COMMUNITY councillors in West Lothian are celebrating this week – after a campaign to boost their profile won a top award.
They took gold in the best community campaign category of the Scotland PRide Awards, organised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).
Adrian Mahoney of The PR Store – the Bo’ness agency which masterminded the campaign – picked up the award from broadcaster Fiona Ross at a ceremony in Glasgow (on October 20). Looking on were some of the community councillors who took part in the publicity push.
For the past year, The PR Store and partner Oldhand Media have worked with West Lothian Association of Community Councils to make member councils more accountable and accessible to local people.
They created a website – http://www.yourcommunitycouncil.co.uk – backed by posters, leaflets, events and press articles . . . all designed to get more people talking to their community representatives.
Community councils are active in almost every area of Scotland. Run by unpaid volunteers, they represent public opinion to local authorities and other government bodies.
The CIPR judges said the West Lothian campaign was “highly creative and imaginative”, adding that the professionals involved “went beyond the original remit”. The PR Store and Oldhand did much of the work for low cost or for free.
Association of Community Councils’ chair Helen Taylor attended the awards along with Morag Nelson of Linlithgow Community Council and Willie Boyle of Bathgate Community Council.
Ms Taylor said: “We’re absolutely delighted to win this award. Everybody involved in the campaign – from the agencies to individual community councillors – have worked incredibly hard on the project. To get recognition from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations is the icing on the cake.
“We’re now looking at ways to move the project forward, to encourage more people to engage with community councils and make their views known.”
Mrs Nelson said: “The campaign has been a tremendous success and has really put community councils on the map.” Mr Boyle added: “The award is a fitting tribute to all the work put in over the past year by a lot of dedicated people.”
The CIPR award is just the latest success for the project. In June this year, West Lothian Council leader Graeme Morrice wrote to Ms Taylor to say the website was “exceptionally good”. He also said it could become a “best practice” reference for other community councils in Scotland.
Then in September, First Minister Jack McConnell wrote to congratulate everybody involved in the project. Mr McConnell said: “I hope the project continues to build on its success and would like to congratulate you in your efforts to encourage community councils to use this facility.”
Adrian Mahoney of The PR Store was shortlisted for an award in last year’s PRide Awards. He was delighted to go one better and win in this year’s contest.
Adrian (36), who lives in Craigallan Park, Bo’ness, said: “I was absolutely thrilled to pick up this award. To get this kind of endorsement from the PR industry is fantastic.”
The CIPR PRide Awards showcase the very best work and talent in the communications arena outside of London. The Awards saw PR practitioners in Wales review the Scottish submissions and then put through finalists to a second round of judging. A panel of experts from London then assessed the shortlisted entries to choose the winners. The panel was chaired by Colin Farrington, the director general of the CIPR.
Mr Farrington said: “The PRide Awards are about raising professional standards by identifying, recognising and rewarding the first-rate work going on in the PR industry outside of London. They are also about advancing the profession by clearly demonstrating just what PR can achieve at its best, as a strategic management function that manages relationships and reputation.
“The PRide Awards judging process is rigorous and to win is a tremendous achievement. The PR Store, Oldhand Media and West Lothian Association of Community Councils are worthy winners.”
*** Adrian enjoyed working with the community councils so much he stood for his own community council in Bo’ness – and was elected with nearly 2000 votes last week.
NOTE TO EDITORS:
1. The website and publicity campaign for community councils were formally launched in the spring of 2005. Central to the campaign was http://www.yourcommunitycouncil.co.uk – which gives information on more than 30 community councils in West Lothian. Each community council has been given its own “homepage” and the ability to easily upload news and information without any specialist knowledge.
A private online forum was also created to provide advice and guidance to individual community councils. Training at a local school was also arranged to support community councillors.
2. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations – behind the PRide Awards – is the professional body for PR practitioners in the UK. With over 8,000 members, involved in all aspects of the public relations industry, it is the largest body of its type in Europe. Formerly the Institute of Public Relations, the CIPR was awarded a Royal Charter in February 2005.
3. The PR Store, is a PR and communications business, based in Bo’ness, West Lothian. Founder Adrian Mahoney is a former chief reporter of The Falkirk Herald. Find out more at
4. Oldhand Media is a website design and development business based in Bo’ness. Find out more at
5. West Lothian Association of Community Councils is the umbrella group which represents the community councils across West Lothian.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
Please contact Adrian Mahoney at The PR Store
on 01506 823714 or 07967 150560 or email: email@example.com Or call Helen Taylor on 01506 633925