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Three CIPR winning campaigns that impressed us

Three CIPR winning campaigns that impressed us
Paul Tustin Client Director PR & Comms Headshot

Written by Paul Tustin,
PR & Communications Director at Freshfield

A Freshfield team was vividly reminded recently of how powerful our PR and communications industry is when we attended the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) Pride Awards as a shortlisted agency.

We were proud to have made it through to the last five in the highly competitive Science, Technology, Education and Maths (STEM) Best Campaign category with our work in launching the Northern Robotics Network.

While we were disappointed not to win, it was satisfying to be shortlisted at an event that proves just how vibrant and talented the North West PR and communications sector is. The categories were awash with some brilliant campaigns but these three really caught our eye:

Breaking the Taboo

The Co-op’s in-house marketing team showed how even the most sensitive subjects can be marketed successfully with its creative campaign Breaking the Taboo, addressing how half of the UK has still to decide on its funeral wishes.

Objectives were to deliver a campaign that broke the taboo of talking about death, raising widespread consumer awareness of the choice in funerals via traditional and social media. It wanted to encourage people to plan their funerals, take out a funeral plan and talk about final wishes, ultimately helping to increase the number of funeral plans made.

The team commissioned expert photographer David Lake and, based on consumer and internal research, developed the concept of the destination funeral. The most popular locations included sports venues, public attractions such as Blackpool Tower and local beauty spots.

Photography was also arranged of a number of themed funerals, including one at which the funeral director dressed as Darth Vader and guests wore Hallowe’en themed clothing to the funeral.

The Co-op team engaged with national picture desks and wires to share the story and photo which led to over 100 pieces of coverage including the Press Association, The Guardian, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, The Independent, ITV, Mashable, BBC, Metro and the Sun, and Picture of the Day in the Guardian and Independent for the Hallowe’en themed funeral.

 

In measuring the campaign, PR played a role in a 25 per cent increase in funeral plans sold in 2015 in comparison to the previous year, with 259 pieces of media coverage and 53 pieces of national media coverage, surpassing all expectations and clinching a Gold in the Best use of Photography or Design at the CIPR ceremony.

Storm Desmond response

To show the diversity of skills celebrated at the awards evening, there was an award for best issues or crisis management exercise which went to the in-house team at Electricity North West for its handling of the communications challenge set by Storm Desmond in December 2015.

Following the highest level of rainfall ever recorded in the UK, Lancaster’s main electricity substation flooded, cutting power to 55,000 properties. Meanwhile, 15,000 properties spread throughout Cumbria were also without power as scores of substations were also affected.

The wider strategy here was to take a very proactive approach to stay in control of the message and the arc of the incident.

Tactics included issuing updates every two or three hours, 24-hours a day via web, media, stakeholders and social media. An incident communications room was manned 24-hours for five days, liaising closely with operational responders, while the need for photos and videos was reiterated to all internal employees.

Twenty media interviews proved to be positive in communicating the response to the crisis. Positive sentiment increased on social media by more than 90 per cent, with social media followers doubling on Facebook and Twitter during the incident, reducing the number of calls to the contact centre and giving agents more time to support vulnerable customers.

Welcoming the Chinese President

The award for best event at the awards – given to Manchester Airport for welcoming the Chinese President ­­- highlighted the range of skills required in modern communications.

In September 2015, Manchester Airport secured a route to Beijing with Hainan Airlines selecting Manchester as its first UK airport. The press office was tasked with creating a launch that would generate mass awareness and public knowledge for the new route, which made Manchester the only UK airport outside of London with a direct route to mainland China.

Learning that the following month the Chinese President would visit Manchester as part of his UK State Visit, the press office team lobbied hard to get access to the Chinese embassy to invite him to the airport to make the announcement.

In securing his visit, there was then little over a month between planning and the event itself, which involved working with airport security, Greater Manchester Police, the Met and Border Force.

It was decided to stage the event airside, which provided operational issues, having to redistribute traffic on the day to other gates and terminals to free up the space. Staging and seating accommodated guests, including more than 50 international broadcast journalists who were provided with simultaneous translation and headsets.

Outcomes included more than 6,000 pieces of coverage from the event with two billion-plus ‘opportunities to see’, with the most clicks ever recorded to the Manchester Airport website. More than 30 Chinese media attended, over 20 UK media and 100-plus stakeholders.

Due to the success of the campaign, Manchester Airport is now in discussion with other Chinese carriers to put on additional routes to Chinese cities.

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