The University of Leicester is passionate about research, and its academics regularly contribute towards social policy discussions. Hunterlodge was tasked with helping the University to achieve their goal of greater global recognition, through a series of high-profile events: Leicester Exchanges.
We wanted to cement the university’s position as a thought leader in public policy debate and enhance its growing reputation amongst opinion leaders and experts. We needed to engage with three key audiences: government officials, opinion formers/influencers, and the general public.
Our strategy was to reach these audiences in reverse order. The university hosted debating forums to engage with the general public and drive a groundswell of conversation. We used this volume of conversation to bring in the opinion formers, who were then able to gather all of this momentum to lobby government officials. Topics covered a range of key issues including climate change, national wellbeing and prison reform – the latter event being delivered to a full house at the Tower of London.
Space was limited at the events themselves, and care was taken to ensure the correct balance and calibre of attendees – key to securing appropriate media coverage and attention. Online social forums were available to people who couldn’t be at the debates, and we used a range of media to promote these – including a heavy offline presence to generate awareness.
Campaign analysis covered soft metrics such as visits to website, tweets, likes and so on, but the core metrics were event attendance and post-event engagement. With limited spaces at the debates themselves, data capture and social following were key measures.
We created an integrated brand awareness campaign, focusing on audience segmentation and delivered through local, regional and national media channels. After gaining attention offline, we supported this with extensive online advertising, backed up with social media engagement. Our budget was fairly tight, so we had to work hard to maximise its value.
With heavyweight matters being debated, it was important to utilise powerful media, establish an emotional connection, and enable discovery – discovery in this case being the wider impact of the issues concerned.
We therefore allocated the largest part of the budget to media with a mass reach and the power to deliver long-term effects. These channels worked hard, highlighting the significance of each issue to the wider public, and included national and regional press, OOH (Out of Home) and radio. We used a ‘burst’ approach, with a high-frequency campaign running over a relatively short period of time, for added impact.
Key press titles included The Times, Independent, Telegraph, Guardian, Mail and The New Statesman. We worked with media representatives and editorial teams to secure contextual ad placement and editorial coverage – both pre- and post-event.
OOH was very carefully planned with targeted entry and exit routes of key London over ground and underground stations, as well as high-profile roadside 48-sheets. Behind television, OOH is one of the key mediums for awareness and recall, and the prominent locations plus sense of scale helped to communicate the importance of the debates.
We wanted to support our activity with a more personal medium – one that is seen as a trusted companion, and consumed on a one-to-one basis. Radio was by far the best choice here, and acted as a great partner to online. The correlation with increased web traffic was clear to see.
Using local press allowed the university to target specific areas and highlight the impact on each location. We worked with the PR team and made sure reporting was relevant to readers. Key commuter locations were targeted with more OOH activity: 6-sheet posters that got us closer to the high street and allowed for more flexible positioning.
All creative executions within the campaign had a clear direct response mechanism, directing people to where they could go to have their say and get involved.
As well as paid advertising activity, we set up a microsite for people to share opinions and cast their vote. Press releases were generated from poll results, and we were able to incorporate these within our advertising campaign.
Double Heist Gold Award Winner
On top of full event attendance, website and social engagement far surpassed our client’s expectations. The prison reform event alone generated: over 100,000 website visits, 22,000 additional social media followers, average engagement of 500+ per social media post, 526 user-generated comments, and 257 retweets.
In its first year, Leicester Exchanges was recognised for its effectiveness with two Heist Gold Awards – for Best Strategic Campaign and Best Corporate Campaign.
We are proud to have helped launch such an important initiative, which also gave us the opportunity to produce some striking creative around the central theme: The floor is yours.