Client: Disability Rights Commission
PR Team: PR21
Campaign: Launch of Talk
Timescale: September 2000 - February 2001
The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) is an independent umbrella body
set up by the Government in April 2000 to eliminate discrimination and
to secure equal opportunities.
PR21 was appointed last summer to promote the DRC and to encourage
businesses and public organisations to go beyond the statutory
requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act.
To raise awareness of discrimination against the disabled and to
position the DRC with key opinion-formers and to entice co-operation
This led to the upgrading of a promotional video to the making of a
short film (ten minutes), called Talk, which was part of the wider DRC
campaign called 'Actions Speak Louder Than Words'. This would fully
launch the DRC to a wide audience.
Strategy and Plan
Using Furner Communications as a communications intermediary with the
DRC, PR21 drove the strategic direction of the campaign and organised
the logistics (e.g. media relations) for Talk's debuts in London,
Edinburgh and Cardiff.
Seeking to avoid the often prosaic approach to similar 'charity'
releases, all parties worked alongside a film production company, Winkle
Films, to ensure that Talk was both visually striking and to add a
It was (successfully) anticipated that this approach would take the
DRC's campaign from social policy pages into 'mainstream' coverage.
The DRC, PR21 and Winkle Films developed the script and chose to cast
Jonathan Kerrigan, from the BBC's Casualty, into Talk's lead role.
The making of the film - which portrayed a society where able-bodied
people are a pitied minority and disabled people live full and active
lives - provided the basis of advance media coverage.
Talk was shown to film critics, as well as social policy journalists, at
Channel 4's in-house cinema. The premiere for business leaders and
government figures was hosted in December at Lancaster House by Prime
Minister Tony Blair.
Education secretary David Blunkett, London mayor Ken Livingstone and
many business leaders also attended.
After the London debut, PR21 sought to maintain media interest in the
campaign, adding different 'spins' for the media and opinion-formers in
Scotland and Wales. The latter events were attended by each country's
Measurement and Evaluation
Pre-launch coverage featured in the TV Times, Time Out, London Tonight
and on a business news bulletin Radio 5 Live. GMTV ran clips of Talk, an
interview with Kerrigan and linked its website to that of the DRC. The
number of website hits rose significantly.
Thirty major businesses and other organisations have expressed a desire
to use Talk and associated material to enhance their disability
The relatively novel route down which PR21 took the DRC's first major
promotional initiative - primarily the short film concept - was key to
this successful campaign. It brought disability issues out of social
policy media and into the realm of business journalists.
Talk has therefore had an extended 'shelf-life', with a screening on
Channel 4 last Tuesday night and a deal secured whereby the British Film
Institute will promote the film - and thus disability issues - in