#PRAwards 2021 highlight: How NVPC shines the light on Singaporeans' generosity amidst pandemic

The National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) walked home with the bronze for Best Media Relations Strategy at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's recent PR Awards 2021. With 2020 being a challenging time for all individuals, NVPC stayed true to its City of Good vision and wanted to highlight the outpouring generosity of Singaporeans who stepped up to help others in the time of need. Find out how the team, along with its agency Muse & Motif, impressed the judges with its President's Volunteer & Philanthropy Award.

Challenge

The annual President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards celebrates exemplary givers who embody the City of Good vision as people, organisations, and leaders of good. Last year, National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre wanted to recognise the generosity of Singaporeans who stepped up to give their best for others during challenging times. As such, NVPC and its agency Muse & Motif decided that a special edition of the awards was necessary to celebrate these outstanding givers.

The President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards 2020 Special Edition: Our Finest Hour in the City of Good had to convey a visceral message of how the people, organisations and leaders of Singapore were collectively fighting the pandemic. The award is conferred by the President of the Republic of Singapore and had a record number of 236 entries.

It wanted to showcase all the different ways in which Singapore can give, and that giving does not have to be in the form of monetary donations. The judging panel took pains to ensure a diverse range of giving efforts were shortlisted for the award so that Singapore's public would be aware and inspired.

The diversity in its 31 winners also meant a considerable amount of project coordination and liaison work identifying profiles fitting best for the intended media interviews. With the 2020 edition of the awards being the first hybrid event in its history that involved the public sector and the President, NVPC had to plan the best way to facilitate almost 20 media interviews before the event both remotely and physically, while abiding by safe distancing measures.

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With the extensive number of stakeholders involved and ever-evolving developments, NVPC only received confirmation less than two weeks before the event that the 2020 edition of the awards was to be a hybrid one. Likewise, a cap of 50 individuals at the event placed planning limitations.

Strategy

Amid one of Singapore’s most trying time in history, NVPC recognised that there were stories of everyday heroes who have given their best for others by going beyond the call of duty to uplift those in need.

NVPC’s public relations’ partner, Muse & Motif approached media relations by enquiring with producers and editors prior to the event to gauge the interest in the themes and message around the President's Volunteer & Philanthropy Award. This allowed for some buffer time to adapt the angle of the awards to maximise the chances for organic media interest in the event.

According to NVPC, it was also clear that the human-interest stories on the winners was the most demanded angle across most media titles, as it allowed them to profile the winner and their respective COVID-19 responses, while incorporating the City of Good narrative into the feature.

At the end of the day, NVPC hoped for the campaign to forge and strengthen long-term growth between the organisation and its strategic partners. As a result, it adoped a multi-pronged approach which covered media coverage for the event, a focus on human interest stories, and sustained post-event publicity.

1. Garnering media attendance and coverage for the event

Save-the-date invitations were sent to key producers and editors prior to the official media invite to the hybrid event. With some of the media keen to commit, Muse & Motif began seeding background profilers of winners on an embargo basis, finding common ground with the editorial direction of the publication while staying firm to the narrative positioning of the 2020 awards.

Event coverage was made more robust through the winners’ stories and giving efforts as the anchoring narrative to interest the media. The media coverage extended across print, digital, broadcast television and radio on the event day and in post-event features because of the successful amplification of profiles.

2. Focus on human-interest stories

Muse & Motif was able to garner media interest before the event by sharing the nomination entries submitted for the winners with the journalists as the basis for working on larger news/human-interest stories. By highlighting the winners’ first-hand insights and experiences from working directly with communities at-risk as a result of COVID-19, NVPC was able to craft stories around the socio-economic realities of these communities and the inspirational efforts of Singaporeans in uplifting them and in so, creating a City of Good.

3. Sustained post-event publicity

Following the event-day coverage, post-event profile pitches were sent out to publications to garner interest in specific COVID-19-related features or topics in the editorial pipeline. The result was a series of post-event features on some of the award winners and causes related to Singaporeans’ resilience in the pandemic period.

Execution

Muse & Motif’s media relations rollout began in September 2020, a month before the awards itself, to account for the buffer time and liaisons involved in Singapore’s extended work from home rules as part of Phase two. Save-the-Date
invitations were sent out first to bookmark interested journalists.

In the follow-ups with journalists and producers, profiles of beneficiaries that received assistance from the award winners and spokespeople from the various organisations were proposed to the media to interest them in crafting a broader news story beyond the event itself.

The push on human-interest stories of winners served as the anchoring hook to get the media to attend the event and interview the profiles for more in-depth features. Media interviews were scheduled and conducted in a separate venue on the morning of the event in compliance with the guest capacity at the Istana.

Broadcast media were invited to cover the event at the Istana so that they could capture videos and pictures to accompany the news features.

When it came to human-interest stories, the agency was able to garner media interest before the event by sharing the nomination entries submitted for the winners with the journalists as the basis for working on larger news or human-interest stories.

By highlighting the winners’ first-hand insights and experiences from working directly with communities at-risk as a result of COVID-19, NVPC was able to craft stories around the socio-economic realities of these communities and the inspirational efforts of Singaporeans in uplifting them and in so, creating a City of Good.

To ensure there was sustained post-event publicity, post-event pitches continued from mid-October onwards into November 2020, making it in time for the year-end editorial deadlines in print and digital publications. According to NVPC, there was sustained organic interest from media after hearing about the event coverage from various channels - print, digital, broadcast TV, and radio - and many continued to be interested in profiling the winners for various other beats.

The media relations for the awards engaged mainstream broadsheets, digital news, broadcast, TV, and radio stations. This outreach was in tandem with NVPC's ongoing marketing outreach across its social media handles. The event was livestreamed on a virtual platform to an invited group of guests and saw 585 logins.

Results

The awards garnered more than 20 pieces of organically earned media in the media relations roll out across one month, with an approximate PR value of about SG$350,000. This coverage extended across the four major vernaculars - English, Mandarin, Malay, Tamil in the major platforms – print, digital, broadcast television and radio. Halimah Yacob, president of Singapore, and the minister for culture, community and youth Edwin Tong, also posted the event on their social media accounts, which have a combined reach of about 190,000.

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According to NVPC, the 2020 edition of the awards shone a light on the outstanding contributions and sacrifices made by Singaporean individuals, organisations and leaders. The impact of the awards was extended with in-depth post-event features on particular storied winners.

The men behind Beng Who Cooks, Jason Chua and Hung Zhen Long were profiled in a larger standalone feature in The Straits Times the following month and were also picked up by Time magazine as one of the profiles for its Heroes of 2020 collection.

Another winner, Anil David was also featured in a longer form interview as part of CNA’s event coverage feature on Singapore Tonight. Anil David was later nominated as a finalist in The Straits Times’s Singaporean of the Year award 2020.

NVPC added that the awards successfully brought the untold stories of everyday heroes who have given their best for others by going beyond the call of duty to uplift those in need to the fore. These experiences carved a deeper impression on the Singapore-based media and brought to light the multi-faceted elements of giving in Singapore.