Congleton High School (CHS) is a successful and very popular academy for 11 to 18-year olds set amongst green fields on the edge of Congleton in South East Cheshire, close to the border with Staffordshire. Places at the school are always in high demand.
In 2014, the school and its pupils achieved record GCSE results and wanted to shout about it. They approached Livewire and commissioned us to implement a low budget media relations campaign to publicise their tremendous exam success. Our campaign achieved great results.
What they wanted us to do
The brief from CHS was very simple. They wanted us to:
- Gain national and regional recognition for Congleton High School and its students who achieved their best ever GCSE results
- Secure coverage in national and regional print and broadcast media.
How we did it
We highlighted the facts and figures about CHS’s GCSE successes that would set it apart from the other schools vying for the attention of the media. These were:
- That the school had achieved its best ever GCSE results and smashed the previous school record with 74% 5+A*-C including English and Mathematics. This placed them in the top 10% of schools nationally and amongst the best schools in Cheshire East
- That 97% of students had secured the employers’ benchmark of 5 good GCSEs, and many students had set themselves up for a bright future by securing several A* grades.
In addition, we identified pupils who illustrated ‘the extraordinary out of the ordinary’ – i.e. students that would be viewed by the media as having the ‘news edge’ over others collecting their excellent results that day, including:
- Lisa Williams, aged 16, who fell into a coma after she was knocked off her bike, escaped suspected brain damage and stunned doctors and teachers by notching up a perfect set of A grades in her GCSEs
- Nina Collins – a wheelchair-bound student with cerebral palsy, who despite her physical difficulties, threw herself wholeheartedly into every activity offered by the school, and secured a creditable set of GCSEs.
What we achieved for them
As required by CHS, we secured national and regional coverage of the news story:
- ITV.com – interview with David Hermitt, Executive Principal – viewers: 3,900,000
- Sky News – live interviews with teachers and students opening their results – viewers: 6,437,000
- ITV Granada – interview with student Nina Collins – audience: 320,000
- Silk1069.com radio station – listeners: 166,201
- News.Sky.com – unique users: 2,669,000
We also secured features on extraordinary achiever Lisa Williams in:
- TheTimes.co.uk – unique users: 2,700,000
- The Daily Express – circulation: 484,840
- Express.co.uk – unique users: 3,500,000
- The Daily Mirror – circulation: 959,007
- TheMirror.co.uk – unique users: 10,200,000
- TheSun.co.uk – unique users: 16,200,000
- Metro – 21.08.14 – circulation: 770,569
- DailyMail.co.uk – unique users: 1,626,322
All in all, our mini media relations campaign reached 49,932,939 nationally with the result that student numbers have increased at the school and they achieved full capacity for 2015 well ahead of schedule.
My students, staff and I were totally thrilled by the amazing coverage which reached an audience of 49,932,939. Fantastic value for money and a superbly engineered mini-campaign! Thanks to this education PR campaign our student numbers have increased and we are now at full capacity for next year – it’s an enviable position to be in!
David Hermitt, Executive Principal, Congleton High School – ‘Record GCSE results for Congleton High’ campaign
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