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CMO50 #26-50: Scott Heffernan, DAFWA

  • Name Scott Heffernan
  • Title Director, communications and promotion
  • Company Department of Agriculture and Food WA
  • Commenced role October 2014
  • Reporting Line Executive director
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 16 (immediate team), lead 22 staff under a matrix structure
  • Scott Heffernan’s quest at the Department of Agriculture and Food in Western Australia (DAFWA) is to create a customer-focused, information delivery organisation driven by the communications and marketing team.

    “The initiatives will be by necessity low cost, and due to reduced scope of work from downsizing requires leveraging external parties’ content,” he says.

    “Key to this is the effective use of the website, client information databases, social media and continued development of a collegiate culture. This is a paradigm shift in the way the organisation has run its communications in the past and I look forward to delivering over this timeframe.”

    From the CMO50 submission

    Business contribution and innovation

    Heffernan’s overarching ambition is to shift DAFWA from a product/push model to a customer focused, demand service delivery culture. This required corporate executive support, and new strategies and initiatives to drive such cultural change.

    In particular, the change impacts content and promotional delivery through improved use of the website, and embracing social media. Strategies developed cover communications, channel, promotional, social/digital media, seasonal content strategy and applications (apps) policy.

    Through delivery of these initiatives, Heffernan has helped guide the organisation to more consistent organisational messages, and instigated a behavioural change that has enhanced effective marketing and communications delivery. He has also engaged with marketing and communications staff on a regular basis in order to engender a collaborative collegiate work ethic. This change recently earnt the congratulations of the corporate executive team.

    The tangible impact of this cultural and work practice change includes double-digital growth in traffic to the website, and the rapid increase in social media usage. DAFWA now has a Klout score of 64, and is seeing a constant rise in followers on Facebook and Twitter linking back to its website.

    Data and/or technology driven approach

    One of the most impactful programs of work is the 'Seasonal Content' initiative. This is seeing all content created by DAFWA tagged with content characteristics such as seasonal, geographic, industry, severe weather, water availability, land usage and pest/disease. Heffernan said there are several outcomes for the project:

    1: A client or interested party can come to the DAFWA website, and through the selection of various tags, quickly be presented with applicable content;

    2: The client will be invited to create their own dashboard to make it easier for DAFWA to present appropriate information anytime they visit. For instance, a sheep farmer in Geraldton will be presented with the current weather, rainfall, soil updates and feed levels specifically applicable to their physical location;

    3: The client will be invited to put in their best contact method anytime that new content is distributed, ensuring content is delivered via their preferred contact method;

    4: The tagged search system will inevitably highlight holes in DAFWA’s data set. For example, there is currently a lack of related data or content on Llama farmers in York. In order to service current and potential customers, DAFWA will point the client to a website or organisation that is credible and has related content for them to use. Heffernan said this is a radical departure from DAFWA’s previous work practice, which has not previously acknowledged non-DAFWA content via its website.


    The most notable example of creativity for Heffernan is in the use of social media. DAFWA has moved away from the more traditional governmental media release approach and is striving to inject fun and humour into its messaging. Through all of this, it’s important to experiment and learn from different activities in social and digital media, he said.

    “Every failure is a learning experience that we can improve from, for without failure you cannot move towards success. This in itself is a form of creativity,” he said.

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