Come Out is the largest youth arts festival in Australia, in its 30th year in 2005 and based in South Australia.communikate has sponsored Come Out since 2001 when we delivered our first low-cost publicity campaign for the event. communikate’s brief in 2005 was to generate media coverage of the 65 events, 350 performances and 150 workshops held during the 12-day event, raising awareness of the Festival as general public arts event of national importance.
Come Out was facing a crisis in perception – that it was a ‘schools-only’ event, not of general public interest.
The results exceeded our client’s expectations with wide, prominent media coverage including more than 150 press articles and over 65 radio stories, along with coverage on every commercial television station and the ABC.
A record 170,000 people attended Come Out events in 2005.We delivered a campaign involved a team of five, one Senior Consultant and a team of four volunteer student practitioners, who gained invaluable industry experience.For our client, we significantly increased Come Out’s public value - and ability to attract funding and artistic talent for the future of the Festival.
Come Out is Australia’s oldest and largest festival for young people aged 3 – 18 years, with 2005 marking the 17th Come Out Festival.
Come Out is a celebration of arts by young people, for young people, and covers the depth and breadth of all art forms, from theatre, through to music, literature, visual arts, family events, workshops and forums.
Despite this rich diversity of events and its history, Come Out was facing a crisis in perception.
When we first started working with Come Out for the 2001 festival, it became increasingly obvious that the general public, the media and the wider arts community had come to view the event primarily as a ‘schools-only’ festival. While teachers and schools are an important internal market for Come Out, the Festival has an enormous general public program, which is the focus of all external communication.
This perception created a number of problems for the organisers, and for us. For example, we found while the media would jump at covering the Festival’s visually spectacular opening ceremony, keeping them interested in the months prior and throughout the two-week program was an uphill battle.
The difficulty with the schools-only tag for the festival organisers was that it was preventing the Festival from being recognised as a legitimate arts festival of national importance. That, in turn, was making it increasingly difficult to source and attract new and exciting talent – and sponsors/funding - for future festivals.
The task, then, was to re-position the Festival as one ‘of the people’ – and of national importance - in the eyes of the public, the media and the arts community.
We’ve now worked with the Come Out team for five years and three festivals. It’s been a long hard road to get the Festival to its rightful place as the jewel in the crown of youth arts in Australia.
We chose to submit our 2005 Come Out campaign because we feel it cements the achievements we’ve worked towards over the past five years.
communikate et al has publicised the last three Come Out festivals in 2001, 2003 and 2005.Our history in handling the event has proved invaluable as a research-gathering tool.However, we have been very aware that to keep our media program alive and edgy, it’s been important for us to conduct fresh research and generate fresh ideas for each event.
For the 2005 Come Out festival we gathered our publicity ‘ammunition’ from a range of fact-gathering missions, including interviewing festival director Sally Chance at length about her vision, aim and objectives.We created an ‘Artist Information Template’ that was distributed, collated and returned via the Come Out team to all participating performance groups in order to gather enough information to identify media opportunities.
We conducted a media training session for participating artists, which provided a forum for two-way information sharing.We researched what other festivals were doing, and achieving, on a national and international level.This research informed the development of a communications strategy to underpin the whole campaign.
We targeted three key publics with our communications campaign for Come Out 2005:
- The local community was crucially important. They were the key source of general public ticket sales and it is their sons and daughters who would participate in Come Out events. Without them, there would be no festival.
- The greater arts community was also very important, because we believe it is the key to the long-term longevity of Come Out. To maintain the high reputation of Come Out, festival creators need to source the best talent Australia has to offer and receive project funding from key government arts bodies. To secure the services of such talent and funding, the festival needs to be perceived as an arts festival of national significance.
- The media was our third target audience. They would be our messengers – taking images and articles locally and across the nation, to help boost the profile of the event.
It should be noted that the target audience of teachers and schools is an internal marketing focus for Come Out, which is substantially funded by the Department of Education. communikate’s focus was on the general public program.
Come Out is a large and diverse event. We needed a unifying, memorable campaign approach.
Our primary communications strategy was to personalise and unify the Festival via proactively profiling Festival Director Sally Chance.
In our research, we found that major national and international arts festivals always strongly promote their Festival Director as the unifying ‘face’ of multi-faceted festivals and as a celebrity. This is something Come Out had not done prior to communikate’s involvement as publicist, and one of the reasons it had such poor public awareness – no one could name whom the Festival Director was.
The campaign was built using Sally’s quotes and endorsements to deliver key messages about the artistic calibre and national significance of the Festival, and to promote specific facets of the program.
Our secondary approach was to aim for comprehensive coverage, by identifying key media relevant to our target markets and align the development of story angles, and our energies, on these.
Media Relations Strategy
Thoroughness and follow-through were the keys to our media relations approach -target media were initially briefed, updated, supplied with early information and images in formats they could use and communicated with almost daily throughout the campaign.
With 65 events, 350 performances and 150 workshops and forums to promote during the 12-day event, our implementation strategy was a feat of military precision and endurance.
The eight-month campaign was implemented in four stages:
- Long lead campaign
- Short lead campaign
- Event-based campaign
- Wrap-up campaign
Extraneous initiatives specific to the Come Out 2005 campaign included:
Artist Information Template:
In July 2004 we invited performance groups to provide information and images relevant to their Come Out project for media purposes via an ‘Artist Information Template’ we devised, and more than 80% of artists participated.
Work Experience Team:
In August 2004 we interviewed and selected a team of four work experience tertiary students to assist with the Come Out campaign. This group received comprehensive training and learned invaluable industry skills in the end-to end delivery of a media campaign.
The 2005 Come Out program was launched on September 24 with a morning media conference, evening stakeholder function and brand-based media kit distribution.
communikate conducted a media training session for participating performance groups and members of the Come Out 2005 team in mid-October. The seminar, and an accompanying training kit we compiled, providing empowering tips and tricks to assist artists to attract positive media attention.
After the long lead campaign, a media briefing lunch on February 1, 2005 marked the beginning of the lead-in campaign, designed to generate interest and anticipation of the 2005 event among the 25 media attending. We introduced Sally Chance to the media, outlined Festival program highlights and provided 35 digital images and other materials for media use, complemented by daily contact thereafter.
communikate coordinated and attended media calls for a number of high profile events. We also facilitated 25 press interviews and 31 radio interviews.
communikate provided media advice to arts companies participating in Come Out as well as the Come Out management team.
5000 young people converged on the pathways of the River Torrens to celebrate the official opening of the event. Media alerts were distributed to all press and electronic media and we coordinated and facilitated radio, TV and press interviews and photographs before and on the day.
The closing event was used as an opportunity to profile Come Out’s commitment to showcasing the work of talented young, Indigenous artists and performers. Wrap up statistics were also provided to media at the conclusion of the Festival.
communikate achieved a highly successful outcome for our client, fulfilling the set objectives and exceeding expectations in terms of the amount of coverage generated and the quality of messages placed.
Key outcomes included:
- 153 press stories, including
- 60 feature articles
- 11 full page features
- 5 front cover stories
- 43 other features
- 58 smaller articles / listings
- 10 ticket promotion pieces
- 25 reviews
- 68 radio spots, including
o 36 interviews / live crosses
o 10 news bulletins/CSAs
o 8 competition/promotion pieces
o 14 presenter references
- 9 stories including every commercial television station and ABC Asia Pacific.
- Online arts directories were targeted, resulting in 27 listings and reviews.
- Press campaign results for 2005 are particularly noteworthy, showing an increase of almost 25% on the 2003 result.
- Almost 40% of press stories generated were features.
- Similarly, interviews comprised almost 53% of the radio coverage generated. This ultimately contributes to longer airtime and a greater profiling of Come Out’s artists and spokespeople.
The primary goal of the program - to raise the profile of Come Out - was achieved by the spectacular volume and prominence of positive media coverage in outlets relevant to our target publics.
The specific objectives were also met and exceeded:
- To build media relationships – in 2005, press coverage alone increased by almost 25% from 2003 and ongoing interest in the event continues.
- To position the Festival through media exposure as a major arts festival of national importance – coverage shifted from kids in homemade costumes to serious consideration of the artists and projects showcased during the Festival.
- To generate ticket sales and public awareness via the media – a record 170,000 young people attended 2005 Come Out events.
- To highlight the artistic calibre of the Festival through arts specific media and reviews – 25 press reviews and 27 online arts directory listings, and coverage key national and SA arts publications.
In addition, the program provided significant professional development for four student practitioners.