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Roadtrip gets people talking about our Rural Programme

November 23, 2016

hhhBig Lottery Fund communications manager Ben Payne explains how the launch of the £13.5 million Rural Programme hit the headlines, the airwaves and social media timelines. But he says the real quality was in all the face-to-face conversations they had along the way.

Developing local knowledge officer Gareth Hughes and I went on a rural road trip to launch the programme and you can watch a short but fab Flipagram of our highlights below.

The epic two-day anti-clockwise journey around Wales took in all nine areas set to benefit from the funding – Anglesey, Gwynedd, Conwy, Denbighshire, Powys, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire and Monmouthshire.

It was an exhausting experience but totally worth it for the warm reception we received along the way. This included stop offs at all nine county voluntary councils, AM and MP offices, funded projects as well as many other unscheduled visits when we spotted an opportunity either in the car or while on foot.

People were genuinely pleased that we were making an effort to reach out to communities rather than the usual way of organising an event and expecting them to come to us.

Our Rural Programme is all about hitting communities that are often very isolated so it was important to take this first step in reaching out. And because we were out there, we were able to target radio stations along the route. This culminated in interviews for BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, Radio Pembrokeshire, Radio Carmarthenshire and Radio Ceredigion.

We even drilled right down to the grassroots level with a ten minute slot with community radio station Mon FM with covers the Anglesey area. Our interviews meant we were using channels that are more directly speaking to the people interested in our grants – this was something in the forefront of our minds during every interview and every conversation we had.

Of course we didn’t completely forget the usual ways of getting our message out. The traditional press release was written and sent to relevant media, securing coverage in many different titles and on ITV Wales news.

Our tweets and Facebook posts were seen well over 50,000 times with more than 1,000 people directly engaging with them including clicking on links taking them directly to the funding pages. And there were some obligatory #LotterySelfie pics too.

As always, we were determined to try new things in Wales by posting a few Facebook live interviews. There was a steep learning curve with these but it definitely made us feel that we were broadcasting real time news to an audience. This was a really refreshing, adrenalin pumping experience not only for us but for the projects being interviewed, giving them a chance to be firmly in the spotlight.

So now we’ve recovered from the two-day trip, evaluated the launch and planned our next steps, what will stay in our minds is not just all the long miles, headline stories, tweets and Facebook posts but more the quality of conversations along the way.

 

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