This assignment is based on a fictional PR challenge, but one that is inspired by plans to increase the
capacity of several airports across the UK.
You are asked to adopt the role of a consultant within a PR agency, submitting a proposal document to
Bristol Airport to communicate its plans to build a second terminal and extend the runway. Your proposal
should outline the communication techniques that you intend to use when the announcement is made by
Bristol Airport in Autumn 2016. In order to create an appropriate proposal, you are required to analyse the
key issues and stakeholders involved, develop a strategy, recommend tactics and summarise how
communications activity will be evaluated.
Although practically focused, this assessment requires a more academic slant than might be the case in real
life. You are expected to integrate academic concepts and theories from the course, and your own reading,
to underpin your work and support the judgements you are making. In this regard it is essential that you
properly reference all books, journals, websites and other reference sources used in your report.
The Assignment Task
The brief below is being sent out confidentially to some of the PR agencies in the UK who have been
approved to work for Bristol Airport. You have been asked to develop a proposal to communicate the UK
announcement that Bristol Airport wishes to build a second terminal and extend the existing runway. You
are required to respond to this brief with a full set of PR recommendations (both strategic and
tactical/creative) to cover one of the stakeholder groups identified within this brief.
This is a fictional brief for Bristol Airport, which is a real airport in the South West of England. It was first
opened as Bristol (Lulsgate) Airport in 1957, and was named Bristol International Airport from 1997 to
2010, before being re-branded as Bristol Airport. The Airport is licensed by the Civil Aviation Authority
(CAA) for the public transport of passengers and flying instruction.
In 2003, the UK Government produced a White Paper titled â€˜The Future of Air Transportâ€™ which set out a
strategic framework for the development of air travel over the next 30 years. The paper included
recommendations for increasing capacity at several airports in the UK, including Bristol Airport. Following
the White Paper, airport operators were expected to produce plans detailing their future development
activity. Since 2011, Bristol Airport has been carrying out expansion in stages, including new aircraft
parking stands, two multi-storey car parks, an airport hotel, and extensions to the existing terminal. This
fictional brief assumes that Bristol Airport now wishes to build a second terminal on the south side of the
airport and to extend the runway.
As well as using the information in the brief below to develop your response, you may wish to research
Bristol Airport, its communication with existing stakeholders, recent media discussion of airport
expansions, and other examples of communication around the development of other airports in the UK.
However, please do not contact Bristol Airport, its stakeholders, or any other airport operators.
Bristol Aiport is approximately eight miles southwest of Bristol city centre and serves the South West of
England, specifically Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset and West Wiltshire. In 2014, over six million
passengers passed through the Airport, and services are provided by a wide range of airlines, including full
service scheduled airlines, â€˜no frillsâ€™ airlines, and charter airlines.
This brief assumes that Bristol Airport wishes to build a second terminal on the south side of the airport
and extend the existing runway by approximately 400 metres. The airport expansion aims to reduce the
South Westâ€™s reliance on airports outside the region (particularly Gatwick and Heathrow), and reduce the
need for long surface journeys to these airports. The new terminal and runway extension would widen the
range of services for business and leisure travel, in particular to long haul destinations. The extended
runway would enable flights to long haul destinations, such as Chicago, Florida and the Caribbean, which
are not supported by the current shorter runway.
The cost of building the terminal and extending the runway is estimated at Â£800 million, and construction
is expected to take place over a five-year period. The project would be funded by Bristol Airport, which is
owned by the Ontario Teachersâ€™ Pension Plan. The completed development would create an estimated
2500 jobs through direct and indirect employment.
Airport expansion is controversial in the UK. At the local level, concerns focus on noise, air quality, traffic
generation and urbanisation. At the global level, the major issue is the greenhouse gas emissions from
airports, which contribute to climate change. The Stop Bristol Airport Expansion Group unsuccessfully
campaigned against the previous airport development, supported by Bristol Friends of the Earth and
Campaign to Protect Rural England.
North Somerset Council is the local planning authority for Bristol Airport, and will be responsible for
approving the plans for a second terminal and runway extension. Bristol Airport lies within the green belt,
and the development would require some loss of the green belt. Planned developments in green belt areas
are required to demonstrate that their benefits outweigh the harm to the green belt. Part of Felton Common
would need to come under the airportâ€™s control, which is currently designated as a Local Nature Reserve,
and some of the houses adjacent to Felton Common would likely be affected by increased noise. Any
properties that would be adversely affected by the development would be eligible for a voluntary purchase
To expand Bristol Airport as proposed, changes would also need to be made to the surface access links to
the airport, both road and public transport, to improve accessibility and reduce traffic congestion.
Your agency has been discretely asked to draft a communication proposal for UK communication activity
around the announcement that Bristol Airport plans to build a second terminal and extend the runway. For
the purposes of this assignment, you are asked to choose and justify ONE stakeholder group to prioritise
your communication with. The word limit precludes covering a wider range of audiences; however, you
may wish to refer to other stakeholders in your analysis.
Bristol Airport is keen to stress the benefits of a second terminal and runway extension. You are expected
to provide strategic and creative public relations proposals for communication of the announcement, as
well as an outline of communications activity for the following six months in the UK.
This will be supported by a planning application handled by a law firm in Bristol You are NOT expected
to make suggestions for handling the planning process.
To help generate support for the decision to build a second terminal at Bristol Airport and extend the
PR objectives (general guidelines only: to be confirmed/ developed/ added to by your agency)
! To ensure that the news of the announcement is received by your chosen stakeholder group
! To minimise the potential for criticism of the announcement
! To offer the opportunity for your stakeholders to show their support
Potential stakeholders (again this is for agency to consider, research and analyse)
Potential stakeholders fall into three distinct groups, which can be further subdivided:
o The local parishes most affected by the airportâ€™s operations are Winford, Wrington,
Backwell, Brockley, Cleeve and Barrow Gurney
o The houses adjoining Felton Common in particular are likely to be affected by increased
noise following the expansion
! Local politicians
o The local planning authority for Bristol Airport is North Somerset Council
o Other interested parties include the planning and transportation teams at North Somerset,
Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset, and Gloucestershire councils
o Regional bodies include the South West Regional Development Agency and the
Government Office of the South West
! Existing employees
o Bristol Airport currently employs just over 200 people directly
o There is a wider employee community of nearly 3000 people who work for around 50
For you to recommend according to the stakeholder group you are focusing on.
Possible Communication Channels
For you to recommend according to the stakeholder group you are focusing on.
Â£100,000. The size of the budget provides good flexibility for a wide scope of activity. You should indicate
how this budget would be spent.
The announcement will be made in September 2016.
Accountability is clearly a fundamental requirement. The agency is required to indicate how it would
evaluate the specific PR activities in the context of their own identified PR objectives.
Agencies are asked to respond to this brief with a comprehensive, persuasive and well rationalised report
evaluating the PR challenges and opportunities facing Bristol Airport and providing clear recommendations
on how PR can play a key role in helping them to achieve their overall objectives.
Your report is expected to cover the following (you may wish to use these as headings in your
! Environmental scanning - assessment of the broader environmental issues affecting the project
! PR challenges and opportunities â€“ assessment of the specific public relations challenges and opportunities
involved in the project
! Stakeholder analysis - consideration and prioritisation of potential stakeholders
! PR objectives - clear PR objectives for your one prioritised stakeholder group
! PR strategy - an overall PR strategy and action plan for your prioritised stakeholder group, including
creativity in suggesting PR tactics to be used in the campaign, justification of how these will achieve the
stated objectives, and consideration of costs and timings
! Planned evaluation - how you would plan to evaluate the campaign
! Please only use appendices if absolutely necessary: they should not be used as a means to include new
data as they will not be marked; they should only include data to support/illustrate points made in the
main text and must be referred to in the main text.
The report should
! Be in a Microsoft Word format to allow feedback, with 1.5 line spacing
! Be submitted online via Blackboard
! Use headings and subheadings to provide clear structure
! Include brief contents page, summary and conclusion
! Use diagrams, charts or images where they help support your argument
! Be spellchecked and grammatically correct
! For the avoidance of doubt, anything in the main body of the report beyond this word limit of 2000
will not be read or marked. The word count includes everything in the main body of the text listed
here: abstract, text, headings, tables, citations, quotes, lists, acronyms and numbers expressed as
digits or in words. It does NOT include the contents page or the references.