PRWeek Awards - Community Relations Campaign of the Year

Winner

Fleishman-Hillard: ERASEing the Divide:Giving Underprivileged NYC Kids a Clean Slate in Fighting Asthma

Motivated by the frustrations of employees whose children had asthma,...

Winner

Fleishman-Hillard: ERASEing the Divide:Giving Underprivileged NYC Kids a Clean Slate in Fighting Asthma

Motivated by the frustrations of employees whose children had asthma, a group of senior staff at Fleishman-Hillard researched the disease and discovered a divide in treatment: Specialty care was readily available for those who could afford it, but the underserved faced limited access to even routine medical care.

Fleishman called on New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein for support, and Project ERASE was born. The program set out to bring specialists to local schools to provide underserved children access to diagnosis, advice on treatment, and management of asthma and allergies at no cost.

Fleishman forged ahead on the project with no client and no budget, which impressed the judges. “It’s what we should be doing as an industry,” said one judge, “It’s where community relations is going.”

The program aimed to identify two pilot New York City public schools with a high incidence of asthma and the appropriate student constituency; reduce school absences, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits of participants; and create a replicable model for use in additional local schools, then regionally and nationally. The firm additionally wanted to involve the community and structure the program as a public-private sector initiative.

Through research, Fleishman selected two schools. Working closely with principals and parent coordinators, Fleishman created eye-catching posters and placed them throughout the schools. Postcards describing the program and asthma triggers were distributed to parents.

ERASE medical and executive directors spoke at school events attended by parents, and group meetings were held with parents and doctors.

Because the specialists were not permitted to prescribe medicine, give injections, or do invasive testing in the schools, they reached out to the children’s primary care doctors to collaborate on treatment – making the effort a true community outreach program.

Public and private sector partnerships were secured, including with Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and the New Jersey Nets’ Richard Jefferson, who himself has severe asthma.

Media outreach included a press conference featuring the chancellor, ERASE medical and executive directors, principals from the two schools, and Jefferson.

The ERASE pilot program ran the entire school year in both schools. Fifty-one children enrolled, with school absences reduced from 128 to 57 from the previous school year. In addition, hospitalizations decreased from 26 to six, and ER visits declined from 40 to 30. That all resulted in savings of approximately $135,000 for NYC.

Project ERASE continues in both pilot schools and has expanded to two additional NYC schools.

Honorable Mention

American Academy of Dermatology: Setting a Guinness World Record

In its ongoing efforts to educate the public about the dangers of overexposure to the sun, the American Academy of Dermatology attempts to identify a new angle each year. In 2006, the organization launched an effort to set a Guinness World Record for the most people screened for cancer in a single day and to use that as a vehicle to communicate its key messages about skin cancer and sun exposure, while also encouraging the public to take action. Along with media outreach, the academy recruited members to offer free screenings, and established a toll-free number and Web site to give the public various ways to take action. In the end, not only did the academy set the Guinness World Record, but it nearly doubled its target, as well, by both screening 10,359 people and generating 413 million media impressions.

Finalists 2007



  • American Academy of Dermatology: Setting a Guinness World Record

  • Fleishman-Hillard: ERASEing the Divide: Giving Underprivileged NYC Kids a Clean Slate in Fighting Asthma

  • The Itasca Project and Padilla Speer Beardsley: Close the Gap: A Campaign to Sustain Eonomic Competitiveness

  • MWW Group and New Jersey Family Care: Affordable Healthcare: Taking it to the Streets

  • Text 100 Public Relations and Xerox: Let’s Say Thanks to our Troops


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