To turn a humble nativity play into something that raised the profile of a luxury care provider, showcasing its caring ethos to a new audience.
Let’s face it – nativity plays are nothing new. So when we found out about a one taking place at Ideal Carehomes’ Newfield Lodge, you could be forgiven for wondering why we got so excited.
We were initially asked to generate publicity locally to help sell tickets to the play. From previous PR experiences, Ideal Carehomes bosses expected a simple press release detailing ticket sales and event details.
But, having worked in an around the media for so long, we always dig a little deeper to see if there’s more to the story than first meets the eye – and we weren’t disappointed because this was a nativity play with a difference.
Instead of the care home residents just watching the play, Newfield Lodge had decided to give the main parts to its residents, meaning the cast included a 98-year-old donkey, a 93- year-old sheep and three wise men with a combined age of 248!
The story really set our journo senses tingling. We knew that if we concentrated on the quirky angle of the combined age of the cast members that we would have a sure-fire media hit on our hands.
We also recognised that not only was this a great story waiting to be told, but it was a golden opportunity showcase the forward-thinking ethos of Ideal Carehomes.
How the cast went viral
Using our extensive network of contacts, we targeted journalists and publications we knew would love the story to explain the unique nature of what would be happening – immediately hitting them with the age of the cast and inviting them down to dress rehearsals to see it for themselves.
The story quickly gained national momentum far and wide, capturing the festive feel-good spirit of the nation.
We soon had TV favourites BBC’s The One Show and ITV’s This Morning clamouring to attend dress rehearsals, with other broadcasters waiting in the wings. We even managed to get a local school involved, inviting the cast of their nativity play down to share acting tips with the pensioners – many of whom had never been in a nativity play before – to achieve heartwarming TV gold.
The results were simply staggering, with the media and the public wholeheartedly embracing the story. It quickly went viral on social media, racking up an incredible 2.2 million views on Facebook alone.
The following media frenzy meant that more than 56 million people saw the story in the UK, which was worth a whopping £1.8m in advertising value equivalent. It was featured in The Mirror, The Daily Mail, The Sun and The Metro and it got a mention on BBC Radio One, Radio Two and 5 Live. The news even travelled further afield, with requests and coverage coming in from as far away as Russia and the USA. And we even managed to make it on to the BBC’s popular topical panel show, Have I Got News For You.
Most importantly, the campaign well and truly put Newfield Lodge on the map, with a raft of new resident enquiries to the care home following the story.
And as for ticket sales – the home had to add an extra date due to the phenomenal demand from residents’ families and the local community.