Mentor group boosts friendships

Mentoring Partnership of New York (MPNY) teamed with Kellen Communications to create a PSA campaign to raise awareness of the need for mentors and highlight the variety of programs. The goal was to enlist new mentors from New York City's five boroughs.

Mentoring Partnership of New York (MPNY) teamed with Kellen Communications to create a PSA campaign to raise awareness of the need for mentors and highlight the variety of programs. The goal was to enlist new mentors from New York City's five boroughs.

"We had to reach as many people as possible and target [those] most likely to take action," says MPNY's executive director, Jean Cohen. "Media hits are important because we need a wide audience, but identifying the accurate demographic is also important."

Strategy
The team partnered with amNY and WPIX-TV CW11, which have the same demographic (young pros) as MPNY's target audience, to run PSAs. Additional local media and national media were also targeted.

The team aimed to overcome misperceptions about mentoring (including concerns that it's more like adoption than just being a friend and only involves a narrow range of activities), says Kristen Swan Kurtz, SAE at Kellen. Collateral aimed to show that mentoring is easy and fun.

The effort culminated on Mentors Day (January 26), a celebratory event for mentor/mentee pairs.

Tactics
Throughout January, media partner amNY ran print PSAs with the tagline, "Share what you know! You don't have to be a superhero to be a mentor! It's fun... It's easy!"

The PR team and WPIX-TV CW11 produced three PSAs featuring three local mentor/mentee pairs participating in various mentoring activities. PSAs were on a dedicated online mentoring page as well.

"Choosing the right media partners was key," Swan Kurtz says. All collateral directed people to MPNY's Web site (mentoring.org) and toll-free number to learn more.

Results
MPNY saw a 100% increase in contact from people interested in mentoring. The number of people contacting MPNY about getting a mentor increased to 47 in January 2008 from 15 in December 2007. Web site visits increased more than 100% from December 2007 to January 2008. The campaign also yielded 18 million media impressions.

"We're very pleased, we estimate we need another 200,000 mentors," Cohen says. "Over the past few months, we had [a] further increase of 15% to 20% in people coming forward to be mentors... This campaign was critical to make that happen."

Future
MPNY will continue to work with Kellen. Next year's campaign will extend media partnerships and refine messaging to target professional outlets.

Cohen hopes to have a formal mentor-recruiting program in New York City in 2009.

PRWeek view
While this effort didn't yield a lot of new mentors, the percentage increase is impressive. It was wise to focus messaging on the breadth of options.

This campaign was a good start to achieving its goal. Showing the variety of mentoring options was a good choice to garner volunteers.

Using mentors to recruit other mentors is also smart, but it would be great to see a substantial online campaign to facilitate word of mouth.

The Internet could extend those efforts and allow for conversations to develop.

PR team: Mentoring Partnership of New York and Kellen Communications (both New York)

Campaign: National Mentoring Month and the Ninth Annual Mentors Day

Duration: August 2007-February 2008

Budget: $35,000

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