RHS Garden Harlow Carr Diamond Quest

The Partners Group was appointed by RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) Garden Harlow Carr in Harrogate North Yorkshire to devise a PR strategy that would achieve two aims:

a) attract more visitors to the garden during the notoriously quiet month of November
b) promote the garden’s 60th anniversary celebration.

We created and implemented an innovative ‘treasure hunt’ concept, which involved inviting visitors to guess the location of a diamond hidden within the gardens, giving entrants the chance to win it. The concept created a plethora of publicity opportunities, including the ability to connect with a wider audience.

The strategy resulted in a 20% increase in visitor numbers to the gardens and widespread media coverage for the client. This case study outlines the main approach, implementation and results of the campaign. The case study was awarded a commendation for PR strategy at The Drum Marketing Awards 2011.

The Client Brief

The Partners Group was asked to help promote the 60th anniversary of the RHS Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate and attract visitors during a traditionally quiet month. We had established a successful working relationship with RHS Garden Harlow Carr through a previous campaign in 2010 to promote the launch of its new learning centre facility and also to help promote its 60th anniversary year to attract visitors to the site.

The RHS Garden Harlow Carr Diamond Quest campaign involved a creative and collaborative approach keeping to a limited budget.  The aim of the campaign was twofold: to attract visitors in the gardens in November, a notoriously quiet month and to promote the message of its ‘diamond’ anniversary celebrations.  Working with the RHS in-house marketing and PR teams, we devised a campaign which was engaging for the media and the public and gave the RHS tangible results.     

Our Approach

We developed a ‘Harlow Carr Diamond Quest’ concept - plotting a diamond on a map of the gardens and inviting visitors to guess its grid location to be in with a chance of winning the £2,500 diamond - and create a series of publicity opportunities around the event.  The campaign allowed us to speak to a wide range of media, connect with a wider audience and give them a unique reason for attending the gardens in November, whilst keeping on message with the diamond anniversary theme.  

Implementation of Strategy

Through direct marketing and negotiation, we sourced the diamond on which the campaign was hinged, offering the jeweller in return the opportunity to be associated with the RHS and to be involved in the media campaign.

We secured the donation of a £2,500 diamond from leading designer jeweller, Andrew Geoghegan, which was ‘buried’ in the garden accompanied by a regional media call.  We then sold the competition launch story in to wedding, jewellery and horticulture media as well as local and regional print, broadcast and online media.  The RHS in-house team handled the generation of media coverage around the announcement of the winner.

Results

The competition generated extensive editorial coverage and a 1000% return on investment for the client (based on AVE – excluding TV coverage and online in this equation) with media coverage generated across a broad spectrum of national media outlets including You & Your Wedding.com, The Sun, Horticulture Week and Professional Jeweller; as well as regional media including BBC Look North, Stray FM, Yorkshire Post and other regional daily newspapers, radio and lifestyle media.

The competition generated 766 entries, with visitor numbers to Harlow Carr up 20% on the same period in the previous year, which can only be attributed to the competition.

Client Testimonial

 “It was a great idea to create a quest for a real diamond in the garden and we were very impressed with how quickly The Partners Group secured a beautiful gem worth £2,500 from a high quality local jeweller, matching the RHS reputation for quality. November is a difficult month to attract people to visit the garden, but the great coverage created a buzz and we believe brought new and younger visitors to the garden who may not normally visit.”

Sasha Jackson, Marketing Manager at RHS Garden Harlow Carr

 

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