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The Photocall: A Picture says a thousand words.

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The Photocall: A Picture says a thousand words.

For decades now, organisations have been creating events with the purpose of showcasing their brand and building awareness through PR coverage.

However, with the ongoing growth and intrinsic strength of digital media, the lines between pure marketing and pure PR are becoming blended; with many organisations expected to achieve both acquisition and awareness goals from the same budget.

Furthermore, the fast pace of digital media, and the ever changing media landscape means that more and more online publications haven’t the time for their photographers to attend lengthy events; as might have been the case in the past.

Enter the photocall – not a new concept but one that can be used in a highly effective manner in this digital landscape.

A photocall is an event where the content for a photograph is purposely set up; allowing the media to acquire high quality targeted imagery which you can use to get your message across. Furthermore, in the era of social media, a photocall can offer the general public a way to promote and advocate your brand.

Last month, I was a guest of Qantas at the re-launch of their international flights between Perth and Singapore. The airlines decision to withdraw from this service in 2014 was met with wide criticism across social media and the airline has returned on the route due to popular demand.

Naturally, Qantas was keen to get the message shared with Perth travellers that they were returning to the service. To spread this message, the events team at Qantas created a simple photocall which returned a high ROI. It was achieved thanks to the photocall.

The airline already had the basic ingredients. The retro-painted Qantas Jet (nicknamed Retro Roo) was scheduled on the service. There were eager passenger waiting to board the service. And there were excited and motivated staff members at the airport happy to see Qantas returning to the Perth base.

However, to take the event to the next level and ensure excellent visual opportunities existed, a few low cost additions were made. Branded cupcakes were handed out to each passenger. Balloons adorned the boarding gate and, during embarkation, a special Dragon Dance was performed.

This low cost event was visually stunning and gave the invited media some excellent visuals. Television stations including seven and ten were present and captured the affair for television viewers.

However, the ongoing impact was far greater than TV coverage thanks to the power of social media. Passengers, crew and passers-by were snapping photos on their smartphones, and before the aircraft had even left the gate Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were being flooded with images of the first service.

Furthermore, the news services promoted that nights TV coverage on their own social channels. Retweets and shares spread the imagery further than a simple media release could have achieved and all before the flight had landed in Singapore.

Closer to home, we employ very similar concepts at Bethanie. One recent example was our ‘turning the sod’ event for Bethanie Gwelup. Bethanie Gwelup is a new development in Perth’s norther suburbs which offers a luxurious lifestyle for seniors with views of Lake Gwelup.

To promote this message, and inform the public that building had commenced, a professionally photographed photocall was setup for the event. It produced brilliant visuals which allowed for the excitement of the first dirt being dug to be shared with a wide audience via social channels, as well as traditional media.

Targeting the social message via various hashtags, including #agedcare, allowed these images to spread to the relevant digital influencers, who then shared the imagery with their followers. And like Qantas, we were able to achieve a pleasing uptake off a small budget.

They say a picture says a thousand words. In this digital age that comment is as true as ever.

My time in the digital industry: Over 15 years
My mission at Bethanie: To keep Bethanie at the forefront of Digital advertising trends.
My special blog topics: Unexpected use of digital, branding, transportation’s use of digital, aged care digital excellence.
Digital trend I'm most excited about: The one that we haven't all heard of next, keep looking ahead! 
Brand whose marketing I admire: Cunard – it’s a 175 year old brand that trades on its history and does it with grace and style.
Favourite digital campaign of all time: The recent #QM2remastered campaign brought the refurbishment of the world’s largest ocean liner to life through social media channels.
Digital tool/gadget I cannot live without: When I got my first iPhone I never thought I'd need the extra functionality, and now I’d struggle without it.  
If I wasn't working in digital, I would be: If there was no digital and I’d won the lotto… a full time maritime historian!
Bio: Chris has two unique careers, one as a marketing expert and the other a maritime historian. As a marketer, Chris has worked for well known digital innovators, including Westfield and Marketforce. He currently holds the position of General Manager Brand and Marketing at Bethanie, one of Western Australia’s best known aged care and retirement living providers. Since taking on the role in 2011, Chris has successfully transformed Bethanie’s brand, growing market share and building awareness of aged care services available to WA seniors. As a digital marketing expert, Chris has been a finalist in the IAB Awards, a finalist in the CEO Magazine’s prestigious Executive of the Year awards and won the Customer Service Council Gold Medal 30 under 30 award in 2014. Chris' other career is his great passion; maritime history. Having now co-authored maritime books, Chris has travelled extensively aboard cruise ships as a guest lecturer. His knowledge of ocean liner history has seen him appear as a subject matter expert on the BBC, Sky News, ABC, Channel 7, 9 and ten as well as Radio New Zealand, LBC and the Fairfax radio network. Chris is a Certified Practicing Marketer (Australian Marketing Institute), and holds an Honours Degree in Change Management from University of Western Australia, and a Bachelor of Business (Marketing & Management) from Edith Cowan University.


  • Guest
    Andrew Monday, 05 October 2015

    A well written article Chris!

  • Guest
    Claire Friday, 02 October 2015

    A well written piece Chris. Well said.

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