Forest: Timber time




Building market-wide brand loyalty and sales for the UK’s top garden timber company

The challenge

Forest Garden, the UK’s largest manufacturer of garden timber products such as fences, decking and garden buildings, was seeking specialist support to help it sustain and grow its branded ranges with garden retail buyers and consumers, in the face of increasingly active competitors from home and abroad. Forest also hoped to increase the size and value of the UK garden timber market itself, by nurturing consumer preference for, and usage of, timber products in their gardens.  There was also an ambitious programme of company investment, manufacturing streamlining and product development on the horizon, presenting opportunities and challenges that would require effective external communication.


Our approach

Working with Forest from 2003, our team began by using the company’s modest budget purely to raise its trade media profile. Drilling into the company’s seasonal and product priorities, the wider market picture and strategic strength and weaknesses, a programme was drawn up to raise Forest’s profile and perceived leadership in print titles read by garden centre managers, DIY multiple buyers, builders merchants and influencers in the timber trade. As well as gaining editorial coverage for Forest’s corporate and product news, exclusive feature opportunities and expert, educative columns ensured visibility for the company’s senior spokespeople and corporate excellence. At trade shows, we managed special media events and secured interviews leading to quality editorial coverage. Assistance with industry award entries also helped to boost profile, and key editor visits to the company’s sawmills, manufacturing facilities and product showrooms yielded regular media results.


Across the years, Forest’s PR programme grew to encompass local and national, press and digital consumer media relations; engaging garden owners with enticing information and images about just-launched ranges, outdoor entertaining tips, seasonal gift ideas and problem-solving product solutions. Hornby Whitefoot’s close editorial relationships, special themed campaigns and exceptional media content soon led to quality coverage in product reviews, make-over features, ‘how to’ photo stories, competitions and advice columns across the gamut of gardening, home and women’s interest media; whilst the weekend sections of local newspapers picked up our seasonal gardening advice. Immediate turnaround media opportunities were also fulfilled to great effect via our journalist enquiry service; and radio interviews pushed home seasonal and storm-repair advice.


As digital and social media picture also grew, Hornby Whitefoot also consulted on Facebook and Twitter programmes that the client could manage in-house, enhanced its media relations for digital optimisation, and advised on traffic-building website and YouTube content. Dozens of high profile product placements were arranged with national TV gardening and makeover shows. When occasional structural and operational changes at the company needed careful communication to both trade and the public, we managed the local and national media interest. We also helped to optimise celebrity and charity link-ups, and created reciprocal opportunities in partnership with our other, complementary clients.


The results

  • More than a decade building Forest’s brand reputation and product awareness
  • Ensuring a strong presence in both the trade and consumer media, within a limited budget (and with no display advertising programme)
  • Achieved coverage in every key national, garden and home interest title in 2015
  • Built awareness of Forest’s ground-breaking new Accessible gardening range
  • We achieved over £100k of coverage for them over the last two years