2012 Platinum PR Awards: Public Affairs

Winner: Nyhus Communications - Washington United for Marriage Launch

With the goal of making Washington state the seventh state in the U.S. to legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples, the Washington United For Marriage coalition needed a strong launch in Nov. 2011. The organization enlisted Nyhus Communications to help create a robust PR, public affairs, marketing and social media-led effort.

Key to the campaign was an exclusive, embargoed Seattle Times story; a press conference held in Bellevue, Wash.; national press release distributed via e-mail (not over the wire); ongoing social media engagement; and press support for in-person town hall meetings. In the two weeks after the coalition’s launch, positive national, regional and local media coverage ensued, which helped prompt Gov. Christine Gregoire to introduce a marriage equality bill, and the state legislature passed the bill into law. —SVC 

Honorable Mentions:

Arizona State University – Tempe Coalition’s 21 or Too Young Campaign: ASU used PSAs, community events and the creation of an online pledge to support the reduction of underage drinking. The campaign garnered 1,000 signed pledges.

Entertainment Software Association – Protecting the First Amendment in a New Era of Communications Media: ESA and Weber Shandwick used media relations, third-party stakeholders and grassroots outreach to challenge the notion that video games should not protected by the First Amendment, resulting in a U.S. Supreme Court win.

FTI Consulting – Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor Poll: FTI fielded a series of polls that probed important topics among a top Allstate target: the U.S. middle class. The new insights are now being used by pollsters, strategists and economists to help shape public policy.

Hill+Knowlton Strategies – American Action Forum Elevates Expert Voices on Affordable Care Act During Historic Supreme Court Oral Arguments: Leveraging AAF thought leadership on Obamacare, op-eds with key opinions were placed in major publications and three AAF-filed briefs cited by Justices Alito and Kennedy were touted. The effort resulted in more than 10 million impressions.

Illinois Tollway – Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future: Illinois Tollway used community forums, pitches to local media and PSAs to promote its capital program, culminating with its passage by the state in June 2011.

Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide Taipei – Taiwan, Rice Up! Ogilvy helped halt the decline of rice consumption in Taiwan via partnerships with Yahoo; three TV spots; and media relations that promoted restaurants offering creative rice dishes. As a result, rice consumption increased from 46.18kg per person in 2010 to 47.09kg in 2011.

Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick – Keeping the Promise: Advancing the Artificial Pancreas for the Millions of Americans with Type 1 Diabetes: On behalf of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and to ensure that the FDA released clear and reasonable guidance on the artificial pancreas, the two agencies harnessed the voices of policy makers, the diabetes community and the opinion media, resulting in positive FDA guidance issued in Dec. 2011.

Rusnano – Nanotechnology Public Awareness Program for Russia: To increase public awareness of nanotechnologies in Russia and their possibilities for everyday use, Rusnano deployed two road shows (one of them via train) and created a forum featuring nanotechnology experts. The road shows attracted some 365,000 people in 2010-2011, while public awareness of nanotechnology has increased from 14% in 2010 to 26% in 2011.

Stratacomm LLC – A Sweeter Alternative: Ending the Tariff on Sugarcane Ethanol: To educate Americans on the benefits of the renewable fuel and to prod U.S. lawmakers to end an import tax on it, Stratacomm educated policy makers, the media and key opinion leaders; mobilized grassroots advocates through a new Web site; and positioned the Brazilian Sugarcane Industry Association as a thought leader. The results were sweet: In June 2011 the U.S. Senate voted 73 to 27 to end the import tax on sugarcane ethanol.

Waters Corp. and GolinHarris – Building a Global Network of Partnerships to Improve Food Safety: GolinHarris established food and water contamination detection companyWaters Corp. as the“bridge to safety”via a partnership with the FDA, the opening of the International Food SafetyTraining Laboratory, and relationship building with universities, governments, legislators and NGOs. The lab’s opening in Sept. 2011 generated coverage in 15 countries with an estimated 89 million online impressions in the U.S.

Weber Shandwick – Communications for Democracy: Supporting Nigeria’s Elections: To support the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on behalf of the Ford Foundation for free and fair elections in Nigeria, Weber Shandwick assisted with message development, voter education, media relations and more. The 2011 elections were declared free and fair, with the INEC grabbing much of the credit. 

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