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A year in review at Social Leeds

22nd December 2020 By Emily McGowan Phoenix
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We’re approaching the end of a year which has undoubtedly brought challenges that made many of us rethink the way in which we learn, work and live. It’s clear that this year has been a very different year across sectors and our society, and for us at Social Leeds, each month this year has been different too.

However now, as the annual Facebook posts and predictions for the next calendar year begin to surface, it’s heartening to see tributes paid to the little pockets of positivity and stoic efforts of many people and businesses that pulled together this year in spite of the adversity.

And while challenges have been inevitable, it feels only right that we celebrate some of the successes and exciting milestones that saw Social Leeds navigate its way from January through to December this year, as we too begin to look-ahead to the next.

We’re really proud to have been able to tell the stories of fantastic organisations across the public and private sectors, and to pay testament to just some of the many great projects we’ve seen through and valued clients we’ve been able to work with, here’s a round-up of our 2020:

Spreading the news

It’s no secret that the media landscape this year has been fast-paced, often crowded, and at times, pretty volatile. From daily press conferences to a return to the impending Brexit deadline, it’s been paramount that we remain on top of the agenda, think creatively, and react quickly.

Hitting the national property trade press to celebrate much-needed projects in the logistics sector with Caddick Developments; strengthening connections with broadcast media to promote the ‘shop local’ agenda with The Piece Hall; and working with the regional papers to promote client work across Yorkshire and beyond – we’ve been busy generating proactive news that stands-out across the landscape.

And beyond the press releases, we’ve worked hard to promote important, timely calls-to-action, from landing a double-page feature on social care in the national education press with Leeds City College, to placing a significant regional interview about supporting the next workforce generation with Ahead Partnership.

All of this, along with regular commentary upon major political announcements, has seen us generate positive cross-sector coverage from the built environment to the education spheres.

Engaging with the right people

Meanwhile, our political and engagement experts have been busy working on some high-profile consultation work, helping to shape the future of places and meet today’s demand for housing, an agenda close to our hearts.

We’re proud of recent work supporting Kirklees Council and the Dewsbury Town Board in their submission to Government for funding for town regeneration and community investment. Leading the consultation for the Dewsbury Town Fund, Social Leeds progressed activity safely throughout lockdown, creating a website portal that collated information from a simple survey and easy-to-use interactive map, as well as a leaflet drop and supporting PR and social media.

To engage with seldom heard groups and a range of stakeholders, we carried out focus groups including with young people, faith groups and politicians to collate a true diversity of responses. Scoring success, the consultation stimulated hundreds of replies and strong discourse with residents about their aspirations for the town.

Getting social

Embracing our ‘one team’ motto and collaborating with colleagues in the wider Social group, we also worked on digital campaigns that played a big part in supporting people and businesses across the North and beyond.

We helped launch the #BigCommunitySew which saw an incredible number of people – from complete beginners to experienced sewers – form an online community that created face-coverings to help protect others. With the help of eye-catching graphics, easy-to-follow videos, supportive PR and a fantastic Social-engineered website, it was great to see the numbers roll in as sewers up and down the country (and even further afield!) shared results in their hundreds.

Our work with the NP11 also offered a helping hand to the northern business community throughout the year. Sharing some much-needed good news, the #NorthMeansBusiness campaign helped shine a light on those businesses demonstrating innovation and resilience in adversity, while #SignedUpSkills promoted an important initiative to support people into jobs at a challenging time.

Putting on a show

Perhaps one of the most significant shifts that communications has seen this year has been the way that we learn from and engage with events.

For Social Leeds, we kickstarted the year with some real-life, real-impact stakeholder engagement work with our highly-valued client the NP11, delivering a parliamentary reception in February which brought together important stakeholders including MPs, Ministers, business and Council leaders. Sharing the ambition for businesses, academia and politicians to work together and deliver on the North’s transformational potential, NP11 Chair Roger Marsh, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, and northern MPs Simon Clarke and Dehenna Davison gave speeches at the reception.

As restrictions unfolded and the digital shift began, the significance of social media really came to the fore and our already-flexible approach to working began to reap its rewards. Throughout the months that followed, we were delighted to support the NP11 with timely and important campaigns, and we continue to help position them as thought-leaders and raise awareness of the enormous potential of the Northern Powerhouse. This exciting work now continues into 2021 with a full strategic programme of refreshed communications activity.

Delivering strong results

Supporting a Social Leeds client that has been with us since we first opened an office in the city, we delivered a wide-ranging integrated communications campaign for Extra MSA that spanned advertising, PR, digital and marketing.

Spreading the news far and wide about their newly-opened Leeds Skelton Lake service area, we employed a wide range of tactics to tap into a massive potential customer audience. Broadcast advertising, videography, billboard advertisement, editorial and advertorial, out of home media and more – the project put our communications skills to the test and resulted in some fantastic results, including a 300% uplift in web traffic.

Growing the team

And this year certainly wasn’t without its more ‘personal’ successes for Team Leeds. We were excited to welcome two new team members, with now Senior Account Executive Jared followed shortly by Racheal as our Head of Strategy. It was also great to welcome Associate Director Victoria back from maternity leave in true Social style (that is, with coffee and cake, of course!).

Having delivered some great work for a number of really supportive and valued clients, it was also fantastic to see several promotions across the team recently, rewarding the success of efforts towards and on behalf of Social throughout the year.

And now, as we’re a super friendly and, well, social, team, as it goes, we’re really looking forward to getting back into the office for a brew and a catch-up when we can. But for now, we want to extend a big thankyou to all of our amazing long-standing clients and fantastic new clients for supporting us this year. We look forward to seeing you in the next!

If you or your business fancy coming along on our 2021 journey, then you can find out more about Social by getting in touch with Managing Director (Leeds) Pete Wrathmell at or Associate Director (Leeds) Victoria Starkey at