According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of Americans with AIDS live in the South, and 46% of new HIV/AIDS cases are reported there, primarily among blacks, Latinos, and women.Recognizing that the region was disproportionately affected, the Pfizer Foundation announced the $3 million Southern HIV/ AIDS Prevention Initiative, says Caroline Roan, assistant director of philanthropy for the Pfizer Foundation.
The three-year program was designed to award grants to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in Florida, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi. The foundation hired Hyde Park Communications to promote the launch of the initiative, as well as the awarding of the grants.
For media outreach, Hyde Park focused on the foundation's two goals: to publicize the availability of the grants provided by the initiatives and to raise general awareness of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the South. The foundation wanted to attract healthcare pros at the local level to apply for grants focused on raising awareness about HIV/AIDS and prevention. The most important thing was to target local outlets, says Jeffrey Sandman, CEO of Hyde Park.
"Local news is what people pay the most attention to," he says. It was also important to be able to influence opinion leaders in the field of medicine and HIV/AIDS.
Hyde Park kicked off the effort by inviting a select group of national and regional health and business reporters to a phone briefing with foundation spokespeople and partners. They included Dr. Hank McKinnell, Pfizer CEO, chairman, and foundation board member; Dr. Louis Sullivan, former US secretary of health and human services; and Dr. Gene Copello, chairman of the Southern AIDS Coalition.
To emphasize the local angle of the campaign, Hyde Park teamed up with local members of Congress. "We had 12 or 13 members of Congress who were very supportive," Sandman says. These members were featured in ANRs that ran on local radio stations.
In addition, Sandman says, Hyde Park distributed state-specific news releases in both English and Spanish to daily newspapers, as well as to regional and national gay, lesbian, and minority media.
A VNR that was exclusively aired at the launch of the initiative featured some of the key facts of the epidemic in the South, as well as on-site locations that have HIV/AIDS education programs in place, such as Sister Love in Atlanta.
The campaign resulted in nearly 50 million total media impressions in print, TV, and radio outlets. "We were totally amazed with the coverage," Roan says. "It was a huge success."
Moreover, adds Roan, the coverage influenced the number of grant applications. The foundation received nearly 500 applications for a total of 24 grants.
"It definitely helped drive groups toward the program and [to submit] their interest in receiving funding," she says. The effort also raised awareness among policymakers about the initiative and the HIV/AIDS problem, Sandman says.
The initiative is now entering its second year, with HIV/AIDS education and prevention programs being put into place in healthcare centers in the South. Roan says the Pfizer Foundation might work with Hyde Park in the future because it is continually looking for ways to publicize the initiative's work.
PR team: Hyde Park Communications (Washington) and the Pfizer Foundation (New York)
Campaign: The Pfizer Foundation Southern HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiative
Time frame: March to November 2003