Client: Piercy Conner and Smoothe
Campaign: Launch solution to London's housing crisis
PR Team: Sam Price PR
Timescale: August - ongoing
Budget: Part of retainer
What began as a plan by the Greater London Authority to find a solution
for additional, affordable homes in London, became a futuristic reality
in the hands of Piercy Conner architects, and Smoothe, a computer
visualisation company and partner of Piercy Conner.
The pair devised the much-lauded micro-flat, and in effect, challenged
the GLA to 'put its money where its mouth is.'
Built on-site as kits, buyers have a choice of different designs such a
balcony, or, an extra room, at a maximum cost of around £80,000.
To secure a funding partner for the project.
Strategy and Plan
Freelance PR consultant Sam Price, who works one day a week in-house for
the two companies, chose to draw attention to the project by launching
the housing designs as a campaign.
The first challenge was in overcoming the general news slowdown of
August. Reasoning that if you can get a story to break on the August
bank holiday, it will carry through to September, Price aimed for a
launch towards the end of the August.
Instead of writing a press release, Price offered Building magazine an
exclusive - including visuals created by Smoothe that showed in computer
graphics what the 'pods' would look like from the outside.
The next move was to offer The Guardian an exclusive, plus more visuals,
this time of the exterior, interior and a floor plan. The Guardian gave
the story front-page coverage, breaking on the August bank holiday and
supplemented with two pages in its pull-out section G2.
The story then rolled out to other broadsheets, which were given a mix
of different images to use. From here the campaign mushroomed, with many
media including TV broadcasters contacting the companies
Measurement and Evaluation
The micro-flats have appeared in most national broadsheets and been
broadcast by several TV stations, including the BBC and ITV. They have
even been picked up by newspapers in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Public reaction has been unprecedented with letters appearing almost
daily in the free newspaper Metro from aspiring micro-dwellers.
'One of the most interesting aspects of the campaign,' says Richard
Conner, a partner in the architectural arm of the business, 'has been
the public calling up and saying they want one "now!"'.
The waiting list for the pods continues to grow.
Conner confirms they are now in talks with a leading London developers.
He hopes an announcement will be made within six weeks.
Further design development should be underway by the end of the year,
but the next challenge will be in finding suitable sites for them. This
is a function the team hopes will be fulfilled by the GLA.
The promise of 'space-age living' aside, Piercy Conner is on the way to
becoming a household name. The micro-flats generated more news than many
of London's higher profile building projects.