Hughes Public Relations was appointed by Clean Seas to assist with the communication of its October, 2005 Initial Public Offering of some $18 million. At the time, Clean Seas was virtually unknown beyond the Port Lincoln region and the inner circles of the Australian aquaculture industry.
Its Chairman, Hagen Stehr, AO, was known as a successful “flamboyant tuna fisherman” but not widely acknowledged for his pioneering role in Southern Bluefin Tuna farming or the successful breeding, grow-out and multimillion-dollar worldwide export of South Australian kingfish and mulloway.
The communication task facing Hughes Public Relations was threefold:
1. With relative speed, establish the credentials of Hagen Stehr and the Stehr Group as successful and credible pioneers of Australian aquaculture (prior to the announcement of the IPO and prospectus release);
2. Aid the Board and the Due Diligence Committee formed for the public listing, with appropriate communication tools and opportunities to educate and excite the investment market about the commercial potential of Clean Seas, as a means of generating investment support for the company’s Initial Public Offering (through the issue of its prospectus on October 28, 2005);
3. Build and sustain investor interest in Clean Seas stock to coincide with the company’s listing on the Australian Stock Exchange on December 12, 2005. The communication strategy roll-out was based on achieving the above key outcomes within the timelines also outlined above.
Hughes Public Relations’ task was to plan and implement a program in support of Clean Seas Tuna’s impending listing:
- Identifying and briefing key aquaculture industry advocates (including key State and Federal MPs, senior bureaucrats and independent academics) to win support for sought-after research dollars from leading government agencies for the world-first project to come to fruition;
- Building interest in the State’s aquaculture industry and the Stehr Group in the context of the growing international requirement for protein food sources (increasingly from sustainable fishing);
- Creating goodwill and support among the local community;
- Specifically promoting the capital-raising program on the back of an announcement of Clean Seas Aquaculture’s success in obtaining a $4 million+ AusIndustry Commercial Ready Grant for the closure of the Southern Bluefin Tuna lifecycle; and
- Promoting the Stehr Group’s efforts to date preparing for the breeding of tuna at Arno Bay, and then supporting the capital raising with ongoing positive communication through the media and other avenues.
The consultancy developed an objective-focused communication strategy comprising the following elements:
- The consultancy established and coordinated a “communication team”;
- Clean Seas Tuna Limited Chairman, Hagen Stehr’s profile was fine-tuned as the spokesman for the company;
- Key media were targeted and kept informed;
- The consultancy developed an outcome-focused PR Calendar;
- The consultancy coordinated and oversaw the production of all supporting material to ensure all material was consistent and cohesive;
- The consultancy identified and briefed key aquaculture advocates;
- Organised and supervised media training for Clean Seas Chairman Hagen Stehr and his son, Clean Seas General Manager Marcus Stehr;
- Organised an exclusive event to commemorate Clean Seas’ historic listing on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Hughes Public Relations, through a carefully planned strategy and relationships established with key national business and financial journalists, achieved widespread and consistent positive publicity in the lead-up to the listing.
Although Clean Seas was based in remote Port Lincoln, the consultancy achieved national media cut-through by involving company Chairman Hagen Stehr in relevant aquaculture industry articles with mass appeal to the public.
Extensive coverage was achieved in The Australian, The Australian Financial Review, The Daily Telegraph, The Herald Sun, The Courier Mail, The West Australian, The Adelaide Advertiser and ABC, along with feature-style stories on the group on the ABC’s Stateline program and in Business Review Weekly.
Extensive coverage also was achieved more broadly on radio and television. The media coverage generated had a ripple effect throughout the Australian and overseas
investor communities. Financial analysts began tracking the company and its progress, alerting investors to the opportunity.
The prospectus – which the consultancy played a key role in shaping and project managing – achieved very positive feedback from ASIC on presentation and review.