Each year, around 100 students from the Department of Design at Brunel University design products they hope will catch the imagination of manufacturers, businesses and consumers. This summer, Fuse PR launched a media relations programme to increase the visibility of some of these designs and build commercial interest.
To attract revenue opportunities for the designs from potential business partners. To showcase the students' innovative and creative talents and the supportive environment in which the university seeks to foster entrepreneurial achievement.
Strategy and Plan
Fuse, which has worked with Brunel University for three years, approached another of its clients, AOL Broadband, to sponsor some of the students' designs. In June, the AOL Broadband Awards for Innovation were launched at Brunel University's Design Show, with the top-four winners receiving £1,000 each, to help kick-start commercial development of their ideas.
The PR team selected the most consumer-friendly of the winning designs, Ella Kilgour's Declic collapsible stiletto, as the launch platform for a media relations campaign. This prototype was sold into the media as a stylish pair of women's shoes with retractable heels for tasks such as driving and running.
Initially, Fuse built a regional campaign to target Ella's local press, plus radio and TV stations around her home town of Gosport in Hampshire.
This was followed by press releases and photographs for the national media, resulting in over 20 interviews and photo shoots with Ella.
Measurement and Evaluation
The campaign generated over 30 articles in the national press, including the Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and The Guardian. Coverage also appeared in nearly 20 regional titles, including the Birmingham Post, Glasgow's Evening Times and Portsmouth News.
Broadcast interest ranged from GMTV and BBC Look North to BBC Southampton and coverage on LBC radio.
The story also generated international attention from the New York Post to radio stations in Melbourne, plus a request for Ella to appear on Good Morning America - an offer she subsequently declined.
LBC producer Tim Allen highlights that the innovative nature of the Declic provided the necessary media appeal. 'It made it into our weekly roundup of quirky news stories,' he says. 'And we mentioned Brunel University, so it was good PR for them from that point of view.'
The national and regional coverage drove home the message that Brunel University offers scope for commercial organisations to partner their business interests with academic projects.
A number of manufacturers showed interest in Ella's design, and she is now under contract with Faith Shoes, which is funding the design and manufacture of the Declic.