The brief

James Du Pavey, the founder of James Du Pavey Independent Estate Agents, is a long-standing client of ExtraMile. Both James and the ExtraMile team have, over the years, raised a considerable amount of money for The Donna Louise Children’s and Young People’s Hospice in Stoke-on-Trent. In April 2019 James announced that he was planning to undertake a challenge that would be a real test of both physical and mental stamina to raise £10,000 for the hospice. James wanted to fly from John O’Groats to Land’s End (JOGLE) by paramotor (essentially a parachute powered by a fan), also attempting to break a world record in the process. We also accepted the challenge of providing a public relations (PR) and social media campaign to support this fundraising activity. 

The issues 

In creating and implementing a PR and social media campaign to support James’ JOGLE challenge we faced a number of issues that could potentially have an impact upon this activity. These included:

  • Timing – due to the nature of the challenge being at the mercy of the great British weather, it was impossible to provide an exact timing for it to take place other than at some time during June or July. To overcome this issue we needed to introduce this factor to the media, and on the chosen social media platforms before the challenge took place. 
  • Not knowing in which direction James would fly – due to the unknown direction of the wind, we would not know until 24-48 hours before take-off whether this challenge would start in John O’Groats or Land’s End. This also made it difficult for us to accurately pinpoint landing locations during the challenge to schedule media interviews. We addressed this issue by alerting the regional media along the planned route to this factor ahead of the challenge taking place. We were also fully prepared to be highly reactive once James had taken off to ensure that the relevant media were contacted in due time.
  • Other fundraising activities being undertaken by The Donna Louise – as the hospice is continuously fundraising we needed to be sensitive to other activities taking place during the period from May to July. In particular, they were launching the ‘Taking Flight’ initiative in May with the installation of 5,000 ceramic butterflies in Trentham Gardens. We worked with the team at The Donna Louise to ensure that we coordinated our PR efforts to avoid any dilution of media coverage and social media support between this event and the JOGLE challenge.  
  • To be ready at short notice – as the exact take-off date/time was impossible to predict, securing media coverage for the take-off, duration of the challenge and the landing was potentially challenging. To address this issue we had to be highly reactive and prepared.  We ensured that the PR tool kit – media distribution lists, images, conversations with journalists/media contacts, pre-arranged contact with James and his support team etc. were agreed beforehand so that we were ready to go as soon as take-off was announced.

What we did 

James set up a JustGiving page for his JOGLE challenge and we launched the PR and social media campaign in May to support this fundraising initiative. This was initially through social media with the purpose of building followers/engagements and encouraging donations prior to the challenge taking place. Facebook and Twitter were the chosen platforms. We designed and populated pages on these platforms and created #theflyingestateagent. 

Regular postings and vlogs updated our audience on preparations for the challenge ensuring that the ‘danger’ element was emphasised, highlighting issues regarding the lack of funding for hospices in the UK, promoting the JOGLE JustGiving page, thanking sponsors etc. The objective of this activity was to build interest in the challenge and ‘set the scene’ for take-off, as we felt that once the challenge was underway our audience would get more involved and subsequently, donations to help hit the target of £10,000 would increase. 

We collaborated with the marketing teams from The Donna Louise, The Guild of Property Professionals and National Estate Agents to share and support the JOGLE social media pages.  

At the beginning of June (after the ‘Taking Flight’ launch) we announced the JOGLE challenge to the media by press release. This was distributed to regional and national media including newspapers, television, radio, the property sector and business trade press and online media. The objective was two-fold. Firstly, to achieve positive coverage for James’ challenge and raise public awareness to generate donations. Secondly, to give the media advance warning of this event so that it was on their radar once JOGLE went ‘live’.

James took to the air from John O’Groats on Monday 8th July. We were alerted that JOGLE was ‘go’ on Sunday and commenced the social media campaign that would support the challenge with a pre-warning to ‘watch this space’. 

For the two days (and the following five days) that the challenge took place we:

  • Constantly posted route updates, reports, vlogs, images and donation requests on social media through the daytime and early evening. 
  • Liaised directly with media contacts to secure opportunities for live radio interviews during the challenge and post-challenge coverage.
  • Liaised with The Guild Of Property Agents to ask their members to photograph and post a sighting with the #theflyingestateagent as James flew over their estate agency.

With a few dramas on the way, James successfully completed the JOGLE challenge in record-breaking time on Tuesday 9th July. However, it was impossible to give an exact time and location for landing to secure television coverage. To overcome this issue our Chairman Nick Evans and Managing Director Gabrielle Hadley, met James at Land’s End and provided images, video footage and interviews of James and his support crew which we then distributed to the media. A press release which announced the success of James’ JOGLE challenge and of hitting the fundraising target of £10,000 was distributed to the media.

The results 

We successfully achieved our objective of raising the profile of James’ JOGLE challenge and the accompanying fundraising for The Donna Louise with our target audience through social media:

Twitter* (https://twitter.com/flying_agent)

  • 71 tweets  
  • 37.8k impressions
  • Average engagement rate of 2.9% (the accepted standard of a very high engagement rate being 0.33 – 1%)

Facebook* (https://www.facebook.com/theflyingestateagent/)

  • Posts reached 19,948 people
  • Post engagements 7,328
  • Videos watched 7,389 times 

(*Statistics compiled from the period of JOGLE to five days post-challenge)

For the duration of the campaign, we have achieved a significant amount of media coverage both national and regional across radio, television, newspapers, online and the business and property press. We also secured an exclusive feature in The Sunday Times (in print and online):

National media:

Television:

Radio:

Regional media:

Business press:

Property press:

When we initially offered our PR services to James the JustGiving fundraising total was £2,500. With the media publicity that we have achieved, the social media coverage and marketing support provided, we helped James to reach the JustGiving target of £10,000 on the 11th July. This target has now been increased to £15,000, to allow the opportunity for additional donations to be made as a result of the post-challenge media coverage. 

The final word comes from James Du Pavey….

“The hard work, dedication and support which the ExtraMile PR team showed both before, during and after the JOGLE challenge has, without doubt, made a significant difference to the fundraising for The Donna Louise and myself. They have achieved some amazing PR coverage, which is a reflection of all the hard work that has been put in. When the team took on this project, our JustGiving total stood at £2,500 – we have now raised over £11,000. Nothing is ever too much trouble and they really have gone that ‘extra mile’ to support myself and the hospice. I just wanted to say a huge thank you and can’t recommended the ExtraMile PR team highly enough.”

 

Highlights of James Du Pavey’s first interview with Nick Evans on landing at Land’s End: 

 

Strategic, straightforward and well connected, the ExtraMile Public Relations team delivers campaigns that make a measurable commercial difference. If you need assistance with your public relations strategy we will be happy to work with you to create a plan for PR success – get in touch today to get started on your journey.