Consumer research-led stories are everywhere. Whether about the UK’s favourite biscuit (the chocolate digestive according to a 2015 report from Blue Cross) or the generation most likely to save (millennials according to a study from Opinium) with interesting and, or, fun stats, the chances of achieving coverage only increase.

The PR Office has been working with the British Parking Association for some time, and has found that research led stories can be a good way to liven up the debate around parking as well as a way of getting the topic on the front pages. With that in mind, we worked with the BPA to develop research around motorists’ attitudes to parking and parking technology.With the research conducted, the results analysed and the release ready to go we picked the day we were going out with the story. We started briefing media, under embargo, in advance and had some positive feedback and indications that the story would be covered. And then, as is in the case in the fast moving world of the media, breaking news can sometimes scupper your chances of coverage. Low-and-behold, a huge news story hit the press and our story was assigned to the news room bins!

So, what to do next? Smart-thinking and the ability to think on our feet was essential. We took two approaches. Firstly, we went back to ‘warm’ leads to see if there was space for the next day and targeted some blog and online opportunities, and when we had exhausted those avenues we decided to repackage the release. We went back to the research, analysed it further, supplemented our findings with official Government figures on parking and driving in the UK and produced a slightly different and quirky angle which explored the amount of time it takes for motorists to find somewhere to park (according to the research we had, on average, four days a year!).

This time, there was no breaking news to scupper our story and we achieved 202 pieces of coverage across broadcast, local and national press. This included broadcast slots on BBC, Sky News, and coverage in The Telegraph, The Daily Mail and The Mirror. However, most importantly for the client was the 27 per cent increase in visitors to its website compared to the week before and the 1,221 twitter impressions. It also got others in industry talking, with a number interviewed in addition to the BPA’s spokespeople.

The lesson here: you can’t plan for everything, but when something doesn’t go to plan thinking practically is important; and keeping calm essential.

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