Whenever I talk to people for articles, I try to meet them in Beeston, to keep things local and authentic. But with work commitments and availability, I spoke to Stuart Baird at a café near Nottingham Railway Station. He had cycled in from his home in Beeston specially to meet me, even though the weather wasn’t at its best.
I had interviewed Stuart a few years ago for the ‘I Am Beeston’ project, and we follow each other on social media. It’s how I got to know of the work he’s done in promoting Beeston and the wider NG9 area. So, I first started with getting a brief history of the company he jointly runs with Richard Baker; BakerBaird Communications.
“I first met Richard when he was the editor of the Mansfield Observer. That was back in 1993 when I was a journalist. Journalism was a stepping stone where I learned lots of valuable stuff, but quickly moved into government communications, including the merger of the Inland Revenue with Customs and Excise in 1997”.
“I later became a director of government communications in the East and West Midlands and worked on some amazing campaigns like ‘Change4Life’ and ‘Kill Your Speed’ as well as working in No10 Downing Street. Meanwhile Richard became the Business Editor for the Nottingham Evening Post”.
“After working as a freelance communications consultant for a while, Richard and myself, got together again in 2015 and formed the PR company, with the emphasis on promoting the East Midlands. The region is a poor relation for government funding, so we like to work on projects that aim to make a difference for people in this area”.
One of the big projects that Stuart worked on was the Arc Cinema development and the promotion of Beeston itself as a destination for shopping and entertainment through Broxtowe Borough Council. The area now includes The Beeston Social, Rassams Creamery and the former restaurant Ottimo.
“DoughNotts also wanted to more here, but they found the former Thornton’s shop on the High Road instead” added Stuart. There was also the ‘Lockdown Heroes’, the silver plaque art trail, which depicts local people who kept working through the pandemic. “One thing that I’d like to see happen is a study to see if footfall has improved in the area and if the tram connection has had an impact”.
Another part of Broxtowe that has been helped by Stuart is Stapleford, as the town has received £21m at part of the Government’s £3.6b Town’s Fund to improve things for the local community. Part of the money will be going towards the construction of a new leisure centre.
The company has an office in the Lace Market and employs three full time staff and nine on a regular freelance basis. They have been very successful too with 9 awards from the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) since they started eight years ago.
Besides working with Broxtowe Borough Council, the company work with Nottingham Technology Ventures, a spin off company that’s owned by the University of Nottingham. Its aim is to support inventions that post graduate students have produced, creating media coverage, and attracting further investment into the university, city and Beeston.
Last summer the company made a short video for new university students to introduce them to Beeston and what the town has to offer. Made in conjunction with Broxtowe Borough Council and the University of Nottingham, the three minute film shows a student walking from the university along Broadgate to the Square, who highlights some of the many delights that Beeston has.
In addition to communicating with the public, BakerBaird also offer media training and have taught many British diplomats across 13 countries on how to deal with press and television interviews and public presentations.
One ongoing nationwide project that the company is involved in is the ‘Our Future Health’, in association with multiple health charities and the national pharmacy partner, Boots. It’s a long term research programme to study the nation’s health with the aim of recruiting 5 million people. Registration can be done on line and medical tests are done through Boots.
Finally, Stuart mentioned that his company is hoping to offer apprenticeships in the near future. “It’s a great industry and young people should reach out to do what they want to do. When I was at school, I never in a million years thought I’d be working for the King, with Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell at No 10 and working across the world.”