How Media Relations is the Secret Ingredient in Great Content Marketing

This week Brazen was chuffed to bits to win the Gold Award for ‘Best Use of Media Relations’ for our client, Pilgrims Choice, at the CIPR North-West PRide Awards.

Why? Because good old fashioned ‘media relations’ has been at the heart of the craft of PR since the dawn of time. And that fact’s not changed just because of the digital revolution.

Having a great idea, crafting a content-rich campaign around it, writing a stonking news release, then getting on the phone and selling that story in to your best media contacts, is still the key to creating the elusive talkability and ‘buzz’ that brands strive for.

It’s pretty simple. Traditional media relations gets stories in print, on TV and radio, which then spreads virally across the social world, creating money-can’t-buy content (and links) that engages and inspires consumers both on and offline.

So we thought we’d share the detail of how we helped make Pilgrims Choice the most famous cheddar in the UK through media relations.

Exactly how do you turn a block of premium cheese into a content packed award-winning Christmas blockbuster?

At Brazen, the Big Idea is central to everything we do. And the Pilgrims Choice brief meant we had to be at our creative best to push the brand firmly into the hearts and minds of the chattering masses.

We were challenged to create national media headlines in the run up to Christmas 2013 and catch the eyes of buyers by showing Pilgrims Choice as an innovative and fun brand, that was quick to respond and create NPD.

We needed to be bold, nimble and disruptive – reflecting the brand’s core brand values – but also to increase sales and awareness of regular Pilgrims Choice block cheddar. Crucially, we also needed to create a buzz online.

So…that big idea?

Let’s create a Christmas Dinner Cheese and follow it with a Christmas Pudding cheese.

By capitalising on the UK’s love of cheese (we officially buy more cheese than loo roll), Brazen created two traditional dishes served at Christmas…out of cheese – a veritable and seasonal two-course cheese feast.

Brazen’s strategy was not only to create fantastic products, but to photograph and package them beautifully and launch to traditional media, supported on social media to create fantastic talkability.

Working directly with Pilgrims’ head of innovation, Linda Appel, Brazen asked for ingredients to be put into a block of Pilgrims Choice cheddar to make it as Christmas Dinner like as possible.

The final recipe included whole brussel sprouts, carrots, roast potatoes, cranberry and turkey flavouring. The Christmas Pudding Cheese featured all the key ingredients of the classic Christmas pudding, including brandy-soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, candied cherries and apple, cinnamon and a special Christmas liqueur.

We also brought in leading food photographer Lawrence Hudgton to produce stunning photography in a Christmas themed setting – to make sure we got images of the finished cheeses in the coverage.

Then we drafted an eye-catching national news story – and brokered a deal for the shots and story to appear exclusively in the Daily Mail first – and watched as ‘Yule Go Crackers For the World’s First Christmas Dinner Cheese’ made national headlines immediately.

But that one Daily Mail hit certainly didn’t become tomorrow’s fish n chip paper. The traditional newspaper coverage was mirrored on the Mail website and was shared 250 times on Facebook directly from the Mailonline article – leading to thousands more fans debating it and sharing it across other social networks with their friends – resulting in a social reach of 202,454, and including tweets from journalists at Your Home, Facebook posts from Chat magazine and coverage in 12 blogs.

The same day that the story broke in the Daily Mail, Brazen organised for samples to arrive on key media desks across the country and sold in the news story far and wide as one big cheesy coverage push.

The story was also dispatched to food and mummy bloggers and journalists of longer lead titles were encouraged to tweet about the cheeses.

Brazen packaged up samples of the cheeses in black and gold packaging with specially designed branding and sent to media desks in central London and at MediaCity to coincide with the Daily Mail story.

This included all TV and radio contacts which resulted in national TV coverage on The Wright Stuff and Let’s Do Lunch with Mel and Gino have requested the cheese for their Christmas special in 2014. Samples were also sent to the trade media and key buyers at all the major multiples to build relationships.

And the results?

We delivered stacks of coverage in November and December meaning a significant sales increase in December YOY.

Bosses at Tesco saw the coverage and as a result contacted Adams Foods to list the Christmas Pudding.

We smashed all KPIs with our campaign, which was seen by more than 33million people.

The campaign had a huge impact in the traditional media, with a reach of 32,768,384, via a total of 41 separate national hits including titles like the Daily Mail, The Metro, Scotsman, Femail First, Yahoo, Daily Mirror and the Huffington Post.

Broadcast coverage including The Wright Stuff, First News, Radio 2, Real Radio and an appearance on Let’s Do Lunch with Des and Mel – the programme will feature the cheese on their 2014 Christmas show (filmed in June 2013).

And let’s not forget the incredible online reach of 202,454.

Natalie Gibson, Brand Manager at Pilgrims Choice said: “Brazen’s two-course Christmas Dinner Cheese feast was such a unique and amazing idea, it created brand interest from around the world and even had buyers from major retailers asking if they could have it! It did a fantastic job driving brand fame and awareness.”

Job done.

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