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Hedgehog Hall of Fame: Firefly Communications - Supporting the ‘Inquiry into Inquiries’

16th August 2013


Company: Firefly Communications Campaign: Supporting the ‘Inquiry into Inquiries’ Category: Low Budget Campaign of the Year - South - Shortlisted Objective Firefly was enlisted by the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), an independent, non-profit organisation specialising in mediation, consultancy, training and coaching, to support its ‘Inquiry into Inquiries’ project. The project saw the coming together of a wide group of professionals currently or previously involved in the design, set up and running of Public Inquiries. Led by CEDR, the project started in February 2011 with the purpose of probing the current system and with the aim of delivering a series of recommendations for improvements in 2013. For Firefly, the objective was two fold: 1. raise public awareness of the ‘Inquiry into Inquires’ project 2. encourage those with relevant expertise to come forward and become involved. Target Audience   Firefly reasoned that the Public Inquiry had been so highly visible in the wake of the Summer 2011 riots across the UK and the News of the World hacking scandal, that the term had become part of public consciousness. It was clear, through the media representation, that the Public Inquiry process had become the default investigative tool to find out what happened in matters of tragedy and scandal, to hold those responsible accountable and ultimately to make sure mistakes were not repeated. In May 2012, the CEDR led project was not yet at a stage where any findings or observations could be shared with the media. As a result, Firefly advised gauging the public’s knowledge of the process, and ultimately its faith in the system, via an independent survey. With inquiries often gaining press attention for being expensive, both in terms of time and money, it was reasoned that the research would likely reveal a level of discontent and provide the necessary ‘hook’ to attract journalists’ attentions. With survey results, CEDR would have current and fresh content to capture the attention of journalists and encourage key targets to attend a one-to-one media briefing to discuss the project more broadly. Action The research was commissioned and 2,000 Britons were surveyed on the Public Inquiry process. As expected, the results revealed a fundamental lack of faith in the UK’s Public Inquiries process. More than half of those surveyed (58%) believed that Public Inquiries were too costly, 56% said that politicians have too much influence over the process and fewer than half (44%) believed Public Inquiries resulted in the recommended changes being made. The people surveyed had reinforced the need for an ‘Inquiry into Inquiries’. Media targets from national and legal press were targeted with the offer of a briefing on CEDR’s project and a ‘first peak’ at the survey results. Firefly and CEDR worked their charm and their contacts, to enlist Lord Woolf of Barnes, former Chief Justice of England and Wales and acting chairman on the project, to conduct a morning of meetings with journalists alongside Dr. Mackie. This added huge weight to attracting journalists, who knew and respected Lord Woolf’s credentials to discuss the project. Based around Lord Woolf’s availability, a date was set. Beginning with a live interview on BBC’s Radio 4’s, The Today Programme, the co-chairs then met with journalists from national and legal press including the Financial Times, the Press Association and Legal Week. This gave the chairs the chance to get across their hopes for the project and encourage other experts to become involved. Results Lord Woolf gave a lengthy interview on The Today Programme, and opened by giving background on the CEDR led project. At the prime time of 8:20am on national Radio 4, Lord Woolf spoke in detail about the reason for the project and the lines of investigation the project would be taking.  A write up of the discussion was also posted on BBC News Online almost immediately following the broadcast. Legal Week and The Lawyer published detailed articles on the project, which caught the interest from the International Bar Association. A briefing was then held by the IBA’s Global Insight publication and CEDR, which resulted in a lengthy article ‘Lord Woolf: time to rethink public inquiries’ for the publication, described as ‘the global voice of the legal profession’. The Press Association covered the news, which was distributed the story to news rooms across the country and in particular being picked by the Belfast Telegraph in relation to the Blood Sunday Inquiry. The day itself resulted in 13 pieces of top tier coverage but the opportunities continued. In the months following the project, The Financial Times again contacted CEDR for comment for an article titled ‘Hillsborough panel seen as public inquiry model’, in which Dr. Karl Mackie’s comment featured heavily. The One Show also contacted CEDR as a result of the May 2012 media outreach of their show segment around the delivery of Leveson’s initial recommendations, and a camera crew was sent to interview Karl. The project was a success in raising mainstream awareness and encouraging people to come forward in areas of particular expertise. CEDR has, as a result, again enlisted Firefly for support around the project’s recommendations in 2013. URLs Click here to read: Lord Woolf: time to rethink public inquiries Click here to read: ‘Inquiry into Inquiries’ aims to bring rigour and best practice to process Click here to read: Lord Woolf: Contain length and cost of public inquiries The PRmoment Golden Hedgehog Awards 2014 are now open for entries. Here are this years updated categories.

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