Sarah Dent

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Sarah Dent, a former journalist, joined the giant Australian forestry company Gunns as its Brand Manager in mid-2004.

A Gunns newsletter described her role as "an external relations manager in part to deal with the often misleading, deceptive and politically motivated negative publicity. Sarah will rely on the facts to educate the public about the Gunns group and its best practice operations." [1]

In an interview with Dent in the newsletter she said that "the key to successful external relations is ensuring a calm, logical and strategic approach to all issues. I’ve seen many examples of companies commenting on an issue that is irrelevant to their core business, and others that fail to be pro-active in addressing damaging statements. I also believe that reacting to opposition, such as the same old tired arguments that are pedaled by groups opposing forestry, is not beneficial. It’s about setting the agenda, being pro-active and assessing each issue and opportunity as it arises."

Dent grew up on a farm in northern Tasmania. She started her career in journalism with the Examiner in Launceston, The Weekly Times in Melbourne and the Herald Sun. She later worked with unnamed public relations and event management company in London before taking up a position with the National Farmers’ Federation, the peak farmers lobby group. She then worked as Chief Executive Officer of the Wine Industry Association of Western Australia before suggesting to Gunns that they create a PR position. [2]

Dent stated that on returning to Tasmania that she was "surprised by the lack of understanding many people have of the sustainable nature of the forest industry in Tasmania. There are many stories flying around in the media that are simply not true and, while some stories can be attributed to political gain, one of the main reason is due to a lack of education and understanding by the public of the world’s best forest practices that occur in Tasmania. I approached Gunns Limited about this job in the hope that I could work with so many passionate people to inject balance and truth in to the forestry debate." [3]

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