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Creative and intelligent campaigns
from award-winning Bristol PR Agency

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.

Spirit helping to put Bristol Old Vic centre stage

2016 is a very exciting year for British theatre as the Bristol Old Vic, the oldest working theatre in the country, celebrates its 250th anniversary.

Since it first opened, this historic playhouse has been celebrated for its remarkable design and as a place where countless artists, from Sarah Siddons and Henry Irving, to Peter O’Toole, Daniel Day Lewis, Miranda Richardson and Jeremy Irons, have developed their careers.

This milestone anniversary is also a fantastic opportunity for the Spirit team as we’ve been asked to help maximise the profile-raising opportunities it offers to broaden the theatre’s reach and communicate the vital role the theatre plays in the cultural life of Bristol, nationally and internationally.

Working closely with the Bristol Old Vic’s internal team, we are shaping and delivering a high profile communications campaign for this project, focusing on media relations as well as helping to build relationships with the theatre’s wider stakeholders.

To celebrate Bristol Old Vic’s quarter-millennial and its vision for the future, the theatre is planning a special anniversary programme featuring five world-class productions – one from each century of the theatre’s life – as well as a production of a Shakespeare play to mark the 400th anniversary of his death.

The birthday itself will centre on a weekend of celebration over the second May Bank Holiday including a one-off special performance, the launch of a new digital heritage project and opportunities for community groups and creatives to perform on the Bristol Old Vic stage. The festivities will culminate in a street festival on the birthday itself, May 30, inviting the whole city to join the celebrations.

At the same time, Bristol Old Vic is gearing up for its next phase of redevelopment works, as well as preparing to transform itself into a major heritage destination.

With work set to begin during the anniversary year itself, the stage is set for 2016 to be a very big year in the cultural life of Bristol.



Spirit puts building blocks in place for effective sponsorship

When T H White secured a sponsorship deal with the Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT), the renewable energy specialist turned to Spirit to help make the most of the opportunity.

Wiltshire-based T H White was the main sponsor for the institute’s 50th anniversary regional celebration – and was keen to maximise opportunities to get in front of potential customers.

Our approach was two-pronged: to deliver an event that was engaging and thought-provoking to create a memorable experience for guests; and to ensure T H White had a prominent presence throughout.

As well as managing the event in collaboration with CIAT, including the handling of suppliers ranging from the band to the photographer, Spirit sought to throw a spotlight on innovation in architecture by injecting points of interest throughout the event to generate discussion among guests.

We worked with T H White to create a ‘technology zone’ showcasing a range of technologies including a revolutionary battery that stores electricity generated from solar panels, brought to the event by T H White in partnership with the solar energy division of Austrian technology company Fronius.

Spirit also suggested opening up a wildlife exhibition that was taking place at the venue to guests to add a new dimension to the event, which took place at the M Shed in Bristol, in the year the city is holding the title of European Green Capital.

To give T H White a high profile at the event, we worked with the company to develop eye-catching marketing literature, contributions to a revolving digital display and other promotional material.

We also secured a speaking slot for Alex Lockton, energy, fire and security general manager at the company, who told the audience about the next generation technology that would soon be hitting the industry and shaping building design in years to come.

The event acted as a launchpad for T H White’s newly combined energy, fire and security divisions which provide its customers with a complete range of products that help create energy efficient, safe and secure buildings.

More than 140 people attended the event and the feedback T H White received was very positive.

Alex Lockton said: “Spirit PR provided us with invaluable support on this project, helping T H White to make the most of its sponsorship agreement with CIAT. The team brought to the table creative and intelligent ideas combined with a high level of efficiency and enthusiasm which helped make the event a success.”

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