Over 2.4 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation, 1.1 billion are without access to safe water supplies, and three million children die from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene every year, so sustainable water use and sanitation are high on the world's development agenda.
Oxford-based Mistral PR was approached by a group of global water networks to provide a comms campaign for their DFID-sponsored stand in the WaterDome, a parallel event at the recent Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development.
Mistral created an umbrella brand - Knowledge Pool - to bring together the networks, drawing on the key values of information sharing and reference to water issues.
To share the networks' knowledge with media in developing countries, especially Africa, where many of the research projects were conducted.
To push water up the agenda at the Summit. To encourage visitors to the stand, and to raise awareness of the Knowledge Pool within the Summit.
Strategy and Plan
It was important to build awareness first. A media relations campaign in early August targeted local, national and international media.
Mistral developed a good relationship with the Water Dome media centre, and placed posters throughout the area. Knowledge Pool representatives were available for daily press briefings, and held interviews each morning on the Summit radio station.
Press packs included releases and case study sheets corresponding to each of the six Water Dome themes. Media templates were issued so network members could carry out local/stakeholder PR.
Pieces from a comment wall were used in press articles and on the Knowledge Pool website.
Measurement and Evaluation
The daily press briefings attracted journalists from many African countries and France. One-to-one media interviews were secured with the World Service Network Africa, Associated Press, The Times of Zambia, The East African and Taiwan's Taipei Times. A Knowledge Pool spokesperson appeared on Down to Earth, an Earth Summit TV programme broadcast across Africa. In addition, a number of UK MPs visited the stand.
Messages reached intended audiences and raised awareness in developing countries and Europe. An estimated 15 million people would have heard about Knowledge Pool in Africa through media coverage generated at the event.
Knowledge Pool was established in the international water sector, and made a 'major impact' at the Summit according to feedback from organisers and other exhibitors. The concept is likely to feature in next year's World Water Forum in Japan.