An organisational strapline should never just be something that is written or said. Through PR, you can really bring it to life.
Anchor wanted to make the organisation synonymous with offering quality housing and care for older people – and its ‘happy living for the years ahead’ strapline.
This was just the first objective, Anchor also needed PR to help it stand out from its competitors and also engage key audiences including residents, potential residents and their families.
The strategy I designed met these objectives by breaking down the barriers to happy living for the years ahead. This means focussing on two strands of activity:
- Calling for improved quality of housing and care for older people
- Campaigning for equality in the treatment of older people
Within these two strands of activity, we have the flexibility to both respond to the ever changing older people’s news agenda, as well as deliver more proactive campaigning. But, throughout all activity there is one creative thread: creating a Grey Pride movement which supports a call on the government to appoint a single, Cabinet level, Minister for Older People.
Activity under the ‘quality’ strand, a programme of reacting to the news agenda, through letters to editors, opinion pieces, journalist briefings and profiles has been implemented. This championing the issues of importance to older people and making sure that their voice is heard. During the course of the campaign we have led comment on issues such as the Care Quality Commission report into NHS care for the elderly, the Dilnot Commission into funding care and the Government’s dementia strategy.
For the ‘equality’ strand of the strategy, innovative and agenda-setting news stories provided mass coverage and awareness for Anchor. These included:
- Anchor Targets TV which showed that while high profile discrimination legal cases were over, ageism in the media is rife. Researchers conducted an ‘Older Faces Audit’ showing that only 20% of presenters and actors on BBC1 are over 50, compared to 27% on ITV1. During the week-long observation, ITV1 also featured more over-50s on its news and current affairs programmes than BBC1 (31 vs. 28%).
- The rise of the ‘club sandwich’ generation highlighted the how cost of funding quality care in older age is one of the most pressing issues facing our key audiences; yet very few older people are putting plans in place for either themselves or their parents. Working with a university professor at University College London, we calculated that the number of four-generation families is set to soar by nearly a third by 2030, creating a double whammy for families who face having to pay for their parents’ care and the education of their children and grandchildren at the same time.
All activity culminated in the launch of Grey Pride – a multi-year campaign to call for both improved equality for older people and higher standards of care.
A campaign driven by the suggestions of Anchor residents and families themselves.
Grey Pride was launched with a news story reveling that ageist attitudes are endemic in the workplace. In addition to serious misconceptions about older people, two-fifths (41%) of Britons aged 18-24 saying there aren’t enough jobs for older people to be in work and 14% claiming older people should retire to make way for younger blood.
To provide a clear call to action, Anchor established a petition to 10 Downing Street calling for Britain to have a minister for older people to champion the over-60s at the highest level. Signatures to the petition are being collected online, through free media partnerships, at Anchor’s housing centres, during a nationwide week of action in June 2011, through links with other charities and NGOs as well as face to face activity on high streets around the country.
Meanwhile, public affairs activity has resulted in increasing levels of cross-party support for the proposal and has already warranted a question during Prime Minister’s Questions and a cross-party Early Day Motion. Ed Miliband, leader of the opposition, even announced he was creating a shadow Minister for Older People at the last reshuffle.
In the past year, Anchor’s communications activity has been transformed and re-energised. Hundreds and hundreds of pieces of coverage have been delivered by the campaign and Anchor’s share of voice in the media means it now occupies second place in the tables complied by the charity. It far outstrips the positive coverage generated by rival providers McCarthy & Stone and Housing 21. Only Age UK has a higher profile on housing and care issues in the media.
Awareness for the Anchor brand among the public has also increased to 15 per cent prompted and unprompted awareness for the brand – while also maintaining a positive reputation among the key target audiences.
The campaign is ongoing, but already boasts over hundreds of thousands of supporters to date, cross party support, a shadow minister for older people and a vibrant social media community campaigning for happier living for older people.