PRWeek Awards - Nonprofit Campaign of the Year

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Zeno and the National Association for Music Education: National Anthem Project Road Show

Back in 2004, the world’s largest arts education association, The National Association for...

Winner

Zeno and the National Association for Music Education: National Anthem Project Road Show

Back in 2004, the world’s largest arts education association, The National Association for Music Education (MENC), saw music programs across the US falling victim to downsized budgets. They launched the National Anthem Project at the US Capitol in March 2005 to bring attention to the importance of music education.

MENC followed that first successful effort with phase two in January 2006. The group sought to continue the work begun the previous year, as well as establish their group as the leading advocate for music education, raise awareness about the ill effects that a lack of music education would have on everyone, and teach the nation The Star-Spangled Banner.

A Harris Poll showed that two out of three Americans don’t know the words to our national anthem, a song that most learn in school. Using a grassroots multi-year campaign, MENC targeted parents and other community members, its own members, and the media with a nationwide tour that stopped in at least one high-profile city in each of the 48 contiguous states in the US.

At each stop, tons of events took place. Local advocacy groups worked on site to generate support for local music programs. Activities such as “Star Spangled Karaoke” and a history of the national anthem were offered. MENC also conducted the “National Anthem Project All-Star” singing contest where entrants performed an a cappella version of the song in the hopes of winning a $1,000 donation to a local school’s music education program.

The National Anthem Project received government support from Congress, mayors, and first lady Laura Bush, who served as the honorary chair. The effort also garnered partnerships with sports associations, such as the NFL, to generate National Anthem moments at sporting events.

So far, the campaign has achieved more than 178 million impressions and 1,300 media placements across local outlets as well as national ones like The New York Times and NBC’s Today. And membership in MusicFriends, MENC’s advocacy group, has tripled.

On top of all of that, a recent survey of members shows that 75% believe their students learned about The Star-Spangled Banner as a result of the campaign. The tour ended in New York in the fall, and a performance of the national anthem will be performed on June 14, 2007, on the National Mall in Washington DC.

“It was a great grassroots PR plan,” noted one judge. “[There was a] nice link between concept and goals,” said another.

Honorable Mention

Edelman and the Moroccan American Center for Policy: Free Them Now

As of May 2005, 408 POWs were still being held by the Polisario Front despite the fact that the 26-year war they fought with Morocco in the western Sahara had ended in 1991. The men were subjected to torture and slave labor, some for over 20 years. Working on behalf of the Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP), Edelman brought attention to this Geneva Convention violation, calling for their immediate release with the Free Them Now campaign. Edelman established these men as the world’s longest-held POWs and used accounts from former prisoners to appeal to people worldwide. In the US, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and the country’s largest organization for former American POWs took up the cause. On August 17, 2005, four months after the campaign began, the men were released – an ultimate tribute to the effort’s effectiveness, noted judges.

Finalists 2007



  • Burson-Marsteller and McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum: The Simpsons vs.The First Amendment: Blending Pop Culture and Civics to Promote New Museum on Nonprofit’s Budget

  • Edelman and the American Heart Association: American Heart Association: Go Red for Women

  • Edelman and the Moroccan American Center for Policy: Free Them Now

  • Exponent Public Relations and Homeownership Preservation Foundation: HOPE for Homeowners – Helping to Preserve the American Dream

  • Zeno and the National Association for Music Education: National Anthem Project Road Show


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