PRWEEK AWARDS: Product & Promotion - Technology

WINNER - Friends Reunited,, Beatwax Communications

Given the ubiquity of the Friends Reunited brand today, it is easy to forget that little over a year ago the concept of internet nostalgia, let alone the Friends Reunited brand, was unknown to the public at large.

In April 2001 the site's founders Steve and Julie Pankhurst hired Beatwax Communications to handle PR for the six month-old site, with the duel aim of raising its profile among British adults, and encouraging registration.

Initial promotions centred on regional work aimed at building up registration.

Having ensured that visitors to the site would recognise their school and at least one person, Beatwax then presented the site to The Guardian's G2 section. Pieces in The Times and the London Evening Standard followed, in turn generating broadcast coverage.

The second phase of the campaign took place between August 2001 and July 2002. Beatwax sourced heartwarming stories to create human interest pieces for the tabloids, while the site was pitched to internet trade journalists as the success story of the year.

Particular attention was paid to publicising the site by TV since it was considered the most effective way of driving traffic to the site and increasing registrations.

Journalists were encouraged to register with the site and organise reunions, while regular pieces were secured in The Sunday Express, and the Daily Mail. The agency is currently producing a strategy for international launches, while Friends Reunited is in discussions with UK broadcasters about a transfer to TV.

When Beatwax was hired, the number of registered users stood at 30,000. By August 2001 it had reached 660,000 and by July 2002 there were in excess of seven million registered users.


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