The Assignment:

Established in 2011, the Belfast Photo Festival (BPF), a not-for-profit venture, has emerged as a prominent photographic extravaganza drawing tens of thousands of visitors annually. Spanning across 30 museums, galleries, and public venues, the Festival showcases some of the finest national and international contemporary photography, offering a diverse array of exhibitions, talks, symposiums, workshops, screenings, masterclasses, portfolio reviews, and tours.

The Strategy:

In 2017, the BPF aimed to tackle themes of immense relevance to the Northern Ireland populace, focusing on sexuality and gender. With a bold messaging approach, our goal was clear: to secure significant media coverage and elevate the festival’s profile to unprecedented heights, positioning it as a leading visual arts institution unafraid of addressing controversial topics. Operating within a modest budget of £1,100, our strategy centered on traditional PR, excluding social media.

For the programme launch, we meticulously curated a targeted invite list comprising key local, regional, and national media figures, bloggers, and influencers. This list, initially devised for the launch event, evolved into an invaluable resource throughout the festival, facilitating the dissemination of information on exhibitions and events.

Our overarching strategy aimed to generate maximum buzz surrounding the festival launch while subsequently focusing on promoting exhibitions, talks, and enhancing the festival’s reputation as a premier visual arts organization.

The Results:

From May 4th to June 16th, a total of 52 media placements were secured, comprising 15 print, 33 online, and 4 broadcast features. Noteworthy highlights include a 90-second segment on UTV Live reaching 28,360 viewers, and multiple appearances on The Arts Show (BBC Radio Ulster) engaging 26.5k listeners. Additionally, a comprehensive radio feature aired on Belfast 89FM, complemented by a double-page spread interview in the Irish Independent Weekend Magazine, reaching a staggering 486,000 readers.

Online coverage spanned 11 Johnston Press weekly titles across Northern Ireland, alongside a feature gallery in The Irish Times. Remarkably, without social media amplification, which independently reached 1.8 million via Twitter and Instagram, the festival garnered over 800,000 opportunities-to-see, well within the allocated PR budget. The success paved the way for additional print and online interviews scheduled with the arrival of British VOGUE Picture Editor Mike Trow.


The campaign received accolades as a Finalist in the CIPR Arts, Culture, or Sport Campaign 2017 category, cementing the Belfast Photo Festival’s reputation as a trailblazing cultural event.