Oxfam, Global Strategy Group highlight US poverty

WASHINGTON: Relief and development group Oxfam America is working with Global Strategy Group to raise awareness about poverty in the US.

WASHINGTON: Relief and development group Oxfam America is working with Global Strategy Group to raise awareness about poverty in the US.

The campaign is called “Voices on US Poverty: Right the Wrong.”

“We're known as an international humanitarian organization, but the staggering poverty rate in the US is certainly something we needed to focus on as well,” said Laura Rusu, policy and campaigns media manager at Oxfam America. The ultimate goal of the effort is to draw thought-leader and lawmaker attention to the problem of poverty in the US.

Fifty million Americans live on incomes below the federal poverty level, which is $11,722 for an individual and $23,497 for a family of four, the organization says.

The campaign comes on the heels of a study from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. Researchers scanned stories from 52 major news outlets from 2007 through the first half of last year and found only about 1% of them referenced the issue.

Still, Rusu is confident Oxfam's campaign will get people talking. “We thought the nation was both in need and ripe for a discussion on domestic poverty,” she said.

The outreach effort focuses on essays by advocates, economists, journalists, and military and faith leaders that will be converted into op-eds and pitched by GSG to publications around the country. Politico has run an op-ed by Oxfam America president Ray Offenheiser.

Once placed in a publication, GSG will work to amplify exposure to the op-eds through social media and the campaign's subsite. It will also pitch the authors for radio and TV interviews. The agency is planning a thought-leadership event in Washington DC this spring or early summer featuring some of the authors.

“A unique challenge is getting the op-eds placed. It's a difficult endeavor, especially when you have so many of them and so many terrific authors,” said Jim Papa, SVP and MD of GSG's DC office. “However, the opportunity is two-fold: it's a longer form of messaging, which means they'll be able to make more well-rounded cases.”

Oxfam chose the firm because it had a previous relationship with staff at GSG. It also felt the agency had the strongest ideas on how to implement the campaign, Rusu said.

In January, Oxfam launched a similar op-ed-centered campaign that asked Congress not to cut foreign aid programs as it looked for ways to trim the federal deficit.

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