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Working at Manchester Pride

I have been working for Mustard Media for over a month now, following the intense Juice Academy Boot Camp day in August. Mustard may be my least favourite condiment, but working with loads of festival and lifestyle clients made it my first choice of employer.

When starting at Mustard, writing weekly content for Manchester Pride became one of my main tasks. We had a detailed content plan in place of key timings such as when artist day splits would be announced, and weeks that content would focus on one aspect of the festival, such as: ‘main stage week’, ’parade week’ and ‘travel information week’.

It was announced a few weeks before the festival, that due to development it was the last year that Manchester Pride were able to use the car park for the main stage in the heart of the Gay Village. This meant a lot of content would focus on it being the last time, while also promoting the message that exciting changes will be happening.

Prior to the festival, we also created a hit-list of the key moments to cover while at the event, as well as a brief for our professional photographer and a plan of what each of us would be doing so we wouldn’t miss any of the key moments.

Social media is not just used to attract people to the event, it’s also now the first place they’re going to look to find essential information. Therefore, it was important to think in our audience’s shoes and think about what information they would need to know. In the run-up to the festival, we scheduled: set times, sitemaps and safety information to go out each morning before the festival to allow for one less thing to think about while on site.

A common misconception is that whilst an event is taking place, the marketing activity can slow down. However, on-site event marketing coverage is essential and can not only promote the event by showing all the exciting things going on during the festival, but can also aid future marketing campaigns. Often people scrolling through social media, see your event coverage and wish they were there, creating a ‘fomo’ effect (fear of missing out - for those who don’t know) prompting them to want to attend next year. Sharing memories from the previous event can trigger ’nostalgic’ feelings, promoting customers to want to attend again as well as showing other potential attendees what the festival will be like.

When we arrived on site, I met fellow Juice Academy apprentice Phoebe, from Cohort 17 who works at Manchester Pride. After picking up our wristbands, we quickly rushed over to Victoria Station. This year the theme was ‘The Circus of Acceptance’, and to symbolise the start of The Big Weekend 2018 there was a circus performance happening on the Metrolink. There were acrobats hanging from the ceiling and a ringmaster weaving in and out of taken aback passengers. As only a handful of people would be lucky enough to catch it on the tram, it was important for us to stream it on our socials including Facebook and Instagram live.

After this, we headed on-site. Due to this being the last time the main stage would be in the centre of Manchester’s Gay Village, we wanted to gather content that captured the spirit of the festival and find out what Manchester Pride means to the people that attend year after year. While it was still relatively sunny for good pictures and armed with a whiteboard, we headed onto Canal Street to ask festival-goers ’What does Manchester Pride mean to you?’. We took both professional portrait shots to be used for content for a later date and added to our Instagram story.

We headed from stage to stage capturing everything that was going on from the Bongos Bingo madness taking place in Sackville Gardens, to Jamie Bull warming up the Dance Arena. As you can imagine the internet can be sketchy at any large event but when your job depends on it, it’s can become a lot more frustrating. Being side of stage for huge music stars may feel glamorous, but this was often followed by rushing out of the festival site to find a quiet doorway in the rain to sit and get internet access to be able to post content out quickly, in order to make sure everything seems as live and ‘in the moment’ as possible.

Saturday morning means one of the most memorable parts of the Manchester Pride weekend, the Parade. The sun was making a rare appearance which was perfect to get some vox-pop interviews before the parade started with lots of colourful, rainbow covered people. As the parade started, we were in the heart of the action. We quickly assigned jobs: one of us on Facebook Live, one on Instagram Live and I was capturing Instagram Stories and content to go out on Twitter and Instagram. Walking in the parade was an amazing experience, but you can’t help feeling slightly out of place holding a smartphone while everyone else has either a professional camera or is in costume. Although my phone took lots of questionable quality pictures, this worked well for ‘live’, ‘in the moment’ style content, as it creates an authentic feel of the person behind the camera enjoying the festival.

For the final day, we swapped the whiteboards for a mic and recorded short vox-pop interviews asking people what Pride means to them, we chose one of the quieter areas of the festival and managed to generate loads of great answers of what Pride meant to lots of different people.

The evening was then full with running around on-site getting all the action including streaming Pete Tong on Facebook live, catching Disciples on the main stage before heading to help out at my other job at The Albert Hall for the Glitterbox Pride After Party (while getting an Instagram story or two!)

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