Sporting prowess is probably the last thing you’d expect from elderly care home residents. But now a Norwegian startup, Motitech founded by Jon Ingar Kjenes, is encouraging thousands of residents aged from 50 to over 90, to train vigorously for a world sporting title from the comfort of their own care homes. That earned them coverage and a media backlink from The Guardian.
In this post, I’ll give you 6 PR lessons you can take from their experience, and experienced journalist, John Crowley will give his take on what made this story so newsworthy.
The company makes the Motiview system, consisting of custom-made exercise bikes, paired a video device, a movie library of familiar locations, and playlists guided by a music therapist.
Every year they hold the ‘Road World for Seniors’ virtual event with thousands of care home residents from around the world competing.
This story appeared in the Saturday edition of The Guardian, Out of retirement: the care home seniors chasing global cycling glory by Amelia Hill. It’s a substantial article with a nice media backlink to Motitech’s website.
The story includes quotes from care home residents, the staff at the homes, and thoughts for the entrepreneur himself. It’s an uplifting, inspirational piece.
When you see such a story, you might think, “that’s a great PR success for them, but I couldn’t possibly do that for my business”.
That’s like care home residents saying they could never cycle, but then found out they could, just like thousands of others.
If you want media coverage and media backlinks for your business or organization, there are real lessons you can take from this story:
- Get the timing right
- Focus on an important issue
- Take a creative leap
- Let your customers speak
- Let the story unfold
- Create something worth linking to.
1. Get the timing right
The timing for this was spot on for at least 3 reasons (i) it’s a great story for the weekend edition – an interesting read that could lead to a discussion piece around the breakfast table, (ii) it’s timely because, with COVID, care home residents are in the news, and (iii) it’s published on the same weekend as the London Marathon.
2. Focus on an important issue
Rather than talk about the company, Motitech talks about the problems they solve:
“Immobility is a serious issue among care home residents… in just one week, immobile older people can lose 10-12% of their muscle mass… The best way to slow the loss of muscle mass and function is resistance training”
3. Take a creative leap
Motictech created a great product to address an important problem.
But the big creative leap was to turn their concept into a formal, annual championship, ‘Road World for Seniors’.
And it was that championship that communicated the excitement and relevance of their products to their target audience – the residents of care homes, their families, and staff.
4. Let your customers speak
The founder of Motitech gives some great quotes in the article but he doesn’t dominate. He lets his customers do the talking – and his customers include the care home residents, their families, and the staff who work with them.
The competition certainly motivated residents. Here’s what residents had to say:
Bill Ireland OBE, a former fighter pilot:
Gwyneth Nisbet who hasn’t walked for 2 years:
And here’s what the staff had to say:
Georgina Cliff, a fitness instructor:
Ida Nilsson, head of activity:
Motitech did a great job of getting their messages delivered through the words of their customers!
5. Let the story unfold
Jon, the founder of Motitech gave some good quotes, then stepped back and let the story unfold.
This is super-clever and doesn’t happen by accident. He let the journalist have access to people who could speak first hand.
I love the way the overall story is told through people’s experiences – only a brief mention of the entrepreneur but lots of powerful, individual stories.
Indeed, one of the quotes the journalist picks provides the opening to kick off the article.
6. Create something worth linking to
Media backlinks are difficult to get.
Of course, you need a good PR story to stand a chance, but that on its own is not enough. You need to create something that is worth linking to.
Motitech created the Road World Competition and yes, that was a good PR story.
But they also created a dedicated page on the site that was attractive and had lots of good images and video – it showed the story in a tangible way.
That competition page attracted the media backlink, not the homepage.
And there are some great additional photos in the uncluttered page that are so easy to scan:
And according to Majestic, that page has attracted backlinks from some very influential websites:
The Journalist’s View
John Crowley is a London-based editor and consultant who has more than two decades of experience working for local, national, and international news titles. He has taken on digital and managerial roles for The Daily Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and The Irish Post among others.
Here is John’s take on this story:
- This story presses so many buttons. It’s an article that touches on lots of aspects of the pandemic: virtual learning, exercise, and personal growth combined with being, for once, an uplifting tale about care homes.
- Speaking with journalist colleagues, there’s a desire at the moment from news editors to find stories that aren’t all doom and gloom.
- I’ve certainly been told to look for ideas beyond Covid. This doesn’t mean journalists aren’t covering the pandemic – they are, but news editors want to achieve a balance between the serious-minded, pandemic stories that dominate news site home pages with lighter stories which may or may not be related to Covid-19. In this case, it’s a story that is a byproduct of the coronavirus.
- Clearly, Motitech had already put a package together with a series of interviews. This would have helped the journalist even more. Journalists don’t like stories that aren’t fully formed and half-baked. The real humanity of the story came out through the quotes which Ken has pointed to above.
- They are also in for the long-haul: the Road Worlds for Seniors is now in its third year.
- Despite being Norwegian you can see on their site that they have a significant number of senior staff focused in the UK where the Guardian’s HQ and the majority of its audience are based.
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