PRWEEK AWARDS 2003: Specialist & Technique - The Ellwood & Ellwood Award - Public Affairs

WINNER - IRAQI NATIONAL CONGRESS MEDIA OPERATIONS - Iraqi National Congress; Burson-Marsteller

Based in London, the Iraqi National Congress (INC) served as the primary coalition of Iraqi dissidents, opponents and exiles dedicated to liberating Iraq before the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

It was also one of five organisations that made up the Iraqi opposition, which positioned itself as the only plausible form of government in the post-Saddam era.

In the run-up to the Iraqi war, INC asked its retained agency, Burson-Marsteller, to work with the Iraqi opposition to ensure its views were heard and build its profile with key political decision makers in the US, Europe and the Middle East.

Of particular importance was positioning INC founder Dr Ahmad Chalabi and other Iraqi opposition spokespeople as authoritative political leaders.

With teams working in Washington, New York, London and Europe, B-M compiled intelligence reports, defector briefings, conferences and seminars on the transition of Iraqi society post-Saddam.

The PR team also ran a contact-building programme, focusing on the European Union, Downing Street, the Foreign Office and MPs in the UK, matched to a US programme aimed at the White House, the Senate, Congress and the Pentagon.

After announcing the first conference uniting exiled factions opposed to Saddam's regime, in London in December 2002, B-M was instrumental in breaking news on key developments in the Iraqi war. Stories included the election of the Iraqi opposition leadership in Salahuddin in February and the arrival of Dr Chalabi in Baghdad in April.

INC and Iraqi opposition views and spokespeople were widely reported in the media, including profiles of Dr Chalabi on CNN's 60 Minutes, BBC's Panorama and Channel 4's Dispatches.

Dr Chalabi and the other members of the seven-strong Iraqi opposition leadership were successfully positioned as authoritative political leaders.

As the largest component of the Iraqi opposition, the INC is now preparing to take over the role of interim authority in Iraq.

COMMENDED - SAVE OUR SAVINGS; ASSOCIATION OF FRIENDLY SOCIETIES

Citigate Public Affairs Citigate Public Affairs' campaign set Treasury officials against Inland Revenue colleagues to highlight the plight of the Association of Friendly Societies (AFS).

The Inland Revenue revealed before the Budget that the Government intended to close a tax loophole for high earners by abolishing the qualifying policy regime signifying the end of the Tax Exempt Savings Product (TESP), the main savings product of many friendly societies. This would put 25 members of the AFS at risk of collapse.

The campaign explained to MPs, the Treasury and the Inland Revenue the role of friendly societies, highlighting the threat the proposed change posed to the policy of promoting a savings culture.

An Early Day Motion in the House of Commons was tabled and gained the backing of 78 MPs within eight weeks.

On 9 April this year, Chancellor Gordon Brown made no mention of the qualifying regime in his Budget statement.

FINALISTS

The Beach at Carlyon Bay

The Ampersand Group

Band & Brown Communications

Prostate Cancer Charter for Action

GUS Charitable Trust

AS Biss & Co, Harrison Cowley

Viable Future Campaign

Scottish Pharmaceutical General Council

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