CAMPAIGNS: Public Affairs - Electricians plug children's safety

Client: National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) (Bethesda,

MD)

PR Team: Hyde Park Communications (Washington, DC)

Campaign: Born for Safety

Time Frame: May 2001, National Electrical Safety Month

Budget: $50,000



Needless to say, expecting parents have more on their minds than gearing

up for changing dirty diapers. According to the National Electrical

Contractors Association (NECA), new parents often neglect to child-proof

their homes, and the government-funded Consumer Products Safety

Commission (CPSC) claims that more than 2,000 children wind up in

hospital emergency rooms each year from accidents involving electrical

outlets.



The NECA was looking to create awareness for its work, as well as for

its local chapters, and saw a response to child-safety problems during

National Electrical Safety Month (May) as an effective route.



Strategy



The NECA is known primarily for its union-labor-related lobbying efforts

on the Hill. However, NECA director of public affairs Emilio Rouco

claims that there's relatively little awareness of the NECA on the local

level, even though the organization has 118 chapters across the country.

"Whenever you work on the local level, you have to take into account the

differences that exist around the country. One-size-fits-all models

don't work," says Paul DelPonte, Managing Director at Hyde Park

Communications.



That in mind, the NECA had to find a way not only to promote the

electrical construction industry in local areas, but also find "a good

way to give back to communities across the nation," says Rouco. With

Hyde Park's help, the NECA dreamed up the Born for Safety campaign,

which distributed child-safety kits and electrical outlet caps to

maternity wards across the country.



Tactics



According to DelPonte, "different hospitals give new parents all sorts

of different things. There was a very high demand on the part of new

parents for information on keeping children safe," which led to the

development of the child-safety kits. Each one contained safety

information, as well as a dozen electrical outlet caps and home-safety

tips.



Because every hospital has different ways of discharging patients as

well as distributing information, the NECA had to rely on its local

chapters to work closely with the participating hospitals, and

essentially "develop the program differently in each area," says

DelPonte.



To create further buzz about the initiative, the NECA secured an

endorsement for the campaign from CPSC chairwoman Ann Brown. "Your plan

to distribute electrical safety caps and safety information through

hospital maternity facilities to families of babies born in May is

inspired," Brown wrote in a letter to the NECA.



By the end of National Electrical Safety Month, also the 100th

anniversary of the NECA, over four million outlet caps had been

distributed to new parents.



Results



The campaign received coverage on the Fox News Channel, as well as in

various print and online outlets. But perhaps the most interesting and

unusual exposure it got was on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.



"Someone submitted one of the articles we wrote. We had bulleted safety

tips for your home, and one of the tips supposedly said, 'Do not throw

electrical appliances at babies,' which I know I didn't write," recalls

Rouco. "We laughed," adds DelPonte. "It was clear that a newspaper had

made a flub, but you take these things in stride. We're not sure what

happened in the editing there, but they got NECA right."



"We wanted to get national attention for NECA, and local attention in

local areas," says Rouco. Leno handled the national attention, while the

campaign itself, according to Rouco, "had more success locally."



Future



"This was intended originally to be a one-time event, but I've heard a

rumor from the CEO that we may consider doing it next year," says

Rouco.



DelPonte adds that he hopes to work with the NECA again on that and

other projects.



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