Although I’m proud to be the national president of the CIPR, my roots are in the regions, where I have spent much of my career in PR.
That is why I am particularly pleased to be able to showcase those agencies that are the ‘best of the best’ – those that have been judged to be the best of all the winners from each regional category.
I am happy to say that big-budget, glamorous campaigns characteristic of this vibrant and growing profession are no longer the exclusive domain of my London colleagues. The bulk of the CIPR’s membership is now based outside the capital and, if the quality of the work seen at the Grand Prix event is anything to go by, regional PROs have much to commend them.
Judging the entries in the Grand Prix was incredibly difficult – asked as we were to pick the cream of the crop. And, don’t forget, every Gold Award holder was already a winner.
Again, the work submitted proved that those of us who choose to make a career in the regions can produce fantastic work, delivering great results for employers and clients.
And I’m personally grateful to our title sponsor – regional development agency One NorthEast – for supporting our awards in all of the regions we have visited, not just the North-East.
President's Award: CirKle Communications
Blazing a trail for Branston pickle
Issues or Crisis Management Campaign, Thames & Chiltern
When fire raged through Branston Pickle’s Bury St Edmonds factory on 27 October 2004, retained agency CirKle Communications knew it had a tough communications job on its hands. Although no one was injured in the blaze, the factory suffered extensive damage, and almost immediately sections of the media were predicting a shortfall of the condiment brand.
With 25 per cent of owner Premier Foods’ sales drawn from the run-up to Christmas, CirKle conducted a proactive media campaign to reassure customers that availability of the pickle would not be affected.
It ensured that every request for an interview was granted with a director-level spokesperson from Premier Foods.
It also issued information updates to the media.
Results included getting spokespeople on GMTV, UKTV and Working Lunch. National press coverage was blanket, with reports in The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, among others.
The PR team also turned a bad story into a positive one after reports revealed that jars of pickle were appearing on eBay for extortionate prices. CirKle put 250 jars of its own up for auction to raise money for various charities. One, for Cancer Research UK, was eventually sold for £144.
Perhaps due to fears of shortages, sales of the pickle went up by 43 per cent in the week following the fire, and
continued strongly in the run-up to Christmas.
The rest of the Grand Prix winners
Photography, design and new media
British Gas, Thermal Imaging
Charity or non-profit campaign
Octopus, Fitness Not Fatness
Integrated PR campaign
The Publicity Bureau, Local Democracy Week
Issues or crisis management campaign
CirKle Communications, Blazing a Trail For Branston Pickle
The Bright Consultancy, Countdown to Christmas
Leapfrog, Face of Liverpool
Bradley O’Mahoney PR, Touchstone
Trade or technical campaign
Leapfrog PR, Clean Up Frying
Use of internal communications
Citigate Smarts, Harp Fit to Fight
Dixons Group, RIP VCR
Royal Mail, A British Journey
Bank of Scotland, HBOS and First-Time Buyers
Corporate and financial campaign
McCann Erickson, IBB
Public sector programme
Chelmsford Borough Council
Relationship management programme
Harrison Cowley, Land Rover Dealer
Artisan PR, Cashmere Collection for Lambs
Best Use of Media Relations
Freshwater Wales, Taking Coverage Up a Gear