The Gathering Ireland 2013 was an Irish tourism initiative aimed at the 70 million people worldwide claiming Irish ancestry. Throughout 2013, Ireland opened its arms to hundreds and thousands of friends and family from all over the world, calling them home to grass-root gatherings in villages, towns and cities.
The budget was small. The idea was big. The question was: how do we ask four million people across the country to send an invite to the world?
As of December 2013, after just 12 short months, we had built a community of 126,395 on The Gathering Facebook page. The YouTube channel had more than 694,371 views, while the Gathering Ireland 2013 website outperformed all of the campaigns initial projections in terms of numbers of gatherings created and invitations sent.
There was also reported increase in tears, hugs, smiles and laughs at various airports around the country that year.
The communications challenge was to go from zero awareness to a full blown social movement at a time when people in Ireland were feeling increasingly disenfranchised.
It needed to feel true. We focused on people. We concentrated on what makes Ireland unique. We tied our content creation to the brand proposition of ‘create’, ‘invite’ and ‘attend,’ product placing the CTA message within authentic stories of people connecting with overseas friends and family.
The campaign was digitally driven. We created vibrant branded content such as blog posts, videos, photography, motion graphics and infographics which were shared via The Gathering 2013 social media pages and through its operators, partners, gathering organisers and other stakeholders.
From August 2012 to December 2013, we wrote 297 articles and news items on The Gathering website. We focused on topics that the diaspora and expat community would engage with and share. Pieces were written on larger upcoming gatherings that encouraged people to invite their overseas friends and family, while emotive pieces from gathering organisers were also curated detailing the impact of their event.
Several articles were shared by Irish and international blogs and news sites, one of which (‘25 things you never thought you’d miss about Ireland’) was international Irish culture blog World Irish’s most shared piece of content in 2013.
In the space of 14 months we created a whopping 68 online gathering videos. From early vox pop videos aimed to engage the diaspora to pieces that illustrated the reach of The Gathering’s social campaign worldwide and the real impact of the connections it created. Our ‘What has happened for The Gathering so far?’ video generated almost 50,000 hits on YouTube alone.
The videos we produced both for domestic and international audiences generated in excess of an incredible 3.7 million views. Our national sports featured strongly in many of the gatherings we highlighted, as well as the themes of genealogy and family research.
When we weren’t creating sharable content for the initiative, we were wearing out our keyboards managing, editing and approving 5,000 user-generated gatherings that were hosted on The Gathering Ireland website.