PRWeek Awards 2011: Public Sector

On 30 July 2010, Transport for London (TFL) planned to launch the first new public transport scheme in London for 20 years. Barclays Cycle Hire would be the first public bike sharing scheme in the UK, with 5,000 bikes and 366 docking stations around the capital.

Public Sector Award winner: Transport for London ‘Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme’
Public Sector Award winner: Transport for London ‘Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme’

In the run-up to the launch, TFL's PR team needed to encourage the public to, literally, get on their bikes, and incorporate cycling into their daily journeys. It also had to communicate the intricacies of registration and using the scheme. The challenge was to get 75 per cent awareness of the scheme post-launch and 150,000 members by July 2011.


This campaign shattered all KPOs and delivered a campaign that sets the benchmark for similar projects

Miles Celic, director of group public affairs and policy, Prudential

Working with the Mayor of London's press office, the team secured prototypes of the bikes for more than 100 journalists and bloggers to review, building third party approval and chatter. The bikes were displayed at the Hay Festival and the Visit Britain tourist centre, and used during an MP bike ride.

The PR team arranged 45 roadshows that delivered training and safety messages. Tailored stories were pitched into long-lead consumer media, in-flight and leisure media. TFL partnered with Quebec Tourism to arrange a UK media visit to see the bikes come off the production line and try Montreal's scheme, on which the London one is modelled.

More than 100 national and international media attended the launch event at a docking station against an iconic London backdrop. The media were offered photo and filming opportunities, and interviews with mayor Boris Johnson, TFL spokespeople and advocates.

The campaign exceeded all targets. It generated more than 1,200 print and online articles, with 90 per cent of the coverage positive or balanced. According to Synovate tracking, awareness rose from 37 per cent in March 2010 to 82 per cent post-launch. By February 2011, the scheme had 110,000 members and more than 2.7 million journeys had been taken. Six in ten trips replaced a public transport trip. According to an Ipsos Mori survey, 80 per cent of respondents agreed the scheme had helped them cycle more and 95 per cent of respondents said it made a positive contribution to London.

The Awards 2011 book will be available in this week's issue of PRWeek

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