Awards recognition for PR team behind Rotherham abuse report

Cream team: LtoR: PR team Lucy Ashton, Jane Whitham, Elizabeth Hudson, Donna Bedford
Cream team: LtoR: PR team Lucy Ashton, Jane Whitham, Elizabeth Hudson, Donna Bedford
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A Barnsley PR agency is in the running for a national award for its handing of the report that revealed Rotherham’s sex abuse scandal.

Cream Consultancy has been shortlisted in the December 9 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 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 news in 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.

Interview requests 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 for the day after the August Bank Holiday, but due to fears of a leak, the invitation was not permitted to be issued until Bank Holiday Monday.

Understanding the challenge of communicating this to skeleton newsroom teams on a public holiday, the Cream team worked throughout the 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 travelling to Rotherham the following day.

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 the Public Relations Consultants Association, Government Knowledge and Zetter’s Political Services.