PUBLIC RELATIONS AWARDS 2000: Gold - The Ketchum Award. PR Professional of the Year



Edmund King

Executive director

RAC Foundation

Edmund King took the Daily Telegraph's motoring correspondent, Andrew English, to Amsterdam, got him high on cannabis and then let him get in a car and drive around. This might strike anyone as irresponsible, but his motives were anything but - to raise awareness of an increasingly entrenched attitude in the young that, though drink-driving is wrong, drug-driving is somehow okay.

King joined the RAC as campaigns manager in 1992. Part of his remit was to ensure that the RAC got a greater voice in the media. He conducted a media audit and found that seven out of ten journalists would contact the AA over the RAC, which was thought to be too 'worthy' and not 'out there'. Within 12 months this imbalance had been remedied. As a former journalist King believes that one of the most important aspects of his job is to develop strong relationships with the media and to make himself available for them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Two years ago the RAC was demutualised and King was concerned that the members of the club were in danger of losing their campaigning voice as a result. He ensured that the RAC Foundation was endowed with enough money to enable it to retain its independence and to continue to campaign in adherence to the club's 100-year-old constitution.

The foundation is represented in the North and Scotland by the Glasgow office, while King and his two colleagues manage the rest of the country.

Though their titles differ, King stresses that his staff share each other's responsibilities and are a close-knit unit. So King finds himself handling media relations as well as public affairs.

Examples of work that King has done highlight his imaginative, and sometimes risk-taking, approach to PR. Filming a VNR, he haredaround London in an old banger to highlight the dangers of joyriding. And he used Reeves and Mortimer for a campaign targeting young drivers. Not coming across as too worthy or preachy is an integral part of King's philosophy, and undoubtedly a factor in the success of his campaigning.

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