Campaign: Prince's Trust shows hoodies some love

The Prince's Trust has traditionally struggled to attain a high profile, with individual donations accounting for only two per cent of annual income. To celebrate the youth charity's 30th birthday it held a concert, taking donations as the event was broadcast on TV.

Recent political backlash against ‘hoodies' provided the trust with a potentially controversial premise for the campaign: it called the concert ‘Bringing Hope to the Hoodie Generation'.

Campaign Bringing Hope to the Hoodie Generation, 30th Anniversary Concert
Client Prince's Trust
PR teams In-house, with pro bono advice from The Outside Organisation, TX Media and Julian Henry
Timescale April-May 2006
Budget £12,000

To raise awareness of the trust's work and increase individual donations. To change perceptions about hoodies.

Strategy and Plan
The campaign launched with a survey highlighting regional misconceptions about hoodies. Exclusives were offered to Radio Times, The Sun and Daily Mirror, while letters were written to newspaper editors and positive photos of hoodies were offered to various journalists.

The trust was particularly careful to target women's magazines, whose readership was felt by the PR teams to be less understanding of the issues faced by marginalised people, such as ex-offenders and the long-term unemployed. The team also secured media partners to educate the public about disadvantaged young people. It offered case studies of 60 youngsters helped by the trust to 19 ITV regional news programmes, and gave fundraising stories to Trinity Mirror titles.

Announcements and competitions were offered to 50 GCap radio stations over a six-week build-up to the concert. Celebrities were also used - Ant & Dec interviewed the Prince of Wales and his sons (the first time all three princes had been interviewed together), while ‘trust ambassadors' such as Stephen Fry and Sharon Osbourne were asked to front fundraising films.

The campaign culminated in an evening of entertainment and fundraising, broadcast on ITV1 on 20 May. Artist announcements, media interviews and photo opportunities were used to secure coverage in the run-up to the event.

Production of a behind-the-scenes show and a three-hour radio programme was co-ordinated by the trust, which also negotiated a partnership with Getty Images, ensuring 60 per cent of profits were donated from event photography.

Measurement and Evaluation
More than 13 hours of broadcast coverage was generated, including Radio 4's Today, BBC News and This Morning. Meanwhile, 1,200 articles were printed, 20 per cent of which appeared in national newspapers. Regional coverage included 14 front pages and 48 double-page spreads.

The concert attracted seven million viewers and generated 100,000 calls to the studio, the highest recorded for a single charity fundraising event.

The campaign raised more than £3m. Unprompted public awareness of The Prince's Trust increased threefold, from five per cent to 15 per cent, while prompted awareness and knowledge of the trust's work rose by almost ten per cent. The ‘hug a hoodie' position was even adopted by Conservative leader David Cameron.

‘The team created an air of excitement in the build-up by drip-feeding news stories and promoting celebrities alongside case studies,' says Daily Mirror associate editor Peter Willis.

SECOND OPINION, Jason Gallucci, managing director of Slice

PR agencies are often charged with generating ongoing coverage after launch, and this is where real creativity and media skills come to the fore - because you regularly have no news to play with. So it is quite a challenge to create huge amounts of coverage for a charity that launched 30 years ago.

The obvious news hook was the concert. But what this team did well was to recognise that disadvantaged young people - with the media monica of ‘hoodie' - are public enemy number two (just behind terrorists).

The masterstroke was to turn a negative but newsworthy bandwagon into a positive educational platform. This was brave as sympathy for the hoodie is low and media will not easily drop this vivid stereotype. After all, it is far simpler to push ideas of hoodies based on negatives such as teen crime.

However, the use of real-life case studies enabled media to write factual stories with a happy ending - for a change.

The campaign did spectacularly in terms of reach. Producing 1,200 articles in year 30 is truly remarkable. However, the reaction is a little sketchy. They raised £3m, which is fantastic - but how much does the trust usually raise in a ‘normal' year?

Also, how far did the campaign really change public perception - because other than David Cameron, few of us are rushing out to hug a hoodie.

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