Porter Novelli turns the expected into the extraordinary
You don’t become one of the world’s most successful PR companies by aiming low. “We’re masters at turning the expected into the extraordinary!” says Jane Sweeney, managing director of Porter Novelli, a full service PR company. The ebullient Sweeney is one of PR’s most respected and experienced professionals. Her team includes a former magazine publisher, award winning journalists, internal communications and issues management specialists, the best government relations advisors on offer, and a technology specialist from the US.
Having run three agencies here and in the UK, Sweeney believes a full service offer is the only way to go. “I’ve seen marketing communications executed in a manner that is way out of line with corporate strategy and forward orders, Corporate Social Responsibility programmes that appear to ‘conflict’ with a contemporary brand—a full service agency takes all aspects of the client’s focus and environment into account.”
‘Delivering the extraordinary’ means Porter Novelli must do more than generate a few lines of press coverage or help issue a release. It means becoming an integral part of the client’s communications team and strategy. While much of Porter Novelli’s work is commercially sensitive, here are four examples of how it works in practice.
Yealands Estate Wines
In just eight months Peter Yealands and his new sustainable Marlborough winery, Yealands Estate, have been elevated into the public arena.
Porter Novelli was charged with the job of launching this brand to wine drinkers here and around the world—and until recently PR has been Yealand’s sole marketing tool. The challenge was to convey the key messages of the brand—innovation, sustainability and quality—to consumers increasingly sceptical of green-wash, and tell the story of Yealands’ out-of-the-box thinking and pioneering spirit.
With saturated media coverage across television, print, radio and online, the launch was a huge success. Combined with ongoing sampling campaigns and event sponsorships, consumers today not only recognise the brand, they buy into the story behind it and the man who made it all happen.
Yealands Estate launched in August last year, and has since sold all wines from its 2008 vintage. It exports to Australia, the UK, Europe and, as of April, the US and Canada.
When award-winning boutique cheese Kapiti relaunched in September 2008, Porter Novelli and its Clemenger Group sister companies, Colenso and OMD, brought the project to life. An idea was formed for a new brand platform, ‘Every piece a New Zealand original’, reflecting the hand-crafted nature of each piece of cheese.
Artists including Dick Frizzell and Jenny Dolezel were commissioned to create art inspired by the cheese. Five chefs, including Al Brown (of Logan Brown) and Michael Meredith (of Merediths), were appointed ambassadors for the Kapiti Chef Collection. Each created a signature Kapiti dish published in Cuisine magazine and served in their restaurants. The collections were unveiled in September 2008 at an exclusive cocktail function in New Zealand’s Home of the Year—itself a Kiwi original.
Porter Novelli worked with Kapiti partner Air New Zealand to exhibit the Kapiti Art Collection in Koru Lounges in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The Porter Novelli team developed a relationship with Air New Zealand Fashion Week designer Adrian Hailwood, who served Kapiti cheese at his runway event and exhibited the Kapiti Art Collection. Media covered the Kapiti story on Nightline, The New Zealand Herald, Sunday magazine, Newstalk ZB and Kia Ora magazine, and Kapiti cheese is now on the menu at fine dining establishments throughout New Zealand.
The challenge Porter Novelli chose to accept was a formidable one. Client Fuji Xerox was launching a new high-quality production press in New Zealand and needed support to tell their story in a compelling way. Their target audience was niche, focusing on print shops and creative agencies. And the economic climate was tight.
The company partnered with a group of artists called x5 for a national art exhibition that kicked off in Auckland at an exclusive Parnell venue. Fuji Xerox produced limited edition, signed prints of selected works to demonstrate the high quality of the 700 Digital Colour Press and the vibrancy of the artists’ work. Guests received a print of their choice.
It was a hip, chic launch event not normally synonymous with technology functions where the artists, press and creative agency types mingled with Fuji Xerox staff, drank fine wine and listened to jazz.
The 700 Digital Colour Press was well received by the audience dazzled by the print quality and the evening’s festivities in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington and Christchurch. Media covered the event with all targeted publications reporting on the event and the new product, providing the reach Fuji Xerox was looking for to reach their potential customer base.
The results speak for themselves. Fuji Xerox blew apart their sales forecast for the year, selling more than double the number of units they anticipated. Not bad in a recession!
Vodafone World of Difference
Back in 2005, Porter Novelli began working on the World of Difference programme, which pays the salary and expenses for up to six passionate Kiwis to work with their charity of choice for a year, to really make a difference.
Funded by the Vodafone New Zealand Foundation and the Vodafone Group Foundation, the programme has recently shifted focus to support those who work with youth in New Zealand.
Over the past three years Porter Novelli has profiled these previously unsung heroes in the media—not an easy task, as they are such humble people who prefer to fly under the radar. The campaign coverage has reached every Kiwi five times over across all broadcast, print and online media.
The Vodafone Foundation won the Robin Hood Foundation’s Prime Minister’s Social Heroes Award for World of Difference in 2008 and the programme has now gone global, being run by Vodafone Foundations in eight countries.
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