R.I.M. Porter Novelli

Complex support of Moscow Urban Forum 2013

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CHALLENGE

The Moscow Urban Forum is an annual event, supported by the Moscow City Government. It is aimed at promoting the development of the Russian capital and becoming the platform for discussing the problems and ways of development of Moscow with the inhabitants and expert society, including international one. Established in 2011, the Forum is visited by several thousand delegates from dozens of countries. There are several round tables, lectures and seminars within the business program of the Forum, which are not only an effective platform for communication of urbanists, but also a starting point for solution of the current urban problems.

However, despite the high status of the participants, the Forum is still not recognized by the international expert society as one of the key international platforms for discussing global urban problems. Except the narrow group of experts, the brand of the Moscow Urban Forum is little known in the international urban society. Moreover, the Russian specialists in the sphere of urban development and the representatives of the Moscow City Government taking part in the Forum, are recognized not as fully competent experts in their sphere, but as the experts adopting the international practices. The successful development of a megacity means active discussion of urban development plans not only by specialists, but also by public representatives. Despite this fact, the Forum is still the event for a quite narrow expert group.

The main topic of the Moscow Urban Forum in 2013 was the development of the city periphery. This issue is topical not only for the Russian capital, but also for the world’s largest megacities.

The following objectives were determined with the aim of development of the status of the Moscow Urban Forum as a key world platform for discussing urban issues:

  • Building of the Forum brand awareness;
  • Promotion of Russian speakers as the experts in the sphere of development of the city programs and projects aimed at the improvement of the city environment;
  • Wide coverage of participation of the world experts in the Forum program;
  • Improvement of the Forum awareness among target audiences.

SOLUTION

Communication strategy

To achieve the key campaign aims, the Agency developed the complex communication system consisting of several stages:

  • Informational Stage – presentation of the Moscow Urban Forum to the Russian and foreign expert audiences (June – August, 2013). At this stage, the participation of the Forum representatives in huge international events was actively covered in media. It promoted not only the image of Russian experts, but also the media coverage of the Forum long before its beginning.
  • Announcement Stage – informing of the target audiences about the details of the future Forum in December of 2013, the Forum agenda and speakers (September – November, 2013).
  • PR-accompaniment during the Forum (December 5-7, 2013)
  • Post-PR-support – arrangement of interviews with the key speakers, which failed to be organized due to the tight agenda during the event in Moscow (December, 2013 – January, 2014).

Tactics, creative solutions

Prior to the Moscow Urban Forum, its organizers initiated some own researches which should have promoted the expert image of the Forum and involved the main groups of the target audiences into productive discussions.

One of the key communicational problems of the Forum was insufficient awareness of the target audiences about the Forum in general and about the Russian experts taking part in the event. During the informational stage of the campaign, it was decided to demonstrate the active participation of the representatives of the Moscow Urban Forum in the main world events in this sphere. It promoted the development of the image of Russian experts and the improvement of the Forum awareness in the world expert society several months before the announcement of the event.

The experience of conducting huge urban events in the world in general and the Moscow Urban Forum in particular has shown the insufficient involvement of mass audience, such as socially active groups and the representatives of public organizations. It mostly related to the fact that the announcing PR-company is focused on the expert society, without paying much attention to the non-specialized audiences. Moreover, the event platform often cannot accommodate all its guests during the one or two-day program.

This problem was solved by arrangement of the Festival Day, the third and informal day of the Forum program, taking place on outside platforms. As of the moment of conducting the Moscow Urban Forum-2013, this format was unique among other similar urban events in the world.

Practical actions

Promotion of the Moscow Urban Forum brand and the Russian experts at foreign events in the industry

During 2013, the delegates of the Moscow Urban Forum visited the biggest urban world events. In their speeches, the Russian experts told about the latest achievements in the Moscow infrastructure development, shared the experience in urban realm improvement and took part in the discussions along with the world urban leaders. The expositions of the Moscow Urban Forum were presented at the platforms. The Russian delegation met with the majors of the world’s largest megacities, who were officially invited to the Moscow Urban Forum in December. The visits of the Moscow delegation were covered in Russian and foreign media.

Cooperation with media at different stages of the communicational campaign

To increase the media coverage of the Moscow Urban Forum during the whole year up to the beginning of the Forum in December, the Agency initiated the coverage opportunities at each stage of the communicational campaign.

During the informational stage, the active participation of the representatives of the Moscow Urban Forum in the world’s biggest urban events was covered in Russian and foreign media. The Agency initiated dozens of articles and interviews with the Russian experts.

At the announcement stage, the largest part of the publications was dedicated to the list of the confirmed speakers and the Forum business program. As the participants were selected, the interviews and the commentaries of international speakers covering the key tendencies and the Moscow development problems, were initiated. It allowed to attract the attention of the target audience to the Forum agenda long before the event.

During the Moscow Urban Forum, the Agency was arranging the work of press-service at the platform. The work of media managers, copywriters, photographers and professional photo-team of RIA Novosti at the event ensured the immediate preparation of media materials: most of materials and photos were ready to be sent during an hour after the event, the translation into English and distribution were made in two hours. The press-service at the event initiated and conducted several dozens of interviews with the Forum speakers.

Arrangement of the press-tour of foreign journalists to the Moscow Urban Forum

The event was mainly visited by the journalists from the countries where the conferences with the participation of the representatives of the Moscow Urban Forum took place during the whole year: Brazil, Great Britain, Spain and the USA. The media representatives from these countries had been already aware of the Forum and the key Russian experts and were among the positively inclined journalists. The journalists from India, China, Indonesia and Turkey – the countries where the issue of effective development of big cities is very topical, and which are interested in the Russian experience, -were invited to Moscow as well. It promoted the image of the Forum representatives as the urban experts. The series of special press-events with the participation of the representatives of the Moscow City Government and the Forum was arranged for foreign journalists.

Informational partnership with the key media

To effectively cover all the events of the 3-day Forum program, the Agency managed to attract 37 informational partners from the main Russian and foreign media. The exclusive TV partners of the Moscow Urban Forum were the largest Russian informational online TV-channels such as Russia-24, Moscow-24 and Russia Today TV Channel, which broadcast live from the event platforms. Dozhd TV Channel was a special TV-partner of the Forum, and Business FM Radio Station was an exclusive multimedia event partner.

The print media partners of the Forum were Expert magazine, RBK daily newspaper and the leading international design and architectural magazine AD/Architechtural Digest. The Forum work was covered by online-media such as Gazeta.ru, RBK Real Estate, The Village and the project of RIA Novosti “Smart City of the Future”. Interfax Group was engaged as an official media partner of the Forum. Moreover, several foreign media received the status of informational partners: Xinhua News Agency (China), CitiesToday magazine (Great Britain), Volume magazine (the Netherlands), ArchDaily and Archello architectural web-resources, as well as the international application Russia Beyond the Headlines (RBTH).

The festival day for a wide audience

Despite the desire of the Forum organizers to make the event available for a wide audience, the central Forum platform – the Moscow Manege – could not accommodate all the guests interested in the city development. Therefore it was decided to extend the 2-day Forum program and to arrange the so-called festival day for a wide audience. The Forum covered several cultural and educational platforms of Moscow, where the visitors could take part in the round tables, listen to the most interesting lectures of the Forum experts and communicate with the speakers. Various master-classes and entertainment events were organized for children. The city volunteers presented their initiatives, and the experts – architects, sociologists and developers – their views on the future of Russian cities. The festival day greatly extended the active Forum audience and allowed the citizens to take part in discussing the city development plans.

Promotion of exclusive researches of the Forum

The experts of the Moscow Urban Forum initiated the interdisciplinary research “Archaeology of the Periphery” dedicated to peripheral districts of big cities, especially Moscow. The experts of the Forum gave the urbanists an opportunity to study the problem of periphery development on the example of one of the biggest cities in the world and to compare the situation in Moscow with other cities. Therefore, the promotion of this material not only attracted the interest of the international expert society and media to the key Forum topic, but also improved the image of the experts of the Moscow Urban Forum. The research results were first exclusively published on the first Forum day by RBK Daily newspaper. Many interviews with the Forum experts dedicated to the unique methods and the research results were arranged at the Forum.

If “Archaeology of the Periphery” Project was mainly developed for the expert society, “What Moscow Wants” Project allowed to cover the wider target audience of the Forum – socially active Moscow inhabitants. During two months, the city inhabitants shared their ideas concerning the Moscow development at the web-site www.moscowidea.ru: users put tags on the interactive map, where, for example, it is necessary to plant a garden or to build a bridge. Then designers and architects suggested their projects, which were presented at the Moscow Urban Forum in December. The project “What Moscow Wants” became an excellent demonstration of the Forum concept – to give an opportunity to the city inhabitants and the experts to find the solutions of the topical problems of Moscow.

RESULT

The complex communication support of the Agency resulted in the significant improvement of the image of the Moscow Urban Forum as the key platform for discussing the urban issues due to the development of the Forum awareness and the expertise of the Russian speakers.

In the period of the communicational campaign, the Forum activity and topics were covered in Russian and foreign print and online media, on TV and radio channels. Over 1,000 full unique materials with the key messages of the campaign were published in such media as Kommersant, Vedomosti, RBK Daily, Forbes, BRICS, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Moskovskij Komsomolets, Vechernyaya Moskva, Profile, Company, etc. About 140 publications in business and industry foreign media were initiated, including such media as Le Monde, Xinhua, Euronews, ArchDaily, CRI, The Jakarta Post, O Globo, Today’s Zaman, The Hindu Business Line, El Pais, etc. Videos and interviews with the Forum speakers were broadcast on the main federal TV channels, including Channel One, Russia 1, TVC, Russia 24, Russia Today and Moscow 24 at prime time. The general coverage of the communicational campaign amounted to over 700 million people.

37 key Russian TV and radio channels, print and online media were attracted as the informational partners of the Forum (for comparison, there were only 21 partners in 2012). The equivalent of the attracted budget from the informational partners amounted to 30 million rubles.

The Moscow Urban Forum was nominated for “The Moscow Times Awards” in the category “Business Event of the Year”. “What Moscow Wants” Project became the prize winner of the “Results of the Year of The Village” annual award in the nomination “Development of Dormitory Districts”.

One of the results not only of the Forum, but also of the actions of the Moscow City Government concerning the implementation of the recommendations, developed at the Forum, was the inclusion of Moscow into Top-5 of the most important European cities according to Knight Frank, an international consulting company. Moscow was only 12 in 2013, and such rapid rise was promoted by the experts’ high rating of life quality, economic activity level and impact of the inhabitants on the positive city situation.

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