Launched in 2007, Padstow Christmas Festival is a not-for-profit event supported by volunteers.

Located around the harbour in the fishing town of Padstow, the annual event has grown to become one of the major food and drink festivals in the South West. Funding for the festival comes from sponsorship and sales of the Padstow Festival Cookbook.

Working with Padstow Christmas Festival since 2012, Barefoot’s objectives have centred around increasing attendance and spend at the festival, securing sponsors and maximising their brand exposure and working to establish the event on the national radar.

Research and Planning

Data from a 2013 questionnaire of 1,082 visitors allowed research of demographics and motivations for attending the festival. Half of the visitors to the festival were Cornish residents, so regional media was therefore a vital focus. We worked to strengthen relationships with media partners, including Cornwall Today and BBC Radio Cornwall.

Through the partnership with Cornwall Today, in 2014 we were successful in securing eight pages of editorial over three issues including chef interviews, recipe features, diary date mentions and a four-page feature on the festival highlights.

Our strategy was to get people excited about experiencing the festival’s packed programme of family fun, fireworks, chef demonstrations and Christmas market. We targeted long-lead media with methodical, well-researched pitches throughout the summer and autumn and gained coverage in the national travel and lifestyle press including The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Delicious and Great British Food.

Implementation

Chef demonstrations were identified as being a vital draw for visitors to the festival. Securing big-name chefs such as Rick Stein, Paul Ainsworth, Brian Turner and Jack Stein at press calls on the Friday of the event as well as supplying quotes from Rick Stein to the press gained coverage in the weekend papers. We also tap into the influential social media followings of the chefs to help to spread the word and draw in the crowds.

Working with the festival over a number of years allowed us to build a strong image library for Padstow Christmas Festival, enabling us to begin to sell-in image led features. The launch of the Padstow Festival Cookbook also provided us with content to sell into national and regional food and lifestyle media, offering recipe content and chef profiles.

We sought to extend the reach of the campaign as well as bring brand awareness for stakeholders with competitions featuring gifts offered by the festival sponsors sold into national and regional outlets.

Results

In 2014, the festival saw record visitor numbers, with 45,000 attending over the four days of the event. The 2014 campaign generated 125 pieces of coverage across print, online and broadcast, securing investment in a two year sponsorship deal with Sharp’s Brewery.

Awards

Padstow Christmas Festival won gold at the 2015 Cornwall Tourism Awards in the Best Tourism Event category.

Our campaign won two gold awards in the Best Use of Media Relations and Low Budget Campaign categories at the CIPR PRide Awards 2015. Judges described our work as “a strong, well-researched campaign which delivered great coverage, contributing to both sponsorship targets and record visitor numbers.”

The 2014 campaign generated 125 pieces of coverage across print, online and broadcast media.


123 million

Reach of 2014 PR campaign.


 

99%

of visitors said they would return to Padstow.