PR News Results: We Have the Best People in the Business (Again)

From intern to EVP, we’ve got the agency covered in the PR News PR People Awards. All five people we entered have just been named finalists. Congratulations to John Casey (PR Team Leader, for his work with the global crew of our United Nations Foundation business), Renee Harper (Community Relations Professional of the Year, for the rollout of One Newark and an agency service practice in a matter of months), Nicole Shimer (Intern of the Year, who parlayed her summer success into a fall internship with Havas PR’s SoMe consulting startup, SocialProvidence), Lesley Sillaman (Account Director or Supervisor of the Year, for her award-winning work with Transitions Optical and other accounts) and Jody Sunna (PR Professional of the Year: Agency, whose endless assets are too many to name here). All fingers are crossed for the December awards ceremony.

Pittsburgh Shines Again

Although the Steelers are on the skids, the Pittsburgh office of Havas PR keeps scoring. Last Thursday, they won six Golden Triangles from the International Association of Business Communicators’ local chapter: two Awards of Excellence, for writing (a bylined article for Bayer MaterialScience) and media relations (for the One Young World summit in Pittsburgh last year), and four Awards of Honor, for poster design (the “Checklist for Access” for the International Play Equipment Manufacturers Association), communication management (for One Young World), speech writing (Transitions Optical’s North America Marketing keynote at Transitions Academy) and employee/member communication (also for Transitions Optical, our 20th award for work for our longtime client in the past four years alone, for the “Vision and Values” statement we developed for the company).

Our Multi Multicultural Awards

The Pittsburgh office of @havaspr has won its 18th award over the past four years for work on Transitions Optical’s multicultural program. The latest is a Golden World from the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) for community relations, in the agency category. (All four entries we submitted were named finalists.) When research our agency initiated showed that African Americans are at greater risk for eye damage linked to UV exposure, we recommended a partnership with the National Council of Negro Women to help educate the community about their risks. Among other successes, our 2013 research showed a 29 percent increase over our 2011 study in the number of African Americans who understood that their ethnicity could put them at higher risk for eye health issues. More than 300 Golden World entries meant that the contest, according to IPRA’s president, was “particularly tough this year.”

@erwwpr: Healthcare Star

Unlike McKayla Maroney, we couldn’t be more proud of being honored this week with a silver—for Healthcare Agency of the Year from the 2012 Bulldog Stars of PR Awards for Communications Excellence. Here’s among what brought high scores from the judges: In 2011, we had 100 percent client retention in our healthcare practice and grew our existing healthcare client business billings by 75 percent; we won awards for Sanofi’s S.T.A.N.D. and Diabetes Co-Stars campaigns and for various work on behalf of Transitions Optical; and one of our biggest accomplishments was winning U.S. AOR status for ADVAIR, a GlaxoSmithKline brand. (Plus, we’ve won half a dozen new confidential clients for the global healthcare team since then.)

Building Brand Equity Within African-American Communities

Are you looking for new ways to make inroads with African-American customers or clients? Community outreach might be the ticket.

In fact, 84 percent of African Americans agree that companies that make sincere efforts to be a part of their local community deserve their loyalty, according to the Yankelovich Monitor “Multicultural Study 2010.” By incorporating community outreach into year-round marketing efforts, businesses can help elevate their status and build rapport within the African-American community.

One way for companies to get involved locally—while still making a wider-reaching splash—is to partner with a well-respected national community outreach organization. For the past several years, @erwwpr has been supporting longtime client Transitions Optical in its efforts to educate ethnic minorities about their higher risks for certain eye health issues and the steps they can take to protect and enhance their vision. We helped Transitions Optical identify a national partner with local ties in order to reach African Americans and make eye health more of a priority among that at-risk population. Since 2010, we have been supporting the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), a group whose core mission is to elevate the overall health and quality of life for African Americans.

To date, Transitions Optical’s efforts with NCNW have made more than 1 billion impressions as a result of our consumer and trade outreach initiatives. We’ve also reached more than 40,000 African Americans directly with face-to-face eye health education through targeted events. Most recently, we secured an opportunity for Transitions Optical’s multicultural marketing manager, Manuel Solis, to speak during NCNW’s 55th annual national convention on May 24. During the event, he addressed more than 500 chapter leaders and active members about the importance of promoting eye health in African-American communities, and he offered his company as a partner in providing eye health education and resources to use during local events. In addition to distributing co-branded versions of Transitions Optical’s “What to Expect: African-American Eyes” brochures and order forms at the convention, NCNW sent an e-blast to its full membership to encourage chapters to partner with Transitions Optical during community events. Within a week, @erwwpr had received requests from eight chapters around the country, and we are working to support them in their local eye health education efforts.

Today, NCNW considers Transitions Optical a true partner and relies on us heavily to provide year-round eye health education to its membership. But although our efforts have been extremely successful and well received by the African-American community and the optical industry, forming a solid partnership did not transpire overnight. Here’s a peek at how we made it happen—and some tips for how you can form a national partnership of your own.

  • Find the right partner. For each given industry, there will probably be hundreds of national organizations to choose from, but after doing even a quick audit, you will likely find that only a small handful (or less) truly align with your company’s brand messaging. Before choosing NCNW as Transitions Optical’s national partner, we identified multiple good fits through research and informal media audits, then we picked our top three contenders to interview in depth. We made a list of several key criteria: Our partner needed to have a nationally recognized—and positively viewed—name so that we could ensure good media pickup; it had to have grassroots ties so that we could go out into African-American communities and make an impact; our partner had to be vested in promoting overall health among African-American communities; and the organization needed either to have or consider having eye health as one of its platforms.
  • Identify ways to help them with what they’re not—but should be—doing. Although overall health promotion was one of NCNW’s core missions, before 2010 it had never made eye health a focus. When we presented our research that showed African Americans were at higher risk for many eye health issues—yet often had less access to and lower awareness of the need for preventive care—the organization was very receptive to a partnership with Transitions Optical. In 2010, we dipped our toes in the water by offering to sponsor NCNW’s 25th annual Black Family Reunion Celebration, held Sept. 11 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. During the event, we distributed eye health education materials to more than 20,000 attendees and provided free vision screenings. It was the first time that eye health was discussed during a Black Family Reunion event.
  • Present the partnership as an opportunity to put them in the public eye. Instead of simply setting up a booth and serving as a sponsor, we approached NCNW’s executive director with an opportunity for her organization to shine in the national spotlight. We encouraged NCNW to promote Transitions Optical’s education offerings during the event as new and valuable health services for attendees, and we included the organization in our national and local media outreach efforts. When we sponsored the event for a second time, in 2011, it was clear that NCNW saw us as a partner in health promotion rather than simply as an event sponsor: Although other sponsors were offering health screenings, the executive director spotlighted Transitions Optical—unprompted—during media interviews and during the annual prayer breakfast held before the event. At the beginning of 2012, NCNW made its commitment to eye health official and worked with us to distribute a national wire release detailing its partnership with Transitions Optical. NCNW also uploaded eye health resources (provided by @erwwpr) to its website for chapter members to access year-round.

Do you know of any companies that are doing a good job of reaching African Americans or other populations through community outreach? Share your stories and best practices below.

[photo: iStockphoto]