Campaign: 50:50. Client: St Mungo's. PR team: In-house. Timescale: Ongoing from February 2004 Budget: £1,500
To raise awareness of the elderly homelessn and fight government funding cuts. To increase donations.
Strategy and Plan
As St Mungo's has no campaigning staff and is a London-based charity, the in-house PR team's first step was to carry out a client survey to root out interesting stories.
The survey found one in four homeless people was aged over 50, and that 50 per cent had a physical health problem. An equal proportion had mental health problems, while half had been homeless for more than two years.
Because of these results, the PR campaign was named 50:50.
With the report due to go live on 24 November 2004, St Mungo's targeted Radio 4's Today and The Guardian for their ability to reach government workers, the wider public and the voluntary sector. Other press were then contacted as the report release date approached, with information designed to challenge the widely held perception that homelessness is primarily a youth issue. Press releases were prepared with case studies and information about the survey and an activity day.
The PR team sent case studies to features editors of local newspapers throughout London. In the month before Christmas, the team targeted websites, as well as trade magazines concerned with housing, social care and religion. After creating pre-recorded interviews, the PR team worked through the night on 23 November media training the charity's spokespeople.
Measurement and Evaluation
Coverage included Channel 4 News, BBC World Service, Sky News, ITV Carlton, BBC Radio 4, Capital Group and LBC, with frequent repeat broadcasts throughout 24 November. Print articles included a full-page feature in The Guardian and a piece in the London Metro. All of the major local newspapers in the capital covered the campaign, including the South London Press.
Specialist trade media ran articles on St Mungo's, including housing, social services and religious titles, while the British Forces Broadcasting Service aired the story.
St Mungo's states that all coverage included its campaign messages. The campaign generated more phone calls and website hits (its daily page views tripled after 24 November) and raised 56 per cent more money in the run-up to Christmas than the previous year's effort. The charity was approached by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Homelessness for copies of its report.
'The story (pressed) all the right buttons for us and got the message out about how elderly the homeless population is and that St Mungo's elderly outreach service is threatened by lack of government funds,' says Mark Gould, who covered the story for The Guardian.
'The St Mungo's team was great, gave plenty of facts and statistics and allowed us to talk to homeless people for their stories,' he adds.