Inspire North’s HQ is in Leeds. The charity provides support for those affected by domestic
abuse and mental health issues, as well as providing housing support across the North of
England. Inspire North has over 500 employees and 3,000 service users across all its functions.It
placed 29th in the Sunday Times list of ‘100 Best Not for Profit Organisations to Work For in
Mel & Alex:
Melanie Hill, founder of Gravity PR and Alex Mason, of Alex D Mason PR, have a modern
and flexible approach to how they work together. They each have their own separate clients,
along with joint ones, and they share an office in Huddersfield (along with three plants and a
sofa that had a somewhat difficult journey in the back of an estate car from their local Ikea!)
It works for them.
On March 23 rd , just hours before UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a country-
wide lockdown in response to Covid-19, Mel and Alex were approached to provide PR and
media relations support for Inspire North.
The initial requirement was to raise the profile of the vital work that the charity does, but of
immediate concern was how the coronavirus outbreak would affect Inspire North’s day to
day services, the people it helps and how PR could be used to raise awareness of this.
Having never met in person before, and observing the home-working advice to limit the
spread of the virus, Mel and Alex held a voice call with Sinead Cregan, Inspire North’s
development and innovation director.
The immediate PR and communications needs were clear – there was a huge concern that,
as lockdown approached, domestic violence incidents would rise as victims would be forced
to spend longer than ever behind doors with their abusers. From a PR perspective, the
decision was taken to push out crucial advice and information about the support available to
victims during lockdown with the aim of achieving regional and national media coverage .
Key concerns around the emerging issue of victims being locked in their homes with
perpetrators during lockdown were researched and turned into factual, succinct and hard-
hitting key messages for a ‘media pitch’ detailing bullet points of five specific concerns. The
information also included general background about Inspire North. The pitch was kept short
and succinct, getting across the main facts from which the busy media could grasp the issue
quickly as part of the evolving news agenda.
Alex and Mel then pushed this pitch to journalists and producers both regionally and
nationally, using targeted media relations to secure interview slots and opportunities for
comment for Sinead Cregan. This included maintaining a constant dialogue with journalists
and providing detailed follow-up information quickly and precisely where requested, prior to
Examples of the immediate media take-up:
02 April: Sinead Cregan interviewed live on the Jeremy Vine Show on BBC Radio 2 – circa
7 million listeners
02 April: Planned live interview with Sinead Cregan with Dermot Murnaghan on Sky News –
04 April: Sinead Cregan interviewed live on the Harriet Minter Show on Talk Radio circa
24 March (1 day into the PR contract): Interview with Sinead Cregan appears in the
Yorkshire Post online: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/health/coronavirus/leeds-charitys-
30 March: Sinead Cregan interviewed live on the Stephanie Hirst Show on BBC Radio
3 rd April: Sinead Cregan interviewed by BBC Look North, with interview broadcast on
both lunchtime and teatime bulletins
Work is ongoing to gain more momentum for this important message, including key
stakeholder endorsements – announcements to follow.
Sinead Cregan, Director of Development and Innovation at Inspire North, said:
“It has been an absolute joy working with both Alex and Mel especially as I have not done
very much media work previously. Their proactive approach to the brief meant that we were
able to get our concerns into the media really quickly and hopefully that will have made a
difference to anyone affected by domestic abuse.
“As a group we took the decision to invest in a PR company and to date the return on our
modest investment has been truly excellent. Alex and Mel have a great down to earth
approach and we have found a way of working together whilst sat in our separate homes in
the throes of the pandemic.”
These are new and testing times; organisations which already provide services for those
who need it most must get vital safety messages into the public domain professionally and
as quickly as possible.
Mel and Alex were able to use their combined 30 years plus PR experience to promote the
message quickly, succinctly and appropriately, which has already gained excellent take up
from the media in just the first two weeks of the campaign.Much more activity is planned in the coming weeks (watch this space).
Final note from Mel & Alex:
“We’re looking forward to finally being able to have a cup of tea in the same room with
Sinead and the Inspire North team when the lockdown is over. Until then, our video
conferences will continue as we work together to spread the word about Inspire North’s