The digital age of construction


 

Brief

Finning UK & Ireland is the exclusive UK distributor of Caterpillar equipment. The company enlisted the help of technical PR agency, Stone Junction, to humanise its brand character while staying in line with the corporate nature of a Fortune 100 company, such as Caterpillar.

Typically, Finning’s media coverage would be the result of site visits from editors and freelance journalists. However, since March 2020 Finning’s head offices in Cannock have been closed, meaning that Stone Junction had to find alternative ways of generating coverage for the company.

 

 

Our objectives

  1. Position Finning as a leading supplier of construction equipment and machinery by generating 130 pieces of coverage in UK trade media from June 2020 to May 2021. 
  • 19 full- or multiple-page print clippings
  • Average DA of online coverage websites should be 35
  • 50 backlinks from coverage to the Finning website to increase web traffic

 

  1. Subsidise the lack of face-to-face sales meeting during the pandemic by generating 30 leads as a result of Facebook campaigns

 

  1. Improve brand awareness by increasing social media followers by 5,000 between June 2020 and May 2021, focusing on primarily on LinkedIn and Instagram – Finning’s two smallest platforms, but also putting limited efforts into Facebook and Twitter

 

  1. Create thought-provoking, conversational social media content to increase engagement from 8,462 in June 2020 to 17,284 by May 2021 (100 per cent increase)

 

Our strategy

With an audience base and group of journalists that rely heavily on face-to-face contact, Stone Junction looked for ways to replicate these in-person interactions.

For journalists, Stone Junction decided to emulate the site visit experience by producing a series of customer stories, released to the media on the day that the customer received their new machine. Each piece was distributed with several images of the machine during production, giving the journalist everything they needed to produce a similar piece of content to one they would get from visiting a site.

Stone Junction and Finning also replaced the widely attended open day at Caterpillar’s demonstration site in Malaga with a series of virtual events, showcasing new product launches.

On social media, Stone Junction adopted a similar approach, focusing on customer stories and resharing photos of machines on-site on most days.

 

Implementation of tactics

 

Media relations

Stone Junction spoke to Finning’s closest media contacts to find out what type of content they would like to receive from Finning during the time when site visits were prohibited. Taking this feedback on board, Stone Junction worked with Finning to secure a pipeline of customer stories, which were organised and released in a timely manner, all within one week of the customer’s new machine being delivered.

This took careful planning, as there were often times where the marketing team weren’t aware of a delivery until a week before. In this time, Stone Junction spoke to a representative from Finning, their customer, secured images of the machine and got each story approved by all parties. Releasing the stories at the time of the delivery replicated the site visit process as best possible for the editors.

Stone Junction also produced one piece of thought-leading content per month, often focussed on aftermarket hints and tips, such as maintaining a machine’s undercarriage or getting the best fuel efficiency out of a machine.

Finally, Stone Junction worked with Finning and Caterpillar to organise four virtual media events during the year, all focussed around new machine launches. Stone Junction invited the core journalists to the event and handled any follow ups required to secure the coverage, such as distributing virtual press packs. These events resulted in some of the most impressive multi-page clippings over the year.

Facebook campaigns

With Finning, Stone Junction identified five areas that would benefit from an increased number of leads during the pandemic. These were:

  • Aftermarket parts
  • A new machine, the 315 GC, which was launched during lockdown and therefore not introduced to customers in the same way
  • Small machines, typically sold to sole operators or small construction companies
  • Excavators, one of Finning’s most commonly requested machines

For each campaign, Stone Junction used eye-catching graphics that were aligned with the underlying message of each campaign. For example, for the campaign targeting Scottish customers, we themed the posts and accompanying graphics around the Loch Ness Monster and other Scottish traditions.

Social media growth and engagement

Alongside the lead generating activities, Stone Junction overhauled Finning’s social media presence by increasing the amount of posts per week to five on each channel and changing the nature of the posts from primarily sales-led to customer showcases, hints and tips and links to coverage generated for Finning by Stone Junction.

Stone Junction obtained a bank of legacy images from Finning to use as part of an ongoing #ThrowbackThursday series, while encouraging customers to send in their own photos — something that is now a regular occurrence across all platforms.

 

Final results

  1. Generated 173 pieces of coverage in 39 different outlets (objective exceeded by 33 per cent)
  • 27 full- or multiple-page print clippings (exceeded by 42 per cent)
  • Average DA of online coverage websites was 35 (objective met)
  • 72 backlinks from coverage to the Finning website (exceeded by 44 per cent)
  • 250,000 estimated coverage views, 1,850 social shares according to Coverage Book

 

  1. 101 leads generated on Facebook (objective exceeded by 236 per cent).

    Leads had a combined value of £3.5 million — that’s £1,865 generated for every £1 spent on campaigns.

 

  1. Increased social media followers by 8,388 (objective exceeded by 67 per cent)
  • Instagram – 67.85 per cent increase
  • LinkedIn - 39.73 per cent increase
  • Twitter – 14.12 per cent increase
  • Facebook - 9.44 per cent increase

 

  1. Engagement increased from 8,462 in June 2020 to 40,500 in 17,284 by May 2021 (objective exceeded by 134 per cent)
  • 764,836 impressions generated from June 2020 to May 2021
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