Buckfast Abbey

An integrated, full service client

“We really enjoy working with Chalk+Ward. Their advice and expertise across all services has helped us shape our marketing strategy, providing support to the Abbey wherever it is required.”

Jonathan Deacon / General Manager / Buckfast Abbey

Marketing an international tourist destination

Buckfast Abbey is a world renowned Benedictine monastery, originally built by monks in the 1800s. As one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations, Buckfast Abbey require marketing support for a wide variety of activities across the monastery.

PR strategy and support

We were originally appointed by Buckfast Abbey as part of a PR brief to increase bookings from the private sector for the conference centre but this quickly evolved to incorporate all areas of Buckfast Abbey including tourism, music, gardens, retail, beekeeping, accommodation and events. We were tasked with raising the profile of the monastery ahead of its millennium year in 2018, focusing on the key sector of regional tourism and national interest-specific.

Extensive PR coverage and media placement

Our team has secured a vast amount of PR and media coverage, including national coverage in short-lead and long-lead newspapers and magazines, regular high value inserts in regional magazines and newspapers, radio interviews, inclusion in a primetime national documentary for Channel 4 and a series of broadcasts on BBC Spotlight, which holds a 43% share of the regional news audience in Devon and Cornwall.

The team also regularly coordinates press trips for international, national and regional journalists to extend awareness of the monastery’s activities, achievements and events, and most importantly to increase awareness of Buckfast Abbey ahead of the millennium year.

Extensive PR Coverage and Media Placement

Strategic rebranding and signage

Whilst Buckfast Abbey is home to more than just the abbey and its history, there was a disjointed feel amongst the other departments and a lack of public awareness of what it offered as a location. From initial focus on the conference centre, an inclusive brand identity was rolled out across each department and we set out to design and produce new signage throughout the site.

The conference centre soon led onto the newly built accommodation and hotel signage and we continue to work on the tourism element for the entire site.

An evolving relationship

Because of Buckfast Abbey’s diversity, a joined up approach was required across all departments between marketing, branding, digital marketing, advertising and PR, ensuring budgets worked as hard as possible and remained effective.

What began as a PR brief has quickly evolved to cover all elements of marketing for all departments.

Strategic media planning and buying

More recently, we have focused advertising campaigns on the promotion of various events at Buckfast Abbey, taking monthly placements in the influential lifestyle magazine, Devon Life, with regular supporting ad placements in local media and national travel publications.

Our media planning also includes a series of radio campaigns, aimed at either promoting particular events or for general awareness.

In 2015 Buckfast Abbey hosted its first Storytelling Festival; a day of Christian stories, theatre and puppetry. To promote the festival we ran a radio campaign for two weeks across Heart Exeter and Heart Plymouth alongside press ads in local publications. The event was extremely well attended pulling both existing contacts and brand new visitors and driving awareness of Buckfast Abbey as a tourist destination.

Because of this success, the campaign is running again in 2018 on both Heart stations and Radio Exe with numbers expected to exceed those of 2015.

History in the making

To maintain our successful relationship with Buckfast Abbey, one day per week is spent on site dedicated to fully immersing ourselves in exactly what is happening in all departments and getting the most for the client.

For a monastery celebrating 1000 years of history, we hope to continue being a part of its future.