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    Taking a local developer international!

    We had an exciting summer thanks to a ground-breaking new initiative by our long-standing developer client Urban Creation.

    Our role is to manage the communications for this student/residential developer and serviced apartment operator, raising its profile and supporting its expansion, as well as helping to drive the sales and lettings for its property portfolio.

    Never afraid of a challenge and always innovating, Jonathan Brecknell, owner and director, had come to us many months previously to let us know he had plans to use cutting-edge modular construction methods on a future development site. When we delved deeper we discovered there were some unique angles to this project given the nature of the site.

    We set about ensuring the right collateral was gathered from the very early stages and carefully crafted the messaging to ensure it had the makings of a national story. So when it came to the moment factory-built homes were lifted by a giant crane into a tight city centre site, we had everything we needed to make the story fly!

    We delivered regional, national and international coverage including Mail Online, The Sun, Metro, BBC Points West, BBC Radio Bristol, ITV West Country, France 2, French finance paper Les Echo and many other national and sector publications.

    This resulted in our client attracting numerous requests to speak at major conferences and events, new enquiries regarding possible development sites and significant new traffic to their website. In Jonathan’s words, the phone has been ‘red hot’!

    Campaign-led approach shines spotlight on BDP

    Since we started working with BDP architects’ Bristol studio over two years ago, we’ve spearheaded a campaign-led approach to PR.

    The task was to raise the profile of the studio to secure new business for the team and change perceptions about the type of work it undertakes. We developed campaigns focused on ‘owning’ key topics that are part of a wider debate in the city, such as high-density development and ‘gap homes’, securing widespread national sector specific and regional coverage.

    The results speak for themselves. As an example, the BDP team recently won a new project after the client saw an article by BDP in Building Better Healthcare on ‘a new generation of emergency care facilities’. BDP experts are regularly asked to contribute to industry panels, whilst other regional offices within BDP are now adopting Bristol’s approach as its success has attracted attention within the company.

    Nick Fairham, architect director and head of the Bristol studio at BDP, said: “The team at Spirit worked collaboratively to develop a clear picture of what we do, who we are and where we want to be. Their creative campaigns have connected us with new clients and made it an enjoyable and rewarding experience.”

    Capturing the imagination of a national audience

    We love a challenge – so when Canwood Gallery got in touch to see if we’d be interested in helping to capture the nation’s attention and bring people to see art in the depths of rural Herefordshire, we say yes! It had already launched the year before, so we needed to find a new news hook.

    It turned out that this was an art gallery with a fascinating back story. Retired arable farmer Stephen Dale began his life-long love affair with contemporary art when he made his first-ever visit to an art gallery whilst being treated for leukaemia in the 1970s, and later decided to set up the Canwood Gallery and Sculpture Park on the remainder of his land, to fulfil his mission to bring art ‘into the sticks’.

    We felt this angle would be sure to attract some high level interest, so we carefully honed our pitch and hit the phones, relaying the possible filming opportunities to our close journalistic contacts.

    Our enthusiasm for this story was shared and we scooped plenty of national interest – including BBC 1 Six O’Clock News, BBC Radio 4, BBC UK News Channel, BBC World Service Radio, BBC World TV, reaching tens of millions of people – plus the likes of The Huffington Post,  The Independent and most recently The Guardian.

    Our client said the coverage achieved ‘was beyond our wildest dreams’ and they attracted over 1000 visitors in the first 10 days, from as far afield as US, Canada and Australia, resulting in the extension of their summer exhibition by two weeks – happy client, happy us!

    Getting Scunthorpe hunting for treasure

    When artist Luke Jerram approached us with his idea for his latest project we jumped at the chance of working with him again.

    Having previously helped to promote his famous Park and Slide waterslide and the launch of his Sky Orchestra at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, and at the Bristol & Bath Science Park which now has several artworks, Spirit has had a long term relationship with Luke.

    This time, the focus was on getting the word out about his new artwork, Treasured City, to encourage people to take part and to ensure the public understood the aims behind the project.

    Treasured City was a thrilling treasure hunt which saw five golden objects hidden in secret locations across Scunthorpe and surrounding areas. Clues to the whereabouts of the five historic replicas cast in 18 carat gold were woven into a series of intricate paintings, shown at a new exhibition at 20-21 Visual Arts Centre, Scunthorpe.

    Yes, it was about encouraging people to have some fun playing detective and enjoy the outdoors, but it was also designed to get people to explore Scunthorpe’s rich heritage and surroundings as well as engaging those who wouldn’t normally visit a gallery or take part in arts events.

    We carefully timed our media approaches to ensure that we had a drip-feed of awareness building in the media in the months ahead of launch, whilst holding back from throwing the main spotlight on the project until just ahead of the opening of the exhibition. This was to maximise interest in the launch itself, which attracted hundreds of people who queued outside, eager to be the first ones inside.

    We came up with different angles for key target press, for example inviting BBC Front Row to film the casting of the golden objects, whilst BBC Inside Out Yorkshire and Lincolnshire met Luke Jerram at his studio in Bristol where the paintings were being created.

    We also invited BBC’s The One Show to do pre-recorded filming coupled with interviews on the day of launch, resulting in Treasured City being featured on the programme with guest presenters The Hairy Bikers.

    Resulting coverage included also included BBC 1 National Breakfast (TV), BBC Radio Humberside, BBC Radio Two with Jonathan Ross, BBC News Online Humberside, Yorkshire Post, Scunthorpe Telegraph, ITV Calendar and Estuary TV.

    In addition to our media work, we also advised on how to capitalise on the social media channels available to the arts centre team, including the best way to get key influencers on board, as well as the approach needed to enlist the support of local networks and groups in getting the word out.

    We are currently working with Luke on his plans to bring his Play Me, I’m Yours piano arts trail back to Bristol – so watch this space!

    It’s in our nature: Spirit gears up for festival fun

    It’s the UK’s biggest free celebration of the natural world, which attracts thousands of people each year.

    The Festival of Nature is returning to the Bristol and Bath region in June and Spirit has been appointed to handle its communications for the fifth year running.

    This follows a successful campaign in 2016 which focused on promoting new arts activities and publicising the festival in additional locations, namely Bath and Keynsham.

    We used the new artistic elements, including a poetry trail and performances of a specially created sea shanty song, to secure coverage in key broadcast outlets, including live performances on BBC Radio Bristol and extended pieces on BBC Points West.

    Alongside extensive news coverage of the festival in the run-up to the festival, we also focused efforts on securing more expansive feature style press coverage and interviews with the festival director. This resulted in varied and interesting content across a range of news and lifestyle titles which really helped bring the festival to life.

    For 2017, we will be focusing again on promoting the festival  across the wider region and the journey it will take along the River Avon, uncovering secret wildlife spots along the way.

    To find out more about the festival, go to www.festivalofnature.org.uk

    Putting Wapping Wharf on the map

    Have you heard about Bristol’s newest harbourside quarter Wapping Wharf?

    If you live in Bristol then the chances are you have, as last year, this emerging corner of the city firmly made a name for itself as a new community-focused neighbourhood and independent retail hub brimming with plenty of foodie goodness. And it’s been – and continues to be – a real privilege to be involved in telling the story of this new part of town.

    In the world of new build developments, Wapping Wharf has a unique story to tell thanks to its backing of Bristol’s vibrant independent retail scene, but it is also a home to hundreds of residents, provides a new route through from south Bristol to the city centre and is a new destination for Bristolians and visitors from further afield.

    We have used a multitude of different channels to drip-feed different angles, stories and features into the press. This has involved a careful approach to pitching in the right angles to the right media at the right time – and we’ve leveraged our excellent relationships with journalists across the city, region, consumer and trade sectors and beyond to do so.

    We’ve also aligned our media relations and social media so they amplify and complement each other and to encourage engagement with news about Wapping Wharf and share people’s experiences of the new quarter.

    Our work has also gone beyond media relations & social media to our management of the creation of a brand new website and all the associated copywriting – and we’ve  worked closely with the developer to nurture relationships with key stakeholders in the city.

    The buzz we’ve been creating around Wapping Wharf has helped to attract lots of media interest in the quarter.

    Here’s a snapshot:

    • BBC National News 24, BBC Points West, BBC Online and BBC World Service + Facebook Live ran coverage when CARGO 1 containers arrived on site. BBC said Wapping Wharf was bucking the trend by backing independents.
    • Wapping Wharf’s Twitter feed, which launched in 2016, was named by Best of Bristol as one of the top Twitter feeds in Bristol you need to follow.
    • Widespread local & regional coverage has run in all the key outlets – Bristol 24/7 said ‘this brand new corner of town is going to be the place to be this summer’ & Bristol Post said ‘Wapping Wharf is sure to be the foodie place this summer’
    • Bristol Life said there’s ‘a real ‘we’re in it together’ spirit at work at CARGO’, making it feel like a microcosm of the Bristol food scene as a whole’, whilst one blogger group visit resulted in 10 articles and 650K tweet impressions linked to this one event.
    • Trade & consumer features have run in Estates Gazette,  South West Food Magazine & Property Week to name a few.
    • Wapping Wharf & CARGO were highlighted in FT Weekend and the Sunday Times.

    Putting JLL at the forefront of property opinion

    Getting your voice heard in a competitive sector like property can be tricky, so we’ve been working hard at Spirit to carve out new angles and content for our property consultancy client JLL.

    Each year, JLL holds a number of events across the region that examine how the property market is performing and looks at what’s in store for the year ahead. We’ve been supporting four of these events over the last few months – in Bristol, Bath, Exeter and Cardiff.

    Our aim was to take the story beyond property and make sure the content appealed to a wider audience so we examined each report to extract the elements which had broader news appeal.

    In particular, for the Bristol event, we worked closely with the BBC which resulted in coverage on regional TV news as well as Radio Bristol, which we were able to tie in with the announcement of a high profile business announcing a move to the city.

    We also secured press coverage in national property trade titles as well as widespread local and regional media exposure, with the Bristol Post running a spread with photos from the event.

    For the Exeter event, we complemented a strong news story with an opinion piece, which received good pick-up on social media. Exeter City Council’s chief executive tweeted the article and described JLL’s Exeter head of office as ‘one of the best property experts in the South West’, which goes to show how PR can generate that all-important third party endorsement.

    And in Cardiff, BBC Wales (radio and television) interviewed JLL about market trends which complemented a national piece in the Western Mail and several business publications.

    We are using the opportunities presented by these property events to position JLL as experts in their field and we have since placed thought leadership articles on topics such as Bristol’s arena and what the priorities should be for the next mayor.

    Urban Creation appoints Spirit to underpin growth

    Bristol developer Urban Creation has enlisted Spirit’s support as it looks to diversify its growing property portfolio.

    The well-established business is driving forward a new strategy, which encompasses a continued focus on the development and management of stylish, secure and comfortable student accommodation, whilst building its offering of boutique rental apartments for professionals.

    Spirit is working with the team to help re-position and promote the Urban Creation brand, as well as communicate its key messages across a range of platforms. The first step has been to create a robust communications and marketing strategy that will raise Urban Creation’s profile among stakeholders and drive lettings across its properties.

    To roll this out, we have been working with the team to restructure Urban Creation’s web presence so that the company communicates effectively with its different audiences as the business evolves.

    We have also begun to raise Urban Creation’s profile in the media, with director Jonathan Brecknell airing his views on the Bristol mayoral election in Property Week this month and news on his latest projects, Prince William & Matthew House and Beech House, hitting the headlines.

    We look forward to building on this initial work and helping Urban Creation to build the reputation it deserves.

    Spotlight on Brunel as museum works start

    2016 marks an exciting year for Brunel’s ss Great Britain as work gets underway on a new national museum that will shed new light on the famous engineer’s life and mind.

    At Spirit, we are thrilled to be involved in helping the ss Great Britain Trust team to generate excitement in this major project – the most ambitious project under taken by the trust since the ss Great Britain was salvaged.

    With our sights firmly set on raising the profile of the Being Brunel project both among the local community and at a national level, we were keen to make the most of a key milestone: the start of demolition works.

    We worked closely with the in-house team to ensure they had the right ingredients in place and made the most of our relationships with key media contacts to generate strong interest.

    The result was a press opportunity to see and film never-before-seen artefacts – for example Brunel’s school report – giving new insights into Brunel’s life. To mark the start of work on site, we developed, with the in-house team, a filming opportunity with Mr Brunel – an actor in period costume complete with stovepipe hat – in a cherry picker, so the media had plenty to get their teeth into!

    By contacting media well in advance of the press call, we gave them the chance to plan coverage and pre-record any key interviews, and we organised one-to-one briefings with senior figures in the media to engage them in the long-term project, looking ahead to other key milestones.

    As a result, ss Great Britain secured blanket regional media coverage, ranging from BBC Online, BBC Points West, ITV.com and BBC Radio Bristol, to Western Daily Press, Bristol 24-7 and Bristol Post, plus key local business outlets such as Insider.

    At a national level, coverage ran in the Daily Mail, Daily Mail Online – the most popular English language newspaper website in the world – with Daily Express, Express.co.uk, Daily Mirror, Mirror.co.uk and thisismoney.co.uk also featuring the story.

    Paul Chibeba, head of marketing at ss Great Britain Trust, said: “We really value Spirit’s knowledge of the media landscape and their expertise in how to make the most of an opportunity. We have also been very impressed with their efficiency and enthusiasm – and, of course, the excellent results they have achieved!”

    Wapping Wharf helps launch housing consultation

    Wapping Wharf, one of Spirit’s longstanding clients, recently hosted the launch of a major consultation on the region’s future housing and transport needs.

    Spirit was contacted by the organisers of the launch event at short notice but pulled out all the stops to ensure the event could go ahead at Bristol’s newest harbourside development.

    We recognised that it was an excellent opportunity for the developers of the site to build important relationships with key figures within the business and political community, as well as raise the profile of this new quarter of the city.

    Hosting the launch enabled our client to showcase to attendees – including politicians, business people and press – that phase 1 of Wapping Wharf nearing completion, positioning it as an excellent example of the type of development the region needs.

    Set to become a new, vibrant neighbourhood for the city, when fully complete Wapping Wharf is expected to feature 600 apartments, with a host of independent restaurants, cafes and shops. The site is the final piece in the jigsaw that will complete the regeneration of the iconic floating harbour.

    The consultation invited members of the public to share their views and help shape how the West of England region’s next generation of new homes and associated infrastructure will look.

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