Best practice from Target Public Relations
Back in 2003 when leading UK energy supplier Powergen (which has since become E.ON) appointed Target Public Relations to handle PR aimed at small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), few journalists were writing about energy.
Nevertheless, Target’s challenge was to build the positive profile of Powergen among SMEs using its key message of ‘positive energy’.
Making an energy provider stand out from the crowd at home has always proved difficult. Doing it in the workplace is even harder.
The brief was to:
· Raise awareness of Powergen as an energy provider to SMEs
· Create a campaign that would generate column inches communicating its key message of ‘positive energy’ in the workplace
· Generate a positive counterbalance to the negative coverage utility companies inevitably receive
UK small businesses account for 99% of all businesses, employing over half the country’s workforce and contributing £1.96bn each year to the economy. Target recognised that the spotlight always falls on large blue-chip companies, and recommended championing the unsung hard work of SME business leaders.
The plethora of awards celebrating the fastest-growth, most profitable/successful SMEs are all reliant on financial results. Target’s aim was to create a way of uncovering more personal examples of bosses’ positive energy. Therefore, Target created the Powergen ‘Britain’s Most Energetic Boss’ competition. This successful formula was repeated annually 2004-07.
The example here is the 2006 competition. It was launched with a series of 12 live and pre-recorded radio interviews with previous winner Ken MacKenzie. Ken - a hugely media friendly character – who loves to chat on the radio was the perfect ambassador to encourage new entries. He talked about how to enter the competition, why and how he won, and what it meant to him and his business.
Target commissioned a national survey uncovering what qualities employees admired most in a boss and which region boasted the most generous bosses. Employees of any company with less than 250 staff were invited to nominate their bosses via a dedicated website – tempted by great prizes.
The survey findings formed the basis of the launch ‘call for entry’ releases, issued nationally and tailored with the results for each region. Target also targeted key SME trade media. A final call for entries with further survey results was issued two weeks before the deadline.
Target arranged for the search to be promoted on the Powergen home page, supported by an online ad campaign.
Target conducted telephone interviews with all nominators and candidates to verify every entry before shortlisting. Target developed releases about each boss, focusing on why their staff felt they deserved to win. Releases were followed up by phone offering interviews and photographs.
The shortlisted entries were judged by a panel from Powergen’s SME business division. Target arranged a photocall for the national winner – Angie Townsend, a hairdressing salon owner from Hampshire – and further media opportunities for the five runners up, all with a specially created and branded certificate as a photo prop.
The ‘Energetic Boss’ premise is primarily what made the activity stand out, together with creative use of survey results. The newsworthy and interesting ‘human interest’ stories from the nominators and candidates unearthed by Target drove the coverage. The Britain’s Most Energetic Boss competition generated a balance of serious and fun messages about daily life in the workplace.
The activity was designed to appeal to the media most read by the UK’s enormously disparate 3.9 million SMEs – regional dailies, regional BBC and commercial radio and key regional daily newspapers. Not an easy group to target.
· Excellent coverage and eye-catching images were generated in the target media at every stage of the competition
· All coverage contained key messages linking Powergen to ‘positive energy’
· Coverage appeared in over 40 regional newspapers including: Lancashire Evening Post, Manchester Evening News, Nottingham Evening Post, The Hull Daily Mail and Eastern Daily Press
· Trade press coverage appeared in 10 titles including Catering Update, Master Florist, Processing Talk and Print Monthly
· Radio coverage included BBC radio stations in Coventry & Warwicks, Devon, Kent and Solent
· The radio day included 12 live and pre-recorded radio interviews broadcast by 57 stations
· Overall, 3.7 million people had the opportunity to read and hear about the search and Powergen’s ‘positive energy’ message
· CIPR award winner.
Retail PR Manager for E.ON, Nick Sandham, said “We’re delighted with the success of this very creative campaign.
“ SMEs aren’t an easy audience to reach, yet they responded positively to the Energetic Boss concept, and the whole idea really captured the media’s interest.”
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