Last November, Cheltenham-based Target PR devised a 'Builders from Heaven' initiative for retained client builders' merchant Jewson, aimed at addressing the skills shortage in the UK construction industry. This was driven by research from government and trade bodies, including the Federation of Master Builders, showing that the construction industry needs to recruit 83,000 builders a year until 2007 to maintain staffing levels.
Anecdotal evidence suggested that negative portrayals of the industry in the media, including reality TV shows Builders from Hell and Rogue Traders, were putting young people off choosing construction trades as a career.
To position Jewson as an industry champion. To change the negative image of builders and position building as a positive career choice.
Strategy and Plan
To support the building trade and address negative perceptions of the industry, Target implemented a nationwide competition to find Britain's best builders, as chosen by house-owners.
The PR team secured the Daily Mirror as a media partner, and Vauxhall agreed to provide a Movano van as first prize.
The competition launched in November 2003, supported by an entry form sent to those on Jewson's customer database, posters in every Jewson store and a dedicated website: www.buildersfromheaven.co.uk.
Following the Mirror's call to action, the PR team targeted regional media with case studies of nominees, the announcement of a 30-strong shortlist and profiles of the six regional and national winners. Trade media relations ensured that messages reached builders and the industry from all sides.
A judging panel, representing Jewson, Vauxhall and the Daily Mirror, as well as building expert Barrie Roe, selected five regional winners and one national winner.
The finalists and their supporters were interviewed over the phone and the winners judged on the strength of their nominations and on-site professionalism, quality control, work in hand and commitment to apprentices.
Measurement and Evaluation
The Mirror backed the campaign with three long articles, and the story picked up more than 100 pieces of regional coverage from titles including the Liverpool Echo, the South Wales Echo and the Nottingham Evening Post, plus an item on Anglia TV.
The local media ran pictures of builders posing as angels, and many nominated builders were interviewed on their local radio stations.
Target estimates that 82 per cent of coverage contained two or more key campaign messages.
More than 200 entries were received, with winners coming from as far afield as Orkney and Brecon. The national winner was from Hemel Hempstead.
The dedicated website received almost 36,000 hits and Jewson is negotiating the launch of a similar competition next year.
'The Builders from Heaven competition was a great project to be involved with: good fun, topical and interactive for readers,' says Daily Mirror Mirror Works editor Tricia Phillips.
'Target sourced lots of relevant stories. It was efficient and followed everything up to ensure the whole thing ran very smoothly.'