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Real ghostbusting: how PR saved a hauntingly quiet pub

In autumn 2010, the Inn at Freshford's ghostly quiet bar was far more likely to be frequented by its spooky regulars than mortal, paying customers

Two years ago we were contacted to help a local pub raise its profile.  It had been abandoned by its locals and wasn’t attracting new customers quickly.  In autumn 2010, the Inn at Freshford’s ghostly quiet bar was more likely to be frequented by its spooky regulars than mortal, paying customers.

We love a challenge at Avalanche Media.  How to build the business of a public house no longer at the heart of its community?  How to attract new customers to a place with no passing traffic?  Had we been contacted earlier in the year, our PR recommendations would have been less frightening I’m sure, but in the build up to Halloween, there was only one place to start – with a good ghost story.  A quick chat with the Inn at Freshford’s then management team revealed the pub had plenty of tales, which with our input, generated plenty of media attention, such as this on BBC Bristol.

Since, the pub has been given a further welcome lease of life from one of the UK’s most charismatic landlords, Mark Birchall, which whom we have worked to rebuild the Inn at Freshford’s local connection.  A healthy and continued combination of PR injection from Avalanche Media, in the form of press releases, media attention, event and campaign organising, journalist reviews, social media activity across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, has all helped to revitalise the Inn at Freshford’s reputation.

It takes time to make this sort of difference, plus consistency, PR planning and focusing the product offering.  The Inn at Freshford knows what it is – and just as importantly, what it isn’t.  We’re always learning in our work with clients and have applied a lot of the lessons learned from our work with this great country pub to other businesses.

Avalanche Media<< For pubs and businesses needing a happy ending, these ghostbusters are for hire.


Super Saturday

As per my previous post, yesterday, despite its numerical placement in the month, was great.  Not only was it filled with sister-in-law hen do frolics, but it began with PR results from more hard work on behalf of Avalanche Media clients.  Here are two examples – more to follow:

>> Sports presenter Mike Bushell tries out pigeon racing for his BBC Breakfast sporting challenge

>> Local historian and supporter of Save Bath’s Historic Pubs campaign Kirsten Elliott, talks with BBC Bristol’s Ali Vowles about her talk this week at The Inn at Freshford. (From 1:19:50)

When words create a thousand pictures

PR’s changed. A hell of a lot.

My first day in the job saw me sending a stream of press releases through the fax machine; stuffing the remainder into envelopes for the last post.

I’m still writing releases but the distribution couldn’t be more different.  I also run a number of social media accounts on behalf of clients – communicating with journalists and wider audiences. I use Twitter to generate media coverage for businesses, as well as develop their brand awareness and engage with online communities.

To help monitor the effectiveness of this, I’ve developed a way of visually representing the type of followers (people and business) my clients attract on Twitter. If you’re in Frome and have a copy of the The List‘s March issue, you’ll see an example of this on the opening page.

Avalanche Media's Frome word cloud in the March issue of The List

A new addition to The List - a word cloud showing what people and businesses in Frome people have been tweeting about

The word cloud shows which words have featured the most in tweets posted by Frome folk over the past month – a fun and fascinating exercise!

Applied to Avalanche Media clients, word clouds provide a number of uses; the depiction of Twitter follower characteristics being a particularly useful one. Here’s an example applied to @bathbusiness (The Bath Business Club), of which I’m a member and soon to become its first lady chairperson don’t you know.

@bathbusiness now has over 1080 followers - as the above shows, very relevant ones.

@bathbusiness now has over 1080 followers - as the above shows, very relevant ones.

The above image encapsulates the type of followers Bath Business Club is attracting on Twitter. The word cloud has been formed using words which appear most commonly within the profiles (the short paragraphs describing themselves) of the club’s followers. The stronger and larger the typeface, the more frequently the word appears.

These infographic word clouds represent just one way of monitoring social media effectiveness – and demonstrating how a targeted community can be developed online. They are quite beautiful in my view – and offer an easy-to-interpret visual for clients to understand the value of this marketing activity.  Simple, yet revealing don’t you think?

Avalanche Media’s first video

I thought this was well worth a post as I’m quite proud of my first iMovie effort.

It can be difficult to describe PR to the uninitiated, so I thought it would help to produce a video to better explain what it is I can achieve for businesses.   To help prevent the onset of yawns and flitting to other YouTube offerings, I’ve limited the length to three minutes.   This means that the behind-the-scenes work I need to do isn’t really referred to (check out my press room for more of an insight).  But instead the important bit, the results:  these are what clients want.

Avalanche Media on YouTube

Avalanche Media's first YouTube video: The Power of PR

I hope this is useful and would welcome feedback.

After recently becoming yet another Mac convert and iMove addict, I’m hoping to produce more PR-related video offerings.  If you have ideas for any specifics you’d like me to address, please shout.

PR: the makings of a good egg sandwich

So proud of client Andy Fussell’s appearance as the mystery guest on Chris Evans’ breakfast show yesterday.  All thanks to a discussion the day before on fried egg sandwiches and bit of Twitter follow up.  Some PR opportunities can’t be foreseen.

Andy Fussell - Chris Evans' mystery guest

Listen again (available for the next week) – scan to 2:04.11 to hear Andy’s 3-minute interview on the BBC Radio 2 programme.

Remember the locals: a Twitter lesson

Reputation is pretty much everything.   What leads to this – an unscientific, common sense cocktail of being good at what you do, being trustworthy and treating others as you wish to be treated.

image courtesy of’s masses written on the important role that social media now has to play in the clever old world of marketing and PR.  But forget the stuff about the future of [Twitter] and consider that everything you do and say now is important.   It doesn’t matter whether or not the 140-character micro-blogging dialogues will remain in the future:   what’s important is they are happening now.  Reputation-building is an ongoing exercise and the likes of Twitter provide a here and now tool to communicate.  Herein lies the trick: engage, don’t just communicate.  It’s a simple one, but many miss it.

The beauty of social media is the power it gives its users to have a direct conversation with those who might otherwise remain inaccessible.

It’s been an interesting afternoon on Twitter, though I fear that the reputation of a local establishment may suffer as a result of ignoring the engage rule.

To provide some background, the market town of Frome in Somerset plays host to a number of public houses (considerably more in previous times, but not today’s story), including Archangel.   A former coaching inn packed to the rafters on a Saturday night, Archangel is no longer a pub per se, but a more refined bar, restaurant and rooms.   And very nice it is too, I’d highly recommend it.  Good cocktails made by mixologist Ben, a regional food-inspired menu from head chef John Melican and some beautified surroundings complete with Bruce Munro lighting.

So in this case, change is a good thing.

But sadly, this establishment’s local and regional audience appears to be forgotten when it comes to marketing.   Why, I’m not certain.   Certainly in the tougher climes of January and February it will be this clientele that Archangel relies on.  PR-speaking there is of course a huge need to firmly position it on the UK map and set it apart as a destination in the South West.   This requires constant outreach at various levels to generate awareness and exposure.   But it’s dangerous to forget those on your doorstep and this would appear to be the case with Archangel’s social media efforts.

There’s a large and still growing audience of Twitter folk based in Frome who have shown support for the new establishment – both in terms of online messages and actual footfall.   This doesn’t always appear to be appreciated by the marketing person and today’s dialogue on Twitter clearly showed an attitude of dismissal towards local custom.   Rather than interract and (important word) engage with those who more frequently use Archangel, the person tweeting on its behalf seems more preoccupied with patronising those with a Frome address and ignoring the support that exists at local level.  This surely is undoing the hard work of those in situ, trying to build its reputation at ground level.  It’s possible this miscommunication is in large part due to Archangel’s Twitter alias not being locally-based, but good manners aren’t reliant on post code.

Don’t be put off by the dialogue online in this case – the Archangel experience aims to please and I’m certain you would find this to be the case.

The PR lesson here is think about your audience.   While social media exists to share and interract with users all over the place, remember that you’re communicating with people and therefore behaviour is paramount.   Be yourself, be friendly, be appropriate, be informal if that feels comfortable.  But if you’re politely engaging with some while being rude to others, the chances are this won’t go unnoticed.   Get it right with social media and the unscientific cocktail will go down a treat.

Somerset rapeseed farmer done good

This week has yielded some great media coverage for a Somerset farmer I work for.

Two different angles and editorial formats which both provide bang on targeted exposure for Andy Fussell and his Fussels Fine Food business (deliberate difference in spelling!):

Click on the images below to see the articles in
The Times and Women’s Fitness.

click on image to see The Times article in full

Somerset-grown rapeseed oil: The British answer to olive oil -

click image for full article on

Why rapeseed is the British alternative to olive oil -

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