Integrated effort expands boating safety message

In 1958 the National Safe Boating Council began running a week-long campaign for Safe Boating Week to educate and inform boaters about the importance of wearing life jackets and other safety behavior.

Client: National Safe Boating Council (Bristow, VA)
Agency: Paul Werth Associates (Columbus, OH)
Campaign: North American Safe Boating Campaign, "Wear It!"
Duration: January - September
Budget: $80,000

In 1958 the National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) began running a week-long campaign for Safe Boating Week (the week before Memorial Day) to educate and inform boaters about the importance of wearing life jackets and other safety behavior. The campaign expanded to drive year-round messaging in the 1990s.

“This campaign remains the driving force to plan Safe Boating Week, and now we drive the cohesive ‘Wear It' message year round,” explains NSBC communications director Rachel Johnson.

Paul Werth Associates has worked on the campaign on a project basis since 2008.

Strategy
Media relations, social media outreach, PSAs, website safeboatingcampaign.com, e-newsletters, and grassroots outreach drove awareness.

Agency account executive Yvonne Pentz says a storytelling approach was devised for the PSAs versus the spokesperson approach taken in previous years.

“We also increased social media efforts tenfold,” Johnson adds.

Tactics
Four press releases and one multimedia release were issued between May 15 and July 24.

National general consumer outlets and local outlets and bloggers in the top 10 states with the most boating accidents and fatalities were targeted. Pentz notes a heavier focus this year on customizing local angles, such as tailoring pitches for areas impacted by Hurricane Isaac.

Travel and parenting bloggers were also targeted.

A “Casting Off” video PSA featuring three friends preparing to spend a day on the water was created and posted to NSBC's YouTube channel and safeboatingcampaign.com on May 14; emailed in monthly newsletters; and embedded in the multimedia release. Audio and print versions are also available on the website. 

At least weekly, the team reminds Facebook and Twitter audiences of the video PSA. Johnson says devising interactive posts, such as asking Facebook fans to caption pictures, has been a priority.

A new program in which NSBC provided resources (signs, life jackets, etc.) for local groups to spread the “Wear It” message was also promoted on NSBC's social media properties and the website. Additional website content includes a safe summer pledge.

The 50 state agencies overseeing boating activities and NSBC partners helped promote the PSAs and the campaign.  

Results
Two thousand earned story placements were garnered as of September 9 (up from about 1,200 in 2011) in outlets such a Boats.com, Detroit News, and Houston Chronicle. 

Twitter followers increased from 2,800 to 3,598 between March 11 and September 9 (data prior to March 2012 was unavailable).

As of September 11, video PSA views hit 1,181 – a tremendous increase over the 219 total views of last year's video PSA. 

Unique website visitors are up 1,000 this year. 

Future
NSBC will continue working with the agency. Johnson says the team will consider leveraging new partnerships in 2013.

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