Federal agency boosts pool safety outreach to Latinos

WASHINGTON: The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is augmenting its outreach to Spanish-speaking audiences for its national pool safety public education campaign.

WASHINGTON: The US Consumer Product Safety Commission is augmenting its outreach to Spanish-speaking audiences for its national pool safety public education campaign.

The organization is working with Widmeyer Communications on the effort, with the goal of reducing child drownings.  

Widmeyer has worked on the campaign on and off since 2010, and last year was the firm's first attempt to more aggressively target minority audiences. As part of the Consumer Product Safety Commission's decision to pick up an option year in the firm's contract, it asked Widmeyer to boost outreach to Latino audiences, though it will continue promotions for other groups, as well. Data from USA Swimming shows that 60% of Latino children do not know how to swim.

The pool safety effort is the Product Safety Commission's longest-running campaign, noted Kathleen Reilly, campaign manager of the effort at the federal agency.

“Widmeyer's success in building a sustainable campaign has been vital to our effort to prevent child drownings and near drownings in pools and spas,” she said, via email. “Hundreds of partners from around the country have signed on to the campaign, which shifted its focus in recent years to targeting at-risk populations, minority youth, and young children aged 1 to 4.”

The one-year contract is valued at more than $600,000; it can be extended for one additional year.

“It's been challenging, but we've been making some inroads in reaching minority audiences. However, we know more work must be done, and that's why we're putting more resources into it,” said Jim Luetkemeyer, SVP of public affairs at Widmeyer.

The firm is targeting Latino audiences with PSAs, radio shows, media outreach, and conferences. Carla Coolman, a press officer at the commission, will do many of the Spanish-language interviews on behalf of the federal agency.

Widmeyer will also use partnership building and digital media to get the word out to all audiences on the importance of pool safety. Last year, about 900 community partners helped raise awareness, Luetkemeyer said.

The pool safety campaign was required by the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, which was signed into law in 2007. The bill requires a national public education campaign to raise public awareness, support industry compliance, and improve safety at pools and spas.

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