Campaign case study: Media hub morphs into digital studios

iCITY is a joint venture between Delancey, a specialist real estate investment and advisory firm, and Infinity SDC, a leading data centre operator. iCITY identified the Press and Broadcast Centres at the Olympic Park as an excellent site to house a data centre, due to its location and infrastructure. It called in Champollion to develop a comms strategy and public affairs campaign to build a broad base of political support at all levels for its proposal, as well as engaging with the local community to explore their needs and preferences for the legacy use of the site.

Digital hub: iCITY is to turn the Olympic Park media centre into digital studios
Digital hub: iCITY is to turn the Olympic Park media centre into digital studios

Campaign Proposal to transform the Press and Broadcast Centres at the Olympic Park into a digital cluster
Client        iCITY
PR team    Champollion
Timescale January 2012-June 2013
Budget      £170,000

iCITY is a joint venture between Delancey, a specialist real estate investment and advisory firm, and Infinity SDC, a leading data centre operator. iCITY identified the Press and Broadcast Centres at the Olympic Park as an excellent site to house a data centre, due to its location and infrastructure. It called in Champollion to develop a comms strategy and public affairs campaign to build a broad base of political support at all levels for its proposal, as well as engaging with the local community to explore their needs and preferences for the legacy use of the site.

Objectives
• To build a broad base of political support at a national, local and London level for the proposal
• To build local support for iCITY’s vision
• To develop and build recognition of the iCITY brand
• To avoid negative reactions to the legacy uses of the buildings
• To secure the rights to take over the Press and Broadcast Centres
 
Strategy and plan
The team identified politicians and other influencers who had a stake in the future of the buildings, and those it was important to brief on the plans at an early stage to build a broad base of political support.

Champollion developed audience-specific messaging to generate this support. It dev­ised a week-long programme of community engagement. This included a proactive approach with local stakeholders through the distribution of flyers and direct communication at destinations, such as transport hubs and local markets.

The team targeted local residents to inform them of the proposals and identify what they wanted as a legacy from the Olympics.

Champollion built an iCITY website to support the bid and set up a Twitter feed, using social media to identify and build relationships with local opinion formers, including bloggers, who were difficult to reach through traditional PR activity.

Within a few weeks, the Twitter feed had hundreds of followers and was interacting positively with key local opinion formers, such as Guardian blogger Dave Hill, members of the east London tech community and other local stakeholders including politicians and community leaders.

Measurement and evaluation
There was widespread coverage including in the Financial Times, The Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, Estates Gazette and Property Week, as well as by BBC News, CNBC, Bloomberg and Reuters, and a host of east London media outlets.

Results
There were more than 400 initial expressions of interest in legacy uses of the Press and Broadcast Centres. iCITY was successful in its bid and has pre-let 44 per cent of the available space, including to BT Sport, which will screen 38 live Premier League football matches from next month. As part of iCITY’s legacy commitment, it has enlisted Hackney Community College to run the UK’s first digital apprentice scheme.

How I see it

Drew Barrand, associate director, Pitch

A Google search on ‘Olympic Park legacy’ reveals more than 10,000 news articles in the past month alone, which gives one a good idea of what a hot potato this subject is and how broad an audience it touches.

The smart play was to make the campaign budget work hardest where it mattered most.

By focusing on those with a tangible stake in the outcome of the bidding process, rather than spreading the net so thinly as to encompass anyone for whom the word ‘legacy’ was purely a passing excuse to get on their soapboxes, iCITY was able to build an army of relevant and vocal advocates behind its bid.

The use of digital channels to maintain those relationships might have been obvious, but the campaign’s success, in particular getting the blogger community to support it, should not be underestimated.

Looking at the challenges that other areas of the Olympic Park are having in defining their legacy, it is clear the lack of political tension over the future of the media centres is the ultimate accolade as to how effective this campaign was.

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