NonProfit PR Awards: Public Affairs/Issues Management

Campaign: Stand Up for Veterans

Winner: Disabled American Veterans with Hyde Park Communications

To help break the Washington gridlock that prevents veterans from accessing the health care services they need from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Disabled American Veterans, an organization representing more than 2.9 million disabled veterans launched the Stand Up For Veterans campaign. With support from Hyde Park Communications, the initiative worked to generate awareness to advance legislation to reform the VA budget process and expand VA health care and services.

Supporting the advanced funding health care budget reform proposal, the Disabled American Veterans built a coalition that united veterans and military organizations. A Stand Up for Veterans Web site was critical to the communications efforts. Social networking sites, including Facebook and MySpace, linked from the site, fueled the grassroots activism. To create momentum on Capitol Hill, a CapWiz application facilitated letters to members of Congress from citizens interested in VA policy changes. Also, an electronic newsletter was directly sent to congressional staff to complement efforts to encourage Congress to support Stand Up for Veterans issues.

Recently, veteran-related bills have been introduced to Congress as a result of the Stand Up For Veterans campaign and activism. This illustrates the degree to which the Disabled American Veterans has positioned itself as a policy leader for veterans and a leader in the veterans’ policy debate. And in addition to sending 70,000 e-mails to Congress through the Stand Up for Veterans CapWiz application, 750 members of the Disabled American Veterans attended the 2009 mid-winter conference and more than 300 lobbied members of Congress to take action on VA health care budget reform, women veteran’s health, veterans with traumatic brain injuries and other relevant issues.

Honorable Mentions:

Defense Media Activity: Armed with Science—A weekly podcast was launched by the DoD to show the importance of science and technology to military operations. Since January 2009, it has received more than 120,000 downloads and 2,600 Twitter followers.

Coalition to Support Medical Research: ResearchMeansHope.org—To prevent a sixth year of nearly flat federal funding for the NIH, the Research Means Hope campaign was created. It included print and radio advertising, Facebook and Twitter pages and a campaign Web site. In July 2009, the House appropriations bill was approved and included a $942 million increase for NIH over the FY 09 level.

Katz & Associates Inc.: Port of San Diego Tour Campaign—The Port of San Diego hosted 18 two-hour bay tours from April to July, in order to give local residents a look at the importance of the port. The tours proved successful, with 1,500 people viewing the tour video posted on the port’s Web site and the public’s average rating of the tours being extremely positive.

American Kennel Club: Protecting Your Pet from Theft—With the rise of “dog-nappings,” the AKC decided to create a campaign urging owners of highly coveted pure-breeds to protect them. The campaign included extensive media outreach, including ACK spokesperson Lisa Peterson appearing on the Today Show.