Sarah Walsh is the General Manager – Marketing & Communications for Brand South Australia. Her role encompasses digital and campaign strategy, brand management, media and communications and stakeholder management. With over 12 years of marketing experience in retail, education, defence and research, Brand South Australia has provided Sarah the ability to work across broad sectors and target markets.
Your role with Brand South Australia encompasses diverse areas. What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
It’s the diversity that I enjoy most. Marketing and communications is a unique career whereby the skills you build are transferable across all industries – the challenge is to learn from each experience and apply this to new audiences. When you can seamlessly work between sectors you know that your core strategy is engaging.
Marketing versus PR. If someone asked you “what’s the difference?” what would you say?
I would say that 10 years ago marketing and PR were distinct roles. Today, they are completely integrated due to the changes in the digital environment. We now have greater access to audiences and control over our own messaging. PR is all about raising awareness and managing business and personal reputation, and this can be achieved through many marketing and communication strategies across traditional and digital media.
Today’s comms professionals need to be abreast of what digital communications offers. How have you educated yourself in this field?
The digital space is filled with challenges… but importantly opportunities! I think the key is to really get ‘interested’ in digital. You need to immerse yourself in your professional and private life to ensure a good understanding of how consumers use digital media in the information gathering and decision making process. As the digital landscape continues to evolve it is important for businesses to ensure they have access to the right technology platforms for their business. This means following world leaders, reading blogs, subscribing to EDMs, etc. As a General Manager, it is also essential to recognise when you require specialists – both internal and external. It is critical to surround yourself with people who work in digital day-in and day-out as they will guide you and help you navigate this ever-changing field.
The I Choose SA campaign has been a huge success for the state.
Brand South Australia has surpassed many of the KPIs.
Are you able to share with our readers, some of the KPIs of the I Choose SA campaign and how it’s faring?
The I Choose SA campaign has been a huge success for the state. Brand South Australia has surpassed many of the KPIs. The engagement really has blown us away! For example, the campaign has achieved over 28,000 uses of #ichoosesa, as well as more than 79 million impressions, already surpassing the KPI by more than 180%. We have also received some impressive sales feedback from brands involved in the campaign which has led to job growth – which is really what it’s all about!
Below: Sharni Rosser of Oh Deer Sugar, in an #iChooseSA clip.
Working at Brand SA means a lot of networking. What’s your approach to ‘working a room’?
I must confess, even after attending many events over the years I still find this a challenge. There is usually a theme or topic for the event so this is always a good place to start. Engage people with relevant questions and you will soon have something to talk about – plus its Adelaide so it’s likely you know their brother, sister or uncle. It’s also important to be confident. Whilst networking may not be your thing, you are employed for good reason and people will always be interested in learning about your role and the expertise you bring. You don’t need to be the loudest person in the room to form a good connection.
Time for a fun question: It must be hard to play favourites with SA products, but what are your most favourite SA foods to eat?
We are so blessed with the quality of our produce in South Australia, so this is a hard question to answer. But… my family and friends will all tell you that I love a delicious local platter. So everything from Woodside Cheese Wrights and Udder Delights cheese, to Barossa Fine Foods small goods, combined with our beautiful fresh produce (usually from the Adelaide Central Market) including figs, grapes, pears, tomatoes… and I can’t go past a Maggie Beer pate. For more formal gatherings I like to indulge in local seafood including Spencer Gulf Prawns and Coffin Bay Oysters. The list goes on but this gives you an idea of just how lucky we are here in South Australia!