To raise the profile of Buckfast Abbey as a tourism destination, conference centre, and religious centre for the Catholic church in collaboration with Native Multimedia, the Abbey’s media and marketing agency.
Media relations, crisis and issues management, e-newsletters
Regional, religious, and national media
2021 – 2023
To promote the Abbey as a religious centre for the Catholic church, an events and conferencing centre, an education hub for schools, and an attraction for non-religious visitors interested in the gardens, religious music, its on-site seasonal events and day trips. This required a sensitive approach, balancing the wishes of the community of brothers at the Abbey and the commercial needs of the site.
Absolute developed and approved key messaging for the Abbey’s departments covering gardens, music, education, bees and the apiary, the Conference Centre, and events. We also created documents outlining the Abbey’s sustainable approach, providing solid foundations for our work to promote the Abbey to regional, religious, and national media.
We ran proactive media relations campaigns, alongside the development of a regular newsletter promoting events and activities on site including their Summer Fair, and Winter Market, their Christmas wreath-making workshops and their Take 5 festival for children, both as an online asset coming out of Covid, and when it was able to return to an in-person event.
Throughout the year we worked with the Abbey to identify stories of importance, including Buckfast Abbey’s Holy Week vocations discernment retreat, its choral and recitals programmes, appointments, apprenticeship news, celebrations of 100 years since the statue of Our Lady of Buckfast was placed by the monks in the Lady Chapel, global gatherings from the Catholic community to celebrate the rare ordination of the new priests at Buckfast Abbey, and the collection of Trauma Teddies to help comfort children experiencing distress caused by conflict, starvation or abuse worldwide.
Absolute was also responsible for Buckfast Abbey’s reputation management, fielding numerous media enquiries relating to Buckfast Tonic; made on-site, but which is bottled and marketed by a third party. This required regular discussions with national media and broadcast media, to explain that the Abbey does not market the tonic itself, but that it provides a vital income stream to support the Abbey’s charitable trust which serves the community through worship, outreach, welcome and care.
What We Achieved
Absolute’s work on the opening of the fish pass at the Abbey (which was co-funded by the Environment Agency and Buckfast Abbey), resulted in local, regional and national coverage including pieces on BBC Spotlight, ITV West Country, BBC Radio Devon, on the BBC’s national news feed, in the Western Morning News, Herald Express, Catholic Herald and many more.
Work surrounding the launch of The Schiller Hall not only included the announcement of the new facilities but work to build a database of potential customers for events, awards and meetings.
Working with the Exeter Chamber of Commerce, and the Plymouth and Devon Chamber of Commerce, we created data-captured competitions offering a prize providing free use of the hall by local businesses. This helped build a database of engaged businesses across the region, which were then retargeted with e-comms. Coverage for the opening of the Schilller Hall was achieved in the Western Morning News, South West Business Insider, Visit Devon, and many more.
Through news stories and the development of a regular monthly newsletter, updating subscribers on events throughout the year, we helped to bring a regular income through sales at the free to enter site.
Over 20 months, Absolute secured over 1,500 pieces of coverage for Buckfast Abbey, successfully achieving the goal of raising its profile with both religious and non-religious audiences. The total reach for this period was an audience of over two billion, with positive coverage in many titles including The Times, The Catholic Herald, Church Times, and many more.