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Too good to be a Portas Pilot?


So we didn't win. But Warwick put on a fine show, and it was driven by Twitter and blogging, which is pretty incredible! But sadly there's no cash, no Mary Portas, and no Government backing... So it was a waste of three months then?

Not quite...

From the outset we were pretty clever with the Portas campaign. We showed it in a great light, and actually promoted the town with all the media attention we got from the Portas Pilots. Time and time again during interviews I was asked the same question:

"Does Warwick really need Mary Portas?"

I always answered yes to that question, but I know exactly why they asked - in fact Mary Portas herself even said it on ITV! Is Warwick already too good to be a Portas Pilot town? Warwick is an amazing little town with gorgeous architecture and incredible independent businesses; but it's struggling like any other town too, it just doesn't look like it!

Why do I say we were clever? Well, while most towns were pleading poverty and showing empty shops, Warwick got behind the good things in the town and we tweeted at a phenomenal rate to show this. 

During the campaign, Warwick's Portas activity was often front page of a google search for Portas Pilots and the profile (or brand if you like) of Warwick has grown and grown. Local people, businesses and press got behind the campaign, mainly because it was so positive. I always say "positivity leads to positivity" and this has certainly proved it. !

#WarwickRocks posters are still a great post-Portas campaign, and they're not going anywhere!

This has been a win for Warwick in so many ways. We have created great community spirit in places it didn't exist, and got groups talking that didn't before; we even got the councils working together! The Portas circus got Warwick people some much-needed attention, and I even managed to dispel a few myths about parking in town too. Some added bonuses are include great contacts with local and national businesses for us at WarwickTweetup, and we have even been asked to pilot an iPhone 'Town App'. iTown contacted me purely off the back of the Portas media frenzy, and we now have the chance to test a great app for shoppers in Warwick - including a smart parking option. We're excited about trying it. Of course, expect news (and probably a blog!) once I've tested it.

Digitally it was a win for Warwick too. Locals received loads of extra followers up and down the country on Twitter. At the peak of the campaign, the WarwickTweetup website traffic increased ten fold, and WarwickTweetup are now more of a recognised group in Warwick. I've even been to council meetings! It just shows the power of social media, and Twitter as usual was the key driver. The blog has received 15,500 views to date, and the most popular referral is Twitter. Referral to our website from the blog has been incredible, and we've even filled a Twitter School with new tweeters keen to know what Twitter is all about, after they heard it started the Portas Pilot buzz!

So did we lose? Two TV slots, four magazine articles, five radio stations and plenty of local newspaper coverage says otherwise. Warwick does need help; it needs power from above to get the tape cut and questions answered. Everything seems to be a struggle with the three tier council system. Does it need money for marketing? Nah... we got that covered! 

I would like to say, just in case you're reading this, Mary Portas, there is ALWAYS a place in Warwick for you, and I'd love to catch up for coffee some time... You did, after all, inspire a town via the medium of Twitter; we'd love you to see why Warwick Rocks!! 

Thanks as always for reading, and please feel free to tweet us @WarwickTweetup or sign up as a member for FREE, to keep posted on what we're up to.


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