When the South Australian Government proposed a network of marine parks comprising 46% of the State’s coastal waters, including 70% of coastal waters in the South-East, the South Eastern Professional Fisherman’s Association (SEPFA) appointed Hughes PR to develop a communications campaign to support its reasoned opposition to the Government and promote its alternative position.
Hughes Public Relations’ task was to plan and implement a program in support of SEPFA’s opposition to the proposed outer boundaries for marine parks in SA.
In particular, SEPFA commissioned the consultancy to achieve the following objectives:
- Support a community understanding of the proposed marine parks legislation which pressures changes to the current proposal in line with SEPFA’s position;
- Express the SA fishing industry’s concerns about the proposed marine parks to key Government stakeholders, local communities and the wider public;
- Utilise and promote credible third-party information which demonstrates the SA Government’s advertising campaign is misleading and its position on marine parks is unfounded and unreasonable;
- Emphasise the potential threats of the marine parks proposal to the future viability of a sustainable fishing industry;
- Engage local communities and the wider public to ensure successful outcomes; and
- Emphasise the fishing industry’s ongoing commitment to the conservation of the marine environment.
The consultancy developed an objective-focused communication strategy for SEPFA asking key target audiences and stakeholders to consider “What’s Below The Surface?” of the Government’s contentious marine parks proposal.
The communications strategy comprised the following elements:
- Identification of key target audiences and stakeholders.
- Development of agreed “key messages” and a calendar of PR activities and opportunities which underpinned the strategic direction of the campaign;
- Oversaw a state-wide advertising program and creation of promotional materials (including posters, pennants, stickers and badges) to directly address the State Government’s advertising campaign on marine parks;
- Development of news releases and media stunts and opportunities;
- Creation of a dedicated website.
In response to the campaign the State Government agreed to negotiate new smaller marine park boundaries in line with SEPFA’s requests, giving particular assurance to the Association for waters in the South-East.
Importantly, the campaign satisfied each objective including bringing together commercial fishers with key recreational fishing groups and achieving strong industry, community and local government support for SEPFA’s position.
In addition, the campaign received widespread online attention through the www.whatsbelowthesurface.com.au website. As well as maintaining a record of news and media coverage received during the course of the campaign, the website’s specially created “Supporter Group” attracted overwhelming support from business organisations and individuals across the State adding further weight to SEPFA’s influential community relations campaign.