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National contract for Spirit

Spirit has been appointed by Forestry Commission England to handle its communications nationally and across the West and South West, which covers an area from Shropshire to Lands End.

In a landmark rethink of its communications activity, the Commission decided to bring in agencies to handle PR for six newly-designated regions, and the whole of England.

The Commission’s new approach will mean that its activities to promote forest spaces and engage private landowners and stakeholders will be combined for the first time.

Spirit will work closely with the Commission’s national marketing and communications team and two other PR agencies who, between them, won the remaining five regions.

The total brief across the three agencies is worth around £750,000 over three years. It was a highly competitive process with around 60 PR agencies bidding for the work.

The brief includes attracting more visitors to the Commission’s 258,000 hectares of woodland in England which encompasses more than 1,500 forests and woods, 24 visitor centres, 32 play areas and 14 Go Ape sites. The communications activity will also support the Commission’s mission to help protect, enhance and expand England’s woodlands.

Mark Funnell, Forestry Commission head of communications, said: “This is a very exciting development for the Forestry Commission. The new contracts will help us to attract more visitors to the Public Forest Estate to enjoy the wealth of activities there, from cycling to holidays, walking to wildlife. But they will also help us motivate people to take greater care of their woodlands and forests.

“The contracts replace a hotchpotch of arrangements that weren’t allowing us to get full value for money. The new agencies will help deliver a much more joined up and cost efficient approach to achieving our goals.”

Spirit managing director Caroline Harris added: “We’re really looking forward to working with the Forestry Commission on this important and varied brief, which puts all of the skills of a communications agency to full use. We will draw on our wide experience of working with the public sector, visitor attractions and land management to enhance the work of the internal teams to help them promote and protect England’s woodlands, one of the country’s great natural treasures.”

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