By Katie Smith (PR Account Manager) and Joanna James (PR Senior Account Director)
On June 15th, if you watched Breakfast or leafed through a national newspaper, it’s likely that you watched, heard or read a story about elder abuse in New Zealand.
The heightened volume of news around this sad and difficult topic marked the start of World Elder Abuse Awareness Week (WEAAW). With news outlets initiating conversations about elder abuse nationwide, FCB PR seized an opportunity to leverage the week as part of a campaign for the Office of Seniors, to educate New Zealanders about the different types of elder abuse and promote the new Elder Abuse Helpline (0800 EA NOT OK).
Leveraging a timely moment which is likely already on newsrooms’ radars isn’t a new PR strategy, but it remains a powerful way to generate awareness and generate discussion among a brand’s audiences. However, with newsrooms receiving a high influx of PR pitches in their inboxes at these times of year, a newsworthy and unique angle is more important than ever.
To promote the Office for Seniors’ Elder Abuse Helpline, FCB created an integrated campaign to align with WEAAW, when messaging around elder abuse was highly poignant.
Alarmingly, 75% of elderly abusers in New Zealand are family members. We needed a covert method to educate the elderly on the different forms of abuse in an environment beyond the control of potential abusers, so we ran a series of undercover crosswords in twenty daily and community newspapers nationwide in the lead-up to WEAAW. Each day, a crossword clue educated newspaper readers on a different form of abuse, with ‘ABUSE’ as the answer every time. Each crossword also featured the number to the Elder Abuse Helpline.
PR was a core part of the campaign, securing news coverage of stories from survivors of elder abuse, as well as interviews with the Office for Seniors Director about the gravity of the problem.
By the end of WEAAW, one in three New Zealanders were aware of the campaign, and the helpline had seen a 36% increase in call traffic.
Over the next few months, these are just a few awareness days to have on your radar:
12 August International Youth Day
17-23 August International Languages Week
10-16 September Maori Language Week
21 September International Day of Peace
24 September Mid-Autumn Festival (Chinese Mooncake Festival)
10 October World Mental Health Day
16 October World Food Day
6 November Diwali
13 November World Kindness Day
19 November International Men’s Day
If you think any of these days could present an opportunity for your brand and would like to explore how they could be leveraged through earned media, get in touch with the FCB PR team.
If you are concerned about an elderly person and their wellbeing, get in touch with the Elderly Abuse Response Service 0800 32 668 65.