Image courtesy of wikimedia

Special Award for Hillsborough group’s ‘campaign like no other’

By Hayley James Chart. PR MCIPR, Chair, CIPR North West

Last week saw the annual CIPR North West PRide awards.

I was honoured, in my first year as Chair, to see some incredibly hard working PR experts receive recognition for their work.

However, this year the Committee chose to give a very special award to a group of people who worked on a campaign like no other.

Think back to your own experiences of campaigns; how long they’ve taken to plan and execute, the barriers you’ve faced with clients or internal audiences, the nuances of gaining ‘the right type’ of media coverage, but ultimately the satisfaction of delivering it.

It’s great when you achieve something equal or better than you expected, using your skills and expertise to get the right outcome.

Now, imagine being thrown into a campaign you never asked for, because a loved one loses their life and the truth is hidden.

Imagine that campaign lasting over 27 years.

Imagine barriers including public bodies discrediting your family members, personal slurs, lies printed in the media and a constant change of stakeholders.

Imagine trying to co-ordinate more than 100 people grieving over the death of a loved one.

Imagine this, and imagine having to fight a campaign to get to the truth with no PR or public affairs experience.

The achievements of the Hillsborough Family Support Group (HFSG) can in no way be underestimated or, for most of us, even understood.

I was born in the 1980’s and grew up in Merseyside, so I grew up with Hillsborough. It was something that was always there; it hung over the entire city, both ends of Stanley Park, like a dark grey cloud.

In April this year 96 unlawful killing conclusions (formerly verdicts) were read out at a special court in Warrington. The families of those that died at an FA Cup Semi Final game in 1989 took another step towards the getting the justice they have fought, and continue to fight, so long and hard for.

In those 27 years they have spoken with one consistent voice. They have kept their dignity and never lost sight of what they believed in, and their emotional stamina has been, and still is, tested. They continue to fight on for accountability over the decisions made on that awful day in 1989.

I was fortunate enough to spend time with members of the HFSG – Margaret Aspinall, Sue Roberts, Rita Wafer and Mary Corrigan – during the process of PRide North West this year.

They are the most inspiring, and yet humble campaigners I will probably ever meet, so I was delighted and immensely proud that the CIPR North West Committee was able to recognise their courage and determination at this year’s PRide awards.

Image courtesy of wikimedia

  1. This is the only time I have witnessed over 350 PR people give a standing ovation to a winner during a PRide awards ceremony. They even fell silent as the story behind the special honour unfolded!

    HFSG’s long campaign was driven by an emotional need. The message was always simple and consistent. These people don’t do CPD and they aren’t Chartered. But they are brilliant and powerful communicators.

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