Campaign: Chelgate adds glitz to furniture removals firm - Consumer PR

Campaign: Profile-building Client: Abels Moving Services PR team: Chelgate Timescale: January-December 2003 Budget: Undisclosed

Abels Moving Services is an East Anglia-based removals company specialising in moving high-end, ABC1 customers nationwide and abroad. It is the only removals firm to hold a Royal Warrant.

At the end of 2002, it held an audit of its communications needs and appointed Chelgate to handle PR.

Objectives

To raise awareness of the Abels brand among its target audience of affluent people thinking of moving home. To emphasise the quality of the company's service and to generate sales leads.

Strategy and Plan

During 2003, Abels wanted to target potential customers in specific regions: East Anglia, East Midlands, London, the South East and the South. In addition to emphasising its nationwide experience, it also wanted to highlight its international services. The Royal Warrant and its celebrity clients could not be mentioned.

As the press do not consider furniture removals to be a sexy subject, Chelgate concentrated on painting Abels as the reliable option and an authoritative voice in the industry, emphasising its quality assurance and Investors in People standards. This meant initially building up media interest by issuing at least one press release per month to journalists on issues including corporate and staff news.

Media relations started in January 2003, building up to the main season for moving, which comes post-Easter. Chelgate came up with '13 top tips to avoid an unlucky move'. These included common-sense advice such as not moving during school holidays or on a Friday, and ensuring the correct size of van.

The press release, containing a brief introduction to Abels, was sent to national and regional papers and consumer magazines, and MD Philip Pertoldi was made available for interviews.

To inject some glitz, the agency invited journalists to a day out at the Lotus test track in Norfolk where they were invited to test drive a sports car and a removals truck.

Interiors journalist Fiona Fullerton, who writes for the Mail on Sunday, was approached to pen two articles - the first on her interpretation of Chelgate's top tips, and the second on the removals industry's change to a service-oriented sector - for syndication to regional press titles.

Measurement and Evaluation

The agency used an editorial index where coverage of Abels was weighted according to the bias of an article, its location within the publication, the title's circulation and whether the piece was illustrated - 2003's index increased by 91 per cent on 2002.

By a similar method of measurement, Chelgate says outreach into the target audience grew by 234 per cent to 7.3 million OTS.

Abels was mentioned in the Mail on Sunday and Sunday Express, Country Living, Vogue and Woman's Own. Regionals included the East Anglian Daily Times, Liverpool's Daily Post, the Evening Post in Bristol, the Essex Chronicle and the Leicester Mercury. Ex-pat publications such as Homes Overseas, Canada News and Australia Today also featured Abels.

Results

From 2002 to the end of 2003, Abels received an increase of 366 per cent in the number of enquiries from potential customers. The value of these increased almost 400 per cent year-on-year.

George Sell, former editor of What House?, says: 'I found Chelgate easy to deal with. The piece we did worked well and we did a reader competition with it, too.

'Chelgate was also the only PR company that approached us to do anything, so there may be other removals companies with astounding PR, but they didn't find us.'

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