Valentines dayFirefly uses data on spending habits to boost Valentine’s Day shoppers for Give as you Live

Valentine’s Day is big business for UK retailers – in fact, they make millions (£595m at last full count in 2014) during this time of year. Our client, Give as you Live, is an online shopping website with a heart through which shoppers can donate to charities without spending a penny extra.   Raising awareness during retail peaks helps convert online shoppers to Give as you Live users, and as they buy something for their special day or special someone, they also make a donation to a charity of their choice.  It’s doubling the love.

Using Valentine’s Day as a hook was both a challenge and an opportunity for Firefly. The challenge was competing with many companies, including major retailers, looking to piggyback the day and sell their products. The opportunity was that this day is firmly on the media’s agenda.

With these points in mind, Firefly crafted a campaign that would stand out from others and tie into Give as you Live’s objective of increasing sign-ups. Firefly worked with Give as you Live to commission independent market research to reveal how many people are purchasing gifts, how much people are planning on spending and how far in advance they are planning gift buying. Online shoppers are spread all over the UK, so Firefly ensured that the research could be able to be split by the UK’s top cities in order to target regional titles.

These findings provided Firefly with a wealth of data to approach national, lifestyle and regional media with different story angles to generate coverage for Give as you Live. For example, the Daily Mirror reported on the news by listing the most romantic cities in the UK based on average spend on Valentine’s Day, whilst the Daily Star highlighted that we spend more on Pancake Day than on Valentine’s Day.

Wringing every ounce from the market research, Firefly targeted media in all 19 cities targeted during the research, achieving results in the likes of Edinburgh Evening News and Nottingham Post.

Firefly was able to elevate Give as you Live from other retailers looking to hijack Valentine’s Day by weaving in Give as you Live’s USP – which is a donation to the shopper’s favourite charity using the commission paid by the retailers linked to the site.

Never wanting to miss an opportunity, Firefly also knew that retail is a key audience to reach and used these findings, with a different angle, to target retail media. Give as you Live is connected with over 4,000 retailers and is always looking to grow this figure. Give as you Live featured in retail titles like Talking Retail, maintaining its presence and awareness amongst this cohort.

Firefly and Give as you Live use tools such as Google Analytics to track shoppers that reach the site as a result of PR. We know that during the campaign shopper traffic rose by 11% and transactions have increased substantially from last year. Charitable donations are still being calculated as the money flows through, but we can already see that the shopper revenue targets have been smashed due to an uplift in organic search – people typing ‘Give as you Live’ in Google – as well as massively increased sign-up conversion rates. Cupid’s arrow hit the financial targets this year!

By Michael Litman, AdAge Top 20 Most Influential PR Blogger in the UK

You’ve asked the question before: “how do we maximise the potential coverage that our campaigns could get on social media?”

Some think that coverage is automatic, it just happens without any work; and don’t understand the detail oriented approach that is required for success. Here are my thoughts on what you really need to do, to give yourself the best chance of making your campaign famous.

In brief, there are five things you’ll need to consider:

(1) Forward planning

The awareness and exposure piece for any campaign doesn’t happen over night. It takes weeks, if not months of preparation, teamwork and working towards a structured project plan. When people talk about content going viral, it will more often than not, have had some initial support to start the ball rolling. This could be through myriad ways including Facebook ads, video seeding, sponsored tweets, promotion via company newsletter, strong visibility on the company homepage and so on.

(2) Resource

Ensuring that a campaign gets heard is a critical part of the work, but this often gets sidelined, forgotten or not even thought about until it’s too late. It takes time and persistence to get mass-coverage, however good the content. The best execution is tailored; and is made easy for the media in question, by providing assets ready for use on social channels.

(3) Integration

You need to be thinking at the start, how you would involve and leverage all the owned properties you have which can help with the exposure of the campaign. Again, this is often something that is either forgotten or left until the last minute, and it too is an important factor for success. However great the campaign, if it is an isolated island on the Internet that no-one knows about, it will continue to be just that. Think about everything that could help you. Do you have a newsletter base, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram and other social profiles that you can help signpost to your destination?

(4) Contacts

I’ve run the online PR and social activations on numerous campaigns in the past, and as a blogger myself, I always try to put myself in the shoes of the person I am reaching out to. I ask myself “Would I write about this? Why? What’s the angle? What’s in it for me?” People write about campaigns and content that says something about themselves. Content is currency. People share things to reinforce a perception of their identity or website. Tap in to this.

(5) Enthusiasm

It really is infectious when someone reaches out to you with a genuine passion for what they are promoting. Especially for a low interest product or service, I always find it valuable to see what the benefit is of getting in touch with your target is in the first place. Of course it helps if there’s some value to the individual reaching out to, along with their friends. Don’t forget personal motives; harness them for your own benefit.


You can follow Michael on Twitter: @mlitman

Michael Litman is a digital strategist, having worked at agencies including Poke and social media planner at Dare.

In his spare time, he is a columnist for Communicate Magazine and writer for other industry leading websites including Mashable, The Kernel, Adverblog, The Wall and .NET magazine.  He has worked on social strategies and campaigns for a diverse range of clients ranging from technology, mobile, consumer, hospitality, automotive, FMCG to public sector. You can find his blog at

As we begin to scribble appointments in the 2012 diary, how do you feel about the year ahead? None of this hovering over a crystal ball nonsense (what is Mystic Meg up to these days?), we’ve listened to our clients and monitored recent developments to come up with what we think will be the trends to watch out for in 2012. Based on these predictions, 2012 will turn out to be a triumphant year for sharing, authenticity, the “everyman/woman” and more. Let’s take a look:

1. Pitch restraint: agencies and consultancies will take greater care when pitching their services; post-Bell Pottinger, they are more likely to think twice before making any sweeping, hyperbolic statements (dark arts, anyone?).

2. Hyper-personal PR: visibility into things like online sentiment is improving with the availability of more sophisticated analysis tools. PR will use this insight to deliver more targeted, one-to-one content to individuals. Alternatively, smart, quick opportunism – especially on Twitter – will increase.

3. What’s mine is yours: the future is bright for curation platforms like Pinterest, Evernote or, which allow you to collect, edit and share information and data. We see this relatively new phenomenon becoming a key, digital tool for brands and individuals wanting to share, share, share.

4. Reviewing the reviewers: consumers are wisely watching where every penny is spent and scouring third-party reviews is the norm. In 2012, the key will be authenticity: consumers will no longer put up with blatantly paid-for endorsement, and will even question hyper-negative reviews that smack of rant versus reality. It places a greater burden on the individual consumer, but is also a huge opportunity for technology to harness opinions in new and more transparent ways.

5. Digital couch potatoes, unite! With YouTube set to launch scheduled programming and the debut of Google TV, increasingly, TV fans will engage with brands via telly-on-demand. This is already happening to a degree (see BBC i-Player, 4 On-Demand); the key difference being that it will integrate intelligent search and product placement – giving brands the power to target you with more relevant offers and the ability to buy at the click of a button through your TV screen.

6. Happy campaigning: Times are tough. Morale-boosting campaigns, in which the general public play a central role, will reach fever pitch in 2012. Also – prompted by the popularity of flashmobs, campaigns like Dove’s Real Beauty, and irreverent responses to viral sensations like Awkward Family – companies will increasingly encourage real people to use their communications assets as a platform for positive self-expression.

7. Olympics fatigue? The event will offer rich content ideas and pitches for PRs and clients, with every aspect offering up timely and competitive opportunities for businesses. The trick will be in keeping it original and creative!

There may be a recession looming, but according to research commissioned by Give as You Live, more than half (57%) of Brits will be spending a total of £200 on Christmas gifts this year. Eight is the average number of people gift-givers will be buying for, making the average gift value £25. Not bad: this should go a long way towards avoiding the “worst-ever gifts received” which according to the GAYL survey, included used toiletries.

It’s a 21st century maxim that our economy needs Christmas. I imagine many retailers are already wringing their hands over some Christmas 2011 forecasts. But what’s the impact of Christmas for communicators?

The Consumer PR Juggernaut

I’ve worked with some great consumer public relations talent over the years, and I think most would agree that during the Christmas rush, preparation and an organised mind are just as valuable as the bright, shiny object you’re trying to place in Stuff, Stylist or Self.

Good PRs have gotten Christmas down to a science:
• The broad tactics will have been developed and agreed with the client in the first half of the calendar year
• Consumer tech product launches will be optimally timed for the period between CES and spring, to make that product the must-have item come Christmastime, following an aggressive product review programme
• Late summer is when the Christmas countdown will officially start, when longer lead publications are sent gift guide ideas to run in October/November issues
• “One hundred days ‘til Christmas” is another popular wrapper for seasonal pitches and events
• And right about now is when PR folks are revving up the gift guide engine once more, in time to reach weeklies, nationals and onlines

And this is just a partial list! The devil is in the detail: everything from product photography, to the user guide, to the international pricing details must be pitch perfect weeks and months in advance.

If you think this is all a bit much, consider that many companies count on a massive spike in revenues during the 9-12 week run-up to Christmas to make their annual numbers.

BSOs: Not the Only Path to Success

Savvy PRs have also mastered the art of working up pitches into eye-grabbing headlines. My favourite so far has been, “how to create an alternative Christmas”, which is intriguing enough to make you want to read further, without appearing totally self-serving. Media resources like Response Source or Gorkana Media Requests also give you an insight into angles that float the editor’s boat and are generally a great, complementary resource for the opportunity-hungry PR.

Even if you’re not promoting this season’s bright shiny object (BSO), there is hope for using the winter holidays as a reputation-booster for business-to-business brands. Sometimes, it’s a question of timing and opportunism.

“Christmas is a mixed blessing for us. Our main sectors, as reflected in the business and legal press, are a lot quieter mid December-mid January, yet traditionally this is a time when we sign big international contracts for the coming year,” said Andy Rogers, director of communications at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), who provide professional mediation services to private and public sector clients. When communications are timed around the holiday season, Andy cautions that above all, PRs should be buttoned up and as organised as possible, to secure the best outcome.

“Over the holidays you have to be well-prepared for your activity. Whether a mailing or a press release, if you have really thought ahead, you can still successfully undertake most marcomms activities. You might not hit everyone but you will certainly be competing against less activity. On New Year’s Day, a story which might not make it on to page 23 of a national can stand a chance getting on to front page with the right sell-in.”

Last but not least, if you’re in a business that dispenses advice to consumers or other businesses,
or work in a generally forward-looking industry, having your 2012 predictions published in a relevant title can be a great way to demonstrate industry thought leadership. Just make sure they’re not a blatant pitch for your wares; and instead, offer insights into 2012 trends that will impact your customers or industry at-large, and communicate what you’re doing that relates to these future developments.

Is it time to shape your reputation?

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