March of Dimes taps journalists for premature birth awareness campaign

NEW YORK: The March of Dimes is using broadcast journalists as spokesmodels this year to help raise awareness of premature births.

NEW YORK: The March of Dimes is using broadcast journalists as spokesmodels this year to help raise awareness of premature births.

Although the nonprofit has always turned to celebrities to help raise awareness of the cause, this is the first time it's incorporated journalists into a campaign, said Robert Storace, manager of magazine and online media relations.

"They're in the news business," he said. "It brings some level of the importance and some level of the urgent nature of" this campaign.

The outreach effort is part of the March of Dimes' five-year, $75 million campaign, which launched in 2003 to reduce the number of premature births.

All of the journalists have done previous volunteer work with the March of Dimes, and have either had a baby who was born prematurely or have covered the issue.

"We have a lot of broadcast journalists who are celebrity volunteers ... and some of them have personal connections to prematurity," said Robin Wexler, manager of national celebrities. "I think that [involving journalists] adds credibility because people look at them as resources."

The centerpiece of the campaign will be a fashion spread in the November 8 issue of Family Circle, which will feature the six broadcasters and their children.

The issue date coincides with November 15, Prematurity Awareness Day, when a rally will be held in Washington, DC. Wexler noted that the celebrities will be invited to attend the rally and might also conduct radio interviews ahead of the show.

"We wanted to do something kind of different, kind of exciting," Storace said. "These are young, working mothers with young kids. We're getting a lot of buzz."

He added, for example, that a behind the scenes look at the photo shoot was featured last week on Insider.

The broadcasters are: Laurie Hibberd and Gretchen Carlson, both of CBS; Soledad O'Brien of CNN; Samantha Ryan of ABC Sports and ESPN; Melisssa Stark of NBC; and Michelle Miller of BET and CBS.

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