National Institute on Drug Abuse boosts social outreach

WASHINGTON: The National Institute on Drug Abuse will expand its social media outreach for the second annual National Drug Facts Week.

WASHINGTON: The National Institute on Drug Abuse will expand its social media outreach for the second annual National Drug Facts Week, which will begin at the end of next month.

The goal of the initiative, which will kick off October 31, is to educate teens about drugs and drug abuse. The effort will include a range of contests and events, including a live online Q&A with scientists and doctors, a music contest, and an online drug IQ test.

Ogilvy Washington, the institute's AOR for PR and social media for the past two years, will help to spread the word about the program to parents, teenagers, and high schools around the country.

“The goal of the week is to get kids involved and get them the information they need about drug use and abuse,” said Junia Geisler, VP at Ogilvy Washington. “We all see the celebrities in rehab, and I think it's really important to push through all of that clutter and get [consumers] the facts in a way that's exciting and interesting to them.”

The agency is primarily targeting teenagers through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Ogilvy launched the institute's @NIDAnews Twitter account in January, and it has gained nearly 5,100 followers since.

The institute, which has a five-person in-house communications team, has focused on Twitter in the lead-up to the Drug Facts Week kickoff, as well as connecting with media outlets and building strategic partnerships. The organization has also reached out to parenting and health bloggers to increase awareness about the initiative.

Ogilvy, which has a team of three working on the project, has been “instrumental” in the Twitter outreach and blogger-selection processes, said Stephanie Older, press officer at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The agency is also trying to get a segment on NBC's Today morning program for singer-songwriter and producer Kara DioGuardi to announce the winner of the Teen Music Contest before National Drug Facts Week begins. Ogilvy is also planning to bring a group of New York City high-school students and alumni of the Phoenix House treatment center to the plaza of the Today show on October 28 to create buzz about the week-long initiative.

Community involvement is another important form of outreach for the institute, said Older. The group connects with high schools around the US to encourage parents, teachers, and teens to run events, such as pep rallies or art contests, for National Drug Facts Week.

“The beauty of this campaign is that we use limited government resources to really empower communities to do their own outreach on a grassroots level,” Older added.

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