|_ HOW THE INFORMATION DAY HAPPENED: A TIMELINE
As prerequisites to this process it was important that a few things were already in order:
The Life Cycle Services of Buildings Unit (LCSB), which is part of the PWD-Construction Management Division of The City of Helsinki, made sure it had good contacts and relationships with the personnel in the PWD’s PR department: these people usually have existing relationships with the press, and can provide useful guidance as to whom to contact and how to best convey the message.
The build-up to the event effectively began upon the launch of the Display Campaign in 2003. Since then, little by little, increasing numbers of people have taken notice of, or come across Display and had shown interest; staff from within the LSCB and PWD-Construction Management Division, the Energy Savings Board, Ministries (such as Ministry of The Environment and Ministry of Trade and Industry), local and regional energy agencies, and various associations etc, doing work with energy in buildings. LCSB made sure that people who wrote into the city government showing interest in the project, as well as those LCSB felt should know about it, had all the necessary information made available. In this way key stakeholders were kept abreast of developments (e.g. people close to the Mayor and Deputy Mayor), and progress of the Campaign was secured.
_ 6 MONTHS BEFORE EVENT
A general information plan was drafted, covering elements such as:
When the event was to be held ?
Timing can often be crucial to the success of this kind of event, and the team wanted to choose a time when energy saving was likely to be topical. They estimated that the EPBD and the requirement for energy performance certificates would come up for discussion in the spring of 2006. Within this time frame, they were careful to choose a date where the information day would not clash with another event. As it happened, the availability of the main speaker was also a factor.
Who should be targeted ?
Clearly, it is important to secure attendees that are as high-level as possible – this was made easier as relationships were forged well in advance
The nature and format of the occasion (i.e. short introduction, followed by cocktail and then more detailed discussion)
The key messages to combine with Display
The identification of a keynote speaker (considered profile, popularity, interest, authority)
Consider and identify facilities preferred and available:
Once the main speaker was confirmed, facilities were booked immediately. (This can prove difficult, and it may pay to have contingencies for alternative venues.)
ONE MONTH BEFORE
A detailed programme was drafted for the event
A sparkling new Display poster was printed and framed, and a prominent, eye-catching place to hang it was chosen. _ Hanging equipment was installed and a covering for the poster was made (to be removed on the day by the guest speaker).
2-3 WEEKS BEFORE
Invitations and detailed programmes were sent to guests
Flowers were ordered (the colours of which compliment the Display poster)
The cocktail service was ordered. (In Finland at least, if one wants the press or media to attend, it is important to provide something to eat. The media are always very busy and if they know they can eat at the same time as doing their work, they are more likely to attend. Ulla believes that providing food is a courtesy to the media and a small price to pay for the excellent coverage that can be achieved by attracting the right media professionals.)
Photography was organised
Press releases were written and invitations sent to the media.
To see a press release in English, click here
Personal networks were utilised to stimulate others and generate general interest.
THREE DAYS BEFORE
Press releases and invitations were sent to the media (around 60), requesting that they do not release the information until the day of the event. (All connected personnel also kept event as quite as possible.)
ON THE DAY
A checklist was used to make sure everything was in order and nothing has been overlooked. The framed poster was hung up and covered, in anticipation of the keynote speaker’s address and unveiling. (This was a device used to build suspense – but not as in a horror movie!) People from the LCSB were assigned various tasks such as looking after particular guests and media; showing them to their places and generally making them feel welcome.
Representatives from Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Trade and Industry – responsible for implementing the EPBD –, Motiva (the national Energy Agency) several building associations, and other high-level officials attended the event. Deputy Mayor of Helsinki Pekka Sauri, well-known throughout the country, delivered the keynote address and unveiled the Display poster. The city also announced that it had set a target to Display posters in 50 buildings by the end of 2006.
_ Feedback from those attending the event was very enthusiastic; people readily understood the intention of the poster and commented upon its eye-catching appeal.
_ The key message of the Day was to bring into people’s consciousness the impact that the buildings they occupy and use everyday have on themselves and on their environment: The implication being that the more that people understand this experience, the more willing they will be to change their behaviour, and expect more efficient buildings from owners and managers.
_ The press coverage was beyond all expectations.