2008 PR News Platinum PR Issue Winner: Pro Bono Campaign

The winners and honorable mentions in this year's PR news Platinum PR awards issue exemplify the most innovative approaches to redefining traditional PR with anything-but- traditional strategies. From a marketing communications effort that united a country over the search for the stars of a 1950s TV commercial to an event that landed a flock of pink flamingos around the windy city, the following winner confirms that the PR profession has indeed stepped out from the shadows to take a front-and-center role in delivering business results to their own organizations, and to their clients. Below is the winner of the 2008 PR News Platinum PR award for pro bono campaign.

Racepoint Group and OLPC

Give One Get One

In 2005, MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte launched One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a nonprofit organization established to design, manufacture and distribute low-cost XO laptops for children in developing nations. Two years later, on Sept. 24, 2007, OLPC launched a new component of its initiative called "Give One Get One," designed to overcome the lack of funds and bureaucratic barriers that had kept a number of countries from signing the purchase agreements required to begin the production process.

Choosing Words Carefully

Racepoint Group teamed up with OLPC to help drive North American consumer awareness of/participation in "Give One Get One" leading up to the Sept. 24 launch, ultimately hoping to fund the delivery of 100,000 XO laptops to children in poor countries. But because of the shoestring budget--$0.00--the team needed to be especially efficient in finding means to achieve this goal. The strategy: identify four key target audiences and shape messaging to resonate with each.

·         Mothers of schoolchildren: The XO laptop is designed specifically for children to learn and explore the world, develop their creative and express themselves.

·         Schoolchildren: The XO laptop makes learning fun and cool.

·         Community and faith-based groups: "'Tis the season to Give One." (Timed to coincide with the holiday season.)

·         Tech geeks: The XO laptop represents a computing revolution: lowest power consumption, mesh network, dual-mode display and social user interface.

Once the target audiences and messaging were established, the team ignited media interest with aggressive outreach to top-tier media in advance of the September launch. Then, weekly announcements kept the momentum going between September and the Nov. 12 launch of the "Give One Get One" Web site (where people could donate money). Plus, a viral campaign targeted mommy bloggers, as well as environmental, charitable giving and techie blogs. A Twitter community and Facebook application rounded out the program.

Thanks to the robust campaign, "Give One Get One" raised more than $35 million for the delivery of the target 100,000 laptops--and then some--to children in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Mongolia and Rwanda. �