Cornwall Air Ambulance Helicopter Launch: A Day of Firsts
13.02.2015 | Marketing. Public Relations.
January 12th 2015 was an exciting day for MPAD and an exciting day for Cornwall. It was the day Cornwall Air Ambulance Trust unveiled their new generation of helicopters to a host of charity supporters, media bodies and friends. What’s more, this was my first experience organising a ‘press day’.
We all know, every ‘first’ is going to be exciting or induce a certain amount of anxiety. The first day of a new job, a first date, the first time you experience deep regret after dying your hair [insert questionable colour choice here] or perhaps the first time you experience the magical effects of alcohol. They are all memorable in equal measure and my first media event was no different.
Today was particularly important. Cornwall Air Ambulance were launching their new generation of helicopters (MD902 Explorers to the aircraft geeks), representing a new era for CAAT. These new choppers include a Night Vision Imaging System which means an extention in flying time to a total of 12 hours per day.
The task at hand involved liaising with the media prior to the launch, along with creating a press pack, arranging interviews, video and photograph opportunities and probably most excitingly, organising a number of helicopter flights in the brand new aircrafts. To say I had a finger in about ten different pies would not be an exaggeration.
Living in Newquay, only a quick drive across from to the Cornwall Air Ambulance base in Trevithick Downs, the day began with a much appreciated not so early awakening. I even had time for breakfast and a fresh cup of coffee, as opposed to usual rushed sachet of porridge at the Truro HQ.
It was all going swimmingly, until I stepped into a good old-fashioned Cornish downpour. Rain. Wind. Icey temperatures. I’d expect no less. No sun, no hat, Murphy’s Law was out to play. Not ideal to say the least, especially for those promised an exciting trip up into the air in one of the new helicopters. Luckily there was enough coffee, mulled apple juice, and pastries, to prize the journalists with to ease the blow.
Prior to the event the MPAD team sent bespoke invites to key correspondents from across the county. Acting as ‘meet and greeter’, it was great to finally be able to put names to the slightly soggy journalist faces. After smuggling the reporters into a meeting room for a safety briefing, distributing press packs and making sure they were watered and fed it was time for the day to really begin.
Paula Martin, chief executive of the charity, started the proceedings by welcoming the guests and introducing Sir Tim Rice, one of the most prolific lyricists of this generation and mastermind behind Disney favourites like ‘Can you Feel the Love Tonight?’. It was then time to hear from chairman, Lady Mary Holborrow, Bishop Tim, Ian Brackenbury and last but not least, Victoria Milligan.
After losing her husband and one of her daughters in a tragic speedboat accident near Padstow two years ago, she has since raised 270,000 to fund the new Night Vision Imaging System found in the new helicopters. As you can probably imagine her speech left most of the room with tears in their eyes and lumps in their throats.
With attendance by major players in regional news we were able to see a substantial amount of media coverage, in radio, TV and print, deeming my first press day a brilliant success for the whole team involved! 6 front pages, multiple double page spreads and significant chatter on social media meant we accumulated a total reach of over 6 million.
Cornwall Air ambulance rely solely on supporters of the charity to raise the money they need each year to keep saving lives, and what with Cornwall’s slow-moving lanes and rugged coastline, the service they provide is a vital one. Raising the awareness of the new helicopters and showcasing the charity throughout the south west we were hopefully able to maximise their funding impact for the future.