May Institute shows the faces of autism to boost awareness

The May Institute, which provides services for autistic children and adults, plans to raise awareness about autism in the general public with its "What Does Autism Look Like?" effort.

Objective: The May Institute, which provides services for autistic children and adults, plans to raise awareness about autism in the general public with its “What Does Autism Look Like?” effort. By using former and current students in its program as spokespeople, the nonprofit hopes to put a human face on the disorder, said Eileen Pollack, VP of communications and PR for the Randolph, MA-based May Institute. “We want people to connect to autism in a very personal way,” she added.

Idea: The May Institute is partnering with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) to place posters and car cards throughout the state's public transportation system to reach the broadest audience possible. “[Autism] doesn't discriminate across race, across ethnicity, across gender, across socioeconomic status,” Pollack said. “So, we wanted it to go out as broadly as possible.”

Tools: The institute brought its photo exhibit, Faces and Voices of Autism, which was created in 2007 and had toured the country, back to Boston for this initiative. It will be displayed in two shopping centers and the flagship MBTA station during April. May Institute's communications team will pitch stories about the children who are participating in the campaign to local media outlets and national parenting and autism publications. The month-long campaign has a $20,000 budget.

Measurement: The May Institute will measure media coverage and Web traffic, signups for its newsletters, and phone and e-mail inquiries to the nonprofit.

Company: May Institute

Campaign: What Does Autism Look Like?

PR Team: Internal

Launch: April 2

Budget: $20,000 (for ads)

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