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As a direct result of the C-19 pandemic, almost all of the events planned as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival were cancelled as it was not possible to deliver many of them, whilst maintaining safe social distancing guidelines. 

The Just Festival, Edinburgh’s social justice and human rights festival, celebrated their 20th Anniversary this year and instead of cancelling the festival, they chose to innovate and deliver a carefully curated hybrid of online and physical events, which took place from 16th – 23rd August 2020. 

The online programme, based on the theme of ‘transformations’, drew together a carefully curated selection of digital events accessible online via Zoom.  These virtual events created an important space for dialogue and platforms for engagement in local, national and international questions of social justice, equality and identity, both from the religious and non-religious perspectives.  

The live element of the festival, which took place at Cornerstone Centre, St. John’s Church, Edinburgh, from 18th – 22nd August, saw Stan’s Cafe bringing the internationally acclaimed ‘Of All The People In All The World’ back to Edinburgh.

 

The brief…

ELE Global’s CEO Helen Foord sits on the board of the Just Festival and, this year, agreed to help the Just Festival launch its digital programme, supporting them with all of their digital communications, project management, social media and event promotion.  We were tasked with generating as much publicity for the festival as possible. It was important that people were made aware of the series of online and live events that were going ahead despite the cancellations of many other festival events.  

 

We looked after four main areas of promotion:

  • Working with Lunaria to project-manage the development of a new website, with Zoom and Eventbrite integration
  • Working with Four PR to deliver white-labelled (as an integrated part of the ELE Global team) press outreach and promotion  – We crafted a media release highlighting all of the key messages and summarising the outline of events. Following approval of this, we then created a list of all relevant media contacts whom we believed would be interested in news of this nature. Following the issue of the media communication, we then worked to speak with all contacts, to further discuss the event and how this new hybrid programme would work. All key project stakeholders were also offered up for an interview.
  • Delivering a full social media campaign across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and social media advertising.
  • Delivering an email marketing campaign, including cleaning several years’ of data and setting up MailChimp

 

The results…

  • 1 week
  • 35 individual contributors 
  • 520 visits to exhibition 
  • 600+ online event registrations
  • 25 volunteer shifts
  • And a wholly international audience online and live…

ELE Global secured 20 pieces of editorial coverage across a broad range of regional, national and online media targets. These included:  

A full coverage book can be seen here https://we.tl/t-5L1OoNlPcx

Facebook:

  • 554 people visited the page, 560 watched videos and 77 clicked to follow 
  • Our posts reached 90,742 people and there were 7,174 engagements with them 
  • Facebook and Instagram advertising reached 76,719 people and generated 1,479 clicks through to events

Twitter:

  • We now have 1,700 followers and this has grown by 78
  • There were 334 engagements with posts (likes, shares etc)

Email marketing averaged 15% open rate with approx the same for click-throughs. 

 

Conclusion…

The event was received incredibly well by the media, many of whom were impressed with the teams’ ability to innovate and deliver a series of events that would meet the key objectives of the festival. The hybrid programme served as a great reminder of the key values that underpin the event and the increased media awareness supported the engagement, both physically and online.

 

What we learned…

There was a huge amount of scope to do so much more with the press opportunities around the festival. Due to the COVID-19 situation the decision to move to this format was very ‘last minute’ and the team had three weeks to complete the promotion, prior to the first event starting. With longer lead times, ELE Global could have:

  • Created a series of press hook on the run-up to the event, further enhancing awareness
  • Secured more media attendance (online and physically) resulting in more event reviews 
  • Broken down each of the themes covered in the festival and used these as individual hooks for the media 
  • Offered up event speakers for exclusive Q&A’s with the media 
  • Secured exclusive interviews/business profiling opportunities for key team members 

 

We’re looking forward to supporting over the coming year and helping to build a solid platform for a wider, integrated communications programme for 2021 (the festival’s 21st birthday).