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Rooster: 10 Highlights from 2020

Rooster: 10 Highlights from 2020
30 December 2020 James Brooke

This time last year, I introduced my annual highlights roundup (see here) with “Let’s be frank, 2019 was a tough, sticky year. Like wading through treacle.” Well WOW, if 2019 was tough, 2020 has, as everyone knows, been brutal. So, while I’ve no desire to sugarcoat a year that I’ll be glad to see the back of, there have been some genuine highlights that warrant a mention. And more than any other year, it’s important to celebrate the ‘wins’.

Previously I’ve focused on 10 pieces of ‘Work’ that Rooster delivered. This year however, I’m broadening the scope to include a wider range of agency highlights from a year like no other.

But before I do, a BIG shout out to my awesome Rooster team, our inspiring clients and all the brilliant media and industry partners that we’ve worked so closely with in 2020. Thank you.

In place of Christmas cards, gifts and a party this year, we’ve made donations to The Childhood Trust and Only a Pavement Away. The Childhood Trust works to alleviate the impact of child poverty in London, and Only a Pavement Away is the charity for the employment of the homeless, ex-offenders and vulnerable veterans into careers within the hospitality industry. Our donation to Only a Pavement Away was match funded (doubled) through the Big Give Christmas Challenge 2020, who supported over 750 charities to raise money this year.

So, in no particular order…

We are pr.®

In November 2019, we marked Rooster’s 20th anniversary by unveiling a complete rebrand and repositioning of the agency. By refocusing on our core media relations and press office service, when many are still debating the meaning & value of ‘PR’, and are distracted by ‘creative campaigns’, we unknowingly reinforced our foundations to weather the storm of 2020.

For a PR agency traditionally known for its deep travel heritage and expertise, we cemented our Consumer & Lifestyle and Business & Corporate PR credentials. In practice, that meant that while a significant proportion of our travel clients went on pause or reduced budgets, we only needed to furlough three of the team, and only then till the end of October.

Covid-19 Community Management

In Q1 2020, global travel tumbled as the danger of Covid-19 spread. As China Airlines‘ retained social media agency for Europe, our challenge was to provide essential customer support during what was a huge, ever-changing global crisis. Working round the clock, the team fielded nearly 4,000 customer service enquiries regarding ticket changes, new schedules, new processes, border restrictions, and much more.

“Rooster helped us successfully navigate through the extremely challenging COVID-19 pandemic. The team’s thorough understanding of public relations and social media management ensured that our customers could rely on our UK/NL Facebook page for the most up to date information and prompt customer service assistance.” Julia Kern, China Airlines’ Netherlands Sales & Marketing Representative

Staycation Anyone?

With international travel banned, we seized the opportunity to promote Camptoo – “the Airbnb of campervans” – as an ideal staycation option in 2020. Armed with booking data, our hardworking press office and newsjacking approach drove blanket national and regional coverage which contributed to a sell-out year for Camptoo. Summer and autumn bookings were up 430% and 263% YoY respectively.

“Rooster recognised early on that staycations were a hot topic and that campervan usage was showing a long-term upward trend. They swiftly turned our booking data into press stories, securing a plethora of national coverage for Camptoo.” Ed Bassett, UK Country Manager, Camptoo

Lockdown Relevance

Our long-standing wood burning stove client, Contura, knows a thing or two about the importance of a cosy and inviting home. Far from seeing time at home as restrictive, we spotted an opportunity to put Contura at the forefront of the conversation around the positives of a new home-centric lifestyle. And the results? Every KPI smashed and a Christmas ‘Fireside Storytelling’ campaign with the fabulous Kate Humble, coupled with a #BritainsCosiest social competition, signed off. (More of that in the new year when the results are all in).

“Cosyology – the art of getting cosy – is an integral concept to our brand. Rooster has managed to capture the essence of this and convey it to press with great success.” Catharina Björkman, Marketing Communications Manager, Contura

New Business

As clients went on pause and budgets were cut, you’d naturally assume (and worry) that the new biz pipeline would dry up. Surprisingly, not only did the briefs keep coming, but our conversion rate increased from a steady 50% across the last 12 years (yes, I’ve been at Rooster that long), to 60% in 2020. Thank you to the raft of new clients for buying into our approach and ideas. And watch this space in 2021 as we unveil our latest wins across all three divisions (Travel & Tourism | Business & Corporate | Consumer & Lifestyle) – coffee and motorsports anyone?!

Reeling in the Sales

Launched in February 2020, Outlaw Pro, a new fishing retailer challenger brand, tasked Rooster with scaling up their e-commerce activity through paid social. Their major competitor, Angling Direct, turns over £60 million a year so we know audiences fall hook, line, and sinker for products in the category. To get Outlaw Pro closer to that lofty goal, we embraced strong creative, smart media buying, and organic social consultancy. This e-comm media mix enabled us to reel in a 4.42 return-on-ad-spend and drive 70% of Outlaw Pro’s lifetime sales within two months.

Blossoming Launch

We love a challenge at Rooster, so how about an all-new Christmas-relevant brand launch less than eight weeks out from the big day?! Our comms needed to stand out, and crucially, our coverage for Bloom, a high-end, innovative flower delivery service, needed to reach the right audiences. A tenacious approach meant we smashed the two-month launch KPIs in our first month, landing coverage that PR dreams are made of!

“We’d been let down by PR agencies in the past, but Rooster is absolutely smashing the launch campaign. We are continually impressed by their tenacity and ability to deliver to tight deadlines.” Larry Walshe, Founder, Bloom

The Unseen

This year more than ever, there’s been a mountain of issues & crisis management and corporate work that we simply can’t talk about. Inevitably falling outside the working day, 2020 has been the year when our ‘never-ending press office’ service, which includes 24/7/365 reputation pr as standard, really has lived up to its name.

‘ROR – Return on Relationship’

Kudos to David Orr, CEO of our hotel client The Resident, for coining this phrase. It’s one I’ve used extensively this year when many of the standard ROI metrics just haven’t seemed fit for purpose. While we’re far from perfect, when it comes to delivering a strong ROR, the Rooster team has smashed it in 2020.


Normally, we shout about awards for our client work. But this year, the most important awards have been for my Rooster team, in recognition of their tireless commitment and hard work. It’s a long list, so I won’t detail them all here, but you can view the full 2020 Rooster Awards deck in all it’s glory here.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading.

If you’re a brand or business looking for PR/social/ecommerce support in 2021 then email your briefs to: [email protected].

If you’re an ambitious Junior Account Executive or Account Executive, we’re hiring in our Business & Corporate Team for an immediate start in January, so email your CV to: [email protected].

Stay Safe & Happy Christmas.

Until 2021…

James, MD