The Collective – more than just marketing

This article was first published in the July 2020 issue of AP. The digital version of the magazine is available here.

I keep telling people that we’ve all grown up now, as the Collective moves away from traditionally promoting the industry with campaigns, client engagement, and events to now holding a firm position on centre stage with government working groups, Australia Post industry solutions, industrial relations advice, workplace healthy and safety guidelines, policy and governance across both federal and state levels, Fair Work Commission and award review and submissions, economic stimulus advice, industry advocacy and more across the entire scope of our offering. And this is simply the beginning.

With some common questions still being tabled across our industry, it felt timely as we embrace the recovery period, to address the top three myths and facts I regularly respond to about The Real Media Collective, referred to fondly by members as ‘the Collective’.

Myth #1

TRMC is for big companies only.

Fact #1

Of the 324 member companies, only three are termed ‘patron members’ which means they have an annual turnover over $100 million. The majority of our members, are less than $3 million in annual turnover and termed ‘small businesses’ by definition. The second tier of membership sits across our commercial print, publishing and mail-house sector ranging from $5 million to $15 million, and $15 million to $50 million.

This does exclude the supplier membership cohort who are often multi-nationals such as paper supply and OEM members. They offer a separate level of membership with keen interest to support the industry initiatives and ultimately their clients and partners for the betterment of a strong and stable industry.

Our membership demographic is supported by our deliverables. The promotional campaigns – VoPP, Two Sides and Open Up to Mail – provide marketing resources to our members who do not have dedicated marketing teams. Our industrial relations templates and tools provide support to members who don’t have a dedicated HR or IR resource. Our larger members often have these resources and join for advocacy and research deliverables.

Each member has varying requirements and building a model for these members is complex. However, since the merger of three associations to one and the emergence of The Real Media Collective, we have developed pillars to ensure each member group has access to relevant deliverables that benefit their business.

Myth #2

TRMC just does marketing.

Fact #2

Our campaigns promoting the industry are strong and well recognised across many sectors. Perhaps this is why this myth has prevailed. It is true, our industry promotion has a strong presence in our charter and our deliverables.

Clients and print buyers across Australia and New Zealand actively engage with our VoPP campaign, which promotes the power and effectiveness of print across all channels. The VoPP Mag is issued to 10,000 marketing managers, agencies and brand agents across Australia and 5,000 of them across New Zealand. Members receive printed copies for their clients to raise awareness on powerful statistics and facts about effective print campaigns. From major international brands to local bespoke pieces, we collect case studies and content that showcase how print is evolving and using intelligent print technologies to push the creative boundaries further each and every time.

Our monthly e-newsletter highlighting the print’s credentials as an important, relevant and effective media is delivered to over 2,500 people across the country.

Our Open Up to Mail campaign is mailed to 6,891 designers across Australia and just shy of 3,000 designers in New Zealand promoting the power of direct mail and how to create effective campaigns for maximum impact.

Two Sides, our most established campaign, is part of an international global community promoting the environmental credentials of paper and print. It is a campaign that has overturned 73 per cent of the greenwashing claims made by companies pushing consumers to online communications to ‘save the world’.

We have a suite of resources, fact sheets, videos and slides for members to educate their clients on the recyclability of print as well as the renewability of paper. We explore the credentials of sustainable forestry, the footprint of print compared to email and the increased forests, noting that Australia alone has two million hectares of working forests and growing.

That equates to over a million MCGs’ inland area covered. We promote the environmental credentials of print without apology and arm our members with credible and verifiable evidence to support our claims.

Yes, we market and promote the industry; however, it is not all that we do. We lobby and advocate, building an industry specific voice across government, Fair Work and Australia Post to deliver outcomes for our members and broader industry.

Across the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we have achieved success across the COAG Waste Export Ban, having paper waste bans held until 2024. We’ve had success and direct reference in the Fair Work Commission review across the nine awards our members sit across. We have delivered Charity Mail and Print Post product relaxations to provide support for members using Business Mail products and services with Australia Post. We have established a Print Post working group for better engagement with Australia Post.

During our Keep Me Posted campaign, calling for companies to be banned from charging a fee for paper bills and statements, we achieved a COAG Consumer Affairs review and a Treasury Consultation which concluded those companies implementing such fees need to develop a consistent and transparent waiver for consumer protections.

This year, we recognised the growing concern that our industry had lost a specialised expertise across industrial relations with outsourced and hotline models eroding what was once a unified industry resource to develop consistent arguments and ultimately precedents across industrial relations matters nationally.

To that end, we engaged an expert many of you know, Charles Watson, as our GM – IR, Policy and Governance. He brings 17 years of industry expertise and strong relationships with many of you having worked together across those years of experience. Despite COVID-19 being a particularly difficult period, our membership has grown since the appointment of Charles, as the industry recognises that a consistent and industry focused approach is critical for us all.

I have been accused of having too commercial a focus on the membership structure; however, in the current climate and even before that, industry associations can no longer rest assured on legacy membership. Our members must have a return on their investment, a tangible deliverable, or value benefit for their membership investment. This is why it is important that we continue to listen to our members and build our products and services as our members’ needs expand.

Myth #3

TRMC is not an industry association.

Fact #3    

The Real Media Collective is an industry association and registered as such with the appropriate government bodies. We operate under a constitution which clearly outlines our rules of operation. These include the structure of the board, the role of the executive committee, the charter, member ownership, not-for-profit compliance and administrative procedures.

The rules are lodged with Consumer Affairs and any amendments must be accepted by over 70 per cent of our membership, and all amendments must be passed by resolution and submitted in accordance with the legislation. Our financials are independently audited each year and submitted for acceptance at our annual general meeting.

We are proud of our achievements. The Collective team work tirelessly and passionately to deliver for our members and the broader industry. Our members are future-focused, successful entities that are committed to an innovative and sustainable industry well into the years ahead. This chapter has been difficult; however, we’ve stood together, supporting each other in the tough times and forward facing as we rebuild.

I’ve worked in varying roles across this industry for 20 years and am proud to continue to do so. Our industry is resilient, creative, robust and intelligent. There isn’t much not to love about its fierce determination. For your resilience and grit, the Collective will promise to continue to serve, build solutions for your challenges and assist your businesses to thrive. So, let’s throw out the myths and look forward to a vibrant and strong future together.

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