For the first time in history, the United Nations General Assembly focused global attention on plant health by declaring 2020 the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH). Plant Health Australia was the lead agency for developing the communication and engagement approach for the activities in Australia.
Plant Health Australia, a not-for-profit, is the national coordinator of the government-industry partnership for plant biosecurity in Australia. The purpose of PHA is for government and industry to have a strong biosecurity partnership that minimises pest impacts on Australia, enhances market access and contributes to industry and community sustainability.
Plant Health Australia and a small team of communication and engagement specialists from related Australian Government departments needed a science communication specialist to create a communication and engagement strategy. They wanted someone with experience of the biosecurity, agriculture and environmental sectors and who could bring in new perspectives and ideas.
The leaders for the International Year of Plant Health were enthusiastic about communicating about biosecurity science and the people across industries and organisations who are the champions for biosecurity. They were open to sharing their priorities and listening to innovative ideas.
Creating the communication and engagement strategy involved:
- consulting with the key client to understand their needs and timelines
- consulting with government clients (at the state and federal level) and industry stakeholders
- reviewing published market research and conducting some primary research via interviewing particular industry representatives
- creative concept development, including talking with contacts in marketing and advertising firms
- developing a comprehensive document including SWOT and contextual analysis, target audience analysis and priority setting, the recommendation for four key pillars to guide the implementation of the strategy, messaging, a media plan, creative campaign ideas (including graphic mockups) and project planning.
- presenting at a number of client, board and partner meetings.
Claire developed a comprehensive strategy to cover specific industry audiences as well as all Australians. The strategy was framed around four key pillars: public engagement, a ‘celebration central’ idea (the website), leveraging and supporting industry activities and broad stakeholder engagement. The strategy set the foundation of the workplan for a newly employed event coordinator.
In the client’s words:
“Claire engaged with the committee members overseeing the year in Australia comprising the key plant health agencies in Australia overseeing. She also considered the international guidance provided by the Food and Agriculture Organisation. The strategy effectively articulated the goals, the key stakeholders, messages and strategy for reaching stakeholders and communications advice. Claire came up with innovative ideas to help reach the general public to raise the profile of plant health, create awareness and engender behaviour change. Not all of these ideas were taken up because of time and financial constraints.”
(Mandy Gyles, Communication Manager, PHA)
Some of the key events and achievements
To start the year, the first official event was the Parliament House launch, held on the 6th February. The Federal Minister for Agriculture, Mr David Littleproud opened the year and a special video message from the Director General of FAO, Mr Qu Dongyu, was played, celebrating the exemplary work by Australia to protect plant health.
A number of face-to-face events were planned and some were cancelled. However, a number of digital initiatives gained significant traction, such as Facebook, Twitter and the ‘Everyday Plant Health Heroes’ webpage. Through publishing profiles of the people working behind the scenes in biosecurity, it aimed to show that plant health is a matter for everyone. A total of 45 profiles ranging from school students to researchers to CEOs were developed and published on the IYPH website.
Well done to the IYPH team for delivering what they did in a very tricky year!
The strategy helped set the course for the implementation of the communications and engagement for the International Year of Plant Health in 2020 in Australia. This helped with the creation of a dedicated website and story capture and outreach and events, such as the launch in late 2019 at Parliament House.
The year was unfortunately impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19 which affected planned events and outreach throughout the world, but there were still many positive outcomes particularly in terms of public awareness.
Claire was very easy to deal with, friendly and positive. She brought a creative and thoughtful lens to the process and delivered a thorough strategy. It was unfortunate because of time and financial constraints, along with COVID-19, that Claire’s full vision couldn’t be implemented.
A few of the stories and other assets produced by the IYPH in Australia team
- Australia’s National Priority Plant Pests (NPPP) playing cards
- UN FAO article: Australia kicked off the International Year of Plant Health
- Article by PHA about the International Year of Plant Health
- Article by PHA about the launch of the IYPH
- Interview and article about IYPH and Michelle Portelli, Event Coordinator for the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH2020) by GreenLife Industry
- A summary about the year’s activities by Michelle Portelli (on PBRI website)
- The final report for the Australian IYPH 2020 Project (PDF, 1.76MB)