Radio & Online Communications: Fantasy Pitches - Pitch perfect

To demonstrate the effectiveness of radio and online campaigns, PRWeek asked markettiers4DC to devise three initiatives for a fictional low-cost airline, working to a range of budgets from £15,000 to £100,000.

What can a radio and online PR campaign deliver that a print or TV campaign cannot? PRWeek set radio and online PR specialist markettiers4DC a challenge: to pitch for a fantasy client, working to three incrementally larger budgets, in the process demonstrating why radio and online editorial programming techniques are powerful tools.

Its task was to launch low-cost airline Fantasy Airlines, flying from Birmingham International Airport to various European destinations, in a way that demonstrated the range and depth of radio and web-based campaigns.

The objectives were to raise awareness of the client and ensure that its key messages were delivered to its target audience - adults within two hours drive of Birmingham.

The airline, while not the cheapest in the market, would be cheaper than British Airways. The main challenge was to establish the brand in a crowded market with a level of cut-through that encouraged early adoption among the target audience.

CAMPAIGN 1: £15,000

To kick-start the campaign, a news hook for the launch is needed. Using markettiers4DC's market research arm tickbox.net (an online polling tool with 30,000 users spread across the UK), the pitch team recommends researching travel habits by asking: How far will you travel to make a connection?

How long are you prepared to spend travelling in order to do so? To which of the following destinations would you most like to fly?

The news angle will lead on the results of the research that will show the percentage of people prepared to spend more than an hour travelling to specific airports to fly to certain European destinations.

Alongside these figures, local radio listeners will be informed of how the Midlands, the 'heart' of the country, is getting more connections to Europe through Fantasy Airlines. Holidaymakers in the Midlands will be told that they will be able to save time when travelling.

This pre-publicity will build up to the actual launch, for which the team plans a ground-breaking radio event - the first-ever live outside broadcast from on board a European carrier.

While the inaugural Fantasy Airlines flight is en route to a European destination, an appointed travel presenter will comment on the findings of the research.

By being on the flight, the presenter will also be able to talk about the airline and the experience of the flight.

Back-to-back interviews will be set up between a spokesperson and radio stations in and around Birmingham. The packaged interviews, known as audio features, will be sent to stations unable to take the live interview during the flight.

On arrival at the destination, a Fantasy Airlines spokesperson will take part in a live webchat, talking about the best places to go for a weekend and how to make the best use of holiday time. This live activity will position Fantasy Airlines as being in tune with the Midlands traveller.

The campaign will also be supported with editorial competitions on targeted radio stations offering travel packs, backed up by live presenter reads on key stations throughout the West Midlands.

This will be a series of paid-for - therefore guaranteed - live announcements by the DJ during high-traffic shows over a one to five-day period, highlighting the launch and benefits of Fantasy Airlines to listeners.

The radio editorial will be evaluated by independent business and management consultancy KWHR Network on both the levels of coverage within the geographical remit and the accuracy and strength of messages. The webchat will be covered by at least ten core target websites and independently monitored for the quality of message. Due to the controlled nature, this is expected to score highly.

The live presenter read will ensure guaranteed coverage on top-priority stations and programmes and is expected to reach up to 750,000 listeners.

CAMPAIGN 2: £30,000

By doubling the budget, the same campaign will run but with additional online and radio elements.

For the online campaign - working on the basis that many airlines sell high volumes of tickets online and assuming that Fantasy Airlines will aim to do the same - the pitch team recommends setting up editorial competitions that give away tickets to top European destinations on various lifestyle and travel sites, as well as major ISPs and region-specific websites.

To encourage traffic to the airline's website, the online competitions will also provide a click-through option that leads visitors to the Fantasy Airlines web page.

These competitions and webchats, as described in the £15,000 campaign, will seed a viral campaign that will be hosted on a microsite for the campaign's duration. The seeding will be in the form of hyperlinks, with the editorial supplied to the targeted websites in the form of digital press kits.

The viral campaign will be a game called 'Making a Fantasy Connection' that asks users to make the fastest connection from Birmingham airport to a European destination by answering a set of questions.

By answering the first question correctly, participants have a direct connection and need not proceed to other questions. But take two or three questions to get the right answer and they will have a lower score and less chance to win a pair of free flights.

The questions will be about destinations in Europe, asking participants to guess which destination is the answer.

On radio, the team plans a two-week bespoke programming broadcast on a main West Midlands station.

The aim of the campaign is to be totally destination-focused in order to excite Birmingham about the prospect of a weekend away in Continental Europe.

A series of 60 holiday guides will be created based on Fantasy Airlines destinations that will run throughout the station's airtime schedule.

These will be heavily promoted by presenters within their shows while a competition runs concurrently within a host show.

Questions will be based on the content of the features, which will require listeners to tune in to win holidays to Fantasy Airlines destinations.

The addition of the online competitions will extend the reach to more than 30 websites, all linking to the viral game.

With the tactics already employed, the expected reach will be approximately 20 million adults.

CAMPAIGN 3: £100,000

With a much larger budget, a sustained campaign will take place over a 12-week period. The effect of it will be to put Fantasy Airlines in the minds of consumers as the solution to their travel problems.

The campaign will include all of the tactics employed in the previous two campaigns but will add a bespoke feature programming element entitled 'The Fantasy Airlines Holiday Watch'.

Using the highest-reaching stations in the West Midlands, the team will put together a piece of radio programming that will help establish credibility among listeners as Fantasy Airlines becomes a part of their daily media diet over the launch period.

The team will negotiate with programming departments to run a feature that both informs listeners and satisfies the needs of establishing the brand (and achieving cut-through) over the summer.

A daily feature will be created and brought to listeners by Fantasy Airlines - 'Your Gateway to Europe'. Designed to appear after the news and weather bulletins, the programme will also associate Fantasy Airlines with the station, immediately establishing its credibility as a supplier of information.

This activity will be enhanced by a heavyweight programme of regular live presenter reads and pre-recorded trails promoting both this feature and the promotional elements of the campaign. This takes greater advantage of the connectivity between listeners and station/ website.

Because radio is such an intimate medium, communication with this audience needs to be personal and credible in order to be a recommendation that consumers will accept as wholly accurate.

By avoiding the noise in the market and taking the editorial programming approach, this also encourages the public to do the marketing for Fantasy Airlines by participating in the viral campaign.

Running over the whole launch period, this activity could expect one of the main stations in Birmingham, such as Heart FM or BRMB, to deliver a 50 per cent reach of the region with a frequency of more than 50 times, generating more than 60 million messages within editorial time.

TARGETING THE RIGHT AUDIENCE

- Seventy-one per cent of women in the West Midlands listen to commercial radio and 64 per cent listen to BBC radio

- The family station of choice in the West Midlands is the regional commercial 100.7 Heart FM with 539,000 families tuning in

- Ten stations in the West Midlands have more than a 30 per cent reach of 18 to 34-year-old males, with BRMB reaching 43 per cent weekly in Birmingham

- Forty-four per cent of over-55s in the West Midlands listen to local commercial radio L Ninety-nine per cent of married couples without kids listen to radio in the West Midlands

- Thirty-seven per cent of 18 to 34-year-old males in the West Midlands listen to national commercial radio, compared with 65 per cent who listen to local commercial radio

Source: Rajar/RSL period ending March 2004.

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