Vote James Arthur: the grassroots campaign attempting to mobilise support for Teesside's X Factor star

Team James Arthur (including his sister, The Drum's Sian)

Sally Pearson, director of Publicity Seekers, discusses the PR campaign to secure James Arthur (brother of The Drum's own Sian) votes from his native North East in this weekend's X Factor final

When a topical and popular programme features a star in the making from your neck of the woods, there’s a recipe for a successful campaign with all the winning ingredients.

We’ve been supporting North East musician James Arthur on his way to the final of X Factor. It has been great doing a job I love and working on a campaign which capitalised on an opportunity to leverage this primetime TV programme and support a local musician, about whom there was has been so much interest.

After seeing what a real musician James is, it was the social media activity spearheaded by his mum and family that captured our attention. Client Debbie Anderson from Cleveland Centre, an X Factor fan, inspired the campaign to support James Arthur in his battle to reach the top. The Cleveland Centre is at the heart of James’s hometown of Middlesbrough and enjoys footfall of around 196,000 per week.

The first step was to approach the X Factor programme to find out about brand guidelines and usage of information and creative concepts. Then the creative and materials were developed quickly over the space of a week ahead of the weekend programme and in time for awareness ahead of voting. Large banners, posters, cupcakes, TV stills and Facebook banners were all put in place in the shopping centre.

With such strong footfall, we knew that plenty of people would see the campaign and hopefully vote for James. Retailers in the shopping centre also got behind the campaign and displayed posters, while Lush put their own good luck messages onto receipts.

We wanted visitors to the Cleveland Centre and Facebook friends to embrace the campaign and started engaging with people online about X Factor, rebranding the page to support James and asking for views and thoughts on the entrants. Clearly there was a lot of love for a local guy.

Timing became crucial to launch the campaign and to influence support for James as he was voted in the bottom two contestants the week before and needed votes to save him.

We approached James’s mum and invited the family along to see the giant banners, posters, TV screens and staff wearing ‘back James Arthur’ t-shirts. James’s mum is a natural PR and was a huge attraction for media to come along and interview. The PR element of the campaign gained news slots on Tyne Tees TV ahead of X Factor going out on air, and resulted in quality coverage in key local newspapers, radio and online activity. James himself even tweeted Cleveland Centre and thanked everyone for their support.

This week saw Middlesbrough Council put on a free gig for over 1,000 people and James’s mentor Nicole Scherzinger was with him sporting a Boro shirt. She even tried a Boro delicacy, a parmo!

The campaign is still underway until the final of X Factor but we know already that the ROI is excellent, with a very wide reach and going by Facebook conversations, we know people will back James all the way.

Vote for James! @Jamesarthur23 @publicityseeker

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