Campaigns: Lennon home PR publicises National Trust

Client: The National Trust PR Team: In-house Campaign: Publicising the opening of John Lennon's childhood home by the Trust Timescale: Summer 2002 - March 2003 Budget: At least £20,000

If you are looking to blow preconceptions of stuffiness off your brand you can't do much better than using one of the pop icons of the 20th century.

The National Trust got the chance to distance itself from notions of upper crust stately homes and green wellingtons when it opened John Lennon's childhood home to the public at the end of March.

The former council house in Liverpool was donated to the National Trust by Yoko Ono and the campaign was an opportunity for the Trust to show that its work is relevant to all sectors of the public. It has refurbished the house with period furniture so visitors can see how the former Beatle used to live.

Objectives

To let the public know that the Trust was opening the house to the public.

Senior press officer Sian Evans said: 'We also wanted to show that The National Trust was more than just stately homes and gorgeous gardens.

We own a large number of city centre properties such as workhouses and back-to-back houses in areas such as Birmingham.'

The publicity needed to manage expectations about the house - a small three-bed semi - so that demand wasn't overwhelming.

Strategy and Plan

The Trust relies heavily on editorial coverage rather than above-the-line spend and, in this case, organising a press day took meticulous planning simply to fit journalists in. 'We knew space was an issue but wanted to invite as many news and local journalists as we could,' explained Evans. 'So we put a marquee up in the front garden and set up a one-way system through the house.'

On the day, 27 March, the Trust also had a trump card to get press attention - a rare opportunity to interview Yoko Ono. Journalists could book time to talk to her in the marquee. The Trust had also organised an outside broadcast vehicle and produced information such as a video news release.

Evans explains: 'Fortunately for us, we had the same team who had worked on the similar project opening Paul McCartney's house in Liverpool.'

Measurement and Evaluation

Timing could not have been worse for media attention as it coincided with the start of war in Iraq. By concentrating on regional media around the country, the Trust picked up a great deal of press attention. It also managed to be one of the few items other than the conflict to appear in most national media.

'We were the only non-war item on the Today programme and had items on 27 radio stations around the country,' Evans says. 'We also had pieces as far afield as American, Japanese and Swedish TV.'

Results

Evans believes the Trust got over key messages: 'Overall the coverage was very favourable about the Trust's work. John Lennon's biographer Philip Norman wrote a very positive piece in the Daily Mail.'

She also claims coverage lead to a quieter life for neighbours of the Lennon house, by publicising a managed triangular route also taking in the Paul McCartney house.

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