Neil Darwin on Peterborough’s Image

As part of the ongoing debate surrounding recent negative publicity about Peterborough in the national press, Neil Darwin from Opportunity Peterborough talks to the BBC’s Andy Gall about what they are trying to do with the limited resources at their disposal.
Broadcast at 07:10 on Monday 23rd August 2010 in the Peterborough Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

AG: Now Peterborough needs a new advertising campaign. City MP Stewart Jackson says that the city needs to promote the positive, to combat recent national newspaper headlines such as Migrant City. He’s called on the Council and Opportunity Peterborough to come up with a clear message to promote the city with, like that of Roy Kinnear and The Peterborough Effect adverts of the nineteen eighties, which sounded a bit like this:
(KINNEAR TAPE: Mad Queen of yours that drove us all out. Moved on a bit now though. It’s got one of the best shopping centres in Europe. Where’s the slave market gone? And great schools too. Blimey, still doing Latin? And it’s only fifty minutes by train from London. Or three days forced march. What’s that? Londinium! Don’t they learn fast. ANNOUNCER: Freephone Peterborough for more about the Peterborough Effect. It’s been working for centuries.)
AG: Now Neil Darwin is from Opportunity Peterborough and joins us this morning. Good morning Neil.
ND: Morning Andy.
AG: So do you agree that Peterborough ..that clip, Roy Kinnear, that was from the nineteen eighties, encapsulated the whole concept of promoting Peterborough .. do you agree that Peterborough has taken a battering, first, in the national press, and that it does need to be refocused and be remarketed?
ND: From an Opportunity Peterborough perspective I think Stewart’s right. We do need to market the city more effectively. And I agree with you Andy. I think we have taken a battering recently. I don’t think we always help ourselves. I think we are always the first to put ourselves down within the city, and a number of dignitaries do prefer to do that rather than talk ourselves up. But as Stewart rightly says we do need to combat that now and actually come out strongly and prove that we do have a decent offering here, albeit with certain issues that we do need to tackle.
AG: So what is Opportunity Peterborough’s remit to advertising the city?
ND: Opportunity Peterborough is responsible for marketing to business, to attract new jobs and new businesses to the city.
AG: I just get a bit frustrated. I listen to that commercial, I think it’s very much of its time of the eighties, and I don’t think that now it’s about that. It’s more of a field of dreams scenario, like build it and they will come. I don’t see any other cities on TV saying hello, we’re in Bristol. Come and see us.
ND: The simple reason for that Andy is that marketing has moved on. We don’t tend to use the TV any more. You won’t find any as you rightly say any city using the TV. Marketing has become more sophisticated. We need to be looking at more targeted approaches. One thing I’ve been continually said in my two months in the city is that you don’t have the money the Development Corporation had, and that’s very very clear that we don’t have that level of funding.
AG: But how much funding do you have then?
ND: We currently have for marketing the city two hundred and seventy thousand pounds, for this financial year. And as you’ll know that figure is likely to change significantly in the future. So we do have to be far more targeted. We do need to work out what we’re trying to achieve with this funding.
AG: Do you know what you’re going to try and achieve with the funding? Because two hundred and seventy thousand pounds to market the city over a year ..
ND: We’ve already got a number of things in train. I personally don’t think the city’s marketed itself well for the last five years to be honest. It may go back further. We are beginning to take forward an environmental business campaign to attract more environmental businesses to the city. We know it’s a growing sector. We know it’s a sector we’re good at. It’s something we need to expand. So we’re targeting that particular area. Second campaign at the moment we’re taking forward is with the restaurant and bar industry, so that we can actually try and get around Cathedral Square off the back of the public realm work a different range of operators, to increase the quality of offer we have within the city, and the variety of operators we have in the city. We’re taking forward a piece of work around a Bondholder Scheme, which we’re encouraging every business in the city to sign up to. Because what we do know is that the best advocates for the city are generally our businesses. And actually if they can start to talk us up, then actually that goes an awful long way for us.
AG: So when are we going to start to see the effect of this? Because that’s some of the things you’ve mentioned, but what about real bums on seats? When’s it going to start happening?
ND: Well we’ve already got just around three thousand new jobs in the city over the last six seven eight months. That’s a positive approach. From my perspective that’s happened without any proactive marketing. The environmental campaign will start at the end of September, and will hopefully be very visible. So in that sense we will start to see the enquiries for new jobs, new businesses, come forward very quickly. We would be delighted to talk to Stewart (Jackson) about how else he feels we should be taking that work forward.
AG: So just to get the message across. we don’t want to get too fogged on this, but Stewart Jackson seems to be saying that there has to be from what I understand the old-fashioned advertising campaign like the example that we saw …
ND: Absolutely.
AG: … of Roy Kinnear of the nineteen eighties. And you’re slightly different in that in that you’re going to focus very specifically on aspects that you want to market.
ND: We feel we have to focus because of the level of funding we’ve got. We can’t, simply cannot, go out and produce a TV campaign as the Development Corporation did in the eighties. We just don’t have the cash to facilitate that.
AG: But it’s almost a frustrating thing, because what do you want to market about Peterborough? What aspects of Peterborough are you going to trey to appeal to the outside world to? Because that’s the frustrating thing. It’s all about the image of the city, isn’t it? So you’ve got to get the image of the city right, and then you can market it. It’s almost like a brand of fizzy drink. You have to know what it is before you sell it.
ND: Absolutely. From our perspective looking to attract new business to the city it’s very much around Peterborough’s location. It’s the quality of life that we do have in the city. It’s the transport connections. It’s the kind of .. the business base we already have here, which will be attractive to certain businesses. We know which sectors we’re strong in. We need to make sure we continue to attract businesses here from those sectors. So we do have to be targeted. If we had the cash to run a national campaign on the telly we would love to do it. But quite simply at the moment we do not have the cash available to do that.
AG: OK Neil, thank you very much for talking to us. that’s Neil Darwin from Opportunity Peterborough.