CAMPAIGNS: Public Awareness - F-H puts crashes into perspective

Client: Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS)

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

with Frost.

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.

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