CAMPAIGNS: Product Launch - Micro-home design wins press praise

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.



Objectives



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

independently.



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.



Results



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.



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