Cast your mind back to April 17, 2020. It’s a bit of a blur and perhaps a time you’d happily forget – but you might recall the bold, unified message carried on newsstands and news sites across the UK: ‘Stay at home for the NHS, your family, your neighbours, your nation, the world and life itself’.
18 months and 70 briefs later, the ‘All Together’ campaign from the UK government, news brands and OmniGOV is still going strong. It marks the news industry’s single biggest collaboration – a united 'Team Nation’, which brought together more than 600 national, regional, local and community news brands to deliver the most important ‘always-on’ public interest campaign in a generation.
With a strong team and process now in place, along with the agility and flexibility to adapt to constantly changing briefs and deliver to targeted audiences at scale, Team Nation is well positioned to deliver for other brands. Offering a single point of contact for UK news brands, the team’s work on ‘All Together’ demonstrates a real opportunity to reinvent partnerships going forwards.
As part of the Agencies4Growth Festival, The Drum brought together three key stakeholders from this united news industry team in person at The Drum Labs, including Jo Allan, chief executive officer of Newsworks; Dominic Carter, group chief commercial officer at News UK and Jo Lawrence, managing director, partnerships at Telegraph Media Group.
They shared insights into what it took to bring the campaign from pitch to page in just seven days, how adopting a ‘one team’ mentality ensured the campaign delivered on all measures, and what comes next for Team Nation.
Delivering at the pace of a newsroom
“We had key messages [from the client] that we needed to get across to the Great British public, but we wanted them to be delivered in a compassionate tone,” said Allan. “They wanted to make a big impact, but they wanted it done really quickly. And that’s where we all came together to deliver those messages, acting at the pace of a newsroom throughout [the campaign].”
To do so took bravery from the client to sign up to something that had never been done before on a single medium, as well as strong collaboration between the agency and the news brands. Team Nation swiftly galvanized a central team of 35 experts from all the different news brands representing different skillsets from project management to strategy, insight and creative content and a wider team of 500 to deliver this united message with speed, agility and flexibility.
“As Team Nation we mirrored the skillsets of MG OMD’s OmniGOV unit in our central team, partnering up insight people from the news brands with the agency insight person, strategists with the strategists and that was so helpful to make sure that we were staying on track and ensuring that everything we were doing in our partnership was complimentary to the broader communication plan running across other media channels as well,” said Lawrence.
In the same way that all brands found themselves acting in the face of unprecedented times and disruption to normal working practices, it was a case of saying yes and figuring it out along the way.
“We had to figure it out on the job so to speak, but it reflects the way that our editorial teams work,” said Carter. “With briefs changing constantly, as you can see in the news agenda itself, we knew what the principles were, but we had to be prepared to change things constantly, depending on the news and public opinion, as it shifted literally day by day.”
Central to the client’s campaign brief was to demonstrate effective behavior change, something that news brands are well positioned for given the strength and trust of the relationship between news brands and their readers. With access to up-to-the-minute reader insights, Team Nation was able to deliver multiple messages while maintaining the editorial integrity, tone, and style of each publication.
“The importance of what we could do as news brands was reach people at scale, that trust the publications and believe absolutely everything in those publications,” added Carter. “As a medium we could [be] persuasive, driving fantastic behavior change and recall results for the campaign.”
“Collaboration, without any friction, is what has made this a success and the willingness to move forward,” he added. “Ultimately the client’s needs are the most important thing and if media owners and agencies can work together to deliver on a client’s challenge, we can achieve it.”
“If growth is what everyone is looking to now, then reinventing and rethinking how we do partnerships is a really exciting opportunity for all of us,” concluded Lawrence.