Liverpool gears up for 2008 culture status

Liverpool Culture Company (LCC) is the organisation set up by Liverpool City Council to promote the city’s European Capital of Culture status in the run-up to 2008.

Campaign Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008
Client Liverpool Culture Company
PR team In-house and Weber Shandwick North
Timescale July 2005-March 2006
Budget £76,500 

Following the example of Glasgow – the previous UK city to win the status, in 1990 – Liverpool wants to reap the economic and social benefits of its award.

LCC appointed Weber Shandwick North to position Liverpool as a world-class city nationally and internationally and communicate positive messages about the 2008 status.

To create buzz around the status and reinforce the Liverpool brand via consistent messages about heritage, personality, pride and success.

Strategy and Plan
Problems for the PR team included media apathy about Capital of Culture status, and the stereotyping of Liverpool as a downtrodden city with pockets of economic and social deprivation. To challenge such perceptions, WS used the city's 2005 summer programme of events as a platform.

Happenings included Hub, the UK's largest free urban culture festival; Mathew Street, a three-day outdoor event (for which the team launched a bid to feature The Beatles on the back of the £20 banknote); and the start of the Clipper Round-the-World Yacht Race.
Projects were split across WS's consumer, corporate, and property and regeneration divisions, which sought to highlight facts about Liverpool's maritime, architectural, football and pop music heritage. The agency also plugged information about the city's nightlife and its plans for urban renewal – which include the £900m Grosvenor leisure and retail development, and the £400m Kings Waterfront project overlooking the Mersey.

The team also strived to use high-profile international visitors, including the first official Chinese tourism delegation, to drive coverage overseas. To this end it hosted a series of themed press trips, such as a 'scouse-tasting' tour, for travel and tourism media.
To engage the business community, WS promoted the LCC club '08 Business Connect', showcasing opportunities for companies to exploit the city's upcoming status.

Measurement and Evaluation
The campaign generated national and international coverage, 97 per cent of which contained positive messages about Liverpool.
Interest ranged from the Sunday Mirror, OK!, The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph to the Shanghai Times. Stories such as The Beatles banknote bid appeared on ITN and Channel 4 News, and in the Daily Express.

The LCC reports that journalists covering last year's campaign have been overwhelmingly positive in their response. Daily Star Sunday feature writer Dominique Ayling, who visited Liverpool for a travel article on city breaks, says: 'The PR team was good, picking me up from the airport and providing background information, maps and a long list of places to visit.

'Obviously 2008 is the reason it wanted to promote the city, but WS helped me experience Liverpool as a happening place.'

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