CAMPAIGNS: BROADCAST PR; Direct strikes for Nimrod 2000 bid

Client: Nimrod 2000 Consortium PR Team: The London Bureau and The Market Tiers (joint campaign) Campaign: Securing the Nimrod aircraft replacement contract Timescale: March - July 1996 Budget: pounds 15,000

Client: Nimrod 2000 Consortium

PR Team: The London Bureau and The Market Tiers (joint campaign)

Campaign: Securing the Nimrod aircraft replacement contract

Timescale: March - July 1996

Budget: pounds 15,000



The British Aerospace-led Nimrod 2000 was one of three consortia bidding

for the pounds 2 billion contract to replace the RAF’s Nimrod aircraft.



Against competition from US giants Lockheed and Loral, it could most

effectively wrap its bid in the Union Jack as BAe was the only British

contractor.



The consortium’s PR team, led by former Tory communications chief Hugh

Colver, lobbied the MoD, DTI, ministers and MPs with a strong

constituency interest. Colver described its press relations and

advertising campaign as ‘low-key’, but with an important broadcast

element.



Objective



To achieve maximum broadcast coverage at a crucial time in the

deliberation process and expose MPs to the benefits to their

constituencies. And, in the case of victory, to convey a positive

impression of the consortium.



Tactics



After years of preparatory work on the bid, Nimrod 2000 chose to strike

on 17 June, when military recommendations landed on ministers’ desks.



Nimrod 2000, television specialists the London Bureau and radio experts

Market Tiers worked together on the pre-production stage in early June

1996. They developed statistics on regional benefits and a database of

local BAe contractors. Subsequently the team ‘primed’ contractors and

encouraged them to go out and sell the Nimrod 2000 story.



The London Bureau produced a television stock footage tape for use by

broadcasters. This included pictures that stations would have otherwise

found it hard to access, including a mock-up of the proposed aircraft

and the present day Nimrod in action. An audio feature and audio bite

based on the TV tape were also developed by Market Tiers.



The London Bureau alerted TV stations in the week running up to 17 June.

Journalists were offered a story advisory, local and regional statistics

showing the jobs and investments at stake and, two days before the story

date, the television footage was sent to those who requested it. The

stations were offered interviewees and the opportunity to film at

relevant factories.



Market Tiers sent a forward planner fax to radio stations with cue

material for audio features or ISDN interviews. Account handlers liaised

with journalists over interviews with local contractors. The audio

feature was distributed via an ISDN feed and interviews arranged with

the consortium’s project director.



A few weeks later, on the day of the announcement that Nimrod 2000 had

won, all relevant programmes were contacted with reminders of the

implications of the deal.



Results



The London Bureau claims that almost 12 million viewers were reached

with its ‘jobs at stake’ story via nine national bulletins, two

breakfast programmes, 28 regional bulletins and international news

feeds.



The Market Tiers claims radio coverage reached 14.5 million listeners,

excluding independent radio news which is broadcast to 165 stations.



And, on the day of the announcement itself, Nimrod secured a further 73

items of television coverage, reaching more than 50 million viewers.



Verdict



It is difficult to isolate or provide evidence of the effect of the

broadcast coverage on the decision-making process. The volume of

coverage speaks for itself and therefore potentially had a powerful

influence on MPs.



Colver says: ‘It was one of the best broadcast efforts I’ve been

involved with. The agencies were able to give us specialist support and

raise our visibility at just the time it was needed.’



Colver and his team are now involved with developing the export market

which has been opened up by the new technology used in their aircraft

bid.



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