Portfolio project

Travelogues for Visit England

Six counties, three sub regions, 9,200 square miles

Draw a triangle between the Isles of Scilly (IoS), Bournemouth and Gloucester. That’s 9,200 square miles of rolling hills, wooded valleys, surf coasts, rural villages, country estates, maritime towns, bustling cities, islands and forest. Cornwall, the IoS, Devon, Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire; Exeter, Bristol, Bath, Gloucester, plus parts of the Cotswolds and Forest of Dean. Now slice it up into three sub-regions.

“We’d like you to write about all this please,” said Visit Cornwall chief executive, Malcolm Bell, who was commissioning content on behalf of Visit England, using the South West Tourism Growth Fund, in December 2015. “We’ve chosen eight topics, including outdoor pursuits. And we’d like you to visit and experience it. In February and March.”

Briefly speaking

Okay, there was more to it than that — a lot more. But Malcolm’s brief, in brief, was to commission content for a super web portal with a powerful search engine which would guide international visitors through a dense forest of information (in five different languages). The mammoth web portal was set to change that way international (and domestic) visitors were escorted to all this information.

And our words were to sit at the heart of it. Gulp.

Press hats donned, copywriter filters on

This project needed to avoid using regurgitated tourism board content — a bit of history here, some points of interest there. This demanded a detail-dense, first-person, immersive narrative, crowded with oodles of research, and interviews with real people along the way. This was journalistic work at its best, but with a commercial twist. It’s main objective: to make domestic and international visitors want to book a trip to our corner of the UK. The articles would need to grip, drag and draw them into the articles and incite action.

Three writers, eight topics, 32 articles (25,000 words)

The South West is soaked in history, heritage and gastronomical delights. This was an astronomical undertaking which involved stepping onto 500-year-old film sets, hurtling down forest bike tracks, strolling along hilltop trails and diving into water sports playgrounds. Okay, that sounds like fun, but we had just two months to plan, research, travel, write, edit and deliver the content. Plus, it was Winter in England, and some of the topics were outdoorsy.

Guided by Malcolm’s clear vision, we carved up the South West into three sub-regions and settled upon eight topics — Art/culture, Cycling, Food/drink, History/heritage, TV/film/literature, Water sports, Walking and a General topic (a round-up of the seven other themes). The team consisted of our all-round writer, Craig Blackburn, travel and tourism specialist, Hayley Spurway, and adventure sports devotee, Elliot Walker. Craig doubled up as editor and project manager, while we all checked each other’s work as subeditors, and double checked our own. Then, grammar nazi, Eugenie Walker, proofread all 25,000 words.

Global audience

The content was intended for domestic travellers and English-speaking visitors from foreign shores, including the US and Australia. Then it was translated into five different languages, for tourists from the Netherlands and Belgium, Germany (and German-speaking markets), and Scandinavian countries.

“This was highly creative, brilliantly executed and superbly produced. I don’t know how you did it, but you delivered on this project marvellously. The destination managers were impressed and we’ve had some positive feedback from across the whole region. Project management was excellent (we knew exactly what was coming in and when and it was right on deadline) leaving us to concentrate on the other aspects of this ambitious project. A job well done.” Malcolm Bell, Visit Cornwall chief executive.

Thanks for reading. SEE MORE OF MY WORK HERE.

Craig Blackburn

Blue Scribe Media


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