A couple of months into Laurence’s 3,500 mile walk - which actually turned out to be 4,314 miles due to walking up and down river estuaries instead of taking ferries, getting lost a few times, and several diversions to pubs along the way - he realised that he wasn’t getting as much publicity as he’d hoped. It turns out that driving to an Airbnb, walking 10-15 miles, getting a bus back at the end of the day, eating, sampling a couple of pints of the local ale and trying to find somewhere to wash socks, doesn’t leave a great deal of time for contacting local newspapers or updating social media.
That’s where I came in. I’m Jackie and I supported Laurence with PR and social media for the last nine months of his walk after a friend of a friend put me in touch. I thought the walk sounded incredible and as for eradicating cervical cancer – well, who wouldn’t want to help to achieve that?
Because the campaign was so personal to Laurence, I wanted to work as hard as I could in the hour I had each day to get his message to the biggest audience possible. After creating a media strategy, I set to work, contacting hundreds of local and national media outlets (I think I emailed The One Show every other week!), reaching out to celebrities from all different fields (thanks to Bill Bryson, Martha Kearney, Jimmy Doherty and Helen Skelton for your support), and linking posts on Facebook and Twitter with everything from Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, International HPV Awareness Day and World Cancer Day to national days featuring sticky buns, Pi (and pies!), book giving and inconveniencing yourself!
Thankfully, my persistence paid off and Laurence’s walk received great interest and coverage, both nationally and locally, reaching potentially millions of people, with another half a million impressions on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
I was really pleased to get Laurence’s campaign into the national media. Laurence was able to tell his story in his own words with an emotional article in Woman magazine called The Picture that means So Much, as well as featuring in The Sun’s Fabulous magazine as part of the Cheers for Smears campaign. The biggest coup was a full-page feature on the BBC News website, one of the biggest in the country with millions of visitors each day. Laurence received lots of messages from friends and family who were amazed to read about him over their breakfast that morning!
Local media was also massively important, as Laurence walked through almost 30 counties over the year so there was a huge audience to reach. Before this, I had no idea just how many local newspapers and radio stations there are in England and Wales – believe me, there are A LOT - and, if they’re anywhere near the coast, I’ve spoken to/emailed/tweeted or messaged them! They range from hospital radio and local magazines with a handful of staff to BBC radio stations with hundreds of thousands of listeners and local newspapers/websites with almost a million readers each week. We were fortunate that so many journalists and presenters were interested in Laurence’s story and he was interviewed by almost 50 local newspapers, magazines, radio and even TV stations.
I enjoyed every moment of working with Laurence; I’m so pleased that I was able to help him achieve his goal of raising awareness of cervical cancer prevention and bringing forward the day when we can eradicate cervical cancer.
And if anyone reading this would like a hand with PR or social media, please do get in touch!