How to make PR purposeful with Compass Studio

How to make PR purposeful with Compass Studio
How to make PR purposeful with Compass Studio
How to make PR purposeful with Compass Studio

So, you’ve developed an outstanding product or service or campaign, but the world still needs to know all about it?
You know who your audience is, or should be, but how do you reach, captivate and keep their attention? And even better, inspire action?
Following the expert advice of PR and marketing agency, Compass Studio, that’s how.

Natalie and Luke Dean-Weymark are partners in business and life, with a combined marketing and PR career of over 20 years. Boasting a client list of our green dreams, which includes Patagonia, Allpress, Unyoked and Seabin Project – as well as a couple of our own, like Huskee and Clean Coast Collective – Compass have found, developed and nailed a self-created sweet spot between commercial and conscious. We know no-one better to fire all of our burning questions about the behemoth that is modern media.

Have some of your own? Feel free to ask in the comments below. 


Nat and Luke, hi! Tell us, when, how and why was Compass Studio born?

Compass Studio was born out of a desire to work with good brands, who are doing good in the world. After a career in PR and advertising, working on some of Australia’s biggest brands, we became disillusioned by the fact that we didn’t feel like our day-to-day made an impact on the things that we were most passionate about – like the environment, conscious consumerism, and ethical business practice. Being both in our early 30s we had come to the unfortunate realisation that we weren’t likely to save the world at this point – we weren’t scientists, doctors, inventors, politicians or Tony Stark… but we were pretty good at PR & Marketing. That was our superpower.

So we decided to use our superpower to elevate those brands who were changing the world, in one way or another. It was out of that idea that only 18 months ago, Compass was born, with a goal to use our superpower on the daily by ‘doing good work, for brands that do good’. I think everyone is born with something that they do really well, it’s all about how you use it.


What makes it unique from the typical marketing/PR agency?

We only work with brands we love, and those that we connect on passion-points with – making us natural advocates in-market. Consequently, we’ve built a small but amazing team of people who are ridiculously passionate about our company, our clients and what we do. We all feel like we do work that matters, and that’s a nice way to wake up every day.

For us, it’s all about the contribution that we as marketers can make to the world. And we put our money where our mouth is – working with one not-for-profit or profit-for-purpose client per quarter on a pro-bono basis via our North Initiative. It’s not always easy as a small business to commit to projects as such, but we recognise that the best way that we can contribute to the conversation is by raising the awareness of those brands and companies who are truly making an impact – and that sometimes means putting purpose over profit.


B&T recently declared that public relations is more relevant than ever. Would you agree? Where do you think its greatest power lies?

Absolutely. If done right, it’s more cost-effective than advertising, contributes to SEO and builds organic brand awareness in a saturated market. Consumers are presented with so many choices in the day, so it’s essential to engage with them on all platforms and on multiple fronts. Think of the brands that come to mind most readily… it’s most often because you’ve seen them consistently throughout the last days, months and even years. A consumer’s loyalty and preference is a marathon, and brands have to be prepared for the long run.


What do you find the biggest misconception about PR to be?

That it’s just about getting product in a glossy magazine. It’s totally not that anymore, it’s strategic and feeds into a complete marketing strategy. It spans across traditional channels like print, radio and TV – to online and ambassador outreach. It also has really measurable impact and can be reported on transparently when done by a specialist. From someone who has worked in both advertising and PR; PR offers amazing return on investment for brands in terms of organic coverage (that would otherwise be paid for) based purely on the great relationships and working-partnerships that PR team’s build with media and influencers on a daily basis.


Anything that makes a pitch almost irresistible to a publisher?

Anything that is topical or newsworthy helps, and it doesn’t hurt to make life easier for the person on the other side of the fence if possible. Think of the way you like to receive information – succinct, clear, unassuming, all-inclusive and preferably aesthetically pleasing. Do that.


What are some absolute no-nos?

Let’s talk about email etiquette – no formulaic template pitches, no mass ccs, and no excessively friendly language to someone you’ve never met. This is your pitch, make it count. One quality, custom email is worth one hundred mass sends.


Funniest / worst press release you’ve ever come across?

Many moons ago I worked in the beauty industry and a certain beauty brand sent out live goldfish as a stunt to accompany a product launch, on a very hot day. Needless to say, a lot of beauty editors receive dead fish on their desks – which was awfully cruel and quite shocking. I think it goes without saying, that animals should NEVER be involved in stunts – and stunts in general should be avoided, as should unnecessary packaging and plastics. I think there needs to be recognition by the industry as a whole that both PR and Media have a job to do, and that it’s a necessary and needed exchange of information that doesn’t need the additional fan-fare and wastage – and definitely no goldfish have to die in the process!


What’s the most impactful kind of marketing an emerging or re-emerging brand can engage in?

We are very biased in terms of this topic but we really believe that cause or purpose-oriented strategies will always win. In a landscape of so much choice and where you can get almost anything delivered to your door in an instant, it’s absolutely essential that brands establish themselves as meaningful or useful to a consumer’s life – evolving beyond just product marketing. Compass focuses on a lot of passionate points around products, to build communities of loyal and passionate brand advocates.

Do traditional channels still have as much – or more/less – pull than digital now we’re so saturated with the latter?

A healthy and well-balanced marketing strategy will always consider each platform as they all hold value and traction with different audiences. The traditional channels still hold a lot of weight with certain target markets, as do the role of influencers, ambassadors, social media platforms and website. A perfect campaign would have placements across all pillars, with associated specific contact strategies for each one.


What’s the most significant change you’ve noticed in the media landscape in the last 5 – 10 years?

Gone are the days of the long lunch! No-one – on any side of the fence – has the luxury of time now so it’s all about smart marketing. It’s about quality content and authentic connection. We have also noticed (and have been delighted in) a shift towards a collective push of enthusiasm towards promoting those organisations who are doing good in the world. We find everyone wants to make their work matter more so than ever before – and we are just happy to be involved in the process.


How do you find navigating the murky waters of pure vs. paid editorial? Which approach is suitable when?

Both hold a place, as both separately achieve very different outcomes (and when done together, the result can be brilliant!) But I think transparency is key. If you are engaging with sponsored content – be upfront about it, label it correctly and most importantly, engage with a good content curator. I personally don’t think that as long as the above is adhered to, that the consumer really cares if it was sponsored or not, as long as it’s useful content that contributes to their understanding of a product, trend or conversation.

And in terms of navigating those murky waters, we are lucky enough to have really solid relationships with media and influencers that we have built up over the years, and consequently, we are granted a lot of organic coverage and natural community endorsement.

We also understand that there is a limit and a line, and that it costs funds to keep these publications and channels running. If you are in the position to support a publication or person that has supported your brand in the past, or that you think aligns with your audience – be open to chatting with their advertising team as you never know what’s possible. It’s all about having a mutual and respectful working relationship with those people, brands and companies that you choose to partner with.


Who are Compass’ favourites kinds of clients to work with? And why?

Passion and enthusiasm are at the core of what we do, so we gravitate towards the same sorts of clients. We love brands, big or small, with the awareness that they’re contributing to something bigger. We love teams who we can learn from, who are solutions focussed and have a sleeves-up kind of resourcefulness. We love to collaborate, share the load and the success. So basically, we love brands who really love what they do – they’re our people.


Your proudest professional project of 2018? And one you’re most excited for in 2019?

This year was a big year for us – it’s the kind of year that still feels like June, despite being almost over. We’ve worked on so many projects that we are proud of, each for different reasons, but one that seriously holds a special place with us is Patagonia’s Takayna campaign that rallied to save one of the largest temperate rainforests in the world, which is found in Tasmania. The campaign managed to generate mass media awareness on such a widespread organic level and received over 200 thousand signatures on the petition (and we are still going – if you haven’t signed it yet, please do!). Not only was this such an inspirational and impactful project to work on, its launch was actually timed with the birth of our first baby, Darcy – so the results that we received for this campaign felt all the more worked for (and sweeter!)

2019 holds so many exciting things for us and the team, and I’d like to think that the story is only just beginning to unfold!

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