Estonian Public Relations Association Award Winners float to victory as unique feat of engineering brings maritime history ashore
A submarine, a tank and a maritime museum led the way at this year’s Estonian Public Relations Association awards. This year’s extraordinary winning project centred around Seaplane Harbour and its bid to become one of Northern Europe’s leading maritime museums.
In 2011 the museum undertook a highly sophisticated engineering operation, winching ashore the 75-year old submarine Lembit and towing it inside the museum’s hangars. The British-built Lembit, once a national pride of the Estonian Navy, was to become the centrepiece of the museum’s new exhibition.
The winching ashore of a 600-ton submarine – with the help of a tank – was certainly an unusual event. The museum saw an opportunity to turn the complicated operation into a event to promote the Seaplane Harbour project. Although maritime enthusiasts and history fans were aware of the new museum’s construction, the project was unknown to the wider audience. The museum also hoped to draw attention to submarine Lembit, a history gem that many Estonians had forgotten.
To promote the winching operation, the Seaplane Harbour’s PR-agency Jugaste, Liiva and Partners crafted and executed a media plan entailing proactive media work that turned the winching operation into a national media event. On 20-21 May thousands of people followed an online broadcast of the winching operation on Estonia’s largest news site. 2000 people came to Seaplane Harbour during day and night to see the event. The operation received international coverage by CNN and Russia’s fourth-largest TV-network TV Centre.
As a result of the successful PR campaign, Lembit made an honourable last trip into the Seaplane Harbour’s hangars. The event helped communicate the museum’s most important message - that a unique museum is being built at the Seaplane Harbour.
The Seaplane Harbour opened its doors to the public on 12 May 2012. Nearly 12,000 people visited the Seaplane Harbour during the first two days, more than a double of the museum’s greatest expectations. Writing about the opening the next day, one daily titled its story “A Box Office Hit”.
Jugaste, Liiva and Partners is a member of the Estonian Public Relations Association.