2013 Excellence in Communication Award Winner: Lowell Association for the Blind
Lowell Association for the Blind (LAB) seeks to support, educate, and nurture the blind and visually impaired by helping them enrich their lives and gain independence, and to stimulate the interest of and educate the general public. LAB offers educational, social, and recreational activities for clients aged 5 to 95. The challenge for LAB occurs when making communications to all stakeholders available in accessible formats. They communicate to clients in Braille and through large print. Information on their website is accessible for use with screen readers and magnification software. In 2012, LAB was chosen to offer the Vocational Opportunities in Communications Education Program, a training program for the blind/visually impaired, developing the communication skills important in the broadcasting industry. For LAB, communication requires not only a professional, interesting, and compelling message, but also a delivery in a variety of formats including audio, large print, and Braille. For example, in LAB’s newsletter, content is created by the blind, with topics of interest to and about the blind, and made accessible for the blind.
Jumpstart is an early education organization that delivers programs by training college students and community volunteers to serve preschool-age children in low-income neighborhoods to help them develop the language and literacy skills they need to be ready for kindergarten. Jumpstart’s Read for the Record is a campaign that brings together millions of Americans to celebrate literacy by breaking the world record for reading the same book on the same day. Jumpstart employed a multi-faceted marketing strategy incorporating public relations, social media, and special events. They partnered with NBC’s Today Show to launch the campaign, and on-air segments feature the artist Ashanti. Since 80% of Jumpstart’s budget goes directly toward supporting early education programs, it does not have abundant resources to fund a full-fledged publicity campaign. The communications strategy for Read for the Record included traditional media outreach, targeted blogger engagement, active social media promotion, featured celebrity videos, and valuable strategic partnerships. Each campaign partnership broadened the impact of Jumpstart’s message. Strategic public relations outreach netted more than 720 media placements and 287,211,210 media impressions, representing a 177% increase from 2011. Jumpstart was able to get coverage in Education Week, Parents, Parent, and Boston Globe Magazine.
Boston Pride produces events and activities to achieve inclusivity, equality, respect, and awareness for the LGBT community in Boston, the state of Massachusetts, and all of New England. Boston Pride sought to shift its focus to a nonprofit that serves the needs of the LGBT community year-round rather than just during annual Pride Week events. In 2012, Boston Pride partnered with O’Neill and Associates to develop an effective communication strategy. They placed op-ed pieces in the Huffington Post and Rainbow Times, used their website more effectively, streamlined and rebranded social media accounts, and implemented a new media outreach strategy. By strengthening their message, Boston Pride has strengthened their organizational identity and has gained greater respect as a thought leader in the LGBT rights movement. This is a result of targeted messaging, stronger media relations, a deeper social media footprint, and well-attended events that receive media coverage. Boston Pride developed the first-ever mobile Pride app. Their push for social media leadership resulted in Boston Pride having one of the largest social media footprints for an LGBT nonprofit in Massachusetts. The Board was interviewed by WBZ-TV Boston after President Obama affirmed support for same-sex marriage.
Horizons for Homeless Children
Horizons for Homeless Children provides high-quality early education, opportunities for play, and comprehensive family support services to improve the lives of young homeless children by ensuring that they are prepared for school success. Horizons for Homeless Children has little brand recognition and 85 percent of private donations come from a small group of donors, and so they wanted to expand the donor base and increase brand awareness. They partnered with Comcast SportsNet and NECN to launch the first “Horizons for Homeless Children Week,” an awareness and fundraising effort. This week included broadcast PSAs featuring the Boston Celtics and Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, on-air graphics, news and sports feature stories, online banners, fundraising appeals, online content, an auction, a 50/50 raffle at a Boston Celtics game, and staff presentations. The message was presented in multiple ways, over multiple channels, with multiple frequencies. Horizons raised $98,000 annually and recruited 340 new donors.