When British Energy ran into financial difficulties and applied for state aid in 2002, staff were worried about their future. The nuclear generator decided to launch a campaign that would simultaneously raise staff morale and position the company in a positive light. It set up a staff fundraising scheme to raise money for the Royal Association for Disability And Rehabilitation (RADAR), a charity that was advising the Government on the Disability Discrimination Bill.
To bring staff together and raise £200,000 for RADAR. To involve local politicians and enhance British Energy's 'good neighbour' reputation.
Strategy and Plan
The campaign kicked off with a high-profile national launch for MPs and MSPs in London and Edinburgh in a bid to make key political and disability figures aware of the partnership. To attract interested policy makers to the launch, the in-house PR team persuaded All-Party Parliamentary Disability Group head Lord Ashley of Stoke to speak about the campaign at Westminster. The team used the opportunity to lobby local politicians for support.
Because a top priority for British Energy was to raise awareness of the campaign locally, PROs called for staff volunteers to form 'action teams' at each company site. The action teams then came up with ideas for local fundraising events, which British Energy regional PROs publicised to local and regional press.
Local stakeholders and media correspondents were invited to take part in fundraising activities that included a celebrity football match involving local media, Coronation Street stars and British Energy staff, and an expedition to climb Mont Blanc, for which staff sought sponsorship through the local press.
To ensure local media had a strong community-news hook, the PR team contacted local disability groups associated with RADAR and offered to sell-in stories about their activities. They also used these groups to give the press examples of ways in which the money raised by British Energy staff was helping the local communities.
The partnership and the fundraising events were promoted internally through management briefings and the staff intranet and publication. The team also put up an internal vacancy notice asking for staff to act as 'mentors' to disabled people and help them to build their confidence in the workplace and identify career opportunities.
Measurement and Evaluation
One hundred articles appeared across local and regional media. The campaign also received coverage in The Independent, The Guardian and the Glasgow Herald, as well as on local Scottish TV channel Thistle TV, BBC Radio Kent, Morecambe Bay Radio and BBC Online News.
To date, almost £100,000 has been raised by staff for RADAR. Around 12 MPs wrote to local disability groups to encourage their members to take part in the mentor programme, for which 25 members of staff have volunteered.
Negative national news reports about British Energy's financial problems mentioned the campaign in a positive light.
'This campaign brought a really good feel factor to our station,' says British Energy operations technician Mike Grimmitt.