War Child inspires fever for Help charity album -Charity

Campaign: Help: A Day in the Life Client: War Child PR team: Weber Shandwick Timescale: July-September 2005 Budget: Pro bono

Some of Britain's top bands, including Coldplay, Radiohead and Keane, contributed to the fastest album ever released, in aid of the War Child charity.

They started recording new tracks for Help: A Day in the Life from midday on 8 September - and the songs were available for download from noon the following day.

The event marked the tenth anniversary of the charity's first Help album, which raised more than £1.25m for children caught up in the Bosnian war. Weber Shandwick was brought in to create a buzz around the CD in the month before its launch.

Objectives

To reach audiences beyond the music and entertainment media to raise the profile of War Child, its relief work and the issues affecting children trapped in war zones. To help maximise sales of the CD and online downloads.

Strategy and Plan

Weber Shandwick set up a media and communications centre for War Child, staffed by six people from its consumer team in the month before the CD's launch, liaising with the charity's and artists' PR teams. As well as writing press releases, the team also advised on media tactics. It put together media lists that identified which artists were best suited to readers of particular publications, before selling the Help story to target journalists via exclusive interviews with the contributors.

The agency did not want the campaign to just be about the music, so it briefed artists who could talk about War Child's campaigns. It secured a prime-time interview slot for rap artist Emmanuel Jal - a former child soldier in Sudan who was rescued by a British aid worker, and whose track Gua featured on the CD - on Radio 4's Today programme.

On launch day, Weber Shandwick helped with media liaison from the studio where the album was being mastered, including chaperoning the various artists.

Measurement and Evaluation

The CD's release and its availability for download was heavily reported.

The album achieved coverage across broadcast, online and print media, including five of the UK's biggest news websites.

Other highlights included BBC Breakfast, Radio 4 and Newsnight Review, as well as Newsround and Sky News. Print coverage was achieved in The Guardian, The Times, The Independent, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mirror.

Results

The War Child Music website received 650,000 hits in the hour after Coldplay's track was put up for download, rising to a million in the 24 hours after the album's release. Within three days, 100,000 tracks had been sold for charity, putting Help: A Day in the Life on course to becoming the biggest-selling download album in history.

Sky News covered the story throughout the 24 hours. Presenter Steve Dixon says: 'There was a real passion about the project at Weber Shandwick. It was presented to me clearly and in a very detailed way. We knew what and who was available, which made it very easy to decide what we could do.'

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