Voluntary Sector: Public rallies to help preserve hedgehogs

Britain's hedgehog population has fallen by 25 per cent during the past decade. Hedgehog Street is a joint initiative by The People's Trust for Endangered Species and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society to safeguard the future of this iconic species. As part of a three-year initiative, a campaign called Hedgehog Street encouraged the public to engage in action at neighbourhood level.

Helping hedgehogs: Coverage given on BBC Springwatch
Helping hedgehogs: Coverage given on BBC Springwatch

Campaign: Hedgehog Street
Client: The People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) and the British
Hedgehog Preservation Society (BHPS)
PR team: Firebird Public Relations
Timescale: June 2011-June 2012
Budget: £6,000

 

Objectives

  •  To raise awareness of the decline of hedgehogs and the need to address this
  •  To build a strong brand identity for Hedgehog Street
  •  To drive traffic to the dedicated website
  •  To enlist 5,000 supporters by encouraging people to register as 'Hedgehog Champions' and work with neighbours to create more hedgehog-friendly gardens.

Strategy and plan

With a pilot campaign already launched and 16 Hedgehog Champions recruited, a media alert was sent out announcing the campaign and the media opportunities around it to environment/science correspondents on national and regional print and broadcast outlets.

Long-lead conservation, consumer and leisure press were also targeted with tailored media alerts, such as a case study of a female champion aimed at women's press and hedgehog-friendly gardening tips for gardening media.

Firebird negotiated a feature to appear on the first seasonal episode of BBC Springwatch, to coincide with the public launch of Hedgehog Street in June 2011.

On the digital side, a dedicated website with free downloadable resource packs, hedgehog-friendly gardening tips, an online discussion forum and photo galleries all went live at the time of the launch.

These, and the charities' Facebook accounts, were updated throughout the year with images from the campaign, while Twitter feeds were also kept active.

Since the launch, Firebird has continued to secure coverage, including TV features on the BBC's The One Show and Blue Peter. The agency was responsible for setting up shoot locations, briefings and recruiting local children for the filming.

Measurement and evaluation

The campaign achieved media coverage in print, broadcast and online, with more than 200 items to date, including in the Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, Country Life, Waitrose Weekend, Garden News, BBC Wildlife, WeightWatchers magazine and National Geographic's Kids magazine, as well as a 30-minute episode on BBC Radio 4's Nature. There were 21 individual radio interviews on launch day and 21,928 unique visits to hedgehogstreet.org.

Results

More than 22,000 Hedgehog Champions - quadruple the original target - have registered, with numbers still growing. There are now 2,660 new hibernation sites, 5,064 natural feeding areas, 3,404 hazards removed and 4,823 linked gardens - where hedgehogs can move freely between neighbouring gardens - due to volunteer action.

SECOND OPINION

SARAH MILLER, HEAD OF PRESS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS, THE CHARITY COMMISSION

This was a great example of what can be achieved when charities work in collaboration to achieve a shared aim, with credit going to both organisations for seeing the benefits.

The beauty of this campaign was the clear message and call to action, accompanied by a userfriendly and attractive website full of useful resources and news.

The BBC Springwatch feature was a coup, as was recognising this was a long-term project that could build momentum after launch, leading to the high numbers of champions signed up.

The coverage was impressive. For me, it was the evidenced behavioural change through people getting involved, creating additional habitats and feeding areas, that was most impressive.

The challenge will be to maintain public interest, which no doubt lies in how you measure long-term success, perhaps through increased sightings or actual hedgehog numbers to show people their efforts are working. A well-thought-through campaign that, hopefully, will have a lasting effect.

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