CAMPAIGNS: Public Affairs - Horticulture grows into a major issue

Client: Horticulture Week and other sponsors

Client: Horticulture Week and other sponsors

PR Team: Chelgate

Campaign: Creation of the All Party Parliamentary Gardening and Horticulture Group

Timescale: December 1999 - ongoing

Budget: sponsors' fund of around pounds 10,000

The horticulture industry was concerned that the troubles in British farming were going beyond overshadowing its own problems and tarnishing the brand of horticulture.

Leading industry trade title Horticulture Week linked with Chelgate's Mark Glover, who had worked in-house in horticultural PR, to bring the industry to the attention of MPs.

An all-party horticulture group was mooted, but an All Party Parliamentary Gardening Club already existed.

The club, with its membership of 145 MPs, was an ideal vehicle, but it did not reflect the industry's business focus.



Objectives

To position Horticulture Week as industry champion. To change the club's name to the All Party Parliamentary Gardening and Horticulture Group. To raise the profile of horticulture among politicians. To generate event coverage in the trade press and, if possible, the nationals.



Strategy and Plan

The campaign needed to convey that horticulture is a major industry in its own right, that it is important to have links with Government to influence policy and that the industry is worth pounds 13bn to the economy.

Chelgate started off by meeting the secretary of the All Party Gardening Club to discuss how the profile of horticulture could be raised in Parliament. The club agreed to rebrand the group with Chelgate providing administrative and PR support. As well as Horticulture Week, consumer title Amateur Gardening and industry bodies the Horticulture Trades Association and the British Association of Landscape Industries were recruited as sponsors to cover costs.

A new brand was produced for the All Party Parliamentary Gardening and Horticulture Group, and a timetable of topical events for members was drawn up. These were to provide interest for Parliamentary members while giving horticulturalists a chance to put their message across.

The meetings involved a presentation by The Sun's gardening correspondent Peter Seabrook on leylandii hedges, an organised trip to the Chelsea Flower Show; and a visit to Michael Heseltine's arboretum. The biggest event was a pre-Christmas All Party Group reception at the House of Commons, with Alan Titchmarsh and Tommy Walsh of the BBC's Ground Force as special guests.



Measurement and Evaluation

Seabrook's talk was attended by six MPs and covered in The Sun. Thirty MPs and one Peer went on the Chelsea Flower Show visit, and met horticulturists.

The visit was covered in The Sun, and The Guardian ran a two-page feature.

The coach to Heseltine's arboretum provided industry representatives with a captive audience of 15 MPs and peers.

Horticulture Week editor Pete Weston received a standing ovation at the HTA conference for his explanation of the work of the group. The magazine has since formed links with industry bodies.

The All Party Group reception on 14 November on the House of Commons Terrace was attended by 65 MPs and Peers and 100 industry figures. More members joined the group on the night and the event was publicised in The Sun and the News of the World. All events were covered in the gardening and trade press.



Results

All the campaign objectives have been met, and funding for the campaign's second year has been secured. Other potential sponsors have also approached the group.

The focus of the group has shifted from an interest in gardening to addressing issues.

Chelgate will be sharpening the group's messages now awareness of the horticulture industry has been raised.



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