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Party Conference Reception of the Year: PLMR

Charity Conference Bingo

The 2019 PRCA Public Affairs Awards celebrated the best work of the year and below is the category's winning entry.

The Aim of the Reception

The Bingo Association wanted to run a unique party conference reception where they could highlight the wider contribution that the industry makes to our communities every day to Ministers, party members and journalists in a relaxed and friendly setting. To achieve this, PLMR organised a reception where delegates could enjoy playing multiple games of bingo, whilst winning money for a charity of their choice.

Bingo is a highly social activity at the heart of many communities across Britain, over 750,000 people visit Bingo clubs every week and there are over 39 million visits each year. The sector directly employs over 13,000 people in Great Britain.

As the industry’s trade body, the Bingo Association represents 90% of all licensed Bingo premises in Great Britain, and 100% of all Bingo clubs, they are the leading voice for the sector on political issues taking a driving seat in speaking up for the challenges that bingo clubs face and in ensuring that bingo is a well-regulated and socially responsible game.

The Association also has a strong record of charitable partnerships, working with Alzheimer's Society, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Macmillan. Most recently, The Bingo Association, its members and their customers raised an amazing £1.3 million for Variety, the children's charity.

The reception would offer the Bingo Association the chance to portray these key messages.

The Execution of the Reception

PLMR and The Bingo Association worked closely together to plan the concept of the Conference Bingo. It was decided that the focus should be on the fun element, creating an environment where delegates could get away from heavy political debate and the focus on Brexit negotiations but still engage with important political issues such as how bingo can contribute to tackling loneliness in our society.

The event was hosted at the PLMR Business Hub at 7:30pm on Monday 30th September, allowing the reception to be held in a prime location within the secure zone between the main conference hall and the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

To add to the occasion, specially designed bingo materials were prepared including blue “dabbers” and Conservative Party themed tickets that included pictures of Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “Number 10” and the Chancellor, Sajid Javid as “Number 11.”

We prepared key messaging to appear at the reception on screens throughout the room, highlighting how bingo is a vital part of communities across the country, providing players with a safe, warm and friendly environment where they can meet up with friends, family and new people in their local area.

PLMR led on securing a high-profile guest to be the special caller for the games who would act as the main draw for advertising the reception in the fringe guide and conference app. We also invited a range of guests to participate, from contacting Conservative MP offices to contacting Associations to inform their members about the reception. We also encouraged the invite to be spread organically through setting up Facebook groups containing Conservative activists.


1. Positioned The Bingo Association in front of their major political stakeholder

The first game was called by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, a landmark achievement for the Bingo Association as she is their key political stakeholder target. DCMS is particularly important for the promotion and protection of the game of bingo.

Securing the Secretary of State to the event allowed for her to meet and have discussions with the CEO of The Bingo Association, Miles Baron about these key issues and provided her with an effective introduction to how bingo is an active and fundamental part of Britain’s social infrastructure.

The other games were called by The Daily Telegraph’s Chief Political Correspondent, Christopher Hope and Associate Editor, Camilla Tominey allowing for The Bingo Association to receive high-profile exposure to important members of the lobby. As word spread around Conservative conference about the charity bingo, so too did interest from the media.

2. Achieved national media coverage of the bingo reception leading it to be called: “the big social event of the evening”

The reception was attended by cameras for Sky News and Jim Taylor, a reporter from BBC Radio 5 Live. This resulted in the reception being featured on the Emma Barnett show on the 2nd October, a clear theme from the attendees interviewed at the event was the excitement and positivity of the conference bingo.

3. “Despite torrential rain nearly a hundred delegates braved the weather to play” – raised awareness of bingo among key stakeholders

The reception was attended by over 90 people achieving the key aim of obtaining a broad base of stakeholders from across the Conservative Party, attendees included current and former Special Advisers, CCHQ staff, Parliamentary Assistants, Councillors and party members.

4. Created a long-term legacy for party conference bingo

The plan is to make the event a staple part of the conference diary at all major Party Conferences going forward, the Conservative reception went down so well that there has already been interest for attendance to next year’s event. The reception also received positive social media engagement from attendees and special guest callers.

5. Raised £1,000 for charitable causes!

The reception was so successful that we doubled the number of games played. This saw The Bingo Association donate £1,000 to charities including Help for Heroes, Cancer Research UK, MIND and The Children’s Society, with the bingo winner’s able to choose who they wanted to donate to.