Gorkana Insight & Analysis Team
At a recent Gorkana event, we got under the skin of what makes an award-winning PR campaign. Burson-Marsteller's creative director Joe Sinclair; M&C Saatchi PR's MD Chris Hides; and The Rabbit Agency’s co-founder and head of social Bridey Lipscombe shared insights and lessons from their award-winning campaigns.
Bridey began her career in consumer PR at Cow, working across brands including Burger King Europe, Cartoon Network, Vauxhall Fashion Scout and Golden Wonder. In 2010 she co-founded, social media company The Rabbit Agency with Dirk Singer, which in the last two and a half years has received 15 award nominations and won eight industry awards.
bmiBaby is a small (fleet of 14) low fares airline based in the UK which flies to 39 destinations around Europe. They like to use their size to their advantage, inject the fun in flying and inspire their customers to travel.
The agency was briefed to
- Work together with its online community to inspire our customers to travel
- Prioritise the airline’s route focus
- Work with international tourist boards
- Put the airline in first place in the increasingly competitive social space
- Cross platform and bring the campaign to life offline
The team quickly decided that visual social media tool Instagram was the best way to inspire customers to travel. Instagram is a photo sharing social network it is also the world's largest mobile-only international social network with more than 56.2 million users. It launched in Oct 2010 and was bought by Facebook for $1bn in April 2012. It integrates Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Foodspotting, Foursquare, Posterous and Flickr and is available on iPhone and Android devices.
The team started with an Instagramer challenge. Working with a different regional Instagramer feed each month, they asked regional communities to help them create visual inspiration guides in exchange for flights. The message was simple: Tag the beautiful sights of your city to win flights. There was a different priority each month from the UK to Italy, with an inspiring visual destination guide created each time.
The response was huge. #MiaItalia had more than 6,100 entries images tagged, with #MyGermany reaching more than 14, 500 images (7,100+ when the flights were awarded to the winner!). #MyHolland had 2,700+ images tagged, #MySwitzerland had 7,600+, #MyFrance had 7,500+ tagged and #MySpain had 7,100+ tagged. At the end of each month, the community that was building up would choose which they thought deserved to win.
The team then initiated an Instameet Exchange, where users meet up to take pictures together. #MyCountry campaign leaders of the Instagramer group (huge influencers on the platform) and London Igers were flown to each other’s countries to attend local Instameets in each others’ cities. Each visit then created another inspiring visual destination guide, which made up stage three of the campaign. Off the back this, #MyLondon gained 4,300+ images and was featured in The Daily Telegraph. #MyAmsterdam had 1,000 images tagged and gained coverage in Reuters.
The team wanted to make sure there was ongoing PR opportunities after the competitions. They became a part of the UK’s first Instagram Exhibit, with coverage picked up in The Telegraph.
The competition attracted more than 50,000 entries and bmibaby is now the third most talked about airline across the entire Instagram network. The campaign gained more than 100 pieces of coverage, has been nominated five awards and has scooped one award so far.
T-Mobile Royal Wedding Spoof
Chris Hides launched M&C Saatchi PR two years ago. He has almost 20 years’ PR experience, having worked for some of the UK’s leading agencies including Kaizo and Talk PR. He has managed campaigns for major brands including O2, Orange, Dixons, Carlsberg, Silverjet, Travelex, Pernod Ricard and 3M.
His creative credits include killing the VCR, auditioning parrots for a squawk on part in a Disney movie, inventing the first unit of currency to go into space and inviting baboons to test a new Hyundai. He chose to run through the T-Mobile Royal Wedding Spoof, which recently picked up a Revolution award for best use of online PR.
The team was briefed by T-Mobile to: * Extend the reach of the T-Mobile Royal Wedding advert (Above the line, the advert was only booked to run on a handful of websites) * Drive engagement on facebook and traffic to the T-Mobile Youtube channel * Get coverage for a bunch of ‘lookey likeys’ dancing in a church who are in an advert that won’t be on TV at a time when every PR agency in the land is pitching Royal Wedding ideas.
The plan: The team had to galvanise media interest with pre-event press materials for a trusted few journalists without giving too much of the game away and keep the element of surprise when the advert was released. Celebrity dance teacher Louie Spence was also brought in as a consultant. On the day of the shoot, the team ensured plenty of press shots for media content as well as its own b-roll for future use.
The Results: The video hit three million views within 24 hours and has attracted more than 28.5 million views on Youtube to date. It made it into Youtube’s official top 10 most watched videos of 2011, as well as gaining 500,000 Facebook likes and 1.5 million tweets. It was included in more than 500 pieces of coverage including the Daily Express, The Sun, ITN, Grazia, OK!, BBC News, and Have I Got news For You.
What the team learnt from the campaign:
- Involve the media most likely to share
- Think of the picture that people will share
- Choose ambassadors that will share with a different audience
- Take control of your own content
- Think about the campaign narrative
Two Minute Silence
Joe Sinclair is a founder of Burson-Marsteller’s consumer PR practice, "Be More". Prior to joining B-M, Joe was a digital marketing director and has developed creative and social media strategies for brands including Westfield, Ford, Danone and Sony.
He was responsible for creating the Two Minute Silence campaign for The Royal British Legion, which made chart history by getting a completely silent single into the UK Top 20 for Remembrance Sunday (scoring him an audience with the Prime Minister and a private gig from Mark Ronson along the way). It won loads of awards in 2011, including two Cannes Lions in the Best Integrated Campaign Led By PR and the Best Not-For-Profit campaign categories.
Joe is just back from representing the UK PR industry as its juror for this year’s Cannes PR Lions. The PR category at Cannes has only been going for four years and this year it was up more than 30% in terms of entries. During judging he saw 1,130 two-minute videos from PRs around the world. The judges short listed 134 agencies and gave out 69 Lions. Of those, only two went to PR agencies, with the rest going to advertising and digital agencies.
Joe believes that the PR industry needs to be doing more to win a Cannes Lion. PRs should be the experts when it comes to creativity and called for 2013 to be the year for PRs at Cannes.
Joe’s tips from this year’s awards:
Everything is social.
Of the 1,100 ideas the jurors saw, only one didn’t have a social element. While 12 months ago, everybody was measuring the number of Likes or the number of people who have interacted with content, a key trend this year was taking those social interactions and making them real world interactions. One campaign that stood out for Joe was the One Million Hoodies March from McCann in New York, in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, which led to people across America, including Senators wearing hoodies on a given day.
Joe said it was phenomenal how many of this year’s entries had a CSR element to them and believed it was for two reasons. Following last year’s earthquake disaster in Japan, a lot of brands were trying to support the country coming out of its difficulty. Alongside this is the current economic situation. With government pulling money out of lots of initiatives, brands are starting to fill that vacuum. It’s a great way to sit down and work out how a brand can do good and benefit the lives of its consumers.
Coverage doesn’t matter
When it comes to awards, PRs can’t just submit a double-page spread as a sign of success. Jurors are looking for change behaviour. How has a campaign galvanised people to do something they weren’t going to do before? PR, after all, is all about persuasion.
The most effective campaigns the jurors saw were done on low budgets. Two in particular stood out for Joe. One was a campaign done by Saatchi & Saatchi in Israel called Blood Relations. The aim was to get Israeli people to donate their blood to Palestinian people and vice versa, with the hope that people would be less likely to hurt somebody if they had their own blood coursing through their veins.
The other was for a tiny bookshop in Argentina, which was trying to support upcoming writers. The PR team came up with the Book That Can’t Wait - an anthology of young authors that was published on paper that once exposed to air would disintegrate within two months so you would have to read it. The books sold out immediately.
Chris thought that creativity tends to come when you have a brave and ambitious client, which tends to be the lower budget clients - bigger brands often tended to be more conservative. Joe agreed, saying that a really strong relationship with the client was essential. The best ideas usually mean that risks need to be taken.
Bridey said that if the agency was to enter every award out there, they would bankrupt themselves. They always ensure that they are targeted in what they submit. It has often been after a campaign that they’ve realised what they’ve done should be recognised.
Entering awards is a painstaking process. Cannes in particular required each agency to submit a two-minute video, which is why it can be difficult to compete against advertising agencies. It PRs are working it is very rare for them to have a camera with them. Joe said that account directors at Burson are now given mini-cams for when they’re out in the field they can pick up footage which may be used in the future.
The person who runs the campaign should always be the one to write the submission. Seniority doesn’t come into it, as the person who ran the campaign on a day-to-day basis will know it inside out and will be able to bring out the full flavor of what was achieved.
Joe said one key piece of advice from his Cannes judging experience was to front-load all the best features of the campaign, rather than giving a long-winded narrative with results at the end.
Chris said that PRs need to look at the criteria for each award closely - many do not accept AVE as a metric. PRs need to think beyond how many people read their content and look into how relationships and interactions were built from start to finish. Throwing money at a campaign will never guarantee success.
Bridey said sales was still seen as the central measure of success. Pieces of coverage or level of tweets are all well and good, but if a client does not see some sort of ROI, then they won’t be happy. Showing what an agency has done and the evidence of success is key. Chris agreed saying that when putting objectives together for a client, the team has to ensure that they are all measureable, so evaluation needs to be in a PR’s mind from the very beginning.