Project Description

Notting Hill Carnival

For the first time in the 50 year history of Notting Hill Carnival, an event management company, SEC, was contracted to take over the management and logistics of delivering a better, safer Carnival in 2017.

Managing the staging of a safe, celebratory carnival, the largest street-based event of its type in Europe, is a complex challenge. Andrew Hillier is appointed Director of Communications, bringing strategic communications expertise to the senior leadership team.

Notting Hill Carnival - Europe's largest street-based event

Strategic communications expertise

Having served as chief communications officer with two of the statutory agencies overseeing Notting Hill Carnival, Andrew Hillier has experience of the event’s structure, communications, public safety, licensing and news management dating back to 2001. This expertise, backed up with formal emergency planning training, is invaluable, adding credibility to the event management contractor’s senior leadership team.

First ever comprehensive, integrated communications strategy

Andrew Hillier and the team at Hillier Consulting devised the event’s first professional integrated corporate communications, PR, stakeholder engagement and marketing strategy. Particular attention was paid to aspects such as public safety and security, youth participation and educational opportunities, the ethnic and cultural roots of carnival, a strong, dynamic online and social media presence, effective liaison with event partners and promotion of the carnival arts. Also for the first time, environmental sustainability and a drive for a green event were key to the strategy. The comprehensive strategy was submitted to, and welcomed by the Mayor of London, local authorities and the Metropolitan Police.

News media welcomed and supported

Fractured relationships with news media have been an unwelcome feature of carnival history. In a complete and welcome break with the past, Andrew Hillier reached out to all news media to encourage their attendance and coverage of the event. Protected media vantage points are to be established around the route allowing TV unrestricted coverage from secure static viewing points. Roaming news media are welcomed and a special news resource and media centre is established at the heart of the event. Early liaison with news and photo agencies and news desks is established to ensure access is available and lines of communication are open.

New website is the authoritative source of event news

Ownership and management of Carnival has in the past typically reflected the spontaneous, free-spirited character of the event and its participants. Public safety and a climate of heightened public security means there is a requirement for a single authoritative source of official event news. Hillier Consulting designed and produced a new Notting Hill Carnival website in record time. The site included news, resident engagement, administrative matters such as on-street parking suspensions, road closures, public transport arrangements, first-aid and public lavatory provision, an online interactive map, the history and tradition of carnival disciplines, advice for carnival goers, event timings and sound stages with details of acts, MCs and DJs.  This is the first time such a source of information has been produced with social media channels all linking to the website and all continuously updated in real time.

Senior level liaison with statutory agencies

Andrew Hillier provided senior liaison with the Mayor of London’s office, the Metropolitan Police and other statutory agencies. He also served as point of contact for local Members of Parliament, local authority elected members and journalists.

The Grenfell Fire disaster brought tragedy and grief to Carnival, drastically altering the nature of the event. Much of the preparation and planning for Carnival was adjusted and slimmed down to take account of the harrowing events, the bereavement, shock and sense of loss experienced in Carnival’s community and far beyond.

Notwithstanding the catastrophe of Grenfell and its devastating impact upon the Carnival neighbourhood, Hillier Consulting created and delivered the first comprehensive integrated communications strategy for Notting Hill Carnival.