UK-Russia Year of Culture – British Council

AMEC Awards 2015Category: Best use of Measurement of a Single Event
Client/Entering Company: British Council
Campaign title: UK-Russia Year of Culture
Company Name: PR News


2014 was announced the UK-Russia Year of Culture in a diplomatic agreement between the countries. This Year of Culture included hundreds of different events held either in Russia or Great Britain. Those events belonged to different spheres: art, education, music, theatre, etc. The British Council was the key organizer of the Year. The British Council is a non-profit international organization, the goal of which is to develop cooperation between Russia, Great Britain, and other countries in the spheres of education, culture, and art. The Year of Culture was supposed to be a significant and unique event in the social and cultural life of Russia, as well as a platform for the promotion of the British Council: it was supposed to increase people’s awareness of the Council’s activity and form a sustainably positive image of the British Council within the target audiences and among the existing and possible sponsors.

In late 2014, the British Council ordered an analysis of a campaign to promote the UK-Russia Year of Culture in the traditional media from PR News Partners. The main goals of the analysis was to evaluate the efficiency of the promotion of the British Council and the Year, develop a list of recommendations concerning further PR activity and the invitation of investment from sponsors. The importance of the expert analysis of the Council’s activity was, among other things, caused by the difficult political situation in 2014 – it made the promotion of the Year complicated.

Based on the client’s request and strategic PR goals, PR News set the following objectives to its study:

  • development of a complex model evaluating the efficiency of the PR campaign;
  • analysis of the peculiarities of the British Council’s image in different contexts (education, music, culture, etc.);
  • analysis of media coverage risks and their influence on the campaign;
  • compilation of a list of recommendations to improve coverage of future events.


The main peculiarity of the project lied in the fact that the Year of Culture was a complex object in terms of media analysis, as it included a big number of events each with its own coverage.

To solve this issue, PR News chose a complex approach to the evaluation of media activity quality suggested by the AMEC as part of its international media study standards. This approach included a number of qualitative and quantitative evaluation parameters.

British Council Case Study

Besides the conventional parameters we used integral criteria based on the basic laws of social perception (J. Bruner, D. Norman, U. Neisser), including whether the coverage of the project followed a certain plotline or script. This criterion demonstrates the quality of the target audiences’ understanding of the key messages. Moreover, the analysis of the coverage tone was based on three universal perception pairs: strength-weakness, activeness-passiveness and attractiveness-unattractiveness.

The study was aimed at the complex analysis of the coverage of the Year of Culture and the detection of the key peculiarities of the B ritish Council coverage, which should be taken into consideration for the purposes of future promotion of the organization and its activities.


The study spanned coverage by the Russian national and regional media outlets throughout 2014. The events of the Year of Culture differed in format and structure, belonging to different spheres (culture, music, art, education, English language, social affairs) and types (exhibitions, concerts, theatre plays, educational programs, forums, seminars, etc.).

Coverage of the British Council and the events of the UK-Russia Year of Culture (87 events) was the main object of the study.


  • The UK-Russia Year of Culture was widely covered by the traditional media, with average monthly coverage amounting to 950 articles/programs. The events of the Year of Culture and the British Council were covered by a total of 2,088 media outlets across the country (see Appendix 1).
  • Among the analyzed events, 29 were initiated by the British Council and 58 were supported by it. The qualitative and quantitative analysis of the coverage showed that The Hitchcock 9 Screenings, the 15th New British Film Festival and Selector Live were the most efficiently promoted events initiated by the British Council. Their coverage was mostly positive, used a variety of formats and quoted a lot of speakers, and all three projects were clearly personified.
  • The events of the UK-Russia Year of Culture set the context for the promotion of the British Council’s activities in the following 10 areas: business, contests & grants, learning English, awards, science & high technology, fashion & design, education, society, art and culture. Previously, the British Council was mostly known to the general public as an educator and the coverage in the context of the Year of Culture helped significantly broaden this view by communicating the messages that it supported and developed culture and allowed wide audiences to get acquainted with unique cultural heritage.
  • Using the script-based method we broke down the sequence of the coverage (see Appendix 2) and found out that it had gone through all stages that were necessary from the viewpoint of social perception. The announcement and development-of-the-story stages were the most prominent ones, which can be explained by the nature of the promotion campaign. It is also logical, given the order that events usually unfold in, which goes as follows: announcement  event (reports)  evaluation, reviews and analyses. Each stage corresponded to a certain key message (Appendix 3).

The efficiency of the promotion of the British Council and the events of the Year of Culture in the Russian media is proven by impressive qualitative and quantitative results reflecting the width and depth of the reach:

  • A high degree of headline exposure, a wide variety of coverage formats and genres, numerous quotes and a high level of personification warranted successful promotion of the Year of the Culture events. Based on the results of the study, we developed suggestions for the British Council to adjust its communication strategy and find the optimal formats of communication with the target audiences.
  • A wide range of topics and messages expanded the perception of the British Council from a primarily educational organization to an organization that also works in such areas as culture, art, science, technology, etc.
  • By working with sponsors, the British Council was able to extend its range of partners and opportunities to promote its activities.

Name of contact: Lilia Glazova
Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +7 (495) 789-4259