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How Linkedin raised the profile of Big Issue vendors during livelihood-threatening lockdown

FCB Inferno won the ‘Not for profit/charity’ category at The Drum Awards for PR 2021 with its campaign for Linkedin and Big Issue vendors. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveal the behind-the-scenes secrets of this successful project...

The challenge

When Covid-19 and the UK lockdown hit, Big Issue vendors saw their livelihoods erased overnight. Footfall on the high streets and at train stations halted altogether, and many of the Big Issue vendors’ loyal customers began working remotely.

2020 was a particularly difficult year for the vendors, missing out on the drumbeat of business they would normally have from shoppers and commuters heading into city centres every day. They lost not only their source of income – they lost the community and support system upon which they relied. Our goal was to reconnect vendors with their customers, while challenging perceptions of vendors to establish them as self-employed professionals.

The strategy

Linkedin’s vision to connect every member of the global workforce to economic opportunity is central to its brand and culture. This focus took on a whole new level of importance for the LinkedIn team during 2020 as Covid-19 initiated a global health and economic crisis. As unemployment and stress levels soared, the goal of LinkedIn’s Brand and Communications team was clear from the outset: to help people get back to work.

That’s why we partnered with The Big Issue, a social enterprise that shares many of Linkedin’s values when it comes to creating economic opportunity for some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Together, we launched a campaign to support the magazine’s vendors amid the coronavirus crisis, and inspire those who may be working from home to think about the vendors they used to support and interact with everyday.

The campaign

Through the ‘Raising Profiles’ campaign, we provided bespoke training to help vendors create profiles on Linkedin, expand their knowledge of the world of work, upskill, build their network and get the most out of the platform.

To help raise awareness of The Big Issue initiative, we drove conversations in the media and on the platform through the announcement of the partnership, shining a light on the personal stories of nine vendors, which were captured in social and brand content.

The results

The combined efforts of The Big Issue and Linkedin press teams secured over 50 broadcast, business and consumer articles and segments in the likes of Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, The Drum, ITV and Daily Telegraph (print). The initiative also received public support from Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan and Olympian, Dame Kelly Holmes.

As a result, we helped The Big Issue vendors reconnect with their customers, find new customers and build a new online community, which in turn enabled them to sell digital subscriptions of the magazine. The nine Big Issue vendors amassed 2000 connections on LinkedIn from 17th - 24th February 2021 and the total traffic for vendor subscriptions increased by 325% during this period. Their online community continues to grow daily.

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for PR 2021. To find out which Drum Awards are currently open for entry, click here.

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