UTS Library

The Channel Nine City to Surf


Activ Foundation Inc.

PR Company: 

Oak Ridge Communication Group

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2004 B 13



Executive Summary: 

Oak Ridge Communication Group was appointed by Activ Foundation to manage a comprehensive media and public relations campaign for the 2003 <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />ChannelNineCity to Surf presented by New Balance. The incredible success of the state-wide campaign was evidenced by the diversity of participants, a 25% increase in entries and the highly visible and widely embraced campaign messages.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


Recognising that the event enjoys the support of three high profile media sponsors, a major public relations challenge was to enroll the support of all media so as to maximize participation of the whole community and contribute to the work of Activ foundation.


This was achieved by Oak Ridge developing effective, respectful relationships with key target audiences and facilitating local stories for specific media which resulted in unprecedented levels of exposure across all mediums and regions of Western Australia.


Official media monitoring identified 170 positive media stories across the state, all of which included important campaign messages as well as localized human interest angles that captured the interest of editors and the wider community. Intensive relationship development with past participants played a crucial role in delivering record exposure and highlighting the benevolent community contribution made by event sponsors, stakeholders, volunteers and supporters.

Situation Analysis: 

The <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />ChannelNineCity to Surf presented by New Balance was in its 29th year.  Positioning the event in the media not only as an icon sporting event of international standard for elite athletes but also for the wider community, visitors and tourists was now necessary to ensure the continued growth, reputation and success of City to Surf. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


The 29th year required an exceptional public relations and media campaign to deliver the ambitious target figures set by Activ for participation in the event and ensure continued improvement.


To maximize opportunities and provide a strong foundation to underpin the media campaign, Oak Ridge undertook the following research:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


Media Research and Consultation


Oak Ridge broadened the scope of targeted media by identifying specialist publications, community and regional newspapers and on-line newsletters, compiling a comprehensive media distribution list encompassing local, regional and national television, radio and print media as well as targeted sports and community websites.  Research was included the identification of relevant issues and upcoming media sections and opportunities that would dovetail into the campaign.




Critical to the campaign was the identification of key spokespeople as ambassadors.  Oak Ridge assessed potential media talent to provide role models for all parts of the community.


Database Research


Intensive research of the database of past participants to identify angles for media outlets and draw out the motivations and stories of past participants.


Client Liaison


Oak Ridge liaised extensively with all levels of Activ to maximise story opportunities and create administrative innovations.

Target Policies: 

  • Statewide media (community, regional, trade and specialist)<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
  • Specialist media including schools, health and lifestyle
  • PR officers of sponsors, including Health Department
  • Elite athletes
  • Fitness advocates
  • General community
  • Sports associations

Communication Strategy: 

In the three months leading up to the event, Oak Ridge utilised targeted media strategies to achieve the goals of the campaign including:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


Media Relations


The development of strong partnerships with local and regional media with a strategy for a grass roots approach saw the event promoted as the event that inspires a city, facilitating a sense of ownership from non-sponsoring media.  The strategy ensured that editors would have a reason to provide editorial to reach their diverse audiences through non-competitive, community based key messages.



Extensive liaison with past participants, media, sponsors and Activ foundation to identify local and newsworthy involvement and photo opportunities that appealed to editors and provided easy access to larger stories. Specifically tailored stories were packaged and presented to identified reporters and editors in each community. In working with media, Oak Ridge employed the phrase . The race that inspires a city  and other uplifting and appropriate messages to foster a sense of parochial pride among the WA community.


Oak Ridge briefed media talent and identified locations and styling to facilitate appealing photo shoots that reflected the fun, diversity and vibrancy of the event, also attending photo shoots and TV shoots.


 Oak Ridge managed the media on event day and post event to maximize exposure, encourage post event stories and reinforce the scale of the event. This also served to recognise and acknowledge the important role played by media in contributing to the overall success of the event.


A series of media alerts, releases, diary notes, community switch notices, fax cover sheets and e-mails were constructed, tailored, distributed and followed up to build momentum and keep media interested in event progress. These reinforced key message and continued to present the event in a fresh, interesting and inspiring way to targeted print and electronic media state-wide.


Forming a partnership with sponsors


Creating opportunities for sponsor involvement without promising media coverage in mainstream media was a key communication challenge with sponsor briefings assisting in developing a conduit between Oak Ridge and sponsors to facilitate advice on how they could leverage profile within their own circles to maximise their investment.



Extensive liaison with Activ and its sponsors ensured an effective flow of information and practical promotional tips.


Stakeholder Relationships


Throughout the communication strategy emphasis was placed on building relationships with stakeholders to gain greater goodwill and ownership of the event.



New and previously enlisted groups, organizations and clubs were identified and contacted by phone or email with Oak Ridge encouraging event involvement and enhanced goodwill towards Activ Foundations key event.   

Role models from young mothers to seniors were identified and lobbied to become ambassadors for the event and spread the word leading to greater involvement from stakeholders. Strong relationships were forged with top competitors, sponsors, stakeholders and media to build goodwill for the future.


Event Launch Management


A crucial part of the communication strategy was to ensure a successful media and sponsor event launch and solid base of awareness from which Oak Ridge could continue to build its media campaign and stakeholder relations.



Oak Ridge identified multiple levels of media talent to be present at the launch and liaised with targeted media to create angles and story opportunities to result in a sense of occasion in the minds of the community in respect to opening of online registrations.

A comprehensive media kit packed with details and angles on Activ Foundation, event history, registration details and biographies of launch talent was compiled and distributed to media with photos, logos and grabs facilitated.


Race Day Media Management


A pro-active strategy was developed to facilitate ease and speed of accurate event results to nation-wide media following the announcement of place winners on race day ensuring that all interested parties (including mainstream media, wheelchair sports, Olympic committees, athletics websites, etc) included in the distribution.



Prior to race day Oak Ridge prepared and distributed a comprehensive media kit and coordinated the distribution of media and parking passes to media.


Oak Ridge coordinated release of accurate race results to nation-wide media within one hour of the end of the race for inclusion on news bulletins that day resulting in coverage on the Sunday and in breakfast shows, post event.


Development of Information Systems


Improving the flow of information between Oak Ridge, Activ Foundation and the media was a key plank in the success of the communication programme.



Creation of a live web page enabling Activ Foundation to easily monitor media coverage and access press clippings, which were received electronically within 24 hours of appearing.

All press releases, news alerts and diary notes were distributed electronically displaying sponsor and event branding and tailored to individual media



The public relations and media campaign took the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />ChannelNineCity to Surf  presented by New Balance to record heights with a soaring 25% increase in participation, greater diversity of participants and highly visible, positive messages.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


Specific Outcomes Included:


19,776 people registered to participate in the 2003 event, from the previous 2002 total of 16,005 people, an increase of 25%.  Of the people registered, 28% took up the newly introduced untimed option and 61% utilized the online registration option which were both heavily emphasized to media throughout the campaign as a way of accentuating the variety of options and attracting people with varying goals.


170 media clips were identified from media throughout Western Australia including print media, radio, television and the internet. Of 125 clips recorded between July 1st and August 30th, two thirds included the race date and almost 55% carried details of registration.

Strong partnerships were formed with many specialist publications with messages tailored to suit individual audiences, allowing key messages to be conveyed to a broader cross section of the community.

Oak Ridge worked with producers of Postcards WA to identify fresh talent and angles, resulting in a five segment series produced and screened in the five weeks leading up to August 31st. Each segment concentrated on specific event sponsors with all major non media sponsors receiving positive coverage.

Post event stories in media and newsletters reinforced Activ Foundation extraordinary success in creating its successful community supported fundraising event.


Research assistance resulted in the West Magazine running a four page colour pic article on the motivation and involvement of over 60s participating in the City to Surf appearing the Saturday before Race Day.

Long time lead stories were facilitated in quality, local and quarterly magazines, Scoop and Perth matters in high circulation through the 3 months leading up to the event. The Scoop article read by hotel guests visiting from the US was the impetus for several last minute registrations.

A strong and inspiring story on long-time event participant was placed with Channel Nine Sports editor Michael Thomson resulting in valuable pre-event exposure to coincide with last minute registrations in the weekend prior to race day. This also reinforced the longevity of the event and its status as an icon WA event.


Relationship building with The West Australian as a sponsor, resulting in unprecedented support with a diverse cross section of stories appearing regularly in the sporting section as well as lifestyle lift outs and general news sections.

Strong positive relationships between Activ Foundation and its various stakeholder groups. Excellent relationships were established with many top competitors, commentators and media which are invaluable to the event promotion and acceptance by runners.

Hits on Website -Increased City to Surf website visits with 61% utilising the online registration option.


The effectiveness of the campaign was measured by the following criteria:<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


Media Monitoring

Evaluation of inclusion of key messages in the media

Assessment of target audience reached

Positive participation and qualitative responses to media coverage


Sponsor Feedback

Positive feedback and willingness of sponsors to embrace campaign messages and continue event investment

Sponsor contribution highlighted in media programme



Numbers of participants compared to the previous year

Diversity of participants compared to previous years ie schools, tourists etc.


Client Response

Enthusiastic support from Activ Foundation, (see attached reference)

Successful introduction of new systems for information dissemination

Improvements in database management