Campaign: Friends Reunited celebrates five years

Campaign: Friends Reunited’s 5th Birthday Client: Friends Reunited PR team: In-house with support from BMA Communications Timescale: June-July 2005 Budget: £1,500

Since its infamous launch in 2000, reunion website Friends Reunited has set up four other portals dedicated to dating, social networking, job searches and family trees. For its fifth birthday, the brand wanted to throw a party and boost the profile of these spin-off sites.

Objectives
To highlight Friends Reunited's continued success and promote its other sites. To focus on human-interest stories generated by the products and their related facts and figures.

Strategy and Plan
Friends Reunited's in-house PR team worked with BMA Communications to devise pre-birthday releases in the run-up to the party. The venue was co-founder Julie Pankhurst's old school, Queen Elizabeth School for Girls in Barnet, north London on 19 July.

The team compiled statistics about visitors to the main site, including the total number of hits to date (6.5 billion) and the estimated amount of time spent on it (4,500 years). BMA also sent bespoke releases to national newspapers of the stories the team had written about Friends Reunited.

A competition, promoted to regional press, produced five faces from five different regions to appear on Friends Reunited's new logo. To flag up the spin-off sites, bespoke releases were written for education and marketing trade publications.

Meanwhile, a survey on the Friends Reunited site asked users to vote for their 'favourite friend'. The PR teams alerted media of the forthcoming party a month in advance, encouraging journalists to attend.

The birthday bash celebrated a plethora of firsts, including the first couple to marry after reuniting via Friends Reunited. The company's co-founders and the 'five new faces' of the brand were interviewed by national press, television and radio.

Measurement and Evaluation
The birthday party was picked up by  ITV's London Tonight, BBC World Service, Capital Radio, The Press Association and local papers. All of the dailies except The Independent and the Financial Times also covered the story. Highlights included a double-page spread in the Daily Mirror and full pages in the Daily Star, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

Follow-up coverage appeared in The Sunday Times' Review, while the Daily Mail ran an interview with Julie and Steve Pankhurst.

Interest from national broadcasters included a GMTV interview with the Pankhursts, breakfast, lunch and evening news bulletins on ITV and an interview with Steve Pankhurst on the ITN News Channel.

The BBC ran the story across radio and television, including on News 24's Business Breakfast, while Sky News Radio also followed the event.

Regionally, success included articles in the Manchester Evening News, the Birmingham Post and Eastern Daily Press, and stories on television channel HTV Wales.

Results
On 20 July, Friends Reunited recorded 12,500 registrations, the highest number in one day since its launch. A week later, registrations were still up by 20 per cent. Increased traffic benefited sister sites Genes Reunited and Dating and Jobs, which have reported a marked increase of interest.

Daily Mirror reporter Dan Boffey praises the campaign for delivering on its promises, adding: 'The case studies appealed to our readers. We were given excellent access to everyone and the PROs gave us their mobile numbers so we could call them at any time.' 

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