CAMPAIGNS: Yorkshire forum casts nets wide - Conferences

For three years local businessman Mike Firth staged the Yorkshire Business Conference, however it came to an end after 1997’s event owing to financial issues.

For three years local businessman Mike Firth staged the Yorkshire

Business Conference, however it came to an end after 1997’s event owing

to financial issues.



The Yorkshire Initiative Committee is a long-standing group of the

region’s most successful businesses, dedicated to promoting the region

and its economy. One of its aim was to resurrect the annual event.



The Yorkshire Initiative Business Convention comprised many members from

this group, as well as PR and events management company Sinclair

Mason.



It became a limited company to organise the 1999 Yorkshire International

Convention at Harewood House, near Leeds.



Objectives



To stage the best event of its kind, incorporating national and

international businesses and to succeed in attracting international as

well as local professionals.



A fundamental aim was to put Yorkshire on the business map and for

companies to use the convention as a networking opportunity. Sinclair

Mason aimed to attract influential speakers and to use the media to

promote the event, in order to sell all 1,600 tickets.



Strategy and Plan



To meet the challenge of reinventing the convention, Sinclair Mason and

the client began planning the campaign almost a year before the set date

of 11 June. National newspapers were informed and talks began with

possible international speakers.



Press releases were sent out regularly to confirm guest speakers, so the

coverage was staggered over eight months before the event. Updates in

the local press were regular, and Sinclair Mason formed an agreement

with the Yorkshire Post to let the newspaper have all information as

soon as it came in.



Interviews were arranged between guest speakers and the press. Model

Heather Mills (who lost a leg in a police motorbike accident) spoke to

lifestyle magazines about her story of triumph over adversity, while a

director of Microsoft UK gave a slant to business publications.



On the day of the convention, Sinclair Mason co-ordinated the media.



Print, broadcast and TV journalists attended and the team of eight PR

representatives juggled interviews with speakers to give maximum

photographic opportunities.



Measurement and Evaluation



The convention received extensive positive media coverage in the months

leading up to 11 June and reports on the success of the day. Articles

appeared in all the national papers, including the Sunday Express, the

Guardian and the Sunday Times. At least three radio stations, including

BBC Radio 2 took up the story and Yorkshire Television made an hour-long

programme chronicling the day.



Results



The media coverage of the number and quality of speakers helped ensure

that all 1,600 tickets were sold. Surveys indicated that 70 per cent of

those who attended were regional business people, with 20 per cent

nationally based and 10 per cent from abroad, compared with the 1997

convention when all ticket holders were from the local area.



Feedback from questionnaires was very positive and 1,000 tickets have

already been sold for next year’s event.



Richard Gregory, managing director of Yorkshire Television and chairman

of the Yorkshire Business Convention said: ’Sinclair Mason has not only

managed an enormous, complex and unique event, it has also established

brand awareness for the Yorkshire International Business Convention in

our region and across the UK.’



Client: Yorkshire Initiative Business Convention

PR team: Sinclair Mason/in-house team

Campaign: To generate interest in Yorkshire International Business

Convention 1999 and to co-ordinate media coverage on the day.

Timescale: June 1998 - June 1999

Budget: pounds 18,000



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