Why choose Manchester over London for a PR agency?

By Bird Consultancy   |   14th June 2017

In recent times, PR companies have evolved. From the traditional approach of producing and pushing press releases to the print media and the handling of press conferences, modern agencies have now widened their horizons with a keen focus on the digital sector. In the 21st century, PR still treats print media as an important factor, but in a world where just one tweet can greatly alter the reputation of a person or company, online media is a quickly growing priority.

PR used to be a standalone business sector, but nowadays has moved closer to being a part of the digital sector, due to its service overlap with digital marketing and social media companies. As such, the question “Why choose Manchester over London for a PR agency” can be answered with a look into how Manchester’s digital sector is constantly growing and expanding, and how it compares to the alternative down South.

Manchester’s Creative Uprising

In recent years, Greater Manchester has been referred to as a “creative powerhouse” and “digital hub”, with a large number of creative businesses opening up in the region. This status was given a large boost when revolutionary development MediaCityUK opened in Salford Quays. It sparked an awakening of a new creative industry in a part of the country which previously relied on more traditional, industrial types of trade. One of the biggest moves of the Media City development saw the BBC move into Salford, as part of a plan to relocate 1800 jobs from London, and create further posts for those in the local area to take. ITV Granada moved its facilities into the area, which also plays host to the media department of the University of Salford.

MediaCityUK Salford Quays

Those developments are large-scale examples of the creative industry’s move to Manchester, but in terms of smaller, independent businesses, how has Manchester become the thriving home of the digital sector? A great example of a catalyst that has helped increase Manchester’s digital presence is The Sharp Project. The Sharp Project is a multi-million-pound development by Manchester City Council, which re-designed a former Sharp Corporation warehouse into the modern home of more than 60 creative and digital business, ranging from web designers and photographers, to software developers and PR experts.

Last year, business owners and professionals were surveyed about their opinions of working as part of Manchester’s digital sector, with the results published by Manchester Digital showing 77% of those questioned saw Manchester as a “digital hub”, with a further 63% impressed by the city’s capability to network and collaborate. The report also highlighted that 80% of those surveyed had relocated from elsewhere to work in Manchester, something that has clearly happened on a larger scale to have an effect on the city’s growth as one of the UK’s biggest homes of digital business. Managing director of Manchester Digital, Katie Gallagher, said:

“A huge number of people who work in the digital and technology industries have chosen to relocate to the city. And the pull isn’t just across the UK, we are attracting talent from Europe too. The fact that most people would recommend working here to a friend, and so many people believe it’s a brilliant place to launch a start-up, gives us hope that more and more skilled professionals will move here and work with us to continue to grow the region’s booming digital and tech sector.”

Backing up the data about people moving to Manchester to work in the digital sector is head corporate comms manager at Kellogg’s, Alison Last. In an interview with PR Week, Last, who started her career in London but relocated to Manchester for her current role, highlighted how people move to Manchester for work but ultimately stay for the long term. “Once people are here – or if they have moved from London – they realize it is a very vibrant city that has everything London has to offer,” she said.

Talking about the PR climate between Manchester and London, she said in the same interview:

“When I first moved here, I automatically defaulted to trying to contact a London firm to work with our in-house team because I assumed that was where the expertise was. But there is a great agency scene in the city. There is a great opportunity for Manchester-based firms to position themselves and to compete with the London agencies and have the same expertise as those located in the capital.”

Manchester’s Digital Sector In Stats (Data from techcityuk.com)

  • In 2016, Manchester was home to more than 51,000 digital jobs
  • In the same year, Manchester produced a digital turnover of £2.2bn
  • Manchester’s 2016 Digital GVA was £1.7bn
  • Between 2010 and 2014, the Digital GVA increased by 92%
  • The digital turnover grew by 40% between 2010 and 2014
  • Digital employment climbed 13% between 2011 and 2014
  • One of Manchester’s biggest digital sectors is Digital Advertising & Marketing

In 2015, it was revealed in a Tech Nation report that Manchester was the UK’s fastest-growing tech cluster in terms of turnover, producing a huge 74% year-on-year rise in revenue. In September 2016, former Manchester City Council chief executive Sir Howard Bernstein claimed Manchester could become a global digital leader, saying:

“Over the past 40 years, I’ve witnessed a dramatic change in Manchester’s local economy. But today, the city is on the verge of assuming its potential as a global leader in the digital economy.”

Manchester’s economy is growing stronger and stronger, and Manchester Airport revealed last year that there’d been a huge increase in the number of people visiting the city from Middle East locations such as the United Arab Emirates, with this being put down to economic tourism.

Manchester Does It Differently

All of this shows exactly how Manchester has risen to the top when it comes to digital enterprise in the United Kingdom. It also makes some rather favourable points in answer to the question “Why choose Manchester over London for a PR agency?”, but maybe doesn’t answer the question completely…

It would be fair to say that in Manchester, business is done differently. Manchester is renowned around the world for having a strong community of friendly, personal people, and this is something that echoes through the city’s businesses – strong collaboration, friendly professionals and personal service. It’s worth noting that one of Manchester’s most well-known symbols is the worker bee, introduced during the Industrial Revolution, highlighting the hard work Mancunians had become known for.

Ancoats Manchester

An argument someone might have against choosing Manchester over London, is that they live and work in London, and as such want a localised PR agency. With the developments in technology in the 21st century, this isn’t a worry. No matter where you are in the country, a PR agency in Manchester will be able to offer the dedicated, hands-on, personal service to the same abilities of one based next door to your business.

At Bird Consultancy, there’s been plenty of localised work over the past 26 years, but there’s also been plenty of activity surrounding other locations both near and far. Most recently, as well as dealing with a host of local events and press releases, Bird have handled the launch of ITV’s national coverage of The Grand National, dealing with a photo op in Liverpool and increasing the online exposure of a TV trailer and press release around “The Virtual Grand National” which aired on ITV4.

Choosing a Manchester based PR company over a London equivalent is one dilemma, but another is:

Why Bird Consultancy over any other Manchester PR agency?

Simply put, Bird Consultancy do things in a unique way. With over 26 years of experience, the company is founded and run by namesake Chris Bird, who has worked in newspapers and commercial radio, and has spent built up a bank of knowledge from time in various boardrooms and high profile mentors. Using this experience, Bird Consultancy has grown into a PR company that thrives when working against the ‘traditional’ methods, with a mission statement based on three factors: building strong relationships, putting your heart into everything you do, and delivering a return on the trust placed in them by clients.

In recent years, Bird Consultancy have applied that attitude to a huge range of projects both big and small, each one with 100% dedication and expertise. An example of one of the biggest projects Bird have taken on in the past few years comes from 2010, when Bird were trusted to create awareness of the construction, development and opening of conference and events centre The Point at Lancashire County Cricket Club. The result was over £870,000 worth of media coverage and over £1.5m worth of bookings. An example of a project on a smaller scale than a multi-million pound construction, was the appointment of former footballer Stuart Pearce as the Rileys Sports Bars ambassador for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Bird Consultancy were tasked with raising the profile of the appointment, and as such organised a national press conference in London, gaining nationwide media coverage. To find out more about some of Bird’s most recent successful projects, click here.

Opening of The Point at Lancashire County Cricket Club

Bird Consultancy also use their PR experience to successfully organise and promote events, one of which was a charity fundraising bash for We Love MCR, an organisation Bird regularly works with. They arranged a Manchester Sporting Legends award ceremony to take place at the Hilton Hotel, with over 300 guests and an auction of unique collectable sport items. Bird Consultancy secured a media partnership with the Manchester Evening News for the event, and plenty of money was raised for the We Love MCR charity as a result.

CEO of Bird Consultancy, Chris Bird, said of his company in the Manchester Evening News:

“We make PR personal and specialise in the sports, leisure, entertainment, travel, social housing , education and corporate development sectors. We aim to understand the businesses we work with, to keep it personal and to always deliver added value.” 

He also highlighted the fact you’d be hard pushed to find another PR company that has the heart of Manchester running through it stronger:

“It’s my city. I was born in Wythenshawe, I’m a City fan, I have been a director of Manchester City FC, a director of JD sports and I am now a director of Lancashire County Cricket Club. And as chair of fundraising for the Lord Mayor’s Charity ‘We Love Mcr’ I’m able to give back to the city that has been so good to my family, my staff and my clients.”

Bird Consultancy don’t just offer traditional PR, but a range of connected services that can help your business. At the forefront of Bird’s expertise is the ability to create strong relationships with important media contacts, helping to gain companies great exposure in the press. There’s also a heavy focus on the digital element of each client, using social media and creating fresh, shareable content to increase brand awareness. Event planning is another strong point, with years of experience arranging high-profile conferences and exhibitions for clients, and using PR skills to increase their success and effectiveness. Bird Consultancy also offer help with CSR (corporate social responsibility), helping to increase corporate activity for businesses. All of these services have been carried out knowledgeably by Bird for a range of businesses in varied sectors, including their specialities of sport, travel, talent, retail and social housing.

Overall, the best answer you can get to the question “Why choose Manchester over London for a PR agency?” is another question. That question being “Why would you not want your PR work to come with a personalised, friendly, hardworking and knowledgeable service in one of the world’s biggest, up-and-coming, thriving, digital and creative hubs?”. A question that’s much more difficult to answer.

If you’re interested in the services of Bird Consultancy, get in touch now with a call to 0161 839 4846 or an email to onawire@birdconsultancy.co.uk. Also be sure to like the Bird Consultancy Facebook Page and follow Bird Consultancy on Twitter.