Press release: 20 Feb 2013

Cornwall has won a prestigious national award for the way organisations worked together to raise local awareness of the Olympic Torch Relay by engaging with as many communities and residents in Cornwall as possible.

The Olympic Torch Relay communications strategy, developed by Cornwall Council’s communications team in partnership with Cornwall Development Company, has won the Partnership Excellence category in the Local Public Services Awards staged by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

The national awards, which are designed to recognise best practice in local public services communications, marketing and PR, are open to any organisation, company or individual connected to, or working within, local public services such as local government, health, housing, education.  Cornwall’s entry was one of six shortlisted for the Partnership Excellence category.

Announcing the results at the award ceremony in Bristol, the CIPR judges said “This was a very impressive entry.  Many partners were involved and by careful, yet imaginative planning, they were able to use the Olympics to celebrate and market Cornwall to the world.

“Being the first to light the torch was a bonus as there was increased media interest from national and international outlets but all necessary service providers got their act together, working tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that they showcased the county to its best and the community responded by showing the rest of the UK that the Relay was something definitely worth supporting”.

The organisation of the Olympic Torch Relay in Cornwall was co-ordinated by a 20 member multi agency community task force, containing representatives of a number of Cornwall Council services, including highways, localism, emergency management, licensing, waste management and communications, as well as tourism staff from Cornwall Development Company, BBC Team South West, Devon and Cornwall Police, the fire and rescue service and the Primary Care Trust.

The communications strategy produced by the Council’s communications team led by Media Relations Manager Trisha Hewitt and Sam Groom and Anna Druce from Cornwall Development Company’s festival and events team used a wide range of activities to provide information about the Olympic Torch Relay for local communities, the public and the media, and to promote Cornwall regionally, nationally and internationally.

These included the production of community fact files; media releases; articles and features; social media; websites, including Cornwall Council, and town/parish council websites; an online media hub; posters and banners; briefings for partners; press packs and operational notes for the media and community newsletters.

An estimated 188,500 local spectators (35% of Cornwall’s population) watched the procession of the Torch through Cornwall and took part in more than 100 local community events.  There was also a successful civic event at Truro Cathedral hosted by Cornwall Council Chairman Mrs Pat Harvey.  There were also more than 2,000 tweets on the day using #DayOne2012, an additional 13,026 visits to the VisitCornwall website and 79,074 hits on the Cornwall Torch Relay Google Map. 

The event generated an estimated £3.7m spend in the local economy, with the extensive media coverage equating to a Public Relations value of almost £17 million.

Sam Groom, Cornwall’s Lead Coordinator for the Olympic Torch Relay and Festival and Events Manager at Cornwall Development Company, who accepted the award at the ceremony in Bristol, said “It is fantastic to win this award for partnership excellence.  Whilst there was an expected worldwide audience of 1 billion for the Relay, one of the most important considerations for us was making sure that our communities knew where they could see the Olympic Torch and that they were aware of all the other local events that were organised to celebrate the day.  Everyone was committed to make day one a success and this recognition reconfirms what great things can be achieved by working together”.

Welcoming news of the award Cornwall Council Leader Jim Currie said “We all knew that the eyes of the world would be on Cornwall at 7 am on Saturday, 19 May as the Olympic Flame left Land’s End on the start of its 8,000 mile journey around the UK.  I am very proud of the way organisations worked together to make the day such a success.  

“Effective communications were vital in ensuring that our communities had all the information they needed to make the most of this once in a lifetime event and I would like to congratulate everyone who was involved”.

This is the second time the Council’s communications service has won a national award.  In 2011 the authority was awarded top prize in the Crisis Communications section of the CIPR awards for its communication with the public in the wake of the devastating floods that hit Mid Cornwall in 2010.

Praising the Council’s response to the floods, judges said “Cornwall Council co-ordinated essential information and advice from a multitude of emergency response organisations, with a focus on accessibility, linked up thinking and proactive community engagement.  Through traditional and digital channels Cornwall Council demonstrated a blueprint for modern crisis response”.