Campaigns case study: All aboard in aid of tax justice

For 53 days, Christian Aid drove a branded double-decker bus around the UK to raise awareness of its Tax Justice campaign to highlight the responsibility multinational firms have to pay their fair share of tax.

All aboard: Christian Aid campaigners in Oxford
All aboard: Christian Aid campaigners in Oxford

Campaign  Tax Justice Bus Tour
Client         Christian Aid
PR team     In-house
Timescale   August-October 2012
Budget       £3,000

 

Objectives

  • To generate regional media coverage of Christian Aid's Tax Justice campaign
  • To engage high-profile individuals in the campaign, in particular MPs.

Strategy and plan

Before the Tax Justice Bus Tour launch, Christian Aid commissioned a ComRes survey on public attitudes to tax avoidance. The results, which revealed widespread disapproval of the practice, were used for the launch press release. The statistics were also used to brief MPs and members of the public during the tour.

The bus, which had campaign team members as well as a press team on board, launched on 24 August at arts, faith and justice festival Greenbelt, which was held at Cheltenham racecourse.

The press office arranged for the BBC to pre-record an interview at Greenbelt, which was distributed to local BBC stations.

Interviews with Christian Aid partners were arranged with religious press and a blog was written for The Huffington Post by a Zambian partner working on tax.

The bus then travelled around 109 cities and towns across the UK, touring in partnership with Church Action on Poverty, which focused on the impact tax minimisation is having on people in the UK. In addition, the team arranged for partners from Zambia, Guatemala, Kenya and the Philippines to be aboard the bus to speak to members of the public and take part in media interviews.

A regional Tax Bus template press release, a media question and answer session, biographies of Christian Aid partners and a giant bus ticket prop were circulated by the central press office to regional press teams located in 15 UK offices.

Those staff then worked with the local campaign organisers to set up photo-calls and pitch spokespeople to local and regional media.

At each stop, MPs, church leaders, campaigners and members of the public were invited to board the bus and learn about tax minimisation. Everyone who boarded was encouraged to sign a petition to David Cameron, asking him to take action. Social media supported and raised awareness of the campaign through Twitter and Facebook updates, while a press release was sent out to mark the moment the petition was handed to Number 10.

Measurement and evaluation

There were 492 pieces of national and regional print, broadcast and online coverage, exceeding the target of 130. National coverage included The Guardian, Independent.co.uk, Radio 5 Live and The Observer. Thirty-one regional BBC stations featured the tax bus. Eighty-seven per cent of the coverage carried at least one key message and 48 per cent included a call to action.

Results

Fifty-five MPs visited the bus, including Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls. In total, 10,000 petition signatures were delivered to Cameron.

 

Second Opinion

Anne Clarke, board director, Consolidated PR

Roadshows or tours focusing on a specific issue create a sense of momentum. The Christian Aid Tax Justice Tour was impressive. It was cleverly constructed, achieving strong results for very little spend.

The experienced team had clearly done its groundwork ahead of the tour to maximise stakeholder, public and political outreach.

Human behaviour means it is not easy to drive engagement on an issue that affects other countries when the home economy is depressed and people are struggling. So, perhaps the campaign needed an additional kick of talkability.

The media coverage, while strong, did not reach farther than outlets that might have a natural interest in the topic and missed the popular press such as The Sun.

Social media were baked into the campaign, which was great, but do not seem to have been evaluated. Setting up monitoring with a tool such as Brandwatch would have evaluated the social media aspect to the campaign and helped with planning for Christian Aid's next campaign.

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