Client: National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) (Bethesda,
PR Team: Hyde Park Communications (Washington, DC)
Campaign: Born for Safety
Time Frame: May 2001, National Electrical Safety Month
Needless to say, expecting parents have more on their minds than gearing
up for changing dirty diapers. According to the National Electrical
Contractors Association (NECA), new parents often neglect to child-proof
their homes, and the government-funded Consumer Products Safety
Commission (CPSC) claims that more than 2,000 children wind up in
hospital emergency rooms each year from accidents involving electrical
The NECA was looking to create awareness for its work, as well as for
its local chapters, and saw a response to child-safety problems during
National Electrical Safety Month (May) as an effective route.
The NECA is known primarily for its union-labor-related lobbying efforts
on the Hill. However, NECA director of public affairs Emilio Rouco
claims that there's relatively little awareness of the NECA on the local
level, even though the organization has 118 chapters across the country.
"Whenever you work on the local level, you have to take into account the
differences that exist around the country. One-size-fits-all models
don't work," says Paul DelPonte, Managing Director at Hyde Park
That in mind, the NECA had to find a way not only to promote the
electrical construction industry in local areas, but also find "a good
way to give back to communities across the nation," says Rouco. With
Hyde Park's help, the NECA dreamed up the Born for Safety campaign,
which distributed child-safety kits and electrical outlet caps to
maternity wards across the country.
According to DelPonte, "different hospitals give new parents all sorts
of different things. There was a very high demand on the part of new
parents for information on keeping children safe," which led to the
development of the child-safety kits. Each one contained safety
information, as well as a dozen electrical outlet caps and home-safety
Because every hospital has different ways of discharging patients as
well as distributing information, the NECA had to rely on its local
chapters to work closely with the participating hospitals, and
essentially "develop the program differently in each area," says
To create further buzz about the initiative, the NECA secured an
endorsement for the campaign from CPSC chairwoman Ann Brown. "Your plan
to distribute electrical safety caps and safety information through
hospital maternity facilities to families of babies born in May is
inspired," Brown wrote in a letter to the NECA.
By the end of National Electrical Safety Month, also the 100th
anniversary of the NECA, over four million outlet caps had been
distributed to new parents.
The campaign received coverage on the Fox News Channel, as well as in
various print and online outlets. But perhaps the most interesting and
unusual exposure it got was on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
"Someone submitted one of the articles we wrote. We had bulleted safety
tips for your home, and one of the tips supposedly said, 'Do not throw
electrical appliances at babies,' which I know I didn't write," recalls
Rouco. "We laughed," adds DelPonte. "It was clear that a newspaper had
made a flub, but you take these things in stride. We're not sure what
happened in the editing there, but they got NECA right."
"We wanted to get national attention for NECA, and local attention in
local areas," says Rouco. Leno handled the national attention, while the
campaign itself, according to Rouco, "had more success locally."
"This was intended originally to be a one-time event, but I've heard a
rumor from the CEO that we may consider doing it next year," says
DelPonte adds that he hopes to work with the NECA again on that and