PR at the Cathedral, some of the choir

It’s PR at the Cathedral

Earlier in the year I was recommended to Exeter Philharmonic Choir to manage the PR for their May concert, Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony at Exeter Cathedral.

The PR campaign – a mellow mixture of press releases and social media support – went really well. I managed to negotiate a double page with Devon Life on the choir’s history, which included some great photos by Matt Austin. The concert was well attended, and, subsequently, the choir asked if I would help to promote another event, their very first ‘Lord Mayor’s Concert’ in October. The performance of Handel’s Messiah would herald the start of the choir’s 170th season.Neal Gardner, Devon Freewheelers

This was a far bigger task, as the job this time included finding concert sponsors. I drafted in Sharon Goble of If…Media to help. We spent several months chasing potential sponsors, while I simultaneously sent out press releases and photos, and persuaded Devon Life to give me another page to talk about the concert. As well as being a celebration for the choir, the retiring collection would be donated to The Lord Mayor of Exeter’s Charity, Devon Freewheelers. I provided pro bono PR services to the Freewheelers a while back (synchronicity?) so I was keen to get the word out.

Sharon and me serving canapesBetween us, Sharon and I negotiated sponsorship with Gilbert Stephens Solicitors, Amos Lighting (I had a head start there!), Investec and the lovely Exeter Cookery School; owners Jim and Lucy offered to provide the canapes for the reception, held at the Guildhall in Exeter. As it turned out, they needed help on the evening, so I ‘generously’ offered myself and Sharon as waitresses for the evening (sorry Sharon). The canapes were delicious, of course, and The Lord Mayor gave a lovely speech.

I had run two Facebook campaigns, one early on and one in the week running up to the event, and pre-concert ticket sales went well. But when Sharon and I finally took off our aprons and hotfooted it across to the Cathedral, the place was packed, with lots of tickets being bought on the door. What a result, I was absolutely thrilled.

And even better, what a privilige to hear Messiah sung in the Cathedral (and yes, of course we all stood for the Hallelujah Chorus). I always say I love to experience new things, and this was certainly one of those occasions.

The choir’s next performance is Carols in the Cathedral – which needs absolutely zero PR as it is always extremely popular, and usually a sell out!

PR at the Cathedral? TS Eliot would have been proud.