Support for clients uninterrupted

March 30, 2020

In line with national efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, Primary has moved all staff to telework. Our first thought is for the health and well-being of all our clients, suppliers, colleagues and team. 

Normal working hours remain 8.30am to 6pm, and our often used 24×7 support will continue as required for all clients.

We have invested heavily in cloud-based systems and mobile technology over the past few years to ensure clients can contact us anytime and receive full service from any location. All members of our team have been set up to work remotely and maintain access to all our servers and network. We are already helping clients deliver online events and more written or video communication.

It’s business as usual, with some minor process changes. These will be tailored to ensure maximum effectiveness over time and currently include: 

  • All of our inbound office phone lines will be diverted to the phones of specific staff
  • Outbound calls will be made from mobile phones rather than our switch number
  • Clients are provided with direct mobile numbers for their support teams – see below
  • Meetings will be conducted using Zoom video conferencing or our teleconferencing lines
  • Training and workshops will be delivered using Zoom video conferencing

Colleagues in Hong Kong have just returned to their consultancy offices after teleworking for seven weeks. Their experience has informed our new support structures and we are also tailoring support to each client’s systems to maximise our services during this unprecedented time. 

As always, we are all here and available to support clients. We welcome ideas, queries or suggestions on how we can continue to provide leading services during this unprecedented time.

We know that it will be a very stressful period, even for those who do not suffer from the virus during the coming months. Every home, business and organisation will be affected. Every day we will face a new challenge, and hopefully also be able to share a new victory.

Staying in touch by phone, and sharing experiences will be essential. Please get in touch at any time.

Chris Hall,
Chief Executive Officer

chall@primary-pr.com

Largest delegation of Australian and Pacifica First Nations Women break silent codes

March 6, 2020

Prominent Goreng Goreng woman and First Nations Advocate, Dixie Link-Gordon and international human rights artist, Belinda Mason, are leading the largest delegation of First Nation’s women from across Australia and the Pacifica (Thursday Island, Fiji, Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Aotearoa) to New York this week, as part of a movement to break cycles of family and gendered violence for Indigenous women and their communities.

The ‘Breaking Silent Codes’ movement uses first nations lived experience and local solutions to domestic and family violence, sharing cross cultural programs and resources to address the epidemic of violence that first nations women experience. The movement’s song lines and stories have been captured by Mason in an exhibition of portraiture photography and storytelling to promote first nations women’s lived experiences of violence.

Up until Wednesday the women were a significant program session at the UN Committee on the Status of Women conference in New York, until the 12,000 strong conference on global women’s rights was cancelled due to the threats caused by COVID19. Regardless, the delegation will maintain their hectic meetings program with global women’s changemakers who’s energies will combine in advocacy for First Nations women’s rights – virus or no virus!

The delegation, through the strong support of New York and Washington women’s organisations, have moved the panel event and exhibition to ensure that their sold-out attendees can participate in the international discussion.

Primary has been proud to provide pro-bono support Dixie, Belinda and their ‘Breaking Silent Codes’ delegation in the gritty and necessary work they are doing. The delegation have been proudly supported by women’s and social justice organisations (Women’s Electoral Lobby, YMCA, UN Women, Oxfam, Mura Kosker Sorority Inc, Australian Council of Churches), PwC, Government (Homelessness NSW, City of Sydney and Create NSW), corporates and philanthropists, who were committed to ensure Breaking Silent Codes and First Nations Women from Australia and the Pacifica get their deserved seat at the table.

The Breaking Silent Codes movement is extremely determined group of resilient women who showcase the strength of collaboration in creating truly sustainable change in our local, national and international communities.

Primary Young Guns Build Talent in 2020

February 29, 2020

Primary’s young guns kicked off their development programs for 2020 by attending the first PRinks Event hosted by Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA).
The event is the biggest networking program for emerging PR practitioners in Sydney. It provided inspiration, insights and a wonderful opportunity to connect to other young professionals.
Primary proactively encourages staff to build on their knowledge and networks with professional development and industry events. Yearly budgets to support tailored training programs are set for each team member. Activities for 2020 already include a wide range of formal programs such as an IAP2 Australasia Certificate in Engagement, Account Manager Bootcamp and postgraduate study.

Cyber-lightning should bolt directors to action

January 23, 2020

These days technology is as essential to company operations as electricity. And just like a lightning strike can take out the entire power supply and shut down operations. A cyber-strike can take out all computing systems and have huge reputation, trust and legal consequences for its customers, suppliers, government and staff.

What does that white bolt searing from the sky look like in computer language?

It’s often an explosive data breach. They are rampant in today’s digital ecosystem with more than 800 major data breaches reported to the Australian privacy watchdog in 2018 and many more never reported.

Data breaches have cost CEOs and board directors their jobs. One example was in 2019, when LandMark White, Australia’s leading property valuation service, was breached with over 100,000 sets of client information leaked, including addresses, emails and driver’s licenses. Estimates of financial loss for the company exceeded $7 million, however, and more importantly loss of customer trust, contracts and reputation will have long term impacts. In this case, the data breach resulted in the company being suspended from a number of its clients, including three major banks’ valuation panels.

This shows that directors have a key responsibility for safeguarding their companies against data breaches. While hiring IT experts and spending money on data protection is good practice, directors have a much broader duty. This includes a legal duty of care to take steps to personally understand and manage risk – including cyber risk.

Australian company directors could be liable for negligence or worse breaching their duty of care if they haven’t reasonable steps to understand and manage the risk of data breaches.

With this in mind, there are some essential steps that a board of directors need to take to prevent and respond to data breaches within their organisations.

Prevention

  1. Just as directors can’t flick finance responsibilities to a director with an accounting background, cyber responsibilities should not be handed-off to a fellow director with a technology background.

    A director who hasn’t understood or gathered enough information could be found negligent. It is imperative that directors get connected to the core of their organisation to understand what data would be valuable to hackers, what processes are in place to secure this data, what testing is being done and what are the potential impacts of a breach in terms of finance, reputation and culture.

  2. Directors must play an active role in promoting cybersecurity training and safety within the organisation to support a culture of reporting and whistleblowing. Staff and suppliers are the front line of defence when it comes to flagging data breaches, so it is crucial that they have proper training and support from the highest level.

Response

  1. Take immediate steps to determine what information has been breached as accurately and quickly as possible. Was it names and addresses or bank card information? Are customers impacted or are suppliers? The type of information breached will inform the legal obligations, the company and the next steps.

  2. Data security used to be an IT issue, but it is now a legal issue. There are specific legal requirements, namely specific reporting steps, which must be taken within a short timeframe after being alerted to a breach.

  3. A communications plan must be put in place to clearly communicate to affected parties:

    • the extent of the breach
    • when it occurred 
    • what happened
    • what action is needed by the customer 
    • what action is being taken to secure their information

    If this is not done well, kick-back on directors can come from authorities and clients. For instance, Canva was widely criticised for burying a data breach notice under a swathe of marketing messages.

    Depending on the extent of the breach, the following communication steps should be put into motion.

    • Nominate a senior media spokesperson
    • Identify appropriate avenues of communication to get your message out to affected parties, i.e. email, social media, press announcements, and across different platforms including call centres and bulletin notices
    • Facilitate a two-way flow of communication and enable trained staff to respond to customers queries, whether it be online or call centres
    • Brief relevant stakeholders, industry and experts 
    • Monitor media for feedback and tailor messages and actions accordingly 
  4. Internal communication should be rolled out quickly. Staff will be the ones that customers will look to for answers as soon as the alarm is sounded. While this is most often ignored as companies scramble to report the breach externally, this is the most important, as staff are your lynch pin for action and for credibility.

  5. Demonstrate that the company is taking preventative actions to secure its data in future and highlight any learnings that have resulted from the breach.

The right response is complex and sometimes hard for directors to navigate. It will involve IT, operations, legal and communication experts.

The best prevention is making sure that directors are prepared and are able to respond to the risk of a cyber-lightning strike on their business.

Jenny Muir wins PR’s outstanding contribution award

December 12, 2019

The 2019 National President’s Award recognising outstanding contributions to the public relations and communication profession and the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA) was presented to Jenny Muir, chief counsel Primary Communication, at the recent National PRIA conference.

The trophy is presented each year to a professional who has committed a great deal of time and effort to building and maintaining the PRIA as the leading national professional body for public relations and communication practitioners.

Jenny Muir is one of our profession’s top advocacy strategists and for many years has made significant contributions to the PRIA, the Registered Consultancy Group and the overall profession. 

Jenny’s career spans more than twenty years across Australia and Asia, beginning in TV news and politics before specialising in communication strategy and counsel.

Jenny was National President for the PRIA Board from 2016 until April 2018, and remained on the Board as Immediate Past President until November 2019, guiding the organisation through changes to ensure its continued renewal and relevance. She will continue to support the PRIA by guiding the Institutes’ advocacy program to government, and representing the profession internationally and as Executive Council member for the Global Alliance’s Asia-Pacific Council. 

Her dedication, passion and commitment to advancing our industry is evident to all who know, as she continues to work with Australian Governments, not-for-profit organisations, peak industry bodies, and global commercial organisations.

The National PRIA President’s Award was introduced in 1991 by Greg Ray to recognise both outstanding contributions to the PRIA and the support provided to the PRIA President during the year of the Award.