Campaigns: Event - Grand Designs Live is a grand success

Campaign: Grand Designs Live London 2009
Client: Media 10
PR team: Stuart Higgins Communications
Timescale: December 2008-April 2009
Budget: £20,000

Grand Designs Live is a contemporary design exhibition offering visitors the chance to build and furnish a house, all under one roof. Based on the popular Channel 4 programme Grand Designs and presented by design guru Kevin McCloud, it encompasses six separate shows, including Grand Gardens and Grand Interiors.

The show, launched in 2005, faced new challenges this year, including the recession, the declining UK housing market and a recent downturn in the events industry as a whole. The Ideal Home Show, Grand Designs Live's major rival, had suffered from declining visitor figures and similar consumer shows had been cancelled.


- To secure a media partnership with a leading newspaper

- To secure prime time TV coverage

- To place competition within key regional and national media

- To attract more than 350 top-quality journalists to the show press office

- To secure interviews with key celebrities involved with the show

- To attract footfall to the show.

Strategy and plan

The PR team wanted to target loyal visitors and fans of the show, as well as a wider audience of consumers who had an interest in their homes but because of the credit crunch were looking to improve their properties rather than move. A number of news stories were generated, while editorially-led show previews used current trends and show content. A 'bank' of news stories and press releases targeting specific media sectors, including consumer and trade, were 'drip-fed' throughout the campaign.

Reactive stories were also issued, focusing on the slump in the property market and the credit crunch, and promoting the 'don't move, improve' message to encourage consumers to think about home improvement rather than moving house.

Interviews with McCloud were placed across key media and an online and social media campaign was created to build up the show's profile. Key bloggers, websites and journalists were targeted and competitions were mirrored online to increase opportunity to see (OTS). A media partnership was created with the London Evening Standard to raise the profile of the brand and focus on London visitors.

Measurement and evaluation

More than 52 pieces of national coverage were generated, including interviews, previews and news pieces. The partnership with the London Evening Standard led to high London-based coverage, with pieces in thelondonpaper, London Lite, the Wharf, ES Magazine and syndicated content.

In total, 89 regional titles covered the show and more than 157 competitions were secured. McCloud gave 14 interviews, while an additional 14 interviews were secured with key celebrities including Diarmuid Gavin, Wayne Hemmingway and Oliver Heath. More than 307 pieces of coverage appeared online and 18 film crews attended the show's opening day.


The 25 April-4 May show attracted 105,000 visitors. More than 840 key media representatives attended across the ten days.


The Stuart Higgins Communications team obviously did a great job in raising awareness of the event and generating quality press coverage. It must have been gratifying to see the figures increase so much on the previous year, particularly in relation to journalists attending and broadcast coverage.

Two things stick out, however - having one media partner can sometimes limit coverage as other titles can be reticent to cover the event. In the case of the London Evening Standard this was clearly not a problem but consideration about the correct title to aim for is paramount in a campaign such as this.

The second missing element of the campaign was any link-up with an organisation such as Transport for London. By incentivising people using public transport across London - with reduced ticket rates for those with travel cards, for example - the team would have been able to promote some of the green credentials of the show, opening up a whole different sector of the media, and have the weight of a useful partner on board.

This in turn would have lent itself to a competition - for example, everyone who bought a travel card would have been entered into a competition to win a great prize courtesy of the Grand Designs team.

It would have been interesting to see more use of social media networks such as Twitter or even setting up an insider's view blog. The team mentioned approaching key bloggers and this may have increased footfall even further.

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