After recently joining O Communications on an intern basis, I took a few days out of the office to experience my first real PR campaign; Time to Change.
What is Time to Change?
Time to Change is England’s most ambitious programme to end mental health discrimination. It is led by Mind and Rethink and funded by the Big Lottery Fund and Comic Relief
This part of the campaign was themed ‘are you feeling blue in the queue’, based around having the January Blues and encouraging people to be there for people who may be feeling blue. To promote the awareness of this, O Comms held road shows around the North East in Durham, Morpeth, Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Sunderland, where blue people (promo staff dressed from head to toe in blue morph suits) appeared ‘out of the blue’ in the streets to generate curiosity and fuel interest in the campaign. The O Comms team talked with people on the street about the Time to Change campaign and collected personal pledges from people passing by. People were asked to sign a pledge to say that agreed with the campaign’s message to end mental health discrimination.
What did I learn on my first campaign?
I spent my first day in Newcastle city centre within Eldon Square and on Northumberland Street and my second day at The Bridges shopping centre in Sunderland.
Firstly, I learnt that you can’t be shy; Public Relations is all about communication and when doing on-the-ground street road shows, excellent communication is a must. Your job is to get across a message to as many people as possible, so confidence and enthusiasm are essential.
Secondly, it’s good to listen, we have two ears and one mouth for a reason – I learnt a lot from listening to stories and information told directly from people who cared for or knew of someone who was suffering from a mental illness. The more I learnt about mental illness the more I could engage with others who knew about it as well.
Thirdly, PR really can make a difference, and I saw this first hand. One of the fastest and most credible ways to communicate a message is through word of mouth and what better a way than out on the street in city centres around the North East.
The Time to Change campaign was all about raising awareness, generating interest and communicating key messages about mental health. All of which, I feel we did successfully on the street and through regional newspaper coverage – making the Time to Change campaign a great first campaign to learn from at the beginning of my career.