Communication Programs - 1. External Communications - e) Media Relations

NATIONAL was retained to plan and implement a national media relations program to ensure the
successful launch of Vaughan Mills, a new 1.2 million-square-foot shopping and entertainment destination
in the City of Vaughan, just North of Toronto. Vaughan Mills was the first enclosed shopping centre to be
built in Canada in more than 14 years. An extensive media relations effort was needed to educate
consumers and the Canadian media. Creating top-of-mind awareness and name recognition for Vaughan
Mills would help generate buzz and excitement around the project, culminating in a successful grand
opening on November 4, 2004.
The project had been delayed many times since it was first announced in 1998, and public awareness
about Vaughan Mills was very low. Media coverage generated prior to NATIONAL coming on board tended
to focus on construction delays and other negative issues. Overall, the perception of Vaughan Mills was
that it would never come to fruition.
Once NATIONAL was selected, a contract was put in place from May to December 2004. The monthly
budget was set at $20,500, totalling $164,000 in fees for eight months of work.

NATIONAL allocated significant time and resources to conducting extensive research before any planning
began. The following research was conducted:
•   GTA Events - A comprehensive listing of planned events and activities in the Greater Toronto Area
    provided insight into the ideal timing of Vaughan Mills events so as not to compete with eXisting
•   Canadian Holidays - A listing of all pertinent Canadian statutory and civic holidays.
•   Competitive Information - An overview of competitive shopping centres, their history, size and
    primary target market, upcoming expansions and events.
•   Media Analysis - A thorough analysis of all pertinent print, broadcast and online media in the GTA
    and across Canada (mainstream, ethnic, trade and consumer).
•   Demographics - An analysis of the GTA population (including ethnicity, household income, gender,
    age, etc.) provided insight into the primary target audiences for the media relations program.

Planning. Strategy. Analysis
Once research was completed, the results were synthesized and included in a 110-page Strategic
Communications Plan developed by NATIONAL. The Plan provided the framework for the media relations
program. The following areas were covered in the Plan:
Target Audiences
The primary target audience was defined as the 7.5 million people living within a 100 kilometre radius of
the shopping centre, which includes more than 60% of Ontario's population and nearly one quarter of
Canada's population and represents a diverse group of people - culturally, religiously and economically.
Media were considered the primary conduit for reaching this diverse and expansive audience. Print,
broadcast, trade and online media were targeted. Within these categories, various ethnic media outlets
were targeted to represent the large Italian, Asian and Jewish communities in the GTA. Also targeted were
various vertical media, including retail, business, fashion, lifestyle, entertainment, family/parenting, and
travel and tourism. Media relations were conducted primarily in English. For francophone media, news
releases and other media materials were translated and French-speaking spokespeople were provided.
Goals & Objectives
•   Create top-of-mind awareness and name recognition for Vaughan Mills locally, regionally and

CPRS Awards of Excellence 2005 - Submission Summary                                          1
•   Generate excitement leading up to the grand opening and maintain momentum through the launch and
    post-launch phases
•   Drive traffic to grand opening and support the goal of attracting 50,000 shoppers on grand opening day
    and 200,000 shoppers during the weekend of grand opening celebrations
•   Build awareness of the unique Mills mix of retail and entertainment amongst Canadian media and
•   Mitigate any negative perceptions that might persist
•   Between May and December 2004, generate approximately 30 million media impressions, or the
    equivalent of approximately $1 million (CON) in advertising
We developed and executed a multi-faceted media relations campaign designed to generate excitement
and momentum leading up to a successful grand opening. The campaign was divided into three distinct
phases - Pre-Grand Opening, Grand Opening and Post-Grand Opening. Each phase contributed to a
consistent stream of positive media coverage throughout the campaign.

Execution, Production, Communication
Pre-Grand Opening
•   Create and execute a news bureau to provide a steady stream of stories and angles for the media
•   Develop a postcard campaign to serve as a means of keeping Vaughan Mills top-of-mind with media
•   Plan and implement a media hard hat tour of Vaughan Mills during construction to demonstrate
•   Coordinate media familiarization trips to other Mills centres in the U.S.
•   Secure a successful Canadian retailer to act as media spokesperson at the Vaughan Mills Career Fair
Grand Opening
To aggressively promote the grand opening and entice media to attend, we developed a creative and
unique media "teaser." Just prior to grand opening, we compiled more than 200 media kits that included
media materials developed by NATIONAL. Multiple media alerts were distributed in the days leading up to
grand opening to provide detailed information about media accreditation procedures, security restrictions,
satellite hook-up facilities and spokesperson availability. On grand opening day, NATIONAL deployed an
eight-person team to provide comprehensive on-site media relations support.
Post-Grand Opening
NATIONAL was tasked with the challenge of continuing to generate media coverage for after grand
opening, when most media had already visited the centre and the initial novelty and excitement had
dissipated. To achieve this, we sent out a holiday pitch encouraging media to use Vaughan Mills as a
backdrop for their holiday stories and made spokespeople readily available. The holiday media pitch
generated 41 stories in December alone, totalling 19 million media impressions.

Vaughan Mills was the most successful grand opening of any Mills centre and among the most successful
shopping centre openings ever in Canada:
•   A record-setting 81,000 people attended on grand opening day and a total of 302,000 attended during
    the weekend of grand opening celebrations, exceeding attendance expectations by 50%.
•   More than 85 million media impressions were generated, exceeding media coverage expectations
    by 185% and equivalent to $1.3 million in advertising.
•   A record-setting 5,000 applicants attended the Vaughan Mills Career Fair (more than any other Mills
    career fair) and almost all of the 3,500 available positions were filled.
•   The tone of the media coverage was overwhelmingly positive, with little or no reference to the negative
    issues or perceptions that existed in the past.

CPRS Awards of Excellence 2005 - Submission Summary                                         2

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