Managing potential controversy and owning the conversation
Mission Bay has long been a favourite spot for Aucklanders looking for a retreat close to home. But Urban Partners recognised that in recent years, the popular beach had not kept up with progress in other areas of the city. Knowing that development news would be met with strong public opinion, we worked with Urban Partners to announce their plans to rejuvenate Mission Bay.
We wanted to ensure that Urban Partners could own the conversation – highlighting the positives and being ready to respond to negativity. To do this, we executed considered media relations and community management strategies.
Initially, we worked with the Weekend Herald. Under embargo, they prepared an in-depth, balanced feature which indicated the gravity of the news to other media and consumers alike. Following this exclusive piece, our team then released the announcement to all other media – managing interviews and requests for information while controlling the message as much as possible.
As part of this approach, we released a video newsreel which enabled us to show, not just tell, media about the project. The succinct clip summarised the development and provided valuable third-party commentary from Kit Parkinson, Ōrākei Local Board Chairperson. The video reel was a useful asset for radio with many stations pulling commentary for news bulletins from the video directly.
Knowing that social media would become a discussion hub, we also wanted to create a place for these conversations to happen and ensure Urban Partners could be heard. We did this through a carefully timed Facebook post and community management strategy that helped Urban Partners respond to a variety of public feedback. The post reached 76,000 people, received 246 reactions as well as 227 comments and 34 shares.
All up, we secured eight pieces of written media coverage and widespread radio coverage across NZME (seven stations) and Mediaworks (nine stations). The front-page Weekend Herald was a highlight and was well complemented by an editorial piece in the same publication which included strong positive comments about the development.
Launching with unbiased content in the Weekend Herald ensured that readers and viewers created their own opinion of the development without being swayed from the outset by negative commentary in the media. The levels of awareness and engagement achieved in this project are a significant result. These put this new project in a good position for future stages of development.