Gautrain Project took top honours

Posted on Mar 31, 2008 in Awards

Gautrain won three gold awards in the annual PRISA PRISM Awards: both the Media Relations and Public Sector categories, as well as the prestigious overall PRISA PRISM Gold Award. Judges praised Gautrain’s submissions as “highly professional” and commented on its huge successes in changing people’s perceptions about this project.

The PRISA PRISM awards were handed out to the cream of the crop of the South African public relations and communications industry. The Gautrain Project took top honours.

Entries were received from corporate practitioners across a variety of categories from PR On A Shoestring, Corporate Communication, Media Relations and Consumer PR among others as well as small, medium and large agencies. Individual categories include Most Creative, Best PR Educator and Best Up and Coming PR Professional.

Judging the awards this year was a tough job, which the panel of experts who volunteered their time to assess did with the utmost of professionalism. Among them were Talk Radio 702 host David O’Sullivan, Mercury Media’s Morne Ebersohn, Nixon Kariithi (of WITS) and international judge Colin Farrington (CIPR). The judges commented on the high standard of entries received.

The Gautrain Project scooped gold awards in both the Media Relations and Public Sector categories, as well as walking away with the prestigious overall PRISA PRISM Gold Award. The judges praised the Gautrain submission as “highly professional” and commented on its huge successes in changing people’s negative perceptions about Africa’s largest public private partnership into positive ones. The project faced tremendous criticism in the beginning phases, fuelled by negative media coverage.

The Gautrain Media Campaign had two objectives:

  • To achieve a minimum of 50% positive and very positive coverage overall from May to July 2007.
  • To achieve a minimum of 50% positive and very positive coverage on major issues (skills; 2010; spatial development; construction; public transport in relation to Gautrain; and socio-economic development) from May to July 2007.

Both of these objectives were met, through a proactive implementation campaign with his diverse stakeholder groupings. The execution of the Gautrain public relations campaign was also highly ranked. The media activities were implemented in a short time frame from May to July 2007. The campaign evaluation was exceptional. In May to July of 2007 there were a total number of 844 media reports on the Gautrain, with an overall total of “positive to very positive” reports being 68.7% of those media reports. Objectives were not just met, but exceeded by more than 18%.

Transparency was central to Gautrain’s planning process, resulting in increased respect, support and understanding from the media. The message that Gautrain Media Relations formulated is that Gautrain is a safe and reliable world-class mode of transport. Traditional media activities were used, but along with those, monthly construction updates were distributed and personal contact and interviews were held which helped build face value and credibility.

The Gautrain Media Relations campaign, will be submitted to the international IPRA (International Public Relations Association) Golden Awards. The project also received the Jenna Clifford Trophy and the Ivan O’ Brien Award.

Campaigns entered into the PRISM Awards must demonstrate a high standard of excellence in a number of programme aspects. Five key criteria were assessed during the judging statement of the problem or opportunity, research, planning, execution and evaluation.

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