“Thinking Of You”

Organisers: intu Milton Keynes, Perception PR

What it is:

The “intu Milton Keynes” shopping centre came up with a great idea to promote community spirit in the town and to build loyalty amongst local customers. The shopping centre teamed up with Age UK to identify elderly people spending Christmas alone this year. It created special “festive packages” to be sent to those individuals, along with a typed or handwritten letter from somebody in the community to let them know that they are being thought of.

Photos: intu Milton Keynes

Why we like it:

“intu Milton Keynes” covered every aspect of the campaign, buying over 100 boxes for the Christmas hampers, as well as the festive treats and presents to fill them. But it also attempted to foster a sense of community engagement by asking people to submit letters, describing themselves, their hopes for the coming year, and photographs, if desired. The letters were inserted into the gift boxes and sent to the recipients, in order to help elderly residents feel more connected with the wider community. By combining generosity with an encouragement for others to promote a sense of community, this campaign is in the true spirit of Christmas.

PR Guru comment:

“In an industry usually criticised for its cynicism, it is genuinely heartwarming to see a PR campaign like this doing some incontrovertibly good work. In normal times, perhaps, some might still say that for the price of a few hampers and an imposition on the good nature of people who still like to write letters (whoever they are), the owner of a shopping centre has secured some very nice coverage thank you. But we are not in normal times – and much has been said about us all never being quite the same again, thanks to the pandemic. So I wonder, other than congratulating intu and its PR company for a nice bit of work, what does this say about PR more deeply? Are PR companies and campaigns the world over now going to become a more obvious force for good, no strings attached? Has the pandemic made PR search its soul to find the soft beating heart within? It certainly seems to have happened in advertising – now regularly used as a channel to offer actual care and support to those in need, the emphasis being on no-frills, low-fi video formats, as per the ones we are all working through day after day during lockdown. There is an interesting piece of PR research and an essay on the back of it to be done here…”

– Luke Blair

Luke is a renowned communications consultant with expertise in the public, private and voluntary sectors, particularly in health, transport, local government and higher education. He was previously Vice President (Communications and Public Affairs) at Imperial College London, and has also played senior communications roles in organisations such as Transport for London, the NHS and the Design Council, working both in-house and as a consultant.