Buzzing at the boat show as our client seizes the day

You can’t beat the buzz of working on a big international event and for our client it was doubly exciting as it was making its debut as title sponsor of the world-famous Southampton Boat Show.

It’s sometimes easy to take it for granted, living as we do in the area, but Southampton Boat Show is the largest on-water boat show in Europe and in the top 10 globally. It is hugely important to the industry.

Lee Peck Media’s mission was straightforward: get the maximum exposure on opening day for brand in key publications on and offline, social media and broadcast.

As you would expect all the planning had been carried out over the previous weeks. This included briefing journalists, writing the releases, media training for the founder and CEO Richard W. Roberts and inviting the media to the press reception. The big day, for the record Friday September 15th, was upon us in a flash. The stage was set.

Breakfast radio delivers big audiences

It was an early start, meeting Richard on site at 7am at the show’s Media Centre. We joined the PR team from British Marine, which delivers the messages from the show’s perspective. Technical checks were carefully carried out on the ISDN line to ensure a clean feed to the radio stations, which was to be the main focus of the first two hours. Breakfast shows historically deliver the biggest audiences.

Within quick succession Richard was interviewed live on two BBC stations and two independents. His starting point was always explaining what his company actually did. “Think Auto Trader for boats and yachts,” he would say. “Essentially is a sales platform, classified ads to buy and sell boats.”

I was on hand to offer the right amount of encouragement and confidence-boosting and the odd prompt like “June 23rd was when the UK voted on Brexit.” Each interview was followed by a quick de-brief: how was Rich’s performance: suitably upbeat and credible; had he delivered the agreed messages, had he mentioned the brand enough – but not too much. Tick, tick, tick.

The radio interviews were dispatched with good humour and total professionalism. Next up television. Prerecorded but nonetheless vitally important to strike the right tone and look. Tie adjusted and straightened. Hair, perfect. We’d rehearsed a typical Q&A many times so Richard was in his element.

The power of celebrity

A quick coffee and then over to the main stage for the official opening with fashion celebrity Millie Mackintosh. It was our job to ensure Richard and’s joint founder Simon White had their picture taken with the Made in Chelsea star. There’s always a thin line to tread. We had to fit in with the show’s plans and be suitably respectful by not muscling in on the act too early but ready to pounce when the opportunity arrived. We needn’t have worried. Millie was a delight and our shots were in the can. Throughout the day, Lee Peck Media’s social media experts ensured events achieved an even wider reach, with live broadcasts on Facebook and Twitter. Innovative use of hashtags and searches ensured engagement was high, with conversing with anyone talking about the show online.

Another coffee (and Danish pastry) and off to meet BBC TV on stand. Another prerecord. Richard was now well into his stride, so much so, that he hardly flinched when told he’d be appearing live on BBC television for the lunchtime news. Five hours earlier he might have gasped at the prospect but now he was undoubtedly a seasoned pro.

A double booking

We had a slight dilemma – at precisely the time that lunchtime news is transmitted on the Beeb, Richard was meant to be hosting the press reception on stand in another part of the arena.

It was an important announcement: was launching a new portal for new boats to compliment the second hand boats for sale. Generally the telly takes priority so it was Plan B. Chairman Jon Eads stepped into the breach, was briefed and yours truly conducted a comprehensive Q&A in front of a crowd of appreciative journalists contentedly quaffing their champagne. The company’s new video “Living the Dream” was also premiered to rousing applause. Happily, Richard managed to dash back from his media duties for the last five minutes so was able to give his perspective too.

It was time to relax with our mission accomplished. message was transmitted across all channels to millions of people; visitors to the website grew exponentially and on the ground the PR team ran like clockwork. All in all a highly satisfying day.

Lee Peck


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