Friday, November 16, 2012

PR lessons from 'Kate' and Tarrant Area Food Bank's hunger campaign

The billboard asks a compelling question: What does hunger feel like? 

It strikes me that putting a (cartoon) face to hunger with a compelling narrative is a creative way to generate curiosity and hopefully leads to awareness, donations, volunteers, etc. The video component is simple but effective:

I reached out to Andrea Helms, Director of Communications for the Tarrant Area Food Bank and a Ft. Worth PRSA member for some insight into the campaign. I'm so thankful that she was wiling to share since I believe there are some interesting lessons and processes from this effort for PR and communication professionals:

Why did TAFB implement the 'Kate' concept campaign? 
Akron Canton Regional Food Bank in Ohio shared the Kate video concept with the Feeding America network of regional food banks, to which Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) belongs. TAFB decided to customize this video for the organization not only because of the impact of Kate’s message, but to also join in creating a sense of unity across the network.

What are some of the strategic objectives you hope to achieve?
AWARENESS. We would like Kate’s message to be shared all over our community, through our Partner Agencies, donors and volunteers, and the general public. As part of our annual awareness initiative, we hope the community learns that hunger and food insecurity exist right here in our own neighborhood and we, together, can do something about it.

Through various print ads, billboards, and social media, we seek to increase awareness about hunger and direct people to the Kate video. We hope the Kate video and her message goes viral. The more that people share the video with their networks, the bigger the awareness of hunger we can create within our community. The video not only educates the public about the face of hunger--for example, Kate could be your next door neighbor, a co-worker or friend--but it also educates them about Tarrant Area Food Bank’s role in fighting local hunger.

When did it start and how long will the campaign run? 
The campaign started mid-October and will run through December. We will do another flight of the campaign in the Spring of 2013. The Kate video will remain active on our website and on and through social media when the campaign is not active.

How would you say your version of the campaign differs from the original version?
We are the first Feeding America food bank to launch a traditional marketing campaign around the video. Up until now, the Kate video has been used as a tool in food banks for educating volunteers and donors and has been used through social media and word of mouth.

What communication channels are you using to share Kate? 
Facebook and Twitter posts, Facebook ads, billboards, print ads in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and Fort Worth Business Press, the Just Ask Kate web page, the TAFB website, YouTube, e-blasts, email signatures, volunteer training and exclusive showings at TAFB related events.

We also have several collateral pieces our staff use for various audiences, such as children’s activities and giveaways, including Kate as a fan with suggestions on the backside for taking action to build awareness about hunger.  Our life-sized Kate cut-out is being used for photo opportunities with key people in our community for posting on social media.

How will you determine the success of this campaign?
Because this is an awareness campaign, we are most interested in how viral the campaign becomes. The more video views, shares and likes we get from the Kate video, the more we know the word is being spread around our community. We have been using Facebook and Google analytics to track where our viewers are coming from and what actions they are taking after they view the video, such as visiting our website or liking our Facebook page.
What do you think? Is this a compelling campaign to help generate awareness for the food bank's fight against local hunger? As always, the comments are yours.