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The county show

The county show – ‘stakeholder engagement’ at its best?


The marketing industry is undeniably brilliant at generating jargon and trying to baffle clients with science, so what a privilege it was to get a reminder that some forms of ‘PR’ have been around for much longer than the phrase itself, and continue to thrive.

This came during my visit to the 2017 North Yorkshire County Show, which took place near Bedale recently at the outdoor adventure destination Camp Hill Estate (@CampHillEstate). As a relative ‘townie’, this was the first time I’d been to a show like this since I was knee-high, so I was keen to see how this format worked for businesses as we race towards the third decade of the 21st century.

The turn-out seemed really impressive, reflecting the strength of North Yorkshire’s agricultural sector and community in general. A number of key local businesses had devoted a great deal of time and effort to create a good presence at the show, including most notably Sam Turner & Sons, Kebir House Veterinary Practice and Yorkshire Steel Buildings.

They were joined by lots of charities, smaller stall-holders and several major organisations too, who are – or wish to be – engaged with the region, including Yorkshire Water (@YorkshireWater) and Associated British Foods.

In a world driven by urban-centric media and marketing industries, events like the North Yorkshire County Show are perhaps overlooked in their significance as a PR activity. Of course, it must be the right ‘channel’ to engage with your stakeholders and return on investment is vital whatever marketing channels we use. But, if it’s the right place for a business, seeing the strength and warmth of the relationships between exhibitors and visitors at a show like this seems infinitely more valuable than, for example, getting an additional 20 followers on Twitter or an increase in the average number of page views on your company website.

What it comes down to is quite simply: don’t forget there is a ‘human’ world out there for marketeers to engage with and don’t overlook their significance. We’ve worked with clients who have put all their eggs into one basket, such as social media, only to find 12 months later that they are nowhere to be seen in their markets. Think broadly about where your customers are, and determine how to connect with them – that could be via exhibiting at trade shows, displays at the village fete, the ad break on ITV during Coronation Street, coverage in the local newspaper, a feature in a trade magazine or a presence on LinkedIn.

Hopefully events like the North Yorkshire County Show will live long and play an important role at the heart of our rural communities.

JUNE 2017