Perched uncomfortably on a chair in front of a load of conference delegates the other day I was asked a simple but telling question. It went along the lines of

“With marketing changing so much, is anything we learned still of use?”.

Hmm. It’s a hard one. Coming up with a list of the things that have changed even since I started GovCom just three years ago is easy. Off the top of my head, I’d say that the number of people who understand that digital is an enabler, not a means to itself is growing. I see people using social media more judiciously with greater understanding that each of the various social media have different purposes.

Among my Government clients, there’s now increasing acceptance of the value of small strategic steps rather than embarking on wasteful “digital transformation’ programmes without clear purpose. It’s a message that may not have reached some parts of Canberra yet, but we’re on it.

But making a list of what’s stayed the same? That’s a lot harder.

Content is still king

I’m certain that for marketeers, content is still king. The extraordinary success of The Bachelorette in Australia is proof that even the most structured of formats can be brought to life with a small content tweak. Identical set, same parade of well groomed blokes in crushed velvet jackets, but add Sophie Monk and the whole thing is transformed and getting front page headlines in the Daily Mail. Which is a good thing.

(I’m sure I don’t need to explain why getting Sophie as a Bachelorette rather than some random member of the public worked. It’s the same theory we used on FHM for years. Putting the right “girl next door” on the cover always, always, sold more copies than Hollywood stars with no personality. Whoever came up with the idea to cast Sophie deserves a healthy bonus. Hard act to follow mind…)

TV is still a powerful advertising medium

Yep, I know, “audiences are falling” and we all time shift everything with our hands on the fast-forward button. But.

The most effective (only) way to reach young men in massive numbers is to advertise during rugby league or AFL on Friday nights. Very few people watch that content on delay. And if you want to get involved in TV, have a look at the volume of people posting live on social media during popular programmes like The Block. There’s probably an opportunity to get involved there.

The secret of success is measurement.

Or more accurately, how can you know if anything worked if you can’t measure it? I’d say that the thorniest and most common issue we’ve helped resolve over the last three years in GovCom has been how to measure effectiveness. But still people are confused. We’re still seeing too many people sold ideas about “digital this” and “app that’ without any measure of what the benefit to the business will be.

Our model for measuring advertising effectiveness is simple and based on years of experience. It’s basically about having polar clarity on what success looks like before you spend the money. A 3% response rate may not cut it…

ADVERTISEMENT: I’m happy to share our work in this area if you want to know more. We could save you a fortune.

Sharing is still rare.

One of the constants in our work with Government departments is that our clients are busy, under resourced and managing a wider workload than ever before. Sadly, one of the things that gets too often missed is the opportunity to share good ideas with colleagues and departments in other states.

In the next few weeks, in a partnership with The Mandarin, Australia’s leading source of public sector news and information, we’re going to try and do something about that. Stay tuned…

About us

The GovCom Group is an agile collective of experts in communications and engagement and Australia’s only dedicated public sector communications agency. To find out more about our work, email me at or visit our website

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