The Netherlands is an important market for BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the UK’s public broadcaster, and one that they continue to invest in. The BBC Young Writers & Public Speaking Awards are part of this investment and form part of the BBC’s corporate responsibility initiatives. The Awards are aimed at secondary school students from 16 to 20 years old who want to showcase their written and spoken English language skills.



BBC Worldwide has supported the Awards for eight years and needed a public relations campaign with a fresh perspective to revitalise its profile.

The campaign’s main objective was to generate substantial media coverage, by engaging all the traditional disciplines (i.e. print, broadcast, online). This objective was then broken down as follows:

  • To reach out to an extensive regional audience in order to promote BBC Worldwide’s investment in a non-commercial educational initiative to the Dutch programme councils.
  • To raise awareness of the BBC Awards, and subsequently, BBC programming, among a young audience.
  • To increase interest among existing viewers of the full range of BBC channels on offer in the Netherlands.

Strategy & Plan

The public relations strategy for this campaign was three-fold:

  • Media Wise realised from the outset that it was very important to adopt a targeted local approach, because the audience with the greatest interest in the awards would be situated in the provinces. We wanted to communicate directly with the communities and people who would be touched by the success of the young people from their home towns.
  • Perhaps the most important audience for this campaign was students aged from 16 to 20 living in the Netherlands. As such it was imperative to build up the on-line presence of the BBC Awards, using relevant sites such as facebook, Hyves and You Tube. Media Wise also instigated and encouraged blogging amongst the competitors, successfully creating a multi-faceted online profile.
  • Given that the BBC Awards compete for attention against modern televised formats, such as Idols, Media Wise wanted to enhance its profile by adding another dimension which would further engage the youth audience, while maintaining the Awards’ image as a serious competition which celebrates excellence. Media Wise, therefore, engaged well known Dutch news presenter, Sacha de Boer, who came on board to coach the finalists, sharing her tips and tricks for great presentations and thus creating a fantastic photo opportunity and a very inspiring event for the students.


The BBC Young Writers and Public Speaking Awards 2010 received substantial media attention, achieving over 160 articles in the media, including three television and five radio broadcasts as well as extensive online coverage.

One of the many highlights of the campaign included a feature on prime time Radio 1 programme Lunch! and news of the Awards made it to the front page of the popular youth newspaper SevenDays.

The campaign achieved great results throughout the Netherlands with 11 out of the 12 regions covering the news. The media chose to focus on the positive human interest angle of the BBC Awards story, looking at the impressive talent young Dutch students possess in being able to communicate in English so eloquently. This resulted in 100% positive tone of coverage.