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How to be a successful lobbying organisation

3 min read

The Australian Coal Association (ACA) represents 24 coal mining companies within the Australian black coal industry, currently with particular focus, the organisation says, on sustainability for the industry regarding the role of coal in climate change and developing low carbon emissions technology for coal-fired electricity.

The Australian Made Australian Grown (AMAG) Campaign aims to support Australian manufacturers and growers in branding their products as produced in Australia. This is also to “help consumers exercise their preference for buying Australian and more easily identify these goods,” says AMAG Marketing and Communications Manager Vibeke Stisen.

“AMAG is not a membership organisation and as such is not a representative body in the usual sense.”

AMAG, therefore, does not have members, Stisen says, “but rather licenses businesses to use the logo on products and produce that qualify.”

Success and what works

Stisen says that over the years, the organisation’s success has grown markedly. “The Australian Made, Australian Grown logo was launched in 1986 and is now recognised by 98 per cent of Australian consumers and trusted over any other Australian country of origin identifier (such as flags, maps, the words ‘made in Australia’) by 86 per cent. The integrity of the logo is paramount to AMAG’s success.

“Over the past four years the number of businesses using the logo has increased by close to 70 per cent and the logo is now used by some of Australia’s most innovative businesses. It is recognised and trusted by consumers and has been embraced by major Australian retailers such as Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, Harvey Norman, Bev Marks and Forty Winks.”

AMAG works to ensure that “businesses understand [the importance of the logo’s integrity] and uses the logo as effectively and aggressively as possible,” Stisen says, “and that consumers understand the benefits of buying Australian made or grown and continue to have the opportunity to buy locally made.

“AMAG communicates with its many stakeholders in a number of ways,” she says. “Advertising through print, radio, outdoor, cinema, TV and online, is a major component as is PR, sponsorship of key events and awards and of course on-going communication with government, and other industry bodies etc.

“AMAG proactively pursues media opportunities by regularly sending press releases, issuing expert spokesperson statements (reminders to media that AMAG can comment on whatever relevant story is breaking) and generally maintaining good relationships with media,” she says.

According to Stisen, the AMAG’s commitment to actively approaching media and stakeholders has resulted in its profile increasing substantially in the past few years, securing its role as an important player.

“AMAG works closely with a wide range of industry bodies and actively participates in industry conferences, expos, networking events etc.

“AMAG recently introduced two new categories to allow businesses, mainly in the service sector, to engage with the logo.” Stisen outlines the vital role of campaign partners and supporters in increasing awareness of the logo through their advertising and, in the case of retailers, through their in-store promotion of the logo and the benefits of buying Australian.

“A good example is the extensive use of the logo and communication of the AMAG message by Campaign Partners such as Harvey Norman (furniture and bedding division) and Bev Marks.”

Ethical advocacy

“The ACA employs ethical advocacy practices similar to those used by other Industry Associations,” says a representative from the ACA. “This includes supplying information to opinion makers, including the media; the development of a high-quality interactive website to explain coal and climate change and low emissions technologies; meetings with political leaders and key public servants; attending and speaking at conferences on energy issues; making submissions to parliamentary inquiries; writing letters and providing briefings.

In relation to the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) the spokesperson says the organisation’s advocacy strategy has followed the above methods, “as well as commissioning and distributing significant modelling from ACIL Tasman on the potential impact of the CPRS on mining jobs and investment.”

On the issue of low emissions technologies, the ACA has been highly successful, working with state and federal governments to drive the establishment of the Low Emissions Coal Council, the Carbon Storage Taskforce, the Queensland NSW Clean Coal Councils, and the Global Carbon Capture and Storage institute.

“ACA lobbying and campaigning has ensured that cleaning up the coal-fired power sector is now a priority issue in a country where over 80 per cent of its electricity comes from coal.”

Measuring success

According to Stisen, “the success of AMAG is measured on a number of levels, including the number of products using the logo, the extent to which consumers recognise, trust and value the logo and the view key stakeholders have of the organisation. AMAG recently introduced annual organisational reviews including surveys among stakeholders such as key contacts in relevant government departments, logo users, other industry groups and campaign partners
and supporters.”

ACA’s representative says that the organisation can gauge its lobbying success simply from the level of recent attention and hubbub surrounding its issues, particularly online. “Our success is measured by the range of activity in this important area. Our website has also attracted more than 170,000 unique visitors in the past six months.”

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