Blog

While I always try my best to avoid writing in cliches (as is the unspoken oath of every serious comms pro), it feels only right to start this blog by commenting on the rollercoaster of the year we’ve had. From the prolonged lockdown we faced in the early months, to the exciting return of events in the summer, to the challenges unfolding as we approached winter, it’s been another turbulent year.

But for us at Social’s Leeds office, this has made for a year of agility and flexibility – whether that’s in terms of pivoting how we work or what we deliver – and we’re proud that it’s been another year of growth, working on great projects with some fantastic clients. And with this in mind, we’ve taken time to reflect on our 2021 highlights as we fast approach the new year.

Seizing opportunities and selling-in

Looking back at the past 12 months, it’s been another fast-paced year for the media, and we’ve been working hard to monitor the changing dynamics, seize opportunities and proactively create our own.

For example, we worked alongside our brilliant client The Piece Hall Trust to share their journey towards and beyond reopening – including promoting a real milestone for the cultural venue as it saw its busiest weekend since reopening in 2017, as well as helping to land over 100 pieces of coverage around the unveiling of their landmark Anne Lister statue. In the education space we worked closely with Leeds Beckett University to raise awareness of its 2021 Clearing offer, as well as helping Caddick Developments to promote a range of diverse projects – including the launch of Casa by Moda, an exciting new build-to-rent venture.

Through this work and beyond, we’ve successfully secured a wealth of coverage, including national pieces in The Guardian, trade press coverage in Property Week, regional television spots on BBC Look North and broadcast interviews with BBC Radio Stoke.

Engaging to make an impact

Meanwhile, our stakeholder engagement, public affairs and consultation experts have been busy working with a range of high-profile public and private sector clients to promote places and support planning applications.

In one of the most complex projects that we’ve been involved in, we successfully worked with Calderdale Hospitals NHS Trust across two hospital sites and three planning applications – all of which were submitted over the summer. For Kirklees Council, we delivered the consultation for Dewsbury’s Towns Fund bid – and were thrilled to see the town awarded £25m to invest in a number of regeneration projects. We’re also now working with Bradford Council on Towns Fund processes in Keighley and Shipley. And over in York, we helped a new client for 2021, HBD, achieve a planning approval for a new health facility at their Chocolate Works site. A fantastic effort from the whole client and consultant team. With many more projects on the go, we’re looking forward to more positive outcomes in 2022.

Creating and delivering strategies for success

We’ve also been busy delivering strategy sprints for organisations including Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Yorkshire and Humber Academic Health Science Network, engaging key stakeholders and conducting research to gather insights that inform well-structured strategies for success.

Also underpinned by robust strategies, we delivered highly-visual annual reports for The Piece Hall and Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire LEP, helping to communicate the incredible impact that their respective work has created in their surrounding communities and beyond.

Bringing everything together

We also delivered an impactful B2C marketing campaign with our fantastic long-standing client Extra MSA, which amplified the work that motorway service areas deliver as critical pieces of infrastructure throughout lockdowns, but also promoted their brilliant hospitality offer as people began to travel around the country again. Harnessing a diverse blend of digital advertising, billboards, press advertising, leaflets, radio advertising and experiential tactics, our work supported a significant uplift in web traffic vs 2019 figures.

Gearing up for growth

In recognition of our efforts, we were proud to come together to celebrate winning three golds and a silver at this year’s CIPR Yorkshire & Lincolnshire Awards – a real testament to the standard of work we’ve been delivering despite challenging circumstances.

And all of this work, along with the support of brilliant existing and new clients including Transport for the North, HBD, Bradford Council and Big Red Construction, has enabled Social’s Yorkshire & East team to grow, creating more opportunities for all. We were delighted to welcome account director Laura, account manager Rosie and account executive Laaraib to the team this year, and myself and Jared were thrilled to be promoted to account managers following the incredible support of the wider team since joining Social.

We couldn’t believe it when we all actually met each other for the first time – including our account manager Katie who came to visit during her maternity leave – and very quickly realised that we now fill an office!

It remains to say, we’re really proud of what we’ve delivered this year, and can’t wait for what’s to come in the next. To all of our clients and colleagues – we wish you a brilliant festive break and a successful 2022. See you then!

To find out more about what we do at Social in Yorkshire, you can contact Pete Wrathmell, Managing Director (Leeds) at pete.wrathmell@social.co.uk