During the past decade, CKPR has worked with Briggs & Stratton, a major manufacturer of small engines; to create PR events designed to focus on the role of the client's lawn-mower engines in proper lawn care.
As 2004 began, "we wanted a grassroots communications program," recalls Anita Fisher, marketing communications manager for Milwaukee-based Briggs. "We always challenge CKPR to come up with interesting programs."
The goal was to create an initiative that would combine community outreach with a higher profile for Briggs in key markets during the peak spring lawn-mower-buying season.
CKPR is affiliated with ad agency Cramer-Krasselt, which handles media buying for Briggs. As a result, the PR firm knew that the client had planned a 2004 media buy with affiliates of Fox Sports Net and that it hoped to use PR to gain additional value from the buy, noted Jon Stern, PR director in CKPR's Milwaukee office.
"Briggs wanted incremental value from the media buy," he explains.
Briggs has been in business for 96 years, almost as long as Americans have been playing baseball, Stern says. The agency wanted to play on that connection. It came up with the concept of a contest, dubbed "Diamonds in the Rough," that would invite young baseball players in 12 key markets around the country to submit essays on why their baseball fields needed makeovers.
Briggs would do $5,000 worth of work on 12 fields selected as winners. Professional groundskeepers were consulted to determine a prize amount that would be sufficient to provide a significant makeover for a typical little- league field.
Fox Sports Net agreed to support the contest with on-air mentions and coverage during various games. CKPR developed contest rules, created a logo and website, wrote media materials and talking points for the client, and pitched media in the markets involved - Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, and Rochester, NY. It also reached out to baseball organizations in those markets to encourage entries.
The campaign was broken down into three phases, each presenting opportunities for media exposure: the call for entries, which extended from February through March; the announcement of the winners in April; and the dedication events for winning fields, which took place from May through July. Four CKPR staffers worked on the effort.
Local dealers were used as company spokespeople at field-dedication events to further strengthen Briggs' ties to local communities. Roughly 15,000 dealers handle equipment with Briggs' motors.
More than 1,000 entries were received from boys and girls ages 7 to 12 for the contest. "This was a very good response for a first outreach," says Fisher.
Media coverage garnered more than 80 million impressions in the 12-targeted markets. Major media that covered the contest included the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Detroit News, the Miami Herald, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, and WBBM-TV in Chicago.
"We got terrific exposure," says Fisher. Coverage extended beyond Fox affiliates to other major broadcast outlets, Stern notes. Mentions on Fox Sports Net and in newspaper sports pages reached Briggs' target audience of men ages 25 to 55.
Dealers reported a large percentage of customers mentioning the contest and also said new customers were coming in to buy lawn mowers and mentioning the contest. The effort helped with dealer relations as well as PR, engendering dealer enthusiasm for Briggs, Fisher says.
Briggs intends to conduct the Diamonds in the Rough contest next year, again working with CKPR on the event. "Obviously we'd like to continue this program because it's been so successful," says Fisher.
CKPR already is talking with Fox about next year, Stern says. "We want to give it extended legs from a PR standpoint," he says of the campaign and future contest plans.
PR team: CKPR (Milwaukee) and Briggs & Stratton (Wauwatosa, WI)
Campaign: Diamonds in the Rough
Time frame: Feb. to July 2004