Milton Keynes and The RedBull Home Run

Thu 01 Mar 2012

Milton Keynes and Red Bull Racing – a textbook case of PR perfection

It is wonderful when a plan comes together.

December’s Red Bull Home Run when the local Formula One racing team held their victory parade through the streets of the city was a textbook example of what a successful PR event can be. 

Sixty thousand people came to see Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, their cars and colleagues, in celebration of a second successive world championship winning season.  The spoils of victory were spread liberally about the place thanks to a fantastic piece of joined-up organisation by all involved.  Midsummer Place saw a quarter as many shoppers as it usually hosts in a week.  The Hub’s numbers were up 400 per cent from an expected 2,000 to 10,000 while thecentre:mk saw more than 120,000 visitors on the day itself.  Hotel occupancy verged on 100 per cent and more than a month’s worth of web visitors hit the Destination Milton Keynes site.  The Council website had visitors from thirty-three countries and more than ninety different media organisations from all over Europe, East and West, were there to record the event and spread the word about Milton Keynes.

For all of us who live or work in the city the value of this kind of public relations profile cannot be underestimated.  The recent Centre for Cities report shows that we have much to shout about, and events like the Red Bull Home Run are the perfect opportunity to open our collective throats and “holler.”  With the fastest population growth in the country and the enviable position of being one of very few places where wages are rising faster than the cost of living, Milton Keynes need feel no inferiority complex in relation to its older city siblings.  There is a far lower reliance on public sector jobs here than elsewhere which means the impact of government cutbacks is less keenly felt.  At a time when nationally, the level of housing stock is causing concern, a higher proportion of new homes are being built here than almost anywhere else in the country. Places for People at Brooklands are seeing an unprecedented demand for new homes. 

The cynics among us might say that not every city can be lucky enough to have the world champions in one of the most popular spectator sports, so not a lot of credit is due to anyone.  Two thousand years ago the Roman philosopher, Seneca, said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”  The Red Bull Home Run event was a masterpiece of coordinated thinking and planning put together at little over a month with  Council Economic Development boss, Pam Gosal at the helm. She says, “It’s been such a ground-breaking event for Milton Keynes in terms of the impact and prestige, the money it brought into the city and pride for local people but perhaps most of all because everyone worked together to make it happen.  The council, Red Bull, emergency services, businesses, shopping centres, The Hub and other sponsors all pulled together, many working unpaid – and so well did it go that the organisers have not received one single complaint. 

From a public relations perspective it is the perfect case study.  People came, they saw and they spent money, taking away with them not just memories of a world beating racing team, but a view of a city where big things can happen.  Pats on the back all round Milton Keynes.

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