Claire Bennett, Director of Claire Bennett Communications, runs a full-service marketing communications agency based in Hobart Tasmania, which is highly engaged with clients from the Tasmanian Forest and Forest Products Industry.
Claire began working in the Tasmanian forest industry in 2005 and has held other roles in the forest industry throughout some of its most contentious years.
“It’s no secret amongst those who know me that I am very passionate about the sector,” Claire said.
“The forest industry has an incredible opportunity to tell its story.”
Claire is the Network’s Communications Working Group Chair and is invested in helping the working group move forward to share the story of the Tasmanian Forest and Forest Products Industry.
“I believe the role of the Working Group is to bring together all the people that are communicating about the Tasmanian forest industry to share ideas, research and resources and collaborate where possible,” said Claire.
“Each organisation that is communicating about the sector is contributing to the collective brand of forestry in Tasmania, so it is important that we communicate well with each other and draw on each other’s expertise.
“As the benefits of wood are increasingly being recognised in helping the world achieve its sustainability goals, the sector is perfectly positioned to showcase its environmental credentials.
“We have a great, positive environmental story to tell at a time when people are more concerned about the environment than ever.”
Claire explains that stories are about people and should be written by people for people. Claire states that this needs to be the case in the forest industry.
“Articles about facts and figures aren’t very relatable, whereas stories connect people and make facts far more memorable,” she said.
“The greatest strength of a company or industry is its people, and it is very powerful to have them contribute to telling their sectors story.”
For stories to be successful, Claire says they need to be bedded in a strong communication strategy based on research insights with measurable objectives.
“Any communication campaign needs to deliver against the strategic objectives of the organisation,” she said.
“To manage a campaign effectively you have to be able to measure success and return on investment.”
Claire acknowledges that the reputation of the industry currently is characterised by the act of cutting down trees.
“The recent national research conducted by Pollinate, along with state-based research by EMRS shows that the public doesn’t see any evidence of replanting, isn’t aware that the sector operates under a strict forest practices code and doesn’t see any evidence of innovation in our processing,” she said.
“When in fact, these things are happening every day.
“Whilst those of us in the industry know that the roles within the sector are varied and highly skilled – all working together to ensure a highly sustainable, innovative industry producing high quality products – the public don’t see it.
“We need to be telling these stories in order to change the perception of the sector.
“Authentic storytelling can build trust and engagement and make our sector more relatable.”
Claire is confident that with storytelling, the industry has the power to shift public perceptions and make a more positive impact within the community.
“Reputation is built over time,” she said.
“The current reputation of the sector has been built over many years and changing perceptions will take a strategic approach over time, but it is definitely possible.”
Claire is hoping that the future of the industry is one of growth and has a vision of where the industry could be positioned in years to come.
“I would love to see the sector have a secure native resource supply along with a growing resource from strategically planted trees on private land,” she said.
“And a range of sought-after products that achieve a premium price in the marketplace.
“I hope we achieve a well-deserved reputation for world leading public and private forest management and innovation in product development and processing, and become an employer of choice that attracts talented people that can help the sector continue to grow.”
Currently, Claire is busy implementing the Tasmanian Timber campaign and working with the Department of State Growth on the first Tasmanian Visiting Architects Program. Claire is also working with Private Forests Tasmania on an agroforestry engagement plan.