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Creative and intelligent campaigns
from award-winning Bristol PR Agency

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.

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.”

Spirit lights up Bristol campaign

Content is king, they say, but to ensure the success of a PR campaign, it must go hand in hand with a targeted and strategic approach.

This was evident earlier this month when we were asked by Smokefree South West to launch the UK’s first public voluntary smokefree zones, alongside its regional Be There Tomorrow smoking reduction campaign.

To personalise the Be There Tomorrow campaign, Smokefree South West had found a very strong story of an ex-smoker, Kirsty Vass who was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) aged just 33, after one of her lungs collapsed because of her smoking habit.

We decided the best way to attract national interest would be to link the human interest angle of Kirsty’s story with the launch of the public smokefree zone. Rather than send out a blanket press release, we pitched the story in advance to specific national journalists who had covered stories about smoking issues, as well as the Press Association, to ensure the story would reach all the main news desks.

To secure broadcast coverage, we took a two-pronged approach, targeting both regional and national news and planning desks, which ensured planners and producers across the board were sharing the story and the range of content we had to offer.

Now in its second year, we also needed to find a fresh news angle for the Be There Tomorrow smoking reduction campaign, which reminds smokers that one in two will die from the habit. To do this, we commissioned a survey to tease out the impact of smokers’ habits on their loved ones and used local and regional statistics, alongside case studies, to make the story relevant to the media across the region.

It’s safe to say that our resulting media campaign proved to be a resounding success with 200 separate appearances across national and regional outlets. Blanket coverage of the smokefree pilot across the national media included BBC News at 6, ITV News, Sky News, Radio 5 Live, the Daily Mail, Mail Online, The Guardian, The Sun and The Times.

Meanwhile, Be There Tomorrow secured coverage across the south west broadcast media including all local TV news, various local BBC radio stations, Heart FM and Jack & the Breeze throughout the region.

Repeat business for Sprit after golf club campaign

It was heartening to hear that a successful outcome had been reached after two years of negotiations between Exeter Golf and Country Club and housebuilder Persimmon over a new housing development being built next to the golf course.

Not only was it pleasing to hear this news following our efforts in advising the club on the issue and raising awareness of its plight in 2013, but it was great to be informed that our services were required once again – and this time to disseminate the positive news that a deal had been struck!

Exeter Golf and Country Club had secured funding from Charles Church, part of the Persimmon Group, towards the redesign of its golf course. The deal came after long-running negotiations between the club and housebuilder over how to ensure the safety of residents of Great Woodcote Park. The redesign of the golf course will overcome the problem by repositioning three holes of the 18-hole course.

Our work in informing club members and the media resulted in Will Gannon, chair of Exeter Golf and Country Club, appearing on the 6pm ITV West Country news bulletin, forming part of widespread coverage by media including the Exeter Express and Echo (in print and online), Western Morning News, Mid Devon Star, South West Business Insider, thisisthewestcountry.co.uk, theexeterdaily.co.uk, Radio Exe online and National Club Golfer.

Spirit offered the club strategic advice on how best to position the news, drafted a press release and letter to members, and sold in the story, ensuring the positive message about the deal securing the club’s long-term future came over loud and clear.

Our work with Exeter Golf and Country Club came thanks to a referral by leading property consultancy JLL, a long-established client of ours. JLL supported the club throughout the negotiations with Persimmon – so all in all it was a great team effort!

Will Gannon, chair of Exeter Golf and Country Club, said: “I am delighted with the strategic advice and support provided by Spirit both in 2013, when the issue regarding Great Woodcote Park arose, and also in 2015, when we were able to share the news that negotiations had reached a positive conclusion.”

Digital campaign shines spotlight on cycling routes

It’s been a brilliant year for cycling in the UK with the Tour de France generating plenty of interest in the sport and building on the buzz created by the recent successes of British professional riders.

The Forestry Commission was keen to harness this opportunity to position the organsation as the main provider of off-road cycling routes in England. The brief was to capitalise on VisitEngland’s high-profile campaign to promote the country as a destination for cycling.

Working closely with the internal team, we developed a compelling digital and social media programme to complement the Forestry Commission’s media relations programme.

The campaign increased traffic to the Forestry Commission cycling site by 53% over the campaign period of one month – smashing our target of 15%.

How did we do it? Well, we created a short video, below, to share on social media channels, capturing the beautiful scenery that can be seen and the enjoyment that can be experienced while cycling in the Forestry Commission’s forests. Over 4,000 people viewed the video.

We used the video content to run a competition to win a UK cycling break with Forest Holidays to create further engagement with the campaign, drive traffic to the website and, in turn, encourage visitors to sign up to the Forestry Commission’s recreation database to find out about future projects.

In addition to the video, we developed social media messaging for the Forestry Commission’s national and regional Twitter feeds and Facebook pages. We also worked with the in-house design team to create a series of infographics for each region to highlight cycling USPs.

The Twitter hashtag for the campaign, #forestride, achieved significant reach, namely 224,632 users, and exceeded 405,552 impressions and the campaign reached 40,610 users on Facebook.

2015: A big year for Bristol?

Is 2015 the year Bristol makes its mark on the international stage? We are certainly looking forward to enjoying an action-packed year – and seeing how upcoming events will boost Bristol’s reputation as a city with creativity, innovation and a quirky disposition at its heart.

With the city taking the title of European Green Capital 2015, Bristol has a huge opportunity to showcase its green credentials on an international stage. Meanwhile, the city is one of just four English locations picked to test driverless cars from 2015 – an exciting move that is already helping to shine a spotlight on the region as a hub of technological innovation.

And it’s Shaun the Sheep’s turn next year following the phenomenal success of the Gromit Unleashed sculpture trail. Not only is he starring in his own movie in early 2015, but 120 individually-designed giant Shaun sculptures will be popping up in central locations in both London and Bristol.

Europe’s largest graffiti arts festival, Upfest, returns in 2015, with artists from across the world expected to take part, while we are also pleased to hear that Bristol International Kite Festival will be back after a year’s break, taking place on the Downs instead of its previous home at Ashton Court.

This is just a taste of what is to come, with many other exciting events in the offing. It goes without saying that we are very much looking forward to being a part of Bristol’s story for 2015!

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