Event-led PR puts foodie destination on the map

The New Forest Food & Drink Festival logo - event marketing from Polymedia

The first ever New Forest Food & Drink Festival Week was devised as part of a long-term strategy to enhance the well-deserved position of The New Forest as a leading foodie destination and to develop a stronger sense of engagement with the local food & drink community.

The festival budget was small, so from an operational point of view central admin had to be kept to a minimum and every pound of event marketing and PR spend had to work incredibly hard. The food and drink community had to be inspired to be involved and that involvement had to be simple and effective.

Developing perceptions demands a clear strategy, meticulous planning and energetic, integrated and consistent delivery.  Stage one on this process was a year-long integrated campaign working with key businesses across The New Forest, showcasing produce with Forest provenance, artisan producers, local specialities, star chefs and award-winning restaurants.


A complex, hard-working, nimble campaign designed for maximum ROI

Polymedia’s role involved meticulous planning and high energy from a multi-discipline team, experienced in delivering events.  Key to the campaign’s success was the trust of the destination team, earned over seven years working closely together as consultancy and client. That trust enabled Polymedia to deliver way beyond the original brief, working nimbly as an independent member of the destination team to seize opportunities.

The process involved a complex integrated public relations and event marketing campaign promoting everything that the committed foodie businesses across the New Forest have to offer.  This hinged on the support from headline event organisers – with bespoke festival events from Lime Wood, Chewton Glen, Burley Manor, The Montagu Arms Hotel, Careys Manor, The Master Builder’s Hotel and Rhinefield House, to name just a few. 

Special appearances from TV’s Simon Rimmer and Greg Wallace added to the gravitas of the festival and gave us yet more pegs for traditional and social media, which in turn benefited other events in the programme, held by smaller local businesses and community groups.

Our integrated strategy took these elements and merged them into a carefully-planned event marketing campaign of content creation, digital, social and traditional media – designed to achieve the most from a modest budget.


Targeted news releases, features, journalist visits and competitions

Media coverage included features across publications such as Waitrose Weekend, Sainsbury’s Magazine, olive, Metro, The Week, Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Sun, Sunday Telegraph and Vegetarian Living, with international hits on New Delhi TV and in US Vogue while a follow-up piece on the destination’s Pannage pigs was featured on national TV’s BBC Breakfast with the weather’s Carol Kirkwood.

Competitions in national and local lifestyle outlets for 12 of the festival events secured valuable consumer data for the organisers – a vital part of our CRM strategy.

Regional coverage included a partnership with Wave 105 and in-depth features in local media with the festival’s producers and chefs, including on-air interviews for several of our key personalities.


Post planning, video content, competitions and live coverage

There’s much more to social media than ‘sell, sell, sell’. Using video, blogs and competition platforms we created dynamic content including recipes, interviews and foodie giveaways to engage our hard-earned audience. Boosted posts and advertising on Facebook carefully targeted the event’s key demographic. Live coverage from the festival’s headline events added another dimension. 


Engaging content, guest blog spots, interviews and reviews

We understand the importance of new content for SEO, as well as providing an informative and engaging blog for visitors to read. Linking up with our foodie personalities and being present at the Festival’s events ourselves, we produced 70+ blog articles highlighting the people behind the food – chefs, producers, sommeliers, celebrity cooks and hoteliers.


The result? A hugely successful event

The Festival itself attracted 3,600 people and brought an estimated £100,000 to the local economy.

The lasting legacy and the buzz surrounding ‘Britain’s newest foodie destination’ will bring rewards to the destination for years to come.



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