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Creative and intelligent campaigns
from award-winning Bristol PR Agency

Shining a spotlight on Bristol architects’ important work

We are proud to work with the Bristol and Cardiff studios of long-standing client BDP, a global architecture practice that has played an important role in designing many of the temporary hospitals created in response to the coronavirus pandemic this year.

Not only were we keen to demonstrate their innovative and swift response to key decision makers in the healthcare sector, but also their in-depth insight into the way the pandemic will shape healthcare design of the future.

Drawing on their expertise and experience in this field, we have spearheaded a regional and sector-specific thought leadership campaign that has seen BDP interviewed on the likes of BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Bristol & BBC Radio Somerset, as well as opinion piece and feature opportunities in the likes of Heath Estate Journal, Building Better Healthcare and Hospital Times – all supported by highly engaging social media content.

Well done to everyone involved in project Nightingale – what a fantastic achievement!

Spirit shares insights on achieving broadcast coverage

The Spirit team was invited by leading housebuilder Barratt Developments to share tips and approaches to achieving broadcast media coverage in an online session with partner agencies across the UK.

Brand new Bristol development Blackberry Park recently featured on BBC Politics West and this summer BBC Radio Wiltshire’s reporter broadcast live from a current development, giving enthusiastic descriptions of it as both a place to live and an innovative construction site in terms of Covid safety.

After delivering 35 pieces of broadcast coverage in our first six months working with the housebuilder and comments from the client of “knocking it out of the park for broadcast” the team shared ideas and pointers to ramp up coverage on TV and radio, which people have returned to for news during the Covid pandemic.

TAP for Bristol raises £30,000 for homelessness

Widespread media coverage has helped Bristol’s ground-breaking ‘TAP for Bristol’ contactless donation scheme raise more than £30,000 to support homeless people in its first year of operation.

Covered in  everything from the Guardian to ITV West Country and Bristol Live to Bristol 247, high levels of awareness of the city’s TAP Points has seen donations continue, even through the lockdown, and the first grants made to support homeless people in our city and people at risk of homelessness.

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…

Readers to shape local news

Many local newspaper publishers are looking to see more of their content generated by readers as they plan their strategies for the future.

Ian Mean, the new editor of the Western Daily Press, has indicated that readers will become more involved in content generation.

He said: “We intend to harness the ideas and writing power of those readers to help to create content which will make the newspaper and its website a must read every day”.

Other publishers are taking a similar approach, but it remains to be seen exactly how reader-generated content will be sourced and controlled.

Critics will argue that the move will create a legal minefield for newspapers, but others may see it as an opportunity for better community engagement.

Is quality journalism at threat or can the skills and knowledge of journalists and readers be combined to create a better overall product?

We’ll be watching this one closely as publishers start putting their strategies into practice – a greater emphasis on reader-generated content could open up new opportunities for public relations experts in setting the news agenda.

The 2013 challenge

2012 gave PR agencies a wealth of news stories to build coverage around. Jubilee-timed sponsored events were followed by Olympic-inspired gold post boxes.

At the same time, imaginative digital Dickensian content was created and shared for the 200th anniversary of the writer’s birth.

Assuming the world doesn’t end on December 21, as predicted by the Mayans, which key events and anniversaries are forecast for 2013?

Well, not many.

So in 2013, a crucial PR challenge will be to create great narratives for clients, in order to engage the media and wider audiences, and which, perhaps, don’t rely on milestone media events.

This means so-called ‘empty 13’ could be great for getting right to the heart of a client’s beliefs about what they do and where they would like to go. It is an opportunity to generate and sell-in really creative approaches with journalists.

PR agencies will also need to continue to develop their abilities to work across platforms, integrating digital and social media into campaigns and further helping clients be ready for constant engagement with their audiences.

The increasing appetite for engagement, enabled by the evolution of personal devices, generates fantastic opportunities to build loyalty. However, the savvy audience does not just want to be sold a narrative. It wants to help write it. PR agencies need to become nimble enough to create genuinely interactive content for end users and influencers whilst continuing to plan ahead for long lead publications, broadcast and speaking opportunities.

Social sharing to influence Google results

Last month Google announced a change in the way they evaluate web content which means that social media sharing is now at the heart of search engine optimisation.

The updated search algorithm, code named Penguin, sees social shares (for example likes, comments, tweets, and not surprisingly ‘+1’s) as more valuable than inbound weblinks.

Historically, Google decided the position of a web page within search results by looking for keywords within the page content and, more importantly, who has linked to it.

In fact, there is a whole industry based on search engine optimisation, with companies employing experts to use different methods of ‘gaming’ the system to keep their websites in prominent position on search results pages.

Google is now trying to clamp down on these companies and their new system places much more emphasis on social media engagement as a tool for improving SEO.

So what does this mean for businesses? It is more important than ever to ensure you have a thriving and active social media community who will be willing to share your content on a regular basis.

TV to be Made in Bristol

A new television channel dedicated to Bristol will be launched next year.

Made in Bristol will broadcast to 330,000 households on freeview, and is a collaboration between Made Television Ltd and Bristol based news agency South West News Service (SNWS).

The launch is part of the second phase of a regional TV roll-out that is taking place across the country.

£25m is being spent across the country to develop local TV infrastructure, with a further £5m to be spent annually on local content, all of which will be funded by the BBC licence fee.

Developers of the channel claim that it will showcase all aspects of Bristol life through news bulletins, local sports, a 30 minute news programme and a daily magazine show.

Regional television has been trialed in the past, but in a city as colourful and exciting as Bristol we hope this time that it will be a success.

A picture says a thousand words

Social media has seen a dramatic change in 2012, with image-led social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram revolutionising the market and creating ‘the year of the visual’.

With ever more advanced mobile phone cameras and smartphone sales reaching critical mass, people are increasingly using images to document and share their lives.

This trend for image-led social engagement, together with the launch of Google+ last year and its emphasis on larger images, has led established social platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to focus more on visual content and adapt their features to suit.

It has also given rise to new and fast-growing services such as ‘social curation’ platform – Pinterest and app-cum-social network, Instagram.

There are obvious benefits to using visual content as a marketing tool, especially for sectors that naturally lend themselves to visual media such as design, food and fashion. But Pinterest also allows links to be embedded within content. Combine this with the viral potential of social likes, comments and shares, and suddenly the possibility of super-charging SEO and driving e-commerce is huge.

Savvy brands have been quick to recognise this and many (such as Whole Foods) have already launched massively successful viral campaigns.

The trend for visual social media is set to continue for the time being, which means brands should focus on prioritising visual content when developing a social – and wider marketing -strategy.

Raft of changes in local media scene

The last few weeks have seen a series of changes in the West’s media. Bristol’s daily newspaper has been re-branded ‘The Post’ and there is no longer a Saturday edition.

The Northcliffe group has also decided that listings magazine Venue will be published online only. Listings and reviews will continue to feature in Friday’s Post, along with the local edition of the Metro and the Bristol Observer. Folio continues as a free, monthly lifestyle magazine.

Monthly magazine South West Business has been replaced by Agenda, distributed free inside the Western Daily Press to its 30,000 circulation. The website www.southwestbusiness.co.uk is featuring business stories from across the region again.

But as some media contract, others expand. The Bristol Magazine publisher has launched a new monthly lifestyle glossy covering the West and award-winning news and features website Bristol 24-7 has just been re-designed.

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