Community stories to attract runners for region’s Great South Run
It attracts 20,000 participants each year, is watched by millions on national TV and is the world’s leading 10-mile running event. But the Great South Run is about so much more than sport. While the world’s top athletes compete for prestige and prizes, thousands of ordinary men, women and children from the local community take part for far more personal reasons.
Behind every race number is a personal story – and it is these stories that formed the heart of our campaign when we were brought on board to support the Great South Run in its 10th year of holding the annual event in Portsmouth.
Our team’s journalism experience and strong partnerships with media were key to the success of a campaign which saw us dig deep into the individual stories of triumph and tragedy of those taking part.
A partnership with the regional media in Hampshire saw us supply a regular stream of articles to keep the Great South Run in the headlines and drive sign-ups from the target area in the anniversary year.
Stories were also targeted at key media in Sussex, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and beyond to spread the campaign’s reach and raise awareness with each publication’s community.
Among the runners featured were Steve Jolliffe and his wife, Jill, who ran the event in memory of their baby grandson Freddie Fox. Freddie was just 13 months old when he died in a motorway crash on the M6. The run was the Jolliffe family’s first major fundraiser in support of Freddie’s Wish, a new charity set up to provide support to families who have lost a child.
There was the inspiring tale of student Ben Angus, who suffered a stroke aged just 20 and was running in support of the doctors who saved his life. Ben was unaware that he had a brain condition until he collapsed at a friend’s house, and spent months in recovery after pioneering radiation surgery.
Then there was the fun stuff – members of the community running dressed as Power Rangers, or Spongebob Squarepants. We featured support from MPS Caroline Nokes and Suella Fernandes, who ran in support of their own chosen causes.
A Business Challenge got companies on board, with teams of employees competing against rival firms for the best times.
A media launch at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard by two-time Olympic champion Paula Radcliffe featured more inspiring runners’ stories and secured television coverage.
The resulting campaign secured a return on investment for the Great South Run of more than 30:1 with more than 50 pieces of coverage in regional media and online – ensuring a sold-out event and a memorable 10th anniversary.