In the era of dwindling local government comms budgets place marketing a region is a real challenge. But it can be done. This new post is a case study for councils across the UK.
by Dawn Tindle
Last autumn, North Tyneside Council launched its place branding campaign, We are North Tyneside.
The campaign’s aim was to define the ‘North Tyneside offer’ to businesses, residents and visitors, encouraging more of them to call us home. We also set out to challenge misconceptions, promote our USPs and increase pride amongst those already living or working here.
We did lots of work to understand what North Tyneside currently meant to each of our target groups, and to define the messages that would resonate most with them.
Like all local authorities, our budget for delivering a project like this was pretty small. We launched with a smattering of paid-for advertising to get the campaign out there but had to rely heavily on content marketing, social media and PR to drive continued engagement in the brand.
The first three months of the campaign performed well and we saw great take up following the launch. We were facing 2017 with a limited budget, an online audience and lots still to talk about. So, what next?
We came up with ‘100 things we love about North Tyneside’. This campaign-within-a-campaign would profile 100 unique things about North Tyneside over 100 days (from 1 January to 10 April). It would cover items from across the borough and feature things from our three segments: business, residents, visitors.
Running simultaneously across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, each post comprised a number, hashtag and picture, with social handshakes to businesses, organisations or groups involved in any of the profiled items.
The plan was to focus on the small stuff. On the things seen every day but not appreciated; the things that are only in – and are uniquely part of – the landscape of North Tyneside. Sure, we included our award-winning beaches and iconic buildings, but we also shone the spotlight on day-to-day items that are a part of our place identity.
And, it worked.
Twitter, in particular, responded extremely well to #NT100. With fewer tweets than December, we managed to increase profile visits by 80% in January. Our new followers increased by 114%, impressions by 155% and mentions by 123%. In one month.
Businesses began sharing the content on their social feeds, talking about how that item enhanced their offer, product or location.
Bloggers began to retweet us when our content supported their brands.
And, we started to get lots of comments from people appreciating the positivity of the campaign.
It took quite a bit of work to set up – finding suitable, good-quality images for each item was the biggest challenge – and I spend a big part of the month on Hootsuite scheduling social media posts, but it’s working.
Pride in North Tyneside is increasing among those who are based here, and the word is getting out about what we have to offer those who are yet to visit us.
Place campaigns need not just be about glossy advertising focusing on your iconic features. They can be about finding – and sharing – the joy of the small things, too.
Follow the campaign at www.wearenorthtyneside.com
Dawn Tindle is communications and marketing manager at North Tyneside Council
image via Glen Bowman