Flow Communications

Hollard’s exhibition room at the Big Ads for Small Business launch event.
Hollard’s exhibition room at the Big Ads for Small Business launch event.

At Flow, we believe in working with people we like on work we love, that will make the world a better place, and we were honoured this year to work on Hollard’s Big Ads for Small Business campaign.

In 2020, Hollard identified the struggles that many small businesses were facing due to the impact of the pandemic and decided to play its part in South Africa’s economic recovery.

For its above-the-line advertising campaign for 2021, the Hollard Group shared its “big advertising” space with small businesses through its Big Ads for Small Business campaign. This includes billboards, street-pole ads, radio spots, digital ad spaces and television spots.

Big Ads for Small Business was designed to create a collective knock-on effect of better futures, starting by supporting some brilliant small businesses across South Africa.

Flow did the public relations (PR) for the Hollard Big Ads campaign, which was a journey of innovation and discovery – from finding a new virtual exhibition platform to launch the campaign, to refining the PR process until we found a winning formula to secure optimal media coverage.

Our first communications objective was to create awareness of the Big Ads for Small Business campaign among key target audiences as the campaign launched, and we achieved this by hosting a virtual interactive small business exhibition supported by PR to secure media coverage.

We needed a launch concept that was just as cool as the campaign, in a year when events were living dangerously. The virtual exhibition platform boosted the advertising campaigns of 12 selected small businesses by showcasing their ads in tailor-made, branded exhibition rooms featuring multimedia information about the businesses. The owners interacted directly with the target audiences.

Flow built a tailor-made and client-branded “exhibition world” for the event in about a month, where participants, through their avatars, could move around the main stage area and exhibition rooms, listen to keynote speeches, and approach small business owners at their branded booths for chats.

Through showcasing the 12 small businesses, keynote presentations and the broader PR campaign, Hollard was positioned as contributing to South Africa’s economy, in alignment with its Better Futures philosophy.

Focus on media coverage

The next objective was to secure media coverage to showcase Hollard as an innovative company that supports small businesses and in this way contributes to South Africa’s economic growth and recovery – in alignment with Better Futures. We achieved this by getting a series of exclusive editorials and media releases about the campaign published in select media. These pieces had newsworthy angles and carried examples and quotes from various small businesses to amplify the angles.

The third objective was to use PR tactics to get additional coverage for the small businesses that are part of the campaign. We achieved this, with flying colours, by profiling each of the businesses separately – making mention of the Big Ads campaign in each of the editorial pieces. Flow pitched and placed these profile pieces in targeted media that are aligned with the industry of each small business. Broadcast interviews were also secured with the small business owners.

The focus was no longer on getting coverage about Hollard or the campaign, but simply on telling the stories of the business owners to their target audiences – and weaving Hollard’s involvement and the Big Ads for Small Business campaign into the narrative.

Not only did we secure coverage in specialist industry publications, but national tier-one news and business media, leading broadcasters and top lifestyle magazines also sent us additional questions, organised photoshoots, and requested photographs and interviews so they could write their own exclusive stories about the small businesses.

There was a huge appetite in the media to cover the stories that the small business owners had to tell. This fitted in perfectly with the zeitgeist of audiences who were looking for rays of hope emerging from the ravages of the pandemic.

Without doubt, the most impactful PR approach, which secured the best reach and return on investment, was the individual profiles of the small businesses – this was the winning formula, and we used the content and secured multiple media requests and placements that went far beyond our expectations.

Flow is looking forward to working with Hollard again in 2022 as the insurer continues with its Bigs Ads for Small Business campaign, based on this year’s success.

Moja Chicken’s exhibition room at the Big Ads for Small Business launch event.
Moja Chicken’s exhibition room at the Big Ads for Small Business launch event.
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