National feature shows Gladstone in positive light

THE marketing agency that organised a six-page feature on Gladstone in a national newspaper is pleased with the final product, which appeared in print on Monday.

Grant Cooper, of Gladstone-based business Cooper McKenzie, told the ABC he had been worried about what journalists from The Australian would write.

"From a journalists' perspective you can't control editorial. Even though we put the wheels in motion, it was going to be interesting what the journalists from The Australian had to say," Mr Cooper said.

"But we're very pleased, very happy that Gladstone has been portrayed in a positive light for a change."

 The Gladstone report featured a range of stories featuring LNG, discussion of the boom and bust cycle, the aluminium industry, the city's new oil recycling plant and the resources boom.

Mr Cooper said the feature had come about because his partners and staff were "pretty parochial and passionate about Gladstone".

"We were pretty sick of the negative wrap the city has been copping over the past five years," he said.

"It felt like the city was an easy target. When you spoke to someone outside the region they'd ask about the pollution or the three-eyed fish, which is just not the case.

"We decided to do something about it." 

Mr Cooper said while the region had faced its share of challenges, such was the ferocity of the negative press, it felt like it was the gift that kept on giving to newspapers.

"As brand managers, we felt like the Gladstone brand itself had taken some big hits, by some that have gone out there to simply smear the city for personal gain," he said.

"While on the other hand it has grown exponentially over the LNG refinery construction, and the national and international media was hungry for news, good or bad, about LNG in Gladstone.

"We felt Gladstone was being portrayed as a bit of a one-trick pony, when there's so much more substance and diversity to the city that needs to be spoken about."

GLNG project tanks on Curtis Island.
GLNG project tanks on Curtis Island.

When asked if the feature had been a paid feature, Mr Cooper said, "It was a feature that needed to be paid for, but wasn't a paid feature.

"Good news doesn't come free. How this was able to work was we had to sell advertising into the publication.

"Editorial was completely unbiased. It was done by journalists from The Australian. We weren't 100 per cent sure what was going to be written about," he said.

"But it was a feature on the benefits and the industrial side of Gladstone, but not only that, also the community and the local infrastructure, and the way Gladstone needs to be portrayed in the Australian and international stage.

"So it still needed advertising to actually fly, and without sponsors who bought advertising in the paper, it wouldn't have happened."

Mr Cooper said Gladstone residents needed a bit of a shot in the arm of parochialism.

"We say, if you don't like it, move on. No-one is forcing you to stay. But if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

"We're hoping this will kick start a bit of local pride, that our city is being promoted in the biggest newspaper in Australia in the right way."

On whether local residents did enough to promote the city, Mr Cooper said, "If from a local perspective, starting to become parochial, and looking at our town and our region as a preferable place to live, if we're not portraying that ourselves, then we're fighting a losing battle.

"I think we've lost a little bit of parochialism over the past few years."

You can view the Gladstone report online here.

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