Campaigns: Public Sector PR - pounds 34m funds (re)generate local interest

Client: East of England Development Agency

Client: East of England Development Agency

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: Announcing the Single Regeneration Budget

Timescale: 17 July-4 August

Budget: pounds 500

The East of England Development Agency (EEDA) was recently created to drive economic regeneration in the newly-created grouping of six counties in eastern England: Bedfordshire, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk.

Among the Government-funded programmes managed by EEDA is the Single Regeneration Budget (SRB), which provides funding for local community partnerships to carry out regeneration initiatives in the most deprived areas.

On 2 August EEDA announced that pounds 34 million of SRB funding would be awarded to 20 new initiatives in the East of England over the next seven years.



Objectives

To generate maximum awareness, though the local media, of the announcement of the new funding among all the communities that would benefit. More specifically the aim was to raise awareness that SRB funding is also used to draw in large amounts of additional public, private and European funding.



Strategy and Plan

The seven-strong EEDA PR team worked closely with colleagues managing SRB funding to identify projects most likely to capture media attention.

A Government embargo meant that information about funding had to be kept confidential until a national announcement on 2 August. However, the PR team alerted local partnerships in Luton and Thetford, the two biggest beneficiaries, that there was likely to be positive news seven days before the announcement, and enlisted their help in finding interesting venues and local spokespeople for two press conferences. Similarly, the 18 other partnerships across the region were notified of probable good news two days before the announcement, so they could ensure that spokespeople would be ready.

Press information was prepared for the media in each county to ensure a strong story for regional papers. A region-wide press release was also put together for the local government and public sector press.

Regional papers, radio and TV were alerted to an important funding announcement seven days beforehand. Information was released under strict embargo to weekly newspapers the day before so they could include it in that week's edition.

The EEDA's chairman and a prominent board member were briefed to make the announcements, and two press conferences were held on 2 August. The venues selected were a disused cinema and bingo hall in a deprived area of Luton and a council estate in Thetford.



Measurement and Evaluation

Anglia TV led its lunchtime news bulletin with the funding story and included footage from the Luton and Thetford press conferences. A follow-up story was also run in the evening. BBC Look East TV included the story in bulletins.

Ten radio interviews were broadcast including BBC Radio Suffolk, Chiltern FM and Essex FM. The region's key morning paper, the Eastern Daily Press, ran a story anticipating the announcement on the morning of the press conference and followed-up next day with a full-page story.

Regional evening papers carried the announcement prominently. The story also ran in 25 other local papers.

National coverage was achieved in the specialist regeneration weekly New Start, which has a readership among the local partnerships that manage funding.



Results

EEDA is now undertaking a communications audit. Many of the news pieces carried positive comment from partners, helped by the fact that they had been prepared beforehand.

Messages about the extra money the SRB funding will draw in were particularly prominent in newspaper articles.

The communications audit shows that many key audiences are reporting that they heard about EEDA and SRB funding in the media, suggesting that the high-profile launch EEDA sought has been achieved.



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