Make Hay (Haze) When the Sun Doesn’t Shine
Haze, Mileage Communications, Shinagawa LASIK & Eye Centre, Singapore, Smog
In late June, as Singapore’s PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) levels shot up to record-breaking levels on the back of haze originating from forest fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra island, Mileage saw an opportunity to release a campaign about eye health in light of the haze situation. The haze affected many parts of the region, and blanketed Singapore in thick smog for more than a week. High concentration of particulate matter in the air meant a potential increase in the number of people suffering from eye ailments. Hence, the release would prove timely to educate the general public with tips and precautions to take during the haze situation, while increasing the public profile of our client – Shinagawa LASIK & Eye Centre.
In order to ensure the accuracy and credibility of our campaign, we obtained the information from 2 renowned eye specialists in Shinagawa LASIK & Eye Centre (our client), whom we positioned as the spokespersons of the company. The key message for the release was to equip the general public with information aimed at alleviating their concerns and how to better take care of their eye health in the hazy weather. The story angle was also selected to be informative so as to portray the client in the role of a public healthcare provider.
One major challenge was the time-sensitivity of the release due to the fluctuating haze situation, which required the quick execution and dissemination of our press release. Coordination between obtaining information on the one hand, then polishing it up for publication, and liaising with the client for media interviews proved a major challenge. We had to work fast to overcome this difficulty.
The haze situation began on 19 June, and quickly escalated to record-breaking levels of PSI 401 (hazardous levels) by 21 June. We had approached the specialists for information on the first day of the haze, and by the next day, the release had been finalised and disseminated. The release was pitched to all major news outlets (including print, broadcast and online media). What followed was a deluge of media interest. We knew we had to catch the media’s attention while the topic was still pertinent. Indeed, the haze situation abated on 22 June, 2 days after our release. Media interest dissipated together with the haze. Nonetheless, we still received calls from 2 TV stations after the haze situation improved, and the 2 specialists were interviewed and featured on the local TV news programme.
The campaign achieved its objectives of raising the general public’s awareness about eye health during the haze period, while also increasing the profile of our client. We also managed to portray the client as a responsible healthcare provider. This facilitated our long-term goal of putting the client forth as both a thought leader and market leader in the eye health market.
The campaign was featured on 15 media outlets across various channels in the course of less than 2 weeks (3 TV news programmes, 5 radio stations, 2 daily broadsheets, 4 articles on online news media and 1 lifestyle blog). AVE amounted to US$423,000. This episode was not even part of our PR programme for the year. Never was so much achieved in so short an opportunistic occasion.
We truly believe that in every crisis lies opportunity – hence we seized the opportunity and crafted a campaign that was timely, addressed pertinent issues of general interest, and received a high level of media attention. This was clearly a case of making hay while the sun still shines.
Mr. Goh Wee Gin is an Account Executive at Mileage Communications, GLOBALHealthPR’s Singapore partner.