Keren Haynes
Keren Haynes
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Peak, Prime and Perfect – Securing long lead PR

The central focus of an hour long, prime time television programme, on the UK’s most watched channel: when BBC One’s “The Apprentice” filmed on P&O Cruises’ flagship Britannia, it resulted in an amazing piece of PR generated coverage.

Long lead PR activity is high risk, in that there is no guarantee that the time and money invested will lead to anything tangible. This time, however, it paid off.

As he revealed to the contestants what their task was that week, Lord Sugar called Britannia “this beautiful ship” and we agree, she looked stunning. The would-be apprentices were tasked with selling bespoke day tours round Bruges to Britannia passengers. As any follower of the programme would expect, the apprentices’ efforts often went awry, but their work was set against a stunning background, including the ship’s pool deck, luxury restaurants and dramatic atrium.

So what do you need to think about, if you’re interested in securing similar long leads?

· The brand needs to fit with the programme. Think about who the audience is to ensure there is some synergy. You also need to be able to fit the programme’s formula. In the case of “The Apprentice” this needed to be a competitive activity, that could be measured in commercial terms, of interest to the cruising public.

· You need patience! Programmes like “The Apprentice” plan months in advance. It took more than a year from the initial meeting with the producers until the programme finally aired.

· Think like a producer. You know your brand or clients better than any producer so try and put yourself in their shoes. What ideas would fit with your target programme? Producers obviously know what’s best for their programme, but they are also receptive to creative input.

· Big programmes, such as “The Apprentice”, come with big demands and you need budget to meet them.

If you’d like to read more on planning for big film shoots, read our previous blog on Filming Abroad here.

Was it worth it?

According to P & O Cruises’ Communications Director Michele Andjel:

“Whilst we are very aware of the opportunity to showcase a brand on prime time television, it is critical that it is the right programme, attracting the right audience and with content which will enhance our reputation. I decline hundreds of opportunities each year but for us “The Apprentice” was a show which was absolutely the right brand fit for P&O Cruises. We saw positive engagement from our current and also potential guests, even including bookings made whilst the show was on air.”

As Michael Hogan wrote in the culture section of The Telegraph, in a review of the programme:

“It was impossible to miss the fact that this task was set aboard P&O Cruises’ Britannia. It’s the UK’s largest cruise ship, we were told. There are 3,000 passengers on-board, we were reminded. Cue copious shots of its luxe lounges, swimming pools and spectacular atrium. As the disclaimer goes: other cruise ships are available”.

When journalists conclude you’ve got away with a free prime-time advert you know you’re on to a winner!

If you’re interested in additional support to help you secure opportunities like this one, please email or call Catherine Bayfield, who heads up media relations at Shout! Communications. Catherine@shoutcommunications.co.uk or call on 020 7240 7121.

Read more about broadcast media relations by downloading our E-book, Guide to Media Relations.

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