Icon Agency, Richmond, Australia: #Farmers4LandReform


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Name of Organization / Company: Icon Agency, Richmond, Australia

Category: Award for Innovation in Public Affairs Communications

Entry Title: #Farmers4LandReform – How NSW Farmers reimagined public affairs communication using digital storytelling and social media influencing



Farming is the lifeblood of New South Wales, employing 65,000 people and generating $11.7 billion annually. In early 2016 the NSW Government announced plans to overhaul land regulations, impacting farmers and setting the scene for fierce nine-month battle.

In one corner, farmers were fighting to protect their way of life and freedom to manage their farms efficiently. In the other, a well-organised coalition of environmental groups (eNGOs) was pushing for even tougher land regulations that could lock away some farming land forever.

Peak member organisation, NSW Farmers, engaged Icon Agency to create a political influencing and public affairs campaign with a difference: a campaign that used multi-channel tactics and digital storytelling to drive legislative change.


Icon’s campaign – #Farmers4LandReform – recognised that eNGOs wielded political influence largely through social and digital media. Our campaign targeted this eNGO audience with a reasoned, scientific ‘whole picture’ argument executed across web, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

Our research also highlighted that Sydney female grocery buyers were key influencers on policy. To connect with both metro and rural audiences, therefore, our campaign used digitalstorytelling and story sharing as much as PR and advertising.

This innovative approach proved highly effective in cutting through to our target audiences and influencing policy outcomes.

#Farmers4LandReform’s clever multi-channel strategy allowed us to amplify and extend our message while delivering targeted storytelling to diverse audiences.

The strategy had three key themes:

-Land reform is complex. So we humanised the issue using farmers’ stories across video, print and on social.
-Farmers care about the environment too. We used video case studies to show how farmers are helping to protect biodiversity.
-Farmers are best placed to manage biodiversity. We used PR to prove that the proposed laws would do more harm than good.

At the heart of our digital storytelling approach was a powerful narrative that became the creative ‘hook’ for everything, from TV commercial, to press releases, ministerial briefing papers, social media scripts, testimonials and web copy.


Launched in May 2016, #Farmers4LandReform’s innovative use of digital storytelling, PR and paid media was particularly powerful in positioning farmers as the balanced voice in the debate.

Channels included:

TV commercial
Full-page ads and PR launch
Branded video testimonials
Print, radio, online and social media advertising
Farmer stories.
PR amplified and extended other channel activity to:
Generate positive public opinion
Position NSW Farmers as trusted to communicate ‘the whole picture’
Counter ‘anti’ campaign messages
Amplify paid advertising
Engage members.


#Farmers4LandReform changed the outcome of the proposed new laws. Over May and June 2016, NSW Farmers dominated media discussion and share of voice on the land reform issue.

In late 2016 the Government announced it would repeal the unworkable and detrimental Native Vegetation Act and replace it with a new Conservation Act 2016 and the Local Land Services Amendment Act 2016. These laws represent a significant win for farmers, offering more flexibility and the ability to improve biodiversity.

Icon’s campaign reached over 70 million people through earned, owned and bought channels.
#Farmers4LandReform turned NSW Farmers into an influencer with:

70% share of voice in social media and 58% in traditional media
Top poster ranking on Facebook and fourth on Twitter on biodiversity
274 articles – more than 5X the target – reaching 10 million people
Every article quoted a NSW Farmers spokesman and included key messages.
PR value of $4 million – a RoI on PR spend of 100X
Sentiment of coverage: 51% positive, 33% neutral and16% negative
Paid Facebook video reached 671,134 people; 100,465 views to 100%
Successfully targeted Sydney Female Grocery buyers (most engaged group with 513 Facebook posts)


2016 Public Affairs Asia Gold Standard Award winner (a record three trophies) for Corporate Communications, Digital Communications and Government Relations.

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