The ability to hold video conferences without the need to invest in expensive equipment was the idea behind face2face, a company founded by Noel Edmonds, which planned to set up a network of video meeting venues nationwide.
To raise awareness of the availability and cost savings of the face2face service to two audiences: those who would install and run the equipment - called venue partners - and business users, who would either subscribe to the service or pay per use.
Strategy and Plan
Although budget airlines have made even far-flung business meetings accessible, the PR team aimed to illustrate the cost benefits of video-conferencing, as well as the positive impact it can have on employee efficiency and the work/life balance.
The environmental damage of air travel was also emphasised and, in addition to media relations, Whiteoaks lobbied groups such as Transport 2000, Friends of the Earth and the RAC Foundation, to add weight to its case.
Noel Edmonds was seen as an important card, and was a ubiquitous spokesman for the PR campaign. Both national and regional media were targeted about the launch of the company last summer, with a Whiteoaks-commissioned survey revealing that, while the average business meeting lasts around two hours, it is likely to consume six hours and costs up to £2,000 in time and travel.
Measurement and Evaluation
The announcement of new venue partners prompted coverage in areas where face2face is targeting new users. Since June, 150 press and radio clips have been generated nationwide.
The business segment of BBC Breakfast, News 24 and Bloomberg Business News all ran stories on the launch, and there have been pieces in The Times, The Independent and the Mail on Sunday.
Regional papers including the Manchester Evening News and The Scotsman also ran the story.
There was widespread radio coverage on IRN Newslink, and the Classic Gold Network. BBC local and regional stations in Scotland, Ulster, Devon and Cumbria picked it up, with trade papers including Computer Weekly, Microscope and Broadcast.
Three hundred venues have been set up since the launch, with the aim to have 2,000 operating in the first three years of operation.
Between June and October, face2face has had more than 1,000 users, totalling almost 2,000 hours of meetings, many of which have been international.
Business traffic has been increasing by 40 per cent month on month.
Freelance journalist Danny Bradbury, who wrote a piece for The Independent, said the PR operation had been well-handled.
'Whiteoaks provided answers to further questions, and an impromptu interview, within about five minutes of a call when I was close to deadline,' he said.