Winners 2023

Best in-house team – media relations

Electrical Safety First

When an entry begins We deserve an award because…, the judges sit up and pay attention. Electrical Safety First’s opening line was backed with three simple facts: its media relations team’s work has reached millions of people with life-saving advice, persuaded two governments to legislate and has driven real change.  

Indeed, in just 13 months – from 1 July 2022 to 31 July 2023 – Electrical Safety First generated 2,965 pieces of media coverage, averaging more than seven items a day. Even more impressive than this statistic, just two team members focus solely on media relations. 

Electrical Safety First is a campaigning charity that aims to reduce deaths and injuries caused by electricity in people’s homes. It has three strategic priorities. It campaigns for safer products to protect consumers. It seeks to improve the standards and conditions of the homes in which people live. And it wants to be the ‘go to’ leading voice in electrical safety. 

To achieve its goals, Electrical Safety First must educate the public with crucial safety advice and engage with governments to effect legislative change. 

Over the year, the charity embarked on three major campaigns, along with countless smaller initiatives, often in response to the news of the day. For example, when a TikTok craze encouraged people to tie bags of ice to their electric fans to cope with the heatwave, it issued warnings that doing so could result in serious electric shocks. The campaign gained extensive national media coverage, while The Sun also carried a video interview with the charity’s lead safety expert Martyn Allen. 

Its first major campaign of the year coincided with Electricity Fire Safety Week. Don’t be next raised awareness of the risks of electrical fires in homes and workplaces. Central to the campaign was a film featuring fire fighters who described the reality of homes and lives destroyed by fires caused by electric heaters. The campaign, which also ran on social media, achieved 243 pieces of media coverage and was shared by charities, fire and rescue services and politicians.  

A 57-page report was key to the Battery Breakdown campaign and highlighted the risk of e-scooter and e-bike batteries exploding in people’s homes, and offered advice on how to mitigate this, such as avoiding charging overnight. It also revealed that several deaths had occurred because e-bikes and e-scooters were stored in hallways and blocked escape routes. 

And the Don’t be Electricked campaign focused on the issue of fake electrical goods being sold by third-party sellers in online marketplaces. While traditional high street retailers are legally required to ensure the products they sell are safe, online marketplaces have no laws governing them. The campaign resulted in the UK government minister responsible for consumer safety calling a meeting of the online companies, and almost 40,000 people have signed a petition calling for legislation.  

‘The passion of this team shines through,’ said the judges. They also agreed with the assessment that the four-person communications team, which covers the media, website, social media, events and publications, ‘punches well above its weight’, achieving ‘significant impact with limited resources’.