Campaigns case study: Society puts a new face to an old story

In 2008, The Richard III Society, through the Looking for Richard Project, began lobbying Leicester City Council to excavate a site known as Greyfriars, which was believed to hold the remains of Richard III. By late 2012, reports were suggesting that these remains had indeed been discovered, in one of the most remarkable archeological projects of recent times. The society called in Crunch Communications.

Face of a king: Richard III’s 3D facial reconstruction was unveiled exclusively on Channel 4
Face of a king: Richard III’s 3D facial reconstruction was unveiled exclusively on Channel 4

Campaign   Looking for Richard
Client          The Richard III Society
PR team      Crunch Communications
Timescale    August 2012-February 2013
Budget         Pro-bono with costs and expenses up to £10,000

 


Objectives

  • To stimulate debate and discussion on Richard III and his reputation in light of the archeological evidence and interest
  • To enable the society to own a part of the Richard III story on the ‘Greyfriars dig’
  • To drive awareness and membership of  The Richard III Society

 

Strategy and plan
Crunch created a campaign that underlined the society’s role in the project to find Richard III’s remains, as well as rehabilitating his negative reputation.

The team focused on revealing the ‘real man’ behind the layers of myth and propaganda that have surrounded him for more than 500 years. It supported the creation and funding of a high specification 3D
facial reconstruction of Richard III, which would be seen for the first time in a Channel 4 documentary and then unveiled to the world’s media the following morning.

In late 2012, the team started drip-feeding information about the Greyfriars dig to build momentum and media interest. Simultaneously, it drafted and issued biographies of the key people in The Richard III Society.

On 4 February 2013, the University of Leicester together with the society revealed that the remains found at Greyfriars were those of Richard III. This resulted in a deluge of UK and global media coverage.

More than 75 media from around the world turned up to see Richard III’s reconstructed face unveiled at the Society of Antiquaries in London. Michael Ibsen, a 17th generation nephew of Richard III, who provided DNA samples that helped confirm the identity of the remains, was invited to the launch for added news value.


Measurement and evaluation
All coverage was tracked by Meltwater, with additional coverage monitored through Google News search. The facial reconstruction resulted in 7,366 pieces of coverage including in The Times, London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, The Guardian, The Independent, FT, Daily Mail, Time magazine and The New York Times. It was also featured on BBC News, BBC Radio 2, Radio 4’s Today programme, Channel 4 News, Sky News, BBC 5Live, CNN International, Fox News and Al Jazeera Europe. More than 30 per cent of the coverage mentioned or quoted The
Richard III Society.


Results
During the week of the announcement, there was an average of 1.4 million hits per day on the society’s website. There was a 30 per cent increase in membership of the group. The campaign has generated more than £30,000 in donations to the society to contribute towards costs of proposed tomb plans and drawings.                          

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