Before there was the national food destination Padstow, there was a small gathering of tents in a car park in 2008. Cornish towns like Padstow regularly suffered during their off-season; relying so heavily on summer tourism, the sparse streets were a telling sign of the local economy. The Padstow Christmas Festival in 2008 was an attempt to attract footfall to the town, encouraging people to buy local produce and visit the eager shops and restaurants.
With our help since 2012, Padstow Christmas Festival has grown to become one of the major food festivals in the South West – cementing Padstow’s national profile as a year-round destination for food lovers. Traditionally relying solely on summer trade, December is now a busier period for many in the town than the August bank holiday. Local accommodation and restaurants are fully booked and sponsors are battling it out for a spot in front of the thousands that descend on the otherwise sleepy fishing town.
Since 2012, our objectives have centred around increasing attendance and spend at the festival, securing sponsors and maximising their brand exposure, and working to further establish the event on the national radar. Our long-term partnership with Padstow Christmas Festival shows the value and the impact a well-integrated campaign can have on an event.
Through data from an annual post-festival survey, we have been able to accrue accurate visitor data showing key demographics and their motivations for attending the festival. From this, we are able to tailor the PR and marketing approach to cater for both national and regional audiences.
Part of our ongoing strategy has been to build anticipation for the festival’s packed programme throughout the year. We target national long-lead media with methodical, well-researched pitches throughout the summer and autumn.
The result is wide coverage in the national travel and lifestyle press including The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, Delicious and Great British Food.
Growing the PR and digital presence of the festival has resulted in securing several media partners, increasing the festivals attendance numbers, making it even more attractive to sponsors. Partners have included BBC Radio Cornwall, Food magazine, Cornwall Today and the Cornish Guardian to promote the festival as a must-attend event in the South West.
Malcolm Bell - Visit Cornwall
Putting on a show
Chef demonstrations are vital in attracting interest in the festival. Over the years Padstow Christmas Festival has been able to secure names like Rick Stein, Nathan Outlaw, Paul Ainsworth and Brian Turner as regulars who work to make this one of the best food festivals in the UK. Quotes and images from these chefs has gained further coverage in the national press. We also tap into the influential social media followings of the chefs to help to spread the word and draw in crowds.
Running the social media channels for the festival, we have worked hard over the years to grow a loyal online following. Through increased frequency of posts and live social updates at the event, the accounts have become a key information hub during the festival and have grown significantly since 2012.
An online home
Since working with Padstow Christmas Festival we have managed the website – updating and improving it throughout the years. Drawing large amounts of traffic in the lead up to the festival, up 5.4% to a total of 33,430 sessions in 2019, the website is a hugely important channel to reach the festival audience. All of the web content and updates are managed by us, leaving the festival team to the organising.
Tina Evans - Event organiser
Delivering the goods
Creating and implementing an email marketing campaign, we produce and deliver several newsletters in the lead up to and beyond the festival in December. Successes have led to the email database becoming a key metric for the festival and from which we have seen consistent growth.
Keeping a schedule
We work hard to source and create all of the written content and images, as well as assisting in the design of the festival programme. Working with the festival and its sponsors we create an informative and stylish programme available to everyone who attends.
We have helped to organise numerous competitions to increase brand awareness of Padstow Christmas Festival. The competitions have extended the reach of our campaigns through festival partners sharing the competition through their own social media channels, and also running competitions through targeted media outlets.
Capturing the fun
Working with the festival over a number of years has allowed us to build a strong image library, enabling us to place image-led features. Our experience with the festival and great connections with local professional photographers results in an array of fantastic images and video for use in the press and future marketing materials.
Festival attendance numbers have grown year-on-year, totalling an increase of more than 20,000 visitors since 2012. Growing from a three to a four day event the festival has moved to a larger site, added another demonstration theatre and seen a total of 365,000 attend over our nine years together. The Christmas market marquee has welcomed thousands of producers and hundreds of different chefs have demonstrated their skills for the crowd.
Sharp’s Brewery has been principal sponsor for nine years, and we’ve ensured all other sponsorship packages are filled annually.
We have achieved a lasting impression on the media, gaining a consistent variety of regional and national coverage. Our work with the festival has achieved 1074 pieces of coverage totalling a reach of over 995,000,000.
Pieces of coverage
Reach in the media
Social media followers
CIPR judges in 2015