IN-HOUSE SURVEY: The Ministry of Sound has expanded into publishing, recording and radio shows

- Predictions for the Cricket World Cup, Hurricane Mitch in the Caribbean, avalanches in Europe and Christmas storms were just some of the weather-related issues management facing the Met Office.

- Predictions for the Cricket World Cup, Hurricane Mitch in the

Caribbean, avalanches in Europe and Christmas storms were just some of

the weather-related issues management facing the Met Office.



- The Weir Group’s PR event of the year was the acquisition of

Australian engineering firm Warman for pounds 195 million in July.

Institutional investors, analysts, shareholders and employees were all

kept informed via presentations and information packs.



THE MET OFFICE



The Met Office press team is based in Bracknell and led by senior press

officer Andy Yeatman. All four team members have a meteorological,

rather than a PR background.



The Government agency is also a commercial organisation which provides

3,000 tailored forecasts and briefings to customers every day in the

fields of defence, aviation, energy supply, retail and the media.



The press team concentrates on promoting the core Met Office services,

but works with Prowse and Company in Leatherhead on more proactive PR

campaigns.



Recent promotional campaigns include the installation of super computer

Cray T3E, and work into more accurate forecasts. Yeatman says: ’We

continually monitor the accuracy of our public weather forecasts. We get

about 86 per cent, or six out of seven forecasts for the next day,

correct. A recent survey showed that eight out of ten people are

satisfied with our forecasts on BBC television and Radio 4.’



LONDON FIRST



’We’re not making widgets and we haven’t got a consumer brand. It does

make the job harder - we’re dealing in influence and pressure and

mobilising business people,’ says London First communications director

Patrick Kerr of the task he and his four team members perform on an

annual budget of pounds 65,000.



London First was set up seven years ago to bring the voice of business

to bear on London issues, and media relations and lobbying are integral

to that process.



London First has been lobbying for an elected governor of the capital

since 1996, and Kerr’s team has spent much of this year moving the

London government debate forward. This has included producing a

manifesto of business-friendly policies against which the mayoral

candidates’ own manifestos will be judged. The manifesto has already

gained coverage in the media, and will be launched during next month’s

party conference season.



Kerr has ended the summer on a high note: organising London First’s

annual general meeting. ’We got a front page photo story in the Times

business section the following day and widespread coverage in the East

London local media. It was one of our most successful events and the

sponsors, Canary Wharf group, were delighted with it.’



MENINGITIS RESEARCH FOUNDATION



The Meningitis Research Foundation, based outside of Bristol, is a

charity dedicated to raising awareness of the meningococcal disease

(meningitis and septicaemia). Driving this process are Julia Warren,

head of PR, marketing officer Janette Murray, and PR assistant Ceri

Griffiths.



All the foundation’s PR work is done in house.



Meningitis dominated the headlines earlier this year following outbreaks

in South Wales, Yorkshire and Cheshire. The team coped with more than 50

media calls a day and live TV interviews by working 20-hour shifts.



The department’s work falls into three parts - organising the annual

autumn/winter awareness campaign, ad hoc appeals and publicity, and

media relations during outbreaks. Recent campaigns include ’Get it

Sussed’, targeting young adults, February’s announcement of a

groundbreaking 30-minute test to identity meningitis strains, and

March’s ’Be Free’ Appeal, aimed at publicising B-strain Meningitis and

launched by Spice Girl Victoria Adams.



The announcement in July of a new C strain vaccine was followed by the

Government’s decision to innoculate children and students against the

strain. Warren says: ’PR is vital for putting across messages. Even with

negative publicity, at least we get our Freefone Helpline number

across.’



WEIR GROUP



Glasgow-based industrial Weir Group has 80 plants worldwide with

specialised pumping equipment accounting for 60 per cent of business.PR

manager Emrys Inker says its target audiences are shareholders and

industrial markets, such as power stations and water treatment works.

Subsidiaries around the world have their own publicity machines, but

Inker checks all releases to ensure continuity.



Stocks in engineering have suffered from fears of an Asian meltdown and

a strong pound. In March 1998, Weir Group announced record results, but

watched its share price tumble from a high of 314p to 160p in just three

months. As a result, a new PR strategy was implemented, and financial PR

agency Maitland Consultancy was appointed last September to provide

daily City representation.



’Our long-term strategy is to be proactive instead of reactive. We have

started a programme of education to London-based financial media and

analysts explaining that although there is a general downturn in the

sector, Weir is a special case,’ says Inker.



THE MINISTRY OF SOUND



The Ministry of Sound started out as underground dance club in London’s

Elephant and Castle eight years ago. It has since expanded into related

fields of youth entertainment. The organisation now runs Europe’s

largest independent record label, organises special dance events from

Ibiza to China, opened its first bar in Birmingham, publishes its own

magazine and syndicates its radio shows across 25 countries.



PR executive Rhiannon Sheehy works alone, reporting to marketing

director Mark Rodol. Freud Communic-ations was responsible for PR until

it was brought in-house in 1997. The company no longer works with any

mainstream agencies, but does work with several small music PR agencies.

Sheehy’s responsibilities include promoting the club, DJs, tours,

special events, bars and the company’s corporate image. ’My aim is to

promote all Ministry of Sound products in the media in a positive way

and protect our image.



We are in delicate position because we are a youth brand with a lot of

credibility, but we are also involved in money making projects. It’s all

about finding the balance between the credible and the corporate,’ she

says.



The Ministry of Sound has a dedicated stunt marketing department, called

the Creative Forum. Sheehy says activities include projecting the

company logo on to the Millennium Dome and Battersea Power Station, but

a similar attempt on Buckingham Palace was scuppered.



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