CAMPAIGNS: CHARITY - Samaritans get in tune with youth

Client: The Samaritans

Client: The Samaritans

PR Team: In-house

Campaign: ’Come Up’, an initiative aimed at young people

Timescale: Ongoing from June

Budget: pounds 1,500

Every day, two 15- to 24-year-olds take their lives in the UK. Suicides

in this age range account for 19 per cent of deaths as opposed to one

per cent of deaths in the general population.

The Samaritans is a well known charity that provides a confidential ear

for people to talk over their problems, face-to-face or on the


However, the organisation feared that young adults did not relate to its

image and were reluctant to make full use of its services. In light of

the number of pressures on young people to have a good time over the

summer months, the charity decided to target this age group with a

campaign kicking off in June.


To urge young people to contact The Samaritans, to discuss their


In particular the charity was keen to generate interest among the music

media as a means of boosting its credibility among its target youth



Lise Colyer, the charity’s press officer discovered that Phil Selway,

the drummer of band Radiohead had been an anonymous volunteer Samaritan

for 11 years. She approached him to ’come out’ in the interests of

creating a positive image of the charity among young people. Selway

agreed that his youth appeal and the impact he could have, were worth

blowing his cover.

In the meantime, Leigh Kenny of Bedlam Ago Go - a band signed to the

Sony label - approached The Samaritans and asked if he could publish

their contact details on his new CD. At the age of 22, Kenny suffered a

breakdown and the band’s latest single ’Asylum’, described his


This involvement with Sony resulted in soul singer Des’ree and the bands

Jamiroquai and The Dirty Beatniks also offering their support to the


Promotional T-shirts were printed, bearing cut-outs of a funky photo by

Hester Blankestyn, a winner in the charity’s annual photography


The campaign was launched at Chez Cup in the Atlantic Bar and Grill in

London’s West End on 24 June, with both Selway and Kenny available for



Coverage in the music press included the NME and the Melody Maker.

Mainstream press interest ranged from the Guardian and the Independent

to the Sunday Telegraph and the Express. On the launch day, packages ran

throughout the day on local radio news bulletins and Radio 1, with

interviews with Selway on XFM, Radio 5 Live and Talk Radio.

Selway and The Samaritans’ youth co-ordinator, Alison Weisselberg

appeared on GMTV, with Channel 5 News and Carlton’s London Today

following the story up later in the day.


All calls to the Samaritans are in confidence so it is difficult to

quantify how young people have responded to the campaign. However, the

charity’s Festival Branch, reports that visitors to its tent at

Glastonbury the weekend after the launch, had a greater understanding of

how the charity could help. Campaign tactics, such as ’exposing’

Radiohead’s Selway, certainly met the objective of generating interest

from the music media, and milking a modest budget for all it was worth.

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