PR Team: League for the Hard of Hearing; in-house director Nancy Nadler,
PR director Joe Brown (New York)
Campaign: International Noise Awareness Day
Time Frame: March to April 2000
Budget: dollars 30,000
Author Don DeLillo once wondered if death was nothing but
The non-profit League for the Hard of Hearing wants to convince the
public that too much sound can spell death - for people’s eardrums.
According to the group, loud noise is one of the leading causes of
hearing loss, which affects 28 million people in the US. Research shows
that noise is correlated with hypertension, cardiovascular problems and
other physiological disorders. Not surprisingly, noise is the leading
quality-of-life complaint in New York City.
To portray these effects as serious health hazards, the league has
staged the International Noise Awareness Day for the past five years.
Outlets like US News & World Report, the Today show and 20/20 have
featured it in past years with cover stories and full-length reports.
League director Nancy Nadler realized that this year she had to find a
new way to tell the same story.
Nadler decided that two new studies would make the noise awareness story
more compelling. The league conducted a community noise study and found
that up to 40% of people surveyed were reporting troublesome noise,
compared to 5% to 10% in previous reports. In the second study, mobile
units screened 64,000 people and found a ’dramatic’ increase in hearing
loss among all age groups. Nadler says this statistic confirmed that
hearing loss was not just an elderly disability.
Three weeks before Noise Awareness Day on April 12, a press kit was sent
to the top 25 newspapers and TV and radio stations across the
The press kit highlighted the two studies and included noise-related
information on topics like toys, music and health clubs to provide the
media with a range of angles. It also emphasized the ’Quiet Diet,’ a
minute-long interval of silence that would start at 2:15 pm on Noise
Awareness Day to highlight the effects of noise on health and hearing.
On the day itself, the league observed the Quiet Diet at a press
conference held at New York’s City Hall.
Nadler says that much of the day’s success could be attributed to a vast
grass-roots effort by participating community groups, including those
overseas. These groups contacted their local media to tailor stories to
their region. They also held free hearing screenings, gave away ear
plugs at businesses and public areas, held town forums for other
citizens to sound off on noise, lobbied for mayoral and gubernatorial
proclamations and organized poster contests at over 300 school
Many urban centers picked up the story, apparently tickled by the
incongruity of staging a minute of silence in a city. Nationally, CNN
and CBS’ The Early Show highlighted Noise Awareness Day. The New York
Times published a 750-word piece in its Metro section, citing study
findings. The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Sun Times and The Denver
Rocky Mountain News all ran pieces in excess of 1,000 words. The
Albuquerque Tribune ran a piece about its mayor introducing a plan to
revamp the city’s noise ordinance.
Coverage also extended internationally to Africa News, The Evening
Standard (London), The Calgary Herald, The Toronto Star and The
Cities in Nigeria, Italy and the Philippines held media countdowns to
observe the Quiet Diet, according to Nadler.
The league is planning to conduct new studies pending funding for next
year’s Noise Awareness Day. In the meantime, it will stage events during
the holidays, organize communities to lobby for noise ordinance
revisions and continue to revise and distribute educational materials.