Top 10 Tips to Get to Christmas Number One by Joe Blunden
1. Get social from the start
What started with a simple event on Facebook thanks to Dr Harriet Nerva, quickly spiraled into a viral online campaign that produced more than 200,000 supporters on Facebook alone. Filled will a series of compelling memes, hundreds of selfies, and an even greater number of captivating personal stories, the campaign was winning hearts and minds from the end of October. Combined with a beautiful website and an extensive email marketing programme (including an incredible email from 38 Degrees to many of their members), digital communication played a huge role in the overall success.
2. Pick the right people for your plan
I’ve spent my career developing marketing and communications strategies, so we inevitably had such a plan in place very early on. But a plan is only as good as the people who deliver it, and we were absolutely blessed with talented, dedicated and heroic people within our wider campaign team. Ben White and David Cocke were particularly crucial to finding the right people to work with us, and you can see a big long list of all those who contributed at the foot of this post.
3. Convince everyone you can do it
Beating the world’s greatest music stars without a record label or a budget is not the easiest of tasks, and it was so important to be viewed as credible candidates as quickly as possible. Fortunately we had over 100,000 supporters on Facebook within a week, which enabled us to get lots of great press coverage before the start of November thanks in no small part to Michael Addley. It also meant I could put in a call to a well known bookmakers, and with a little bit of persuasion they promptly made us one of the favourites for top spot at just 6/1.
4. Pick singers that sell
The song itself may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir captured the hearts of the nation from the very first note. Led admirably by Caroline Smith, and made up of doctors, nurses, porters and many more, the choir effortlessly represent the thousands of dedicated NHS staff who go the extra mile every day, and collectively they were the perfect catalyst to celebrate everything that is good about the NHS.
5. Contribute to cracking causes
We were really keen to back charities that operate right across the UK, and support causes that could potentially impact everyone. Without any hesitation we proposed Carers UK, Mind, and the Scottish and Northern Irish Associations of Mental Health and were delighted that the Choir were keen to back them too. All of the chosen charities provided great support throughout the campaign, from emails to their members, to celebrity endorsements from people like Stephen Fry, and we couldn’t have done it without them.
6. Videos are vital
Lucky for us A Bridge Over You already had a brilliant music video, but why have one great video when you can have two? We were very fortunate to be approached by The Gate Films, who produced an incredible new video for us within just two weeks, and all for free, and their amazing concept helped the campaign go viral at the vital time; we can’t thank Simon Lewis, Nick Entwistle, Claire Lewis and the team enough. The film has already been viewed more than a million times on YouTube, and I would imagine at least 999,999 people have shed a tear in the process.
7. Harness the power of Chris Evans
We had been lucky enough to enjoy some good press coverage from the beginning, but Tony Cooke, Scott Bartlett and the team at Scream Promotions really did take our media presence to the next level. Arguably their biggest feat was getting us an extended slot on the Chris Evans breakfast show. We had been second in the charts before the show began, but hit top spot whilst on the air and didn’t drop again until after the number one was in the bag. We were also lucky enough to appear on numerous other TV and radio programmes, and received the warmest of receptions wherever we went, so thank you everyone we met along the way.
8. Engage offline as well as on
The power of social media is obviously immense, but from day one we also had three big live events planned: one for the media, one for the public and one for the NHS. The success of these events was down to so many different people, not least Ovi Roy, Shabnam Parker and their team who delivered the incredible NHS Jingle at the Islington Assembly Hall. We are also grateful to Sue Etherington and the team at the QEII Centre in Westminster for allowing us and a huge number of media to use their facilities for free, as well as the Waterloo Station Manager for giving the Choir a prime location to sing their beautiful songs there too.
9. Get your biggest rival to join your team
If you had been enjoying some pretty heavy drinking sessions over the Christmas period, there is a chance you may have missed the point where a certain Justin Bieber, our biggest rival for top spot and the biggest pop star on the planet, actually asked his supporters to buy our track instead of his own. A little known fact is that we were actually already ahead before that moment, but we are still incredibly grateful for that generous act, which not only gave us a huge lead in the chart race, but also took our little campaign global, seeing the track played in Australia, Chile and Canada amongst many other places.
10. Do it for 1.6 million incredible people
Above all else, the campaign succeeded because the public love their NHS, and that is unequivocally down to the thousands of NHS staff up and down the country who go the extra mile every day. The Christmas number one is testament to those staff, and everything they do, and it is fitting that every Christmas from now on we will be reminded of the outpouring of love and support that led to that historic day. Thank you to everyone who works for the NHS, and everyone who values our beloved national health service.