Whitakers Garden Centre has been an integral part of the Prescot community for over 100 years. Last year, the company appointed Source PR to support with reputation management as the historic premises closed and moved to a new, bigger and more modern location about a mile away.


Source PR was appointed to handle the communications around the opening of the new garden centre and to transform public perceptions of the move, as initial feedback had been negative from both locals and the press. Using a combined strategy of social media, influencer marketing and traditional consumer PR, we have been working with Whitakers Garden Centre for over half a year now and have flipped opinions on their head, creating a buzz and excitement around the new site after initial uneasy feelings.

Key Activity

  • Operating a consistent posting strategy for social media on both Facebook and Instagram to generate enthusiasm for the new garden centre.
  • Preparing press statements to counteract any initial negative feedback.
  • Developing a solid CSR strategy, working with local schools and charities and communicating this on social media and in the news.
  • Communicating site updates to stakeholders on social media.
  • Building hype by releasing ‘first looks’ on social media and to the local press.
  • Getting the local public involved with decision-making to create a sense of involvement and community.
  • Producing a monthly newsletter with updates and the option to provide initial feedback.
  • Working with, not against, local journalists – inviting the likes of the Liverpool Echo for pre-opening visits to the centre for stories.
  • Organising a media launch event prior to the official opening with key journalists and influencers to cover the opening of the garden centre to evoke excitement.
  • Teaming up with the local council and mayor to get the community on side with the new Whitakers Garden Centre, which in turn generated more positive news.
  • Handling communications around initial teething issues with the garden centre including stock management and parking queries – maintaining consumer confidence.

The Results

  • A complete transformation of public perception relating to the garden centre, going from generic negative feedback to comments of positivity and encouragement.
  • An exclusive first look in the Liverpool Echo – a key title for the client – which generated almost 400 likes and over 130 comments on Facebook alone, along with an estimated article readership of 359,000 people (source: Ace Media).
  • PR coverage of Whitakers Garden Centre’s charitable activities in the run-up to the launch in the likes of Knowsley News and St Helen’s Star – both important local titles with a combined readership of 27,850 (source: ResponseSource).
  • Nearly 200 likes and comments on a Reel created on social media to ‘launch’ the garden centre to the public – an engagement level around 300% higher than posts prior to Source working with the business.
  • Unwavering public support for the new site from the public, local stakeholders and council members – including the Mayor of Knowsley.
  • A successful newsletter with a steady open-rate growth in the run-up to the opening of the new garden centre, with positive public feedback and responses where prompted to get involved in key decision making.

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