CAMPAIGN: Survey ranks "peacefulness" of nations

At the beginning of the year, sustainability think-tank Global Peace Index (GPI) ranked 121 countries according to their "peacefulness" - the first such undertaking of its kind. Edelman was tasked with securing maximum global coverage for the launch of its first ­major survey.

Index linked: Steve Killelea at the launch event
Index linked: Steve Killelea at the launch event

Campaign: Global Peace Index launch
Client: Global Peace Index
PR team: Edelman UK (public affairs and strategic media unit)
Timescale: January to May 2007
Budget: £35,000

To deliver a high-profile media campaign in 121 countries. To encourage high-profile endorsers to support the GPI and call for an increased focus on peace and to stimulate debate around the drivers for peace.

The GPI is the brainchild of Australian philanthropist Steve Killelea. Based on research carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), it ranks 121 countries. External factors such as spending on arms are considered along with internal measures such as homicide rates and prison populations.

To maximise coverage, the GPI was launched one week before June’s G8 summit in Germany.

Edelman briefed high-profile, independent endorsers to promote understanding that peacefulness is built on complex factors and is not just a foreign-policy issue. Messages were developed to stimulate debate around the determinants for peace, rather than the ‘sexier’ angle of high-profile countries at the bottom of the index.

Press releases, endorsed with a quote from the Dalai Lama, were sent to key media in each of the 121 nations surveyed. Rankings were listed with a regional breakdown, to provoke debate between neighbouring states.

The launch was held at the Foreign Press Association in London to gain maximum access to UK-based global correspondents. Speakers included Steve Killelea and former war correspondent and former MP Martin Bell.

A pre-briefing was held two weeks before launch to enable journalists to get to grips with the complexities. In the UK, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme and The Economist were briefed under embargo, with ­non-competing exclusive interviews with Steve Killelea arranged for each.

The Sydney Morning Herald was also targeted to in order to ­maximise ­coverage in Killelea’s native Australia.

On launch day, GPI was the most ­covered story on Google, which recorded 455,000 entries within days. It generated more than 1,500 articles globally in the five days after launch.

Broadcast coverage included BBC World, BBC News 24, BBC Radio (Radio 4 and Five Live), BBC World Service (including South ­American, ­African and Asia sections) as well as CNN, Deutsche Welle, ­Al-Arabiya and One World TV. Ninety five per cent of global and 100 per cent of UK coverage was positive and on message, according to in-house evaluation.

Duncan Campbell, senior correspondent at The Guardian, said: ‘It was more complex than most surveys; a useful exercise, even if the findings – Scandinavia, peaceful; Iraq, violent – were not in themselves too surprising.’

Endorsement was secured from the Dalai Lama, Amnesty International secretary general Irene Khan, Peace Alliance chief exec Reverand Nims Obunge and FTSE’s head of responsible investment Will Outlon.

In the first three days, the index was discussed on 750 blogs, and was mentioned by the president of Botswana on the country’s government website.


Kate Steele (right) is head of corporate at MS&L: What a fantastic programme to work on – and it’s not every day you get an endorsement from the Dalai Lama. The programme virtually sells itself.

Using the lead up to the G8 as a launch platform was a smart move, although there is always a danger you will be fighting for space with other NGOs or interested parties. But the fact that the report was carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit adds weight and credibility for the media, as does the Dalai Lama quote.

Hosting a launch at the Foreign Press Association to gain attention from international journalists based in London was also an intelligent approach. Giving journalists time to digest the report was the right thing to do, although two weeks is risky, not because of a leak but because the journalists might move on to the next story.

The coverage was impressive and the names ticked all the right boxes. However, given the objective of stimulating debate around the drivers for peace, it would be good to see evidence of coverage being achieved in, say, Sudan or Iraq, as well as the usual global media brands.

I think there is a missed opportunity here, though. The ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign was a call to action for people everywhere to involve themselves in the debate, not just influencers and politicians. A mechanism to empower and measure grassroots activity on the back of the report launch and subsequent media coverage could have been very powerful.

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