No-one is sad to say ‘goodbye’ to 2020, it has certainly been an eventful year and one that has brought so many challenges to so many people. Our hearts go out to everyone who has lost loved ones during the pandemic, and from us all, we wish you brighter futures in 2021.
January started off with the launch of a fresh new campaign for Explore Essex. As an Essex PR agency we know the county really well. Essex County Council’s country parks had rebranded and needed a PR campaign to promote the new brand and explain what it was all about. We created ‘101 things to do’ in Essex! Families were invited to take part in a series of challenges from fossil hunting on Mersea Island, to following the Gruffalo Trail at Thorndon Country Park. Our photographer was commissioned to take inspirational shots of children taking part in the tasks in bright new ‘Explore Essex’ sweaters. Our launch included widespread media relations across the county, which reached titles from Southend to Colchester and live interviews on BBC Essex.
2020 marked 75 years since the end of WWII. We’ve been working with the Royal British Legion for several years and were excited to be asked to draft a series of case studies to retell veterans’ and evacuees’ stories of their wartime experiences. Our chief copywriter absolutely loved talking to the veterans and evacuees, hearing their stories and drafting up their recollections. We were tasked with this project just as Britain was heading into lockdown. However, nothing was phasing these wartime heroes, and they certainly liked to chat. In a very small way, we felt that we were helping to alleviate loneliness, as well as keeping their memories alive.
By May the effects of lockdown had reached the majority of our clients. We are specialists in the travel and hospitality sector and a number of clients were very adversely affected. Furlough, cutbacks, redundancy, campaigns on-hold etc had become part of our everyday lives. It was sad to see clients leave, some after eight years, but when their own workforces had been laid-off, it was no surprise that our skills were temporarily surplus to requirements.
Like the rest of the UK we found ourselves working from home, juggling home schooling and doing what we do best, promoting business. We picked up new clients, one a mental wellness coach, who quickly became the ‘Nation’s Mental Wellness Coach’. Mark Newey is determined to teach the world how to look after their mental health. By seizing the moment, he captured the nation’s attention by giving free advice on how to mentally survive the pandemic. His press cutting file is now sky-high and has been featured on countless BBC radio stations, gained features from Eire to Netherlands, and become the expert on all things mental health.
We also started working with JMW Media, an outdoor digital media company, determined to help business in Essex get back on its feet. Here we teamed with Essex Chambers of Commerce and ran a competition to offer free advertising space on their outdoor billboards. Not only did the campaign garner widespread media attention, it also gained nearly 100 entries – really helping to push JMW Media into the business community, whilst supporting local business too.
In 2020 we’ve all had to learn something new and give something back. For us, we decided to freshen up our digital skills. Our Creative Director completed a course in social media and our Managing Director challenged herself to boost her SEO skills. We also wanted to do something to give back to our communities, banging a saucepan on our doorstep just wasn’t enough. So, when singer songwriter, Elliot Porter, approached us to promote his single for the NHS we jumped at the chance.
Elliot had worked with a number of top performers and had gained permission from Frank Turner to cover one of his tracks, ‘Be More Kind’. The song was perfect for the moment and was recorded via mobile phones, but expertly put together to create a YouTube friendly film. We set-up a launch at Addenbrookes hospital for all NHS staff. A full media campaign ran, which gained Elliot airtime on radio stations across the country, including BBC Radio 2.
Our proudest moment of the year came in early October. We’ve been working with Visit Essex and Essex County Council to challenge the Essex stereotype for over a year. Just before lockdown we were working with ‘stars’ from the county to feature in a new film to dispel the Essex stereotype. Due to the pandemic the March launch had been postponed many times. In October we had a small window of opportunity to release the film and get our message heard.
We set up an exclusive with BBC Breakfast and on 14 October the film went live to the nation. The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Metro, BBC Essex, as well as regional papers all covered the launch. The film created real impact; Essex has been much maligned for a long time, but now there seems to be a real sea change. Even Conde Naste publications are encouraging readers to take a short break to Essex. And, the Oxford English Dictionary has dropped the term ‘Essex girl’! This account was a dream come true for an Essex PR agency, and we we’re delighted the results were strong.
Like all other businesses, adversity has been in our path throughout 2020. But, we’ve battled through and were rewarded by picking up a large new client in November. East Herts and North Herts District Council decided to pull together their ERDF and HMG ‘Re-opening the High Street’ funds to encourage all to shop safe, shop local. Our campaign has covered PR, creative design, advertising in print, online, radio and ad-vans. A newsletter has also been drafted and will be issued to all households across the campaign region.
2020, you’ve been a rollercoaster! We don’t expect 2021 to get off to the easiest of starts, but we are hopeful and committed to delivering our award-winning service to clients old and new. We’ve also invested in our website and will roll out the new design soon. So, please do keep your eyes peeled and visit www.wearebigwavepr.co.uk.