UK Government

Central Office of Information: COI wins Gold at CIPR PRide Awards for Big Drink Debate

Press Release   •   Dec 04, 2009 11:13 GMT

The Central Office of Information’s (COI) West Midland’s News and PR team has won a Gold award for best Public Sector Campaign at the 2009 Midlands Chartered Institute for Public Relations (CIPR) PRide awards for its work on the Big Drink Debate for the Department of Health (DH). The project also picked up a silver award in the Public Affairs category at last week's event.

The West Midlands region has the third highest alcohol related death rate of all English regions, and it’s estimated that 16% of all people in the area are binge drinkers. The Big Drink Debate aimed to raise awareness and stimulate debate on alcohol-related issues, while gaining feedback from members of the local public.

The PR activity formed part of an integrated campaign, which also included web and radio advertising and print. The campaign kicked off with two launch events last autumn, to which local media were invited. This was followed by a series of road shows around the region that further generated publicity in the local press.

The events used crime scene imagery to generate debate and get the message across quickly and easily. A white chalk outline of beer and wine glasses, which was also used on posters and leaflets, was intentionally provocative to indicate that alcohol use can be life threatening. It generated much interest from passers by, who were then quizzed by people on the stand about their drinking habits, with the data feeding into the results obtained on the website.

The team secured numerous coverage in print, TV, Radio and online resulting in over 7000 surveys being completed and over 9,500 unique visitors to the website. There was also broader discussion of the campaign through radio phone-ins, the blog on the website and through commentary pieces by journalists.

The judges said: “It was a great idea to position the campaign as a debate that gathered information, and was able to drive people to the website and signpost to support where required. Good media coverage was sustained over a significant period of time. No doubt lots of the information gathered will inform the next stage of the campaign.  A very cost-effective campaign.”

The client, Nigel Smith, Senior Public Health and Communications Manager at DH added:

“The campaign was driven by the PR. Our intention from the outset was to get people talking about an issue that is often dismissed too easily. We wanted to engage public and the media in a debate about alcohol-related issues and provoke responses, both positive and negative from across the region. This was achieved for the duration of the 12-week campaign.”

Mark Chambers, Regional Director for the News and PR West Midlands commented:

The two awards recognise our knowledge and experience in delivering such campaigns. Our aim is to always exceed expectations and deliver creative, clear and effective communications. This was a great campaign to be involved with as the results show that it engaged with local people, whilst also highlighting the negative side of alcohol.


Notes to editors

CIPR Pride Awards 2009

The CIPR PRide Awards recognise public relations success and achievement in the nations and regions. There were over 1,400 plus entries UK-wide this year.

The CIPR PRide Awards is the only awards scheme which showcases the best PR work being carried out across the UK regions and nations and sets industry standards.


NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department