Australia: Communications support for communities devastated by the recent bushfires

The Australian public relations (PR) industry has united to offer support to businesses and communities impacted by bushfires across the country, announcing the formation of the Bushfire PR Alliance (BPRA).

Twenty-one leading agencies, both global and independent local players, have signed up to the Alliance so far, with other PR agencies across the country urged to join.

Each agency - defining their own scope and available time - will be paired by the NSW Business Chamber, Visit Victoria and other tourism bodies with a local area, town or region that needs communications support. Over the course of 2020, the agencies will work with their ‘adopted’ community on a project or ongoing basis to provide PR and communications support to educate and inspire visitation by domestic and international audiences.

In addition, major media organisations including News Corp Australia and Bauer Media, have agreed to collaborate with the Alliance to storytell and provide valuable exposure to communities.

Leilani Abels, founder and Managing Director of Thrive, said on behalf of the Bushire PR Alliance: “Agencies uniting as a collective like this is unprecedented in our industry. We know we can make a bigger impact as a group than alone and the weight of this effort is demonstrated by the willingness of major media organisations who want to work with the alliance. The role of public relations in changing perceptions, positioning, educating, building brands and promoting local towns is critical. Storytelling is what we do best as practitioners and it can have a huge impact on the rebuilding and recovery of locations.  We invite all agencies and more media companies to be a part of our Alliance to help us make a difference. Given that many of these PR agencies have already donated to the bushfires and have other pro bono work, their commitment is extraordinary.”

Brendon Hill, Chief Executive Officer, Bauer Media Group, said: “Our readers have huge hearts. They are looking for practical ways in which they can help their fellow Aussies, so we will continue to leverage the power of our 30+ brands, such as The Australian Women’s Weekly, Woman’s Day and Country Style, to share recovery stories and support communities around the country. The BPRA is a great initiative that we’re delighted to be apart of and we’re looking forward to working closely with the agencies involved.”

Peter Blunden, Chairman, Editorial Board - News Corp Australia, said:  “News Corp Australia is committed to helping rebuild and reinvigorate the communities across the country that have been devastated by the recent bushfires. We are pleased to support this initiative to ensure we can continue to share the most heart-warming, uplifting and inspiring stories with our readers and honour our pledge to support affected communities until they stand tall again."

Richard Spencer, Chief Customer Experience Officer, NSW Business Chamber, said: "The NSW Business Chamber has been working extensively with communities impacted by the fires over the past few weeks, and in close contact with our colleagues in other states. We know there is a pressing need for business owners within these communities to get professional support and advice in order to survive this period of uncertainty. The Bushfire PR Alliance is a great initiative to spread the word that these communities are 'open for business' and to help get them back on their feet."

Brendan McClements, CEO, Visit Victoria, said: “Visit Victoria is doing everything it can to help fire-affected communities to recover and rebuild following the bushfires. We look forward to working with this group to help spread the message to visit regional Victoria.”

Leigh McClusky, PRIA National President, said: “As the leading public relations and communications organisation in the nation, the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) is proud to support this important initiative. The opportunity to offer the skills and communication experience of our members right across Australia to Australian communities and businesses who are at their lowest ebb, is something I know that many of our members will rally to. Our industry plays a pivotal role in shifting and focusing public perceptions and there are many businesses now impacted by the fires and floods across Australia who need our assistance, our skills, and our generosity of heart. I urge our members across the nation to get involved and do what they do best!”

Commenting on the logo that has been designed for the BPRA, Leilani Abels said: "We have chosen the gum leaf as the centre of the Alliance logo as the eucalyptus tree has fire as part of its natural lifecycle. The eucalypt seeds crack as they are exposed to heat, and are then germinated in the fertile soil and ashes that remain after fire. We believe this is a fitting symbol of hope and resilience. Gumtrees are also traditionally places of shade and relief for Australian travellers and are places where we gather, so it is fitting for this group of agencies who have come together."

PR agencies and media organisations can register their interest in giving their time via the Bushfire PR Alliance by emailing bushfirepralliance@thrivepr.com.au.

Founding members of the BPRA are:
  • Thrive
  • Mango (DDB)
  • WE Communications
  • Haystac (Dentsu Aegis)
  • Cox Inall Change (Dentsu Aegis)
  • Six O’Clock Advisory
  • Poem
  • Frank
  • DEC PR
  • Impact Agency
  • McCo Group
  • Red Havas  (Havas Group)
  • One Green Bean (Havas Group)
  • Eleven (TBWA)
  • FleishmanHillard (TBWA)
  • N2N (HerdMSL)
  • Touch (HerdMSL)
  • Fuel (HerdMSL)
  • Hotwire
  • Cassette
  • Campaign Lab

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