Whose Side Are You On?

Liverpool Echo

Some campaigns are meticulously planned and others are spontaneous.

Whose Side Are You On? was our instinctive response to the fatal shooting in August this year of nine-year-old Olivia Pratt-Korbel - a little girl fatally wounded in her own home - the very place where she should be safe. We knew instinctively reporting on the tragedy was not enough and we appreciated early on we had to reflect the feelings of our readers, to empower them and give them a voice. Because the despair, disbelief and anguish felt by the people of Liverpool when they woke up to news of Olivia’s death was quickly replaced by anger and a determination to do the right thing. The August 24, 2022, front page was a powerful and unequivocal interpretation of a Voice of the Echo column published the previous day in which we called for an end to the so-called ‘no-grass’ culture which pervades parts of our city. It was a direct appeal to anyone with information, urging them to do the right thing, and it seemed to strike a chord. The impact was immediate and we were able to amplify our message through interviews with national and regional media. There was praise from our peers, gratitude from Merseyside Police’s Chief Constable and local politicians and gratitude from our readers for amplifying their voice. The campaign placed us at the heart of the call for anyone with information to share it with Merseyside Police and that was exactly the right place for the Liverpool Echo to be, using our considerable digital reach, social media profile and our position as a trusted news source to drive home this all-important message. And while the power of a bold front page is undeniable, we used all our platforms to ask Whose Side Are You On? Liverpool Echo editor Maria Breslin sent a special newsletter to our 121,000 daily email subscribers asking for their support and the appeal was repeated in our daily live blogs reporting on the ongoing police investigation. We created a six-minute video which was published on our Facebook, YouTube and Twitter channels. It was a compilation of direct appeals from Echo readers, children from Alder Hey Hospital’s Youth Forum and local celebrities, politicians and sports stars including TV pundit Jamie Carragher, MMA fighter Mollie McCann and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram. The video was viewed more than 20,000 times on YouTube and reached 229,000 people on Facebook. Whose Side Are You On? was not a lengthy campaign. But it was powerful and achieved its purpose. Primarily it helped empower people to do the right thing and share information with the police. It enabled us to reposition Liverpool in the eyes of the nation, ensuring Olivia’s tragic death did not define the city. Importantly it also gave people a voice and perfectly reflected the emotions of our devastated communities.