Daring to be Different with your PR campaign

Earlier this week, our resident supporter of women in motorsport, Carrie Mathieson, attended a Dare to Be Different event on behalf of one of our clients. Here she shares her thoughts on why a successful PR campaign should be more than a box-ticking exercise.

In an era of fake news, viral mistruths and GDPR, consumers are increasingly demanding authenticity from brands and companies. A recent study by Euclid found 52% of millennials expect brands to share their values, or they’ll take their business elsewhere, thank you very much.

That’s why PR initiatives need to be credible and relative to their target audience, rather than just paying lip service to current trends. In tackling issues, such as a lack of diversity in the workplace and skills shortages, a successful campaign will marry the expertise of PR, marketing, HR, recruitment and business.

This is where Dare to Be Different is flourishing. It was founded on the vision of encouraging more women and young girls into the motorsport industry, spearheaded by former F1 test driver Susie Wolff. Based on my time at an event this week, I would argue its mission has expanded beyond that, and young women are being inspired to consider careers in the wider STEM industries.

The day began with fifty young girls, aged between 8-14 years old, gathered quietly in a small room to learn about the day’s events. After a short introduction to drag racing – currently the only equality motorsport in the world – the girls were split into groups to tackle a range of activities.

It’s the diverse nature of these activities that makes Dare to Be Different stand out in its engagement. The girls take part in hands-on sessions where they learn about the importance of exercise and nutrition, and test their reactions on an adapted Batak machine. As they undertake a pit stop challenge they learn about the importance of team work, and their competitive spirit is brought to the fore as they race to be the first to finish. A short go-karting session strengthens this further!

A media training session, hosted by well-known motorsport presenters, encourages them to write their own scripts and act out the role of presenters and drivers, all in front of camera. An engineering challenge has them constructing their own hover-board out of household items – successfully. The change in their confidence as the day goes on is truly remarkable, from a group who appeared not too excited at the prospect of a day dedicated to STEM.

Partners of Dare to Be Different have a unique opportunity to interact with the next generation. The girls who attended Santa Pod Raceway left with discount vouchers for their families and themselves, and after a fantastic day being introduced to a brand new sport, it’s a great way of enticing a new audience to attend their local motorsport events.

The marketing is authentic and genuine, because it is delivered by people who are inspiring without the perception of being inaccessible. The ambassadors are carefully selected to represent a wide range of STEM areas, from doctors to mechanics, and engineers to racers, who the girls are free to question and grill throughout the day. Dare to Be Different has recognised that representation at such a young age is vital to getting more women into the industry.

On International Women in Engineering Day, Dare to Be Different will be busy with another of its flagship events. But its campaign has a long term vision beyond one day a year. Driven by a recognition of a shortage of women in STEM, and engineers entering the workforce in general, it is encouraging its audience to try new things. The enthusiasm and confidence they imbue their audience with is impressive to see first-hand. Having now expanded its operations into Germany and Australia, the care and dedication they’ve shown in identifying how to best engage with their audience is truly paying dividends, not ticking boxes.