A good part of what we do in Public Relations is about impacting behavior. Publicity helps create and reinforce awareness to, hopefully, convince the consumer to purchase a product, buy a company’s stock, support a cause or vote a certain way.
One of the challenges I’ve been facing over the years as I’ve done work for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the non-profit National Road Safety Foundation has been to change behavior so drivers buckle up their seat belts, don’t speed and don’t drive while impaired or distracted.
Reaching teen drivers is especially challenging. They’re not big newspaper readers. Many don’t watch the news on TV and, these days, even their radio-listening doesn’t necessarily include tuning in to local radio stations. Instead, they have their own playlists or they listen online to Pandora or IHeartRadio.
For The National Road Safety Foundation, we’ve taken a different approach to teen outreach. We still use news releases and e-mailings to get our message out via traditional media as well as social media. But our most powerful tool, we have found, is the kids themselves, talking to their peers, their families and to others in the community.
We’ve teamed up with youth advocacy groups, most notably SADD, which used to be known as Students Against Drunk Driving but now goes by Students Against Destructive Decisions. We work with them on various initiatives including one where they are trained how to lobby their legislators on road safety issues.
Another way we’ve engaged young people is through contests where we invite them to help us create messages on various issues including impaired driving and now, the hot topic, distracted driving.
I just returned from Los Angeles, where we tied-in with the Los Angeles Auto Show for a contest inviting teens to submit ideas for a PSA on distracted driving. The winner was announced Sunday at the first Teen Safety Sunday at the Auto Show, an event we organized and ran. Teen leaders from southern California were invited to the auto show for a special program that included presentations by teen groups and also by victims of distracted drivers.
We did a similar contest with the Chicago Auto Show last February, and it’s being repeated in 2016.
Engagement is a key to successful marketing, especially when the message is about safe driving behavior.
Click here for a look at the winning PSA, created by the kids from the Friday Night Live California Partnership.