Blog

Everyone loves a good motorway service area! When the first service station opened for business 60 years ago, many people perceived them to be futuristic, modern and exciting! I can think of no better time than now, on this 60th anniversary, to be working with one of nation’s leading operators and help launch the UK’s ‘next generation’ of Motorway Service Areas (MSAs).

With world-class architecture and amenities, Leeds Skelton Lake Services operated by Extra MSA Group, will make you re-evaluate everything you’d expect from an MSA.

From the outset of this exciting and ambitious project, Social has been at the forefront in providing PR, stakeholder engagement and wider communications support. From securing support for the planning application, to updates during construction and then raising awareness of its opening amidst the COVID-19 lockdown – we’ve had the privilege of being there every step of the way.

Since joining the Social team at the beginning of the year, I’ve worked alongside my colleagues to help deliver an extensive communications campaign, utilising the full breadth of services and expertise we have to offer, as well as overcoming the challenges which confronted us.

Communicating during COVID-19

The choppy waters of COVID-19 brought urgency to our campaign, as the opening of Leeds Skelton Lake coincided with MSAs being designated as critical safety infrastructure during the lockdown period.

As the circumstances changed, so did our messaging. Firstly, during the initial stages of lockdown we worked hard to keep our stakeholders informed of the MSA’s opening and its important role in supporting key workers. Secondly, we were tasked to reassure stakeholders and road users that the MSA was open, safe and clean to use as lockdown began to be eased.

Communicating this message effectively and efficiently required agility and the use of traditional and digital tools. Whilst this campaign would play to our strengths, elements of it were learning experiences for myself and an opportunity to engage with communication techniques I had never used before.

By providing an integrated approach to the communications, using a mix of traditional and digital PR, marketing, and advertising, we’ve delivered a wide-ranging campaign which has resonated with the client’s range of audiences.

Billboard advertising, newspaper advertising, videography, coverage in regional and local media publications, and social media advertising are just some of the methods we’ve used to get the messages out.

Leeds Skelton Lake Services portrays and re-captures the modern and futuristic feeling which originally made service areas so appealing 60 years ago. I’ve found the last nine months to be hugely rewarding – and we know that our full mix of communications services will have an important role in the months to come.