CAMPAIGNS: Charities PR - Markettiers helps Victim Support PR

Victim Support is a national charity that offers practical aid to people in dealing with the police and the court system, and directs them to resources available to them.

Objectives

To skew public debate towards getting victims appropriate help. The Criminal Neglect campaign aimed to start a shift in public and government attitudes towards crime.

Although crime is high on the national agenda, the main focus of this attention is generally on catching the criminal and meting out punishment.

Victim Support's view is that more notice should be paid to the needs of the victims.

'We see crime as a social issue, not just a criminal justice one,' says head of media and PR Paul Fawcett.

Strategy and Plan

It was felt important that the campaign's messages be communicated through the media, mainly for impact, but also to generate stronger contacts for Victim Support's three-strong, fairly new, PR team.

The campaign was centred around a report by the charity that illustrated how victims of crime are neglected in public policy on housing, healthcare and finance. The study used case studies and makes recommendations for changes at government and policy-making level.

The charity used broadcast PR agency Markettiers4DC to produce A-roll footage of interviews with victims, which supported the campaign's sell-in to TV and radio.

Regional media were targeted because of their focus on local crime stories.

Victim Support installed an ISDN line so they could take part in radio interviews.

Because the charity relies on its network of 400 branches to deliver its service, it also supplied them with advance briefing materials on the report in December.

The campaign was timed to coincide with Victim SupportWeek in mid-February.

Measurement and Evaluation

Four pieces of national broadcast coverage (BBC Breakfast, Radio 5 Live, Channel 5 News and Radio 4's Today) achieved some of the highest-profile exposure for the camppaign. National coverage included The Guardian, Daily Express, and a double-page spread in the Evening Standard.

Regional media wee particularly supportive of the campaign, with 100 cuttings from local papers and a similar number of radio mentions.

Results

Although the campaign's ultimate objective of shifting public attitudes will necessitate a more long-term evaluation, initial signs are that it has at least made some impact.

Keith Bradley, Home Office minister for criminal justice, sentencing and law reform, acknowledged the need for change on the Today programme, and Victim Support has sent copies of the report to interested groups.

On a more tactical note, Victim Support's PR team now feels that it has become a source of comment on crime issues for the media.

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