Case Study

HOWARD HOSPITAL FOUNDATION’S SYMPHONY OF LIGHTS

MSHSMD Alfred Knight Award of Excellence Winner and Best of Show Nominee…

PRSA Best in Maryland Award of Excellence Winner

Founded in 1992, the Howard Hospital Foundation (HHF) is a private, non-profit organization in Columbia, MD entrusted to provide philanthropic support of Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.

Each year HHF hosts the Symphony of Lights (SOL), a dazzling holiday display of more than 70 larger-than-life light creations. “Drive Throughs” are offered nightly from November to January, with four special events (Dazzle Dash, Blinkin’ Binkies, Tail Lights, Midnight at 7) providing additional fundraising possibilities. A community tradition for more than a decade, SOL is a major fundraiser for the Hospital, with more than 1,300,000 individuals visiting the lights in 355,194 vehicles throughout its 16-year history.

Though SOL has become a holiday institution in Howard County, new audiences from a wider geographic and demographic region had not been pursued. With hopes of growing overall attendance and fundraising dollars, as well as promoting a newly added New Year’s Eve event (Midnight at 7), HHF approached Bonnie Heneson Communications (BHC) to market and publicize the 17th annual Symphony of Lights festivities.

With a plan focusing on both marketing and public relations, BHC strove to:

  1. Exceed past numbers and this year’s goals for attendance and dollars raised for the hospital
  2. Publicize Midnight at 7, the New Years Eve event.

BHC developed a logo and graphic look, direct mail postcard, sponsorship packet, event fliers, event tickets, event program, web graphics and event signage.

In addition to collateral, BHC placed print advertising and bus advertising, as well as executed a public relations campaign to help garner print, radio and television media coverage of all Symphony of Lights festivities.

MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Howard Magazine, December 2010

    Fox 45 live TV broadcast at Symphony of Lights on Dec. 3, 2010.

  2. Urbanite Magazine “November Corkboard”
  3. Baltimore Sun “Swift Pick”
  4. Feature article, “Woodland Wonderland” in Howard Magazine
  5. Howard Magazine: Best of Howard, Annual Festival Event Honorable Mention
  6. Feature color article in Howard County Times with front page color photo
  7. Midnight at 7 photo spread in Howard County Times
  8. Tail lights article in “Unleashed,”Baltimore Sun animals blog
  9. Front page events posting on Charmed Magazine’s homepage on Nov. 22, 2010
  10. SOL included in “Deck the Halls in Bmore: Festive Holiday Events” on AOL’s CityBest Baltimore website

RESULTS

  1. The most successful season for Symphony of Lights in its history: 66% increase in total SOL revenue in 2010 vs. 2009
  2. More than 15,000 carloads of people attended nightly drive throughs, vs. 11,000 in 2009
  3. More than 3,500 attendees at Midnight at 7, more than tripling Foundation’s goal of 1,000 attendees
  4. Attendance for all SOL events up a significant percentage over 2009 (Dazzle Dash 52%; Blinkin Binkies 42%; Tail Lights 20%)
  5. Website page views for SOL totaled 53, 927 for Nov./Dec. 2010, up from 23,330 in Nov./Dec. 2009.  SOL section of website was #1 most viewed on entire hospital.
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