WASHINGTON: The District of Columbia hired local firm Hager Sharp in June to raise awareness among city residents of resources that can help them cope with the emotional aftermath of 9/11 as well as last year's anthrax attacks. But finding Washingtonians who think they need those resources is proving tricky.
The small shop has been charged with identifying residents who are most likely to be feeling increased stress as a result of last year's attacks and encouraging them to call city-sponsored help lines. The challenge, however, has come from simply helping those affected to understand what they're feeling.
In polling performed by Hager Sharp earlier this summer, residents expressed little residual anxiety regarding the attacks, but great certainty that more were coming - a finding that one Hager Sharp executive says suggests widely unconfronted feelings of anxiety.
"To me, that kind of contradicts itself," said SAE Nancee Lyons. "You're saying you're OK about what happened but you still feel you're going to be attacked."
In order to help people acknowledge their own fears, the campaign is employing spokespeople to whom those most likely to be affected can relate.
For example, two children who had schoolmates in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon recorded a radio spot that has spawned widespread media interest. Lyons claimed that local radio shows have been vying to get them on the air after hearing the 30-second spot.
Lyons said calls to the help line have increased since the campaign began, though hard numbers were not yet available. The campaign will continue through mid-October.