Communicating for New Zealand

Communicating for a transparent and collaborative future government

3 - 4 Aug 2020Te Wharewaka O Poneke, Wellington
Event Details


Registration and coffee
Opening remarks from the Chair
Sam Rossiter-Stead, Head of Communications and Engagement, Wellington City Council
INTERNATIONAL KEYNOTE: Reimagining public administration for turbulent times

Increased turbulence, hyper-partisanship and the decline of deference are some of the reasons why governments need to undertake a radical and urgent reassessment of how they communicate.


• What challenges will connective governance present for the public sector and how well equipped is to deal with them?

• To what extent do networked and accelerated communication flows present new and exciting opportunities to reverse the decoupling and distrust that has emerged between citizens, governments and politicians?

• What does the future of communications look like and why will the successful delivery of public value increasingly rely on the communication and PR professionals working in government?

Paul Fawcett, Associate Professor of Public Policy, University of Melbourne
Achieving high levels of community engagement through authentic communication

• Involving everyone in the community, especially those currently disengaged, in new and deeply democratic forums

• The virtue of participation but also deliberation (high-quality public discussion)

• Allowing genuine co-creation of policy early on rather than minimal consultation later on

Max Rashbrooke, Author of Government for the Public Good
Morning break
CASE STUDY: Communicating through change

• How to prepare so the change is least disruptive?

• What are the main challenges and how to overcome them?

• Keeping credible, consistent and responsive communication throughout the change

Chantelle Taylor, Internal Communications, Communications and Engagement, Wellington City Council
CASE STUDY: How internal communication drives collaborative and innovative cultures

Keeping staff informed, motivated and involved in the organisation’s conversations is vital to the success of any organisation.


• How internal communications influence culture?

• Planning internal communications and how to measure the results

• Cross-department collaboration - how to get the buy-in of other departments and how to overcome the internal pushback

• How internal communication influences the external communication

Natalie Palmer, Communication and Engagement Manager, Hamilton City Council
Lunch break
CASE STUDY: Regulatory Service Improvement - through customer engagement

Engaging with customers is often seen as secondary, or even, detrimental to achieving government’s regulatory business objectives. The Companies Office at MBIE has found that there is actually a way to exceed your service delivery - by helping their users to comply via self-service.

Tracey Yearbury, Stakeholder Engagement Manager, MBIE
Paul Thompson, Senior Business Analyst, MBIE
CASE STUDY: Behaviour change communications – how to ignite immediate action

House fires do happen – with one occurring about every three hours somewhere in New Zealand. Making an escape plan on the spot is almost impossible in a fire when you’re scared and disoriented. Fire and Emergency NZ’s confronting communications aim to get New Zealanders to stop assuming they’ll naturally know what to do in a house fire and get them to take a few minutes now to make a potentially life-saving escape plan.

Kelley Toy, External Communications Manager, Fire and Emergency New Zealand
Afternoon break
CASE STUDY: The Swim Reaper - an unlikely water safety ambassador

Water Safety NZ has launched a rather unusual social marketing campaign using digital channels to improve water safety behaviour among difficult to influence young males.


• The neuroscience behind influencing behaviour change among young males

• The opportunities to influencing behaviour change

• The campaign development and evaluation based on community-based social marketing principles

Sheridan Bruce, Strategic Partnerships and Communications Manager, Water Safety NZ
Could we use principles of behavioural science to mitigate the impact and influence of fake news?

• Waiting for tech companies to take steps to restrict false info online or taking things in your hand?

• What does behaviour science say: people’s incentive to lie decreases when they believe there is a higher risk of negative consequences, are reminded about ethics, or commit to behaving honestly

• What are the ways we could limit the spread of misinformation online & mitigate the effects of fake news?

Dr Marcos Pelenur, GM Strategy and Engagement, EECA
Closing remarks from the Chair
Networking drinks
Opening remarks from the Chair
Sam Rossiter-Stead, Head of Communications and Engagement, Wellington City Council
How to effectively deal with the hardest questions and concerns in times of crisis?

• Planning for a crisis and testing the crisis communication strategies

• How does the frequent changing environment affect crisis communications strategies?

• Using different channels and communicating with diverse audiences in times of a crisis – what are the major challenges and how to prepare for them

Karalyn van Deursen, Executive Director Communications, CDHB
CASE STUDY: Christchurch terrorist attack - communicating in times of crisis

​• Be prepared – does a crisis comms plan work in situations like these?

• Find your USP – identifying your role and your agency’s voice in a multi-agency crisis response

• Stronger together – what makes the ideal comms team in a crisis

Louise Yarall, Corporate Communications Manager, DIA
PANEL DISCUSSION: The issues and challenges of ethics in public services communication

• Ensuring that the public and media receives the information in a timely and a fair manner

• Increase the integrity – increase the trust of the community

• Current challenges with the ethics and how to overcome them

• What are the expectations for the future?

Louise Yarall, Corporate Communications Manager, DIA
Natalie Palmer, Communication and Engagement Manager, Hamilton City Council
Morning break
The influence of changing demographics on how we communicate

• How are New Zealand’s demographics changing? And what will a future New Zealand be like?

• How does the increased ethnic diversity impact on the way we communicate, especially in relation to a range of media and linguistic communities?

• Are there regional differences and dynamics that influence communication patterns?

Paul Spoonley, Distinguished Professor, Massey University
Championing iwi engagement – the power of authentic engagement.

“Māori and Iwi more than just another stakeholder.”


• Understanding the link between people and place and why this is key in building long lasting relationships

• Key to success of multi-cultural communications - how to create meaningful engagement and develop collaborative partnerships with iwi

• Finding the common language

Marisa Balle, Managing Director, Hono PR & Iwi Communications Specialist
CASE STUDY: How to get younger generations engaged on social media with public services?

• How to achieve better collaboration between communications and customer services teams?

• Advances in the strategic use of social media - channel choices, insight-led campaigns and content

• How to measure and achieve return on investment from social media?

Claire Roper, Principal Advisor Digital & Design, Porirua City Council
Lunch break
CASE STUDY: Developing and communicating strong brand through content

Effective communication is key to building a strong brand and professional communicators in the public sector have responsibility to do it well.  

  • Creating, building and managing a brand that people will value - key elements of the strong public services brand  

  • How to apply corporate marketing & branding strategies to the public sector  

  • The future of public sector branding and how communication & PR teams can help drive economic growth and prosperity  

Rebecca Smith, Director, New Zealand Story
Generating public trust in the age of social media

Twitter’s recent decision to ban political advertising shows that public trust in government’s use of social media is at an all-time low. However, 70% of New Zealanders use social media, making it an important part of government outreach and digital citizenship. This session examines best practice techniques for generating transparency, trust and participation.

Dr Phoebe Fletcher, Lecturer in Digital Marketing, Massey University
PANEL DISCUSSION: Have we become so risk averse that we have put too many barriers in the communications process?

• Taking a risk and letting decision-makers talk to media directly

• Trusting the decision-makers and media

• The importance of great internal communication and teaching your staff how to communicate externally

• What media could do to help build and improve the relationship with public sector communication & PR teams?

Jason Walls, Political Reporter, NZ Herald
Gerard Langford, Communications Manager, South Taranaki District Council
Daniel Webster, Senior Communications Advisor, Local Government NZ
Closing remarks from the Chair & end of the conference
The Excellerant Group
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