Campaign: Greenwich boosts local education image - Public Sector PR

Campaign: Greenwich First

Client: Greenwich Council

PR team: In-house

Timescale: June 2003-June 2005

Budget: £100,000

In 2003, Greenwich Local Education Authority was ranked sixth from bottom of the national league table. When the council looked into the reasons for the poor performance, it found that a significant number of talented children had moved from local primary schools to secondary schools outside the borough. The council felt this was having a negative impact on its GCSE results, so it launched a campaign, Greenwich First, to encourage residents to send their children to local schools. Objectives

To get 400 extra local children to have a Greenwich secondary school as their parents' first choice over the two years of the campaign. To encourage children to perform to the best of their abilities, to strengthen communications with education staff and celebrate Greenwich LEA's achievements.

Strategy and Plan

To establish the reasons why parents chose not to send their children to local schools and to discover how local education standards could be improved, the in-house press team set up focus groups consisting of local school children and parents, not all of which had children at local schools.

Through discussions with the various groups, the team realised that there was a perception among parents in the borough that a Greenwich secondary education did not necessarily translate into good exam results.

The team also held monthly consultations with local secondary school heads to ensure they fully supported the campaign and could get their staff onboard.

The first stage of the campaign was to raise awareness about Greenwich's secondary schools. To grab the attention of children and the press, a CD-Rom highlighting the benefits of Greenwich schools was made. There was also a photocall with pupils and players from local football team Charlton Athletic wearing Charlton shirts with 'Greenwich 1' across the back. The CD-Rom was then sent out to the press and handed out in schools.

The team approached a number of high-fliers who had gone to local schools to endorse the campaign and give talks promoting Greenwich education.

Celebrities, such as football brothers Rio and Anton Ferdinand, and BBC London newsreader Asad Ahmed, were photographed next to posters of themselves publicising the campaign.

Measurement and Evaluation

Every local newspaper covered the story, generating about 250 articles, and 50 pieces appeared on local radio stations Time FM and Fusions. Trade press coverage included the London Bulletin and Local Government First.

Nationally, The Times Educational Supplement and BBC News online ran articles on the campaign.

Results

An extra 200 local students chose a Greenwich secondary school as their first choice for the current academic year. An Association of London Government survey of Greenwich residents revealed that 27 per cent were pleased with Greenwich secondary schools, an improvement of four per cent on last year. The schools are now ranked the ninth most improved in the country.

Eighty-one per cent of 329 teachers in Greenwich who were surveyed by the council said they felt better informed compared to the year before, and 85 per cent said they felt that promotion of Greenwich schools had improved. The campaign website has had around 11,000 visits to date, and 5,000 more CD-Roms are being produced to meet demand.

'The photograph of celebrity former students was so original we put it on the front page,' says South London Press Greenwich reporter Mandy Little.

'The celebrity angle was a good news hook,' adds News Shopper chief reporter Adrian Kwintner.

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