When the investment firm Darwin Alternatives got in touch to see if we could help promote its Main Avenue show garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2023, it was a no-brainer – after all, we specialise in gardening and home PR, and RHS Chelsea is the most prestigious UK gardening show in the calendar! But after a kick-off call with the team to learn more about the garden and its message, we soon realised just how poignant and important this particular garden was, but we were excited and up for the challenge!
The Memoria & GreenAcres Transcendence Garden aimed to spark conversations around death and dying, encourage people to share their end of life wishes, and provide a place for those grieving to feel a sense of calm and uplift – topics that are unfortunately considered taboo in our society.
Our challenge was to break down those barriers and get people talking, utilising the garden’s thought-provoking design and the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show platform to shine a light on this important, but often hard-to-broach, subject.
· Generate media coverage in key consumer and national titles ahead of the show
· Raise awareness of the garden’s sponsors, Darwin Alternatives, GreenAcres and Memoria, and the work that they do
· Convey key campaign messages to encourage people to discuss end of life, grief and bereavement
· Devise an engaging photo opportunity for press day to capture media attention
· Manage media activity and interviews on press day and throughout show week to gain maximum exposure for the garden.
With just over eight weeks to devise and deliver an intensive PR and social media strategy, we wasted no time in drafting press releases and compiling press packs, securing exclusive interviews with the garden designers, drafting statements, inviting media to the garden on Press Day, and creating content for social media platforms.
We organised an online press event, inviting the media to hear all about the garden and its messages directly from the sponsors and designers.
To help get people talking, we developed the #DifficultConversations campaign and invited grief counsellor and broadcaster, Jeff Brazier, to be the face of the campaign, which would launch at the show on press day.
Liaison with the RHS team was ongoing to organise the photocall slot with Jeff, as well as secure a host of pre-show opportunities, including an Instagram takeover and LinkedIn feature article. We also managed conversations with the BBC to coordinate a series of behind the scenes build filming, that would air during show week.
At the show
The all-important press day marked the pinnacle of all activity leading up to the show, and it’s safe to say that it was a huge success! After a very early (5am) alarm, we were on site to manage the photographers and film crews, show editors and journalists around the garden, and escort Jeff to the garden for the photocall. We also welcomed more than a few famous faces, including Dame Judi Dench, Nick Grimshaw, Alan Titchmarsh MBE, Louise Walsh, and Bill Bailey to name a few, grabbing celebs left, right and centre to have their photo taken on the garden.
Online, the social media comments and press coverage was coming in thick and fast, so the team back at Honest HQ were busy interacting, engaging and sharing the content as it landed, as well as creating assets from the photography and footage gathered onsite.
After press day, there was still plenty to be delivered, including outreach to celebrities and influencers, exclusive garden tours and ongoing asset creation. Phew!
After the show, it was evident that this important subject was one close to the hearts of many, with the feedback received both in person and online demonstrating the impact that the garden had. The coverage in the press and media also highlighted just how special the space was, and in total, we achieved:
· 100 pieces of coverage achieved in national and regional newspapers, consumer magazines and trade titles
· A print reach of over 1.5 million, plus many more millions of views online!
· Six appearances on the BBC with a whopping 2.5 million views per episode
· Exclusive interviews with the garden designers in Country Living, English Garden, Ideal Home and the Daily Express
· An exclusive pre-build site visit with journalists from Ideal Home
· Garden tours with countless key journalists, celebrities and influencers on Press Day.