THE BIG PITCH: What actions must the PRSA take to keep the KIDSprogram alive?

SIMON JOSEPH, President, Dreamcoat PR, New York City

We're talking about an issue of funding, so the first thing PRSA needs

to do is develop a sustainable event to raise money and awareness for

KIDS. The concept would involve getting children's retailers (e.g. Toys

'R' Us, McDonald's) to donate one percent of sales during the week the

event is held. KIDS Day would be like Mother's Day and Father's Day but

with a charity benefit. PRSA should secure a national TV sponsorship,

such as the Cartoon Network, and find an appropriate celebrity

spokesperson to do TV chat shows, radio programs, etc., endorsing KIDS

Day. Retailers who support the program would display P.O.P mentioning

that one percent of sales is going to help KIDS. These retailers could

also distribute educational literature. The key message of the campaign

should be "support retailers in the week leading to KIDS Day and you

will help educate parents in the fight against drugs."

STEVE DNISTRIAN, EVP & Director of public affairs, Partnership for a

Drug-Free America, New York City

What KIDS needs most is commitment - sincere commitment, the type of

commitment that can transcend changes in PRSA leadership. With or

without PRSA, the PR field deserves a program like KIDS because it's all

about using strategic communication to achieve positive social change.

Over the years, the Partnership's campaign has touched millions of

families throughout the country, changing attitudes about drugs while

creating a remarkable reputation for the organization and the

advertising industry which created it. In the short term, KIDS and PRSA

should preserve the project's assets - the brand, key programs and

research - and move forward, albeit with scaled back plans. Identify new

funding sources by marketing the unique value of the program and find

influential advocates in the field. What better way to showcase the

value of PR than doing so by creating positive social change?

DAVID SHANK, President, Shank Public Relations Counselors


PRSA should go beyond the institutional and reach those most affected. I

would develop a nationwide program, through the participating companies,

to have parents who are a part of the program write testimonial letters

and send them to RWJF. These have to be honest, heartfelt stories of how

the program has improved communications with their children; how the

program "saved" a family; or how a child was "saved" from drug use. From

those letters, I would develop a CD-ROM with streaming video

testimonials and data showing the advancements made after only one year.

The CD would be sent to all board members of the RWJF. I would also

advise PRSA to quickly build a Web site that has data, testimonials and

letters of support, and include an appropriate feedback mechanism that

would go directly to the program manager at RWJF. The PRSA needs to

collect data and show the numbers of parents reached, the number of

children represented by the parents in the program, the geographic reach

and the ethnic diversity reach of KIDS.

JUDY PHAIR, Vice President for public affairs, Council on

Competitiveness member, PRSA board of directors

First, PRSA can build upon the good work of the PRSA chapters operating

pilot programs and the KIDS board by bringing KIDS back into PRSA and

the Foundation. The next step must be to re-engineer KIDS, streamlining

the business operation and utilizing resources within the chapters and

communities to deliver an effective but smaller scale education program

to parents. Finally, securing additional financial support from outside

sources - and using it carefully - will help KIDS get through this

transition and prepare for the long-term. In this regard, several KIDS

board members and organizations in pilot program areas have already

offered their support.

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