From the training ground of student radio through to a leadership role with Australia’s largest beverage company Brand Amp founder Nicola McConnell has made her career building brands.Having worked in Australia, New Zealand the UK, Nicola’s experience spans corporate communications, marketing communications, consultancy and small business. This wealth of experience ensures that working with Nicola McConnell means you have someone on your team who understands the practicalities of business, is in touch with the market and can provide service from top line strategy through to making it happen.
After crossing the ditch as a Kiwi wireless journalist in the 90s Nicola found passion while leading the marketing team at the iconic Sydney Fish Market, discovering she loved food and wine! From here she had the privilege of returning to New Zealand to work with Corbans Wines leading their PR throughout the country and across all global markets. In this role she was fortunate to work on iconic kiwi wines including Stoneleigh and Corbans.
Another quick flight across the Tasman saw Nicola land the wine job of a lifetime with Southcorp Wines which meant working on an amazing suite of brands including Penfolds Grange, Coldstream Hills, Wynns Coonawarra Estate and another dozen in what was – at the time – Australia’s largest wine portfolio.
The Foster’s takeover of Southcorp presented new opportunities and Nicola was able to hone her brand communication skills across spirits and beer in addition to wine. It was here she gained valuable corporate communications experience, including working for the company’s UK operations before joining the leadership team for the Asia Pacific arm of the business and taking responsibility for the company’s internal communications.
After life with a multi-national becoming part of a small business was a refreshing challenge. As Client Service Director for Dig Communications in Melbourne her clients included Dan Murphy’s, Langton’s, Voyager Estate, Brown Brothers, Giesen and Treasury Wine Estates. In 2013 this company became Dig&Fish and Nicola became General Manager of Communications.
In early 2014 Nicola McConnell returned home to New Zealand and established Brand Amp to share her branding, public relations, marketing, events and social media knowledge with food, drinks and lifestyle businesses.
Dr. Sarah Soper
Sarah Rose Soper, PhD
A recent crossover from academia, Dr. Sarah Rose Soper is an expert in conducting and interpreting market research focused on wine and food lifestyles. Sarah’s research career began within the realm of wine tourism studies and has developed into a penchant for multi-generational and cross-cultural experiences for wine brands and events.
Originally from Florida, Sarah is a native of the hospitality and tourism trades, evidenced by her passion for public relations and communications. Hospitality is centred on ensuring guests feel welcome and memorably entertained and Sarah applies this philosophy to social media engagement. Sarah believes online communities and cyberculture accessed via social media are vital to brand engagement and serve as contemporary hospitality platforms.
As a consultant for Brand Amp, Sarah applies her scholarly interest in wine to create distinct and engaging brand messages for New Zealand and Australian wineries. Sarah’s adaptable and approachable copywriting style has sparked high levels of social media engagement, marking the beginning of an auspicious career in ‘cyber hospitality’.
Sarah holds a BA in Psychology from the University of West Georgia, an MS in Tourism and Commercial Recreation from the University of Florida, and a PhD in Tourism from the University of Otago.