2014 Platinum PR Awards: Media Event – Public Affairs

Winner: AAA - Think You Know All About Distracted Driving? Think Again.

Distracted driving is responsible for at least 3,000 fatalities and 400,000 injuries per year. As automakers introduced a multitude of hands-free information and entertainment systems that could distract drivers from the task of driving safely, AAA became increasingly concerned about the lack of distracted-driving research in relation to hands-free tech.

AAA and the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety commissioned a first-of-its-kind study, in partnership with the University of Utah, to examine mental distraction behind the wheel. Researchers compared and contrasted the mental distraction of various tasks, including listening to the radio, making a hands-free phone call and navigating popular speech-to-text technologies. In the end, the research confirmed what AAA had suspected: hands-free, voice-based vehicle features are not risk-free.

To convey the importance of the groundbreaking research results, AAA grabbed the national media’s attention through an innovative, interactive media event.

The event substituted the study’s test subjects with members of the media. To replicate the experience of the study, which was conducted on the streets of Salt Lake City, researchers used cones and barriers to simulate real-world driving conditions at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C. The cameras rolled as reporters were strapped into electroencephalographic (EEG) configured-skullcaps, which monitored their cognitive functions as they distractedly navigated the course.

Feature stories ran in outlets like NBC’s TODAY show, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, CNN and the Associated Press. The event reached a total broadcast audience of over 230 million, garnering nearly 75 million online impressions and secured a total print circulation of over 18 million.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Alembic Health Communications for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases - Keeping the Nation Flu-Focused: A Media-Driven Public Health Initiative
  • The Climate Group with Weber Shandwick - Climate-proofing: Climate Week NYC Communicates a Way Toward a Low-Carbon Economy
  • Ogilvy Public Relations – Launching the Catlin Global Reef Record: A Dynamic Visual Archive for Climate Science and Public Engagement
  • United States Olympic Committee - 2013 Team USA Media Summit