CAMPAIGNS: Issues PR - Hard of hearing get heard

Client: In-house

Client: In-house

Client: In-house

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

Vancouver Sun.

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.

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