As the coronavirus was ravaging northern Italy in early 2020 and the UK was still just coming to terms with the health emergency, our client, a French radio communications specialist, ETELM, jumped into action to come to the aid of the Italian authorities with its specialist expertise in critical radio and mobile communications. Context used this project as the basis for a PR campaign with a focus on the prestigious annual International Critical Communications Association (ICCA) awards.
Multiple partners, multiple interests
As part of a European Space Agency (ESA) Funded consortium known as B-LiFE and led by l’Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium (UCLouvain), they were part of a pan-European effort to provide a field medical and biological laboratory to support emergency workers dealing with the emerging pandemic. By providing rapid testing for emergency workers, they were able to continue their work in helping the beleaguered population of the Piedmont region in the north of Italy. ETELM’s role was in providing the vital communications infrastructure in a rural setting, with no access to broadband internet service. Instead ETELM deployed a combination of TETRA, 4G mobile and satellite communications to keep operations running smoothly.
As PR advisers to ETELM, our role was to highlight the valuable work they were doing, while all the time, acknowledging this was a team effort, so we had to work closely the other partners in the project at every stage. Also, the campaign was taking place while the pandemic was still raging in 2020, so we had to ensure that the tone was informative and sensitive to the ongoing suffering across the world.
Show me the evidence
A cornerstone of the campaign was to be seen to be evidence-based and, for this, we felt the best approach was to focus activity around winning a recognised industry award, so we suggested the idea of going in for the ICCA award which would, if successful, give the client global recognition. In submitting the entry, we worked in close co-ordination with the project partners, notably: UCLouvain, ESA, the Luxembourg Government, SES Techcom, EONIX and Nazka Mapps. The award itself was a joint entry, with the final presentation being delivered by the project leaders at UCLouvain.
Going the extra mile
Obviously, you can never guarantee winning an industry award especially in the face of stiff competition from global players with deep pockets, but we were determined to get maximum benefit from the positive publicity around the project, win or lose. So, we worked hard to create a great deal of supporting content, including an explainer video which could be later used for social media and content marketing, as well as providing vital support for the award entry. We scripted and produced a short video based on footage supplied by project partners like ESA as well as original video filmed on site and some library shots. As we have our own video editing facility, we were able to do this within the budget although this was not in the original plan. We felt it was worth going the extra mile.
Belt and braces
As the pandemic was still in full swing by the time of the submission in September 2020 the whole judging process was done over Zoom and we took the precaution of recording the whole presentation as a video including the commentary, in the event that there was a communications problem – which indeed, there was! In addition to working on the content of the presentation in close collaboration with both client and the UCLouvain we also embedded the explainer video to add impact.
And the winner is….
ETELM won the 2020 ICCA award in the category of ‘Best use of critical communications in public safety’ receiving a unanimous verdict from the judges. ETELM’s achievement was particularly sweet as they were up against large global players. The media buzz from ETELM’s win also had a halo effect on all partners of the consortium, highlighting their efforts and contribution to public health missions.
Media success, business outcome
We were able to secure a follow up speaker opportunity at Critical Communications World 2021 and coordinated media interview with leading trade title, Critical Communications Today, achieving a double page spread profile piece.
Overall, the campaign was a great success. Over the course of a year Context secured coverage in top titles including Mission Critical Communications, Critical Communications Review and Critical Communications Today. Another outcome for ETELM is that they are now working with their consortium to offer B-LiFE for new EU-funded missions, having an advantage of offering a complete end-to-end solution for biological emergencies globally.
Throughout the campaign we kept ETELM’s project partners engaged by including them on all social media posts both in the build-up, and after the award win. And this mattered because it showed the client as a team player while also raising their profile by association with the big names in the industry. And talking of big names, the opposition in these awards was from all the top players in the critical communications field, and to come out ahead of the global market leader was a real feather in the cap for our client.
David v Goliath
By focusing our efforts on one large scale project that was also “tech for good” and the ICCA award we were able to raise ETELM above the noise of other players in the sector and build a reputation for ETELM as a trusted partner for collaborative pan European projects in public safety. A nomination for such international awards is a great honour and would still have delivered considerable benefits but to win against global giants in the critical communications sector was a great team achievement.