5 awards-season lessons from the Met Gala

Aah the Met Gala, fashion’s biggest night out. A chance for us mere mortals to drool over the finest haute couture and read all the gossip about our favourite A-list celebs.

The 2019 Gala has been and gone and it did not disappoint. The fashion elite were out in force, the outfits were extra, and the champagne flowed.

But with awards season fast approaching, as finalists for ‘PR Agency of the Year’ at the Rainmaker MAX Awards, Honner has taken the opportunity to look a little deeper.

Here are our five lessons from fashion’s main event.

  1. Embrace the theme

Whether your awards event is cocktail or fancy dress, embracing the dress code is a must. The Met Gala is known for its over-the-top themes and most of the invitees prepare for months. This year Kylie and Kendall Jenner nailed it in feathers and Cardi B made a fabulous Disney villain. Gwyneth Paltrow, however, studiously ignores the theme every year, much to the annoyance of fashion watchers. Don’t be a Gwyneth.

  1. But keep it tasteful

The Met Gala is a great excuse for extrovert celebs to go big or go home. Take Lady Gaga with her four outfit changes and red-carpet striptease, or Katy Perry who dressed as a chandelier. Those of us who live in the real world, however, have our reputations and dignity to consider, so if in doubt about your outfit choice – don’t.

  1. Engage your audience

Fashion aside, events and awards are a great excuse to boost your social media profile. Kim Kardashian tweets and posts on Instagram before, during and after the Met Gala to guarantee maximum publicity. So, if you or your team are up for an award, be sure to let your followers know.

  1. Keep the host sweet

US Vogue Editor Anna Wintour famously handpicks every guest for the Met Gala, and making the cut is no easy feat. Supermodel Coco Rocha and fashion stylist Rachel Zoe have both been blacklisted for wrong-footing Wintour, while invitees who decline an invitation will never receive another. The lesson here is if you are lucky enough to be invited to an awards event, thank the host and clear your schedule.

  1. Mingle

While you are unlikely to be shelling out $35,000 for a ticket like the Met Gala guests, make the most of awards season. Industry events are a great excuse to get out of your comfort zone by mingling with your peers and making new connections.

Help Honner win!

Now we are on the other side of the awards fence, we need your help to take out the title of Public Relations Agency of the Year at the Rainmaker MAX Awards this year! Please take a minute to vote for us here: https://www.financialstandard.com.au/voting/

We appreciate your support!
The Honner team

Start by listening deeply: The 8-Step Honner content model to connect, converse and convince

Our blog last week Far from the Madding Crowd – outlined how brands are increasingly grappling for a share of voice to effectively engage their target audiences as content marketing reaches a saturation point.

The Honner Content Team has pulled together a bumper outline of what a firm needs to do to transform their content marketing process. The Honner infographic: Turning Content Marketing into Conversations details the key steps to executing a winning content marketing program and how to nurture a conversation with your customers. A good conversation always starts with listening.

Over the next eight weeks we will put the spotlight on each key stage, outlining key strategies and tips to maximise each step. This week we’re focusing on the first stage: Listen Deeply. Many firms skip this stage, relying on their gut instincts and jumping straight to execution. Unfortunately, they often end up building content programs around what is important to them rather than their customers.

If you get this listening stage right, it will allow you to provide that fresh angle and ensure your program is truly grounded in dealing with the pain points of your customers. It will also ensure your content program is crafted with an awareness of your competitor strategies.

Strategies to use at the listening stage:

  1. Develop customer personas. Firstly, identify your different customer groups (e.g. individual investors, retirees, financial advisers, institutional investors, for-purpose firms and influencers such as asset consultants). Start to map the key concerns, challenges and pain points against each of the personas. Also outline the different publications and channels these personas are using to consume content and undertake research.


  1. Interview your employees. Mine the insights from those internal resources who are close to the client/market to gain their views on what they are hearing from clients. They should be able to give you first-hand insights on the key pain points that drive decision making.


  1. Create a Customer Advisory Board (co-operative content). A great way to get an inside look into your customers’ minds and opinions is to set up a Customer Advisory Board. This is made up of key customers and influencers. It is designed to listen to customers (not sell) and can help you shape the research agenda as well as other initiatives, such as product development or competitive intelligence. This works particularly well for institutional asset management clients and independent financial advisers – and also provides a networking opportunity for participants.


  1. Get to know your enemy. Today you can get a lot of transparency into your competitors’ content strategies. Check out your competitors’ websites and social media profiles to get a sense of what they’re producing and sharing.


  1. Have your fingers on the pulse: Gathering customer insights is essential to any winning Content Marketing program. But you also need to ensure these insights are in real time to be nimble and respond quickly to new pain points or new events. The most successful content pieces are often those that are first to provide insight into a recent issue or event. But in order to do this, you need to be able to pick up on these new themes or be prepared when a key event occurs (e.g. market correction, interest rate change). Timing is critically important.


  1. Undertake keyword research. Keywords reflect the voices of your audience. Search queries are effectively a vote that yells “I want content about this topic!”. It’s important to do some effective keyword research as it impacts where your brand ranks in online searches. You can simply do a Google search on key terms that are important to your firm and customers. Look at how your competitors rank relative to your own firm. If they rank higher, check how they are optimising their content for search. Also check out some of the tools available online, below, in the tips section of this blog.


  1. Newsjacking. Again, timing is everything. So, take time to monitor the stories that are trending and gaining key media traction now. Be nimble or opportunistic and start to write about those topics. Newsjacking is defined as ‘the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story so you and your ideas get noticed’. But don’t just jump on the bandwagon – look to add some fresh perspective and more value to the story.


  1. Undertake A/B testing on headlines: Did you know that 8 out of 10 searchers will read headline copy before clicking a post, but only 2 out of 10 will actually read the post (Copyblogger)? A/B testing can you help to identify what messages convert most effectively. So, test two different types of headlines and see which one performs better. If you want some inspiration try a headline generation tool like portent.


  1. Mind the emotional gap: According to a harvard business review article, “when companies connect with customers’ emotions, the payoff can be huge”. It is no longer sufficient to read the initial comments, qualitative data and insights from customer surveys. But identifying these emotional motivators is difficult, because customers themselves may not even be aware of them. You need to unlock the attitudes, emotions and intent of your customers – you need to understand the ‘why’, or the context. These could be factors like ‘protecting the environment’, ‘be the person I want to be’ and ‘feeling secure’. This context is essential to identifying specific customer pain points, addressing them, and feeding back to customers material that will connect with them at a deeper, emotional level.


  1. Incorporate insights from metrics: Being able to analyse metrics on the performance of your existing content can help you learn from the past and shape the type of content you want to produce in the future.

Honner tips and tools to play with

  • buzzsumo is a one of the top social media analytics tools to gain insights on how prospective clients find your content, how you can lead them to your content using SEO, and when it’s best to publish content. BuzzSumo only shows you 10 ideas unless you pay the $99 a month fee. Simply visit the BuzzSumo website and place your particular query in “inverted commas” to search on the exact phrase (e.g. ‘emerging markets’ or “income for retirement”). The tool also shows you the most popular blog posts and how well they perform for the each of the major social channels.
  • sem rush is a great tool to research competitors’ traffic on Google and the keywords which are enhancing their rankings. Just type in the relevant website domain and you’ll get useful data related to SEO. The free registered account reveals the top 10 organic keywords driving traffic.
  • ubersuggest is a keyword idea generation tool. It provides a complete list of keywords, generated by search terms people are using on Google and the terms that providing traffic to your competitors.
  • answer the public provides content marketers with valuable data about the questions people ask online. Simply input a keyword and it fetches popular queries and generates a graphic with the questions and phrases people use. This provide content creators with keyword suggestions.
  • Honner also provides qualitative market intelligence services. These include:
    • in-depth personal interviews with key decision makers such as CEOs, institutional clients, and executives;
    • designing online surveys that provide deep insights; and
    • bespoke competitor reviews services.

Next week we’ll publish the second in the eight-part content marketing series, Ideation and Mapping. This second stage is all about turning the insights you gain in part one into concrete content ideas that are aligned to the business agenda of the firm. It is also about being organised and having a central map of your long-term content agenda, so you can keep all stakeholders in your business informed and engaged in the content process.

If you’d like help creating a well-researched content marketing strategy, or more information on Honner’s 8-Step Content Marketing Model contact Craig Morris. Also, if you have some strategies and tactics on using market intelligence to improve your content strategy – share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

Far from the madding crowd: The 8-Step Honner Content Model to connect, converse and convince.

Earlier this year as I was standing at Shibuya Crossing in Tokyo (regarded as one of the most crowded spaces in the world) and it reminded me of the current state of the content marketing landscape. The last decade has seen content marketing evolve from a niche sub-sector to a mainstay of modern marketing strategy – but brands are increasingly grappling for a share of voice to effectively engage their target audiences.

According to leading market research firm Technavio, the global content marketing industry will be worth $575 billion by 2021. This growth is being driven by the cost-effectiveness of content marketing compared to traditional advertising; its ability to tackle pain points and build trust among customers; and its usefulness in building brand awareness and generating leads.

But content marketing may have reached a saturation point as everyone jumps on board the content band wagon. Some firms are still treating content marketing like a hamster wheel – continually spitting out more content and then moving onto the next piece. The financial services industry is also guilty of focusing too much on a salesy product approach and providing bland content that lacks an emotional connection.

In order to overcome this tsunami of content from competitors and succeed in grabbing the attention of audiences, marketers therefore need to work smarter, not harder. Effective content programs should focus on engaging with audiences and looking at how they nurture that relationship. Otherwise brands are just broadcasting.

At Honner we see a much bigger opportunity for businesses willing to shift their focus from high volumes of content to a more strategic focus on creating customer value and connecting with audiences.

Every day our content marketing team works with financial services firms that are trying to produce great content for the media, their social assets and their website. One of Honner’s core missions is to advise financial services firms on how to understand, develop and execute smart content marketing strategies. We’ve witnessed how hard it is to produce a quality piece that is going to get cut-through.

While every project is different, the Honner Content Team have come together and identified the foundations of what a firm needs to do to transform their content marketing process. We’ve identified and extracted the success factors and combined them into The 8-Step Honner Content Model.

Over the next eight weeks, we’ll put the spotlight on each of the eight steps in a blog series that outlines key strategies and tips from Honner to maximise each stage.

Next week we’ll publish the first blog in the eight-part series, Listen Deeply. This step is all about market intelligence and forms the foundations of a winning Content Marketing program – ensuring your content marketing program is truly grounded in dealing with the pain points and needs of your customers.

Get further insight on The Honner 8-Step Content Model connect with Craig Morris.

Get election ready: Prepare a Government Relations game plan to kick off after May 18

To help our clients manage an increasingly shifting political landscape, Honner has partnered with Advisory Street, a Government Relations Advisory firm with extensive expertise providing political and government relations advice to financial services organisations.

Here, Managing Director Taleen Shamlian provides some insights on the Federal election campaign and how your organisation can prepare a game plan to kick off after the election.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched the Federal campaign placing the emphasis on the economy:

“To secure the future, the road ahead depends on a strong economy. And that’s why there is so much at stake at this election.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten downplayed this by stating that the Coalition’s approach has not worked and that Labor will “manage the economy in the interests of working and middle-class people”.

In terms of the fiscal messaging, the approach from both major parties could not be more starkly different: the Coalition wants to play on their traditional home ground by promising to bring the budget back to surplus and be seen as better economic managers; while Labor promises bigger surpluses through closing tax loopholes (such as negative gearing, franking dividends, capital gains tax) to support their traditional home ground of better health and welfare policies.

Aside from these overarching messages, it is good to take a look at where the parties and leaders sit in current polling.

Labor is polling ahead in two party preferred terms at 51% versus the Coalition at 49%, according to The Australian’s Newspoll. Both major parties are close in their primary votes, recording (around 37%), while Scott Morrison has a higher satisfaction rating (-1%) compared to Bill Shorten (-12%).

All of this suggests that if the election was called today, Labor would win to form majority government but only slightly (77 seats out of the House’s 151 seats).

While this paints the picture at the macro level, the election will be fought state by state, seat by seat, and poll booth by poll booth.

But the top brass won’t campaign in every seat. Instead they are focusing on a handful of marginal electorates, in areas such as New South Wales and Queensland, to convince voters of their promises and pledges. It is no accident then that campaign headquarters is in Brisbane for the Liberals and Parramatta for Labor – both cities are outside of the leader’s home states but are used for pragmatic (read financial) and political (read swing voters) reasons.

Keep an eye out for Victoria – last November’s state election showed how strong the Labor brand is there, and the high chances of losing some marginal seats (including those that are now notionally Labor such as Corangamite and Dunkley). Some Liberals have changed their banners to be “Modern Liberals” or done away with Liberal branding altogether.

Impact on the financial services industry

Both major parties are committed to the Royal Commission’s recommendations, with Labor going further and pledging a $640 million ‘banking fairness fund’ to be paid for via a levy on financial organisations in the top 100 listed companies. Treasury is also using the caretaker period to prepare a Royal Commission implementation plan so that it can be acted on expeditiously, regardless of who comes to government, given the pressure from minor parties and independents.

Superannuation is also a point of difference with Chris Bowen, Shadow Treasurer promising to increase the superannuation guarantee to 12% in line with Paul Keating’s timetable and legacy.

Finally, they both agree that regulators need to step up their supervision and enforcement to help restore trust in our financial institutions.

The big question will be how each party will act on this, given the capability reviews of key regulators. The Coalition, which begrudgingly agreed to the Royal Commission, sees this as the end stage of bank reform. For Labor, which claims that the Government voted against the Commission 26 times, this is only the beginning of the reform journey.

Does your organisation have a Government Relations game plan?

Regardless of the election outcome, Ministers and policies will change and have an impact on your organisation’s bottom line, reputation and market position.

Sharpening your organisation’s Government Relations strategy should be a key focus during this election period, to ensure your organisation has a seat at the “policy table” to secure your business success.

Your Government Relations game plan and strategy should outline:

  • Policy issues – How will changing regulations impact your business? What policy issues do you want to influence? What are you key messages to influence this outcome?
  • Stakeholder engagement – Who do you need to influence? And why?
  • Timing and method for that engagement – How and when do you go about influencing these policy outcomes? Are they via: parliamentary inquiries, direct engagement with departments/regulators, building coalition with other influencers (such as industry associations)? Your approach may also complement your broader communications program through active advocacy via media channels.

It’s never too early to prepare your Government Relations game plan.

For further insights or advice, please contact Paul Cheal at Honner (paul@honner.com.au) or Taleen Shamlian at Advisory Street (taleen@advisorystreet.com).