CAMPAIGN: Media Relations - Engineering body's push warns public

Client: Institution of Civil Engineers PR Team: Kinross & Render and in-house PR Campaign: Launch of the State of the Nation report Timescale: June - July 2003 Budget: £15,000

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is one of the world's leading civil engineering bodies, with almost 200 years of history and 80,000 members. But the body felt public awareness of the ICE's work - and the work of civil engineers - was limited.

Objectives

To launch the ICE's annual State of the Nation report and gain as much media coverage as possible across national and trade media. To position the ICE as an authoritative voice, and to influence national politics.

Strategy and Plan

The State of the Nation report provided the shocking revelation that by 2020, British homes could be forced to go without heat and lighting for long stretches because a constant power supply could not be guaranteed.

This nugget of news was made the focus of a press conference on 1 July, to which consumer and trade press were invited. A teaser invitation - a candle - was sent to journalists, and the day before the event, the national papers were sent an embargoed press release detailing the report.

ICE director general Tom Faulkes spoke at the conference, and Kinross & Render arranged for Radio 4's Today programme, Sky News and ITN to interview an ICE energy expert.

Measurement and Evaluation

Channel 4 News covered the report's findings in the lunchtime and evening bulletins. The story ran in Sky bulletins throughout the day, on five News, BBC1 Breakfast BBC Radio Five Live and the BBC World Service.

Press coverage included a front-page story carried by The Guardian, plus stories in the Financial Times, The Times, The Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror and The Scotsman. Trade magazines including New Civil Engineer, Construction News and Building also ran the story.

Results

The Conservative Party drafted a statement supporting the ICE's findings on power resources, and ICE experts have since been consulted by the Government, opposition and other key influencers in the energy sector.

'We have been contacted by the Government for constructive input into improving our nation's infrastructure,' said ICE director of communications Anne Moir.

About 160 MPs attended the ICE's annual reception on the day of the press conference - triple the number that attended last year - and the new Construction Minister Nigel Griffiths asked to make a speech.

The report has also led to more than 30 questions about Britain's energy resources in parliamentary sessions.

Construction News reporter Alistair Rysner said the press conference was succinct and informative. He added: 'I feel more confident in dealing with the ICE now than I did before the press conference.'

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