Kidney Wales Foundation working with PR Agency Freshwater, has become one of the first charities in Wales to win a national CIPR Excellence Award for its “clever” Invisible Death Row campaign with Donate Wales, sponsored by the Welsh Government.

The campaign, which encouraged more to join the organ donor register and highlighted the need for opt-out (presumed consent) legislation, won Best Integrated Campaign at the awards held in London, which recognise and reward best practice in public relations throughout the UK.

This is the latest in a string of accolades for the campaign, which had already won two gold awards at the CIPR PRide Cymru Awards last October.

Roy J Thomas, chairman of Kidney Wales Foundation and Donate Wales, said: “We started this campaign by talking to patients and it was those who were waiting for a transplant that inspired us. We then integrated the campaign through the media, negotiating with national and international TV on the importance of organ donation. This was key to its success. The patients who took part were the real stars and, out of those who took part, some have now received life saving transplants but some still wait desperately.”

“By working with patients from across Wales rather than standard actors as would normally happen, we developed a strong and clear voice for those waiting for a transplant. This meant it could be heard over other stories that were presented in the media on organ donation. The impact of this voice can be seen in the response we saw from the public and the sheer numbers of people who believe in soft opt out in Wales, including the Government and those who joined the organ donor register during the campaign. This level of awareness will give many hope and has led to such a positive change in the lives of those affected.”

The campaign, inspired by a patient who compared waiting for a transplant to being on “an invisible death row”, generated thousands of additional sign-ups to the organ donor register and prompted a call to change legislation in Wales.

It led to the Welsh Government announcing plans for an opt-out system in July 2010, which, it is hoped, will be taken forward in the next legislative programme.

The Donate Wales campaign became the first in the UK to use real people on the waiting list in all advertising and campaign collateral, as opposed to actors. It used a number of channels to communicate key messages, including public relations, advertising, social media, website development, Bluetooth messaging and stakeholder communications.

The highlight was a Freshwater-produced television advert, which premiered internationally on Sky News and became one of its top stories throughout the day, leading to a live studio debate on the opt-out system. The campaign received further exposure on BBC News, in national newspapers such as The Sun and Observer and through half-hour documentaries following the case studies on ITV Wales and S4C.

Speaking of the campaign, the CIPR judges said: “This campaign set hard tangible objectives which were not only met, but exceeded. This clever Integrated Campaign combined media relations, advertising, digital engagement and stakeholder communications on a relatively low budget, delivering great value for money.

“By increasing the number of donors who opt out as opposed to opt in, this campaign is encouraging higher levels of engagement. The use of real people, consumer insight and excellent storytelling has created a campaign that will be an example to other organisations serving to change public relations.”

Angharad Neagle, Freshwater Creative managing director, says: “We’re thrilled that this particular campaign was chosen for such a prestigious accolade. Invisible Death Row was especially important for us as it utilised the entire variety of services we offer and demonstrated the success of our innovative ‘best teams’ approach, which takes the advantage of our regional network and specialist expertise.

“It is also a campaign where the success we achieved has helped save lives, which makes all the hard work and effort that was put in especially rewarding.

“This award acts as a stamp of approval to all of the teams who worked so hard to make sure the campaign’s message was heard and they can be proud of what they’ve achieved.”

CIPR chief executive, Jane Wilson, said: “Winning a CIPR Excellence Award can be considered the ultimate achievement in the PR profession and worthy of the warmest of congratulations. These awards are the most demanding in the industry and set the benchmark for best practice. Competition was as fierce as ever, producing an exceptional quality of entries – outstanding, considering the economic challenges of last year. The public relations world has proved not just that it is resilient but that even when budgets are tight, creativity and a focus on return on investment come to the fore.”

The CIPR is the professional body for PR practitioners in the UK. With 9,500 members involved in all aspects of PR, it is the largest body of its type in Europe. The CIPR advances the PR profession in the UK by making its members accountable through a code of conduct, developing policies, representing its members and raising standards through education and training.

ENDS

For more information please contact Tristan Williams at Kidney Wales Foundation 02920 343 940

About the awards
•The CIPR Excellence Awards recognise and reward best practice in public relations throughout the UK and acknowledge personal and team achievement at the highest professional level.

•The judging procedure has two stages. Each shortlisted entry (decided on the basis of a written submission) went through to a second round of judging. This involved being interviewed by a panel of judges comprising senior PR practitioners and experts from the business, media, marketing and advertising communities. There were 84 judges in total, who between them carried out 153 panel interviews over a period of 51 hours.

· The chairmen of the judges were CIPR Fellows Colin Douglas, Director of NHS Communications, and Michael Murphy, Chief Executive Officer, Grayling. The judges’ comments can be viewed from at http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/events-awards/excellence-awards/winners-and-finalists

•Category sponsor details can be found on the CIPR website: http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/events-awards/excellence-awards/sponsors

•This year the CIPR Excellence Awards received more than 700 entries across 27 award categories. For a full list of categories, visit http://www.cipr.co.uk/content/events-awards/excellence-awards/award-categories