communication and relationship development is essential to achieve better understanding of content produced and enhance engagement. During my agency career at Clemenger’s Porter Novelli it was essential to maintain long-term relationships with global clients such as Pepsi-Cola, Apple Computer, Pizza Hut, Moet et Chandon and local companies such as Dairy Farmers and Meadow Lea.
Monitoring Issues and Agendas
With training in journalism, it is part of my daily behaviour to monitor issues in the media and online. This is more focussed when a watching brief is developed for key messages using alerts and searches as was the case with media monitoring press clippings and electronic reports for FMCG clients and issues that may affect their brands. As a result, whether it was the “cola wars”, the “fats & oils” wars or consumer education campaigns required, it has been part of my public relations background to manage issues and report to senior management and stakeholders. In addition this required writing and development of issues management plans and crises management plans, many of which were put into action under my supervision.
Gathering Big Data from Google Trends or Wikipedia searches can lead to understanding predictive human behaviour patterns which are essential in relation to managing large cities and natural disasters. I recently studied a certificate course about Big Data with Warwick University in the UK. Here is a sample of a week’s topics. We learned to use r code on a platform called RStudio which produces easy to ready graphs and imagery.
Through this Big Data study we learned about the community interaction with smart cities such as Amsterdam.
Sharing economies are important for economic growth.
Examples of Experience
CONTENT MANAGEMENT, SOCIAL MEDIA and WEBSITE MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE
In my most recent role as Marketing & Relations Manager I used my digital skills to rebrand Towncars Networks Australia. With the arrival of Uber in Australia, the taxi and hire car marketplace changed dramatically with fierce competition for bookings. The goal was to raise awareness and bookings for Towncars by rebranding; creating a Style Guide, fresh imagery, a new company logo and colours, print material and an upgrade of the website www.towncarsaust.com.au. Digital marketing was put in place to reinforce this upgrade. Following research of competitors, a website template with a contemporary look was chosen using new franchisee photographs that highlighted the personalised service. Canva was used as a source of stakeholder relevant photographs. Customer accessibility was a focus to drive bookings through the website rather than to the labour intensive Call Centre. A call to action for target stakeholders became important on the website to spell out Towncars’ selling points of service, safety and savings. The point of differentiation is a fixed-price with no meter running. Social media channels were added to the website framework so that there would always be fresh content appearing that promotes understanding and engagement. To enhance the SEO, links were added to airlines, special events and accommodation. Keywords were researched in Google analytics and backed up by an ongoing Google Adwords campaign. The placement of these keywords and hashtags were strategically used in content on social media and in digital advertising to contribute to SEO ranking and click through conversions.
To communicate with Towncars existing customer base, a MailChimp email campaign was used along with weekly MailChimp campaign to franchisees. Database management was implemented by exporting emails from the bookings software system into MailChimp. Analytics reports were used to monitor opening and click-through rates to the website and social media sites.
Social media sites were set up including a local Facebook page for each Franchisee district. A LinkedIn company page, Twitter and Instagram sites were aimed at key stakeholder demographics. A content calendar was drawn up. To counter seasonal fluctuations in bookings, a targeted Facebook advertising campaign was implemented. A landing page was set up to track activity for reporting. The ads were written and made on Canva and managed across the multiple Towncars pages by using Power Editor and setting demographics in each district. An analytics report was presented to the franchisees to show return on investment and engagement in their local marketing areas. To express the unique selling points about Towncars, user stories became part of the content strategy. Bloggers operating in the parental market endorsed the service and safety messages and celebrity passengers were highlighted. The savings and reliability to companies was also highlighted in content primarily through the MailChimp email campaign. Local area marketing was also implemented using digital newspaper advertising and weekly local content placement on social media including promotions for special events such as Mothers Day with a local restaurant, communicating to their rich source of local followers. The results of this activity was measured by an increase in bookings and stability of engagement by franchisee owner/drivers who continued their investments in upgrading their vehicles and in their contribution to the marketing budget.
Most recently I was asked to advise about and assist with the social media campaign to drive a CrowdFunding effort to raise money to build a domestic violence refuge in North Sydney. In the absence of such a shelter for women and children, the local community networked to double their target and far outstrip their goal now providing more beds for more victims. Mary’s House will be completed in September. The social media campaign used a LinkedIn page, Facebook, and Instagram pages backed up by an email campaign. Twitter was used to harness recent attention about #domestic violence. #MarysHouseRefuge hashtag was used in the resonating content. Content was based around a shopping list strategy eg. Your donation of $50 can buy a bed for one night , $30 can buy 3 meals and so on. A well-known local domestic violence survivor told her story and her subsequent recovery after initially not being able to find local refuge on the northside. Supporters such as Bunnings were highlighted to encourage further community business support. Relevant stakeholders such as the Mater Hospital and local churches and their contribution were highlighted.
Dairy Farmers engaged me to manage the launch of its new milk, “Farmers Best”. At first, a standard product launch program was set in place. However, it became an immensely time-sensitive project as its competitors were trying to out do Dairy Farmers by launching similar products. Therefore, the public relations strategy needed to be changed very quickly to claim “first in the world” positioning to give Farmers Best the leading edge. This required my project team to be flexible, responding quickly when situations changed throughout the process. In addition, a massive consumer education campaign was required to create initial awareness and acceptance of this new milk which had replaced animal saturated fat with monounsaturated fat from canola. The point of difference was that consumers could get a full flavoured taste but without the damaging heart health problems associated with cholesterol.
Paving the way with stakeholders was essential. A tight timeline to beat competitor activity was drawn up and a team allocated tasks with a critical time line to be checked at regular time points. Contingency plans and issues management plans were drawn up in preparation.
Convincing Australian Co-operative Foods’ Milk Division, with over 800 member dairy farmers required strength and resilience in the face of changing traditional milk. Other stakeholders included the National Food Authority, CSIRO, CAFTA, NHRMC, FICA, the Australian Nutrition Foundation, the Australia Food Foundation and Standards Council and so on including the relevant government departments and dairy industry bodies.
To do this and to provide credibility with consumers, we worked with the National Heart Foundation to give Farmers Best the red tick of approval. A nutritionist was engaged to conduct media interviews about the benefits of monounsaturated fat vs saturated animal fat.
A media launch took place on the morning of a formal dinner for over 300 industry participants. Publicity interviews, media training, speech writing, decorating and signage for both functions, producing collateral for doctors, nutritionists and the consumer contributed to extensive planning and prioritising and expert but secretive project management.
A high level of acceptance and publicity was achieved beating competing products to launch. General awareness was high and uptake by the consumer exceeded expectations. Farmers Best won two of the food industry’s five annual awards.
Requiring more flexibility, not long after the launch, more pressure was exerted by a rival Victorian dairy with a competitive campaign. The issues management plan swung into action with collaborative team work required in each State.
Another example of management of unforeseen change was during a Pepsi sponsorship of Michael Jackson’s Australian concert tour. I asked his management if Pepsi could be involved in an outing in Sydney to provide brand association and they asked if he could go to Taronga Zoo. After organising the logistics, media was banned. However as the ferry arrived at the zoo wharf, 7 television crews were waiting, tipped off by the zoo. As the ferry drew in, I quickly told the head of Pepsi to walk beside Michael, and engage him in conversation all the way up the gangplank to the zoo so that the resultant coverage would have to identify the Pepsi executive. The only resultant photo from the day, identified the Pepsi executive, and appeared on the front page of the Daily Telegraph the next morning. TV news coverage of the walk from the ferry provided excellent branding and told the story of Pepsi taking Michael Jackson to the zoo for an afternoon treat as his minders banned media from inside the zoo.
STAKEHOLDER MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE
In the lead up to the Bicentenary, The National Trust of NSW wanted to increase its membership base and hence funding for heritage conservation. The communication strategy we put into place was to raise the profile and community participation in Heritage Week each year which in turn raised the profile of The National Trust and its conservation work. This drove engagement to increase the membership base. With the objectives of securing government support, commercial sponsorship and community participation, a Heritage Week Committee was set up for the stakeholders including the Department of Education, the Department of Local Government & Lands, the NSW Bicentennial Council, the Library Association of Australia, the Heritage Conservation Branch of the NSW Heritage Council, the Museum Association of Australia and the Royal Australian Historical Society. To communicate with the stakeholders, regular newsletter updates were distributed as well as editorial coverage in stakeholder publications. Interpersonal relationship development was important to engender trust and motivate local community organisations to participate in Heritage Week each year. Print materials were developed to provide a commercial sponsor exposure to their target consumer stakeholders. Local publicity coverage of preparations was also important and groups such as Historical Societies run by older volunteers generated massive coverage. Media reports were compiled each year for all the stakeholders and sponsors. The Program of Events for Heritage Week was distributed at a grass roots level through libraries and councils. Schools were targeted with a heritage mural competition which was sponsored and generated more publicity.
Over a period of three years participation in Heritage Week grew to higher and higher levels each year. This meant it grew into a national event. Commercial sponsorship by high profile companies such as Caltex, BP, Unilever and United Permanent Building Society followed. Community sponsorship was managed for them either as an overall corporate supporter or for local events. These sponsorships were engaging the commercial stakeholders as the countdown to the Bicentenary took place. The relationships that were formed over Heritage Week carried over to funding of major heritage and community events for the Bicentenary. Membership of The National Trust of Australia grew. The effective working relationships with the stakeholders in heritage conservation resulted in a positive outcome.
Following the success of Heritage Week, the National Australia Day Committee chaired by John Newcombe AO, OBE approached Spectator Sports Marketing, to undertake a communications campaign that engaged with the community at a grass roots level to encourage Australians to celebrate on Australia Day. Once again, as Project Officer, stakeholder relationships were established through Local Councils and schools and the concept of the “Great Australia Day Parties” was developed with Unilever’s Streets Ice Cream as a sponsor of major events and local community celebrations.
In a similar way, stakeholders involved in Bike Week were targeted and relationships developed by the State Bicycle Committee which engaged me at Holt PR (Porter Novelli). Bike Week continues each year and assists to communicate key messages about bicycle safety and sharing the roads. A series of print materials and publicity was generated to increase participation and awareness with organisations such as government depart of Transport and the RMS, local councils, schools and bicycle enthusiast groups.
Most recently I worked with the community stakeholders involved in Crowd funding to build and run a domestic violence refuge in North Sydney. We doubled our target and building is currently taking place.
CONSUMER EDUCATION CAMPAIGNS
Working with Meadow Lea, a campaign was devised to position the company as a leader in its sector and to target health professionals while reducing consumers fears that fat is bad for you. The objective was to position Gold’n Canola as a healthy alternative highlighting the benefits attained from the omega mix based on research conducted by the Grains Research Development Council and the CSIRO. A Customer Advisory Centre was set up to reinforce and build credibility. Nutritionist, Catherine Saxelby was engaged to provide professional information and to appear in a consumer television, radio and magazine campaign. The Canola Awards were set up to communicate and engage the rural canola sector through Landline ABC TV. A cook book using canola recipes was launched as well as consumer promotions and give-aways in local areas. Trade publications were also briefed with a comprehensive media kit containing credible research materials. An issues management plan was also prepared to combat misinformation by competitor olive oil council. This involved media briefings to key stakeholder sector journalists.
ISSUES & CRISES MANAGEMENT
I believe I demonstrated the attributes of confidentiality and discretion in issues management because several of my high profile clients such as Pizza Hut, Pepsi-Cola, Dairy Farmers and other FMCG brands, experienced problems of an extremely sensitive nature, including the death of a child by choking on a give-away toy in a Pizza Hut, trade union blockading Pizza Huts, the sabotage of Pepsi products, managing customers caught in the Sydney siege for Towncars. In these instances media and lawyers required updating of sensitive information while I aimed to minimise brand damage by keeping communication channels open.
For several clients, I was the advisor to the CEO with regard to media and publicity key messages written into media releases and media statements as well as writing their speeches and putting them through media training.
During the management of Pepsi sponsorships for high profile art, sports and music celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Robert Palmer, Gloria Estefan, MC Hammer, motor cycle and F1 motor racing drivers, and the Moet et Chandon Touring Art Awards, I would become the front person for media contact. This required strategic management and approval of official statements and quotes of a sensitive nature.
Ms Tess White, CEO of Midnight Basketball Australia, writes in her reference, about my ability to maintain confidentiality.
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