CAMPAIGNS: Media Relations - Kinko's uses web to peek into past

Client: Kinko's and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund

PR Team: Edelman

Campaign: Put a Face with a Name

Time Frame: Mid-September - December 31, 2001

Budget: Less than $200,000



In 1998, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund created the Virtual Wall, a

website where friends and relatives of those killed in Vietnam can post

pictures and anecdotes of their loved ones whose names are found on the

Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, not everyone

has the computer equipment or web access to contribute. So in 2001,

Kinko's seized an opportunity to promote the Virtual Wall

(www.TheVirtualWall.org), and drive customers to its stores.



The idea was to allow anyone the chance to participate by using Kinko's

computers, scanners, and software - free of charge - from September 12

through Veteran's Day 2001. The realities of September 11 would alter

these plans somewhat, but they wouldn't stop what many considered to be

a poignant, important campaign.



Strategy



Edelman, agency of record for Kinko's, needed to wage a two-prong

campaign: getting press for the promotion, and getting families to the

stores. The agency wanted to find key spokespeople to get the word out -

specifically Vietnam veterans, members of Congress, and families of

soldiers killed in combat - and get them on TV at a high-profile

national kickoff.



Kinko's 20,000 nationwide employees would also play a major role in

driving the campaign at a grassroots level, and Congressional support

was considered critical.



Tactics



The national kickoff was scheduled for September 12, 2001 on the steps

of the Capitol. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), chair of the Senate

Veterans Affairs Committee, and deputy secretary of defense Paul

Wolfowitz were scheduled to speak. Unfortunately, when terrorists

attacked the US on September 11, the idea of a press conference on the

steps of Congress - much less a major media campaign - was no longer

realistic.



The promotion itself went on uninterrupted, but the team instead decided

to do a soft launch with the press. Media alerts had been sent out prior

to September 11, and follow-ups on those were done in October. In

addition, the campaign was extended to December 31 to make up for lost

time.



Many of the original tactics were carried out uninhibited. Tool kits

were sent to all Kinko's employees instructing them not only how to

facilitate in-store participants, but how to contact local press and

government officials to encourage them to push the promotion in some

way. Direct mail was also sent to the offices of every Congress member,

as well as to key members of the Bush administration.



Results



As for the Virtual Wall itself, total unique web visits more than

doubled during the campaign period, and average weekly postings tripled.

Overall, the number of photos posted to the Wall has nearly doubled

since the campaign began.



Other successes came in many forms. Tony Knowles, governor of Alaska,

declared September "Put a Face with a Name Month" in his state, prompted

by a plea from a Kinko's employee. The lieutenant governor of

California, Cruz Bustamante, got involved as well, encouraging

participation through special events and letters.



Despite the near-saturation of terrorist- and war-related items in the

media, the campaign managed to garner impressive coverage. Edelman

counted 56 million media impressions, including articles in USA Today,

Parade, and The Washington Post.



Disappointments came largely in the area of forced cancellations,

notably an exclusive on NBC's Today show scheduled for

mid-September.



Future



The Virtual Wall is entering its fourth year online, and organizers hope

to continue seeing increased traffic as a result of the campaign, though

Kinko's has no current plans to repeat "Put a Face with a Name."



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