Great news! We are delighted to announce that we’ve been shortlisted in not one, but two categories in this year’s CIPR Excellence Awards – Best Education and Best Low Budget campaigns – for our project  ‘Autism with Attitude: Challenging Perceptions and Celebrating Success’. Organised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the professional body for our industry, the prestigious CIPR Excellence Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding work of individuals, teams and consultancies across the UK and overseas, regularly attracting over 1,000 entries each year.

Livewire PR reached over 300 million people with its campaign to challenge perceptions of autism and inspire positivity by charting the achievements of award-winning street dance troupe Autism with Attitude from Hillingdon Manor School, part of Outcomes First Group, a leading provider of outcomes-led learning, life skills, and therapeutic care for children and adults with autism, complex, and Social Emotional and Mental Health needs (SEMH).

Our brief was to raise the profile of Options Autism, a division of Outcomes First Group, whilst raising awareness and deepening public understanding of autism. By charting the achievements of groundbreaking street dance troupe Autism with Attitude and using engaging personal stories, we demonstrated that autism should no longer be perceived as a barrier to achievement and success.

We began with some key research, highlighting facts and figures about Autism – a condition affecting 700,000 people in the UK and one in every 100 individuals – that would set us apart from other SEN specialists vying for media attention. We then identified students with autism who illustrated ‘the extraordinary out of the ordinary’ – i.e. students that would be viewed by the media as having the ‘news edge’ – and ability to challenge existing stereotypes of people with autism.

This led to us working with history-making street dance troupe Autism with Attitude (AwA) from Hillingdon Manor School to highlight how those with autism can challenge perceptions of the condition and succeed.

We then brought the campaign to life! We got creative and collated a portfolio of arresting imagery and video footage with significant visual appeal to fix the attention of the media and public. We identified advocates and ambassadors such as Anna Kennedy OBE, Autism Ambassador for Outcomes First Group, who has campaigned tirelessly to help improve the education, support and public perception of young people with Asperger Syndrome and Autism.

With meticulous planning we agreed times and actions for all parties, carefully timing activity to coincide with Autism Awareness Week – using this as a springboard to highlight positive success stories about autism.

We secured interviews with registered managers of therapeutic care homes for kids with autism across the country, and created visually captivating features charting the ongoing success of AwA.

Throughout the campaign we liaised extensively with AwA’s dance teacher Jonathan Baron from Hillingdon Manor School, Autism Ambassador Anna Kennedy OBE and with Options Autism’s in-house marketing team. We primed the national and regional media ahead of key events, such as AwA’s flash mob at Heathrow Airport, where the dance troupe emerged from the crowd to break some moves, stopping travellers in their tracks and challenging public perception of autism. We also invited the media and the public to enter a ‘Sensory Bus’ stationed at Heathrow to experience the sensory overload commonly faced by many with autism  – described by some as comparable to entering a small confined space with 60 large screen TVs all on full blast with each showing different programmes.

The extraordinary level of interest this campaign has sparked is ongoing – and will have a lasting positive impact on public and professional understanding of autism. Livewire PR reached an audience of 302,819,456, exceeding KPIs set by our client. We permeated both specialist and mainstream media, propelling Options Autism into the national public eye with features on London Live!, Channel 5, across regional press and radio channels as well as in Britain’s leading dance magazine The Dancing Times and key education trade media. Ultimately this led to the group appearing on the hit BBC show The Greatest Dancer, resulting in coverage in the Daily Mail and Daily Express. An article we secured in Hillingdon & Uxbridge Times even elicited a congratulatory letter from Boris Johnson!

Our success is testimony to our strengths in creating innovative strategies and compelling content here at Livewire, and combining it with strategic thought and strong subject knowledge, exclusively for the education and technology sectors. As specialists, we’ve developed proven Public Relations Services that work consistently, helping our clients to build market awareness, engage target audiences and drive sales. They work so well that we attract a range of clients from large corporates and educational institutions to cutting edge start-ups. Get in touch if you’d like us to do the same for your business.

In the meantime, fingers crossed for a win on 25th June at the awards ceremony in London!

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