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Hedgehog Hall of Fame: Midlands Co-operative Society - Mission Firefly

28th August 2013


Company: Midlands Co-operative Society Campaign: Mission Firefly Category: Internal Communications Campaign of the Year - South - Shortlisted Objective Midlands Co-operative Society (MCS) is one of the largest independent UK retail societies employing over 7,000 staff across its business areas including food, funeral services, floral and fashion & home. The Society needed to breathe new life into a tired initiative, ‘Helping Hands’, after a review, prompted by the launch of the Society’s new five year strategy, concluded it supported a number of core strategic objectives: • Developing synergy between Society businesses • Engaging with and developing colleagues • Maximising core businesses • Adding brand value The voluntary ‘Helping Hands’ scheme involved colleagues from the Society’s Business Support Centre (BSC) being deployed around the Society’s retail stores during the busy pre-Christmas and January sale trading period.  With colleague interest in the scheme at an all time low in 2010, a new campaign was required to re-ignite interest and engagement. Scheme objectives: • Offer practical help to stores by being another pair of hands • Develop relationships between support and retail staff • Foster better understanding of challenges faced by retail during a busy period • Make people at the frontline of Society businesses feel valued by senior management and support colleagues • Help to deliver great service and performance at a key time Campaign objectives: • Significantly increase: - colleagues taking part -  number of stores supported -  senior management involvement • Increase business performance • Ensure positive ‘Firefly’ experiences, helping to realise the scheme objectives Strategy & Target Audience A team, drawing in representatives from across the Society, was formed to breathe new life into the scheme.  The need for a creative theme to re-ignite colleague interest was identified.  Mission Firefly was born and the project team became ‘Team Firefly’. The campaign strategy had two separate, but complimentary tactical strands: Leading lights – a series of hands on management led initiatives to help stores increase performance at key trading times whilst inspiring colleagues and creating engagement. Light up our stores – getting colleagues to sign up to become ‘Fireflies’ and help out in a retail store. The ‘Mission Firefly’ theme allowed the Society to develop a cohesive, fun campaign, firing colleagues’ enthusiasm without distracting from the day job. Target Audience Primary: BSC colleagues, including senior management Secondary: store colleagues Action Leading lights Mission Firefly started with a sales race between two teams of ‘Fireflies’, one led by the Head of Retail and the other by the Head of Fashion & Home.  The objective was to sell the most Fairtrade chocolate bars across a number of stores on a designated day. Members of the Society’s executive team then took part in a competition consisting of heats of themed sales races.  Each executive headed a group of stores aiming to increase sales of a specified product.  The Deputy Chief Executive was the ultimate winner. Senior management also acted as positive role models in ‘Bid for the Boss’ – a themed activity in which they shared their expertise and helped out in-store during Christmas week.  Descriptions of James Bond themed agents (MCS colleagues incognito) were developed and retail colleagues submitted bids stating which secret agent they wanted help from and why.  Team Firefly had an overwhelming response and entries were witty, clever, even poetic.  A big reveal disclosed the true identity of the agents and the winning stores which would receive their help. Light up our stores Colleagues at the BSC were asked to sign-up to become a ‘Firefly’, helping at the business front line pre Christmas and in January.  Newsletters and posters created excitement around the sign-up and explained the campaign. Huddles allowed senior management to brief colleagues who then volunteered to support a Society food, fashion & home or florist store.  A huge registration board was displayed outside the Society’s café and volunteers were logged against the store they would support.  Themed record cards allowed volunteers to note the date and location of their store visit.  Fireflies were presented with a certificate in recognition of their efforts. Campaign Creative and Communication The ‘Mission Firefly’ theme and creative, developed with the Society’s creative team, gave the campaign real stand out with colleagues.  It was supported by the Society’s full suite of internal communications: • Onenews magazine • Onebrief monthly newsletter • Oneweekly e-zine • Video • Intranet • Teaser posters/desk drops • Results posters/desk drops • Briefings Results Increased volunteers - 336 BSC colleagues volunteered, 97 per cent of those targeted, up more than eight times on the 40 taking part the previous year.  In total 378 days/shifts were carried out by volunteers. Increase in the stores supported - 187 stores were supported, up from six in the previous year, representing a 3,100 per cent increase. Increase in senior management involvement - All Executive team members and general managers engaged with the campaign, plus other senior managers. In total 47 senior personnel were involved, up from two the previous year. Increase in business performance – Sales race activity resulted in an uplift of 284,000 units sold, equating to £289,000 additional sales. Positive colleague experience – A volunteer feedback questionnaire (11 per cent response rate) gave an average 8 out of 10 score (10 = excellent) for respondent’s Firefly experience.  Over 80 per cent said it increased their understanding of the retail business and 90 per cent plus said: • Firefly was a good idea • Help was appreciated by stores • Stores were well prepared Focus sessions carried out with groups of store colleagues and managers all indicated: • Mission Firefly boosted morale, a feeling of pride and strengthened team spirit in-store and between stores and BSC • The excitement and theatre of the campaign engaged colleagues and customers and strengthened links with the local community • Colleagues entered into the spirit of the campaign and gained a lot. The campaign was hugely successful with feedback also highlighting key learning. The PRmoment Golden Hedgehog Awards 2014 are now open for entries. Here are this years updated categories.

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