CAMPAIGNS: Public Sector PR - Flood Action Week brings press deluge

Client: The Environment Agency

Client: The Environment Agency

PR Team: icas public relations, in-house and Circus

Campaign: Launch of Flood Action Week (11-17 September)

Timescale: June-September

Budget: Undisclosed

Flood Action Week marked the launch of the Environment Agency's second annual flood awareness campaign, timed to coincide with the launch of new flood warning codes throughout England and Wales. These codes indicate the severity of potential flooding and are issued to the Met Office, local media and the national Floodline.

The integrated advertising, PR and direct marketing campaign, co-ordinated by Circus, featured TV commercials for the first time for the agency.

Radio adverts were also used, coupled with a maildrop to nearly one million homes and businesses.

The PR challenge was to engage the mass-market media second time around.

The icas brief was to target consumer magazines for autumn coverage and implement a national media campaign for Flood Action Week, in conjunction with Circus and the Environment Agency's in-house team.


To create media coverage for Flood Action Week, as part of a strategy to encourage the 'at risk' public to protect themselves and their property from flooding.

Strategy and Plan

Environment Agency research had identified low recognition and acceptance of flood risk among the target population. The campaign strategy was to bring the real life impact of flooding into the home, and engage people with the overall campaign message: 'Flooding. You can't prevent it. You can prepare for it'.

Long-lead magazines were targeted with information on what to do if your home is at risk from flooding. The Environment Agency's Floodline telephone number was featured in all communication, to generate public response.

To signal the immediacy of the threat and to heighten the drama of the message, the name of the campaign was changed from Flood Awareness Week (used last year) to Flood Action Week.

National press and broadcast media were targeted and the strategy was to sustain coverage beyond launch day. A series of themed flood risk stories were created for specialist correspondents including property, personal finance and environment, each with its own angle, case studies and data.

A video news release was commissioned, including expert independent comment on climate change, and drawing on personal testimony from recent flood victims.

TV gardener Charlie Dimmock was chosen to give the campaign popular appeal, citing her own experiences of living near water.

A three-page special report on flood risk was also commissioned with the Times enabling the corporate story of the Environment Agency's work to be told.

Measurement and Evaluation

Despite competing with the fuel crisis for media attention, excellent national and regional media coverage was achieved at the start of Flood Action Week. This continued through the week and went well beyond the target media. Timely downpours proved a positive opportunity to test the new warning codes and TV and radio weather partnerships provided a boost to campaign coverage.

National print coverage totalled 71 items in national, specialist and on-line media, and the Daily Telegraph nominated Flood Action Week as TV commercial 'ad of the week'. Broadcast coverage included 32 items on national TV and radio, 41 regional TV and 234 on regional radio.

Initial public feedback was excellent with 14,622 calls to Floodline (from 1-25 September).

Independent media evaluation is being conducted together with consumer research among householders to evaluate public awareness and understanding of the new warning codes.


Media coverage exceeded all expectations. The primary objective of securing coverage in tabloid media was achieved in all bar the Sun, and the secondary objective of reaching the broadsheets was fully achieved.

Coverage showed a strong focus on the 'be prepared' message and the new codes, with the Floodline number featured regularly.

Coverage continues in consumer media and 'run-ons' of the Times report will be used by the agency for general influencing.

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