Launching the Shard

In 2012, Cloud Media Insight was asked to provide an evaluation of media coverage from the lead up to the launch of The Shard, London’s tallest building.

3 years on from the skyscraper’s completion, we take a look back at our evaluation…


The concept of The Shard was originally created in 2000, by architect Renzo Piano and Irvine Sellar, a developer who wanted to create a striking vertical city in London and a building which the public could experience. 

Over the next 8 years they faced a number of challenges including a lengthy planning period and a global economic crash. However, following investment from the State of Qatar in 2008, construction began and in 2012 The Shard was officially opened to the public. It now boasts an impressive viewing platform, restaurants, hotel and several offices. In 2014 it announced that it had welcomed over one million visitors in its first year.

In the lead up to the official launch, there was a huge amount of press attention both in the UK and across the globe, which amounted to a readership of approximately 692 million. 

Core message impact

There were a number of core messages set out in the PR strategy for the launch of The Shard.

Through our analysis, we found that ‘The Shard is the only place you can experience the whole of London at once – the attraction should be ‘the first stop for all visitors to the city’ was the message that was most mentioned in the media. It successfully penetrated 82% of the monitored print and online media and elements such as ‘64km, 360 degree views of the city’ were also prominent.

Other core messages that were picked-up successfully in the media included reference to The Shard being ‘London’s newest landmark’, a ‘state of the art experience’ and ‘Western Europe’s tallest building’.

However, there were also core messages that received a very low volume of coverage such as ‘a premium experience, pre-booking means no queues’ and ‘visitors are drawn into the history of London’. Our report   highlighted that these messages would need to be addressed in any new PR activity.

As with most launches, there were some negative issues that arose, although these were in the minority. Most of these complaints focused around value-for-money, with concerns over ticket prices and a lack of concessions.


We found that the pre-launch/launch of The Shard was successful in penetrating the global media in 27 different countries outside of the UK. In particular, Germany and the US generated high volumes of coverage featuring The Shard in both regional and national outlets.

As expected, the key regions for the media activity in the UK were London and the South East which accounted for 39% of the total coverage. Outside of these areas coverage was more evenly distributed with Yorkshire, East and West Midlands and the North West generating between 7-8% of local press.

The majority of the coverage (68%) was observed by the B group audience profile, due to the high volume of local and regional media activity.


Overall, our analysis found that the impact across the analysed media was very positive and highlighted The Shard’s unique design qualities, viewing platform and London landscape.

However, based on the low penetration of certain core messages and a number of negative media articles and blog comments, we suggested some recommendations which included:

  • Engaging with key regional media to highlight and promote accessibility via direct travel links from target locations into the city
  • Analysing social media activity in a bid to see how opinions compare and contrast with the success of PR activity online and in traditional media
  • Benchmarking The Shard against comparable London attractions for media activity, perception and reaction (e.g. The London Eye).

Many companies and projects, such as The Shard, benefit from using media evaluation as a core part of their PR plan to track media and adjust their strategy and tactics month by month according to results. By gaining an insight into what is being said about them in traditional media and online, they are able to adapt to meet their customers’ needs and stay ahead in their marketplace.

For more information on the media analysis and evaluation services we offer, please contact us.