Media Relations: Whittard changes tack to raise footfall

Iconic tea and coffee retailer Whittard of Chelsea is set for its first proactive media relations activity in 12 months as it looks to publicise a series of family-friendly in-store events.

Regional media will be of particular importance as Whittard looks to promote the events and drive footfall at its 400 stores nationwide.

In-store activity is set to include a children's art competition and a store tour by a well-known children's author. As a result, parenting press is included in the regional and national media target to encourage families to visit its shops.

Whittard has reappointed Starfish Communications to handle the campaign; the firm has handled PR in-house for the past year.

PR activity will be two-pronged, said Starfish joint managing partner Sally Fearfield, with more family-oriented events sitting alongside its traditional focus on promoting gifts and new products through food and lifestyle titles.

Home editors are aware of Whittard as a source of 'quirky gifting items and ceramics', said Fearfield, explaining that PR would seek to build similar awareness among food writers that Whittard's core expertise lies in tea and coffee.

It will use Whittard's tea and coffee buyer Giles Hilton as its primary spokesman for food press.

Whittard is taking a seasonal approach to its media relations, with bursts scheduled for Easter and Father's Day for gifting, and summer to tie into outdoor drinking.

Fearfield said media relations has been reactive due to the high level of journalist interest in previewing Whittard products.

Founded in 1886, Whittard recorded a jump in like-for-like sales of 4.9 per cent in the six months to 28 November, with turnover hitting £20.9m.

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