Campaign: Kent loses its Garden of England crown

Two-year-old channel UKTV Style Gardens wanted to raise its profile. It chose the start of spring - an important time for the channel and gardening itself - to try and create a talking point around the subject of gardening.

Campaign Gardens of England
Client UKTV Style Gardens
PR team Taylor Herring
Timescale March-May 2006
Budget £7,500

To deliver a news story with particular regional appeal. To ensure coverage across all media, especially mid-market newspapers and broadsheets. To reinforce an association between gardening experts and Style Gardens.

Strategy and Plan
According to the age-old expression, Kent is considered to be ‘the garden of England'. Taylor Herring decided to test the truth behind the saying via a public poll to find the most attractive county in England.

It gave the survey credibility by ­asking gardening experts, including Diarmuid Gavin and Chris Collins - as well as Tommy Walsh and Charlie Dimmock of Ground Force fame - to shortlist their favourite counties. A poll of 4,000 people was then conducted by a market research company and via a link on the Style Gardens website.

Voting criteria included breathtaking countryside, undiscovered treasures, traditional English villages and the variety of wildlife. Voters were also asked to pick their five ugliest counties.

Once Taylor Herring had its findings (North Yorkshire came out as the winner), the team contacted regional newspapers with bespoke stories, concentrating on those in the ‘top ten counties'. Journalists were contacted a week before the launch of the survey via an embargoed press release containing comments from Gavin.

Gavin was also secured for a day of interviews with TV channels and radio stations. He was briefed to talk about the survey results and to direct listeners to the Style Gardens website for ­relevant programme information.

National press were sold in on the angle that Kent had lost its crown as the most attractive county, citing topical factors such as the alleged increase of chavs in the area.

Measurement and Evaluation
Most national newspapers, from The Guardian to the Daily Mirror, covered the story. Articles appeared in a number of regional newspapers, such as The Yorkshire Post, Birmingham Post and Kent on Sunday.

Gavin did more than 30 regional radio interviews, including stations in Kent, Leeds and Essex. Taylor Herring also maximised regional coverage via interviews with BBC's Look North. Radio 4's Today programme and Radio Five Live also carried interviews.

The story went on to gain international coverage and follow-up features, including a double-page spread in The Guardian's G2 section.

The 87 positive pieces of media coverage generated a total of 35 million ‘weighted opportunities to see'. This meant that more than three-quarters of UK adults had a chance to see or hear coverage of  Style Gardens' survey.

Taylor Herring estimates the advertising value equivalent to be around £828,000. Meanwhile, monthly website traffic increased by 20 per cent in June to 600,000 page impressions.

The Guardian's northern editor, Martin Wainwright, says: ‘This survey was spot on and raised a genuinely interesting point; I immediately thought it was a good story.

‘The counties research was a visual idea and cleverly done. It shows how skilful a good PR campaign can be.'

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