Sample Public Relations Paper on Comic Relief

Student Reference Number (SRN): BP0030608
Programme Title: MSc International Marketing

Module Title: Public Relations Frameworks
Cohort Number: (i.e., When did you start) Spring Term 2017

Assignment/Work Title: ‘Comic Relief‘ Campaign Proposal
Due date for submission:
(Please attach the confirmation of any
extension received)

25 / 04/ 2017

Mitigating Circumstances:

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I have read the published guidance available on the student intranet (VLE- Academic
Registry) outlining BPP’s Mitigating Circumstances policy and I confirm I am not aware
of any medical or other mitigating circumstances that may have impaired my
completion and/or submission of this assessment.
Student Reference Number: BP0030608
Date: 25/04/2017

Declaration of Original Work:
This is my original work, researched, undertaken, completed and submitted in
accordance with the requirements of BPP Business School. The word count,
excluding Contents Page, Bibliography and Appendices, is ‘’’’’’’’’ words.
Student Reference Number: BP0030608
Date: 25 / 04 / 2017

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Comic Relief

Public Relations


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1. Situational Background…………………………………………4
2. Breadth and Scope of the role of PR professional……….….5
3. Effective Application of Theoretical PR Models
4. Role of PR in Organizational Growth and Sustainability
5. Research Strategy
6. Communication Message
7. Improving reputation among Stakeholders
8. References

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1. Situational Background
Public relations is an aspect of organizational management that centres specifically
on dissemination of information from an organization to the public for purposes of
enhancing the organization’s image and reputation among target clientele
(Damodaran, 2017). Public relations (PR) management therefore requires the
consideration of various spectrums of organizational administrative structures, some
of which include finances, policy formulation and implementation and social
structures within and outside the organization (Swann, 2014). This paper discusses
the various elements comprising public relations management with the particular aim
of understanding the benefits of public relations to the growth and sustainability of
charity organizations. The paper uses the Comic Relief charity organization based in
London as the case study. The paper also includes a discussion of various PR
models using the case study for clarification and proposes a campaign plan to
improve the current efficiency of the case study organization.
Comic Relief is an English charity organization with a worldwide reach. The founders
of the organization, comedian Lenny Henry and scriptwriter Richard Curtis

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established the organization in 1985 with the aim of raising funds to alleviate
suffering resultant of severe famine in Ethiopia within the same year (Comic Relief,
2017). Although the organization has experienced significant changes over the past
three decades, its headquarters continue to remain in London. The original location
of the charity’s headquarters was the BBC Television Centre before moving to The
London Palladium in 2015 and later Building Six at the O2 in 2017. The charity has
given birth to two biennial campaigns; The Red Nose Day and Sorts Relief (Comic
Relief, 2017).

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Image 1. Comic Relief (, 2016)

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The organization’s use of public relation strategies to govern the success of Comic
Relief’s primary objective and foster its overall growth is the main reason governing
the decision to focus on Comic Relief as the charity of choice for this study.
According to the founders, the initial purpose of Comic Relief was to alleviate
suffering through comedy by changing the perspectives of victims regarding their
own surroundings (BBC News, 2015). The comedy campaigns also serve to create
awareness on pertinent social issues within society in a manner that preserves the
dignity of sufferers (Red Nose Day, 2017). The organization has gained the ability to
raise funds through biennial telethons aired on television via BBC One and comedy
shows around the world. The first ever Red Nose telethon, aired in 1988, raised £15
million a figure that rose to £99.4 million in 2015 (BBC News, 2015). The figures are
proof of the significant growth an organization can make using effective public
relations management strategies. The organization’s reach throughout the world has
enabled the charity to support various charity projects beside the initial famine relief

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2. Breadth and Scope of the role of PR professional
Public relations primarily relates to interactions between an organization and the
public (Hallahan, 2009: 211). Although the main prerogative of any organization is to
generate profits, effective public relations management focuses on improving an
organizations reputation within the community it operates by working towards
creating a positive image that attracts more of its target public without necessarily
compromising the potential for increased sales (Ledingham, 2009). Charity
organizations such as Comic Relief are particularly unique in the sense that their
target is often not income generation but the creation of awareness regarding the
charity’s objective. For instance, Comic Relief does not aim at generating profits and
therefore does not need to create awareness of the organization but needs to
highlight its cause. In turn, individuals and corporate sponsors making donations
focus mainly on the purpose communicated during PR campaigns rather than the
success, or otherwise, of the organization. The result is an increase in donations
specifically for the purpose stated during PR campaigns. Unlike advertising, the end

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goal of a PR for a charity organization is to understand and meet the needs of the
public rather than those if the organization (Scott, 2015).
Public relations management often affects various elements of an organization’s
structure including but not limited to finances, administration and social structures
(Scott, 2015). Effective public relations management would therefore require the
consideration of every element during the development and execution of PR
campaigns. Charity organizations may choose to adopt one of two approaches when
choosing PR managers that suit their needs. The first approach involves hiring
external PR agencies, which in turn select appropriate managers from among their
staff members. Secondly, a charity organization may choose to hire an in-house PR
manager to perform PR related duties, creating an agency relationship. Both
approaches bear advantages and disadvantages. Charity organizations must
therefore an approach that best serves organizational goals and objectives.
Some of the advantages resultant of hiring external PR agencies include the
availability of enough staff to run different media campaigns simultaneously,
extensive lists of media contacts and extensive knowledge of PR strategies that work

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for different clients (Ledingham, 2009). However, the large sizes of such agencies
often results in high costs for clients, generalized problem-solving strategies and
limited and sometimes result in delayed execution of campaigns owing to adoption of
numerous clients (Ledingham, 2009). In-house PR agency approach on the other
hand offers advantages such as low operational costs due to fewer employees, sole
focus on a single client’s campaigns and adequate time dedicated specifically to the
growth of an organization’s objectives (Ledingham, 2009: 183). A prominent
disadvantage of the latter agency approach is the limitation of available media
contacts to use during the execution of campaigns. Even though Comic Relief has a
small list of media contacts, the worldwide reach of the selected contacts ensures
the achievement of the organization’s objectives without increasing expenditure
costs for campaigns. The use of an in-house PR manager is therefore an effective
approach to use for the organization’s PR campaigns.

3. Effective Application of Theoretical PR Models: The Public Information and
Two-way Symmetrical Models

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In order to ensure the successful execution of PR strategies, PR managers often
adopt theoretical models that create a blueprint for use during their practical
everyday roles within an organization. Although several models exist, this paper
focuses specifically on the public information model and the two-way symmetrical
model and their application to the case study organization; Comic Relief.
The public information model focuses on the dissemination of information to the
target public population of an organization without compromising the truth or
accuracy of said information (Hallahan, 2009). The model therefore requires the
consistent use of research on pertinent issues relating to PR campaigns. The
research strategies a PR practitioner chooses to use in the application of this model
depends on the type of information sought and the target audience (Hallahan, 2009:
225). For instance, a PR manager may opt to use statistical data when collecting
information targeted at the finance department but use a qualitative approach when
researching information on social concerns, where the public is the audience. A
prominent feature of this approach is that the resulting information PR practitioners
disseminate to the public is informative in nature and geared more on promoting the

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organization’s image and campaign objectives than understanding the needs of the
people (Hallahan, 2009: 231). A resulting disadvantage is that the information
disseminated may not always address the concerns of the public, as it does not
participate in the fact collection stage. The strategy is similar to advertising except it
does not seek to enhance sales but create awareness. It is therefore one-sided in
that regard.
The two-way symmetrical model is different from the public information model in the
sense that its benefits are two-way; serving both the client and the public (Hallahan,
2009). Researchers describe this PR model as utopia in the sense that the PR
practitioner has to develop solutions that serve the problems of both parties
regardless of the fact that only one of the parties pays for the services (Hallahan,
2009: 233). This model is evident in Comic Relief’s PR approach, particularly with
regard to social media campaigns. The organization is keen to include campaign
beneficiaries during the fact-finding process through social media sites. Collection of
information from the public before the development of a PR campaign ensures that
the organization provides solutions to the public without compromising the objectives

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of the charity. The use of the public information model often applies in relation to
posters and announcements regarding the Red Nose Day and Sports Relief
telethons on BBC One.

4. Role of PR in Organizational Growth and Sustainability
According to Scott (2015), public relations management is a discipline that serves as
a tool organizations use for the achievement of long-term goals within the
organization. Some of the major goals PR aids in accomplishing include overall
organizational growth and sustainability. Scott creates a comparison between public
relations and advertising, arriving at the conclusion that even though both require
some level of marketing, expected results take longer to materialize in public
relations campaigns than in advertising campaigns (Scott 2015). However, once
realized, the benefits of public relations campaigns last longer and create a platform
through which organizations experience sustainable growth.

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Bernays and Ewen (2011) present a similar opinion stating that even though public
opinion does not yield any direct tangible benefits, it affects consumption behaviour,
feedback from the target population, credibility and the overall ranking of an
organization within its specified market. Although non-profit charity organizations
such as Comic Relief do not rely on profit as their primary motivator, it is important
for them to communicate the validity of their ideas to the public and their reliability in
fulfilling their objectives to sponsors (Bernays & Ewen 2011). One of the ways
through which Comic Relief has built its reputation as a reliable non-profit charity
organization is by ensuring the disclosure of the amount of funding raised during
campaigns such as the Red Nose Day and Sports Relief (BBC News 2015). The
organization also has a ‘golden pound’ rule that ensures that each pound donated
serves a purpose in helping alleviate the suffering of people targeted in its charity
campaigns (Comic Relief 2017).
Comic Relief’s consistent PR campaigns have also increased the number of
donation the organization has gotten over the past three decades, making it possible
to expand the scope through which it offers assistance to people that need it in the

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UK as well as other countries worldwide (BBC News, 2015). The inclusion of
comedians and choice of BBC One as the primary media through which to advertise
its campaigns have increased the amount of donations and subsequently created an
avenue through which the organization can engage in investment activities. As a
rule, the organization does not use donations for its operational expenditure (Red
Nose Day 2017). Instead, the company has created an investment portfolio that
allows it to pay its salaried employees from interests earned on investment. The
strategy has ensured that donations serve the purpose allocated while ensuring the
smooth running of the growing organization. However, sponsors such as British
Airways and Sainsbury’s supermarket chain among others contribute to the
expenditure expenses, therefore making the expansion of the organization possible
(Red Nose Day 2017).

5. Research Strategy

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Research Objective
The research objective for Comic Relief’s campaign is to develop a proactive method
of addressing problems within communities. The campaign hopes to involve
individuals from communities receiving aid by giving them active roles in campaign
development and participation. The applicable research strategy for the development
of a campaign suitable for Comic Relief will involve the use of formative research.
Formative research involves an analysis of the current situation, analysis of the
organization and the public or stakeholders involved at various levels (Smith 2012).
The formative analysis for the plan’s implementation and review lays its basis on
Ronald Smith’s ideology on communication planning. In his view, most managers
dealing with communication formulate solutions soon after identifying their problems
without paying due regard to research on their situation and analyzing available
options. Such solutions tend to be remedial in nature rather than proactive and
preventative of future episodes of the same occurrence (Smith 2012, p.24). An
analysis of the PR models currently applicable at the Comic Relief charity
organization reveal that the organization is yet to develop a communication plan for

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its campaigns that involves the people the charity seeks to help, in an active
capacity. Although the public information and two-way symmetrical models have
achieved great success in communicating the needs of the organization to the
public, it is necessary to run a campaign that actively includes people in areas where
the organization delivers different forms of aid (Waters et al, 2010: 247).
Campaign Idea
The campaign idea, dubbed ‘Laugh at my Pain’ primarily seeks to identify issues
communities within London are facing and highlight them by means of humour. The
organization will select a list of comedians from London as well as other countries
that have participated in Comic Relief’s initiatives. Each comedian will select a
pertinent social issue and highlight it through comedy. There will be three
consecutive shows running at the end of each month with the 02 Arena serving as
the venue. The arena has the capacity to hold thousands of participants and guests
attending Olympic events. It would therefore be appropriate for the comedy shows.
Role of PR in the Campaign

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The PR management team will be responsible for communicating pertinent details
regarding the event, including but not limited to the dates of events, event sponsors,
the purpose of the campaign and ways through which individuals may participate.
The team will need to develop appropriate communication methods through which to
disseminate information to the target audience without compromising the
organization’s image or reputation.
Goal of PR for Comic Relief
The idea of the campaign is to include people who have benefited from previous
Comic Relief campaigns, in different countries around the world in the creation of
region specific media campaigns around the world. The goal will be to enhance the
perception of self-reliance as a long-term solution to some of the problems the
campaign hopes to address. Including people seeking assistance into the PR
campaign as part of the two-way symmetrical model will ensure that the solutions the
campaign offers are specific to the problems experienced for optimal effectiveness.
Such a campaign would require a spokesperson with which people can relate. The
person would also need to be aware of the typical workings of a Comic Relief

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campaign, regardless of the medium chosen. The ideal spokes person for this
communication centred campaign would be Rowan Atkins (Red Nose Day, 2017).
Atkins is a comedian with a unique comedy style that does not involve the use of
words. His style would therefore be effective in communicating one message in a
way that people around the world can understand.
6. Communication Message
Types of Media Applicable for Comic Relief’s Campaign
The use of the television as a medium of communication for Comic Relief’s
campaigns in the past and present revolves around the fact that it allows
communication of messages to millions of viewers simultaneously. BBC One has
enabled the organization increase its donations by making campaign messages
available to sponsors and participants around the world. Using the medium for the
present campaign is therefore a prudent strategic choice.

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Social Media
A social media campaign targeting the youth will increase the likelihood of
success for the PR campaign by increasing the reachable audience (Waters et al,
2010). In December 2012, The Guardian reported that an independent survey
carried out Of Com on media consumption indicated that 60% of all mobile phone
users in the UK own smart phones and that consumer spend, on average, a
thousand and eighty three pounds (1,083) each on online shopping. In addition, 62%
of adults between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four years use their mobile
phones to access social networking sites such as facebook, Twitter and Instagram
(The Guardian 2012). It would therefore be prudent to include the use of such sites
to broaden the campaign’s audience. Social media platforms are also easy to use
and contain interactive features that allow generation of feedback that may be useful

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in future campaigns. Further, social media campaign will have no additional costs to
the overall campaign budget.
The use of posters is primarily helpful when dealing with establishments. Comic
Relief particularly aims at handing out posters at local restaurants, tourist attractions
and popular social venues such as bars. Having owners of such establishments
have a poster in strategic places such as menu stands and the cash registers will
reduce the need to have individual volunteers walking around the city and
distributing them personally. The move will also reduce the possibility of littering on
the streets while ensuring the target population gets the intended message (Waters
et al 2010). The campaign period will run for three month to create enough time to
advertise and obtain the necessary sponsorship and licences.

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7. Improving Reputation among Stakeholders
As mentioned earlier, the primary purpose of PR campaigns in most organizations is
to improve the image of the organization to the public and subsequently raise its
reputation (Swann, 2014). However, it is also important to consider other
stakeholders such as the government and an organization’s employees. Although
not an active participant in most non-profit organizations, governments significantly
affect the running of such organizations through policy formulation. Policies such as
tax requirements and membership restrictions and requirements for public disclosure
of financial records aid in protecting the public from dubious practices by rogue
organizations in the guise of charity. It is therefore important to ensure that
campaigns consider the role of the government and create approaches that maintain
the credibility of the organization to the government. One such approach is through
giving prior notice of intended campaigns to local authorities and seeking relevant
licences beforehand. Seeking the feedback of employees when developing and
implementing strategies for campaigns is an approach that ensures the
consideration of concerns employees may have regarding their roles in the

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campaign. Including employees in the process ensures that they understand their
roles within the campaign in relation to the overall goals and objectives of the
organization (Swann, 2014).

8. References
 BBC News (2015). “Comic relief raises £1billion over 30-year existence”. Retrieved 09.04.2017
 Bernays, E. and Ewen, S. (2011). Crystallizing Public Opinion. New York: Ig

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 Comic Relief (2017). Retrieved 09.04.2017
 Damodaran, A. (2017). Narrative and Numbers: The Value of Stories in
Business. Columbia: Columbia University Press
 Hallahan, K. (2009). Seven Models of Framing: Implications of Public
Relations, Journal of Public Relations Research 11(3): 205-242
 Ledingham, J., A. (2009). Explicating Relationship Management as a General
Theory of Public Relations. Journal of Public Relations Research 15(2): 181-
 Red Nose Day (UK) (2017). Retrieved 09.04.2017
 Scott, D., M. (2015). The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social
Media, Online Video, Mobile Application, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral
Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons
 Smith, R., D. (2012).Strategic Planning for Public relations. London:
Routledge Publisher.
 Swann, P. (2014). Cases in Public Relations Management. London:

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