Last night’s #SuperSeptember CIPR Midlands event was a resounding success and provided a shiny opportunity for us to indulge in the glory of Birmingham and the journey it has taken to make its mark as the remarkable British second city.
With speakers from the Mailbox, Grand Central, New Street station and Marketing Birmingham, it was a gem to have the chance to pick their minds about how each of their projects has developed over the year and understand how each scheme as already changed perceptions about Birmingham and offered new reasons for people to visit.
Firstly we heard from Emma Gray from Marketing Birmingham who talked us through the development of the ‘MORE Birmingham’ marketing campaign.
Starting off initially as the 15 in 15 campaign, which focused on 15 big projects to look out for this past year, the list quickly expanded and as such evolved into the MORE Birmingham campaign. So why ‘MORE’? Because it’s about the city as an evolving space and recognising what Birmingham already has to offer, as well as celebrating the additional new developments. In the words of Emma herself, “We’re a city that continually changes, we evolve…”, and we couldn’t think of a better way to describe this Midlands hub.
The £50 million transformation of the Mailbox was next on the agenda and retail manager, David Pardoe, described how they’ve transformed it into a biggest ‘multi-purpose’ development outside London. Not only can you eat, drink, shop and park at the latest development, but you can catch a film, relax in the spa, visit the BBC and even live in the apartments above. And with over 97,000 millionaires within the Midlands alone, we were told that only 15% ever think to come to Birmingham to shop – a statistic the Mailbox has made is mission to change.
Wherever you are in the country, you surely couldn’t have missed the news about Grand Central and the redevelopment of New Street station, this PR feat achieved over 200 pieces of coverage reaching a regional, national and even international audience.
Built with an initial capacity of 60,000 in the 1960s, the station has been coping with an average daily footfall of over 170,000 people – well over double the amount it was initially built for. By utilising previously unused floor space, Rachel Groves, communications manager for Birmingham New Street, explained how the public space was increased, with the finished station boasting a concourse 5x larger than that in London Euston; including zones for eating, drinking, shopping and relaxing, along with, of course, more accessible platforms.
Grand Central Birmingham was next, with Ashley Innis, communications and engagement manager, celebrating the fact that within the first 10 days after reopening, they had over one million visitors, and the overall campaign reached over 18 million people.
With flashmobs from Aston Performing Arts Academy, a performance from the Birmingham City choir and the red sofa from BBC Midlands calling Grand Central its home for the morning, this development that was five years in the making could be considered nothing short of a resounding success.
All we can say is, we’re absolutely loving the new Birmingham developments that have rolled into the station, and can’t wait to follow it on the rest of its journey!