Who would have thought the largest manufacturer of small, air-cooled gasoline engines could be so picture perfect? In recent years, Briggs & Stratton has sought to increase awareness of its brand as a lawn and garden authority to drive preference among consumers. To reinforce that effort we developed an annual Top 10 Lawns List that recognizes outstanding public lawns across the country. The fourth annual list cites some of the most impressive lawns and landscapes in the country including a diverse assortment of historic landmarks, tourist attractions and recreation areas. 2001 honorees include the Texas State Capitol, Boston Public Garden, Chicago’s Grant Park and Opryland Hotel, among others.
As its public relations agency, CKPR, Milwaukee, was challenged by the fairly small window of opportunity to deliver the message to targeted media and secure successful, timely placements. Because the media is saturated with lawn and garden news in the spring, we had to find ways to break through the editorial clutter.
We solicited lawn, garden and travel industry experts to nominate exceptional lawns for consideration. The program’s April start date coincided with National Lawn and Garden Month, a time when lawn and garden media are receptive to this type of story. Finally, we targeted travel media outlets for additional coverage related to consumers selecting interesting travel destinations.
The primary program objectives were:
· To create and build consumer awareness of Briggs & Stratton
· To position Briggs & Stratton as a lawn care authority and expert in turf management
Consumer research revealed that our target consumers have an affinity for lawns in the public sector that reflect the high standards they expect from their own lawns. According to a National Gardening Survey, lawn care has continued to rank as the lawn and garden activity with the highest level of U.S. household participation. According to research, adults spend an average of 3.8 hours per week during the spring and summer working on their lawn or garden (Bruskin/Goldring). This research helped us identify our target audience of homeowners age 35-65, and determine the timing of the Top 10 Lawns program.
Consumers are increasingly interested in personal development and reaffirming their own talents, including beautifying their lawns and gardens. That, combined with a renewed emphasis on vacation time, led us to target travel focused media. (Yankelovich)
To expand awareness of the Briggs & Stratton brand and increase coverage of the program, we chose sites with a variety of functions and geographical locations. The program was launched during the spring season to maximize the existing mindset of consumers thinking about their lawns and gardening season, and vacation planning. Finally, we developed the Top 10 Lawns List as a recurring program to help build the Briggs & Stratton brand among target audiences and revitalize the program this year, bringing it to a whole new group of media – travel editors.
Sent call for nominations letter to lawn and garden experts, members of the Garden Writers Association of America, travel editors and officials at state tourism departments across the country. Experts nominated dozens of public lawns, many in large metropolitan areas, which offered valuable media opportunities
Announced the 2001 list in April in conjunction with National Lawn and Garden Month
Contacted an extensive group of travel media who gave momentum to the program throughout its duration
Developed a Briggs & Stratton Top 10 Lawns logo to give the program identity
Developed press kit materials that included:
· Press release announcing the 2001 list
· Historical information and interesting lawn and garden facts about each site
· Upcoming special events at the sites
· A list of previous honorees
Mailed press kits to an extensive print and broadcast media list targeting lawn, garden and travel experts
Wrote and produced a video news release for national distribution that contained footage from all 10 sites and sound bites from turf management specialists
Conducted extensive media follow up
Developed a custom Web site to support the program, http://www.toptenlawns.com/. It contained additional information and downloadable photography for each 2001 Top 10 Lawns site. It is also linked to the Briggs & Stratton home page, http://www.briggsandstratton.com/
Evaluation/Measurement of Success
Extensive media relations efforts with both print and broadcast media resulted in more than 40 million total audience impressions. Placements were achieved in 30 of the top 50 DMAs including New York, Chicago, Dallas, Tampa, Charlotte and Salt Lake City. Among key print and broadcast outlets, 100 percent of placements credited Briggs & Stratton as the program sponsor
Print: The 2001 program garnered significant print placements in key national publications. An outstanding placement ran on the front page of the USA Today travel section. This opportunity was a result of CKPR coordinating an interview with Briggs & Stratton Yard Doctor, Trey Rogers, Ph.D., and USA Today travel reporter Jayne Clark. The 2001 list also appeared in the New York Times
Broadcast: The video news release was broadcast more than 100 times reaching 28 million households in top 50 markets including New York, Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Washington D.C., Atlanta, Seattle and Cleveland