Category: Most effective B2B PR campaign

Client/Entering Company: Smoking Gun PR

Campaign title: BrightHR: It Pays To Play

Company Name: BrightHR


SGPR delivered a highly effective campaign that propelled its absence management software client, BrightHR, into the headlines of the national and B2B press – generating awareness and driving purchase consideration among HR managers and business owners.

Through expert-led reports, the campaign saw BrightHR leading and generating conversation around brilliant workplace cultures and productivity – giving the brand personality, memorability and making it stand out against its competitors.

Tactics were employed to grow BrightHR’s digital footprint, positively impacting on business objectives.


BrightHR is a people management software company that enables HR managers and small business owners to effortlessly manage staff absence. Launched in January 2016, the brand had one fundamental problem – low awareness.

Low awareness was evident from Google Trends analysis, when compared to a more generic but related search term such as HR Software (see chart on page two of supporting material, the red line shows search in the UK for ‘HR Software’ versus search for ‘BrightHR’, illustrated on the blue line). Search patterns here have been used as a proxy for brand awareness.

The below business objectives were agreed upon between SGPR and BrightHR based on brand tracking of competitors and Q1 sales targets.

Raise awareness among HR managers, SME owners and resellers (specifically accountants, consultants and financial advisors), as evidenced by rising levels of hits to site, by 100% in six months. 20% of coverage to contain a quality backlink. Further KPIs as outlined below

  1. Position BrightHR as an expert on workplace cultures. KPI: 30% of coverage featuring quotes from BrightHR experts
  2. Minimum 60 trade/B2B pieces of coverage
  3. Minimum 20 national consumer pieces of coverage
  4. Driving data capture from target audience. KPI: 1,000 downloads

Measurement tools

  • Data capture through download of ‘gated’ content
  • Media coverage volume and message penetration
  • Google Analytics


BrightHR’s target consumer is primarily small business owners and HR managers. Bright also has a partner programme of software resellers – specifically accountants, consultants and financial advisors.

Focus groups conducted prior to campaign activation revealed diversity in how our audience consumed its media – be they picking up the latest B2B publication in the office, thumbing through the weekend broadsheets, stealing 10 minutes on the MailOnline over lunch or tuning in to BBC Radio 5 Live on the drive home.

We knew from the outset, therefore, that.. and that we should aim to capture the attention of HR managers and business owners across multiple platforms.

Focus groups also revealed that our audience was more compelled to trust and be influenced by the opinion of experts within their own sectors as opposed to household-name, business magnates such as Lord Sugar or Baroness Brady.

A focus on quality data capture and link building was ingrained within the strategy, with core business objectives in mind.

In a competitive and often, very dry, sector, making BrightHR memorable to achieve cut through was essential. We wanted to make BrightHR stand out against its competitors with a bold and lively, rather than traditional, PR approach.

The strategy focused on:

  • Working with high profile experts to build a suite of gated thought-leadership reports, hosted on the BrightHR website (driving data capture)
  • Hardworking press office:
    1) Deliver SEO PR – editorial link building from high DA websites
    2) Using our army of experts, including BrightHR’s co-founders, as interviewees and to author thought leadership blogs and articles
    3) News-jacking
  • Creating a series of newsworthy angles for national consumer and trade press (including verticals)
  • Delivering a launch stunt



Outputs: Thought leadership reports
Experts and futurists authored a series of reports with BrightHR:

  • ‘It Pays To Play’ – Cary Cooper, Professor of Organisational Psychology and Health at Manchester Business School
  • ‘Play & Productivity’ – Graham Allcott, ‘How to be a Productivity Ninja’
  • ‘A Future that Works’ – Lynda Gratton, professor of management practice at London Business School & futurist David A.Smith
  • ‘Better Relationships: Better Business’ – Dr David Fraser – Relationship Mastery: A Business Professional’s Guide

The reports were hosted as free downloads on the website to capture data and provided a wealth of angles for media.

Headlines included:

  • Fun and perks could be the answer to a more satisfied Millennial workforce
  • Space architects and body part makers: new study reveals the 100 jobs of the future
  • The hidden costs of ignoring employee engagement
  • One in five accountants say client relationships suffer due to lack of human interaction

News-jacking and blogs
Successful news-jacks included:

  • Radio 5 Live discussing the future of the workplace – interview with BrightHR’s CEO about ‘A Future That Works’ report findings
  • Thought leadership piece on HR Zone discussing the London receptionist who was sent home after refusing to wear heels
  • Features in the Metro and Mirror about the gender pay gap
  • BrightHR comment in Stylist about workplace loneliness

A series of blogs were crafted to maximise the content further, securing coverage in business press and verticals for accountants, consultants and financial advisors, with backlinks.

Launch stunt
Workplace wellbeing, and particularly the demands of Millennials, was sparking much debate in the press. So we created the UK’s first dedicated ‘nap room’ in BrightHR’s offices.

We worked with Silentnight, another client of Smoking Gun, to design the nap room, with temperature, lighting and ambience all created to induce sleep.

A photoshoot, with suited and booted employees taking a nap in the office bed, built a multi-media package including:

  • Live video Periscope
  • Edited film for sharable content
  • Pictures for online gallery
  • Outstanding email content for prospects

A press release distributed to national news, HR and business publications told the story of the nap room, positioning it at the centre of a pioneering new study from BrightHR to test the power of napping on the job.

Further activities included:

  • TV and radio interview opportunities with BrightHR’s Paul Tooth live from the bed
  • Thought leadership articles from Paul for HR and business press
  • Unique angles for target media – a heavily pregnant member of staff was used as a case study to talk how napping was helping her maintain productivity News-jacking – David Cameron taking power naps

Campaign Effectiveness

Headline outputs and out-takes: Business objectives 1 & 2
Raising awareness among HR managers, SME owners and resellers, positioning BrightHR as an expert on workplace cultures

  • Google Analytics revealed that the number of users of the site pre-launch was 14,576, versus 252,884 users during 2016. (Original objective was to double hits in six months)
  • 240 pieces of coverage
  • 53% trade/B2B, 21% national consumer, 26% regional
  • 68% included quotes from experts and BrightHR personnel
  • 33% coverage contained a quality backlink, and those containing backlinks had strong domain authority
  • Half of the highest ranking domain backlinks were attributed to PR – boosting organic search traffic Sales analysis revealed that organic search was the second best converting channel (after paid routes)
  • Cost Per Thousand – £0.06
  • Anecdotal industry feedback to senior management – “you guys are everywhere”

Launch stunt

  • 36 pieces of coverage (13 national, 18 trade, five regional)
  • 88% coverage included a quote from BrightHR’s Paul Tooth, securing key messages around workplace cultures
  • 71% of editorial coverage contained shoot imagery
  • Cost Per Thousand of £0.02
  • Press enquiries up 1000%
  • Google Trends analysis revealed that the highest level of search for BrightHR happened around the same time as a Yahoo! item about the sleep stunt was published. Please see graph on page three of supporting material for evidence via Google Trends.

The highlights:

  • The Times, The Guardian, Mirror online, The Telegraph, Yahoo!
  • Photoshoot and interview with pregnancy case study led to full page in FeMail and MailOnline syndication.
  • Broadcast interview with Paul Tooth on BBC Radio 5 Live
  • Coverage in client ‘wish list’ titles Business Matters, Management Today, HR Grapevine, Personnel Today and HR News

NB: SGPR affirmed that titles on the client’s wish list such as HR Grapevine were suitable news outlets, as the Google Analytics showed that this source was driving more direct traffic back to the site than other news outlets

Outputs and out-takes: Business objective 3

  • 126 trade/B2B pieces (KPI 60)
  • 26% of these appeared in accountancy, consultancy and financial advisory verticals
  • Highlights included thought leadership feature on the future of accounting in Economia, article on staff loyalty in SME Magazine and inclusion in an FT report for financial advisors
  • Google Analytics data revealed that trade / B2B media content was particularly successful at driving direct referral traffic back to BrightHR’s site

Outputs and out-takes: Business objective 4:

  • 50 national consumer pieces (KPI 20)
  • Coverage appeared in every national newspaper
  • Highlights included a DPS in The Guardian’s ‘Love Your Job’ supplement, a page lead on office environments in The Times and the gender pay gap in The Mirror and Metro
  • Productivity report coverage in August / September across consumer / online sources correlated with a rise in Google search

Out-takes and outcomes: Business objective 5

  • 2,200 expert-led report downloads/data capture (KPI: 1,000)
  • Raft of award wins including ‘Best Communication’ (2016 Best Business Awards) and ‘HR Provider of the Year’ (2016 SME Awards)

Simon Dalley, BrightHR’s marketing manager:
“Smoking Gun not only helped us smash our ambitious targets but put BrightHR firmly on the agendas of all important business writers and HR publications.

“In the month the stunt went live we saw a substantial increase in web traffic and new enquiries. What’s more, the nap room fitted so organically with our brand ethos that it continues to be a genuine part of our office”.

Note: The ‘BrightHR: It Pays To Play’ campaign has been audited by an independent AMEC member


  • Drove commercial results
  • Organic search was the second best converting channel
  • High domain authority backlinks
  • ‘It Pays To Play’ tagline created by SGPR became a creative platform for all sales and marketing comms
  • Creative and ambitious approach to launching a potentially dry software product
  • Breadth of media titles secured – TV, radio, mid markets, tabloids, broadsheet, online & trade
  • Brand personality and credibility established
  • Hardworking campaign – consistently on brand and on message
  • Integrated across earned and owned media, and digital marketing
  • Highest ranking domains came from PR
  • Building trust and credibility through calibre of media appeared in
  • Exceeded all expectations

BrightHR Supporting Materials