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Atlantic Solo Challenge for Alzheimer's Australia

Client: 

Business Objects

PR Company: 

Spectrum Communications

Award Category: 

Award Type: 

Call Number: 

2008 C17 - 4

Year: 

2008

Executive Summary: 

Pete Collett was a mild mannered IT Software salesman who decided to become a brave ocean adventurer for charity. To raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Australia, he set himself the audacious and perilous task of rowing solo across the Atlantic Ocean in one of the world’s greatest physical challenges.

Pete rowed over 2,500 nautical miles in 73 days in his voyage across the Atlantic, beginning in the Canary Islands and finishing in the West Indies.

Pete’s motivation for the journey was to raise money for Alzheimer’s research which stemmed from his family’s first hand experience with the disease.

Sadly, the 'new epidemic' of dementia is currently affecting over 13.7 million people in Asia Pacific, with 50 to 70 per cent of these cases being caused by Alzheimer's disease.

Inspired by his story and commitment, Spectrum Communications undertook a comprehensive pro-bono PR campaign using traditional PR and new media tools.

Pete’s story came to Spectrum via his employer and Spectrum client, Business Objects. He had been struggling to initiate a PR campaign on his own due to limited resources and time. Out goal was to help him through the implementation of a structured PR plan over eight months.

Situation Analysis: 

Our challenge was that the charity and fundraising landscape is both crowded and very competitive when it comes to the drive for both publicity and funding.

Gaining a share of voice was difficult due to the initial low-level awareness of Alzheimer’s in the media and community at large.  The low public profile stems from the fact that Alzheimer’s is predominantly an older person’s disease doesn’t have the same appeal and recognition as other causes. Historically, it has had little prominence in the minds of the public apart from Hazel Hawkes’ work for the cause, much of which centred on her public announcement as a sufferer made back in 2003.

The Atlantic Solo Challenge gave Spectrum an opportunity to help raise awareness around the issue of Alzheimer’s. In addition to the devastating human coast, we wanted to communicate the exponential growth of the problem across the world and in Australia and the desperate need for research funds.

As previously mentioned the 'new epidemic' of dementia is currently affecting over 13.7 million people in Asia Pacific, with 50 to 70 per cent of these cases being caused by Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer’s affects one in four Australians of the age of 85. This year there will be 4.5 million new cases in the region, and unless a cure or a vaccine can be found, the numbers are set to continue rising at an astonishing rate.

Our aim was to communicate the impact that Alzheimer’s is having on families, caregivers and society at large. We also wanted to reach young people with secondary messages about some of the best things people can do to prevent the disease, what the risk factors are and how to maintain a healthy brain through exercising both body and mind.

These aims were achieved through both traditional and new media PR campaigns. Spectrum decided with Pete Collette to harness the increasingly popular phenomenon of Facebook to deliver a low-cost viral campaign that would work alongside traditional PR efforts. Our aim here was to reach a large audience with the added bonus of engaging them in a more personal and rich media interaction.

Research: 

Spectrum researched the Alzheimer’s condition online. Further to this we looked into research and what the pre-eminent scientists were publishing. We also examined what was happening on a local level and what activities various global organisations were engaged in to educate people and raise funds.

We were given an organisational briefing by Pete Collett on Alzheimer’s Australia and various research materials to assist us with identifying the statistics and issues surrounding the disease that need to be communicated.

Spectrum conducted a media audit prior to help plan the campaign. We established that understanding of the facts about Alzheimer’s issue was low.

Spectrum also researched using social networking vehicles and in particular the rapidly emerging trend of Facebook to plan a viral campaign that would work alongside our traditional PR efforts.

Target Policies: 

In formulating a comprehensive PR plan, we established goals and objectives, identified target audiences and channels, including a strong social media component.

For cost reasons, the plan leveraged the communications efforts of those already in the business of communicating.

We targeted media who wrote about sport, technology, human interest stories, fundraising or charity.

For the Facebook component of the campaign we targeted members, through our own friend groups that were particularly active, with individual messages asking for support. We did this as these people often had the largest friend groups and were seen as the ‘early adopters’ in the Facebook network, thereby influencing others.

Communication Strategy: 

The campaign was executed between June 2007 and May 2008.  It consisted of three phases:

Phase One:              Preparation

Goal and objective setting

Spectrum was approached by Business Objects and Peter Collett regarding the project and accepted the brief. We discussed the fundraising and media goals which included two major fundraisers – a rowathon event in September and a corporate push at the company’s main user conference – as well as general media outreach around the challenge, the race start, progress and finish.

Brainstorming

Spectrum gathered all agency staff for a brainstorm on the campaign to gather all useful ideas on how to most effectively meet the set goals. This session resulted in many of the new media ideas which were acted upon.

Media identification

Spectrum grouped and prioritised media according to verticals as well as the relationships with both Business Objects and the agency. A media audit was also conducted at this stage to gather research.

Key message development and PR campaign materials

Spectrum worked up a key messaging document and tested it with company peers and the client to further develop supplemental materials such as tailored news platforms and pitches.

Phase Two:             Campaign Launch & Sponsorship Events

Launch media release and media relations

Spectrum wrote a launch media release for the campaign which utilised the key messages and highlighted the upcoming rowathon. The agency liaised with media to organise interviews with Peter Collett and allow the human story to develop. This was especially successful with suburban media who were able to target local communities with our key messages.

Facebook group

Spectrum worked on setting up a Facebook group called “Aussie Rows Naked Across Atlantic for Alzheimers!!” This title was used to pique the interest of members as the rowers in the Atlantic competition actually strip down during the challenge to avoid salt sores developing from the rubbing of salt between the skin and clothes. Images, videos and news were ‘broadcast’ to the group of the coming months to inform them of updates to Pete’s journey. Messages and donations flowed in from this avenue from a global audience, helping Peter with both words of encouragement and extra money towards the cause.

Corporate relations and Insight Gala Dinner

Spectrum worked with the Business Objects corporate team to assist them in identifying other companies, partners and suppliers who might donate to the cause and/or form a team for the rowathon from their staff or donate at the Gala Dinner.

Phase Three:           Campaign updates and finish

Continuing media release and media relations

Spectrum scheduled further media interviews and media releases around the race start and completion. The agency kept interested journalists informed as well as notifying them about Peter’s website which contained a blog (updated while on the race using a satellite phone) and a link to a live GPS positioning system where one could track the progress of all boats.

Facebook updates

Spectrum sent out further updates to Facebook members during the race to keep them updated of Pete’s progress.

Race finish media blitz

Spectrum worked with Peter Collette’s supporters to coordinate accurate information regarding his finish in the West Indies as well as interviews via his wife’s mobile phone. Releases were sent out using the wires and interviews were conducted with major print, radio and television sources as in a short 24 hour period after the race. The finish was literally a ‘photo finish’ between Peter and his nearest competitor who was only a few kilometres behind him, however, Peter managed to hold him off to the very finish, a fact that added further news value to the story.

Implementation: 

The campaign was executed between June 2007 and May 2008.

June 2007 – First approached by Pete Collett, initial discussions, briefing and planning

July 2007 – Facebook group set up for campaign. (To appeal to the quirky nature of Facebook, Spectrum played on the fact that Pete would row naked most of the time due to nasty chaffing caused by salt on the skin rubbing with their clothes)

August 2007 – Release distributed to launch campaign and to promote the rowathon and encourage participation

September 2007 – Rowathon Event

October 2007 – Business Objects Insight gala dinner

November 2007 to January 2007 – Outreach to selected media to personally update them on Pete’s progress

January 2008 – Business Objects Las Vegas sales conference live-cross via satellite phone

February 2008 – Media releases distributed to announce Pete closing in on finishing line and his final crossing. Numerous media call-downs and interviews were set-up over the initial two days and the following week.

March 2008 – Pete Collett returns to Australia and appears on Channel Nine’s Today show

May 2008 – Pete Collett in discussion to appear on ABC’s ‘Australian Story’

The program/tactics implemented were as follows:

Channels Used:

  • New Media
  • Spectrum Blog

Pete Collett’s Atlantic Solo Challenge

Friday, 28. September 2007, 02:40:21

We’ve been helping Pete Collett to spread the word about his upcoming attempt to row solo across the Atlantic ocean. Pete’s challenge will see him travel 2,900 nautical miles across the Atlantic ocean from La Gomera, Canary Islands on 3rd December 2007, to finish 60-120 days later in Antigua, West Indies. His aim is to raise $200,000 for Alzheimer's Australia both through the rowing attempt and activities leading up to it.

Earlier this month, Pete held an indoor rowathon where 11 teams were challenged to row 90kms in less than 9 hour. The day raised $14,944.00, but there is a lot more to go for Pete to reach his target.

For more information on Pete’s project or to make a donation, go to www.atlanticsolochallenge.com or check out the Atlantic Solo Challenge facebook group to see some of the great coverage we've achieved.

( http://my.opera.com/spectrumcomms/blog/ )

  • Pete’s Blog

Atlantic Solo Challenge - Mission Statement

"To successfully navigate the Atlantic Ocean in an unassisted, one man rowing boat whilst taking part in the most challenging endurance race the world has ever seen.
By raising in excess of $200,000 for Alzheimer's research; delivering massive global exposure to key sponsors; and achieving his own personal goals, this is Peter's way of making his one life, count!".
Race Start - Canary Islands

( http://www.atlanticsolochallenge.com/diary.html )
 

  • Facebook Group

Aussie Rows Naked Across Atlantic for Alzheimers!!
Basic Info

Type:

Organizations - Non-Profit Organizations
Description: Pete Collett will be setting off to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean in December 2007 to raise money and awareness for Alzheimers Australia.

Dementia affects over 13.7 million people in the Asia Pacific region today - between 50-70% of these cases are caused by Alzheimers.

You can support Pete on his journey by:
a) donating here: http://www.atlanticsolochallenge.com

b) (for Sydney-siders) participating in his September 16 indoor rowathon at Leichhardt rowing club. Entering is easy, get a team together of between 10-30 people and email pete@atlanticsolochallenge.com for details and an entry form. There will be lots of fun, food and friends on the day.

* Why naked?? Atlantic solo challenge rowers need to row naked due to the nasty chaffing caused by salt on the skin rubbing with their clothes. The crossing can take up to 3 months to complete!

Contact Info

Email: pete@atlanticsolochallenge.com
Website: http://www.atlanticsolochallenge.com
 

Posted Items

Displaying 2 posted items
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The Mosman Daily | Mosman Local News
Source: www.mosmandaily.com.au
The Mosman Daily is a local community weekly newspaper, serving Mosman and surrounding areas with News, Events, Features, Sports, Community News, Local Events, Real Estate and Entertainment.
Our favourite rower makes The Mosman Daily!
Posted by Jennifer Jefferys

Media Release: Aussie to Row Solo Across the Atlantic for Alzheim
Source: docs.google.com
Web word processing and spreadsheets
Media Release: Aussie To Row Solo Across The Atlantic For Alzheimer’s!
Posted by Jennifer Jefferys

Members

Displaying 6 of 146 members

  • Rezé Neethling
  • Jennifer Jefferys
  • Abigail Fry
  • Belinda Cotter
  • Claire Anne Leggett
  • Saxon Shirley

( http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2812986270 )

  • Traditional PR
    Media Releases (see appendix for releases)
    Media Interviews (see appendix for coverage)
     
  • Events
    Rowathon fundraiser
    Business Objects Gala Dinner

Results: 

Results of the campaign as measured against planned objectives:

Drive general public of Pete’s campaign and Alzheimer’s

Results: 250,000 hits on Pete’s website over the three months of his solo crossing between December and February
Over 200 people attended Business Objects’ Insight gala dinner
Over $60,.000 raised to date, overall

Initiate media coverage of Pete Collett’s story and fundraising initiatives

Overall the campaign generated 60 clips across online, print, radio and TV
Highlights include 51 clips when Pete crossed the finish line. He received broad coverage and global syndication across print, radio, broadcast and online media

Build a global viral campaign on Facebook to promote awareness and donations

Currently 150 members and over 200 at its peak
Communication with members and numerous comments and wished of good luck and donations came from the group.
Video and media clips were posted for the members to view

Encourage participation in the lead-up fundraiser rowathon in Sydney

143 rowers participated as part of 11 teams.
All teams rowed 90 kms.
$14,944 raised on the day for the cause.

Evaluation: 

Results of the campaign as measured against planned objectives:

Drive general public of Pete’s campaign and Alzheimer’s

Results: 250,000 hits on Pete’s website over the three months of his solo crossing between December and February
Over 200 people attended Business Objects’ Insight gala dinner
Over $60,.000 raised to date, overall

Initiate media coverage of Pete Collett’s story and fundraising initiatives

Overall the campaign generated 60 clips across online, print, radio and TV
Highlights include 51 clips when Pete crossed the finish line. He received broad coverage and global syndication across print, radio, broadcast and online media

Build a global viral campaign on Facebook to promote awareness and donations

Currently 150 members and over 200 at its peak
Communication with members and numerous comments and wished of good luck and donations came from the group.
Video and media clips were posted for the members to view

Encourage participation in the lead-up fundraiser rowathon in Sydney

143 rowers participated as part of 11 teams.
All teams rowed 90 kms.
$14,944 raised on the day for the cause.