brand experiences



Mason Williams have worked with The Quays Partnership for nine years promoting Greater Manchester’s ever-changing waterfront as a leisure and heritage destination for families, couples, niche groups and the over 50s.

The Quays Partnership is made up of hotel, leisure, sporting and tourist brands including Lancashire County Cricket Club, The Lowry Outlet Mall, Imperial War Museum North, The Lowry, medicity:uk, Ramada Salford Quays, Ordsall Hall, Mersey Ferries and Marketing Manchester as well as two councils – Trafford and Salford.

The Brief:

The brief for 2009 was to promote the Quays Partnership as a vibrant NW tourist destination to drive footfall for all the partners and the area. As part of this remit we were also tasked with increasing traffic to the new Quays website – copy composed by Mason Williams ¬– where exclusive offers were regularly placed. This way we promoted the ‘joined up’ nature of The Quays experience to visitors in advance of arrival.

In addition to consumer media we were also briefed to lend PR support and creatives to the partners’ conferencing and event facilities through business, conferencing and trade press.

Finally, with the imminent move the BBC from London to mediacity:uk, Salford Quays, high impact and maximum column inches was deemed crucial to ensuring The Quays remained front of mind ahead of these major developments.

Our Response:

We devised a hard hitting series of tactically themed press trips to:

  • Highlight and showcase the individual partner offering
  • Appeal to a wide range of media titles
  • Ensure all coverage reference The Quays website – our KPI for the 2009 campaign
  • Received robust business stories in business and trade media

Our creative response was to devise themed facility trips that would appeal to bespoke groups of press who would be interested in specific areas of The Quays offering. This also allowed us the opportunity to highlight different venues each time. Our 2009 themed press trips included:

  • Cricket & Culture
  • Families – Summer, Mother’s Day & Christmas
  • Photography at The Quays
  • Shopping & Sports
  • History, Heritage & Waterfronts
  • Celebrate Pride at The Quays

Each themed trip had it’s own itinerary and we aimed for between 4 and 10 press for each trip. Feedback over the years has taught us that on occasion media prefer to come with a plus one and enjoy the experiences in their own time, rather than as an organised group. This system was implemented on a case-by-case judgement whereby we gauged the individual needs and personality of the journalist.

Once press confirmed attendance, we compiled a bespoke itinerary based on theme (or their interests), booked hotel rooms and arranged accommodation. Tickets and press packs were left with them at check in. The team made calls to check press had arrived and then left them to enjoy their time at The Quays. Emergency 24/7 contact details for the MW team were always provided.

Where possible we also included money can’t buy experiences such as guided tours of Lancashire County Cricket Club cricket with cricketing legend Warren Hegg. This was done for both The Times and Scottish Sun.

Following each press trip, the team sent feedback forms to ask journalist asking them to score every element of their experience. This provided us with feedback for on going trips.

To drive local people to The Quays we devised a separate initiative called Capturing The Quays – this was a photography competition in partnership with the Manchester Evening News encouraging local amateur photographers to submit their pictures of The Quays. This activity gave us the chance to again talk about all the partners and the leading attracts at The Quays.

The competition resulted in 1200 entries, which were narrowed down by MEN photographers at the Manchester Evening News to 12 overall winners who won a spot in the 2010 calendar. This is currently being sold in the Tourist Information Centre at The Lowry and will be used as future promotional material for forthcoming press trips.

The Challenges:

Working to an extremely tight budget (£15k per annum), does not allow for many stunts, virals or other high-cost activities. Another key challenge for the team was to ensure a good share of voice for each of the partners – the themed trips gave us the mechanic to do this.

Key Messages:

The key message in all our communications is The Quays website – the 2009 coverage delivered a 90% hit rate on this.


“Mason Williams – highly professional yet personable, their quality consultants ensured our press trip was both edifying and enjoyable. Refreshingly in today’s climate, nothing was too much trouble for their team, who succeeded in organising first rate media coverage for first rate attractions. It is easy to see why this agency is among UK’s top ten and actually initiated Public Relations Consultants Association’s Consultancy Standard. Mason Williams has raised the PR standard for others to follow.”
Chris Page, Editor Selby Times

“Mason Williams approached 2009’s PR campaign in fresh and innovative ways that successfully engaged with audiences on both a regional and national level. Their passion and commitment to The Quays meant we achieved specific coverage that attracted pre-targeted groups such as amateur photographers, sport and culture fans and families. For their Capturing the Quays photographic competition they attracted over 1200 superb entries with the support of Manchester Evening News as a media partner. This year’s crop of coverage proves that they have the capacity to constantly reinvent The Quays offering to keep things fresh for our target media.”
Paul Gallon, Ramada Salford Quays

The Results:

  • EAV £244,020
  • ROI 18:1
  • OTS 46,417,985
  • 14 regional newspaper pieces, 3 national newspaper (including The Times, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror), 26 online, 2 radio, 4 glossy magazines and 7 trade/specialist titles

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