PR CASE STUDY: Investing in local communities
CALA Homes is the UK’s largest upmarket homebuilder, headquartered in Edinburgh. In 2019 CALA Homes (East) added Edinburgh to the geographic areas served by its expanding bursary scheme, which benefits community groups, local charities and good causes. That followed two successful years of operating a bursary scheme in East Lothian and the launch of a bursary in Midlothian in 2018.
The PR brief was to launch the Edinburgh scheme, without sacrificing momentum in East Lothian or Midlothian (with £10,000 available for each area) – and to deliver all three schemes concurrently, reaching more potential recipients.
HOW WE DID IT
The growth of the bursary scheme (in all of CALA’s regions across the UK), has underlined that local media coverage is essential to seek applications from deserving groups.
An integrated PR plan, centred on creativity, would be required since both East Lothian and Midlothian are served by individual weekly newspapers, while Edinburgh Evening News was the capital’s preferred media partner. This is different from many other parts of the UK, where bursary areas are served by multiple media outlets.
It was also agreed that the most effective way to launch the Edinburgh scheme while building momentum for the other two, would be to focus on previous successful applicants. This would underline the reach, credibility and potentially life-changing benefits delivered by the grants scheme.
Formal media collaboration was sought with each of the main, traditional media titles in each area – agreeing specific partnerships for the duration of the scheme.
Both the East Lothian Courier (ELC) and Midlothian Advertiser (MA) were delighted to resume previous, successful partnerships. Highlighting the prior successes, convinced the Edinburgh Evening News (EEN) to sign up – a huge early boost to the campaign.
A strict timeline was drawn up to highlight key dates in the bursary’s calendar, including suggested digital activity threaded throughout, to support traditional media relations.
Extensive multi-use content was created to attract entries, following the timeline below:
Round 1: Launch: Announcing scheme in partnership with all three papers
Round 2: Tell Your Friends: First reminder to potential applicants, including case studies of previous beneficiaries
Round 3: Early success: Coverage on the successful uptake four weeks after launch
Round 4: Final reminder: With a week until cut-off deadline
Round 5: Digital last chance: Paid Facebook reminder, targeted at key postcodes, with case study video produced to cash in on algorithmic benefits
Round 6: Panel D-Day: Each attended by respective editors and Holyrood PR staff
Round 7: Announcement: in each region on the winners with a case study and images
We also conceived and delivered dedicated events in each bursary area which took place once the recipients were decided. Those events brought together the grant recipients to meet each other and to meet the CALA team. These events not only proved extremely popular, but also allowed us to gather extensive story lines, quotes and to arrange photography/video for future activity.
THE BIG RESULTS
- Generated 281 applications, (81 in Edinburgh, 83 in Midlothian and a record of 127 in East Lothian), 87% over target
- 22 items of coverage between the MA, EEN, and ELC (144% over target) creating 305,198 Opportunities to See (OTS)
- All regions had unique page views above 500. (East Lothian 815, Edinburgh 620; Midlothian 501)
- Facebook campaign drove 19% of all unique page views (including 26% for Midlothian). CALA Homes Google Analytics showed that direct and organic searches accounted for at least 67% of all traffic to each online application page, suggesting high cut through rate of the awareness campaign. Facebook activity surrounding the application process had a combined estimated reach of 486,004, while Twitter had 405,225
- At least one application was received from each of the bursary zones’ five most populated areas
- A number of sensitive sites were granted planning approval during the campaign period including Cammo in Edinburgh (CALA building 294 homes on a 655 home development); Meanwhile, highly positive coverage was achieved for two planning applications in Gullane (150 + 16). These sites form a key element of the firm’s 19 site vision for Edinburgh and the surrounding area
Emily Grounds, Marketing Assistant with CALA Homes (East), said:
“Taking on three bursaries running simultaneously this year was a big challenge for us and Holyrood PR. Securing partnerships with major local news outlets in each region was vital for the success of the bursary programme.
“The team at Holyrood PR were able to maximise the communication of each bursary region by securing these tie-ins. By working closely with all three Editors from the beginning this ensured the buy-in and support necessary to reach a wide audience in the heart of the various communities.
“We received 281 high-quality applications across three regions this year which was a huge success for the programme and resulted in 35 organisations being awarded, helping many communities across the East of Scotland.”
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