Campaign: Voluntary sector - Art in the park event raises mfpa profile

Campaign: Mouth and Foot Painting Artists' demonstration
Client: mfpa
PR team: VP Communications
Timescale: June-August 2009
Budget: Less than £10,000

The mfpa is an international organisation of artists who have lost the use of their hands through accident or illness or who were born with a disability. The organisation helps them to live independently through the proceeds of their artwork.

A Painting in the Park event was held in Hyde Park so children and adults could discover the work and techniques of these skilful artists. The artists were available to speak to people about their lives, training, experience of living with disabilities and being members of the mfpa.

OBJECTIVES

- To meet the public and provide demonstrations of mouth and foot painting techniques

- To raise awareness of the mfpa and the organisation's work

- To promote the artists and their paintings online and to the public

- To drive sales of the artists' work and products, including prints, books and Christmas cards.

STRATEGY AND PLAN

Timed to coincide with the summer school holidays, Painting in the Park was positioned as a unique, free, fun day out in central London, appealing to families, educational groups and visitors.

Various human interest stories were put together around the lives of the principal artists demonstrating at the event. A photocall was also initiated for TV and photographers. The PR team undertook an online campaign to drive awareness of the event among potential visitors, including families, people looking for summer days out in London and art enthusiasts.

In the run-up to the event, VP Communications contacted regional newspapers, event listing outlets, artist and disability publications and selected consumer magazines - and, closer to the day of the event, national newspapers and broadcast media - to offer interviews with the artists and issue invitations to a photocall in the park. This provided images to media unable to attend on the day, and created a colourful focal point around the event.

MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION

The campaign generated interviews for artists on BBC Radio, BBC News online, ITN News and local radio. The event received extensive coverage online, driving visitors to the event and generating video news reports on AOL video, Virgin video and Tiscali news and on blog reports. There were also mentions in listings, including in the London Evening Standard, tweets and online articles. The professional photography led to the inclusion of artist Keith Jansz in the prestigious LIFE online photo archive.

RESULTS

Through Painting in the Park, the mfpa publicised the work of its members, met with the public and raised awareness of the organisation and its products. Participating artists have seen an increase in requests for interviews, personal appearances and demand for prints. A follow-up exhibition in City Hall in September attracted 12,000 visitors, building momentum in the run-up to Christmas, and the mfpa has projected increased sales in December.

SECOND OPINION - Adam Vincenzini, Consultant, Paratus Communications

A great example of PR being deployed to not only magnify some incredibly talented people, but also meet the commercial and comms objectives of an organisation.

Within a limited budget, VP Communications adopted a pragmatic and workman-like approach, identifying the inherent news value in this activity and packaging it in a thoughtful way.

The results are impressive, given that competition for media space is increasingly fierce, even for remarkable human interest stories. With that in mind, we know proximity is the key consideration for regional media, and I couldn't see an obvious link that made the event relevant to those titles, unless the artists in question were from particular regions or the paintings were of landmarks and/or people from different parts of the country. On the national side, investigating whether artist Alison Lapper would have been willing to participate in an exclusive feature might have worked well.

The other area I thought could have been extended further was online. Even with a limited budget, a dedicated YouTube channel could have been set up with video diaries about the artists, extending the reach of the campaign and bringing the artists' talents to life. For people who attended, a Flickr group could also have been created.

Apart from the additional digital opportunities identified, the campaign was well delivered, met its objectives and generated some quality coverage.

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