2016: A Year in Review

Firebird PR enjoyed a productive year in 2016, with achievements ranging from industry awards to successful new business pitches, and from developing two new members of staff to securing record-breaking coverage

Following the press launch of Twycross Zoo’s £55million 20-year Masterplan and first phase of development, Giraffe Savannah, in 2015, we organised a press preview for the next phase of development, the new £2million Gibbon Forest, in February 2016. The Zoo welcomed more than 18,000 visitors on-site over the next 12 days after the official opening.

One of our top stories of the year for the Zoo focused on the birth of Amur leopard cubs, one of the rarest big cat species in the world. In just one day we generated 182 items of coverage and reached an international audience of 290million, with live outside broadcasts on site by BBC Breakfast, News at Six, Radio 4 Today, ITV Central, and World Service, among others. Other highlights included editorial features in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent and The Sun.

Having won a 5-way pitch to manage PR for the Capability Brown Festival in autumn 2015, we organised a press launch at Church House in Westminster in February 2016 to kick-off celebrations marking the 300th anniversary since the birth of the influential landscape architect. Over 90 guests, including Festival partners and media, enjoyed speeches by TV presenter and historian Lucy Worsley and a Trustee of funder HLF, and feasted on authentic, Georgian-inspired Capabili-Teas. Throughout the year, we issued a series of press releases, ran several campaigns, and worked in collaboration with a range of other organisations including Royal Mail, resulting in over 1300 items of coverage in total.

Our long-term client People’s Trust for Endangered Species experienced the highest level of coverage ever, with over 1,000 items of coverage for 2016. Our varied work ranged from publicising scientific reports (State of Britain’s Dormice) to public surveys (Great Stag Hunt), to reintroductions, to practical conservation advice on managing orchards. A highlight was spending an afternoon outdoors, filming a piece on traditional orchards for new series Countryfile Diaries with PTES’ Orchard Project Officer Megan Gimber and BBC presenter Paul Martin. Best known for hosting Flog It!, Paul and the BBC crew were a joy to work with, and we were even given a sneak peek of some of Paul’s private antiques collection.

For the fourth year in a row, we helped promote Oxfordshire’s premier business networking event of the year: Venturefest Oxford. We developed a package of stories prior to the event, and arranged numerous advance interviews with regional print as well as broadcast media. On the day, we had reporters from BBC South Today, That’s Oxfordshire TV and The Oxford Times and Oxford Mail join us, and we achieved a 70% increase in audience reach from 2015.

For the fourth year running, we also publicised the ‘green Oscars’- the Whitley Awards - presented by The Princess Royal. We accompanied several of the winners to the BBC’s headquarters, Broadcasting House, for in-studio interviews with the BBC World service, and were pleased to see months of hard work come to fruition with the publication of a feature on 2015 Award winner Pramod Patil in The Telegraph magazine.

As well as our loyal base of retained clients, we have also secured new clients including museumand, Rivertime Boat Trust and Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust. We have also diversified into a new sector, following appointments by organic beauty and home business Little Soap Company, and industry body IFRA UK (International Fragrance Association UK).

To top it all off, we were delighted when all our hard work was recognised with Gold and Silver in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) PRide Awards for Best Use of Media Relations. We were thrilled to be the only agency to win twice in one category. Glittering Gold was awarded for our work to support Twycross Zoo’s transformation into a world class visitor attraction, and shiny Silver was awarded for our use of media relations to showcase Just Retirement’s show garden at 2015 RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, which featured on BBC Gardeners’ World.

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Image: 2016 Year In Review

The Firebird PR team celebrate with their CIPR PRide Awards for Best Use of Media Relations