Teaching visitors to a Cornish seaside town how to speak ‘gull language’ has seen an award winning South West public relations and marketing agency shortlisted for a major industry accolade.
DCA Public Relations set out to tackle the problem of gulls swooping on people with food in St Ives, West Cornwall, which was impacting on the image of the holiday destination.
Working on behalf of its client, the St Ives Business Improvement District (BID), DCA enlisted the help of a leading seabird expert to better understand gull behaviour and how to spot the tell-tale signs of an imminent bid to relieve visitors of their ice cream or chips.
The multimedia campaign included producing ‘The Daily Gull’, a greaseproof newspaper-style leaflet for fast food outlets explaining gull calls and body language, and how to respond to the birds’ animal instincts. For example the importance of visitors’ maintaining awareness of their surroundings and making eye contact with gulls to deter swooping.
The successful campaign has resulted in DCA being shortlisted in the PRCA Dare Awards. The awards celebrate the very best PR and communications professionals across the UK and are judged by a panel of highly respected industry experts split across five regions.
The DCA team impressed with its innovative way of tackling a real-life problem, while promoting St Ives as a destination, and have been shortlisted in the low budget campaign award.
John Casey, Director at DCA Public Relations, said: “We’re pleased to have been shortlisted for this highly regarded award and with such an innovative campaign that used all our in-house skills, from PR and video through to social media. We wanted to stop people seeing the birds – a protected species – as pests and instead begin to understand their actions and adapt, allowing man and bird to both enjoy their time in St Ives.
“The aim of ‘The Daily Gull’ was for local businesses such as fish and chip shops to adopt a different approach to the seasonal issue and to educate not only holiday makers but also locals about the birds, how they act and how the issue can be addressed.”
Carl Lamb, BID Manager for St Ives Business Improvement District said: “Our members were concerned about the impact that the gulls’ behaviour was having on the perception of the town. We challenged DCA to help us address the problem. Their approach was innovative and educational, but above all it grabbed the headlines and helped us get the message out far and wide to audiences on multiple channels using a variety of communication techniques.”
To create the newspaper, DCA worked with Dr Voila Ross-Smith, Science Communications Manager at The British Trust for Ornithology, to be able to understand and convey what the birds did, why they did it and how people could respond to the gulls’ animal instincts to help limit the number of swooping incidents.
The story captured the imagination of the local and national media and was featured by BBC news and in titles including the Metro online, Daily Express, Daily Star and The Sun. The BID team were also contacted by Scotland BID representatives, hoping to adopt the idea for their summer project.
DCA will now join fellow agencies at the regional final of the awards, being held in Bristol on June 15.