Client: Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety
PR Team: Fleishman-Hillard/in-house
Campaign: Launch of PACTS Road Traffic Law and Enforcement Report
Timescale: July 1999
Budget: pounds 1,500
PACTS, an all-party Parliamentary associate group and registered
charity, identifies and promotes research- based solutions for reducing
the number and severity of casualties in transport-related
PACTS was instrumental in the 1981 campaign to introduce compulsory use
of seat-belts for front seat car passengers. Its 1999 report, ’Road
Traffic Law and Enforcement: A Driving Force for Casualty Reduction’,
was based on wide consultation and a review of the latest information.
It was published in advance of the Government’s pledge to set a ten-year
casualty reduction target this autumn.
To obtain media coverage for the launch of the report, contribute to the
ongoing debate on how to reduce road casualties and to establish PACTS
as a leading authority on the topic and first point of contact for the
media and MPs. To use the report as a platform to raise PACTS’ profile
among key audiences and to increase membership and sponsorship
Strategy and Plan
Fleishman-Hillard decided to sell the story to a Sunday newspaper ahead
of the press conference scheduled for later in the week. The Sunday
Express was approached, as Fleishman-Hillard knew the paper was planning
a feature on John Prescott’s transport policy.
The decision to pitch the idea to a tabloid rather than a broadsheet was
made in the belief that the Sunday Express would use the more
controversial aspects of the report and create media interest early on
in the campaign.
The article, ’Prescott will slash speed limits to 20mph to save lives’,
even gave the impression that the PACTS report was a Government
Sir David Frost and John Prescott discussed the article on Breakfast
PACTS had arranged a 21 July press conference to launch the report, but
just two days beforehand, it was discovered that later on the same
morning, an aviation report would be launched by the transport
sub-committee of the House of Commons.
PACTS chief executive Robert Gifford attempted to link the two transport
issues by claiming that a person was more likely to die in a car crash
on the way to the airport than on board a plane.
An exclusive was offered to the Evening Standard, which subsequently led
on the pounds 10.5 billion per year social costs of road crashes. The
story was published in the first edition at the same time as the press
The third phase of the campaign comprised a series of press releases to
papers in ten UK regions, which included casualty facts and statistics
for these areas.
Measurement and Evaluation
The report was featured in six national newspaper articles, but was
competing for space with the aviation report.
Although the Independent tried to link the reports, the aviation issue
was covered in three paragraphs, while the PACTS report claimed only
three lines. The agency set up an interview with a PACTS spokesman on
Radio 4 Today. The Times and the Daily Mail also ran stories on the
The launch of the report contributed greatly to the transport debate
that week on a limited budget. F-H still managed to bring vital issues,
such as speeding and law enforcement, to the media’s attention. Roads
minister, Lord Whitty submitted a formal response to the report on
behalf of the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions. The
results of this will not be known for another five months.