Public Sector: Agencies called in to boost science

British Science Association appoints Fishburn Hedges and GolinHarris for key project.

The British Science Association (BSA) has handed out two big science and engineering briefs, as the Government focuses on improving skills in this area of the economy.

The BSA is funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and exists to advance the public's understanding of the sciences and engineering in the UK.

The quango has appointed Fishburn Hedges to work on the National Science and Engineering Competition, which is part of the Big Bang Young Scientists and Engineers Fair. This activity will kick off the National Science and Engineering Week (12-21 March 2010), the PR for which will be handled by GolinHarris.

BSA chief executive Sir Roland Jackson explained the double appointment: 'The brief for each account has very different and specific objectives to fulfil, relating to the core audiences of each campaign. It is quite common for public and private sector bodies to work with a small roster of agencies to match the best skills for each project.'

The news comes a week after a report by the House of Commons' Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee, which concluded that the Government lacks a broad vision in its science and engineering policy.

The National Science and Engineering Competition is led by the BSA in partnership with Young Engineers.

Fishburn Hedges has been appointed for a joint PR and public affairs brief. The Fishburn Hedges team will be led by director Elizabeth Bickham and associate director Nicola Tomlinson, who was previously head of strategic comms at the National Museum of Science and Industry.

Fishburn Hedges will be targeting the mainstream media and the science and engineering community, as well as decision makers in Westminster. The agency pitched in June and will work until next April.

At the same time, GolinHarris has won the National Science and Engineering Week - the agency's first public sector brief - after a four-agency competitive pitch. Account director Donna Amato led the pitch and will lead the account. The brief will run until March 2010, when the week takes place.

The brief will focus on media relations, using high profile science ambassadors and incorporating a digital element. Amato explained the agency would be looking to develop a 'big mass-participation idea'.

Last year, the week was responsible for the Save our Bees campaign.

HOW I SEE IT - Simon Francis, Head of public sector, Band & Brown

The Government and its partners, such as the British Science Association, are rightly placing significant emphasis on ensuring more young people take science and engineering courses.

The two agencies will have plenty of visually engaging news and events to exploit, but this must be combined with effective social media that conveys the excitement of science and engineering. Ensuring all the stakeholders involved maintain a united front to the public - and that the media are not over-saturated with science news - is also vital to the success of these campaigns.

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