The Brief

Firstsite was built for the Community but had experienced negative public perception as a result of the press and local government figure heads. Firstsite needed to change the naysayers’ mind-set and showcase the breadth of art and supporting activities on offer, encouraging footfall and thus altering the negative perception held by the public. The goal was to increase footfall to reach 150,000 visitors over the year 2016-2017, which in turn, would generate income through ticket sales, events and corporate and wedding hire.

Our Approach

Zest worked alongside Firstsite to overhaul their current image to better position Firstsite as a creative hub in the heart of Colchester. Zest designed and built a bespoke, content-rich website that emulates Firstsite’s artistic influence.

Our team became an extension of the Firstsite marketing team, undertaking research to understand the audience, opportunities and challenges leading Zest to plan and book media effectively to support relevant activities. With the help of our award winning creative team we designed a new ‘What’s On Guide’ detailing Firstsite’s extensive offering, refreshing the brand image and creating synergy between the printed tool and the new website. 

Experiential tactics were employed to drive footfall to the Summer Studio activity, which included Firstsite’s presence at local outdoor festivals, supported by promotional staff who were speaking to the public about the gallery and its offering. A public relations campaign sought to tackle the negative press from local publications with Zest securing features in national art publications and the local papers. As well as changing perceptions, the press coverage Zest achieved for Firstsite helped raise awareness. The PR campaign also combined the social media strategy, which saw the Zest team create content, manage and execute across a variety of social platforms and working with Firstsite’s partners to gain greater exposure.

The Result

The new website presents the vast program that Firstsite boasts in a highly visual, accessible way. Speaking to many different audiences and cultures Zest created a site with a strong focus on a streamlined user-journey. Due to the fluid nature of its program, it was imperative for Firstsite that a bespoke content management system supported the website and could be easily used by many members of the team.

Over four months, Zest secured

  • 18 pieces of press coverage secured over four month across 14 different outlets
  • Coverage equated to an advertising value equivalency of £75,000
  • 8,000 copies of the new What’s on Guide were distributed to 159 different leisure and hospitality outlets
  • 31% increase of social media followers
  • 8% increase in new visitors to the gallery

Services Covered

  • Creative


  • Digital


  • Media


  • PR


  • Strategy


Zest Team Involved

Kirsty Budden

Kirsty Budden

Account Director

Mark Williams

Mark Williams

Senior Creative

David Gyertson

David Gyertson

Director of Digital