The Balti Triangle fights back after the tornado

Last July a freak tornado south of Birmingham proved to be one of the worst natural disasters the city had ever seen. Although no one was badly hurt, hundreds of buildings were damaged in the neighbourhoods of Sparkbrook, Moseley and Kings Heath, as well as in the heart of the city’s world-famous Balti Triangle, home to about 50 balti houses.

Campaign Balti Triangle Back in Business
Client Birmingham City Council
PR team In-house
Timescale October 2005-January 2006
Budget £20,000

The city council faced the difficult challenge of aiding a community with a long experience of deprivation.

Objectives
To raise awareness that businesses in the Balti Triangle were up and running after the tornado. To publicise the wide range of shops and services on offer in the area, including silk outlets and vendors of cookware and ingredients.

Strategy and Plan
Trade associations such as the Asian Balti Restaurant Association urged the council's PR and regeneration teams to provide high-profile promotion. This involved press ads and a poster campaign across the city and on Midlands train services. Meanwhile, billboards around Birmingham's most popular evening entertainment centre, Broad Street, were put up. These all highlighted facilities in the Balti Triangle, while residents were encouraged to visit a website, www.birmingham.gov.uk/baltitriangle.

In December, Ashley Blake, presenter of BBC West Midlands TV, was drafted in to launch the campaign and switch on a display of festive lights. More creative ideas resulted in a partnership with Travel West Midlands, including a Balti Bus campaign – 20,000 bus timetables were printed which included vouchers for discounts at some of the restaurants in the triangle.

The team also worked with the Birmingham Mail to source pictures of the tornado and its aftermath to create a photographic exhibition at the town hall. The in-house campaign was integrated with outside initiatives, such as disability organisation Scope's October Curry Week.

Zebs was the last damaged restaurant to reopen in the triangle last December, and its owners worked with the PR team to come up with a Christmas menu, which included Brussel Sprout Bhaji, Cranberry Naan and Turkey Tikka Masala.

Measurement and Evaluation
The Birmingham Mail covered almost every aspect of the campaign, while The Inner Voice and Express & Star reported most of them.

Menu magazine and Central Trains' commuter freesheet also ran stories, while local radio stations BBC Radio West Midlands, Heart FM, BRMB and the BBC Asian Network covered Zebs' Christmas menu. The menu also attracted BBC regional programme Midlands Today and ITV's Central News.

Results
The campaign generated 35 articles, and according to the council all of the stories were positive. As far as the Asian Balti Restaurant Association is concerned, its members have reported better business in the triangle compared with the same time last year.

Birmingham Mail reporter Guy Newey says: 'The campaign was something in which we were already interested and involved, but when you're doing something like that it's useful to get other ideas, and the council kept up a steady flow of stories.'

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