OUTSTANDING IN-HOUSE TEAM
Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY)
Despite budget cuts and a recruitment freeze, NICCY achieved considerable success in its mission to promote the views and rights of children across Northern Ireland. Its Make It Right campaign, around the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, was promoted in schools and helped NICCY staff talk directly to more than 20,000 children. The PR team successfully encouraged young people to challenge politicians live on radio and TV. Its achievements included securing a TV news special, when First Minister Peter Robinson was interviewed by young people.
Smarts' focus on attracting international business during the past three years has helped the agency treble its earnings from outside the UK and Ireland. Global work now accounts for more than a third of its fee income and the agency has created four new posts during the past two years, to bring its total staff to 31. The agency's pitch conversion rate of 83 per cent also impressed judges, as did its commitment to ensuring ten per cent of profits are paid out in staff bonuses. Among its global clients are the Irish whiskey brand Bushmills, Tanqueray Gin and Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky. Smarts' reputation for having a global focus also helped it win the PR account for the MTV Europe awards, which took place in Belfast in November. The judges noted that the diversity of services it offers was another factor in its recent success. Services include internal comms, CSR and digital, as well as video production.
NOT FOR PROFIT
Victim Support NI
Even though VSNI supports about 35,000 victims and witnesses of crime each year, it has struggled to engage with all communities in Northern Ireland during its 30-year history. Many nationalist communities refused the charity's help, as there was still a misconception it was part of the NI police service. Following the appointment of a comms manager in 2010, the charity set about promoting its independence and range of support for all those affected by crime, particularly to nationalist communities. Among the highlights was a feature about its services in the Andersonstown News, which has a predominantly nationalist readership.
BEST CAMPAIGN (£10,000 or under)
Weber Shandwick for JNWine.com
Weber Shandwick's work to raise the profile of County Down-based online wine merchant JNWine.com during National Wine Month in May 2011 achieved impressive results on a limited budget. Using social media, trade and consumer press and event planning, ideas from the team included an Apprentice-style search for wine industry trainees and staging two 'meet the winemakers' events. During the campaign, sales rose by 161 per cent compared with May 2010 figures. The client received more than 50 applications for its two trainee posts and 400 people attended its meet the winemakers events in Belfast and Dublin. Website traffic increased by 25 per cent during May 2011 compared with the same month in 2010.