Best practice from Kavanagh Communcations.
The British Forces Foundation is a charity that boosts the morale of the Armed Forces primarily through top quality entertainment.
The charity is on a constant fund raising drive to raise money so entertainment can be provided for the troops overseas as well as those returning to the UK from operations abroad.
However, awareness of the charity is limited so in 2009 the Lap of Honour campaign was created to help raise the profile of the charity and therefore encourage donations.
Kavanagh Communications was appointed in February 2009 to help launch the campaign and maintain a strong level of coverage and awareness. The main competitor in this area was the Help for Heroes campaign run by The Sun which had already gained high profile exposure and had gained the support of many celebrities.
The Lap of Honour campaign revolved around a bespoke Mini car with a unique Union Jack design that would be travelled around the country to be signed by 50 British celebrities including some well-known faces from public life.
At the same time British companies were also asked to make a donation to the campaign in return for charity associated publicity. The unique signature car was auctioned by Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed on the 3rd July.
Kavanagh Communications was challenged to generate regular coverage in the key months based on selected famous faces signing the car that would agree to additional publicity. The challenge was to keep the campaign alive with the media over a period of three months when the main story stayed the same.
We planned to use a variety of media relations tactics and media outlets to achieve a strong level of on going coverage running up to the auction that would get the message out to a broad target audience who would be responsive to the charity’s cause and/or be interested in the bespoke car that would eventually be going up for auction.
The campaign objectives were:
• Maintain on going media interest in the campaign with a target of four national newspapers, one national TV channel and one national radio station
• Generate as much awareness amongst a broad target audience of charity supporters and car enthusiasts as possible
• Raise the profile of the charity and encourage car enthusiasts to bid at the auction
The campaign was divided into three sections to provide key focuses for the media and provide new angles to keep the campaign alive in the run up to the auction.
During this campaign we could only work with the famous faces that would allow additional publicity and photography for signing the car as they were giving their support for free. We therefore planned to put the main focus on Gordon Brown, Margaret Thatcher and The Stig from BBC Top Gear.
We also maximised coverage for The British Forces Foundation’s attendance at selected events, which gave us the opportunity to refresh the story and allowed us to go to different media sectors.
February: Campaign Launch - Gordon Brown Car Signing
The campaign was launched with Gordon Brown signing the car outside No. 10. A quote from Gordon Brown was obtained for the announcement press release from the Prime Minister’s office and a photographer was commissioned to take a variety of shots for release to the media the same day.
The release and photos were issued immediately and calls to the key media were made to establish coverage opportunities. Coverage was achieved in a number of national, regional and online media including the Daily Express, Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail Online.
‘Lap of Honour’ At Cheltenham Races
On the opening day of the Cheltenham Races in March, The British Forces Foundation organised a group of Armed Forces personnel to do a ‘Lap of Honour’ around the racecourse to raise awareness of the charity and the ‘Lap of Honour’ campaign.
We negotiated with selected media in advance to maximise coverage opportunities which resulted in Channel 4 following the troops around the racecourse and broadcasting the piece with commentary about the charity and the campaign.
An interview with the charity Chief Executive, Mark Cann, was also sold into Radio Five Live and coverage was also achieved in The Sun and the Daily Star.
Margaret Thatcher Car Signing
Due to strict publicity restrictions, we negotiated an exclusive photo opportunity with the Press Association to take shots of Margaret Thatcher and distribute the shots and our release via the PA wire. We also issued the release and photos to our key media contacts and followed up to establish and maximise coverage opportunities.
Coverage was achieved in a wide variety of UK and international media including The Sun, The Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.
July: Driving Interest For The Auction - The Stig Test Drive
In the run up to the auction at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, The Stig from BBC Top Gear agreed to test drive the Mini on the Top Gear test drive track in Surrey. This provided us with an opportunity to promote the auction of the car to a car enthusiast audience with a highly relevant angle.
Photography of The Stig was organised with maximum secrecy and the story was issued (along with a press release focusing on the forthcoming auction) to selected online national and car enthusiast media to ensure coverage of the auction just two days later.
This was followed up with key media to maximise publicity opportunities and coverage was achieved in a variety of media including the Telegraph Online, MSN Cars, Auto Trader Online and the Daily Mail Online.
We exceeded our media targets in the national media, helped maintain on going coverage of the ‘Lap of Honour’ campaign and helped to raise the profile of The British Forces Foundation.
A total media coverage PR value of £191,538 was achieved and the ROI was 32:1. Coverage included:
• Six pieces of coverage in national newspapers
• One piece of national TV coverage
• One national radio interview
• Featured on two major high hit online sites – Telegraph and MSN
• The car was auctioned for £29,000
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