500 Voices Tell the Greater Port Macquarie Story

In order to shake off a sleepy coastal town perception and promote the diversity of quality destination experiences on offer in the region, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council tasked Gate 7 with elevating their existing PR strategy to further drive awareness and make already good PR outcomes even better.

Gate 7 exceeded every goal by combining traditional and digital media, influencer marketing, and leveraging the region’s already solid relationships with their community of local operators and stakeholders to produce 210 pieces of content, worth more than 4 million dollars in estimated media value.

More than 500 local operators were engaged to create a one-year PR strategy that generated $4 million in estimated PR value

Background and challenges:

It was important for the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to highlight and celebrate their local community. After all, who better to tell the region’s stories than those who know it best? But, with limited resources, Council was concerned about the time and manpower required to deepen engagement with more than 500 local restaurateurs, business owners, artisans, and hoteliers.

Gate 7 began by creating a comprehensive communications plan and a feedback loop that ensured local stakeholders were actively featured and consistently engaged in the region’s PR strategy. Through various initiatives, Gate 7 took engagement with the Council’s established community of stakeholders to the next level, as well as coordinating media trips, broadcasts, and pitches to ensure broad distribution of their unique stories.

Strategy and solutions:

Creating open communication channels for stakeholders
In order to maximise communication with stakeholders, a monthly newsletter was launched. Besides acting as a summary of coverage and PR activity, the newsletter also included a ‘Pitching Callout’ section, giving local businesses the opportunity to actively participate by submitting ideas and stories. This two-way communication was crucial in fostering stronger relationships and provided stakeholders even more involvement in shaping the region’s PR strategy—while also celebrating their part in its success.

Integrating content creation and influencer marketing
Gate 7 invited Remy Brand, a talented photographer and social media influencer, to visit the region and capture local businesses in action. As an avid surfer who frequented GPM to catch waves, Remy understood the uniqueness of the region and the people who called it home. Through a @PortMacquarie Instagram takeover and corresponding campaign through his owned channels, Remy shined a light on the region’s many attractions and innovative businesses to his audience of 39,000 highly engaged followers. Remy’s photo and video assets were subsequently leveraged across multiple channels, including local businesses’ channels, the region’s new ‘Eat See Do’ guide, and for media requests.

Connecting locals with media through themed famils and broadcasts
Strategically targeted journalists from leading Australian publications were invited to experience GPM through the lens of its local chefs and artists a ‘Meet the Makers’ themed famil. Gate 7 also created bespoke broadcast schedules for Channel 7’s Sunrise and Channel 9’s TODAY Show to highlight different areas, attractions, and businesses in the region, whilst ensuring locals had were placed front and centre as spokespeople to share their stories with the media.

Results & Learnings

It takes a village to raise a destination’s profile, and Greater Port Macquarie’s locals came through. Within the first year of working together, more than 210 pieces of content showcasing the unique stories, people and places that comprise Greater Port Macquarie were produced. Among these, nearly half came directly from input provided by the local community. These stories generated more than 41 million impressions and have helped to reposition the destination as a region filled with a buzzing dining scene, a diversity of attractions and activities, and a home to welcoming locals who love their city as much as they love sharing its stories.

More importantly, the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council has done something that many local councils often dream of. They have established thriving and powerful relationships with their local community by making them an integral part of their overall destination marketing strategy. The monthly newsletter continues to attract new subscribers while maintaining a +50% open rate (according to Campaign Monitor, the average eDM open rate is 15 – 25%) and local operators regularly engage with suggestions in response to the ‘PR Pitching Callouts’.