Friday, 27 November 2009
I spoke about the SDLP leadership race, Máirtín commented on how the mainstream media cover Troubles-related stories, and Mick spoke about Northern Ireland being treated differently by Ofcom from other parts of the UK in terms of media funding.
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Last night I was delighted to attend the CIPR PRide Awards at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. The night was made even better when we won the Award for Public Affairs for managing last year's Energy Saving Week for the Energy Saving Trust in Northern Ireland. Below are the results from the evening.
Corporate and Business Communications
- MCE Public Relations, "Optimise your cash" roadshow with Northern Bank Communications Team
The judges were impressed with the entry’s handling of a difficult topic and one, in this economy, which would help support businesses to track cash flow in real time. The clear planning, coupled with the carefully thought out implementation, ensured that the objectives of the campaign were met. The judges were particularly impressed with the creativity of the campaign and the breadth of the tactics.
- JPR, Ulster: Earning trust by communicating support for customers
- Irish News, Workplace & Employment Awards
- Morrow Communications, Northern Ireland Science Park: 10 Years On
- Ulster Cancer Foundation, Personal Everest Project
The judges were impressed with the results that this campaign delivered, ensuring that the Personal Everest Project raised its demanding target of £75,000, given such few resources. The judges considered the strength of this programme to be its well structured media relations programme, which proved to be extremely cost effectiveness.
- Barnardo's Northern Ireland, Barnardo's NI Fostering Week
- LJK Communications, Time to Deliver
- Northern Ireland Water, One Team ET Visibility
This comprehensive programme to enhance communication and visibility of the executive management team among a widely diverse workforce was well conceived, structured and executed. Senior management participated fully in seeking to create a new sense of identity and corporate involvement, ranging from regular face-to-face meetings, to Q&A sessions and team working days. The initial environment was sometimes challenging. Innovation included a Chairman’s blog dealing with issues and corporate priorities. An independent analysis testifies to the effectiveness of this ongoing programme.
- Northern Ireland Water, InTouch
- Police Service of Northern Ireland, Police Service of Northern Ireland Armed Forces Homecoming Parade
This campaign achieved its overall objectives in a very fast-moving situation and under extremely difficult and volatile conditions. Lots of other voices were clamouring to be heard and the Police Service did well in reassuring the public and calming the situation.
This was a well managed crisis communications plan, which covered all bases, some of which eventually were not needed.
Measurement and Evaluation
- Aiken PR, BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition
The measurement and evaluation category, new in this year’s PRide Awards, is very important and this entry has clearly demonstrated rigorous planning, robust research and detailed evaluation. The initial desk research benchmarked the situation and allowed Aiken PR to prepare the entire campaign. The results against the objectives of the campaign were all met within the budget parameters.
Smarts, 'At the Interface' Suffolk & Lenadoon Interface Group
The judges were very impressed with the intense community focus of this campaign, particularly in the backdrop of the sensitive area of sectarian relationships. It drew together activities in which both groups within a small housing development could find common ground. Execution demanded a high degree of awareness around issues of intercommunity conflict. An effective media relations programme generated positive coverage. Concrete results were witnessed in the local activities, such as football matches, where the two communities met and interacted peacefully.
- Northern Bank, Moneyville - Bringing money management to life for young children
- Strategic Planning, Mayfield Garden Village Community Relations
- Stratagem (NI) Ltd, Stratagem fuels energy saving week success
This was a well planned and executed programme that communicated the energy saving message to a wide number of stakeholders and audiences. Using members of the Northern Ireland Parliament proved a highly effective means of communicating to and engaging with consumers. An impressive amount of media coverage was secured across national and local media in Northern Ireland, and created a high degree of brand recognition for the Energy Saving Trust and its work.
- Translink, Translink NI Railways Londonderry Line Upgrade
This was a well thought through consumer programme to inform and prepare local communities about rail service disruption during upgrading work. The outcomes showed Translink to be a responsible organisation which communicated with all stakeholders, including distributing 85,000 new timetables to homes near the rail lines.
As a result, at the end of the 13 week upgrade programme, no complaints had been received by the Customer Services Department and no compensation paid.
- NICCY, Hear The Cry of Youth
- Big Lottery Fund, Big thinking consultation - something big is happening in NI
- JPR/ NI Financial Capability Partnership, Money Week 2008
Best campaign £10k and under
- Morrow Communications, Dale Farm 'Dromona - the big cheese'
The judges were particularly impressed by the creativity behind this campaign, using the product to make life-sized sculptures of high profile politicians. The objectives were clear, and the planning and execution were delivered in a timely fashion. A raft of opportunities were arranged to get the cheese in front of the wider audience, including flyers, online promotions, competitions, stands at exhibitions, and joint promotions with established and trusted retailers. The outcome was a record number of visitors to the stand, and excellent broadcast and media coverage, including on-line. This was a well thought out campaign, delivered on a limited budget.
- Aiken PR, Beef Week 2009
- Aiken PR, The Show Will Go On
- Converse Communications, Foyle Fashion Week
- Northern Ireland Water, Bag It and Bin It
- Morrow Communications, Flahavan's - Back to Porridge!
The judges unanimously awarded the gold to Morrow Communications for a well planned, implemented and evaluated campaign, which raised brand awareness, encouraged product trial and grew market share. Strong research, well thought out strategic partnerships and a creative approach to promoting the product ensured the campaign had credibility and secured regular coverage in the time frame set. This was a leader of the pack in terms of strategy and tactical implementation.
- Smarts, Captain Morgan TV
- Asitis Consulting, AVOCA: Launch of the brand in Northern Ireland
- Smarts, The Bushmills Trek
Best Use of Media Relations
- Weber Shandwick, Electoral Commission Register to Vote Campaign
This was a superb campaign which really thought about what journalists would need and how they would like information presented in the run up to the European parliamentary elections. What can be regarded as a rather dry subject was transformed into a compelling campaign which utilised stunts, strong imagery, digital and online activity to drive home key messages and achieve the all important call to action. A very well implemented campaign that impressed the judges through its thorough and creative nature.
- MCE Public Relations, Northern Bank Moneyville
- JPR, Ulster: Ensuring trust by communicating support for customers
- Morrow Communications, "Have Translink Smartpass: Will Travel"
- Belfast City Council, Waste Week
JPR submitted a very strong entry for Ulster Bank, which communicated a very positive image for the business at a time when the banking sector is experiencing real reputational threat. JPR turned the current negativity to advantage, using it to underpin the fact that the Bank stands for positive values – generating significant amounts of coverage and creating lots of positive ambassadors, which is no mean feat.
- Northern Bank, Moneyville - Supporting financial confidence and awareness for children
- Cactus PR & Communications, The Wedding Journal Show
- Morrow Communications, SPC - Fasttracking ICT Careers
- Weber Shandwick Northern Ireland, Rushmere Uganda Schools Project 2009
Rushmere’s Uganda Schools project is an excellent example of a cost-effective CSR initiative that engages an entire community. The judges were impressed by the way the campaign used online and social media to gain momentum, culminating in a week-long school building blitz. Weber Shandwick should be commended for achieving high profile support from sports stars and local celebrities at no additional cost, and indeed for delivering such fantastic results with minimal spend.
- Aiken PR, Active Lifestyles: McDonald's Grassroots Football Programme
- Morrow Communications, Deloitte: Sharing our skills with our communityNorthern Bank Ltd, Northern Builds More Than Bricks and Mortar
- Smarts, LIDL Fit Factor Challenge
Best Use of Social Media
- Morrow Communications, NISP: Building an Innovation Ecosystem
Morrow Communications campaign used a variety of social media to connect with stakeholders, develop advocates and increase awareness of and attendance at events.
Web streaming, social networking sites and podcasts were used effectively to increase reach, and it was good to see a focus on search engine optimisation that was lacking in other submissions.A well deserving winner.
- Smarts, The Bushmills Trek
- NICCY, Young People Talking To Young People
- Smarts, Captain Morgan TV
Best Use of Photography or Design
- Cathy Martin PR (CMPR), Strike a pose: Striking Photography from Fashion Week
The judges were incredibly impressed with the striking images produced by Cathy Martin PR to support Belfast Fashion Week. The fact that they received widespread coverage was testament to Cathy Martin’s in-depth understanding of the needs of its target media. Cathy Martin’s portfolio also reflects the aspirations and interests of their key audience. A stunning set of images created with an eye on costs for maximum exposure.
View the case study: Currently unavailable
- Carlton Baxter Communications, Enchanted Aisle Photo Shoot, Willow Moon
- MX Brandcom, Friendly Saxophones
- Weber Shandwick Ltd, Electoral Commission Register to Vote Week
Best Newspaper or Magazine
- Big Lottery Fund, Big Magazine - How lottery money is transforming lives
The handbag sized publication, packed with human interest stories, was the judge’s unanimous choice for the gold award. It connects with readers very effectively, looked good and fulfilled all the objectives identified by the Big lottery Fund.
Judges felt that Big magazine would not look out of place sitting on newspaper shelves alongside the like of Chat, Now or Woman.
- Belfast City Council, City Matters
- Banbridge District Council, The Cutting EdgeBelfast City Council, Intercom
- Northern Ireland Water, Waterline
- Belfast City Council, A to Z of Council Services
The judges felt that Belfast City Council took an innovative approach to creating the A-Z guide and succeeded in making it deliver much more value to the residents as a result.
Colour and photography were used to great effect, and the lay-out was clean and easy to follow. The council deployed superb skills in conveying corporate messages in a positive and engaging manner, and the fact that this guide is funded solely by advertising is to be applauded.
- Strategic Planning, "Extending your horizons"
- NICCY, News To You From UsPolice Service of Northern Ireland, The Chief Constable's Annual Report 2008/2009
- Stakeholder Communications, Annual Report & Financial Statements Parades Commission for Northern Ireland
- Belfast City Council, Essential Information If There is Flooding in Belfast
This leaflet, with its useful fold-up format, is very resident focused. It is very clear and contains all the pertinent information that they need in the event of an emergency. Folding down to wallet size increases the chances of residents retaining the information. Including it in an existing magazine, alongside a flooding feature, ensured it reached target audiences at no additional cost.
Best Website or Microsite
- Belfast Zoo, Belfast Zoological Gardens Website
Belfast Zoo is to be congratulated on an appealing, informative and extremely successful website. Thorough research and careful planning ensured that it meets the demands of its target audience, driving traffic to the site and raising awareness of the brand. The judges particularly liked the interactive focus, which enables the zoo to engage effectively with its stakeholders. A superb submission and a very worthy winner. Well done.
- Northern Ireland Water, 'What Are You Doing With Water'
- Police Service of Northern Ireland, Police Service of Northern Ireland's Website
- Core Communications, The Giant HSBC Lions Shirt - Northern Ireland's Least Contentious Parade
Northern Ireland’s least contentious parade shows how drive and determination can deliver a headline grabbing campaign within a tight budget. Jennifer Maguire of Core Communications is to be congratulated for planning and executing an innovative initiative, that combined PR coverage and community relations, to put her client’s brand in front of more than 1.6 million people. The judges were extremely impressed with the way in which problems were overcome and the unique approach Jennifer took towards meeting her brief. A worthy winner – well done.
- Belfast City Council, Making a Difference (MAD) Awards
- Big Lottery Fund, Stormont Youth Achievers Event
- Morrow Communications, Challenges & Opportunities: The Credit Crunch
- Northern Ireland Tourist Board, Showcasing Northern Ireland
- Northern Ireland Water, Water is Life
Outstanding Young Communicator
- Simon Little, Phoenix Natural Gas
- Coca-Cola HBC Northern Ireland, Zoe Cunningham
- LJK Communications, Angela Stevenson
- Smarts, Selina McElwee
Outstanding Small Consultancy
- Cactus PR & Communications, Small But Perfectly Formed
Julie McCabe, head of Cactus PR & Communications, leads her team to work together as a professional and comprehensive unit that provides tailored solutions that really deliver commercial value to clients throughout Northern Ireland. The consultancy’s unambiguous business objectives have helped to ensure the business has maintained strong annual growth, as well as healthy profitability.
Outstanding In-House Public Relations Team
- NICCY, One Team, One Mission, Children's Rights
The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People has one mission: children’s rights. The judges were very impressed with their entry document, of which the concluding paragraph of was: We’re a small team; we’re at the heart of the organisation; we’re confident professionals; but at all times our job is to make sure we can achieve real change for children and young people.
- Police Service of Northern Ireland, Police Service of Northern Ireland in the International Spotlight
- Northern Ireland Water, NI Water Outstanding PR Team
Outstanding Public Relations Consultancy
- LJK Communications, None of us are as strong as all of us
Supported by an impressive range of client testimonials, LJK Communications are worthy winners of Gold. Their enviable client list ranges from international corporate groups to high street names, and public sector bodies to charities. LJK has excelled in growing a full service consultancy, which moved to new purpose-built offices in 2008. Their new website, which reflects the company’s progress, is one of the most comprehensive in Northern Ireland.
Monday, 23 November 2009
The Slugger Awards mark something different in politics here. It’s fair enough to take a pop at politicians on issues like double-jobbing and expenses claims when it’s justified, but there is a good many public representatives out there who expend a considerable amount of effort in providing a decent public service, and recognising this is what the Sluggers are about.
It’s also about encouraging debate on current affairs and politics here. For years political discourse went around in circles and was caught in a stasis on account of there being no ‘real’ politics here. However, the advent of peace and normalisation, coupled with the opportunities afforded by the internet to discuss issues in an open forum, has enabled people who never would have spoken before to share their views on sites such as Slugger O’Toole. And now the Sluggers take it to the next level with a tangible event which brings all this together.
Tickets for the Awards sold out extremely quickly, and when extra ones were released, they were snapped up too. I'll be down at the Awards ceremony tomorrow in an official capacity, but it'll be great to see so many people from a range of backgrounds coming together to celebrate good politics.
Things may not be perfect here yet, and indeed, there isn’t really any such thing as political perfection. However, the fact that the Slugger O’Toole Political Awards can take place at all is a testament to how far we’ve come.
Thursday, 19 November 2009
Even the French know it was a travesty of justice- Henry has admitted to handling the ball, and 88.% of the nearly 60,000 people who have voted in a poll on the French newspaper website for Le Monde newspaper agree that Ireland deserved more.
There are only two options for the Irish team to receive natural justice. For there to be a reply, as Liam Brady has suggested, or for an exception to be made with the Republic of Ireland being given an additional place at the World Cup. I won't be holding out much hope for either though, given the record of the international footballing authorities.
Friday, 6 November 2009
Thursday, 5 November 2009
This episode focuses on big news stories that have been across blogs lately. My fellow panelists were Conall McDevitt and Owen Polley. The issues we discussed included the Ulster Unionist/ Conservative alliance, the 'No Pope Here' campaign on Facebook and 'Gatelygate'- the furore over the Jan Moir Daily Mail article on the demise of Stephen Gately.