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  • Writer's pictureSuzi Christie

Optimising your exposure with a great idea

With every PR campaign the aim is to maximise exposure while minimising outlay. With some clients we plan their campaigns across the entire year, but for others we have a very short period to achieve their marketing goals. One such example is the seasonal Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm shop which for 2021 is open between 19th November and 24th December. That is only five weeks!


Catsfield has a variety of USPs – locally grown, award-winning, etc. – which we have used to great effect over the years. This year, however, Emma and Clive wanted to try something new and so, during the planning phase, a Christmas tree throwing competition was mooted. It seemed to originate from seeing footage of a competition that is held every year in Southern Germany. After a quick Google search, we discovered that there had never been a similar competition in Sussex and so planning for the first annual Sussex Christmas Tree Throwing Competition began.

When you only have a brief period to achieve your goals, you sometimes need an innovative idea that grabs people’s attention. However, in these uncertain times it isn’t always clear if people will respond in the way you want.


It was decided that the competition should take place on first Sunday after the farm and shop had opened – 21st November. It was hoped the publicity generated by the event would compensate for not being unable to hold the normal VIP preview evening because of COVID.

Unlike the German example it was decided to make the competition just a distance event and, because it was the first time they had held the competition, there would only be one category for everyone. Catsfield offered two prizes: £100 or a tree up to 8ft in height for first place and a runner-up prize of a pot-grown tree.

We wrote a press release that was quickly picked up by several local media outlets. Clive Collins, the owner of Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm was interviewed by Allison Ferns on the BBC Radio Sussex breakfast show and we shared the event on social media. The event was shared by The British Christmas Tree Growers Association which has 1.7K followers.


On the day, around 50 people arrived to take part in the competition. They came from all over the region and included people who had not visited the farm before. Each competitor had three throws of 6ft Norway Spruce. The eventual winner was David Elias from St. Leonards with a throw of nine metres (three metres shy of the world record).

During the event, we were able to film several participants throwing their trees as well as interviews with Clive and David.


The key to any good campaign is maximum exposure for minimal outlay. In this case, the costs were small – prize money, the organiser’s time and our consultancy time.

So, for minimal outlay, what did Catsfield get in terms of exposure?

Well, firstly, Clive was invited back on BBC Radio Sussex’s breakfast show to talk about the event. Secondly, the footage we took using a smart phone was sent to both ITV and the BBC and it then appeared on their evening news programmes. The footage was captioned ‘courtesy of Catsfield Christmas Tree Farm’ giving excellent brand exposure to at least 500,000 people. BBC Sussex then added this footage to Clive’s interview and posted it on their website and social media channels.

The post-event press release also gained Catsfield exposure in a variety of local media, including the Sussex Express and The Argus, there was also online outlets such as Sussex Live and The Daily Advent.

In addition, the footage and this coverage was used across a variety of social media platforms to create a buzz around the reopening. In a five-week campaign, it is important to make a ‘splash’ at the start in terms of coverage and we couldn’t have asked for more from the competition.

Clive has already said he thinks they will be holding the event again next year and, because so many children wanted to take part, there may well be a junior category.

If you want to talk to us about planning a marketing campaign, either long or short, contact Suzi on 07590 591140 or e-mail

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