Digital firm turns reporters into rock stars—and raises $10,000 for a nonprofit

Reporters do a lot of different things: write, edit, ask questions, churn out copy, and ask more questions. 

But can they spin music? 

That’s the question digital communications agency Horn wanted to find
out. For its month-long campaign, it turned 14 top reporters into disc
jockeys and helped raise $ 10,000 for the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child.
HORN wins the award for Best Event or Stunt in PR Daily’s Digital PR
& Social Media Awards because the agency brought together several
different industries, all in the spirit of helping one charity.

PR Daily’s 2012 Digital PR and Social Media Awards were presented by Synaptic Digital. Learn more about Synaptic Digital here (pdf).

This event was part of HORN’s holiday campaign, Tech the Halls, a
national fundraiser for One Laptop Per Child. HORN teamed up with the
nonprofit and a music startup,, a social listening platform
that lets users DJ online together.

HORN brought together the reporters for a nationwide music competition
for one day, with reporters competing head-to-head for the charity. The
event raised $ 10,000, which is enough money to provide 50 laptops for
students with disabilities.

Here’s some inspiration from HORN as you gear up for this year’s holiday season:

Developing a sound strategy

HORN faced two big challenges, says John Lee, who submitted the winning entry: 

1. No reporter likes to be “pitched” over the holidays.
2. HORN is an agency—and why would anyone, especially the media, want to go to an agency event? 

The agency recruited reporters from top publications such as Advertising
Age, Adweek, and Fast Company. These journalists would compete for a
one-day industry “battle royale,” with the journalists squared against
each other. Audience members would vote on the best DJ. 

Before the competition, HORN conducted a month-long fundraiser for One
Laptop Per Child. To highlight the event, the agency started with
Twitter and created a calendar of tweets, showcasing matchups,
fundraising updates, and information, under the #techthehalls hashtag.
Also, on Twitter, users could see two custom landing pages—one for DJ
battles and another for people to donate. 

Then, after a month of fundraising, it was time for the DJs to go
head-to-head. People were able to vote for their favorite DJs (and they
could also vote from a live chat function). All DJ battles were held in
specially designed DJ rooms, which was a bonus for HORN because the
agency’s branding was quite visible. 

Was it a success? 

The event exceeded HORN’s expectations. Here are just a few things the event achieved, says Lee:

• HORN enjoyed increased visibility, including editorial coverage in
Advertising Age, Billboard, Newsweek, The Next Web, PRNewser,
TechCrunch, and Wired.
• Tech the Halls tweets reached a network of nearly 5 million users,
thanks to coverage from TechCrunch, AdFreak, Advertising Age, Fast
Company, Gizmodo, Men’s Fitness, MediaPost, The Next Web, and Wired. 
• More than 2,500 listeners tuned in (significant, as each DJ room can only hold 200 users at a time). 
• The nonprofit raised $ 10,000, all through crowdsourcing. 

Perhaps the most significant result was the demonstration of what the PR
industry can accomplish when it works together with other agencies.

“By partnering with non-clients, crowdsourcing fundraising, turning
reporters into DJs, HORN successfully created a never-before-done event,
uniting peers and competitors alike for a tremendous cause, and
exemplifying the creativity, execution, and impact that define an
award-winning campaign,” Lee says. 

We agree. Congratulations on your award.

Agency head Sabrina Horn tells us why the event was successful:

Want to get recognized for your hard work? Find out about Ragan and PR Daily’s award programs here: 

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