Ben Lowndes #viewsoncomms

A perspective on PR, development and life in the South West

Tag Archives: Somerset

Talking about our devolution: what people told us about the deal

With all that’s happened since June, it’s easy to forget that there’s a big decision ahead about how the West of England runs its affairs.

The devolution deal for ‘greater Bristol’ won’t set most people’s pulses racing. But ask those who live and work here what’s important to them and many will say housing, transport, education, jobs or a combination of the above. As it happens, the West of England’s deal is geared towards addressing all of these issues.

On the table is £1bn to invest over 30 years in housing, transport and skills. Post #EUref, when ‘taking back control’ swayed views about our country’s future, handing responsibility for these issues to local areas seems an obvious step.

It’s probably worth five minutes’ of everyone’s time in the scheme of things.

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Why we’re deserting supermarkets – and saving money

Tesco over-egging its profits by £250m (yes, that’s a quarter of a billion quid) is a big overstatement and led to statements of shock across the media this week.

Twice the price; 5kg of spuds for £3.50

Tesco price: 5kg of spuds for £3.50

Explanations for its ‘fall from grace’ centre on issues ranging from being caught in a sector-wide pincer movement between Aldi and Lidl and Waitrose, to a rise in internet shopping hitting its out-of-town megastores and the sense that shoppers have simply fallen out of love with Britain’s biggest retailer. It’s still making hundreds of millions in profit each year. But the CEO Dave Lewis probably can’t afford too many hits like this, even though his response to the outbreak of the crisis was swift and impressive.

I’ve worked as a comms person for Tesco, supporting local consultations designed to inform its planning applications for new stores. I was struck by the dedication and drive of those connected with the business; everyone bought into the vision. We’ve shopped there for years and been devotees of its Clubcard loyalty scheme, which we’ve used to ‘reward’ ourselves with meals at Pizza Express and trips to Longleat.

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@SouthWestUK drums up support for business on Twitter

I was fascinated to read South West CIPR chair Sarah Pinch’s recent blog post about a campaign which has started since the terrible weather we’ve endured propelled the South West into the headlines.

Sarah is calling for support for a Twitter campaign started by Maureen McAllister using the hashtag #openforbusiness to highlight the fact that life is continuing here, despite the deluge.

It has generated traction with people, businesses and media organisations from across the South West using it to remind people that the region is not completely cut off by the elements. I had a look at some results generated by up to 2,000 tweets on the topic using the tool Tweetbinder, which can be used analyse hashtags used in campaigns. Have a look at the dashboard and some of the stats, which includes some data on reach, influence and original tweets and content (as opposed to retweets and ‘noise’).

Here’s another blog post from another comms professional who has helped the campaign recently. Good to see people taking some positive steps to support the South West. I’ll be offering my support to see if it can make a difference.

Affordable homes blend into Exmoor beauty

I visited a site today in one of the most beautiful villages I have ever been to, where the HCA is supporting the construction of new affordable housing.

Wheddon Cross in Exmoor is one of those picturesque villages most people would dream of living. Situated on top of the rolling hills of Exmoor National Park, with a smashing pub and hotels in the centre of the village and stunning scenery in every direction, it certainly seems popular with visitors.

But with average house prices in Exmoor approaching an eye-watering £400,000 last year, many locals undoubtedly find it impossible to afford to live in villages like this.

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