Integrated digital marketing campaign for Cornish farmstay

When we started working with the Hawkey family, owners of The Olde House, back in 2010, the business was still enjoying a high percentage of repeat bookings, but they wanted to set about attracting more new customers. At the time they were doing very little marketing activity; their website was tired, and poor photography didn’t reflect the quality of the cottages and the farm.

A new responsive website

In early 2014 we began working with The Olde House and our partner design agency to create a new responsive website and blog, reflecting the increase in visitors using mobile devices to view and book holidays online. We recommended an SEO consultant who was brought in to advise on optimising the website structure for organic search traffic, and to manage Google Adwords pay per click advertising campaigns.

The new site looks great and is easy to use. Most importantly traffic has increased by 26%, and pageviews by 50%.

Email marketing

At the same time as the website, we developed a new email marketing service for The Olde House. An email template was created, based on the new website design, and regular email campaigns are sent to keep guests up to date with offers, news, and developments on the farm. Open rates and click-through rates are consistently above the industry average.

Social media strategy

We continue to work with the The Olde House to develop and refine their strategy for social media, including helping them to create content and develop best practice. Their improved presence on Facebook and Twitter has steadily increased their online following and most importantly has attracted new customers.

PR coverage in the media

Since 2010 we’ve secured regular coverage in some amazing places including The Guardian, Metro, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, BBC Spotlight and ITV Westcountry News. In 2012, The Olde House wanted to boost their occupancy levels in the winter and spring seasons, a traditionally quiet time of year.

Over 1,000 lambs are born at The Olde House every year across two lambing seasons. Guests at the farm can experience lambing first hand, so we tied in the two seasons with late deals available and pitched to journalists in the family holiday market. We arranged press trips with journalists from national newspapers and magazines as well as features in the local media. We also carried out a reactive PR campaign after a set of quadruplet lambs were born, resulting in a photo-led story across national and local media titles.

The quadruplet lambs were featured on ITV Westcountry and BBC Spotlight. Images of the lambs were featured in the Mail Online and the London Metro, while press trips secured features in BBC Countryfile Magazine and Sunday Express.

Bookings increased by over 50% compared with the same period in the previous year, with more families booking their holidays earlier, and the campaign earned Silver at the 2012 CIPR Pride Awards.

100 years at Penpont Farm

In 2015 The Olde House celebrated their 100th year at Penpont Farm by offering guests the chance to book a cottage for a week for £100. We worked with The Olde House to promote the offer in the weeks before it went on sale, including The Mail on Sunday the day before the offer went live.

We created specific content for the website, including editing archive and drone film footage into two short videos.

When the £100 cottages went on sale they sold out within 10 minutes, with almost 800 people on the website trying to secure one of the 30 cottages.

Investment and improvements

The Hawkey family has done a huge amount on their part to help. In the past two years, they have made many improvements to their business, with a rolling programme to upgrade older cottages, and renovating two old barns into larger properties to meet the demand for extended family holidays. They have also invested in renewable energy, including a biomass boiler, electric car charging points and a solar array which meets the energy needs for the entire business. 

Results

The Olde House has really seen the impact of the business improvements and marketing activity. Occupancy has grown by over 40% in two years. In 2014 turnover increased by 5% on the previous year, and by a further 19% in 2015. At the same time the average length of stay has increased from 5.2 nights to 7.1 nights, with 55% of 2015 bookings from returning customers.

To cap a brilliant 2015 for the Hawkeys, the family won a Gold award at the 2015/16 Cornwall Tourism Awards, and a second Gold award at the South West Tourism Awards in February 2016. In December 2015 they were featured on BBC Countryfile’s Christmas special.

Client comment

We struck gold when we moved from our old PR company to Barefoot Media. We have a fantastic relationship with the team, who look after all our needs with great enthusiasm and expertise. They have helped us move our business forward, namely with our online presence and securing high-profile press pieces. We could never have won Gold at the 2015/16 Cornwall Tourism Awards without the input from Barefoot Media.”

Jaime Hawkey, The Olde House.

Launching The New West Country Cookbook

Barefoot worked with David Griffen on a PR campaign to promote sales of his book, The New West Country Cookbook. We were also tasked to raise his profile as a leading food photographer in the UK and channel new client work with top chefs outside the South West, national food publications, and chef cookbooks.

Strategy and tactics

David Griffen's new west country cookbook coverThe book was conceived as a showcase for a photographer, so we had over 300 pages of photography and recipe content to offer to the media.

Our strategy to drive sales was to secure reviews of the book, and place more significant features using recipe content so people could try out the recipes for themselves before buying. Featuring an image of the book cover and website URL in the coverage was a priority.

Pitches were tailored to the media’s needs, with regional publications throughout the South West offered recipes from chefs local to them.

We sent PDF samples of the book to long-lead journalists before printed copies were delivered. Physical copies were sent to 12 influential food journalists because we felt the quality and tactile nature of the book would increase the likelihood of coverage.

Inclusion in high-quality food publications was important for David to raise his profile and generate new business leads. We aimed for significant features in print media that would showcase his work, combining reader offers and competition prizes. Features were generally recipe-led and sold in on the strength of the photography. With so much strong content on offer we felt able to negotiate inclusion of key messages such as driving people to David’s website.

Implementation

We drafted and distributed a press release with quotes from David Griffen and well-known chefs from the book, Nathan Outlaw and Tom Kerridge. This was used to generate interest ahead of the publication date and supplied as supporting information for journalists when pitching.

Images from the book were made available on the Barefoot Media press centre, giving easy access to the media and enabling us to track the number of downloads.

Individual pitches to regional media and specialist food titles took place on a rolling basis. Advance copies were air-freighted to us so we could still send review copies to long-lead titles in time for pre-Christmas deadlines.

David held a ‘thank you’ event for chefs, proof readers and other collaborators. We developed the format of the event, a winter beach barbecue, to pitch to The Guardian Cook supplement for their ‘Get Togethers’ feature, who commissioned the piece and sent their own photographer.

Coverage

Coast-press-for-David-GriffenThe campaign generated 40 pieces of coverage with opportunities to view of over 8 million. This included features in Coast, Olive and The Guardian. Of these pieces…

  • 90% used photography from the book
  • 56% used an image of the book cover
  • 59% included a link to the website
  • 17 significant pieces using one or more recipes and images
  • 917 image downloads from our press centre

 

Results

As a direct result of the campaign, the book was stocked by Waterstones across the South West. The entire print run of the book sold out within 18 months of publication.

David has since been commissioned to shoot three more cook books including one for the chef Michael Caines.

Client comment

“Barefoot provided me with a clear strategy and road map for the campaign before the work began, and followed this plan, effectively achieving the goals set out.

My main aim with the marketing was to use the book as a vehicle to reach a greater audience outside Cornwall. As a direct result I am getting more bookings and enquiries from higher end businesses. It’s helped me to become really specialised and the PR has been a big part of that.”

An integrated campaign for Polo on the Beach

The 2013 event saw two significant changes: a move from September to May, and an expanded weekend-long format. Free for spectators, Polo on the Beach 2013 was largely funded by three sponsors – Veuve Clicquot, Joules, and First Great Western – who had all increased their investment that year.

Barefoot Media worked alongside Watergate Bay’s in-house marketing team to deliver a multi-channel campaign geared towards delivering a return on investment for the event partners, and ensuring Polo on the Beach was well attended by the public.

Objectives and strategy

Watergate Bay wanted to increase attendance from the 2012 figures of 4,000 people, driving spend at the event’s retail and catering outlets. They also wanted to establish Polo on the Beach as a credible national polo event that is cemented in the Cornish event calendar as a weekend event, and deliver brand exposure for Watergate Bay Hotel as an interesting destination.

The six week period prior to the event weekend of 18 and 19 May was identified as the key window to build awareness, with activity peaking in the days around the event.

As a unique and very visual event, with a wealth of stunning photography and video available from previous years, creativity in the campaign came from developing engaging, shareable content seeded through earned and owned media channels.

 James Ram

Implementation

The PR campaign was timed to build throughout the six weeks pre-event, targeting travel and lifestyle media through diary date sell-ins, event previews, competitions and image-led pieces.  Short-lead regional and national news media were invited to a press call, and drip fed information via press releases and a teaser video.

Watergate Bay’s in-house marketing team delivered a programme of content-led activity through the creation of a dedicated polo minisite, ten blog updates, three email marketing campaigns and ongoing social media activity. This was supported by targeted print, radio and social media advertising.

At the event, audience participation on social media was encouraged through regular posts and short-term competitions, promoted via commentators and in the 3,500 printed copies of the free event programme.

Post-event, a review press release and photography were made available within 24 hours, and social media activity continued for ten days culminating in the release of a short film.

 James Ram

Coverage

The PR campaign achieved 85 pieces of coverage, with 32.5 million opportunities to view (OTV). 100% of coverage was positive or neutral. 

  • The press call was attended by photographers from Getty Images and the Press Association, with images syndicated internationally.
  • The social media campaign reached over 20 million OTV. Sentiment was 100% positive or neutral, with most neutral comment being informative.
  • A competition was launched with Vogue UK which reached over 18 million OTV and attracted 12,500 entries.
  • 478 images were shared in the Instagram photo competition using #POTB13 between 18-24 May.
  • The polo minisite received 59,272 page views over three months (March to May), an increase of 240% on 2012.
  • The 2013 video was viewed over 5,000 times in two weeks.

 James Ram

Results

Approximately 8,000 visitors attended across the weekend in 2013 – an increase of 100% on 2012. Five key polo titles gave considerable coverage to the event and journalists from Après and Polo Times attended in person.

Watergate Bay Hotel had its best ever May, beating its revenue target by 17%. Occupancy in the week of 16 May increased by 24% on the same week in 2012.

The marketing and PR campaign for the event won two gold CIPR Pride Awards in 2013, and a silver in the CIM’s 2014 Travel Marketing Awards.