Looking for a career in a “helping profession”? Chances are, public relations won’t make your list of options.
But over the course of a long career in PR, I’ve been gratified to see how often the PR pros at Sachs Media Group have been able to use our professional skills to help people in real, tangible, measurable ways – especially children.
September is Child Awareness Month, which seems like a good time to reflect on some of our breakthrough campaigns that helped make a difference in the lives of Florida’s youngest residents.
When the State of Florida engaged us to rebrand Florida’s public adoption system, the adoption experts issued this challenge: Help us feature and find homes for the kids who wait the longest in foster care – teenagers, sibling groups, kids with disabilities.
The Explore Adoption campaign leveraged insights from dozens of stakeholder interviews to shape a welcoming campaign that invited people in to hear the real-life stories of adoptive parents. This gratifyingly successful campaign drove web traffic and calls to help Florida achieve back-to-back record years for public adoption.
Don’t Miss the Signs
When the Florida Legislature changed the law to clarify that everyone has a responsibility to report child abuse, we created the Don’t Miss the Signs campaign to help Floridians overcome their reluctance to report abuse. We used bright, non-threatening imagery to grab attention and then educate about the signs of child abuse at different ages.
By emphasizing that people should report if they have concerns and then leave it to the professionals to investigate, Don’t Miss the Signs increased calls to the hotline and to the state’s new online reporting system.
How do you take child sexual abuse – a long-taboo topic only whispered about – out of the shadows and arm children with the information they need to recognize an abuser’s traps and stay safe? Helping Lauren Book and the Lauren’s Kids foundation do just that has to be one of our proudest professional accomplishments.
Even before Lauren became a state Senator, we supported her pioneering work to create award-winning curricula for grades K-12, generated sustained media coverage for her statewide awareness walk across Florida, and produced a 30-minute television special on the topic that won a national Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media Foundation.
Florida is known for its balmy temperatures and ubiquitous swimming pools, but that lifestyle asset also puts our youngest citizens at great risk. Drowning is the leading cause of injury deaths among children under 4 in the Sunshine State, prompting the Department of Health to work with us to develop an educational campaign for pool owners.
Working with pool services, contractors, and equipment suppliers, we created the Waterproof campaign to promote awareness of the risks and reinforce steps to prevent child drowning deaths.
Kids Oughta Be Covered
Florida had great programs to make sure all children have access to health insurance, but consumers faced a confusing alphabet soup of program names to find the right one. We simplified the search with an anthemic campaign name, Kids Oughta Be Covered, which drove home the message that all kids should have health insurance.
The campaign featured cute imagery of children protected by all sorts of coverings, from umbrellas to tents, and included a youthful superhero in a cape – Kid Care. The campaign launch generated 56 million media impressions, and our digital marketing campaign increased application submissions by 23 percent. Those are super-powered results.
First 1,000 Days Florida
How do you get policymakers to recognize and invest in the crucial first 1,000 days of children’s lives? First, you create a compelling message for each of your key stakeholders and make the case for why those investments are good for business, good for taxpayers, and good for families.
Then you create a website that puts that messaging front and center and gives visitors the chance to advocate in favor of issues of critical importance to Florida’s youngest citizens. Our work in creating first1000daysfl.org is helping to recruit, arm, and energize the public to advocate for the needs of young children.
Pinwheels for Prevention
Every April, the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida raises awareness about child abuse prevention by planting colorful pinwheels on partners’ lawns throughout the state. We helped the Ounce arm neighbors with clear action steps by creating this 5-step call to action:
- Notice families under stress.
- Offer a helping hand.
- Give an hour of your time.
- Connect a family with resources.
- Talk about healthy child development.
Then we produced a warm television PSA of a neighbor noticing a stressed mom with two young children as she struggled to unload groceries, and stepping in to help.
Florida Healthy Start
It can be challenging to educate policymakers on the impact of Florida’s Healthy Start coalitions and encourage them to maintain sufficient budget and service levels for the years ahead. To accomplish this, you first conduct a comprehensive analysis and identify high-impact messaging. Then, you produce rich digital imagery and video and place it in front of Florida policymakers, politicos, Healthy Start employees, and supporters on social media.
Our social media campaign helped Florida Healthy Start Coalition messaging reach more than 19,000 influential stakeholders, including more than 100 state policymakers. As a result, Healthy Start maintained funding levels and its coalitions continued to provide valuable prenatal and family health services across Florida.
Can PR be wielded as a force for good? You betcha.