CAMPAIGN: Second Opinion

Brighter PR MD Steve Dunne has worked for Radisson Seven Seas and Caribbean International

With a ship launch of this magnitude, it would be tempting to think that editorial coverage would be no problem. But the real issue facing the team at Cunard was managing media interest before and during the launch, ensuring an upbeat story while managing media expectations.

The strategy was sound: get the media involved at every stage, from building to launch. The good thing about ship launches is there are many such stages so tactically it works very well. Add interesting and quirky details to the fact that it's the biggest ship launch of its kind and you have a winner.

You can't help feeling, though, that anything that could go wrong did.

The tragic accident with the gantry brought the QM2 sharply into focus for the first time with many media. To further tempt fate, the Cunard team was up against a timing issue, with the winter holiday period falling right in the middle of the launch, an operational nightmare. On cue, the British weather delivered grey skies and drizzle for the launch itself, which obviously had some impact on the broadcast media's coverage.

Nevertheless, the often cynical travel writers on the nationals and regionals, wrote positively about the features of the ship, and the leader columns of the main trade papers congratulated Cunard.

Most telling - and this, perhaps, was the real acid test - was the largely positive tone of the many letters from travel agents that featured in the letters pages of the trade papers.

My view is that it was a marvellous job by the Cunard team; the pressure now is to keep the media interested in the ship in years to come.

Creativity: 3

Delivery: 4


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