PRWeek UK Awards Winners 2021: City & Corporate Communications

This award went to Headland for its campaign emphasising TikTok's safety and creative opportunities.

Talking TikTok to the Heart of Culture
Talking TikTok to the Heart of Culture

Winner – 'Talking TikTok to the Heart of Culture', Headland for TikTok

Headland began working with TikTok UK in February 2020, as it was entering a period of rapid growth – one that only accelerated as the government enforced pandemic restrictions and the nation’s screen time rose. The agency realised the social network was battling three key misconceptions that threatened to hold it back: accusations of direct links to the Chinese government; the perception of it being a platform for teenagers; and the sense it was an unsafe space for users.

Research uncovered two key insights: first, that TikTok was already generating a lot of UK coverage, but that this was generally framed around US issues rather than its presence here; and that there was an emerging recognition of TikTok’s influence on the creative industries. Headland went about creating a reputation campaign putting British TikTok creators at its heart and robustly emphasising the platform's product safety efforts.

The campaign gave recognition to TikTok's top 100 British creators and worked hard to identify and amplify viral moments – who would have thought that sea shanties would be such an important part of UK culture in 2020? Headland also positioned TikTok as a place for businesses to channel creativity during lockdown and prepped spokespeople to face multiple parliamentary committees.

Coverage of TikTok in national media outlets has moved from critical articles to advice for users and showcasing its creators. The NSPCC has shifted from criticising it for a “careless approach” to young users, to welcoming its “bold” measures to protect children. The platform now has 100 million active users across Europe, with two-thirds aged over 25.

The judges said

Amazing – an exciting, energetic campaign with sound objectives and strategy. Faced a huge reputational challenge, but we all saw the complete change in public and political opinion happening before our eyes.


Highly Commended – 'Change The Weather', Engine MHP + Mischief for E.ON

Brits love to talk about the weather, and 94 per cent of E.ON’s target audience do so at least once a day – but few forecasts include discussion of air pollution. Engine MHP + Mischief persuaded 18 media outlets, included five nationals, to do just that. Surveys attest to improved perceptions of the energy supplier among both sustainability stakeholders and the wider public.

Shortlisted

'Shop Small by American Express: We're open' by American Express with Hope&Glory PR for American Express

'The Big Conversation: Helping Britain Recover' by Lloyds Banking Group

'Zeronomics: Financing the transition to a net-zero world' by Man Bites Dog for Standard Chartered

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