In the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown, the UK witnessed a restored local spirit with an 82% increase in online conversation around community. The majority of these conversations were about the support for local businesses. There was a real sense of local pride and people pulling together in a time of adversity. The time was right to create a campaign to build on civic pride and ask the people of the North-east to get behind their local businesses.
Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce approached us to work alongside it and DC Thomson. You probably already know that the Chamber is an independent organisation who works locally, nationally and internationally to support businesses from the North-east, but did you know it was also the driving force behind the Buy North East campaign back in 2016 and also the guardians of the Abzolutely civic pride movement? And you also probably already know DC Thomson is a Scottish publishing and production company best known locally for the Aberdeen Journals Group, but did you know this includes Press and Journal, Evening Express, Society and Original 106?
Right here. Right now.
So, when COVID-19 hit and the world closed its doors it quickly became apparent we were going to need to do something to ensure that we re-build and come back even stronger. Hampton joined forces with the Chamber and DC Thomson to help the North-east economy by encouraging people and businesses in the region to support local businesses, brands and those who can demonstrate local provenance, now and in the future.
We also needed to complement VisitAberdeenshire’s activity to promote Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire staycations, with the idea of becoming a local tourist in our own area.
Ultimately, we needed to demonstrate the difference that could be made if everyone did their bit now – saving local businesses and jobs affected by COVID-19. We needed to encourage civic pride and share a message about collective responsibility.
We developed an overarching brand that would act as the spokesperson and champion for local producers, initiatives and businesses.
We built a campaign website to provide a hub of info for all things local, signposting users to the relevant businesses, platforms and initiatives – empowering consumers to make local choices and keep them up to date with all the exciting things happening in the region. The website also collates rich content such as online articles and blogs as well as a local shopping list that provides an extensive list of all the local produce made right here in the North-east.
Working alongside DC Thomson and the Chamber, we built awareness of the campaign through PR (print, broadcast and online) and extensive social media activity. We even held our very own campaign ‘Power Hour’ where local businesses were invited to take part by posting a message from their business using the hashtag #NorthEastIsOpen on Twitter. To keep the campaign alive beyond the initial launch period, we also devised a robust social media content plan ensuring that the #NorthEastNowAbz message continued to be shared.
We've got the power
The campaign is proving to be highly successful in achieving our goals. The website has had thousands of visitors with approx. 13% of them being returning visitors. The average time spent on the site is high at 2 mins 54 secs and the bounce rate is low at only 32%. The campaign has also gained real traction on social media, building a strong army of followers. All of these insights tell us we have a highly engaged audience. And the ‘Power Hour’ had an amazing response from local businesses, with 69 taking part and the campaign trending on Twitter.
The Chamber has always been a champion of local business but never is it more important for people to get behind their local firms than now. We had a concept of what needed to be done and Hampton was an integral part of bringing that to life. Their creative ideas, great partnership approach and commitment to the cause proved invaluable in making North East Now a reality.
Laura Grant, Head of Communications, Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce