Specsavers marketing, PR and social media campaign in 2020 has won the ‘Best Proactive Healthcare/Pharma Comms during Covid-19’ award, in the annual PR Week Awards.
Like other opticians, Specsavers needed to communicate that operations had changed significantly during lockdown, with the introduction of PPE, infection control, social distancing, stores closed to walk-in appointments, triaging based on patients’ needs, the launch of remote consultations and some services not being available instore. With fewer marketing resources and an ever-changing news cycle, PR and social media was used to tell the stories of customers who had used Specsavers services during lockdown – to great effect.
Like many brands, Specsavers’ initial response to the uncertainty of the Covid-19 pandemic was to freeze marketing spend. However, like many opticians, Specsavers remained open throughout lockdown for urgent and essential care and to help alleviate pressure on the NHS. The immediate challenge, therefore, was to inform people that this was the case. They needed to provide helpful and reassuring messages – and chose to showcase the care that opticians could offer.
Giles Edmonds, clinical services director sums this up: ‘We decided that we wanted to let people know we were ‘Open for Care’ to help with their urgent and essential needs – such as key workers breaking their glasses, or needing to switch to contact lenses because of mask-use, or people who needed appointments for emergency eyecare.’
The answer was the Open for Care programme. Specsavers created a 24/7 cross-functional content team, including agency support. The purpose was to share customer stories with operational updates across newspaper and online content. Employees also shared their videos sharing how they had helped customers during Covid-19 and acted as brand ambassadors. Informational web pages on specsavers.co.uk supported this.
Innovative new channels for direct consumer comms were fast-tracked; for example ‘Ask The Expert’, a world-first Facebook customer group. Manned by Specsavers optometrists, it was often the first port of call to answer less urgent enquiries. More than 1,200 questions were asked in 2020 and feedback was 100 per cent positive. Other customer queries increased to thousands daily by email, phone and other social media channels – so extra resources allocated, with 4-hour response times as a minimum.
The campaign evolved as the team analysed SEO, social media listening, media news and colleague feedback to be agile and address what people were searching for online. A PR Week Award judge commented: ‘This was a nice example of agile comms during COVID-19 that integrated PR and SEO especially well’. Overall it was a success, with an average weekly reach of 2.6million, twice the pre-COVID level. People liked seeing this too – social media sentiment was good: 45 per cent positive, 47 per cent asking questions and just eight per cent negative between March and October.
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