AUSTIN, TX: Weber Shandwick Worldwide's research shows Texans harbor old-fashioned ideas about rape, and the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) is extending its contract with the agency to include a comprehensive public awareness campaign aimed at changing those views.
"Texans have bought into many of the myths about sexual assault with regards to who bears the responsibility, said TAASA communications director Chris Lippincott, referring to perceptions that a woman's attire or behavior might make her culpable. "People tend to think that sexual assault always happens to someone else, he added.
Yet WSW's poll also showed that Texans want the government to do more to combat the crime, Lippincott added. "We feel like that's an important message to take to the candidates running for office, from DA to governor to senator."
Last year, the TAASA received a $2 million, two-year grant from the Texas Attorney General Office's Sexual Assault Prevention and Crisis Services Program to evaluate Texans' attitudes toward rape, and mount a public education campaign. The TAASA hired WSW late last year for the research phase, and is extending the contract.
WSW's Austin, Dallas, and Houston offices will participate in developing strategies and messaging for a statewide campaign that will include PR, grassroots marketing, public affairs, and advertising, said Ken Luce, president of Weber Shandwick's Southwest region.
Some ad agencies have expressed interest in doing the creative work pro bono, but nothing has been finalized in that regard, Lippincott said.
"We will initially go to corporations and the media for a true PSA-type program, then if we have to supplement with TV and radio buys, we will do so, Luce explained.
The TAASA provides training to youth, counselors, police officers, corporations, and community groups, as well as legislative advocacy for rape crisis centers and victims.