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Prime Minister visits Science Park

David Cameron chose to host an election rally at the Science Park this month, the latest in a string of events including Ministerial guests, overseas trade delegations and media events, which Spirit has helped broker and promote.

Mr Cameron said: “I’m delighted to be here in this beautiful building at the highly successful Bristol & Bath Science Park. This is a really inspirational new venture, which is already attracting science-related business from all over the world.”

During Mr Cameron’s visit, Science Park chief executive Bonnie Dean was interviewed by the BBC on her views of the value of EU membership to business in the UK. Spirit worked closely with Bonnie to help prepare for the interview, which resulted in live coverage on BBC Points West.

The Spirit team is looking forward to providing support to the Science Park for future VIP visits as its reputation continues to grow.

Bristol Slide made our Sunday really Special

The Spirit team enjoyed an unforgettable bank holiday weekend handling the media at Luke Jerram’s Park & Slide, a 90-metre waterslide down Bristol’s famous Park Street.

Along with many in the city, we had been following the build-up to the project with considerable interest, so when a twitter conversation a couple of weeks ago turned into a request for help, we really couldn’t turn it down.

The project captured the imaginations of people far and wide – with nearly 100,000 applying to have a ride – and helped underline Bristol’s reputation for creativity and fun.

We’ve worked with Luke on a couple of his previous projects – Sky Orchestra, first trialled at Bristol Balloon Fiesta and later used to launch the one-year countdown to the London Olympics; and the launch of the world’s largest solar chandelier at Bristol & Bath Science Park, so we knew this latest idea had the potential to be big.

Although there had already been considerable press interest in attending – including The One Show and Discovery Channel – we decided to target our contacts at national newspapers, picture agencies and national BBC, to ensure the project gained the media exposure it deserved.

Over 80 press signed up to attend on the day, including regional, national and international media and bloggers, with ten lucky journalists joining the 360 members of the public who got a go on the slide.

Sunday arrived and it was all hands on deck, walking hay bales up and down the hill and laying out the tarpaulin to help build the slide.

The event created a carnival atmosphere, with thousands of people thronging up Park Street and many sporting fancy dress for their trip down the slide, once again proving what a brilliant place Bristol is to live and work.

The press coverage wasn’t bad either…the story ran on BBC Breakfast and the One O’Clock news, as well as featuring on regular bulletins on the BBC News Channel, BBC Points West and ITV West. The One Show were also filming throughout the day for a programme that will be screened this Friday 9th May.

The story made the front page of The Times on Monday, as well being featured in the Telegraph, Independent, i, Sun, Daily Express, and the front pages of the Bristol Post and Western Daily Press. Extensive online coverage included becoming most viewed story on the BBC national homepage and eight UK national websites including The Guardian and Mail Online. International coverage included the Discovery Channel Canada, Washington Post, Buzzfeed, NBC News, Irish Independent, MSN NZ and news.com.au.

Since Luke has given so much time and energy to the event for free, we decided to follow his lead and donate our time to work on Park & Slide through our Community Spirit initiative, which supports local projects that contribute to the life and energy of Bristol.

And of course, Luke returned the favour by giving us a chance to try out the slide which put very big smiles on all our faces for the rest of the day!

See the official Park & Slide video below by @CinematicaMedia and a fantastic slow-mo vid from @WovenFilms.

Image credit – Colin Rayner

Cracking job, Gromit!

It’s all smiles here at Spirit Towers with two great pieces of news about the Gromit Unleashed project in one week!

Yesterday (April 3rd 2014), we handled the announcement that the project, managed by the charity Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal, raised £3.8m in just 18 months, smashing its original target of £3.5m.

In a carefully co-ordinated press call, the media got a chance to see the new life-saving equipment funded by The Grand Appeal, as well as interview a young patient’s family and a consultant neurosurgeon, to find out just what a difference the charity funding will make to the treatment and experience of children at Bristol Children’s hospital.

And this afternoon, it was announced on Twitter that we have made the shortlist for the prestigious CIPR Excellence national awards.

Working in collaboration with The Grand Appeal, our promotional and engagement campaign has been nominated for a national Not-for-Profit PR award, and we’ll all have our fingers (or paws!) crossed in June, when the winner will be announced.

‘Marginalised’ get new media voice

The Bristol Cable, a ‘people’s media co-operative’ is launching a community action news website and monthly free print edition which aims to ‘democratise’ local media.

The group is made up of journalists, activists and academics and set up in response to what they see as the dissolution of responsible local media.

Although still at the crowd funding stage, the organisation will be funded on a community share basis and hold free workshops led by prominent journalists from the Guardian, The Independent and the Sunday Times as well as academics. The workshops will run throughout May and June to give potential citizen journalists proper training before the site and print edition launch in July.

The proliferation of local press has been evident for many years, with a number of blogs gaining mass appeal in the city, but this is the first organisation that has been purposefully created to run to counter mainstream media and be ‘wholly accountable to the readership and communities’ that they serve.

It will be very interesting to see how things develop, so we will certainly be tracking their progress via their website and Twitter profile.

Made in Bristol coming to our screens soon

There’s much talk about a new TV channel that will be hitting Bristol’s screens soon. Made in Bristol will broadcast to 330,000 households in the city and is one of 19 British cities to get its very own TV station.

The station aims to be on air 24 hours a day, seven days a week, broadcasting an hour of live news every night as well as programmes on current affairs, entertainment, property, sports and more.

An editorial team is now in place including station manager Chris James who has worked for both the BBC and ITV. The channel will be available on Freeview and Sky.

London’s own version, the Evening Standard’s London Live, launched with a bang at the end of March as the first presenters on screen broadcast live from the red carpet at the Noah premiere in Leicester Square and included interviews with actress Emma Watson, famous for her role in Harry Potter.

Aside from Bristol and London, other cities to get local TV are Belfast, Birmingham, Brighton & Hove, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Grimsby, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Preston, Sheffield and Southampton.

Bristol’s launch date is yet to be announced but watch this space! Follow @MadeinBristoltv or check out their website for the latest updates.

Stop smoking campaign hits the heart

We’ve just finished work on Be there Tomorrow, Smokefree South West’s hard-hitting and emotive campaign to reduce smoking rates in the region.

The ten-week campaign highlighted the little-known fact that 1 in 2 smokers will die as a result of smoking. However, this statistic has been in the public domain for a number of years, so we commissioned a survey to provide a strong regional news hook to interest the media.

We decided to find out whether people in the South West were aware of the true dangers smoking and discovered that the public hugely underestimate the impact of smoking on health. As many as 90% believe fewer people are affected and a staggering 20% think that only 1 in 10 smokers die as a result of their habit.

We used the research findings to drive a news story which generated coverage across all our regional and local press targets including ITV West & West Country and BBC Points West.

To maintain momentum, we mined the survey a second time to tease out the emotional impact of smoking on families, to tie in with the theme of the advertising campaign. We backed this up with sensitively written local case studies which enabled us to deliver a double whammy of coverage including a second hit on ITV West & West Country.

The campaign is the climax of a year-long project working with Smokefree South West, which provided 74m ‘opportunities to see’ through 550 media hits, generating a 22-fold return on investment.

Kate Knight, head of social marketing & communications at Smokefree South West said, “It has been fantastic having Spirit on board, they are a flexible and experienced team.  Over the last year they have provided effective proactive and reactive PR support on a range of topics which culminated in the successful launch of our new “Be there tomorrow” campaign.  We are pleased with the coverage achieved in the South West regional and local TV, radio and press which significantly extended the reach of our paid-for media campaigns.  We hope to work with Spirit again in the near future.”

Acrobatics at Abbey Wood

Last autumn Hermes Real Estate asked us to help re-launch the recently refurbished Abbey Wood Shopping Park in Filton, Bristol.

The challenge – to devise and rollout a marketing strategy in two phases; an initial soft launch to ensure the first phase of retailers had a successful first few months in the lead up to Christmas followed by a grand opening in the spring to mark the completion of this major £10 million refurbishment and extension project.

The vision for the park was not just to make an out-of-town shopping park look more attractive but to create a new food and shopping destination for the Filton community.

The audience was within a relatively small geographical area but with varying interests so the campaign was split to directly address local residents, businesses and students at the neighbouring UWE Frenchay Campus.

To capitalise on the Christmas social and shopping frenzy, the soft launch highlighted the presence of new national brands, particularly the restaurants. By adapting the messages and identifying the best communications tools, we were able to directly communicate with each audience group. We integrated a mix of marketing channels including railway station advertising, flyers, posters, e-mail campaigns, web advertising and media relations.

We then worked closely with national marketing and local store managers to create a Grand Opening Day with a festival atmosphere.

The restaurants and cafes carried out food tastings and cookery demonstrations, stores held competitions, in-store events and offered special discounts and all brands offered a prize for a Grand competition so we were able to capture data.

We commissioned Bristol-based circus connoisseurs, Cirque Bijou, to create an opening performance to provide a strong photo opportunity for the press and a memorable attraction for the community which was complemented by roaming street performers.

In addition to the public-facing events we organised an opening reception hosted by Hermes Real Estate to give an opportunity to thanks the retailers and project team and promote the park to potential future tenants.

The opening reception was attended by more than 60 industry professionals and the launch achieved media coverage in all the target local press. All of the park’s retailers are reporting sales well over budgeted expectations thanks to increased footfall to the site.

Putting Bristol & Bath on an international stage

It’s the biggest property show in the world, attended by all the key media from Europe and beyond. And this year, Spirit was asked to help shine a light on the Bristol & Bath region’s presence at the event – MIPIM 2014.

Competing with some of the best known cities in the world as well as major UK cities such as London and Manchester presented a big challenge. Grabbing the attention of national journalists who had packed schedules meant we had to scrutinise the region’s offer, decide what made it stand out from the crowd and tailor our pitch to each member of the media.

We secured meetings for the delegation led by the region’s investment promotion agency, Invest Bristol & Bath, with key national media including The Guardian, The Times, Property Week, Estates Gazette – and the daily MIPIM News. To ensure regional stakeholders in the West of England were aware of how the area was being sold to potential investors, we generated stories and opinion pieces in the run up to, during and after the show.

MIPIM is always frantically busy, with back-to-back meetings scheduled throughout the day so a member of the Spirit team was on hand at the show to co-ordinate all media activity on location and help out with event support.

In total, we secured around 50 pieces of coverage across a wide variety of media outlets including new stories, blogs and opinion pieces, contributing to a real sense that this year Bristol & Bath significantly upped their game and presence at the event.

We will be building on this over the coming weeks to make sure the region capitalises on all the relationships established at MIPIM.

Picture story makes a splash for St Mungo’s

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and this proved true again this year when we worked on St Mungo’s annual fundraising event, Woolly Hat Day.

Tasked with generating national coverage to raise awareness of the homelessness charity and encourage participation in the event, we decided an image-led story would be the best – and most cost-effective – way to make an impact.

We then developed a range of creative ideas to capture the attention of the national media and stand out from the constant steam of images picture editors receive all day long.

The idea of getting winter swimmers to pose wearing woolly hats at an outdoor pool won out with our client. The images would be well-suited for a press shot as they would be colourful, entertaining and – most importantly – unusual.

After contacting and gaining the support of the South London Swimming Club, we hosted photographers from the Daily Telegraph and several picture agencies for an early morning shoot at Tooting Bec Lido in London. Their fantastic shots gained coverage in the Metro, Metro Online, the Telegraph and the Independent.

Further coverage was also secured in The Times and Hello! Magazine after Joanna Lumley donated a hat to be auctioned, a quote and photo to the cause, demonstrating the continuing media pulling power of the right celebrity.

Press coverage for Woolly Hat Day 2014 increased by a quarter on the previous year with 137 articles, which helped to encourage 120 schools and businesses to take part and increased the fundraising total by more than £10,000 on previous years. Hats off to the power of a great image!

Bringing nature into focus

Last spring, Wildscreen was awarded development funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund to refine their plans for a new online conservation project, Bringing Nature into Focus.

This exciting project aims to reconnect people to their natural heritage by creating an interactive conservation community where they can learn about the threats to UK nature and find out about opportunities to get involved and help protect wildlife.

Earlier this year, when Wildscreen wanted to apply for a full grant to implement the project, they turned to Spirit to develop a marketing and communications strategy to include in their bid, demonstrating how the project team would engage target audiences to make the project a success.

To ensure the strategy built on Wildscreen’s existing resources and to enable the project team to have input into its direction, we held one-to-one meetings and workshops to develop the approach and tease out creative ideas.

This was combined with additional research to develop a strategy and detailed three-year communications programme, combining social media, media relations, events, direct marketing and stakeholder engagement.

The strategy has now been submitted with the bid so we’ve got our fingers crossed that we’ll be sharing the good news later this year that Wildscreen has been successful in securing the funding for this great project.

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