Funeral directors to stage education push

Brookfield, WI: The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is launching its first-ever national PR campaign, which is designed to improve the public's image of funeral directors.

Brookfield, WI: The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) is launching its first-ever national PR campaign, which is designed to improve the public's image of funeral directors.

Association staffers spent the past nine months developing a full range of campaign activities and materials for the industry group's 20,300 members. The NFDA has also lobbied Congress to have the week of September 21-27 designated as National Funeral Service Education Week.

It plans to hold a press conference on September 24 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to officially kick off the campaign.

The campaign follows a two-year NFDA survey of public opinion about funeral directors. The study found people tend to trust their local funeral home, but distrust the industry as a whole, said Fay Spano, the association's PR director.

The group feels the poll exposed a variety of misconceptions about funeral homes and the services they provide. For example, consumers confuse funeral pre-planning with pre-paying Spano said.

In the new campaign, "one of the things we wanted to do is educate consumers about meaningful funeral services," said Spano. "We really felt there's been some trust eroded."

The association has created a new code of conduct for members, and beginning next year, will expel members found violating that code. "We're trying to raise the bar and raise standards," she said.

The NFDA is also encouraging members to display the association logo, and hopes its new PR efforts will set its members apart in the public's mind from non-member operators.

The new PR campaign - carrying the tagline, "For a life worth celebrating" - will provide members who sign on with a starter packet containing an overview of the campaign, key messages and talking points for interviews with local media, tips on how to deal with the media, radio ad scripts, as well as print ads and suggestions for community activities such as information days at local malls.

"It really is a grassroots effort, and we want as many of our members to take part as possible," Spano said.

The association is also providing members with ideas for activities they can do each month through June 2004. Members can order press kits that the association has prepared in bulk for distribution at local media events.

"We wanted to give them as many tools and make it as easy as possible to take part," Spano explained.

The association has spent $100,000 developing materials for the campaign. All the PR work is being handled in-house.

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