Buckfast Abbey: PR strategy and implementation

The Client

Soon to celebrate its 1,000-year anniversary, Buckfast Abbey is the only English medieval monastery to have been restored and used again for its original purpose, with visitors welcome to walk through its polished aisles and beautiful grounds.

Throughout the year, Buckfast Abbey hosts a number of events for the public including an outdoor theatre production, music recitals and numerous garden walk and talks. Whilst being one of Devon’s major tourist attractions, it is also the home of Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre and the newly opened Northgate House Hotel, two areas of the business that needed increased visibility.

The Challenge

Chalk & Ward PR were initially tasked with creating a PR strategy solely for the Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre, however upon seeing the breadth of our ideas and potential coverage, this strategy soon extended to the entirety of Buckfast Abbey.

The main challenge was to raise regional awareness of the Abbey’s varied offerings, increasing its profile ahead of the Millennium celebrations in 2018, providing the Abbey with a platform to fully maximise those opportunities.

The Result

We worked closely with each department at Buckfast Abbey, organising relevant press activity to raise awareness within the region. This included using traditional PR techniques such as events, press interviews and editorial, in addition to creating compelling content to be placed on Buckfast Abbey’s website in the form of blogs, images and videos. This has significantly increased search engine visibility, one of our key recommendations within the wider PR strategy.

Press coverage included a double-page spread in West Magazine, titled ‘A weekend at Buckfast Abbey’, numerous articles in Devon Life and regular coverage in regional papers, which includes the Western Morning News, Herald Express and the Plymouth Herald.

Head Gardener, Aaron Southgate, has also appeared on Radio Devon’s gardening show with Jo Loosemore, whilst the Conference Centre has hosted launch events for Devon Life’s Business and Professional magazine, with around 120 regional business delegates in attendance.

As part of the millennium build-up, we organised a series of interviews and broadcasts on BBC Spotlight, which holds a 43% share of the regional news audience in Devon and Cornwall. One of the flagship shows was broadcast from the Abbey itself, as well as various interviews with stakeholders highlighting the investment and community impact of Buckfast Abbey.

With all this in place, the Abbey has elevated its position regionally and will have a significantly increased visibility when it comes to celebrate its millennium celebrations in 2018.

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