CAMPAIGN: Somerset Poppy Appeal ensures no one forgets

The Royal British Legion Somerset County wanted to promote the launch of its 2007 Poppy Appeal and the dedication of a memorial stone at its new convalescence home for ex-service personnel and their dependants.

Campaign Poppy Appeal launch and memorial stone dedication at a new convalescence home
Client Royal British Legion (Somerset branch)
PR team BCS Public Relations
Timescale October 2007
Budget n/a

To simply and effectively raise awareness of the event and gain media coverage for the Royal British Legion, particularly the Somerset branch.

Strategy and plan
At the suggestion of BCS PR’s managing director, Brian Dolby, Britain’s last Tommy, 109-year-old Harry Patch from Wells, Somerset, was called up to be a guest of honour at the event in Weston-super-Mare, during which thousands of poppies were to be  launched from the skies. BCS then planned a timetable for a press release and photocall notice, to sell in the story to local, regional and national media outlets and to liaise with photo agencies. BCS staff also planned to be at the event to manage the media.

Measurement and evaluation
The initial press releases resulted in pre-event coverage, leading to a high turnout on the day itself. Live event coverage included Sky TV, BBC News, ITN News, local radio and regional TV. A front-page piece in The Sunday Times appeared the following day, and The Sunday Telegraph, Mail on Sunday, Observer and the Sunday Mirror also covered it.

On the Monday, there were front-page articles and inside spreads in the Western Daily Press and Western Morning News. There were also pieces in the Bristol Evening Post, all the local weeklies and around 30 online-only articles. There was also coverage in New Zealand and the US.

Last year, the Poppy Appeal launch in Weston-super-Mare attracted fewer than 200 people. This year, it attracted more than 600 people.

Extensive coverage locally, regionally and nationally led many people to think that it was actually the national launch of the Poppy Appeal.

As a direct result of the coverage, Harry Patch was made a guest of honour at the annual Royal Festival of Remembrance event at the Royal Albert Hall, where he also meet the Queen.



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