A Day in the Life: Today’s shipping news… Belinda Hallworth describes how to launch a ship
20th January 2016
7.00am: A ship-launch day starts like any other, waking bleary eyed in blissful unawares, until realisation dawns that the day is here and it is by no means a normal day.
Since starting in the industry as wide-eyed graduate four and a half years ago, launches have become a staple part of my diet as a PR professional. Launches, whether a book, report, new programme or anything in between, are still a hugely important way for brands to introduce products to its target audience and the media, and the travel industry is no different. And, in the world of cruise, we have a small window of time to showcase a new ship to industry influencers, the media and, of course, the customers. Especially when it comes to ships that are not home ported in the UK but instead sail from further afield.
8.00am: So, back to the day at hand. In my case, my client launches its ships in the UK in Southampton so we hot foot it down from London to join the ship. Unfortunately this is the first glimpse of the ship that we get, and the first time we will set foot on board will be when we’re on board along with all the other guests – including up to 100 media whom we host across the course of one, sometimes two, days. Therefore, a quick familiarisation is vital. And this is not just for our own benefit of navigating ourselves, but to enable us to help our media to make their way around the ship and take it all in.
10.00am: Then it’s on. When we board we head straight to the press office, which is set up in the ship library to ready ourselves for the day ahead. We have a half an hour window to finalise the plans with the team on the ship and run through the schedule for the day, ensuring that all the elements are in place – from restaurant bookings, to drinks receptions, tour plans and celebrity activity, the ship has to be aware of everything going on so it is key that our plans have been received and implemented correctly. During this window, we also need to prepare the goodie bags, of which various elements have been delivered separately and loaded onto the ship; expert packers we have become.
And the fast pace doesn’t stop there.
10.30am: In order to carry out all the PR activities planned on board, which generally include a photo “moment” with a celebrity; we have to get our media on board quickly, along with any celebrities who are taking part. The port terminal starts to fill up with paying customers who have been invited by their travel agents and it is our job to work with the terminal and security staff to get our guests on as quickly as possible – a job that is never as easy as it sounds! My role is to ensure that those involved in the ‘media moment’ are on board in time to hit the deadlines of the picture and news desks. Because of sea-faring law and tradition, ships can only be christened once, and this mainly happens where the ship homeports, meaning we do not have those clichéd bottle-smashing moments to capture as part of our UK activity, so it makes our job harder, but more interesting, which is why we create a picture story to take the launch of the ship beyond the travel pages.
11.00am: By mid-morning everyone is on board and we go through the motions of setting up the different photo opportunities and capturing the moments as they take shape. This involves covering a lot of ground, getting from one area of the ship to the other as quickly as possible in order not to lose any momentum and time – this is not a day for high heels!
2.00pm: After the photos have been taken, we head to the press room to select the ones that we want to wire out with the celebrity representatives and the cruise-ship marketing team.
3.00pm: But there is no time spare and none to waste. It’s straight on to the press-ship tours, which cover all public areas of the ship in only an hour time slot.
5.00pm: Once they are in full flight, these ships will criss-cross the seven seas, but to demonstrate the ship we set sail to the Isle of Wight and back again on our one-night sailing trip. As we set sail we host the press conference with the senior management team. This is the company’s opportunity to highlight the features of the new ship and company information, as well as taking questions directly from the media. We’re there to facilitate and ensure that everyone gets what they need out of the session.
6.30pm: And, finally we have about half an hour to take a breather to change and ready ourselves for the hosted evening drinks and dinner, well at least that is after double checking the restaurant is set up and ready for the media to arrive.
8.30pm: Despite hosting the media for dinner, it’s nice to enjoy the meal and take the time to chat with the press about their time on board.
10.00pm: With a wide selection of bars, lounges and entertainment on the ship, there are plenty of after-dinner options to let our hair down and celebrate as a team after a job well done. Falling in to bed at the end of the day is the best feeling and that is made even better knowing that the day went to plan and we’ll see positive results in the coming weeks.
Flagship Consulting is presently recruiting, go to www.flagshipconsulting.co.uk
Article written by Belinda Hallworth, senior account and project manager at PR agency Flagship Consulting
Posted by Daney Parker+, Editor, PRmoment.com