12 Days of Havas: K.I.D.S.

As part of the 12 Days of Havas and for the 2012 holiday season, Havas PR and Havas Health are focusing efforts on giving back to those in need.

Though superstorm Sandy has passed, much of her destruction remains. To ensure a bright holiday for children affected by the storm, Havas has chosen to donate new kid essentials to an organization called Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S.).

Founded in 1985, K.I.D.S. has been committed to providing children and teens who have been affected by poverty and tragedy with the essentials they need. To date, it has provided nearly $1 billion to help approximately 70 million children. In light of the hurricane, K.I.D.S. has also activated a unique 10-to-1 matching system, matching $10 worth of product for every $1 donated.

For our part, we have asked the Havas community to give newly purchased items, from baby products to books and puzzles.

Living on the Upper East Side, I was fortunate enough to be only mildly affected by the tremendous storm. For days, people uptown were focused on the news, watching story after story, image after image of those who were so severely affected—some of whom were just miles away.

Morgan Calef and I decided to give books to the K.I.D.S. organization and spent an evening at Barnes & Noble sifting through our childhood favorites. Finding classics like the Berenstain Bears and Amelia Bedelia, Morgan and I were excited to share our memories with kids just making their own.

I am proud that Havas has chosen to give relief this holiday season to those affected by the storm and was thrilled that I could be a part of it. For more information about this wonderful organization or to donate, visit kidsdonations.org.

12 Days of Havas: Bob Woodruff Foundation

Each year as my family sits around the dinner table at the holidays, my father, a Vietnam veteran, takes a moment to remember our troops. It’s always a special reminder about how lucky we are to be celebrating the holidays with our family and that it is in huge part thanks to the men and women of our military who have given up that opportunity in order to fight for our country.

Since joining Havas PR nearly three years ago, I have been lucky to work on a lot of the agency’s special events, and I have taken the lead role on many of our cause initiatives. One of my favorite projects has been helping the Bob Woodruff Foundation with its annual Stand Up for Heroes, which honors veterans and service members and raises awareness and funds for programs that help them.

Before working with the foundation, I was like everyone else: I got teary watching Internet videos of soldiers returning home to their families, I shook my head when hearing the number of soldiers injured while serving our country, and I couldn’t believe the staggering percentage of warriors suffering from post-traumatic stress (one in three!). But unless you know someone directly affected by these wars, this information doesn’t quite seem real.

As part of our work this year, I met absolutely incredible people who, despite all that they have sacrificed, still have a smile on their face. Like Aaron Mankin, a Marine who was severely burned during an IED attack. I listened to Aaron bravely tell his story with a little bit of humor, letting everyone know that although he might look different on the outside, deep down he’s still pretty much the same guy he was before he went to Iraq.

This is why, when my colleague Jay Williams created the idea of the 12 Days of Havas, an initiative during which the Havas PR team will donate time to charitable causes leading up to the launch of our new digital publishing venture, 120M Books, and its first e-book, I immediately called our friends at the Bob Woodruff Foundation to find out how we could help.

The team from the foundation visited our offices and explained that they need our help transforming their social media presence with their new branding and also need ideas for keeping up the social media momentum they receive surrounding Stand Up for Heroes. Having recently been through our own rebranding, we worked with them to develop a plan to incorporate their new branding on their existing Facebook and Twitter accounts. We also strategized ways for them to increase their SoMe footprint and suggested potential content ideas that would take them through the entire year.

If you want to help the Bob Woodruff Foundation with its mission to support injured service members, please click here.

[photo: courtesy of the Bob Woodruff Foundation]

12 Days of Havas: One Young World

In this season of giving thanks, the Pittsburgh office of Havas PR is celebrating the 12 Days of Havas by reaching out to express our enormous gratitude to so many people who contributed countless hours to the success of the 2012 One Young World summit in Pittsburgh in October.

One Young World, a nonprofit founded by Havas Worldwide Global CEO David Jones and U.K. Group Chairman Kate Robertson, convenes the world’s best and brightest next generation of leaders in their 20s at an annual summit, where they examine the most pressing global issues and are motivated to take action toward overcoming them in their communities and places of business. Though One Young World (OYW) is young, having just completed its third summit, it is modeled after the long renowned World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where today’s reigning leaders in business, government, philanthropy and academia meet to find solutions to the challenges plaguing our global society.

Pittsburgh business and nonprofit leaders worked very hard to have the city selected to host the 2012 OYW summit. Then they rolled out the red carpet to ensure that the 1,300 young leader delegates from 187 countries enjoyed a rich, welcoming and inspiring four-day experience.

There are literally thousands of people to thank for their efforts in letting Pittsburgh shine on the world stage. This week, as part of the 12 Days of Havas, we are beginning to write letters of thanks to everyone, including:

  • Our Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, the youngest big-city mayor, and his team, who contributed time and city services to ensuring a safe and welcoming experience
  • Hundreds of volunteers who greeted our international guests at the airport and assisted with any request at their hotels and conference venue
  • VisitPittsburgh, which managed the volunteer registration and training
  • The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Manfred Honeck, who donated their treasured Heinz Hall of Performing Arts as the opening ceremony venue and gave a resounding and appreciated performance
  • American Eagle Outfitters, Bayer Corp., PNC and all their employees and many others, for welcoming our delegates at a Bridge Party with food tents, dance and musical performances, and fireworks. In the city that boasts more bridges than Venice, what venue could have been more memorable?
  • Elsie and Henry Hillman, for hosting the illustrious international counselor speakers at a stunning dinner; and their foundation, for funding a PBS documentary on the One Young World experience
  • The foundation, academic and business organizers of the 50 breakout sessions held throughout Pittsburgh that showed how this city has both been challenged by and successfully addressed the tough, global issues tackled in the summit’s main plenary sessions
  • The University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University, UPMC and so many others, who donated space for the sessions
  • The 120 Pittsburgh families who opened their doors and invited the international delegates to their homes for Saturday evening dinner
  • Bayer and pop artist Burton Morris for donating original commemorative artwork and high-profile billboards at the airport, along the highway and in center city to welcome our guests
  • UPMC, for hosting a welcome reception for the world media who attended and covered the summit
  • The bus companies, the University of Pittsburgh transportation team and Pennsylvania’s newly elected legislator Erin Molchany, who masterfully orchestrated very challenging transportation logistics
  • The 70 Pittsburgh-based global and national businesses and academic institutions that sponsored more than 200 delegates from many countries to attend this 2012 summit

So much heavy lifting was needed for this summit. But thousands of Pittsburghers couldn’t have been happier to do it. The response from our international guests? Pure joy and enlightenment! Pittsburgh is not traditionally a celebrated world city. But it is now. During this celebratory season, we know the positive word about Pittsburgh has traveled to all ends of the globe. And here in our city, we’re grateful for the thousands who welcomed the world and showed them everything Pittsburgh has to offer.

You can thank Pittsburgh, too, with your special note to #oyw.

12 Days of Havas: Home Base Program

When we were bouncing around ideas for our holiday initiative, one thing we really wanted to achieve was not only working on programs that represent our corporate values but also spreading our wings to work on projects that our staff are passionate about.

Havas PR has been committed to supporting the military and our veterans for years—so much so that we don’t just consider ourselves to have a cause marketing practice but also a service marketing practice. We have accomplished lots of award-winning work with Heroes at Home, the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the Home Base Program of the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General, so it was only natural to work with some of those groups for the 12 Days of Havas, too.

With nearly 300,000 (about 20 percent) of all military service members who served in Iraq and Afghanistan reporting post-traumatic stress or major depression symptoms, it is clear that we as a nation need to do more to help our heroes integrate back into their communities and families. That is one of the reasons we are so thrilled to be working with the Home Base Program.

Home Base provides care for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have combat- or deployment-related stress or traumatic brain injury. One of the things that differentiates this organization is that it goes beyond job creation and reintegration goals and provides much-needed support to the families who struggle with the effects of this stress.

My husband was recently away for work for nearly a month, and I found it incredibly hard to balance work and motherhood without his support. I simply cannot fathom the sacrifices that the families of service members make. A month pales in comparison with deployment, not to mention the potential that your partner could return changed forever, or worse. So the Home Base Program’s focus on helping soldiers successfully return to their family life, job, school and community really struck a chord with me.

Through the 12 Days of Havas, we have put ourselves out there to tackle any task—whether immediate or forward-looking, strategizing, developing campaigns, doing media support, pitching, monitoring, measuring, creating social media or other content, or even physically helping out. As our resident social media maven, I was happily tapped for Home Base to help it develop a social media program for a major fall fundraising event. With limited details locked in this far out, we provided social media training and strategic recommendations that the Home Base team can use starting in January and taking them through 2013.

Designed to leverage the organization’s existing social media footprint on Twitter and Facebook to publicize the event, the plan gives a content calendar complete with tiered sample messaging to help drum up support for what is slated to be a fantastic event for a truly special cause.

To see how you can contribute to the Home Base Program, check out its website. And, of course, look out for the big event next fall.

12 Days of Havas: Ronald McDonald House

I have been volunteering with children’s charities in New York City for almost a decade, but none has touched me as much as my recent visits to the Ronald McDonald House on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Founded in 1978, the Ronald McDonald House of New York provides temporary housing for pediatric cancer patients and their families receiving treatment in the New York City area. It’s the largest facility of its type in the world. I have participated in various volunteering events at the house in the past few months, and I know that the dedication and love I’ve seen from this organization will deeply touch anyone who comes into contact with the staff, volunteers, and, of course, the wonderful and brave kids staying there.

The facility is amazing. The Ronald McDonald House of New York has a state-of-the-art computer room, a comfy TV and movie room, professional murals on every wall, daily activities from cooking classes to arts and crafts, and a full gourmet kitchen and dining room. The staff wants the kids staying here to feel special, and it shows from the minute you enter. So I was thrilled when we chose the house for one of our 12 Days of Havas.

The house can accommodate 83 families, and it is filled to capacity almost every night. Its location in Manhattan, close to 12 major cancer treatment centers, draws children and families from across the country and the world, as well as from the metropolitan New York City area. The Ronald McDonald House supports each family and coordinates emotional and physical services, psychological care, ministry support, wellness programs, tutors, music, art, transportation, activities for siblings, holiday and birthday parties, and companionship for parents struggling with their child’s cancer diagnosis. It never charges families more than $35 per night, which includes room and board, all meals and daily activities. Individuals, foundations and corporations support the house.

November 2013 marks the 35th anniversary of the Ronald McDonald House of New York. Since its opening, more than 30,000 families have stayed there. Havas PR’s assignment for the 12 Days of Havas is to brainstorm big ideas on how to celebrate this milestone. The house’s staff is looking for ideas that would incorporate a grand celebration event and ongoing marketing initiatives that could run all year. It would also like to tap into its celebrity supporters and get them involved as much as possible to generate additional publicity for the anniversary.

Havas PR will be conducting brainstorming meetings over the next week to generate ideas that are sure to bring great publicity around the anniversary. Initial ideas include getting the first families who were in the house 35 years ago back for the anniversary, providing VIP tours and housing for top media to experience the Ronald McDonald House first hand, and launching the anniversary with a full week of celebrity parties and consumer events.

We are excited to be working on this assignment for the Ronald McDonald House of New York and being part of the ongoing planning of the 2013 anniversary. I hope everyone gets a chance one day to volunteer at this amazing place.

[photo: Ronald McDonald House]

12 Days of Havas: Pajama Program

When my colleagues at Havas PR were looking for suggestions for organizations to help during our 12 Days of Havas effort, I immediately recommended Pajama Program. Pajama Program delivers warm pajamas and books to children in need. I have volunteered for this organization several times, so it is near and dear to my heart. Based in Westchester County and New York City, the organization now has 63 chapters in 40 states.

I met the founder and executive director, Genevieve Piturro, back in 2007, and her story for starting the organization pulled at my heartstrings. She had visited a center in Harlem, N.Y., where children whose fathers and mothers were in prison were staying. She brought about 12 pairs of pajamas with her, and the children were able to choose which ones they wanted. One girl walked up to Genevieve and asked, “What are these?” Genevieve told her they were pajamas and asked her what she usually wears to bed. The little girl responded, “My pants.” Genevieve knew at that moment what her purpose in life was going to be. I’ve actually been to orphanages with Genevieve in the past when we’ve delivered pajamas to children, and the joy that pajamas and a book give to these children is simply amazing.

Pajama Program depends on the generous support of volunteers, donors (of money, PJs and books), event hosts and pajama drive sponsors. Because of Hurricane Sandy, the number of children in shelters in our area has doubled. So this Saturday, Dec. 8, Carter’s will host a pajama drive for Pajama Program at the Carter’s children’s clothing store in Bronx, N.Y., with the hopes of collecting 1,000 pairs of pajamas.

The organization asked Havas PR to help it promote the drive further so that more consumers would attend, help and donate pajamas. As a result, we sent the event information to mommy bloggers in the New York City tristate area with the hopes that they will inform their readers about the drive, and we’re following up with them.

For more information about Pajama Program, please visit pajamaprogram.org.

The 12 Days of Havas

On Dec. 12, Havas PR will launch its new publishing wing, 120M Books, with its first e-book, What’s Next? What to Expect in 2013. To celebrate, Havas PR is launching the 12 Days of Havas, an initiative for which staff will donate time to a different charitable organization every day for 12 straight days leading up to the launch. Jay Williams, vice president at Havas PR and the creative genius behind the 12 Days of Havas, sat down to talk about his inspiration for the program, what he hopes it will accomplish and the true meaning of the holiday season.

Q: What exactly is the 12 Days of Havas?
Jay Williams:
The program is a fun play on the Christmas song “The 12 Days of Christmas.” During the 12 Days of Havas, we are working with a new charitable organization each day and donating our time and industry skills to assist them with whatever they need. It’s great because it allows us to give back during the holiday season—which is all about giving—and ramps up anticipation for the launch of 120M Books, a huge step for Havas PR.

It’s also an opportunity for us as an agency to show our creative thinking and our capabilities from a corporate social responsibility perspective. It aligns well with #GivingTuesday, too, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which the agency has really jumped behind. We even used that as our kickoff day for this initiative. Plus, we’ve recently rebranded, so it’s a great way to highlight the ingenuity and collaborative nature of our agency while doing something good for those around us.

Q: What was your inspiration?
December is a time for giving; the year is winding down and I think a lot of us reflect on how lucky we’ve been and what the year has looked like. I was thinking about how we can all give back and show the world the caliber of people we have at this agency. There is a lot of need out there, and I know I stop and think about ways in which I can ease some of that need, even just a little. So my thought process was, Why don’t we do a PR marathon that really gives back? Leading up to the launch of the e-book, I want to remind people that we are the kind of agency that cares about those around us who need a little help. We’re also the kind of agency that has creative ideas like this. And we are all part of the thought process behind 120M Books, so why not do something that truly demonstrates who we are in the lead-up to that?

So I was sitting at my desk and thinking about the time of the year, and the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” jumped into my head. Then I thought about 12/12/12, the launch date of 120M Books. After a tangent about astronomy (don’t ask), I came back to the idea of the song and realized how appropriate it is, because it is about giving. A spin on that works so well, because our creative thinking is our gift.

Q: What do you hope the 12 Days of Havas will accomplish?
I just hope that it helps. The charities we’re working with have just been so appreciative you wouldn’t even believe it. These are great organizations, but they don’t always have the Madison Avenue level of communications support. In general, most charitable groups need better media resources and strategic planning. Our role in this is to be able to help the organizations we’ve chosen with some real communications expertise and backing, and we’re ready to jump in where they need us most.

We have a track record with some of these organizations already, so we already understand some of their needs and it’s clear from our conversations with them that they really need the help. They have amazing news and amazing goals, but they don’t always have the capabilities to go about spreading the news and getting their message heard. As a New York PR agency, we sometimes take for granted everything we’re able to accomplish, whether it’s putting together a social media campaign on the fly or getting our clients on national talk shows. Working with these groups really puts it all into perspective.

Q: How will Havas PR assist these organizations?
We’ll do everything from volunteer work on the ground, like local support for Hurricane Sandy relief, to strategic programming for events, social media strategy and training, brainstorming, and campaign ideation. We’re going to help these groups secure donations, come up with long-term strategies and do media outreach for any events they are having in the near future.

Q: The mix of charities is so diverse. Why were these 12 groups selected?
The best part of the initiative is that these charities ring true to Havas PR’s value of Future First, because doing good helps create a better future. There are some that we’ve had relationships with in the past, mixed with some new ones that are near and dear to the hearts of staff members. So it’s cool, because we’re throwing a whole personal dimension into this project. The list of charities ranges from Ronald McDonald House (helping needy children) to City Harvest (working to solve hunger) to GMHC (disease education and prevention). A great thing about working with 12 charities is that we can cover a lot of different causes, and we’ve done a very good job of that.

Q: How has the 12 Days of Havas affected the agency?
Everyone has gotten really into it and is very excited about being able to use their professional talents in such an amazing way. It has also been a great opportunity for us to work with members of the agency whom we don’t always get to collaborate with. We’re seeing different sides of our colleagues that we haven’t before, and we get to see what some of their outside-of-work interests are and what causes they are passionate about. We’ve also made connections with new organizations that hopefully will blossom into strong relationships down the line.

There are so many charities out there that need us, and we can help. It’s not every day that a company volunteers its individual services. Anyone can go give a few dollars to charity, but really taking the time and donating your strengths—I think that makes the biggest difference. In the end, the 12 Days of Havas is how our agency volunteers with our hearts and our minds.

[photo: creativecommons.org/Tim Green aka atoach]