CAMPAIGNS: Online Community - Shrinking the ’digital divide’

Client: MediaOne (Englewood, CO)

Client: MediaOne (Englewood, CO)

Client: MediaOne (Englewood, CO)



PR Team: Lost Dog Communications (Playa del Rey, CA), Bob Gold &

Associates (Torrance, CA)



Campaign: ’Broadband Stories: Communities in Focus’



Time Frame: November 1999 to present



Budget: dollars 250,000





Despite the seeming ubiquity of the Internet, a gap between the ’haves’

and ’have-nots’ has emerged, leaving many lower-income families without

home PCs or access to the Internet. Schools in low-income neighborhoods

are forced to make do with an inadequate number of computers, many of

which are not equipped for logging on.



Broadband communications company MediaOne has been involved in

decreasing the ’digital divide’ by providing schools with high-speed

Internet access.



But the company decided that it wanted to take a more proactive stance

to help kids in disadvantaged neighborhoods gain equal access.





Strategy



MediaOne decided to focus its community outreach efforts on kids in the

Los Angeles area. ’LA is one of the largest and most diverse markets in

terms of business challenges, demographics, economics and language,’

says Lara Honrado, director of communications for MediaOne.



According to Jim Olson, managing partner and new media director of Lost

Dog, an interactive communications agency, the campaign focused on kids

because those that don’t know how to use the Internet risk being left

behind when they attempt to enter the job market.



Bob Gold & Associates, MediaOne’s PR agency for the Western region,

conducted initial research to determine what’s being said about the

digital divide and what other technology companies are doing, to make

sure that MediaOne came up with something unique.



MediaOne decided to develop an online community for kids, written by

kids, called ’streetseen.net,’ complemented by a series of events.





Tactics



The campaign kicked off on December 16 at the Challengers Boys & Girls

Club in South Central Los Angeles with a ’Flip-the-Switch’celebration

announcing the ’Broadband Stories: Communities in Focus’ initiative.



Held in conjunction with the Western Cable Show, the event culminated

with ’flipping the switch’ to free high-speed Internet access for the

Challengers Club.



On February 22, MediaOne hosted a ’Digital Divide Summit’ at its Culver

City, CA training center to discuss youth’s barriers to Internet

access.



This also served as the site for the first meeting of streetseen.net’s

student editorial board and professional advisory committee.



Streetseen.net launched on March 1, with a goal of promoting the

positive role that technology can play in the lives of young people. The

site contains a calendar of upcoming events for children in LA; a story

gallery with kid-generated articles and photos about entertainment,

sports, travel, culture and current events; and an online directory of

youth-oriented news, entertainment and educational resources.





Results



’Our true objective was to get kids involved and participating in the

Internet in communities across LA, and we succeeded in doing it,’ says

Olson.



The ’Digital Divide Summit’ brought out nearly 100 people,

’Flip-the-Switch’ drew nearly 250 attendees and streetseen.net had more

than 1,000 unique visitors in its first few weeks.



Media coverage included cover stories by The Los Angeles Tribune, Culver

City News and Westchester News, two 30-minute interviews on KFI-640 Talk

Radio during prime-time drive, as well as coverage in cable industry

publications like Cable World.



Honrado says the campaign has had a big impact ’with the federal

audience on the Hill and with the FCC’ in Washington, DC, where she’s

based.





Future



While Honrado says that MediaOne wants the project and the Web site to

continue, an impending merger between AT&T and MediaOne has caused some

uncertainty as to who will take over the reigns for the project.



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