2008 PR News Platinum PR Issue Winner: Community Relations

The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for community relations.

BSS, Parker & Parker and Pulse Communications

BlueScope Tank a Day Challenge

BlueScope Steel (BSS), a steel producer that is head quartered in Australia, wanted to launch a number of initiatives that would minimize water use (Australia had been suffering from drought conditions affecting its farmland). To raise awareness of the issue and engage communities around Australia to be part of the solution to the continent's water crisis, BSS turned to Pulse and Parker & Parker for their help.

"BlueScope Steel wasn't seen as a consumer-friendly company, so we had to create an emotional connection between the brand and Australians," says Jacquie Fegent, account director, Pulse Communications. "it was important that we come up with a unique and engaging concept."

Thus, The Tank a Day Challenge (TADC) was born.

Targeting audiences from school children and teachers to BSS business partners, TADC was launched to position BSS as a leader in water conservation; to educate primary school students and their communities about the water cycle and the importance of water harvesting, conserving and managing rain water; to garner support for the Tank a Day Challenge from stakeholders; and to gather pertinent information for the campaign from education departments.


The team kick-started the program by giving away 200 rainwater tanks for every school day for one year. All primary schools were invited to take up the challenge in saving water by registering on the challenge's web site. Once registered, primary schools had to show a high degree of student involvement in an educational water quiz, which taught them about the water cycle and saving water around the home. Schools had to make available a 6 x 6 square meter site adjacent to the school building for the installation of the rainwater tank.

To ensure ongoing media coverage, a partnership was secured with the breakfast TV show, Channel Nine's Today Show.

Swimmingingly Done

From both a business and PR standpoint, the challenge's ROI was well worth it. Among the key results were:

·         BlueScope has secured new business and commercial partnerships with companies such as Rheem Australia;

·         Over half a million primary school students across Australia have taken the educational water saving quiz and have taken home branded TADC information packs;

·         Educational key messages were communicated in 94% of the media coverage.