When Whiteoaks, the number one hi-tech PR company outside London (PR Week), won the contract to introduce Sir Clive Sinclair’s latest venture to the press, it faced a multi-sided task.
Through its long association with Sinclair Research Ltd, it knew that the very mention of the British inventor’s name would be enough to create some media interest.
On the other hand, how could it ensure the focus remained on the new product rather than keep referring back to the controversial C5?
The result of five year’s intensive research, the new A-bike is an ultra-lightweight, folding bicycle which folds into its own rucksack and can be carried on public transport or as airline hand luggage.
Sinclair has had many years of niche recognition but this new invention offered a serious opportunity to reach and win a mass market consumer audience.
Whiteoaks’ service delivery model provides all clients with a dedicated team of senior and experienced PR professionals, each expert in different aspects of the business.
The Sinclair account team devised what they called a “whispers on the street” strategy and its media specialist identified one key journalist to start the ball rolling.
At the same time the events manager set to work finding just the right location for the main launch.
The key to this campaign was the managed “leak” of information as an exclusive to one national newspaper prior to the official launch – in this case, The Sunday Times. When the paper covered the story, it acted as a huge teaser to the rest of the press who were, by then, hungry for the story.
Managing director, Whiteoaks, James Kelliher says, “This type of campaign is ideal for building excitement via word of mouth. We identified the bike’s target customers as ‘light green consumers’ – not fervent environmentalists, but those who would like to ‘do their bit’ for the cause.
“We felt this audience would be receptive to this type of “teaser” and The Sunday Times the ideal vehicle.
“It was important that the A-bike was taken seriously and in briefing journalists we planned to concentrate on the engineering and rigorous testing behind it to set the right tone.”
Thankfully, Whiteoaks was well prepared for the barrage of calls after the initial story appeared in The Sunday Times with a team in place, briefed and ready.
Inevitably many journalists who called planned to compare the A-bike with the C5 and had to be skillfully steered away from taking this tack, instead inviting them to interview Sir Clive Sinclair at the mainstream launch.
The launch event
For this event, the team selected the Design Museum on London’s South Bank. This conveyed the message that the A-bike is an excellent example of British design and innovation.
Importantly, there was also plenty of space outside for journalists to experience riding the bike and the Thames and city behind it provided an evocative backdrop for photo opportunities. Naturally, Whiteoaks ensured that there were plenty of bikes available for testing on the day.
The launch itself was covered by several live outside broadcast teams including BBC Breakfast, Sky News and LBC Radio.
Whiteoaks organised seven hours of back-to-back interviews, presentations, photo-calls and demonstrations for Sir Clive Sinclair and the bike’s chief design engineer, Alex Kalogroulis.
The result was over 30 mentions of the A-bike in the national media alone including BBC Breakfast, ITV London Tonight, Sky News, The Times, The Guardian, Evening Standard and The Sun.
Whiteoaks’ media specialists followed this up with an intensive concentration on regional press and broadcast, resulting in around 20 more mentions on various radio stations.
“The A-bike became a talking point with most coverage focusing on its benefits, its environmental credentials and the research behind the design,” concludes Kelliher.
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