At last Friday's third Clarion Awards, PR practitioners were recognised for their contribution to the advancement of CSR campaigning. And the winning campaigns were lauded as much for their wide stakeholder reach as they were for their generation of headlines.
Wayne Drew, CEO of the International Visual Communications Association - the organiser of the awards - tells PRWeek: ‘This year's winning campaigns celebrated the promotion of social and environmental sustainability. But our activity in this area is still work in progress because the comms industry cannot rest on its laurels.'
Drew says he wants to see a ‘greening' of communications, with integrity and personal responsibility the dominant strategies. He insists that such an approach will yield greater respect from consumers for the organisations behind CSR campaigns.
‘Globally, communicators could be accused of pollution at a devastating level - a pollution that consists of ignoring or trivialising important issues, or promoting mediocrity and unsustainable values,' he explains.
‘The next, most effective generation of PROs will be those who see themselves as citizens within society rather than patrician commentators.'
PRWeek focuses on four of this year's Clarion winners:
CATEGORY: STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS
Campaign Get Safe Online
Every month nearly six billion ‘phishing' emails arrive in UK inboxes. Apparently sent from legitimate sources, they try and dupe consumers into revealing their financial details. So great is the problem of online crime - which includes the practice of ‘keylogging' (obtaining password data) - that a quarter of UK adults have had their identity stolen, or know someone who has. Fraudsters netted £1.3bn in 2005 alone, according to a report from consumer watchdog Which?
To help the public avoid becoming victims of internet crime, the government, the National Hi Tech Crime Unit (now called the Serious Organised Crime Agency) and nine major technology companies joined forces to back a unique project: Get Safe Online.
We wanted to educate computer users, address their fears and show them they're not alone, while underlining the fact that protection is quick, easy and doesn't have to cost a lot of money,' says Get Safe Online managing director Tony Neate.
To position the partnership as an authoritative source of internet safety advice, as well as launch the Get Safe Online website, Edelman developed a promotional programme that was predominantly PR-led. Last October, this focused on a ‘state of the internet nation' document, based on specially commissioned research that uncovered public attitudes towards online crime and the knowledge gap that exists around prevention.
This information was tailored for business and technology print titles, but to reach a mass consumer audience, the team focused on TV and radio coverage via a case study of a phishing victim. Edelman developed a video message of endorsement from Tony Blair, and offered for interview spokespeople including then minister for e-government John Hutton, and National Hi Tech Crime Unit head Sharon Lemmon.
However, to give the campaign a public face and ensure that messages were delivered in an accessible way, the team also secured the services of TV presenter Richard Hammond - currently recovering from a high-speed accident while filming for Top Gear. He was picked for the campaign as he had recently presented BBC1 consumer affairs series Should I Worry About...?.
Regional reach was achieved with a fleet of ten Get Safe Online Minis, which acted as mobile advice centres staffed with internet experts. This two-week tour of 12 UK cities was supported by a series of radio interviews with Hammond and Lemmon, while a week-long competition ran in various Metro editions.
In its first week, the website attracted 114,000 visitors, while the Get Safe Online roadshow provided technical advice to 60,000 people.
‘Central to the campaign's success was asking people to take responsibility for their online security,' says Get Safe Online PR manager Lucy Millington. ‘The campaign delivered this message in exactly the right tone and manner and to the right audiences, and there has been behavioural change.'
Indeed, in research 62 per cent of those surveyed identified and understood the key message of the campaign, while 30 per cent said they tried to keep their details safe when online.
CATEGORY: INTERACTIVE MEDIA
Campaign BT Better Business Game
Winner Futerra Sustainability Communications
According to the Co-operative Bank, 80 per cent of FTSE 100 companies employ a specialist corporate social responsibility (CSR) director. However, evidence suggests that employees are often neglected as an audience. A report by corporate reporting consultancy 35 Communications found that only 47 per cent of CSR projects specifically mentioned staff.
To avoid falling into this trap, BT developed its ‘Better Business Game', which challenged individual players to take on the role of their company CEO.
Through a series of multiple-choice questions, players consider the varied interests of stakeholders and the firm's performance pressures to resolve ethical business dilemmas.
‘It's designed to give employees a better understanding of what everyday decisions mean for a company such as BT, and to explain that there are no simple right or wrong answers to social, HR and environmental issues,' says BT communications manager for CSR Alison Garner.
For example, one of the game's tasks concerns staff abusing their email access. Players have three options to ponder: monitor all emails; monitor some emails according to keywords; or monitor no emails and make sure staff are properly trained.
Feedback on the game from a BT Retail call centre manager said: ‘I really enjoyed this. It was great to look at some of the challenges and appreciate the various groups that you have to influence to make your business a success. I try to run my call centre like a business in its own right, and this game has certainly made me consider my effectiveness in the wider area.'
One Clarion judge said: ‘This game cleverly brings to life the concepts of corporate social responsibility.'
Campaign Sue's Shoes for Barclays Bank
Winner The Edge
The film Sue's Shoes - the story of Barclays' business relations manager Sue Williamson, who after brain surgery was left with impaired eyesight and an inability to drive - was made to change entrenched attitudes towards disability and raise awareness of Barclays' Reasonable Adjustment Scheme for disabled staff.
The video's target audience were Barclays' 100,000-plus employees. The bank wanted to reveal to staff the commitment of their CEO, John Varley, to social inclusion in the workplace.
Showing Williamson in her rural working environment, a factor which makes visiting customers an almost impossible task for her, the film highlights the huge difference that special arrangements - such as a bespoke PC screen - have made to her working life.
In the film, Barclays even admits that in the first instance it failed to put itself ‘in Sue's shoes'.
‘Barclays was not patting itself on the back; it was saying it needed to be better at offering the flexibility to ensure that employees are treated with respect, and that they stay with the firm,' says The Edge owner/director Pete Stevenson.
The Reasonable Adjustment Scheme is currently being rolled out across the UK and, in correlation with distribution of the video, the volume of employees coming forward is increasing. Before the video was launched (July 2005) there were 13 monthly referrals; by March 2006 this had increased to 75 a month.
CATEGORY: PRINTED MATERIALS
Campaign Unseen UK: a book of photographs by the people at Royal Mail
Winner Royal Mail (in-house)
Unseen UK - a book of photographs of ordinary people snapped by postmen and women across Britain - was an unusual but highly PR-able tactic in Royal Mail's quest to raise money for Help the Hospices.
Over six weeks, 1,300 single-use cameras were mailed out to employees on request, while other staff used their own equipment. Soon, 20,000 photographs had flooded in. Documentary photographer Stephen Gill whittled the entries down to 240 images, and the book was published on 28 February, with all proceeds going to the charity.
To help drive sales, Royal Mail's external press team created a stream of local stories identifying ‘heroes' and their link with individual hospices. A copy of the book was sent to all 646 MPs in the UK, and the press team secured an eight-page colour feature in The Guardian's Weekend magazine. As well as local press, the book also appeared on the BBC and international photography website foto8.com.
Three months after launch, nearly 2,500 copies had been sold, raising £41,000 for Help the Hospices.
‘Unseen UK has been well received by the public and media, and we think people may have a slightly different perception of the Royal Mail as a result,' says Royal Mail head of commercial PR Patrick O'Neill. ‘In addition, hospices have benefited from selling copies of Unseen UK, and nationally the publicity has helped raise awareness of the charity.'