How one company helped people in lockdown to ‘stay home and skill up’

Pluralsight wanted people to use the time to do “more than just a puzzle.”

Screenshot from Common's Twitter page.
Screenshot from Common's Twitter page.

Campaign: Free April
Company: Pluralsight
Agency partners: Zeno (U.S. PR), Hotwire (Australia PR), Brands2Life (U.K. PR) 
Duration: April 2020

People wanting to gain new tech skills were gifted 7,000 free expert-led courses in April by on-demand technology training platform Pluralsight.

Every so often, Pluralsight will make a selection of its courses available for free for a weekend. In mid-March, when a shelter-in-place order was issued in California - with similar orders poised to be implemented throughout the country - Pluralsight decided to extend the offer.

“We knew that people would be working from home, and we really wanted to be able to do something for them,” said DJ Anderson, Pluralsight’s VP of communications. 

The company was in the position to offer access to new skills through its 7,000-plus courses, such as learning programming languages and cyber security.

“We decided we wanted the message to be, ‘Stay home and skill up,’” she said, using life under lockdown to do “more than just a puzzle.” 

Pluralsight rushed to get the campaign ready for an April launch date.

“It was an integrated approach across the marketing team, comms, social, digital, and our brand folks,” Anderson said. 

The campaign, which launched April 2 and ran for the next 30 days, was announced via a video from Pluralsight cofounder and CEO Aaron Skonnard. 

Pluralsight promoted the initiative on its website and social media channels, in addition to partnering with 15 influencers, including Rainn Wilson, Common and Chloe Condon, to spread the word. 

On April 2, the company began sending pitches to media outlets about the campaign. The strategy was two-fold: target reporters writing roundups of free resources in addition to sending tailored pitches to reporters, which put Pluralsight’s ability to help people learn in-demand tech skills in the context of rising unemployment numbers.

“We wanted to help people get more marketable skills while they were looking for another job,” Anderson said.

More than a million new people took advantage of the campaign, signing up and accessing the platform. Of these new users, 200,000 had a work email address, a list that included 92% of the Fortune 50.

The campaign generated more than 50 earned media placements, with coverage in Business Insider, Forbes and Popular Mechanics, among other outlets.

Pluralsight was mentioned 58,000 times on social media in April, a 600% increase from a year earlier. The hashtag #FreeApril was used 39,000 times. Of the million-plus new users, 10% came organically through social. 

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