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Industry Insight with Emma Gray

Posted 22nd January 2010

Welcome to the Industry Insights section of B-Hive. Over the next few months we will be interviewing some of Birmingham’s most successful PR, Marketing, Creative and Digital professionals – the B-Hive employers!

Today we’re talking to Emma Gray, Director of Marketing Services at Marketing Birmingham about the value of B-Hive and Birmingham.

What made you decide to support the B-Hive program?

B-Hive has a real synergy with Marketing Birmingham as a business and we became key funders for the 2010 program to help promote Birmingham as a great place to study and establish a career.

B-Hive offers students the unique opportunities of experiencing work in the creative sector with the aim of encouraging graduate talent to stay and develop their careers in Birmingham. By working together B-Hive and Marketing Birmingham hope to make working in the creative sector a real possibility for many students graduating from Birmingham universities. 

Have you had to adapt your campaigns during the recession and if so in what ways did you re-evaluate your marketing activity?

Marketing Birmingham was in a fortunate position as our planning cycle began at a point last year when the recession was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. This allowed us the privilege of being able to hone our marketing strategy in light of the economic situation and re-focus what we might have done.

Marketing Birmingham has adapted its work to address the recession. We have focused our work to take into consideration the change in attitudes towards leisure tourism. Previously we have had to battle cheap flights and foreign breaks but the recession saw people becoming more conscious of their spending habits leading them to re-discover England. Our marketing activity is always linked closely with consumer habits and we adapted to suit these changes, which led us to see an increase in visitor numbers to the city’s attractions last summer.

What are the key challenges you have faced over the years in promoting Birmingham as a cultural destination?

Promoting Birmingham as a cultural destination is a massive unique selling proposition and one which we use throughout our ‘Visit Birmingham’ campaigns. Birmingham’s diverse arts and culture section has steadily grown resulting in us being shortlisted for the ‘City of Culture,’ a decision which has galvanised the cultural community.

The big challenge to overcome is people’s misconceptions about the city as a cultural destination. When visitors come to Birmingham they leave wide-eyed at all of the cultural opportunities that it offers, but the challenge is trying to encourage people to visit Birmingham in the first place.

Budget and funding are always a challenge with any campaign but the biggest hurdle we face convincing people of the city’s cultural worth. The recession has impacted on funding for lifestyle projects as they are deemed as a ‘luxury’ rather than a ‘necessity’, but people forget how important they are to the city in terms of employment, tourism and the general economy. 

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