Awards recognition for PR team behind Rotherham abuse report

A Barnsley PR agency is the only one in Yorkshire – and one of just two in the whole of the North – to be nominated for a prestigious award.

Cream Consultancy has been shortlisted in the Public Affairs Awards for its work with Prof Alexis Jay OBE and her independent report into child sexual exploitation in Rotherham.

Out of 15 categories, and over 50 finalists, Cream is the only agency shortlisted from Yorkshire and the North East.

Cream was enlisted by Prof Jay to ensure that the findings of the inquiry were reported correctly, in full and to as wide an audience as possible.

Following a press conference, the story reached 900 million people worldwide. There were almost 10,000 newspaper articles and Cream handled media requests from the New York Times, CNN, Japan, Australia and Europe.

The report was front page of every UK daily national newspaper the morning after the press conference with extensive national broadcast coverage including Newsnight, C4 News, The Today Programme, Panorama, The Jeremy Vine Show and Sky News. There was also full coverage on numerous online news and political blogs.

Cream handled interview bids from both UK and international media which continued for a further two and a half weeks after the report was published.

The judges shortlisted Cream because of the challenges involved in publicising the story. A joint press conference had been pre-arranged on Tuesday, August 26 but due to fears of a leak, the invitation was not permitted to be issued until the day before – which happened to be a Bank Holiday.

Understanding the challenge of communicating this to skeleton newsroom teams on a public holiday, the Cream team worked throughout the Bank Holiday weekend to gain the trust of journalists and obtain mobile numbers and out of office contacts – ensuring that on distribution all journalists had the best possible chance of spotting the invitation and organising a trip to Rotherham the following day.

Every detail of the report was embargoed until 2pm on the Tuesday, and Cream employed strategic persuasion that there would be a major story to pursue.

All major UK news channels sent a crew, as did Yorkshire’s regional BBC and ITV programmes. The sheer scale of victim numbers meant that upon reading the embargoed report, an hour before the press conference, the size of the story became apparent to the media.

The hour-long press conference was broadcast live on Sky News. The story was trending worldwide on Twitter before the press conference was over and it was the lead story on both BBC and ITV’s evening and 10 o’clock news.

Elizabeth Hudson, a director of Cream, said: “This was a tremendously challenging project for the team, both professionally and emotionally.

“The work on Alexis Jay’s report shows just how important PR is in ensuring stories of huge national importance are communicated in an accurate and professional manner.

“I’m immensely proud of the team and their determination to fulfil the brief. Being shortlisted for a Public Affairs award rightly recognises Cream’s ability to handle the release of news at the highest level.”

The inaugural Public Affairs Awards have been launched by Public Relations Consultants Association, Government Knowledge and Zetter’s Political Services.

The ceremony will take place at the Park Plaza, Riverbank on December 9. Jon Craig, Chief Political Correspondent of Sky News, will be compering.

Cream’s work on the Rotherham inquiry has been showcased in this month’s PR Week.

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