Preparation key for WesTrac community success

In a town that for generations has relied on a traditional coal mining industry, news of an autonomous training facility for haulage vehicles had the potential to create panic and fear of job losses. A carefully planned approach to community and stakeholder engagement was vital


WesTrac is one of the largest authorised Caterpillar equipment dealers in the world.

For more than 25 years, the company has provided customers in the mining and construction industries with support across Western Australia, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.

January 2020 saw the announcement of WesTrac’s latest venture, an autonomous equipment training facility in Collie, WA.

Spoke was engaged to assist with community and stakeholder engagement, media and government relations, and to help deliver a ground-turning ceremony to mark the announcement.


A key consideration was the risk of misinformation spreading in regards to the plan. In a town that for generations has relied on a traditional coal mining industry, talk of autonomous equipment operations had the potential to create fear and resistance.

Spoke worked with WesTrac to prepare a range of targeted briefings for local government and business, the union and other stakeholders, then conducted briefing sessions as required.

As the Premier of Western Australia and various State Government Ministers would be in attendance at the ground-turning ceremony, Spoke worked closely with a range of Ministerial Departments to ensure consistency of messaging, timing of media engagement and appropriate interaction with stakeholders.

To help create positive community buy-in, Spoke recommended an advance briefing for the editor of local news service The Collie Mail. We also drafted a media release that enabled the newspaper to run an exclusive article on the day of the event, while other journalists were informed and invited to attend, with the media release embargoed until after the event.

By the time the ground-turning ceremony came about, the preparation work had paid off with a significant media contingent in attendance and a positive response from all stakeholders.

The widespread interest, coupled with the prospect of regular newsflow and positive community engagement, has established the foundation for multiple follow up PR opportunities as the project continues.


• Premier and WA State Government Ministers attended

• Positive media coverage secured across TV, radio, print and online including agreed WesTrac key messages and comment from WesTrac CEO Jarvas Croome

• Coverage highlights include front-page pointer and double-page early general news coverage in The West Australian along with footage captured for ABC TV, Seven News and GWN

• Interest in ongoing newsflow and publicity opportunities from various media

• Articles ran in interstate and international trade media including Mining Magazine (UK) and across the News Corp network

• Considerable interest and amplification of messaging via social media and website posts from local businesses and interested parties

Total combined reach across all media: more than 10+ million