In 2002 the Welsh Assembly produced a policy document, 'The Learning Country', which made promotion of lifelong learning a priority in the country. This is seen as especially vital in Wales as latest figures show that 19 per cent of its population have no qualifications at all, compared to 16 per cent for the rest of the UK. With the goal of boosting the number of adults who take up courses, the National Institute of Adults Continuing Education (NIACE) Dysgu Cymru, with funding from education and training body Education Learning Wales, sought to create publicity around its annual event, Adult Learners' Week (15-21 May this year) to promote the ongoing nature of learning.
To persuade more adults to take part in adult learning initiatives by driving up attendance at learning events held during the week.
Strategy and Plan
The aim was to gain coverage in the fortnight leading up to the event, with a media blitz during the week of activities itself. Running through the PR initiative by Working Word Public Relations was the theme of learning being a journey.
This included a launch event involving Welsh Assembly education minister Jane Davidson on a bicycle at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
At the launch event, several young people involved with the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme were also involved and later took part in a cycle ride to Brecon, the location due to host an awards ceremony for high achievers in adult learning.
Continuing the journey theme, Welsh poet Cyril Jones was recruited to travel from the south of Wales to the north of the country, writing a travelogue along the way.
Local media were also alerted to training events in their area. Examples included a training event on a steam train in Barry. This journey-themed scheme involved activities for children such as face painting, while parents were offered the chance to take part in lessons in subjects such as Italian.
Another key element of the campaign was to offer case studies of the awards finalists to the media with commissioned photography.
Measurement and Evaluation
Evaluation was carried out in-house by Working Word Public Relations and showed that the week of activity gained 747 press mentions, including articles in the South Wales Echo and the Western Mail.
Headlines in the Western Mail, such as 'Adult Learners' Week backs a winner' on 13 May and 'More adults make learning a journey for their lifetime' on 20 May, were typical.
Broadcast coverage included stories on HTV Wales News, Radio Pembrokeshire and Red Dragon FM. TV channel S4C also covered the award winners and BBC Radio Wales interviewed Jones.
Participation at the Learners' Week events showed an increase, with 12,000 people attending this year - 2,000 more than in 2003.
'I particularly liked the case studies as they provide something people can relate to, although I'm not so interested in ministers posing for photos,' says Western Mail education correspondent Jenny Rees.