Global newsmaker: Royston Martin

World Aids Day is set to take place on 1 December. Director of communications for the event, Royston Martin, spoke to PRWeek about the challenges of raising awareness of the event and how digital media has impacted on the day's comms strategy.

Director of comms, World Aids Day 2010: Royston Martin
Director of comms, World Aids Day 2010: Royston Martin

World Aids Day is taking place on 1 Dec – how important is this day in raising awareness for HIV and AIDS?

There are a lot of calendar-based events competing for attention, 1 December works really well for us. For more than twenty years now the global support has always been incredible. Over the decades World AIDS Day has served to raise awareness about the epidemic, honor those who have died, focus attention on issues that are key to a successful response, and inspire positive action.

This year to underscore the importance of human rights UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reported to the UN General Assembly that reduced access to essential HIV information, to prevention, treatments, and services is occurring in many countries as a result of laws and policies that are inconsistent with their commitments to human rights. We know that when human rights are promoted to protect people living with HIV and members of other vulnerable groups, there are fewer infections, less demand for antiretroviral treatment and fewer deaths.


What are your challenges in running a global media campaign?

The main thing I try to keep in mind is that it’s unlikely there will be a one size fits all solution. Anything we do is balanced by the reality that access to funds and technology are not fairly or evenly distributed. Take our logo for example, we worked hard to make sure it would reproduce just as well as a cheap photo copy or as a high tech animation beamed across a sky scraper in New York. Our Light for Rights campaign should work just as well for villagers lighting candles in a remote village in India or when Madame Sarkozy turns on the Eiffel Tower.


How has digital and social media changed the way you run campaigns? Can you give some examples?

Of course social media networking has revolutionised the way we can communicate. Looking ahead I think Apps could be the most useful tool for us. People are flooded with information and although we moved rapidly to build our presence in content "push" networks, we are now looking seriously at content pull environments where partners pick and mix the best of our resources for themselves. We currently have on our web site a pdf generator that enables people to design and publish their own versions of our World AIDS Day posters. But technology is not everything; we work with some of the world’s most disadvantaged and marginalized people. We all need to figure out, and quickly, how we can make sure their voices get better heard and that means talking and engaging at a personal level.


What are your media must-haves, digital and print?

There is just an amazing variety of very rich material out there for free. The Lancet is great so is the Guardian health blog and AIDS Portal. Ted Talks and BBC Radio 4 would have to be on my desert island. I love podcasts.

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