People commonly ask us what a PR agency does. We thought the best way to answer that question would be to share case studies from our work that was recently recognized at the North Carolina chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s (NCPRSA) InSpire Awards. Clairemont won 14 InSpire Awards, and we hope that this “Award Winning Wednesday” blog series will inspire you, too!
Client: Briar Chapel
Situation Analysis: Opened in 2008, Briar Chapel is the largest master-planned green community in North Carolina and a division of Newland Communities, the country’s most prominent privately held residential real estate developer. In 2011, approximately 200 families called Briar Chapel home, leaving more than 2,100 lots available before the community reaches capacity. To embrace the interests of existing residents and potential homebuyers, as well as to honor the company’s commitment to support the larger communities around its developments, Briar Chapel relied on Clairemont Communications to help implement a community relations program as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy.
Objectives: Based on extensive primary and secondary research, Clairemont devised a plan to focus on three main community relations events for the year, designed to engage area residents with known topics of interest while benefiting The Abundance Foundation, a local charity that supports sustainable foods and fuels. Objectives included the following:
- Demonstrate Briar Chapel’s continued commitment to supporting the larger community, predominately in the areas of education, health/wellness and environmental protection by: a) increasing attendance at Briar Chapel’s annual Earth Day Celebration by 50 percent, b) adding an initiative to Earth Day to recruit area chefs to improve school lunches in the county and achieve a 10 percent increase in participation of the lunch program and c) creating and hosting a new signature event to bring at least 500 people on property to see newly opened areas of the community, while raising an additional $2,500 for charity.
- Raise market awareness of Briar Chapel and its attributes that relate to the identified community interests by securing at least five local news stories about the community relations events.
- Continue consistent social media outreach to support events and media relations.
Event Marketing: With Briar Chapel’s designation as the largest green community in North Carolina, hosting an Earth Day event for the third year in a row was a natural fit. With existing community support and local media awareness of the event, we focused on new elements of Briar Chapel’s Earth Day Celebration. In order to generate excitement in advance of the event and to shed light on nutritional challenges school cafeterias face, the Chatham County Chef Challenge was born.
Building on the area’s growing interest in locally grown and healthy foods, the Chef Challenge was designed to debunk the myth about bad school lunches and educate the public about healthier choices. Local award-winning chefs created special recipes using only ingredients and cafeteria equipment available to the schools, while following USDA guidelines. They also held culinary workshops for the schools’ cafeteria staff so the recipes could become regular school lunch menu items budgeted at $1 per student and full of fruits and vegetables. The response from students was overwhelmingly positive with more than 85 percent voting to add the chefs’ recipes to their menus.
At Briar Chapel’s Earth Day Celebration, guests sampled the dishes made for the schools. Also new in 2011, Hunt for the Green engaged visitors in a smart phone QR code scavenger hunt through the model homes that hosted the chefs and the amenities of the property. Hunt for the Green educated guests and residents about sustainability. Back by popular demand, the Earth Day 5k Race attracted 130 runners, up from 100 in 2010. Designed to promote Briar Chapel’s focus on health and wellness and to feature its outdoor amenities, the race showcased Briar Chapel’s protected open spaces and extensive nature trails.
With the success of the Earth Day Celebration in the spring and a desire to create a fall signature event, Clairemont conceptualized OktoberBEST, a day of old-fashioned fun at Briar Chapel. Prizes were awarded throughout the day to backyard athletes, armchair athletes and canine athletes who came out to “give it their best” by participating in games that were staged in newly opened areas of the community. To maximize participation, we strategically scheduled and promoted OktoberBEST as the pre-event leading up to the Fourth Annual Pittsboro Pepper Festival, which was held in Briar Chapel’s newly opened Briar Commons Park later that afternoon. Both events benefited The Abundance Foundation.
Media Relations: With local media coverage being the most relevant to Briar Chapel, creative pitching and relying on our established relationships were a must since most media outlets feel like they have covered Briar Chapel as a community. We combated this challenge by crafting pitches around the events, and when possible, we focused on the students, the charity or participants in our events so that our pitches had more feature appeal. We pitched by phone, email and social media. We also submitted community calendar listings on media outlet websites to promote our events.
Social Media: Briar Chapel relied on Clairemont for social media strategy, training and support. We developed a 2011 editorial calendar for Briar Chapel’s blog, conducted research on post topics, prepared questions for blog interviewees and edited content. Additionally, we provided content direction for Briar Chapel’s Facebook page and Twitter stream, and helped develop a smart phone QR code scavenger hunt. Much of the content throughout the year focused on Briar Chapel’s community relations initiatives.
Evaluation: In direct correlation with our stated objectives above, our results were as follows:
- We exceeded our goals by achieving a 100 percent Earth Day attendance increase (100 guests in 2010; 200 in 2011), boosting the school lunch participation program by 22 percent, attracting nearly 1,200 people to OktoberBEST and Pepper Festival, and increasing The Abundance Foundation donation by more than $3,500.
- We surpassed our goal of five local news features by securing more than 10 stories in priority outlets such as News & Observer, Chapel Hill News, Triangle Business Journal, WUNC public TV and WCHL, as well as garnering coverage on several community-focused blogs.
- We continued to leverage social media to support our primary objectives and increased the frequency of Briar Chapel’s blog posts from 45 in 2010 to 55 in 2011. Approximately 65 percent of those posts, as well as Briar Chapel’s Facebook updates and tweets, supported community relations initiatives. We also added a smart phone QR code contest to one of our events.
What did you think of this public relations case study? Was it helpful? We’re here to answer any questions you may have!