Spotlight: Sydney

Roger Ringwood, MD at Smart Brands International, says demand for well-executed digital and traditional comms efforts is growing in the city.

What is the business climate like in Sydney?
Sydney and Australia, in general, tend to accentuate the positives, which is a terrific feature of the Australian psyche and one that extends to the business environment. The country was also fortunate to have escaped much of the impact of the financial crisis seen in the US and Europe.

Having said that, a recent change in government and a tighten-your-belts budget has created concerns. The outlook of a number of key sectors, such as mining, is less optimistic than it was in the past.  

Consumers are also faced with increasing taxes and Sydney has one of the world’s highest cost of living indexes. That harsh reality is sometimes hidden beneath a general air of positivity.

What are the hottest sectors in Sydney?
The property market, both commercial and residential, continues to forge ahead and, to an extent, defy logic.

The growth is fueled by ongoing inbound migration, especially from China, which is leading to record prices for real estate. Food and drink is also important and changing, with coffee shops becoming a staple of everyday Aussie life.

Is PR considered an important tool for business growth?
Yes, especially for those who understand how PR can be used in a constructive and proactive sense versus, for example, simple crisis management. As traditional media fragments, and in some instances becomes less efficient, well-orchestrated PR can pay real dividends in terms of cutting through messaging.

Australia has earned a strong reputation in creative services – are you seeing high levels of creativity in PR?
Yes. And from a client perspective it is really high among small boutique operations, such as Icon PR.

Events are a good example and range from nonprofit shows to major brand launches, with increasing crossover of PR, promotion, and the arts.

Australia’s youthful population and the growth in pan-Asian digital platforms fuels demand for creative excellence. In terms of personality, we do not take ourselves too seriously. Australians work to live rather than live to work. That spirit and exuberance blends an exciting cocktail of activities.

What PR tools and tactics are effective for engaging with your local audience?
Understanding the fundamental elements of brand architecture and communicating on multiple levels from traditional media to digital and social platforms to ensure consistency is a must.

Proactively engaging editorial teams and recognizing the task they face in terms of delivering value to their audiences is key. This is achieved through traditional approaches, face-to-face meetings, and ensuring brand messages dovetail with editorial objectives.

Has there been a big shift to digital and social media in PR or do traditional tools still hold their own?
There has been a significant shift as both digital and social offer immediacy of delivery. However there is value and the need for both conduits.

For brands, a digital message can impact a shopper seeking inspiration on their way home from work or at the point of purchase, whereas a traditional recipe feature may plant a seed for the future. Growth in Australian digital newspaper subscriptions has slowed in recent months, which indicates sustained consumer demand for traditional and non-traditional formats.

As a brand, our PR activity must communicate across both platforms. Media fragmentation can be a challenge but, when addressed carefully, we see this as a huge opportunity.

Describe the lifestyle in Sydney?
Positive and outgoing, we Sydneysiders benefit from and enjoy a terrific climate, a stunning harbor, and countless beaches, which means much of life is spent outdoors. Sydney is a young city and one that is quick to embrace new trends and opportunities, products, and services. If I had to describe the city in three words, it would be evolving, energetic, and enticing.

Check In

1. PR Institute of Australia
Suite 506, 83 York St., Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: (+61) 2-8935 7709

2. Sydney Business Chamber
Level 12, 83 Clarence St., Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia

3. State Library of New South Wales
Macquarie Street, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia
Tel: (+66) 2-9273 1414

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