Commercial Property PR Case Study – Allied London

Allied London is a leading UK-based property development group that ‘makes urban environments work’ and goes beyond developing buildings, instead acting as ‘place-makers’.

Allied London devises, designs and delivers landmark, mixed-use developments, buildings and concepts in London, Manchester and Leeds via its various brands including Enterprise City, Exchange and Department. They turned to PR Agency One for commercial property PR support.

Enterprise City is a new district of Manchester that combines exceptional workspaces, inspiring cultural spaces, and bespoke city centre living to create a place for enterprise, for the future, for making history, and for businesses to grow and root their headquarters.

Organisational Objectives


Allied London and its Enterprise City organisational objectives included:

  1. Establishing the Enterprise City brand as a recognisable destination and pillar of the national tech, media and creative industries.
  2. Gain interest and uptake at Enterprise City at St. John’s among large, medium and small tech, creative and media businesses, and enable firms to achieve greater success, growth, access to talent pools, opportunities for enterprise, and join a welcoming community of like-minded people.

Communication Objectives

The communications objectives for our place-making PR activity included:

  1. Communicating the vision of Enterprise City at St. John’s and its ambitions to become the UK’s biggest tech cluster.
  2. Building awareness for Enterprise City by quantifying its benefits and the difference it can make to a start-up, scale-up or global business.
  3. Building a nationwide profile for the brand and driving local engagement.

When broken down this required an on-going strategic narrative rather than a single PR campaign, the brief was to thread together the various strands of the district that brings together a six hectare plot in central Manchester, in between Deansgate – Castlefield and Spinningfields.

Target Audience for communications

The communications work targeted a broad range of industries, including tech, creative and media company directors and c-suite executives, as well as start-up founders in the respective industries who might be looking to relocate in the coming years to a location that is more than ‘an office’ and is beneficial to their work and wellbeing.

The strategy also raised awareness among key stakeholders at Manchester City Council, AVIVA Investors and the city’s public that were keen to be updated with developments on the new district which were adding to the city’s skyline following their funding of the development and its programmes.

As a property and development company, communications was also targeted at keeping its existing members updated with significant milestones in the fruition of the district.

PR Strategy 

Allied London’s place-making project focused on its new tech, media and creative district, Enterprise City. By leveraging the district’s constituent parts – buildings, businesses and people – we created a halo effect of awareness and profile designed to inspire and attract like-minded businesses to take up space in the developments, which in turn would attract more members as the district grew and talkability increased.

More than simply sharing traditional project progress news – construction and development milestones and the like, we developed a strategy that focused on sharing the vision for the district and inspiring those in the tech media and creative industries to join the rich community of businesses assembling in the cluster.

A proactive strategy that addressed:

  1. Existing clients – We worked closely with existing Enterprise City based businesses to build community and create an organic/word of mouth promotion of the project. 
  1. New clients – With new ‘magnet’ tenants, the likes of WPP/Mediacom and Booking.com signed up to take significant space at the development, it was important that prospective tenants could easily understand how and why big industry names would want to call Enterprise City home. Demonstrating how operating in such a vibrant upwardly mobile environment would benefit them too. 

Activities

Over the past two and half years, as the site continued to come to life, we worked hard to build excitement and share great news and stories as construction completes and new tenants move in, securing national, regional and trade coverage as a result.

Press materials

Media relations was a key focus. We have created more than 40 press releases and outreached them to national, international and regional media, as well as business, tech, creative and media specific vertical media. We have also released commentary on returning to the workplace post-pandemic and office-space uptake in the city centre.

Video feature series

We’ve launched 9 episodes of Enterprise City TV, an online video series that illustrates important work in progress, with a further 10 more to come. Work celebrating the busy bustling and thriving workspaces, the ongoing construction, the placemaking and Allied London’s unfolding vision as it took shape.

Blog-tastic

A series of more than 50 blog posts were deployed across four websites that not only raised member and tenant profiles, it shone a clear, high-value light on the work they do and the important role they all play in enriching the community within Enterprise City.

Non-stop newsletters

A quarterly newsletter, DeBrief, captures all the interesting things taking place in the district – news on new neighbours, new openings and the new and increasing numbers of opportunities for all as the development really starts to take shape and pick up tempo. Available online, we also mail newsletters to all members and stakeholders so no one misses out.

Knowledge partnership

Working with Tech Nation, we’ve also worked on broader tenant-relevant tech industry information and data stories – often focused on the North of England or North West. This included sharing regional comparison data from its Jobs and Skills Report, and Annual Report, as well as commentary on its other initiatives. 

Social media support

Social media community management was a part of the brief. We’ve managed Enterprise City social media channels, including LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, to establish an online community that replicates the physical business community taking shape at the district.

In-person events

Following the pandemic, we also returned to popular in-person events. This included media briefings at the launch of Exchange, several fireside chats with UK business figures, the launch of phase two of Enterprise City, and the launch of the ABC Buildings, including its roofdeck and one-of-a-kind glass events dome.

Measurements & Insights

Outputs

In total the campaign attracted the following outputs in two and a half years:

  • 500+ print and online pieces of coverage, including Financial Times, Property Week, Manchester Evening News, North West Business Insider and The Manc.
  • 76 links back to the respective websites or supporting content within editorial coverage.
  • The average domain authority for online coverage was 46.

Out-takes

As a result of our place-making PR work we secured the following results:

  • Website visits to Enterprise City are up 151% year on year (2020 vs 2021), with organic traffic increasing by a further 26% in the first half of 2022.
  • Followers across social channels have doubled in the past two years. Another channel for sharing good news, and also establishing a community of engaged people. Replicating the physical community on LinkedIn to increase the togetherness and spirit during the pandemic.

Outcomes

  • Following the on-going PR and marketing activities, Department Bonded Warehouse is now at 100% occupancy with a waiting list of businesses keen to move into the space. 
  • All Work & Social, the operator and experience partner behind the ABC Buildings – which occupy the former Granada Studios plot on Quay Street – including the ABC Gallery, Side Street Studios and the co-working space within the building has successfully launched to media and creative business.
  • All Work & Social and the ABC Buildings have also welcomed Gravity Media, VERSA Studios and BBC Morning Live. BBC Morning Live is the flagship topical morning news programme broadcasts from the ABC Versa Manchester skyline studio every weekday morning from 9:30am. This move brings broadcast TV back to Manchester city centre after a 50 year hiatus.
  • Allied London has confirmed a 87,000 sq ft space across a number of floors at Manchester Goods Yard for Cloud Imperium, an international independent game company currently developing Star Citizen, a title which will include features from a series of Hollywood film stars.
  • Exchange has experienced a 50% increase in start-ups applying to its programme since cohort one (Dec 2019), compared to cohort three (Dec 2021), with the quality and geographical location of entries increasing too. A business relocated from the South to join the Exchange programme in Manchester in 2021.

Impact and Learning

  • The campaign continues as the development nears total completion, with the same halo effect strategy used to raise awareness of Department, the managed workspace brand, and Exchange, the scale-up support programme based at Enterprise City.
  • The library of press coverage generated by the strategy provides ample supporting evidence for businesses and organisations to join the district.

With world-class cultural destination Factory, home of the Manchester International Festival scheduled to open in 2023, plus a host of global businesses set to join the many new tenants already enjoying life at Enterprise City, we’ve very much looking forward to continuing our role in the project’s success.

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