Why do we concentrate communications efforts around PolioPlus, Rotary’s flagship program? We want to build awareness that polio still exists, that we’re 99% percent of the way toward eradicating the second disease ever, and that we still need help to finish the job. We want to build recognition that Rotary is the volunteer arm of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, and have worked for 25 years toward this goal. We use communications to create a receptive environment for advocacy efforts. And we use communications to encourage parents to immunize their children.
Today I’m going to share with you an update about what we’ve been doing, and what is still to come. I’ll focus on three areas– some communications highlights from 2010, an update on our new PSA campaign, and a glimpse at some of the events on the horizon.
One of our highlights every year is World Polio Day. The widely-recognized date of October 24 th provided a hook, not only for Rotarian activities in the community, but also for media coverage. We distributed a global press release. Here are some examples of the activities that took place locally in India, Istanbul, and San Francisco, USA… and some of the media coverage for World Polio Day. Finally, you’ll see two strategically-placed op-ed pieces in India (Times of India) and Nigeria, with prominent Rotary mentions, that were coordinated through our partners. We are
As you know, we’ve seen success with international media tours. Cross-regionally, we identify reporters from significant media outlets, to accompany Rotarians in National Immunization Day activities. We have continued this push in identifying top journalists from each region to travel to India or another polio-affected area to cover the story. This year already several media tours have taken place. A story aired on the largest TV network in Korea will accompany a delegation of Rotarians from Korea to India. Reporters will also travel to India from New Zealand, Columbia, and the Netherlands in January.
We’ve also done this with reporters from France, Germany and the UK, and received good coverage in return. For example, the Guardian’s Health Editor Sarah Boseley, and BBC presenter Konnie Huq traveled to India to cover national immunization activities, with a group of 86 Rotarians. This helped to raise awareness in the UK, a major donor country, and set the scene for further Rotary outreach, fundraising, and advocacy for PolioPlus.
French health editor Sylvie Riou Milliot trip to India resulted in a 4-page spread on polio eradication in the Sept. 2009 issue of the Sciences et Avenir
Another highlight of recent months was the 23 February illumination of iconic structures and landmarks worldwide. These raise awareness not only with the illumination itself, but largely through the media attention garnered by the illumination and events planned by local Rotarians. This year’s illuminations resulted in global news coverage in broadcast, print, online and social media in approximately 20 countries.
As an added twist to this year’s 23 February lightings, Rotary along with Sanofi Pasteur rang the closing bell at the NY Stock Exchange and the opening bells at the NYSE Euronext markets all on 23 February.
One of our biggest challenges is visibility. With high-profile partners including the WHO, UNICEF, and the Gates Foundation, reporters are sometimes guilty of leaving Rotary and its presence in the GPEI out of stories. We combat that as much as possible through proactive media outreach, and advocacy within the partnership. In this Businessweek story, the reporter even interviewed Carol Pandak. Still, whenever an omission occurs, we prepare a letter of response for concerned Rotarians and often a letter directly to the reporter or editor, from IPPC Chair Bob Scott. Another challenge is messaging around the outbreaks. Whenever Rotary releases emergency funds, we issue a press release to share with the media. Here you see a few stories that discuss Rotary’s response to the outbreak in Congo, of note is the New York Times article.
You are all familiar with the “This Close” campaign, so now I’m going to give you a brief update on where we stand. We’ve created “This Close” PSAs in print, TV, radio, transit and web versions, which will be distributed to Rotarians at IA. The campaign will launch on 31 January 2010. The next step is increasing regionalization and enhancing the role of the “This Close” ambassadors.
Here is a quick look at the “This Close” participants’ print PSAs. Ted Turner also recently joined the campaign.
Here are a few examples of these PSAs “in the field.” Airport placements in Montreal and South Africa. As well as some publications including the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and Asiana Airlines in-flight magazine.
The next step in the “This Close” campaign is regionalizing both the print and the television ads, using notables that resonate locally and regionally. Here are some examples from Pakistan: Germany (Norbert Lammert, the speaker of the Parliament) In Nigeria, singer Dan Maraya Jos In Benin, popular singer Zeynab Abib. Korean ballerina Sue-Jin Kang Staff Benda Bilili– from DR Congo but touring in Europe– most of the members are polio survivors .
Italian actress Maria Cucinotta -- best known for her roles in Il Postino and the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough. Cucinotta attended the 2011 End Polio Now illumination at the Trevi Fountain in Rome to show her support for Rotary's fight against polio World-famous Belgian cyclist Eddie Merckx.
All new This Close PSAs are available for download at the new media center.
Cherno Jobatey has joined the campaign as goodwill ambassador in Germany. He is a well-known TV journalist and host of the ZDF morning television. A localized This Close spot has been produced with a small Berlin based ad agency.
As part of the next phase of the “This Close” campaign, we are developing a television PSA centered around the same theme. This will be distributed widely in N. America starting in January 2011.
We are now adding a social media component to the “This Close” campaign to generate widespread awareness and engage the Rotary community and the general public alike. The new online application enables supporters to participate in the campaign by customizing the print advertisement and sharing with through email and social media.
Finally, here’s just a quick rundown of a few initiatives that are on the horizon.
Polio PR / communication
PolioPlus Communications Richard Wainwright/ Jersey Rotary