Car crash PR for Northumbria Police

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The news of Northumbria Police’s CIPR award for the handling of 16-year-old Hayley Adamson’s case has certainly raised a few eyebrows in the Peppermint office.

Hayley Adamson was knocked down by a speeding police car in Newcastle back in 2008. Northumbria Police then put itself up for, and won, a CIPR award last year for the handling of the case.

What’s ironic about this case is that the subsequent media coverage generated by the award has gone on to defeat the original objective, which was to ensure that there was minimal media attention surrounding this tragic event. It only goes to highlight how important it is to handle media relations around sad cases such as this with sensitivity and respect.

I’m sure I speak on behalf of many PRs when I say that receiving recognition on the back of a campaign of this nature would not be something I’d be particularly proud of. It baffles me how any self-respecting organisation thought it would be a good idea to capitalise on such an event. It’s thoughtless and tasteless and is a classic example of why our industry has a reputation for being egotistical and superficial.

I’m glad to say that the actions of Northumbria Police are not common practice for every PR organisation.  I expect that everyone involved in submitting this ‘campaign’ for a CIPR award are now shame-faced.

It’s interesting that what was judged to be “excellent PR” has actually become a complete PR disaster for Northumbria Police.