Why PR and communication is vital to attractions and what you should be focusing on. With William Kallaway

Today in the Skip the Queue podcast I’m speaking with Will Kallaway, MD of PR and sponsorship consultancy .

Kallaway is a communications consultancy that develops innovative growth campaigns for attractions, destinations, business and the arts.

Will has launched or grown some of the best known attractions in the UK ranging from The View from The Shard, Tower Bridge and The Mary Rose Museum through to Hard Rock Cafe and Battersea Power Station.

“Authenticity and the quality of what you do, rather than just the price – the quality of what you do, the richness of experience, is going to be so much more powerful and relevant now”

What will you learn from this podcast?

  • Why PR and communication is so important to attractions
  • The importance of purpose
  • Emerging consumer behavioural needs that attractions need to know
  • Framing your campaign
  • Measuring what matters
  • Wrestler entrance theme songs

To listen to the full podcast, search Skip The Queue on iTunes, Google Podcasts and Spotify to subscribe. You can find links to every episode and more at www.rubbercheese.com/podcast.

You can also read the full transcript below.

The interview

Your host, Kelly Molson 

Our guest, Will Kallaway

Kelly Molson: Will.

William Kallaway: Kelly.

Kelly Molson: Welcome to the Skip the Queue podcast, it’s really good to have you on today.

William Kallaway: I can’t tell you how excited I am.

Kelly Molson: That sounded quite genuine.

William Kallaway: I’m also slightly nervous about the questions you’re going to ask me. These questions, you wouldn’t tell me what you were going to ask me.

Kelly Molson: Don’t be nervous. Everyone says this. They’re nervous about the ice breaker questions. Come on.

William Kallaway: Yeah.

Kelly Molson: Right, first one. What are you not very good at?

William Kallaway: Oh, how long have you got? I mean, I thought this podcast was about 50 minutes. What am I not very good at? I’m terrible at lists, absolutely terrible at lists.

Kelly Molson: Oh, okay.

William Kallaway: Writing lists, and I’m not very good at seeing them through. I’m lucky I’m surrounded by brilliant people who hold my feet to the fire.

Kelly Molson: I like that. It’s all about delegation.

William Kallaway: All these things get delegated back to me, but at least I have someone else telling me that I’m delayed, and I’m behind. So yeah, I’m good at ideas and big picture and strategy and things like that. But my new shortlist always escapes me.

Kelly Molson: Right. Noted. Okay, if you were a wrestler, so imagine WWF wrestling, what would be your entrance theme song?

William Kallaway: I think, probably, I will survive.

Kelly Molson: That would be the weirdest wrestler walk-on I’ve ever seen in my life. But an honest answer. Okay, brilliant.

All right, a third one. If you had to delete all but two apps from your smartphone, what two would you keep? Oh, this is really tough.

William Kallaway: Two apps. I would keep Podcast because I just listen to podcasts all the time. And I love that.

Kelly Molson: Good answer.

William Kallaway: Particularly ones on attractions. Cool, Skip the Queue. I’m just looking now to see actually which ones I would actually keep. My photos, there you go. I’ll keep those because lots of memories in there.

Kelly Molson: Yeah, that’s good. That’s the biggest thing about losing your phone, isn’t it? The idea that you might lose all your photos from it.

William Kallaway: Yeah, I always keep losing my phone. It sometimes crops up, sometimes I have to get another one. That and my [inaudible 00:03:02], which I’ve lost for a week and I don’t know where they are.

Kelly Molson: Oh, God. Okay, so something else Will’s not very good at, keeping things, not losing stuff.

William Kallaway: You got quite enough about what Will’s not very good at. I’m sure of that as we go through.

Kelly Molson: Okay, all right. Last one, and then we’ll move on to the good stuff. Okay. So everyone gets asked this question. So I think that you’ve probably prepared this one. But I want to know what your unpopular opinion is.

William Kallaway: Daniel Craig is not a very good James Bond.

Kelly Molson: In what way? And who would be? Who is your favorite Bond?

William Kallaway: Well, it has to be Sean Connery, obviously, because to suggest otherwise is just simply wrong. I just think it’s overblown now and overinflated. And actually, I think the way it was approached in the early years, it was a far stronger product, there you go.

Kelly Molson: Okay. I’m with you on Sean Connery. I definitely feel like he’s the best Bond, but Daniel Craig would be my number two. Because handsome.

William Kallaway: Ah, there we go.

Kelly Molson: Let’s move on. Thank you for answering those questions, Will. So I want to know about your background today. And we’re going to talk a lot about what you do as MD of Kallaway, but how did you… What’s your background? How did you become the MD of Kallaway?

William Kallaway: Well, so it’s a family business, was founded by my father in 1972. So we’ve been going for just over 40 years, and gosh, getting up to about 50 now, and I never intended to do this. I always intended to be a farmer. So I have a degree in agriculture. It was either that or the army. So I had an army scholarship when I was about 16 and then decided that tractors were far more appealing than tanks, which is something I’ve never really sort of squared the circle, I ended up joining the reserve forces until later in life.

But so yeah, I was a farm manager for a little while, I used to write for Farmer’s Weekly and Country Living and all those sorts of other titles. And actually, I sort of moved away from that, because I just found it quite lonely as in, you would be on the back of a tractor for hours and hours sometimes, or you’ll be off with the animals and I love working with livestock, absolutely, cows and sheep are my favorite things. But after a while, you just kind of feel, “Actually, I really need a human contact.” And I really enjoyed being around people, sharing ideas, and coming up with innovative solutions for problems, with brown problems.

So anyway, that was a long time ago. And from there, I actually ended up working for an agribusiness, PR company, dealing with all sorts of interesting issues, everything from GM modified crops, through to fertilizer rates on farmland and sort of illness in cattle, all this sort of good stuff, which was great. Then I went into corporate public relations, and I did some really interesting work there. I mean, I think the thing I was most proud of was lobbying for the release of Briton on death row in Florida, which was a really interesting project. I mean, it’s still ongoing, actually, the wheels of the legal system turn slowly, but that just was really a powerful thing to be involved with.

And from there, I ended up then joining the family firm. And I was interested in the work that we were doing at the time, around purpose, and linking brand activity through to really helping people through sponsorship, but also citizenship, and also placemaking, as well. So when Kallaway started out in 1970, we were the first organization in the UK to really apply the commercial aspects of sponsorship to the arts. So we created some of the biggest sorts of cultural prizes at the time. So the Costa prize was originally the Whitbread Book of the Year, which we created way back when. Choir of the year, which some of your listeners may know it was created by us. And it’s still running 20 years later on BBC Four now, the sort of big amateur singing competition. Those sorts of initiatives.

But we also work with Barclays to introduce citizenship into the classroom, developing those sorts of initiatives really interesting. And then from there, we moved into placemaking, and destinations, and then our work with museums in particular, and cultural attractions was growing. And that’s sort of where we’ve been focused. But we do more and more work now around F&B and general tourism as well. So the company’s been on that sort of journey. And I have too, I suppose.

Kelly Molson: A couple of questions on that. One, which is slightly off-topic, but did you work alongside your father? And how was that joining the business with him as your boss, I’m assuming?

William Kallaway: Yeah, that’s a really interesting question. I think it’s really hard. And I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for people who don’t want to blur the lines between being an employee and being a son if you see what I mean.

Kelly Molson: I can imagine it was really, really difficult.

William Kallaway: Yeah, it is difficult. But you sort of learn fairly early the boundaries and how you’re going to cope with it, and then you take it from there, really.

Kelly Molson: And what about the specialist? So as an organization specialize in destinations, arts, culture, travel. Where did that originate from? Was it something that was always there? Or you won a client in that sector, loved it, decided to focus on it? How did that come about?

William Kallaway: It’s always been there. So really, why we existed as an organization was to help brands harness the transformative power of culture. So that could be a large insurance firm that wants to a sponsor theater, to help it reach new people, or to genuinely do some philanthropic good by creating an entirely new program. So culture is such an interesting word because essentially, it’s the culture of an organization. So for a theme park or for a destination, it’s not only the experience you get but the engagement you get with being in the place with the people and the culture of the place.

So harnessing the power of culture, helping brands tap into contemporary culture, or amplify their own culture. We’ve recently been working with Hard Rock Cafe and now that organization has a really interesting brand culture and a really powerful and effective way of marketing itself because of that, and it retains its staff far more than the industry average. And it’s something that can be a really powerful force for effective marketing. But essentially, really, if you strip that away, we help ambitious brands grow. And that’s either brand who tend to be in the cultural space just simply because of our heritage.

But more through now into destinations and places. I mean, at the moment, we’re working with Imperial College, and Glen and Charl Caps, which is the UK’s largest adventure builder. On a new space they’ve created on White City, which is called Scale-Space, it’s going to become a physical home and an online home for ambitious scaling companies. And we’re helping them communicate that and unpack it to engage as many audiences as possible of tech organizations that want to locate there.

So our work is very varied, from F&B brands, culture brands, tech brands. And actually, what’s interesting about this is it gives a diversity of thinking to brand problems, or brand challenges. It helps give a richness, I hope, to our clients in the way that we’re able to respond to particular… I will help them overcome particular challenges that they might be facing.

Kelly Molson: Yeah, absolutely. Can we talk a little bit about the last six months? Because I think it would be wrong not to mention the fact that we’ve been in a global pandemic, it would be wrong not to mention the fact that both your organization and, we’ve spoken about this offline, our own organization works very closely with the attraction sector and tourism. How has it been for you as an organization? And how has it been for yourself and for your team through this? Because I’m guessing it’s been quite challenging as it has been for us.

William Kallaway: Yes, it has been challenging. I would just like to say a big thank you to my team, they’ve been absolutely fantastic. Each and every one of them, they’ve all played a part. And I’m grateful and lucky to have them. So thank you guys, if you happen to be listening to this.

Kelly Molson: I hope you are, that’s lovely.

William Kallaway: It has been challenging. Our guiding ethos as a business is to solve for the client, to help our client succeed. So we always need to have the right number of people in the organization to deliver whatever the client may want at one time. So we’re not an option where, as an organization, you can simply pull down the shutters, you could do I guess, but that wouldn’t really solve for our clients. So we helped our clients by working alongside them to find solutions to help them stay present and contribute to their audiences in new ways.

Just two examples of that, so when lockdown first happened, one of our classes are Royal Academy of Dance. And we created a program that helped them engage people online for the first time called RAD@Home. And we segmented the message to different audiences. So what one of the bigger concerns was actually helping old members of society stay connected, and stay really sort of moving, keep moving. And because they were the people most risk being isolated and also sedentary. And so we took one of the RAD’s programs for older people called Silver Swans, took it online, but one of the messages for family audiences was “Get granny grooving.”

Kelly Molson: Great message.

William Kallaway: Yeah, it was phenomenally successful. We had media coverage all over the place, the RAD’s website traffic zoomed up, it got mentioned, completely unprompted, on Today program, Radio 4, as sort of a leading example of how brands are engaging. Things like that we’ve done, through to working just most recently with Japan House London, helping them open a new exhibition. So our work has varied during this time. But how’s it been? I think it’s difficult and for everybody, I think, as you’ve identified, people have their own personal challenges as well. People working remotely, some people love it, some people hate it. Some people have very different working environments than you or me. And so one has to be mindful about the fact that they might actually want to escape the home but go somewhere else. So yeah, it has been difficult. But we’re sort of moving forward, as it were.

Kelly Molson: Yeah, aren’t we all? What lovely positive stories from the campaigns that you’ve had going on throughout the lockdown. No, that’s really lovely. I’m not going to forget that, get granny grooving, that’s brilliant.

William Kallaway: We’ve also tried to contribute to the wider sector by running regular webinars. We’ve been doing quite a bit with the UK, bound on that, and others. And bringing sort of experts who we work with as well in a bit from placemaking experts through to experts in communicating with the Chinese consumer, through to help not only for clients but everybody in the industry, learn a little bit more and hopefully come out the other end of this a little bit stronger. So, and all that information is on our website, including actually, I’m just looking at the website now, we ran a webinar with Chris Earlie, the head of Tower Bridge, which is another one of our [inaudible 00:15:36] and one of our clients. And he’s in the webinar there, he shared some really great insights about what they’re doing as a brand to segment the audience in thinking about how they’re essentially getting back to work. So there’s some good stuff in there as well, if you want.

Kelly Molson: Oh brilliant. Well, all of these things we’ll link to in the show notes. So you’ll be able to log onto the website and find links to all of the things that we’ll mention today. But actually, it’s some of those things that I want to talk about in a little bit more detail. So like you say, you have been running webinars throughout, and they’ve been incredibly valuable. I want to ask a few questions about them, if that’s okay, because I think that some of the information that’s in them would be really, really valuable to our listeners right now. So I guess my first question is, why is PR and communications so important to attractions right now and the tourism sector? And what should they be focusing on?

William Kallaway: Right. Well, I think the first thing is, it all depends on where you want to be in the future, and then working back from there. So if you want to be front-of-mind when your audiences can start to travel again, when your consumers can start to travel again, if you want to have secured a certain level of footfall, or you want to have secured a certain level of brand value in how people think about you, you need to communicate, ultimately. You have to communicate. Going dark is not necessarily the best option, there may be an option for some organizations who simply just can’t do it.

But for those that can, they should continue to communicate and add value in a way that helps set their brand apart. Because public relations, ultimately, it’s the professional maintenance of a favorable public image, to give it its proper term. But actually, it’s so much more nuanced now. I mean, I think sometimes the industry and other industries tend to think about PR as a sort of promotional stuff. But actually, it’s far more nuanced than that. And where we come from particularly, is from a very strategic communications perspective, and thinking about all aspects of what the brand’s doing, how it’s behaving, how it’s training its people, how to invest in the local community. Even from what sort of sponsorships has it got in train at the moment? What are its key messages? And put all that together into a coherent plan that enables the brand to reassure its customers, engage new customers, and reignite interest and engagement about what it is doing now, in a manner that hopefully builds footfall into the future.

So it’s also about reacting, I think, to how customers are perceiving brands at the moment and where they’re getting information from. So I think there’s an opportunity to reassess your target customer at the moment. And by that, I mean it’s not only just looking at the demographics, but I was very interested in one of your earlier podcasts, I think it was the marketing lead from Continuum talking about actually, doesn’t really look about demographics at the moment, it’s all about almost tribes, people being different ages, being interested in different things and similar connections.

So I think reevaluating your audiences about what their interests are, and then how you can engage and connect to those audiences in new and meaningful ways. So there’s been an acceleration in how consumers are using social media and how they’re using digital equipment. Lots of older people are getting online for the first time, there’s been a massive growth in the older population getting on Facebook, there’s been a boom in people using Zoom who are older. So how can you, as a brand, actually harness some of that technical innovation by the consumer so you are being present in a new and interesting way, either in their social media feeds, online, or even in the home.

William Kallaway: I was looking online recently, there was a brand, a spa brand that was enabling you to sort of relax and take a virtual spa at home. These sorts of things. And Amazon has launched the opportunity to do a guided tour of a city, you pay for that and the guide takes you around the city and takes you into shops. So how can a brand react to that? But more importantly, I think, particularly for many brands that are located in different parts of the UK, how can they be seen to be contributing positively to the local community and giving back? Because purpose is going to be one of the biggest things that comes out of this pandemic. It’s not necessarily… Sorry, localism, I think. And when I say local, I mean regionalism, really.

But YouGov’s got some really interesting tracking on this around how people think about multinational brands now, and actually, they are steering towards the local side of things, when people start to travel again, they’re more likely to go locally rather than internationally. So either staycation, been a huge increase in that, but actually traveling locally rather than going nationally, so there’s an opportunity to not only demonstrate your value for money but to use a bit of a cliche phrase, your values for money. And I think that’s something that should be really powerful into the future. So demonstrating what a brand is doing, to train its people, to give back to the local community, to support local schools, so on and so forth.

And I think that that will need to be done in a distinct way that’s relevant for that particular brand, rather than just doing what everyone else is doing. And I think also then goes back into a, “Why are we here as an organization, what is our promise to our customers?” A promise needs to be deeper than we’re just going to give them time, it needs to be multi-layered. And then this goes… once brands think about that, and understand that to a great deal of detail, it will help them communicate effectively, both through their actions and what they say, which then folds back into professional maintenance of a favorable public image. Because it’s not something that is necessarily forced, it’s something that just comes from within the organization itself.

Kelly Molson: Some incredibly powerful advice there, Will. Thank you for sharing that. Just want to touch back on, because my second question relates a little bit to what you’re talking about, about consumer behaviors, and how there is now that focus on localism. And we’ve had our own conversations with attractions where we’re seeing new visitors come to new attractions that didn’t even know that they were on their doorstep, but they’ve lived 10 or 15 minutes away from this certain place for years, but just never engaged with it before.

So I kind of want to ask you, and this is one of the webinars that you had out during lockdown. So I want to ask you about the new emerging consumer behavioral needs, what is it that attractions need to know about? And how do they kind of tap into that now?

William Kallaway: Well, I think they need to tap into it in a way which is relevant for them and authentic to them as a brand. Authenticity is, I think, going to be so much more powerful now. Because authenticity and the quality of what you do, rather than just the price, the quality of what you do, the quality, the richness of experience, is going to be so much more powerful and relevant now, when people’s disposable income is going to be squeezed as well. That said, there are some clear consumer themes. First up is super connectivity, which I mentioned earlier, which is people want to have an engagement online first before they choose to buy in physical form. That’s not to say they’re more likely to book you months out, because actually, people don’t know what’s going to happen in a couple of months. But they do want to be able to experience it, so think about how you’re projecting yourself online, super connectivity.

Then also think about how you’re tapping into… Some themes have come through from this around wellness, self-development, mental fitness, physical fitness, and also quality of life. You’ve seen people actually thinking during lockdown, “You know what, I do want to spend more time with my friends and my family. I want to spend more time investing in myself. I want to spend more time reading or doing the things that I like.” So for an attraction, it’s about thinking about how it can reflect some of those themes in some of its messaging.

So I was interested with the podcast you had on with the Chap from the National Parks. The National Parks naturally lends itself to be able to communicate issues around wellness, physical, mental well-being, spending quality time with families. There might be a slightly more challenging task there for roller coaster-based rides, attractions, but one can think about that in a different way to build those connections in the right sort of way.

So yeah, wellness and self-development are sort of one in the same, really, but those are the top three. And then underneath that you’ve mentioned, is virtual engagement. So super connectivity might be one thing but virtual engagement is going to be something else. And you’ve already seen brands already doing things like this. So you can engage on a brand on anything from Minecraft to Animal Crossing, lots of attractions moving into that space. And it’s been right for some, it’s not right for everybody.

William Kallaway: And then doing the right thing is the CSR aspects of it. But doing the right thing is now going to be absolutely what customers expect. There was some polling that was on YouGov before I came on this call today. And it was saying that about 85% upwards of individuals, this is across all Generation X, Y, Zed, Boomers, etc., would move away from brands that they felt didn’t hold the same worldview as them, and were seen to be polluting or seen to be not treating their staff correctly, or seems to be underpaying their staff, they actively avoid that. And really, there’s an opportunity here to demonstrate leadership because, again, some polling from YouGov shows that customers really want to live a more sustainable life. 92% of people say that, but only 16% of people follow it through.

So actually, brands have got a really interesting leadership role to play here. They’ve got an opportunity to talk about how they are embedded in the local community, the local economy, importantly, and sustainability is not just environmentalism, it’s about the local networks that support us all. And this element of localism, this element of, “Actually, I might commute 100 miles to go to work every day. But actually, this is my neighborhood here.” And I think that these changes are going to stay very much great ingrained, become ingrained because we’re likely to be in the state for the next six months. We’ve almost been a year in this situation by the time we come out the other end. And I think that will just naturally force people to make new habits, to see the world differently.

So it’s all about the stories that we can tell, it’s all about the stories and it comes back to that promise. What promise do you making your customers? And as a marketeer, what change do you want to make in the world? And what change do you want to bring to those customers? And that goes beyond just having a good time whizzing around in a rollercoaster or seeing some artifacts. It needs to be a far richer and multi-layered promise and change you’re trying to make. Which is one of the reasons why I love working with attractions, museums, because they genuinely impact all ages, every member of the family. And they just have some astonishing stories there. And I love that. I love that. But I love talking about it, writing about it and taking people on the journey. Can I just tell you a story?

Kelly Molson: Yeah, please do.

William Kallaway: So almost 13 years ago, I introduced a woman to her own heart. The only reason I remembered this is because the lady concerned dropped me an email just to say it was 13 years ago when this happened. And there was a picture of her holding her heart, surrounded by the world’s media. And she held it there.

Kelly Molson: What?

William Kallaway: And it’s just-

Kelly Molson: Hang on. This needs more explanation, you introduced her to her own heart.

William Kallaway: So I launched the Wellcome Collection for the Wellcome Trust. And it is an amazing building that brings together arts and science and culture to help us understand what it is to be human. As it says, “A place for the incurably curious.” But one of the first exhibitions was the heart exhibition, and there on the wall was going to be a space for human hearts that had to have to be removed from a sick individual. And I just happened to be looking at the space in the pre-briefing and I said, “Is the lady still alive?” And there were some people who weren’t entirely sure, and we had to go through some networks and stuff to find out. But yes, she was. And so we got in touch with her and said, “Would you like to come and see this and talk about it?” Talk about what it is, talk about meeting the heart, talk about it as from a sort of personal and emotional thing. But also talk about it and give the opportunity to talk about the importance of organ donation.” And it was just incredibly powerful because there she was, she was connected with her own heart, the World’s press went absolutely mad for the story, as you can probably imagine. It provided us with an opportunity to communicate the power of medicine, life and art, that’s what the catch was.

Then, through the World’s Media, through the Red Top Media reaching an entirely different section of society with these sorts of stories. And yeah, it literally went global and that was just such a really visceral reminder about how powerful stories can be within museums and within that sort of setting. And that’s also one of the things that I like to bring to these organizations. Because you can ask, as someone coming in, from the outside, you can ask sort of questions which haven’t necessarily been asked before, like, “Is that person still alive? Can we get her to meet her heart?”

Kelly Molson: Gosh, that is incredible. What a story. I’m so glad that you shared that. It’s phenomenal, isn’t it? What an incredible, powerful story. But what an incredible way to sum up what that organization is all about.

William Kallaway: Yeah, if you haven’t been to Wellcome Collection, do go. And I think also, look at that organization as a really interesting attraction based brand that just has astonishingly rich outreach and engagement. As a Radio 4 series at the moment running about Touch, which is sponsored by them, or isn’t sponsored by them, is run in partnership with them. But I’ve been very fortunate to launch all sorts of different museums with William Morris Gallery, Mary Rose Museum, National Museum for the Royal Navy, The View from The Shard, there are loads of things and each and every one of them is fantastically interesting.

Kelly Molson: It’s really lovely watching your face there while you were talking about it, so completely lit up.

William Kallaway: Well, there’s something completely different when we launched The View from The Shard, we’d been contacted by someone who wanted to be the first person to propose up there. So it was all fine and we’d got this person upstairs and we had the then London Mayor, Boris, etc. And the World’s Media were all there ready to… The ribbon was being cut for the grand opening of the top of the Shard, and there was this very nervous-looking man in the corner, get out of one knee, and we had some flowers off stage as it were to do the right thing, assuming his partner’s going to say yes. And anywhere else, somebody else jumped in and did it first.

Kelly Molson: No. Oh, that’s awful.

William Kallaway: Just another member of the public just went off and did it and that was…

Kelly Molson: Oh, no. All that build-up.

William Kallaway: [inaudible 00:32:16] was crushed, he became the second person.

Kelly Molson: I hope his partner said yes.

William Kallaway: Yeah, he did.

Kelly Molson: Oh, God. Thank God for that. Because it could’ve been worse, couldn’t it?

William Kallaway: Yeah, [inaudible 00:32:26], they’re always good things to find.

Kelly Molson: Brilliant stories. Right. Thank you. I have got one more question for you. We talked a lot earlier about your own team. And people working from home and it being dispersed. And it’s just everything has been really, really different for people. And I guess what I wanted to ask you was around PR planning tools. So I think one of the questions is what are the best PR planning tools to help remote teams gather the information and then run communications with clarity and real, measurable impact? How do people do that when they’re so dispersed at the moment?

William Kallaway: Okay, so that’s an interesting question, in terms of remote tools to bring teams together to help them plan on things. So we use one, which is called Monday, we also have our own database system called Daylight, which that’s all really techie boring stuff, frankly. But it is essentially glorified to-do list.

Kelly Molson: I’m just thinking, someone needs to help you with those to-do lists, Will.

William Kallaway: It always comes back down to what am I trying to achieve? And how can I measure success? So one of the things that we always set for our clients, and the reason why we won so many awards, is because we work to very clear and measurable goals. And what I mean by that is, if you’re going to value something, you need to measure it. And one of the things I think, particularly, with PR, sort of straightforward PR, it gets very much shoved into the promotions bracket, “Get the press release out.” Actually, let’s take a step back and put a far more nuanced and effective communications campaign that links tightly into marketing and advertising and helps raise a brand profile.

So if we’re going to do that, “Okay, how are we going to measure it?” Footfall. What are smart goals, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely, sorry, relevant, and timely? Those, just being really crystal clear about what we’re trying to do, actually unifies minds towards that central purpose, and then everything else should follow. So I don’t think it’s necessarily about what sort of tools you have. But it’s about how you are working towards that common name.

And we do have some grids that we use. In fact, I shared it on one of the webinars where we talked about you want to look at your different audiences, so you map out your audience. You say, “Okay, this is the audience I’m looking to communicate to, how do I want my audiences to think and act now about me as a brand? And how do I want them to think and act about my brand in the future?” Once you understand that, you should have two less, and it’s got a gap in the middle. So essentially, if you have your audience and the way they think about you now, and the way you want them to think about you in the future, what do you need to do? And what do you need to say, to take people on that journey?

And then you need to think about what are the best channels for me to show that I’m walking the talk? There’ll be some channels that are more relevant to others for different elements of your audience. The older audiences or the parenting audiences might have very different channels to the Millennials, the Generation Zeds. But ultimately, what buying that, what should all band together is some clear, consistent messaging, that comes back to that central promise about why you exist as an organization. And that promise that you’re looking to communicate.

And then you need to measure. And this isn’t just about clicks on websites, it’s not just about footfall. Of course, all of those are absolutely relevant, and absolutely what we should do. And if you look on our website, on case studies, everything we do is set out like that. But actually, it goes deeper than that, which is, “How am I going to measure meaning and difference?” So meaningful is, “Can I look at the type of coverage that I’m securing or the way people are talking about my brand that talks about, ‘This is making me happy.’ Or, ‘I see the quality of what you’re doing.'” Words that reflect that qualitative status that you’re looking to achieve if you’re wanting people to pay to come walk through the door.

And then the other element to look at is your difference. Are they excited about visiting X or Y attraction? How are they describing it? So essentially, there are two ways to look at these things, qualitatively or quantitatively. And I think lots of people tend to focus, because it’s easier, on the numbers, “We secured X number of website traffic.” Which is all great, but that’s a short-term thing. And actually, the longer-term build of consistent growth over time, is based on something that’s far more powerful, and t’s that thing that people want to sign up to about a brand, the guiding star that is going to orientate all your communication, and that will compel people to sign up, because they’re really interested to learn more. Or they’re going to not just be a visitor who’s going to visit once, they’re going to keep coming back, or they’re going to turn into an active ambassador about your brand, and get others to come.

And that sort of response is multifaceted. It goes down to, particularly in this time of COVID, “How are you going to handle ticket refunds? How are you going to be easy to deal with if people can’t come? What’s your customer service, like?” All of that feeds into the overall brand perception, right way through to what you’re talking about doing locally, how you’re investing in people, if you’re going to get announcing, exciting new sponsorship with a confectionery brand to sponsor your roller coaster or something. All of that, every element along there really, really matters. But if you’ve got a strong core, based around a clear set of values, then it will help you communicate far more strongly.

Kelly Molson: Absolutely.

William Kallaway: Far more strongly? Is that right?

Kelly Molson: Yeah, that’s right. Brilliant advice, Will, thank you. Thank you so much for sharing.

I think that our listeners will get a lot from that. I’m taking a lot from it myself, I’m thinking about our core mission and how that comes across in our communications.

William Kallaway: Well, I think you do that really well.

Kelly Molson: Oh, well thanks.

William Kallaway: I looked about that, there it is, it’s just simply put. Mission, purpose… I think people kind of… yeah, there it is.

Kelly Molson: Very kind.

William Kallaway: It is interesting. It’s one of the things I really enjoy about this work, is helping brands find that way forward and then doing really interesting things with it.

Kelly Molson: It’s really interesting because I think that listening to you… And we have spoken before, at length about storytelling really, essentially. And I think people do pigeonhole PR and comms agencies into a press release, just pushing stuff out and not really thinking about it in a holistic way. And I love how you’ve talked about it today from it has to start from that core message, that core kind of story and vision for your organization.

William Kallaway: Absolutely. I think if you draw three rings on the traditional Venn diagram, it’s like, “What is your purpose? What am I doing to establish my reputation and build trust?” Those three sort of rings, and in the middle is then what you’re going to do. So reputation might be based on the excitement of what you’re doing, underpinned by first-class, customer service. And then the customer trust would be built out of the way that experiences the brand, but the purpose then comes through about what you’re doing with the company profits, how those are being shared, whether or not you’re investing back into local people, all that. So yeah, that’s really interesting to look at that.

Then the tactical stuff, about, “Should I be engaged with influencers? Should I be on this channel? TikTok? Should I be on regional media?” All of that sort of follows naturally after. I think there’s a temptation to get straight into the tactical weeds, rather than actually take a step back and say, “What are we trying to do? And how do we get there?” And that’s one of the reasons why we always create a named-and-framed campaign for our clients. So our brand essentially is Smart Imagination. So that’s creativity focused towards solving business problems. And we will always create a named solution for a client. So for Japan House London, the campaign to launch that, this new cultural presence for Japan in the UK to stimulate understanding and trade with Japan, ultimately, the campaign name was Your Gateway to Contemporary Japan. So it was your gateway, so it was a personalized campaign that was specifically focused at one type of person, who that attraction’s very keen to get in.

And it’s that approach that actually… So rather than just doing stuff, leave all that over there, it’s actually being really clear about what the campaign is going to be called, and how it’s going to be moved forward and then how it’s going to be measured. That’s cool. Okay, so here’s a good example, right? So when we launched the Mary Rose Museum, this is several years ago now, we created a campaign that was called The Journey of The Ship’s Bell. And to do that, we worked with the museum, and we took the bell of the Mary Rose from the museum out into the Solent. And it was rung to mark the ship and those that had perished with her.

But then we dressed it up, and we took it in… we partnered with the Royal Navy, and we worked with HMS Duncan, which is the sister ship of the Mary Rose, and we found the youngest sailor on board, who was then going to ring the bell, we invited a flotilla of ships and boats from across the local ports to come and join this. So we were creating this story about linking this wooden structure that many people, young people were slightly alien to. I mean, I’m old enough to remember when Blue Peter, when the Mary Rose was coming up, and it-

Kelly Molson: Yep, same.

William Kallaway: … just [inaudible 00:42:43]. But to many younger people, there wasn’t that connection. And what is this thing? So actually, The Journey of The Ship’s Bell enabled the brand to tell the story visually, and we timed everything to happen on various parts of the news bulletin through the day. So we started in breakfast television, lunch-time television, and there was a big ceremony in the evening, all of which was broadcast nationally. But it was that story that actually turned the museum opening into something that was far more rich, and engaging for the World’s Media. And we did other stuff, like we got interesting talks about wrestlers. We got people who might be linked, or could say things about the Mary Rose involved. So we got a bridge wrestler called William Regal, I think his name was. He was sharing stuff out of LinkedIn… Sorry, not on LinkedIn, on Twitter. It was actually, this was many years ago now, but it trended in numbers, trended number two in the UK, I think.

Kelly Molson: Oh, lovely. I see, I knew that my stupid icebreaker questions would somehow be related at some point in a podcast interview.

William Kallaway: But I think it’s about telling that story. So always naming-and-framing your campaigns in a really effective way. So it’s tempting to say, “We’re going to run a Christmas campaign.” Well, let’s talk. Well, let’s do something more exciting with that. If we can excite ourselves about what Christmas might be on the attraction, then we’ll be better able to excite our customers rather than just being a Christmas campaign.

Kelly Molson: Love it. Perfect. It’s a perfect way to bring us towards the end of the podcast interview. I’ve got one last question for you, which we ask all of our guests, and it’s a book that you recommend that’s helped shape your career in some way, or just a book that you really love that you would recommend to our listeners?

William Kallaway: That’s a really good question. So I have several books that I try and read. I sound pretty terrible at this, as in, I lug them round in my bag. They’re just in there and they get more and more buggered. But there are a couple of books that I think people who are interested in communication should read. And the first one is called Influence by Robert Cialdini, and he’s the sort of guy… He’s a behavioral psychologist and he wrote this almost defining book on influence, really. It’s really, really interesting. And there’s another book, which I would also recommend is written by James Carville, who was one of the Clinton’s campaign experts really. And the name of the book is called Buck Up, Suck Up… and Come Back When You Foul Up, I think. And I’ve often returned to that book because it’s just got some brilliant truths in there about the learn from the war room of political campaigning. It’s really effective. So definitely recommend that book.

For relaxation stuff, I love the work by Neil Gaiman. I just love that, I love reading those books. And I also think it’s important to sort of challenge yourself philosophically as well. So for a couple of years, I’ve been reading books on stoicism, which I think is a really interesting philosophy. Particularly, there’s one book called The Daily Stoic, which is by a guy called Ryan Holiday, which provides meditations from Marcus Aurelius, another where you can dip into on a daily basis. He’s also got one at the moment called Ego Is the Enemy, and also Obstacle Is the Way, which I think is a really, really interesting, stoic way of looking at the world, which is, if there is an obstacle in the way, it becomes the way. You just have to deal with that and how you react to it actually defines who you are, and how you’re going to move forward, generally.

I’m not really doing this justice. I’ve not read the book, but I listen to a lot of his podcasts, but I definitely recommend you that. And I also try and reread The Screwtape Letters, because they really deal with some really interesting issues around to do with self, soul, temptation, staying on the straight and narrow. Because I go to church, I’m Christian, I’m trying to live my life with Christian values, and the dichotomy between stoicism and what’s in The Screwtape Letters is really interesting. So those four books are sort of ones that I would always recommend. And they’re all challenging for different reasons.

Kelly Molson: Great book choices. Another thing that Will is maybe not good at is following instruction, because that’s four books and not one book.

William Kallaway: Oh, sorry.

Kelly Molson: But that’s fine. So everyone that comes on, blows my marketing budget out of the window. However-

William Kallaway: If you have to give one book, a one readership book… Sorry, a book to professional basis, I think Buck Up and Suck Up is just such a great book, because it’s just boom, boom, boom, boom. And it’s all about how these guys helped win the White House-

Kelly Molson: All right, well, that’s the one then. That’s the one.

William Kallaway: And I found that really [inaudible 00:47:45]… Yeah, that one. There’s also one I’m reading at the moment called How to Argue with a Cat, which is brilliant. And it’s all about how to persuade and how to use… Which is just really interesting when you’re thinking about how you use that to communicate as a brand, brand and all that sort of stuff.

Kelly Molson: That sounds like a great book. All right, but now that’s five books. So if you don’t stop-

William Kallaway: [crosstalk 00:48:07].

Kelly Molson: … recommending books, you’ll be arguing with a podcast host soon. Anyway, as ever, if you’d like to win a copy of this book, and I think… What’s the one we’re going to go with? The Buck Up…

William Kallaway: Buck Up and Suck Up, is a good one. How to Argue with a Cat is great. Influence one…

Kelly Molson: Oh, gosh.

William Kallaway: We’ll come to pick one-

Kelly Molson: We’ll pick one at random. Okay, so if you want to win one of Will’s books, if you head over to our Twitter account, which is skip_the_queue, and you retweet this episode’s announcement with a comment, “I want Will’s book,” then you’ll be in with a chance of winning it. And we’ll pick what book it is at random. Will, thank you so much for coming on today. It has been an absolute pleasure. And thank you for sharing so much insight with us. It’s really, really appreciated.

William Kallaway: My absolute pleasure. And if anyone wants to find out any more, then it’s all on our website as well. We put quite a lot of information about what we’re doing for clients and the type of things, the way we’re working to deliver those sorts of results. So people can apply that in their own brand situation as well. And if anyone wants to a hand with anything, then I’m always free to have a conversation, always happy to help and to have a chat and help people find a way through things. So just give me a call.

Kelly Molson: That is really kind offer, Will. And we will put all of Will’s contact details in the show notes. So if you want to take him up on that offer, then go for it. I’d highly recommend a chat with Will, he’s fab. Thank you, and we’ll speak to you soon.

William Kallaway: Thank you.


Do you know someone we should be talking to?

Do you know someone fascinating we should be talking to?

If so, email us at hello@rubbercheese.com – we’ll get back to you shortly.


Paul Wright.
Kelly Molson Managing Director

Host of the popular Skip the Queue Podcast, for people working in or working with visitor attractions, she regularly delivers workshops and presentations on the sector at various national conferences and universities including The Visitor Attractions Conference, ASVA and Anglia Ruskin University.

Read more about me

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