Department for Transport hunts for PR agency to help boost road safety

The Department for Transport is launching a hunt for PR help on road safety as the department boosts comms spending amid rising road deaths.

Cycle leg: the first part of the campaign starts in August (Campaign for Better Transport)
Cycle leg: the first part of the campaign starts in August (Campaign for Better Transport)

The brief, which is being issued to a selection of agencies in the former COI network, includes three projects covering cyclists, motorcyclists and drink-driving as part of the Government's Think! campaign.

The number of people killed on Britain's roads rose last year for the first time since 2003 - up by three per cent to 1,901.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Transport said the briefs have been issued 'to help develop and deliver strategic and tactical communications to meet a range of road safety issues'.

The first project will involve work on a campaign about cycling safety that will last from August until September. The second, which will run over the Christmas period, will be focused on partnership work about drink-driving. The third will focus on motorcyclists and run next year.

The three briefs are believed to have been sent out through the government procurement framework.

The news comes as PRWeek can reveal, through its ongoing 'State of the Public Sector' reports series, that the department is marginally increasing its comms spending this year.

The budget for press officers will rise from 2011/12's £980,000 to £1.04m this year, although the number of comms staff will fall by four to 61.

Meanwhile, external spend on comms will also increase from just over £28,000 for COI regional news and PR in 2011/12 to £53,000 for regional news services in 2012/13.

The department did not use any agencies in 2011-12. The highest cost PR campaign of the last five years was for Cycling England, which amounted to £1.85m and took place between November 2008 and July 2010.

An agency source with an interest in the work said that the three-project brief, which requested less detail from agencies, signalled a shift to briefs that are more 'nimble, efficient and easy to respond to' in the post-COI world.

'There used to be detailed measures required that were comprehensive for every single part of a brief, but they're really cutting to the chase here,' said the source.

Click here for more on PRWeek's 'State of the Public Sector' series

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