As we sit here in the middle of another lockdown, struggling to distinguish each day from the next, I think it is safe to assume that 2021 hasn’t brought the exciting new beginnings we had all hoped for.

But for the first time this year, we go into the weekend with something new to celebrate – Valentine’s Day.

Love is in the air and we have to admit at BIG Partnership, we are all a bunch of hopeless romantics. So, to mark the occasion we are sharing our own story of how we supported longstanding client Macdonald Hotels & Resorts to encourage lovebirds to tie the knot in 2020.

From the banks of the River Thames to the Highlands of Scotland, Macdonald Hotels operates some of the country’s most picturesque and scenic wedding venues. Experts at making brides and grooms’ dreams come true, the team of experienced wedding co-ordinators typically plan hundreds of weddings a year.

But 2020 was not a typical year. If they managed to go ahead at all, it was clear that weddings were going to be anything but normal. It was a tough time for the industry and faced with uncertainty in the market, Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, threw its heart – and soul – into encouraging brides and grooms to walk down the aisle.

Working hand-in-hand with its in-house marketing team, our first step was to review the industry landscape and research how the pandemic had changed people’s attitudes to weddings.

We also analysed the demographics of existing enquiries. This detail was crucial and allowed us to focus our efforts by targeting specific media publications consumed by our target audience.

Central to our campaign was underlining Macdonald Hotel & Resorts’ trusted and reputable brand, highlighting the group’s robust safety measures, flexible booking policy, and ability to offer everything under one roof. But we also knew that, when it comes to booking a wedding, it is the individual venue which couples really fall in love with.

This led us to making the wedding venues themselves, and the people who work at them, a central focus of our communications. Wedding co-ordinators were put up for interview and we shone a light on real life lockdown case studies.

Our review of the booking data also enabled us to craft trend stories covering everything from the rise in ‘squeal’ and ‘shift’ weddings which allow couples to marry and celebrate with different groups at different times, to the revival of the hotel wedding venue as couples ditched recently-popular unconventional spaces, such as rustic bars and marquees, for something more traditional.

Engaging with our many national and local media contacts across both England and Scotland, we reached more than three million people in less than a month and, most importantly, there was a distinct increase in enquiries as a result.

Our activity had to be flexible, and it did feel at times like we were amending our campaign every time the Prime Minister appeared on TV. However, it was this ability to adapt quickly which made the campaign a success.

As the vaccine programme rolls out and we begin to see the light at the end of this long, dark tunnel, we are already getting prepared for the next big PR push. While that is certainly exciting, I for one am hopeful that planning a wedding, and a marketing campaign, in 2021 will be a little more straightforward than it was in 2020.

There may still be some uncertainty ahead, but if we have learned anything from the past year, it is the importance of communications. Marketing your offering and creating a compelling story which engages potential customers not only brings great opportunities to the business, but in this case it actually helped loved up couples make it down the aisle.

As we prepare for things to open up once again businesses should take this time to plan accordingly, refining their messages in line with the current landscape, researching the best channels and devising a strategy for engaging with audiences.

Interested in finding out more about our PR work and the other marketing services we offer? Have a look around our website.

Ashleigh Copeland – Account Director

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