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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!

Spirit clinches accolade at CIPR awards

Spirit PR has scooped a silver award in the Regional Campaign of the Year category at the CIPR South of England and Channel Islands PRide Awards 2014.

The prize was handed to Spirit for its work on the hugely successful Gromit Unleashed campaign.

This latest CIPR award marks the eighth Spirit has clinched since 2011 and was achieved in the first year that the awards extended right across the south of the country and beyond.

The CIPR PRide Awards recognises excellence in public relations and communications work across Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and six English regions.

A total of around 1,100 entries were received from public relations teams, consultancies and individuals across the UK.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating!

It’s a fantastic feeling when new clients seek us out having seen our work in action.

So we were pleased to hear that one of our newest clients, the Avon Gorge Hotel, had heard about us through our campaigns for Gromit Unleashed and BID Clifton Village.

The Avon Gorge Hotel, one of Bristol’s most historic hotels and well-known for its spectacular views of Brunel’s famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, has appointed Spirit to help it capitalise on some exciting plans that are being drawn up for 2015.

Our strong local knowledge and stellar book of media contacts were key factors in the hotel’s decision to take us on.

Over the next 12 months we’ll be developing a communications programme to support the hotel in shining a spotlight on three key areas: its food and beverage offer; wedding facilities; and packed event programme.

We’ve already started work to promote the hotel restaurant, The Bridge Café, with key food journalists already having reviewed its new seasonal menu – and more lined up in the coming weeks.

We only started working on the account in October, but we’ve also already secured coverage in the likes of The Bristol Magazine and Clifton Life.

Watch this space!

How to give your app a voice in a crowded marketplace

There are few markets that are moving as fast as the world of app development so it’s a hugely exciting industry in which to be involved.

However, with excitement come crowds, and the marketplace for apps is so busy that it’s often difficult to stand out. So how can you ensure maximum impact when launching a new app?

We recently helped Magic Light Pictures launch their first ever Gruffalo app, having previously introduced them to the Forestry Commission and set up the hugely successful Gruffalo trails.

With widespread coverage providing ‘an opportunity to see’ of almost 12 million and more in the pipeline, the app reached number one in the kids and education category in Apple’s league of apps. So, what was our approach?

Tight timescales are often a challenge when launching apps; the approval process from app stores can happen at short notice with apps going live just hours later.

With this in mind, we devised a consumer PR campaign that extended beyond the launch date and reached out to bloggers as well as traditional media, while capitalising on the strength of the Gruffalo brand, which is built on one of the nation’s best-loved children’s characters.

The app features six classic children’s games for 3 to 7-year-olds. So, we decided to link the app to the beginning of the school term, when pre-school children would be learning and developing key skills.

The app proved incredibly popular with journalists and particularly with the parent bloggers, illustrating that widening your approach can be integral to success.

Barney Goodland, company manager at Magic Light, said: “The app received some fantastic coverage all of which contributed to a successful release and has continued to help maintain strong sales. Thanks once again for all of your work on the campaign.”

Thought leadership campaign delivers new connections

A recent increase in opinion pieces and by-lined features by Spirit client JLL has contributed to a rise in new business calls and event invitations for the international property consultants.

Pitching and drafting columns, blogs and opinion pieces on a range of topical economic issues is part of Spirit’s wider strategy to position JLL’s consultants as business leaders, increasing their profile in the wider business and news media as well in the property pages.

Subjects have included everything from improving public transport and communications to delivering diversity in the work place. Agents have been asked to attend speaking events and made numerous new connections after their by-lined pieces have appeared in regional newspapers and online, including the Western Mail (South Wales), Western Morning News (South West) and the Bristol Post.

Spirit began working with JLL’s Bristol and Exeter offices three years ago and have since then been brought in to support their Cardiff and Southampton teams.

Commenting on a recent week’s coverage, Chris Sutton, lead director in JLL’s Cardiff office said:

“The breadth, quantity and quality of the press coverage this week is great.  Just has to be said.”

Knockout start for boxing charity

Bristol youth boxing charity Empire Fighting Chance approached Spirit recently to raise its profile and provide a strong platform for its new fundraising drive.

The charity enjoyed a hugely successful summer after picking up the keys to its new home, winning a national award and receiving nearly half a million pounds in grants. Working with 200 young people at risk of exclusion each week to improve their academic achievement, behaviour and social development, it needed to raise additional funds to support the increased range of services on offer in the new premises.

To maximise press coverage and ensure all elements of the story were covered, we decided to show the value of the charity’s work through a strong case study and combine this with high profile endorsement to demonstrate Empire Fighting Chance’s credibility. We also wanted to offer plenty of action to provide moving pictures for TV.

We approached two of the charity’s key supporters, Bristol Mayor George Ferguson and British Bantamweight Boxing champion Lee Haskins, to launch the new premises and set up a press call of them sparring together and punching through an Empire Fighting Chance banner to provide great images for the press. We offered interviews with a young person who has turned his life around through the support of the charity and a guided tour of the new premises to demonstrate the value of the charity’s work.

This strategy led to excellent local coverage with BBC Points West covering the event live at lunchtime and then in their evening and late-evening bulletins. BBC Radio Bristol interviewed Jamie Sanigar on their Drivetime show and the Bristol Post ran an extensive feature on the charity. The story was also featured on Heart and Jack & the Breeze.

To find out more about the charity visit www.empirefightingchance.org

Spirit on a journey to sustainable commuting

Transport is one of Bristol’s biggest challenges, so in the run up to the city becoming European Green Capital next year, four travel organisations teamed up this summer to take a fresh approach to sustainable travel.

The project used an online challenge platform developed by leading UK charity Sustrans to encourage commuters in the West to swap their cars for alternative – and more sustainable – ways of getting to work.

Spirit was asked to help the partnership develop a compelling communications campaign to help bring the BIG Commuting Challenge to life.

Statistics from previous challenges told us that businesses were keen to sign up but the real challenge was getting staff to take part. We decided to inject a sense of fun and friendly competition to drive individual participation and maintain momentum throughout the challenge.

We kick-started the campaign with an eye-catching photo opportunity to get the challenge off to a great start, using an array of land and water-based modes of transport to capture media attention.

A series of ‘mini-challenges’ were promoted through the partners and social media to boost engagement, and a range of incentives and prizes created to spur people on.

We’re now in the final week and the statistics speak for themselves. Over 3,500 people have signed up, logging almost 72,000 journeys, saving £149,800 on the cost of fuel and reducing the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere by 123,000kg. Together, people have helped the BIG Commuting Challenge to become THE most successful commuter initiative in the West of England since they began in 2005!

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