Client: Survivors' Fund (SURF)
PR Team: The PR Office
Timescale: April-July 2004
The PR Office was taken on by international charity the Survivors' Fund (SURF) to mark the tenth anniversary of genocide in Rwanda, when 800,000 Rwandans - mainly from the minority Tutsi population - were killed. SURF provides support for survivors and their families, as well as educating the wider public about the genocide. The charity's activities include facilitating the Comic Relief films in Rwanda and it launched a campaign this year for free anti-retroviral treatment for the 25,000 women survivors who had been raped and infected with HIV in 1994.
To raise awareness of the tenth anniversary of genocide in Rwanda, the work of SURF and the needs of survivors. To build and strengthen relationships with SURF's key audiences, particularly donors, potential donors, the public, media, politicians, opinion formers and other voluntary sector organisations. To increase the donor base and the average size of donations.
Strategy and Plan
The PR Office suggested marking the tenth anniversary by holding an event called the Reading of the Testimonies in London's Trafalgar Square on 16 July. It ran from 8am to 6pm, with one personal story from a survivor read out every five minutes by more than 100 women, including doctors, lawyers, school pupils, celebrities, journalists and politicians. Baroness Shirley Williams, actress Helen Baxendale, singer Beverley Knight and campaigner Lady Amelie Jakobovits were among the readers.
Women from diverse backgrounds were invited to take part, which led to an array of ethnic media, including The Asian Times, The Jewish Chronicle and The Voice, covering the event.
Measurement and Evaluation
Coverage ran in The Scotsman, The Independent, the Evening Standard and New Statesman. The PR team had letters to the editor published in The Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Guardian and The Independent. London radio station LBC reported on the event and other radio interviews included Rwanda's ambassador to the UK Rosemary Museminali on BBC Radio 4's Today programme. All About Soap carried an article, inspired by the appearance as a reader of former EastEnders actress Hannah Waterman. In total, there was 20 minutes of international and national broadcast coverage, an hour of local broadcast coverage and articles in 20 publications.
Volunteers collected more than £3,000 at the Trafalgar Square event.
Donations to SURF are up considerably, with £50,000 received this calendar year already, compared with £25,000 in 2003.
News reporter at London radio station LBC Amanda Walker read out one of the survivor's testimonies, as well as covering the event. She says: 'High-profile names were available to talk to and we were given access and information. The PR Office was very proactive in reaching as many types of women as it could.'
Members of supportive organisations such as Rotary International and the Charities Advisory Trust were recruited as readers, designed to strengthen SURF 's place in the charity community. Also, a petition with more than 2,000 signatures calling for free anti-retroviral treatment was delivered to Downing Street. A formal government response is awaited.