Campaigns: CSR - Bupa's storytelling is loud and clear

Campaign: Bupa's Storytelling Week
Client: Bupa Care Homes
PR team: Source Marketing Communications
Timescale: January-February 2011
Budget: Less than £5,000

Background: Bupa Care Homes operates 304 nursing and residential homes in the UK and cares for more than 18,000 people. The Bupa Big 12 is a programme of monthly themed activities, which are intended to provide stimulating activities for residents and involve local communities. It also aims to promote Bupa's homes as sociable and engaging places to live. Source Marketing Communications was charged with brainstorming ideas for the Big 12 and promoting the events via the media.


- To choose a theme for the Big 12 activity that would be stimulating for residents

- To increase awareness of individual care homes and the events taking place in them

- To encourage attendance from local communities.


Source decided to tie in with National Storytelling Week (29 January to 5 February) to celebrate the art of storytelling.

All care homes were encouraged to host storytelling events, inviting budding storytellers, schools and local communities to share their own tales.

The central idea was that Storytelling Week would enable residents of all ages and capabilities to become involved, while the sharing of classic tales would trigger reminiscence and stimulate memories - a key aspect of working with older people, many of whom have dementia.

The PR team was briefed to direct the campaign at local and regional press, which would enable the promotion of individual care home events.

Bupa has a partnership with The Reader Organisation - a charity that promotes the links between reading and wellbeing.

It provided A little, Aloud, a collection of short stories and poems chosen for their suitability to be read out loud.

Releases were issued to local and regional press at the beginning of January, which called for budding storytellers, members of the local community and schools to take part in storytelling events at care homes.

Ten days before Storytelling Week, releases were issued to publicise the care homes' individual events and offer photo opportunities.


The campaign generated 104 items in local and regional newspapers from 4 January to 24 February, including the Lancashire Evening Post, Birmingham Mail and Yorkshire Evening Post. Thirty-six cuttings featured photos. There were also two local BBC radio interviews, while 81 Bupa care homes were individually referenced in the coverage.


More than 730 members of local communities visited care homes during the week. In a post-event evaluation, more than 90 per cent of the care homes that expressed an opinion said the residents had enjoyed their involvement with Storytelling Week and that the activity had benefited both the home and residents.


Steve Howell, Chief executive, Freshwater

Maximising the use of diary dates is a PR staple, but the National Storytelling Week was an excellent one for meeting the objectives of this campaign.

The solid strategy was well thought through for quite a small budget. I particularly liked the idea of engaging with residents to stimulate their own memories, which ensured they benefited positively from the project and were not being used just to secure PR coverage.

The campaign certainly met its objectives and had some good results. Issuing a 'call to action' to encourage budding storytellers, community members and schools to step forward was a great way of achieving pre-event coverage.

However, I believe a trick was missed in not engaging more with local communities and relatives via online activity that could have been done within budget.

Perhaps some of the storytelling sessions could have been uploaded on YouTube and local community sites? And highlighting forthcoming events on Twitter would have kept the conversation going online ... or perhaps that is the next chapter?

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