CAMPAIGNS: Refuge raises awareness of violent abuse - Charity PR

Client: Refuge PR Team: In-house/Good Relations assisting with PA Campaign: Don't Ignore It Timescale: September 2003 Budget: approx £4,000

The charity Refuge has been tackling domestic violence since 1971, when it launched its first safe house for women, as well as its first campaign.

Refuge wanted to take its message further in 2003 and communicate to everyone that domestic abuse is widespread and wrong.

Objectives

To generate general awareness of the issue, especially among men. To promote ways the charity can help victims and raise funds. To encourage victims to report domestic violence to the police.

Strategy and Plan

To maximise the campaign's effect, the PR push was combined with advertising and a commercial partnership to raise funds. A cinema advert was developed, showing diners looking on as a male customer slaps his wife in a restaurant.

On the commercial side, the Body Shop acted as the retail arm of the campaign and supported a strong Stop Violence in the Home message, by asking customers to recycle old mobile phones and buy pins in the shops.

The PR team had to ensure coverage was obtained on all levels. Research was carried out by the charity with the Body Shop, which showed that one in four women is the victim of domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime.

A key challenge was to target men. This was achieved by bringing on board The Sun as a media partner. The paper and ITV's This Morning both gained exclusive coverage of case studies.

An unplanned part of the campaign was the discovery that the Metropolitan Police was launching its own domestic violence awareness campaign at the same time. When both organisations realised this, the campaigns unofficially merged. Good Relations, the charity's retained PR agency, was asked to bring politicians on board.

Measurement and Evaluation

The Sun ran a week of articles, including a front-page story, and gave over page three to the issue one day. It also published case studies and comment from Body Shop founder Anita Roddick.

Although The Sun had exclusive access to case studies, six other nationals covered the story. Also, through Good Relations, the campaign gained endorsement from Home Secretary David Blunkett.

Refuge was mentioned in almost all coverage. National broadcast coverage, in addition to This Morning, included ITN and five news, plus bulletins on around 12 national radio stations. A further 27 regional papers and 42 regional radio stations covered the story.

Results

Refuge saw a 49 per cent rise in the number of calls to the helpline, compared with the same period last year, and the £15,000 target of money raised through the Body Shop was exceeded, with the total running at around £30,000 as PRWeek went to press.

The Sun women's editor Sharon Hendry said: 'It was certainly a campaign that captured most people's imagination on this issue.'

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