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Brand Enhancement and Awareness Creation

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What The Brand Needed

Following delivery of a successful website overhaul, Clockwork was invited to pitch for – and subsequently won – the PR and digital retainer for Exxaro, the largest thermal coal producer and foremost black-empowered resource company in South Africa.

Since obtaining the account, our ongoing responsibility as an agency has been to enhance the Exxaro brand, creating awareness and a positive sentiment around the resource company, while elevating their reputation amongst stakeholders and customers. Another key objective was to invite the public to be part of the greater Exxaro story.

Insights and Execution

Creating a newsworthy story is the bread and butter of PR and digital work. The biggest challenge Clockwork faced in this instance was determining how to take a resource company, whose primary commodity is coal, and make it newsworthy.

Additionally, contemporary hot topics digitisation and innovation are not concepts you typically associate with a mining company, despite the pioneering strides Exxaro has made in using emerging technologies. The challenge would be educating customers and stakeholders on what steps Exxaro is taking to remain relevant and do so in a way that ensures reach and engagement.

Key to this process was a thorough competitor audit, to consider what other companies in Exxaro’s market were doing right. More importantly, this analysis highlighted where competitors were lacking, presenting areas for Exxaro to differentiate themselves and excel in their communications.

Key insights that we built upon were the resonance of good news stories around companies’ positive impact on individuals at a local level, as well as sustainability efforts. Messaging had even greater power when combined with innovative use of formats and channels.


The Results

What Happened

Acting on our findings, Clockwork meaningfully shifted and elevated Exxaro’s brand perception, repositioning the company as hugely relevant and topical – and one that produces high-quality content. Creative has consistently reflected Exxaro’s vision, which sees modernisation and innovation as imperatives, while bringing more stories of its impact to light within social communities and PR.

Social media

As the primary tool for the brand perception shift, we completely overhauled Exxaro’s social media and invested in more multimedia storytelling such as video, infographics and gifs, along with more engaging content like quizzes and polls. Over time, there has been a move to more tailored content per channel, with a big focus on sharing content around events, celebrations, training, transformation and diversity. At the same time, conversations related to Exxaro have been monitored, measured and responded to as needed.

Some performance highlights, from February to December 2018, saw Exxaro followers on Facebook and Twitter increase by 44.2% and 66.4% respectively. On LinkedIn, impressions grew 1322% and engagement leapt a giant 2247%. We also introduced a standout Instagram channel.


Our PR efforts aligned with broader communication objectives, managing the narrative around Exxaro’s diversifying portfolio and digitisation. PR’s functions have included distributing media releases to relevant business, trade and community media; national and community crisis communications; advertising; event support; building media relationships and profiling Exxaro Executives.

In response to these efforts, overall sentiment of the media coverage has been positive. During the first 11 months of managing the account, the Clockwork team achieved 141 pieces of coverage, generating a PR value of R35 664 847.52, with a ROI of 1:568.