CAMPAIGN: Consumer PR - Charcol puts singletons on press agenda

Client: Charcol PR Team: In-house and Lansons Communications Campaign: Living in Singleton Timescale: October 2002 - January 2003 Budget: £20,000

As house buying and house price rises take their place within the conversation of the average Briton, it is no exaggeration to say that the issue has become a national obsession. Not a day passes without endless discussion in the media of the possible rise or fall of the UK housing market.

Charcol, the UK's largest mortgage adviser and part of the Bradford & Bingley has been a key player in the frenzy.

Objectives

Charcol's current PR programme primarily focuses on the personal finance pages, but it wanted to reach new consumer audiences exploiting this fresh wave of interest in the property market. The in-house team and retained agency Lansons Communications identified a burgeoning sector of the market in an effort to make an impact in the news pages.

Strategy and Plan

The single life, as epitomised by Bridget Jones, has become increasingly prominent in the media over the past decade. The team created the Living in Singleton campaign by 'hijacking' this image and transposing it into the world of personal finance. The focus was on so called singletons in the homebuying market with the aim of positioning Charcol among consumers at large as the leading authority on the effect of singles on the property market and the future of housing.

Key story ideas were developed. These included five- to ten-year forecasts for singleton trends that gave robust news angles. Added to this were big mortgage-related figures from the Charcol team, including a jump of 13 per cent of single buyers to £42.7bn in 2002 and that singletons could account for half of the new mortgage market by 2007.

Other figures included the value of singleton lending rising by 16 per cent in the next five years.

The campaign was rolled out with a series of tailored launch stories for specific broadsheets alongside a series of press briefings around the launch period. The team also arranged targeted broadcast interviews and generated further angles to maintain momentum beyond campaign launch including regional research.

Measurement and Evaluation

The campaign generated 136 items of coverage and 17 national news articles. Broadcast interest was wide, with coverage across 21 radio stations and four TV channels.

Headlines included 'Singletons adding fuel to the property fire!' in The Daily Telegraph, 'Young singles help drive property boom' in The Independent and 'How the housing boom is led by free and single girls' from the Daily Express.

Results

The research showed that singletons are not only a strong force in society as a whole but also a massive influence on the current home buying market.

The team successfully linked Charcol with two key issues affecting many people in the UK today and placed it high on the media's agenda.

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