Starting 2011 by ‘Shopping with a Conscience’

Issues: One of Australia’s favourite charities, The Salvation Army, relies heavily on funding from its Salvos Stores across the country. However, recent research showed a decline in foot traffic into local Salvos Stores. Reasons include a lack of awareness about Salvos Stores locations, low awareness about items for purchase, and no understanding of the importance of Salvos Stores in the local community.

Insight: Salvos Stores are full of great bargains and unique, one-off items. In addition, each time Australians shop at their local Salvos Store they’re helping the environment (by buying recycled goods) and their local community (as 100% of all proceeds from purchases made at local Salvos Stores go back to The Salvation Army to help the local community). Consumer public relations agency, Pulse Communications, knew that these key factors needed to be communicated to Australia, as it would encourage people to revisit their local Salvos Store.

Strategy: Pulse partnered with Salvos Stores as a pro bono client and created the first ever ‘Shopping with a Conscience’ month, to launch during the ‘New Years Resolution’ period to encourage Aussies to “shop local and discover local” at their local Salvos Store. To coincide with the public relations campaign, Salvos Stores launched its online store – the first charity online shopping site of its kind in the country. The online shopping story was our lead angle at launch, supported by the start of ‘Shopping with a Conscience’ month.

Challenges: The week before launch, the state of Queensland experienced its worst flooding on record. This caused loss of life, wide spread devastation and severe damage to Salvos Stores in the area. The Salvation Army was heavily involved in the relief efforts, and it was therefore important we addressed this issue in a sensitive way without compromising the ‘Shopping with a Conscience’ campaign. Therefore our messaging was: Given the recent flood disaster, it’s more important than ever that Australians ‘shop with a conscience’ this month to help us help flood affected areas and victims.

Activities: To strengthen the online message and provide a cost efficient way for the charity to communicate its announcement, Pulse conducted the press conference via an online presentation program webex, which received wide praise from the client and media. To complement the webex, Pulse held a vision call at a local Salvos Store which helped generate TV coverage. Pulse also conducted an extensive ambassador engagement program of behalf of the charity, which secured key Australian identities including two TV presenters, a fashion designer, a local mayor and a famous photographer to use for media outreach and consumer engagement in-store.

Results: Pulse generated 104 pieces of coverage (more than double the agreed KPIs) in the first week alone. Coverage highlights include Channel 9 News, Channel 7’sToday Tonight and a half page feature in one of Australia’s largest newspapers, the Daily Telegraph. The public relations campaign has allowed Salvos Stores to connect with over 10 million Australians (nearly half the population) and generated an equivalent of $263,231 worth of advertising value for the worthy cause.