COVID-19 Communications Support

Background

FCC Environment is one of the UK’s leading recycling and waste management companies, minimising the amount of waste that ends up in landfill by transforming it into valuable resources wherever possible, helping local authorities and businesses deal with their waste as efficiently as possible while meeting all statutory and regulatory requirements.

BECG was retained in March 2019 to provide FCC Environment with media relations support to deliver proactive and reactive press office services, campaigns and crisis / issues management at both national and regional level.

Over the year since first appointment, BECG’s role has evolved into delivering more comprehensive strategic counsel and tactical public affairs / government relations on an ongoing basis, as well as internal communications as required, alongside the original media relations and crisis / issues management remit.

Key project information

With the outbreak of COVID-19 and UK lockdown in March 2020, key workers across the UK remained on the frontline continuing to deliver for the nation. Along with countless professionals in the emergency services, health, social care and other vital sectors, the list of essential workers also included waste management.

About 107,000 people working in the waste and resource management sector across the UK were identified by Government as key workers. Among them were a large number of FCC Environment employees – including waste collection crews and on-site staff at sites still in operation, such as Energy from Waste (EfW), Materials Recycling Facilities (MRFs) and waste transfer stations – each committed to playing their part to help keep the country running during the crisis.

Throughout the ongoing crisis, FCC Environment has continued to work alongside its sector peers to provide input to Government on the maintenance of vital waste management services, including the re-opening of local household recycling centres (HRCs), while prioritising and protecting the health of keyworkers and the communities in which they work.

Critical to FCC Environment’s work during such times has been the need to ensure strong, frequent, and consistent communications to key audiences – including employees, clients, members of the public and wider stakeholders such as MPs.

How we assisted

Among some positives to emerge from the dire context of coronavirus was mounting public goodwill towards keyworkers, putting themselves at risk to help others.

Working closely with FCC Environment and its local authority clients across the country, BECG developed a series of good news stories during lockdown, celebrating the national sentiment and tailored to reflect local community initiatives – such as children leaving colourful drawings on their household bins for collection crews, and residents sending warm messages of thanks across social media channels.

Other stories showed how employees at FCC Environment helped ‘pay the goodwill forward’, including how one bin crew chose to donate Easter eggs gifted to them by the community in turn to a local children’s hospital and hospice. Another FCC Environment team delivered furniture and household items to support homeless people being set up in accommodation during lockdown, and others helped restore a hospital garden for patients and staff to use.

Meanwhile, further good news stories shared how local businesses or enterprises supported their waste and recycling teams in various ways, such as a local gin distiller turning its supplies and experience to produce hand sanitisers for keyworkers, including its bin crew.

As lockdown continued, BECG helped FCC Environment develop and roll out its creative community campaign ‘Let’s Spread Some Sunshine!’ – providing design and PR support to encourage local children to showcase their artistic and green-fingered skills by making more colourful pictures for their bin crews, this time in return for sunflower seeds that they could grow to cheer up their neighbourhoods and join in with a fun community competition to grow the tallest sunflower during lockdown.

BECG promoted each piece of good news to local and regional media through a series of press releases and photo stories, with strong supporting visual graphics. BECG worked to ensure each story had the right tone and messages for each local authority area and produced tailored media lists to support the distribution of each.

BECG also identified and pursued national media opportunities to showcase FCC Environment’s good work and helped produce visual materials for internal communications purposes, such as updates from the CEO and a visual summary of the local stories and resulting press coverage.

Outcome

In less than a month, BECG produced and issued 16 tailored press releases related to FCC Environment’s work and community endeavours during COVID-19. This fast-moving approach resulted in extensive national, local and trade coverage for FCC Environment across broadcast, print and online media, including BBC Radio and The Telegraph.

Client testimonial

“BECG has been very diligent and proactive with our PR strategy during the COVID-19 crisis, working as a seamless extension of our in-house communications team to deliver such comprehensive and reliable support throughout the rapidly evolving situation.”

Julie Fourcade, Head of External Affairs, FCC Environment