CAMPAIGNS: Consumer PR - Net directory tunes in from the turn-off

Client: 5minutesaway.co.uk

PR Team: Propeller Marketing Communications

Campaign: Launch of web site

Timescale: April-May 2000

Budget: pounds 9,000

5minutesaway.co.uk is an internet directory that lists facilities, services and interesting things to do within five minutes drive of Britain's major motorway junctions.

Drivers and passengers wanting to plan their journeys using the site can access the information via their PC.

Founder and financier of the site, Peter Keep, visited 75 per cent of Britain's junctions and drove over 7,500 miles collating the site's contents.

The site's scope ranges from the whereabouts and prices of petrol stations to service stations providing the use of microwaves and baby changing facilities.

Each amenity described is within a three-mile drive of a junction and Keep was careful to avoid drawing drivers into busy town centres. He conceived the idea for the site in March 1999 after deciding the motorway-user faced a lack of choice and information about easily accessible services.



Objectives

Promoted solely by Propeller's PR campaign, on a tight budget and limited time scale, the campaign needed immediate impact. It had to generate awareness of 5minutesaway. co.uk from a standing start and encourage traffic through the site.



Strategy and Plan

Propeller's Serena Read, account director, and Alister Foye, account manager, timed the campaign to maximise its relevance to motorway users.

They focused on timely media coverage leading up to and over each of the Easter and bank holiday weekends.

Two waves of media relations activities were targeted over this period.

Journalists were targeted by telephone and email across the national, regional, IT and travel media. There were also news announcements to regional radio stations during prime drive-time slots that targeted consumers across Great Britain. Keep emphasisied he was looking into the possibility of providing the service through WAP phones.

Read and Foye secured third-party endorsement for the site from Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation. The endorsement was put onto 5minutesaway. co.uk's site to assure customers of the validity of the site's contents. King pointed out that the high cost and low value of motorway service stations caused many drivers to take risks on their journeys by not taking enough breaks. King's criticisms found support in the national press.

Egon Ronay happened to read an article covering the launch of 5minutesaway.co.uk and contributed to the debate in the press about the state of motorway service stations. He voiced concerns that the public were being ripped off by poor quality outlets.



Measurement and Evaluation

The national press responded to the timely launch of the site with ten nationals, including the Times, the Sun and the Daily Telegraph, reporting the launch. On-line publications including The-times. co.uk, Electronic Telegraph and 2020shops.com reported the launch and provided direct links to the site. Specialist press also covered the launch. Keep gave 14 interviews on regional radio stations covering most of Britain.

In total the campaign reached a potential audience of around ten million.



Results

Awareness of the web site has been achieved and customer feedback indicates users find the site practial and easy to navigate. Since the launch in April, the hit-rate to date is over 4,010,000 with 93,108 impressions.

The figure comes from Spiderscope, an independent statistics monitoring system that measures traffic to web sites. 5minutesaway.co. uk has this system inbuilt.

After coverage in the Sunday Times (9 July) there were 1,600 hits in one day. Keep has also received to appear on a national television station.

5minutesaway.co.uk looks set to expand its reach as Keep negotiates with several leading mobile telecommunications providers to establish use of the service with WAP handsets. A deal is expected in the near future.





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