Friday, June 24, 2011

A Healthy Future Within Reach

Along with being the principal of Brownstone PR, I am also the VP of Development for Stars Within Reach – a nonprofit organization that takes individuals in the entertainment, sports, and political sector, corporations, and organizations and partners them with charitable causes, to provide tangible solutions to some of our most prevalent societal issues.  Annually, the organization embraces 12 causes – one for each month – and implements a multimedia effort to raise awareness and dollars for support.

The organization’s platform is a PR dream, as each campaign is comprised of a community relations effort, but also allows for creative social media implementation, strategic marketing, and unique partnership opportunities that allow for increased (and ongoing) media results. 

Take the organization’s ‘A Healthy Future Within Reach’ initiative.

Mayor Michael Nutter, Congressman Chaka Fattah, Senator Larry Farnese, 76er Lou Williams, Eagles tight end Cornelius Ingram, Girard College president Autumn Adkins Graves, Health Partners, The Food Trust, and more joined Stars Within Reach and the Point Breeze Performing Arts Center to launch ‘A Healthy Future Within Reach’ – an interactive, multimedia campaign to raise awareness for childhood obesity and the lack of healthy eating options in the Philadelphia community of Point Breeze, and to turn the vacant lot at 1622-1648 Point Breeze Avenue into a healthy food source for 100+ families living in the area.

Via weekly PSAs and blogs on the Stars Within Reach website, ‘A Healthy Future Within Reach’ featured such footage as Mayor Nutter discussing the importance of eating healthy, Congressman Fattah and Eagles tight end Ingram promoting regular exercise and activity, Senator Farnese speaking on the lasting effects of an unhealthy lifestyle, and Point Breeze resident Abdul Brown, 13, talking about life with Type I Diabetes.

When crafting the campaign, we understood the importance of getting notable figures on board to assist us in communicating the effort’s message. In order to draw individuals to the Stars Within Reach website to view the videos – and in turn, donate to the effort – we had to get individuals who folks knew and who they were interested in hearing speak.  What’s more, as part of their participation, we knew the notables would post the video they were featured in on their highly trafficked websites, along with including the video on their social media networks.

Media interest was instant, primarily for two reasons: (1) the issue of childhood obesity and lack of healthy eating options in urban areas being such a hot topic (thanks in part to our first lady, Michelle Obama!) and (2) Point Breeze being the location for the initiative, as the community has experienced ongoing revitalization efforts over the last 2-3 years.  Having the notable figures on board for the initiative provided a little more ‘shine’, as the average viewer or reader will listen to just about anything if it’s coming from someone like the Mayor or a 76er star player!

Broadcast, print and online media placements resulted in immediate hits on the Stars Within Reach website, and 25% of fundraising secured.

When it came to incorporating social media, Facebook was used by our notable participants to promote their PSAs, while Stars Within Reach focused primarily on Twitter and YouTube. Each video was able to go viral as we utilized the Stars Within Reach YouTube channel to assist in promotion.  On Twitter, we developed the hashtag #AHealthyFuture, and had each of our notable participants tweeting on the day that their video was posted on the Stars Within Reach site, and for the remainder of the month. Between the 7 notables on Twitter – and some of our media/marketing partners - there are 139,572 unique followers in total. 

Social media efforts resulted in a 110% increase of daily visitors to the Stars Within Reach site, and 30% of fundraising secured.

The uniqueness of the effort attracted the support of Walmart. The company has come on board as the Title Sponsor for the initiative, having committed to matching each donation, dollar for dollar, up to $40,000. What’s more, thanks to media and social media efforts, The Lomax Foundation has come on board as a Major Sponsor, and Whole Foods on South Street will host a 5% day for the ‘A Healthy Future Initiative’ on Tuesday, June 28 – with 5% of the day’s sales going to support the effort.

Public relations is not just securing media placements; rather, it’s a strategic and cohesive effort that encompasses a multitude of platforms to creatively communicate one message and yield positive results. I believe ‘A Healthy Future Within Reach’ does just that, and more!

This blog post was written by Megan R. Smith. Megan R. Smith is the founder and president of Brownstone PR, a Philadelphia-based media and public relations agency serving individuals and companies in the areas of technology, finance, hospitality, lifestyle/entertainment, and sports.

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