PRWEEK AWARDS 2003: Corporate & Public - The Government News Network Award - Public Sector


Two years ago, many of Brighton & Hove's residents were deeply dissatisfied with the local council's performance when it came to its refuse collection and street-cleaning service.

When the service was brought back in-house, it was decided communications was one of the key ways to improve and regain the public's failing confidence.

A new strategy was launched to help portray a fresh visual identity, rebuild staff morale and public confidence, and make sure those homes that faced a new refuse collection day were informed well in advance.

A people-based staff newsletter was launched to help rebuild morale.

The communications team came up with 'Cityclean' - a visual motto to be used on vehicles, uniforms and publicity materials.

A major publicity campaign for the new refuse collection day - Make My Day - was launched in July 2002, using news releases and cards personally addressed to every resident. The campaign used the council's own staff in film-style, witty imagery, mainly influenced by Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry movies.

Backed by advertising, the campaign aimed to ensure every resident knew their new collection day. The team worked from the electoral register to build names and addresses, then linked with a local digital printer and the Post Office to ensure all 120,000 households received an individually addressed card with their collection day on it. This was reproduced on the council's website.

Only a small percentage of residents were missed - something the council admits is to be expected when the entire population of a city is the target for a publicity campaign - but otherwise the results were excellent.

The council followed up households that had not had their refuse collected with an 'Oops' card, apologising for the error.

Surveys and focus groups with representatives from the Citizens' Panel six months later showed a clear improvement in public perception of the service.


Navigator PR and Marketing Communications

On 23 May 2003, walkers were able to traverse the entire length of Hadrian's Wall using an 84-mile unbroken path for the first time since the Roman era.

A 12-month PR programme was arranged to culminate in three launch-day events, focusing on building media anticipation, and cultivating support from local residents and partner organisations.

A helicopter was hired to make a two-hour, broadcast-quality film of the landmark to send to broadcasters. In January, the sell-in began with a press release sent to national media and the travel trade press, which began arranging visits to the trail.

Launch publicity generated 300 press articles, while broadcast coverage reached eight million viewers.

An informal survey showed 90 per cent of people questioned a week after launch were aware the trail was open.

About 700 people walked the whole length of the Trail in the four weeks after opening, contributing more than £100,000 to the local economy.


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