PR insights

The importance of hyper-local communications

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Photo courtesy of Huw John

Megan Dacey comments on the need to engage with consumers on a local level and what this means for the delivery of retail PR.

The way people shop is ever-changing and that in turn changes the way we communicate with them.

Online shopping has continued to grow exponentially for a number of years but according to Mintel this growth is now beginning to slow and we are already seeing the effects of this up and down the country as stores and centres adapt to entice customers who shop online and offline interchangeably.

Retail communications is no longer ‘grab and go’ – we are reverting back to offering experiences and personal rewards to visitors as the focus shifts from footfall growth to increasing spend, dwell time and encouraging repeat visits.

At St David’s Cardiff – Wales’ leading retail and leisure destination – this hyper-local approach has seen great success throughout the year. By tapping into the pride of the Welsh, a number of campaigns have been delivered that resonate with shoppers and get tongues wagging.

The centre and cult local brand I Loves The ‘Diff have embarked on a partnership that brings the spirit of the city to life. From events that give away personalised Cardiff themed prints, to huge artwork being displayed throughout the centre, the collaboration has brought Welsh humour and quirkiness into the country’s largest shopping and leisure destination.

2016 has been the year of the Welsh and with unparalleled success in the Euros, the centre decided to close early for the semi-final to enable its 4,000 staff to watch the game. This bold decision resulted in nationwide conversation and praise – another way that the centre has placed itself at the heart of the city.

Consumers cannot be squeezed into a certain audience set because behaviours and interests are varied, and individuals are continuing to look for an experience that fits and resonates with them. Across the UK, shopping destinations are beginning to realise that it’s not all about quick transactions, it’s about celebrating the people that walk through the doors every day.


Last week at Grayling

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On Thursday James attended the Marks & Spencer Christmas (yes, Christmas!) press show in London with Media Wales journalist, Kathryn Williams. Aside from sampling the sumptuous delights set to grace tables in six months’ time, they both had a go at decorating their own Christmas cupcakes and profiteroles and even had a chance to design their very own flavoured gin to take away. Kathryn quickly ran a story following their trip which you can see on Wales Online here: It might only be July, but our mouths are watering for Christmas already!


Richard was also out and about as he was invited to share a stage with the new editor of The Western Daily Press, Gavin Thompson at the South West PM Forum, hosted by our client Burges Salmon. Gavin and Richard shared insights with the audience of professional services marketeers about how to pitch to journalists and how to get the most out of your PR agency.

We were also lucky enough to be involved in the launch of the Better Food Company in what’s set to be Bristol’s newest food quarter, Wapping Wharf. As well as securing pre-open day coverage, our team – led by Helen – organised a number of on-the-day interviews and reviews, including this one by the Bristol Post’s food reviewer, Mark Taylor:

BETTER_FOOD_33                                             ©Simon Galloway 2016. All Rights Reserved.


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People will continue to make the shift from consumer to citizens as they work together to demand transparency, mobilise support and affect change.

Democracy in Motion

New and established civic engagement platforms will connect people and governments, enabling effective participation and driving new levels of transparency and accountability.

Perhaps the best known of these kinds of platforms,, has had nearly 130m people support one or more petitions with almost 15,000 victories across 200 countries.

2015 saw the biggest victory to date in France – more than 200,000 people sign a petition that helped to create a new law requiring all supermarkets to donate their unsold food. This one victory in France has inspired other people all over the world to start petitions asking their own governments to create similar legislation.

We’ll see an increase in both the availability and use of such platforms, as people begin to see them as a utility to hold institutions and governments to account.

POPVOX is an example of the new breed of civic engagement platforms – it meshes real-time legislative data with users’ personal stories and sentiment, delivering public input to government in a format tailored to actionable policy decisions.

In a similar vein, almost 10m people globally have voted on the UN’s ‘Have Your Say’ ballot – with honest and responsive government in the top four for all adult groups, after education, healthcare and jobs.

We are the 99%

Facebook’s rainbow filter to support Pride Week was used over 26m times whilst millions more used avatars and hashtags to show support for Paris, after a slew of terrorist acts.

People everywhere will be using these digital platforms to start campaigns and mobilize supporters across borders around causes they care about.

We’ll see an increase in global activism around common issues, such as terrorism, refugees, women’s rights and climate change, with coordinated action by groups and individuals.

This sense of civic duty and connection to the wider world will create new audience segments and needs. The idea of Corporate Social Responsibility will be replaced with a demand for “Brand Compassion” and we’ll see brands and organizations shift their comms and actions to keep pace with this.

An expansion of this behavior and expectation will create a new power dynamic; with the citizen-consumer becoming the main power broker in an interconnected system of consumer-led demands, that will either destroy or develop brands, products and organizations.

Meet Your New Boss

Public campaigns will scrutinise corporations and demand targeted changes in how they do business – from resource management to fair working practices.

Oxfam’s Behind the Brands program was a key stakeholder in getting Kellogg’s to commit to reduce emissions across its supply chain and operations.

The combination of these seemingly disparate demands mean that we are entering into an era of organisational Darwinism, where successful brands, corporations, governments and institutions will be those who are best able to adapt.