In the public’s mind, Barnardo’s, the UK’s largest children’s
charity, is still often associated with orphanages and children’s homes
- even though it has not been involved in these areas for over 20 years.
Barnardo’s is a well known brand whose activities, paradoxically, were
not known well. It needed to reflect its current diverse activities
working with disadvantaged children, young people and their families, as
well as lobbying and campaigning.
Competition has increased from other charities while Barnardo’s
supporter base has aged so there was also a need to attract new sources
of income and corporate sponsorship. Banner McBride was hired as part of
an integrated WPP communications and marketing team in March.
Communicating Barnardo’s repositioning to employees and volunteers,
highlighting its diverse work and the charity’s importance for the
future of young people and society.
Volunteers and employees, who often had little contact with the charity,
needed to be informed and consulted on why a changing emphasis and heavy
spending on marketing and communications were needed.
Key messages to convey the diversity of Barnardos’ workwere developed,
along with tone and style guidelines to ensure consistency between
internal and external communications. New media solutions to
communicating these messages are being developed, including a new
newsletter, a video magazine programme on cassette, an audiotape and a
voluntary communicator network.
Extensive use will also be made of e-mail and an intranet pilot is
A series of nine one-day communication events called B Live! were held
in June and July for employees and volunteers across the UK to explain
the new marketing and communications strategy. Internal stakeholders
were also involved in the compilation of a campaign report, ’Today and
Tomorrow: investing in our children’ launched in October and in a new
advertising campaign at the beginning of November, both supported by
Cable and Wireless Communications.
Barnardo’s new range of literature, press packs and advertising present
an integrated picture of its work with young people all linked with the
theme of the importance for the future of investing in their early
The campaign report garnered widespread national and regional print and
broadcast coverage. Feedback forms from B Live! indicate that 82 per
cent of participants felt that it helped them to feel more in touch with
One member of staff commented: ’I was impressed that Barnardo’s cares
enough about its staff to put this event on and make them feel a sense
of unity with the organisation as a whole.’
The integrated, consultative approach is succeeding in unifying
Barnardo’s fragmented volunteer and employee base which often had little
contact with the central organisation. The relaunch has been used
effectively to create a unity out of the diversity of Barnardo’s
operations. Internal communications are now more closely linked to the
organisation’s strategy and aligned with external communications and
Launching its campaign report with the theme, ’A Small Part to Play’,
the charity was able to show how failure to invest in children is a
false economy since it creates more serious problems later. This
positioning, supported by national advertising, should give a greater
urgency to the charity’s fundraising appeals.
Campaign: Repositioning Barnardo’s
PR Team: Banner McBride, Ogilvy and Mather and in-house team
Timescale: March 1997 to 2000