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Spreading the word

ICE news - Last week's State of the Nation report generated media coverage for the ICE from local to international level.

THE TOTAL amount of media coverage generated by this year's State of the Nation report has yet to be counted, but it already stands at over 100 different items or 'hits', and One Great George Street is condent that the final figure will be somewhere in the region of treble this amount.

Launched before an audience of MPs at the ICE last Tuesday, hits ranged from president Gordon Masterton tangling with Vanessa Feltz on BBC London radio, to the Yorkshire Post using the report to back its own pro-motorway campaign, to stories featured in such international media as The Wall Street Journal and Reuters.

ICE vice-president for marketing and communications David Orr says that this year's report went a long way to meeting concerns of the last ICE membership satisfaction survey.

Members wanted above anything else for us to get our message across to the government and to raise the prole of civil engineers in society, ' says Orr. 'I think State of the Nation has carried out both those aims magnicently.' By far the two members of the ICE busiest with promoting State of the Nation were president Gordon Masterton and ICE Water Board chairman John Lawson.

On a national level, the ICE chose to push water as the main item on its agenda in this year's report and in particular the need for effluent recycling. The idea of drinking sewage caught the imagination of newsrooms up and down the country.

'This meant I found myself constantly answering the question: 'So you expect us to drink sewage?'' says Lawson.

'However, I was able to explain that effluent reuse was proven to be a safe, successful method of producing drinking water and then use that as the opportunity to go on to talk about wider issues such as compulsory metering.' Having given interviews for national newspapers and NCE on the Monday, Lawson spent the whole of Tuesday 17 October under the spotlight.

His day started at 5am, waking up in his London hotel to be ready for a live broadcast on Radio Five Live at 6.50am.

From there he went to BBC News 24, and his day continued with back to back interviews for various BBC local radio and television outlets until the ofcial launch on Tuesday evening.

Lawson says that one of his best experiences during the hectic day was an interview with BBC Radio Manchester. 'They had obviously done a phonein on effluent reuse before my interview, ' says Lawson.

'They played a few of the responses, which were actually surprisingly mature and intelligent. One guy said: 'Yeah why not, they do it already, ' which was great because he had some knowledge of the issues.

Another caller said that she would be happy as long as the treatment of the effluent could be proved as safe.

'The radio journalist was trying to stir it up and sensationalise the issue, but the public were actually very mature and open to the idea, which was great to know.' This year's State of the Nation was the first to include regional examples and briefing sheets in addition to the national agenda.

Orr says that the coverage generated in local press is proof that this move paid off. 'I'm particularly pleased that the regions have really used it to maximise their voice, ' he adds.

One region that gave particularly high levels of coverage was Yorkshire and Humberside.

The region focused on, among other things, local transport and, in particular, the need to widen the M1 and M62 and improve transport links to the Humber ports.

This tied in very well with the Yorkshire Post's Road to Ruin campaign for a fair deal on the region's transport funding and State of the Nation was given Tuesday's front page, with the headline 'Yorkshire economy facing roadblock'.

ICE Yorkshire and Humber regional manager David Tattersall says: 'I think the main reason we had success is that we chosethe right subjects that local people could identify with.'

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