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CASE STUDY: PR that saves lives for a Somerset charity

PR, event management and publication design by Oxygen

Stand Against Violence (SAV) is a Somerset-based charity that devotes itself to educating young people in schools about the often tragic consequences of mindless violence. It was formed by Adam Fouracre following the murder of his teenaged younger brother Lloyd by a drunken group in 2005 in Taunton which made national news.

Following SAV’s highly effective first documentary film which was shown in schools as part of key stages 3 and 4 of the PSHE curriculum, they decided to produce a 3D interactive film to use as part of their classroom workshops. This unique and innovative educational tool allows pupils to see a night out from a protagonist’s point-of-view and allows them to make a number of decisions for him via smartphone or tablet during the action, thereby influencing his fate. Possible outcomes include embarrassment, a court appearance, or death, so it’s a powerful way for young people to see the possible consequences of their choices.

Oxygen was already a long-standing and trusted partner for SAV, as we’d run successful campaigns for them in the past. Our PR campaign around the 3D film’s launch brought the project national attention and raised its profile among educators in the South West.

The coverage we helped secure gained SAV a nomination in the Western Morning News Business Awards 2013, ‘Best Community Contribution’ category. Additionally, the launch allowed the film to garner the recognition and praise it deserved from its target demographic − everyone from local educators and PSHE co-ordinators, to the technology media, the Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon and Cornwall and the High Sheriff of Somerset.

Preparing for PR launch

Our PR objectives were to raise national awareness of SAV and to encourage sales of their 3D workshops regionally. Our PR budget was small – and we had to make it go a long way.

Oxygen’s strategy was to target national, educational and technology-based media prior to the launch – held on the anniversary of Lloyd Fouracre’s death – to build interest and encourage attendance. Post-event we decided to focus on targeting regional media with a view to securing sales of the 3D film workshops.

We took a creative approach to the research needed. Oxygen concentrated on finding high-leverage national educational and technological media journalists to target – both in print and via influential bloggers such as The Guardian Education blog. We also spent considerable time researching up-to-date youth crime figures in order to present a more compelling case to editors for more in-depth pieces on why SAV’s work is so needed, and just how effective it can be.

Realising our mission

Scheduling the launch event for 25th September 2013 – the ninth anniversary of Lloyd’s death – underlined the ‘let’s make sure this never happens again’ nature of SAV’s work. It was hosted by Adam Fouracre and included a screening of the 3D film – with audience members given special 3D glasses.

Oxygen event managed the entire launch:
• finding the venue • managing invitations (as well as printing them)
• organising an accompanying exhibition on youth violence
• sourcing the right technology for the screening
• writing Adam’s speech
• designing and printing ‘take away’ bags.

The bags included promotional items and a workshop booking form. Our aim was to provide the right audience, support and setting to allow SAV’s pioneering 3D film/educational tool to take centre stage – to make booking a workshop a ‘no brainer’ for attending PSHE co-ordinator guests. With such a serious subject matter, the evening had to have a certain gravitas.

High-profile guests who attended included:
• Police & Crime Commissioner for Devon & Cornwall Tony Hogg
• High Sheriff of Somerset Maureen Whitmore
• Representatives of the Chief Superintendant of Police
• The Chief Inspector of Police
• Jeremy Browne MP
• Deputy Mayor of Taunton
• Chief Constable
• Representatives of Taunton Deane Borough Council
• Guest speaker Dr Claire McVeigh of South Wales University.

We were able to collect quotes from many of these influential people which we used to add punch to our post-event regional PR activities. http://www.sav-ed.co.uk/blog/?p=351

Evaluating the value of the launch

Our budget was small and this had to cover:
• event concept and planning
• venue sourcing – Tacchi Morris Arts Centre, Taunton
• sourcing venue-compatible technology
• researching sponsors
• researching and managing guests list
• drafting, printing and managing invitations
• goody/take away bag planning and design
• media list research
• youth crime research
• pre-launch PR
• post-launch PR.

We were able to secure a considerable number of column inches resulting in a significant AVE. However one key evaluator was high-profile and influential attendees at the event (full house) and their positive feedback.

Post event our objective was workshop bookings. Specifically, both pre-and post launch event, we were able to get:
• National coverage via BBC News e.g. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-somerset-24280514
• Good regional coverage e.g. Western Morning News http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Brother-launches-3D-anti-violence-film/story-19808117-detail/story.html  http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Film-educates-viewers-effects-violence/story-19890373-detail/story.html
• Technology coverage e.g. http://3droundabout.com/2013/09/10556/stand-against-violence-charity-launches-new-educational-3d-film.html

The bottom line – AVE or SAVE?

SAV’s simple objective for the launch was to get their 3D film and workshops into more schools to influence more students’ attitudes to violence. To some degree column inches and AVE is not relevant. The good news is the response has been above expectations.

SAV has had (at the time of blogging) 21 bookings since launch, and a further 15 strong pipeline enquiries. [Bear in mind this is within schools with long lead times and restricted or no budget]. This means that, with an average year group size of 150 students, 3150 people will witness the effects of violence through the 3D film this school year, with a reach to around 3000 West Country families, who stand a better chance of avoiding the trauma of a violent act.

Can you put a price on that?

Steve Lodge: Steve trained as a NCTJ journalist and is an experienced copywriter. He has over 15 years in agency, and started Oxygen in 2002.