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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!

How artificial intelligence is invading the news room

Computers have been an increasingly important part of our lives for years, so perhaps it should be no surprise that with the rise in artificial intelligence they are now set to take over our news rooms.

The former universities minister David Willetts warned recently that robots could take over the newsroom after the Associated Press news agency started using technology to automatically generate financial reports, dispensing with the need for reporters. Earlier this year the Washington Post also published an article about an earthquake that was automatically generated within minutes using an algorithm. So is the journalist about to be replaced by the journo-bot?

After all, how would you be able to tell if this article was written by a robot? Would a bland writing style and lack of irony or personality give it away?

The PR industry relies upon a free and powerful press for our work to have real value and should champion the cause of journalists. However, in recent years we have seen a contraction in the number of journalists in many media outlets, to the point that we have seen our press releases regurgitated word-for-word in some cases. So what effect would a rise in automated stories have on the reputation and authority of the media?

Commentators have argued that far from causing the death of the journalist, automation could be a liberating force, as great journalism will always rely on humans. Computers would be left to do the basic reports, leaving humans more time to investigate and dig into more complex and nuanced stories.

So let’s not fear the rise of the machine, but celebrate the added time it will give writers to investigate stories that wouldn’t otherwise have seen the light of day. It is when the PR-bot is released that we really need to be worried…

Shining a light on Bristol & Bath’s ‘globally-significant’ tech hub

In today’s competitive world, it is more important than ever that Bristol and Bath’s economic assets – such as its thriving tech sector – maintain a high profile nationally and beyond.

So we jumped at the opportunity to work with inward investment agency Invest Bristol & Bath in spreading the word about the region’s vibrant hub of technological innovation.

And we went on to secure coverage with leading outlets such as Forbes, Tech City News, Bloomberg Businessweek and BBC Business Online.

So, how did we do it? Our work in forging a successful relationship with national think tank Centre for Cities was integral to our success on this brief.

In anticipation of an influential new report by Centre for Cities and McKinsey & Co, we developed a range of press materials showing Bristol & Bath’s tech hub was to be singled out as “globally significant” and “high growth”.

We drew on Bristol and Bath’s latest tech news – including announcements by the likes of Huawei, Somo and JUST EAT that they planned to invest in the region – and incorporated interview opportunities with key commentators including Invest Bristol & Bath, Bristol & Bath Science Park and Aardman Animations.

The report was due out on the day of Silicon Gorge, a ‘Dragons’ Den-style’ event at the Engine Shed in Bristol, where regional tech companies pitched to national investors. We tied the event into the wider story, adding further colour to our pitch to journalists.

This approach ensured that reporters had a range of quality content to run, and resulted in plenty of positive coverage.

Liz Humphries, marketing manager at Invest Bristol & Bath, says:

“Spirit is passionate about and committed to implementing highly effective, intelligent and bespoke PR campaigns. In particular, we are impressed by their attention to detail, their expert knowledge in our key sectors and their strategic approach. In a short space of time, Spirit has produced excellent results.”

We’re looking forward to continuing to work with Invest Bristol & Bath in banging the drum for the region’s tech sector and its many other economic strengths.

Tackling illegal tobacco campaign

We’ve been working closely with tobacco reduction organisation Smokefree South West to launch a campaign to combat the illegal tobacco trade in the region.

The Tackling Illegal Tobacco Campaign aims to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal tobacco which is known to encourage criminals into communities. It is a key route to young people taking up smoking as it is sold at pocket money prices.

News stories are always more appealing to broadcast media if there is a strong visual element, so we invited the press to cover illegal tobacco raids in Swindon to create a story that had a strong news angle and really powerful images.

BBC Points West, ITV West & West County, BBC Radio Wiltshire, Heart West Country and the Swindon Advertiser all attended the raids and covered the story extensively.

As Smokefree South West is commissioned by local authorities across the region, we were also asked to generate coverage in each local area. Having previously worked with the organisation on a variety of projects, we knew that it was essential to include localised statistics, so we dug deep into a recent report to unearth some strong facts and figures which made it relevant to local newspapers and radio stations across the South West.

The campaign has so far generated coverage across all regional broadcast media, as well as BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Radio Devon, Jack & The Breeze, Pirate FM, the Bristol Post, the Bath Chronicle, the Gloucestershire Gazette and the Plymouth Herald, helping to raise awareness about this important issue across the region

The Tackling Illegal Tobacco Campaign will last for the next six weeks so keep an eye out for more coverage later this summer.

For more information on the campaign click here.

Bringing nature festival to life

The Festival of Nature returned this summer to Bristol and the West of England and brought in Spirit again to help promote its expanded range of events.

Its Wild Weekend is the UK’s biggest free celebration of the natural world with two days of free interactive activities and live entertainment, and this year the festival expanded to include events in Bath and Chew Valley.

With such a variety of festivals taking place across Bristol throughout the summer, the amount of editorial space for previews can be limited, so Spirit decided to focus on gaining strong feature coverage by expanding on the themes and events of the festival.

Spirit pitched this content at a range of publications and helped by our strong contacts at regional magazines we were able to secure features in Clifton Life, Bristol Magazine, Bath Life, Shipshape Magazine and the Bristol Post.

We also secured good online coverage, securing a ‘Bristol Top 5’ slot for festival director Savita Custead and preview on Bristol Culture, as well as a feature on Guide2Bristol. The festival was also featured regularly on BBC Radio Bristol and appeared on BBC Points West and ITV West.

Both the Festival of Nature Wild Weekend and the wider events were a real success this year, being extremely well attended. Community events will continue throughout the summer so visit www.festivalofnature.org for a full listing and more information.

Image credit: Jon Craig Photography

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