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Creative and intelligent campaigns
from award-winning Bristol PR Agency

River Monsters

Bristol-based Icon Films turned to Spirit PR to help maximise audience figures for their new series of Jeremy Wade’s River Monsters on ITV1 in January and February.

Brought in just before Christmas to promote the third series which started on 3 January, we had a very limited window to raise the profile of the ‘extreme angling’ series.

Dividing the programmes between the team, we headed home one evening to watch back to back episodes and identify the ‘killer story’ for PR and social media purposes.

The ‘Ball Cutter’ (the clue is in the title) soon won out, telling a dramatic and gruesome tail and delivering that all important ‘talkability’.

Through direct pitches to national newspapers, radio stations and TV chat shows as well as the tactical use of a news agency that provides copy to national news desks, we drew in over 150 items of coverage.

The series featured in The Sun, The Daily Telegraph, The Mirror, Daily Mail and MailOnline. Jeremy appeared on ITV1’s Daybreak, ITV West Country Tonight and Live with Gabby on Five.

This was despite a very recent ‘PR run’ by Jeremy Wade, who was promoting his new book in late autumn, and the early publication of shots from the series in one of the tabloids, before Spirit were taken on.

Spirit’s Twitter campaign also proved a real success, generating over 2,000 followers and a steady increase in conversation about the programme, including a great response to a live Q&A with a soundman who was struck by lightning.

The campaign has delivered big results; the national and regional print coverage has reached over 18 million people across the UK and with the addition of broadcast and online coverage, a total of over 60 million people. The campaign generated a 100-fold return on investment generating £300,000 worth of coverage.

Icon were delighted with the viewing figures which were consistently in the Broadcast top 100 network programmes and steadily rose as the series progressed, eventually hitting the three million mark for the final three episodes.

“This general press campaign led by Spirit was a first for Icon. We were delighted by its obvious success manifested by wide coverage and great ratings”

Laura Marshall, Managing Director, Icon Films

Grand Appeal Art Auction

Long-standing client the Grand Appeal, the Bristol Children’s Hospital Charity, asked Spirit PR to generate interest in an online art auction, featuring work from internationally renowned animations artists including Pete Docter (Up), Richard Williams (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and of course  Bristol’s own Nick Park.

We used the stunning artwork, much of it created especially for the auction, to harness an exclusive, full page article in the Sunday Times Culture magazine, supported by an interview with Nick Park, plus online image galleries on the homepages of both the Guardian and Telegraph online.

Through agreed web links, readers were encouraged to go to the Grand Appeal website to view the full list of lots and in turn the eBay auction site to start bidding.

Extensive coverage was also secured in the regional media including television, radio, Bristol entertainment magazine Venue and several pieces in the Bristol Evening Post.

Nick’s specially created sketch of Wallace with Feathers McGraw sold for £5,100 at auction, while other original drawings including those of Pete Docter, Richard Williams and Simon Tofield (Simon’s Cat) went for more than £1,500 each.

A total of £20,000 was raised, with all proceeds used to support the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children’s Cardiac Unit, including a new state of the art echocardiogram scanner that detects and monitors early heart defects in children.

Haynes Publishing

Spirit PR was employed by Haynes Publishing in September 2010 and tasked with taking their coverage beyond the motoring press and into the national media.

Having evaluated their systems and strategies, we took a fresh approach, introducing new communications tools such as e-newsletters, social media channels and video and building relationships with key target media.

We have achieved a 40 times return on investment and secured regular coverage in the national broadsheets, tabloids, broadcast and consumer media. This shift in emphasis has helped Haynes titles reach new audiences and created unprecedented levels of coverage for the company, whilst maintaining strong relationships and high levels of editorial exposure in motoring and motorsport publications.

We have generated nearly 70 articles in national newspapers, various national radio and TV features and well over 1,400 pieces of coverage overall since starting our work with Haynes. Highlights include reaching 18.5 million people through the PR campaign for Tiff Needell’s autobiography, securing The Bee Manual a place in The Sun, and featuring the Wallace and Gromit Cracking Contraptions Manual on MailOnline, which reaches 80 million users a month.

We recently launched Haynes Publishing and Haynes Books on Facebook and Twitter to help Haynes directly engage with enthusiasts worldwide. The results so far have been positive, with 3,500 new fans connecting to the Facebook pages within a month of launch and a combined 2,000 Twitter followers connecting with Haynes after 10 weeks, purely through Twitter outreach alone.

“It is a brave PR agency that takes on a publishing house. Spirit, in my opinion, is the bravest.
“They hit deadlines and keep an eye on the news agenda which means that our authors and titles have the best chance of getting maximum press exposure.”

Jeremy Yates-Round, Managing Director, Haynes

Cots for Tots

Long-standing client Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal turned to Spirit to help drive a new £1 million ‘Cots for Tots’ fundraising initiative to expand the new-born baby unit at St Michael’s Hospital in Bristol.

The challenge was to raise the money in a tight time-frame and difficult economic climate but also to raise the profile of the charity ahead of a new multi-million pound fundraising appeal.

Spirit decided that enlisting the help of a media partner who would ‘buy-in’ to the Appeal would deliver much stronger third-party endorsement and ‘call-to-action’ than drip-feeding stories to a range of media.

We approached the Bristol Evening Post to back the campaign and they came on board in autumn 2010, dedicating the first five pages of the paper to launch their involvement, with regular stories several times a week, supplied by Spirit. This created a sense of public ownership and the Post’s readers took the campaign to heart, signing up to charity events or organising their own fundraisers.

To enhance the fundraising, Spirit helped the Appeal set up and optimise sites on Facebook and Twitter to reach new audiences and develop deeper and more personal relationships with potential supporters.

The Cots for Tots Appeal has raised over £950,000 in just over a year, putting it firmly on track to reach its target. 600 new supporters have been recruited and the editor of the Post has joined the Grand Appeal as a Trustee.

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

After success in 2010, the Spirit team were once again invited to promote the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, Europe’s largest annual hot air balloon festival.

As well as promoting the 4-day event across the UK through national media relations and social media, we also supported the Fiesta’s drive for commercial sponsors.

Having recognised that over 45 per cent of the Fiesta’s visitors are attracted to the event by the media, it was essential that we increased the coverage to ensure visitor numbers were maintained.

The campaign delivered big results; the national and local TV coverage reached 9 million people across the UK with the Fiesta featuring on BBC Breakfast, The One Show and ITV This Morning. The national and regional print coverage had a combined circulation figure of 25 million, featuring in 14 national newspapers.

Following Friday’s press day, Saturday and Sunday saw record-breaking numbers of visitors, with over half a million people attending the event and advanced car parks selling out.

We also raised the Fiesta’s presence on social media, building on the profiles we launched in 2010 on Facebook and Twitter. We now have almost 6,000 fans and 2500 followers, making social media a key component in the Fiesta’s communications strategy.

“The success of this year’s Fiesta is in no small measure due to the work of Spirit PR, whose excellent ideas, enthusiasm, commitment and media contacts ensured much better coverage than in the past,”

Muir Moffat, Chairman of the Organising Committee, Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.

We have already started to plan for the 2012 event, building on the success of the past two years. Watch this space to see how we do!

Science Park

The Bristol & Bath Science Park called on Spirit in the run-up to the project’s opening to help raise awareness, increase tenant enquiries and generate a sense of excitement around the development. The initial focus was to target local and regional audiences to reflect the fact that the majority of tenants are expected to come from Bristol and the South West.

We kicked off the campaign with media tours of the site, pegged to the opening of new roads named after West Country scientists. This was followed by a steady drip-feed of news stories about the project, regional and trade features and media interviews with the chief executive.

Getting the BBC interested in the science park was an important part of the campaign. With such a large audience, we knew that keeping them engaged was going to be crucial and we worked with the TV, radio and online to create exclusive filming and interview opportunities for them.

Our campaign culminated in September 2011 with the Science Park’s launch and Spirit worked closely with the development team to deliver an exciting event that included science broadcaster Kate Bellingham interviewing David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science. We also introduced internationally-renowned artist Luke Jerram, who unveiled three glass sculptures of viruses as part of the launch.

The launch achieved coverage in The Independent, Property Week and blanket exposure in local and regional media.

We have also been working on wider communications activities to help put the park on the map, including securing speaking opportunities, advising on networking and social media and organising tours for local MPs.

Our work has resulted in more than 80 press appearances over 10 months, which has reached an audience of more than 1.3 million people.

Good Living Week

Spirit was asked by Bristol’s Green Capital Partnership to help promote Good Living Week, a new Bristol festival to inspire people to live and work more sustainably.

Launched in the spring of 2011 with a host of partners including Forum for the Future, Sawdays and Festival of Nature, this pilot series of events offered practical ideas and cutting-edge thinking about all aspects of sustainable city living.

We advised on the marketing and communications strategy and handled media relations for the festival, generating over 20 articles in regional, business and lifestyle, print, broadcast and online press.

Spirit is continuing to offer advice and support as work gets underway on an even bigger and better event for 2012, under the new name Bristol’s Big Green Week.

ActionAid – Make Your Mark


This international development charity asked Spirit to help raise awareness of its work in the South West and increase the number of child sponsors in the region.

Our campaign asked people in the region to ‘make their mark’ by drawing their self portraits which were then merged to create a giant picture of five year old Enid from Uganda and hung from Bristol Cathedral.

We secured the backing of celebrities with West Country links, who submitted their own self portraits, including comic actor and writer Stephen Merchant, comedian Mark Watson, director Ken Loach, British explorer and writer Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dave Prowse (aka Darth Vader)

The campaign ran on two separate occasions on BBC TV and saw Bristol comedian Mark Watson on the sofa in the ITV West studio following his trip to Senegal for the charity.

We generated more than 80 pieces of coverage in 16 regional newspapers, nine regional magazines and six local radio stations. It also had huge success online and in social media, generating well over 50 threads and discussions.

“Spirit work just the way you would hope a PR agency would – getting really stuck in with a smile and delivering some amazing results, you can brief them and be confident that they will deliver, highly recommended.”

Patricia Lima, Head of PR Special Projects, ActionAid


A new project that increases the amount of locally sourced wood used in biomass boilers came to Spirit to help launch the scheme.

In order to harness the estimated 200,000 tons of wood lying unused in the local area, Westwoods needed to communicate with small woodland owners. We focused on specialist media – regional farming press and business press – and broadcast media, which would reach a larger audience.

The project had real broadcast potential so we set up several filming opportunities which told the story of how cut wood lying in local woodlands can be used as a sustainable form of energy.

We secured coverage in all target press – TV, radio, the farming and business pages of local newspapers and regional business publications. By getting the story on the ITV West news bulletin alone, we reached a regional audience of 2.5 million. The project was delivered within a budget of £2.5K.

“Spirit carried out an excellent and professional campaign. We were very impressed with the coverage achieved for a new venture company with a small PR budget. Spirit clearly has a grasp of the current environmental issues and the green economy. We would have no hesitation in recommending them.”

Andrew Harvey, Director, Westwoods

South West RDA – Gloucestershire floods

Spirit was asked to lead a sustained marketing and PR campaign to encourage take-up of a £2 million grant scheme to help businesses that had been flooded during the Gloucestershire floods.

After launching the scheme, we kept the fund in the media spotlight by drip-feeding Gloucestershire media with updates on the take-up, milestones and case studies of businesses that had received funding. We also led the publicity for two high profile visits to the county including former government minister John Hutton.

We ran an integrated communications campaign alongside intensive media work, which included a regular flood-themed newsletter for the RDA’s stakeholders, mailings and improving the scheme’s online presence.

Throughout the campaign, we worked closely with the RDA’s partners to ensure co-ordinated messages and activity.

Gloucestershire’s media was saturated with stories about the fund and we attracted interest from national media, including The Telegraph.

More than 60 per cent of the calls to the fund helpline were generated by PR and word of mouth, and the press coverage achieved a 60 fold return on investment.

“If you’re looking for a small, perfectly-formed PR agency, look no further. They are willing to give robust advice and show persistence in picking up opportunities or risks and seeing them through. They also bring a strong and genuine personal touch to their customer care.”

James Harper, Head of Communications, South West RDA

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