Published: 1 November 2016

Awareness days: why they make PR sense

Dyslexia Awareness Week sees many of the dyslexia organisations in the UK, and also some internationally, working together in the same time period to raise awareness of what dyslexia is and how it affects people. Nicola Amoroso, marketing and communications manager at Dyslexia Action, explains how it works.

Awareness events can be important instigators of conversations about topics that some people would otherwise find difficult to – or may not think to – discuss.

Dyslexia Awareness Week

Dyslexia Awareness Week has been a very positive experience for Dyslexia Action in recent years. By putting real stories of real people in the public eye, it helps to create greater understanding of the difficulties associated with dyslexia, and to increase empathy towards those who have it.

Awareness days or weeks provide relevant media with an opportunity to cover a particular cause they might not usually give attention to. To take advantage of this, it is important to have briefed spokespeople about the key messages you want to communicate and prepared case studies ahead of time so you can act fast when the time comes.

Team work

It’s possible to create much more noise around an awareness day or week if you join forces with other like-minded charities that share the same passions and beliefs. Each organisation can work to its particular strengths, which when combined will create much more impact than if you were to work alone. This can be particularly beneficial if another charity has a relationship with a section of the media that you do not.

An important factor in the success of an awareness campaign is participation. Dyslexia Action works with employers, educational establishments, parents and individuals affected by dyslexia, and we encourage all these groups to get involved during Dyslexia Awareness Week. This means we need to focus our media activity on those media outlets that are relevant to this audience. It is also important to make it as easy as possible for people to participate, so we offer suggestions as to what they might like to do. For example, last year we provided schools with information on how to teach a dyslexia-friendly lesson.

Awareness Week dos and don’ts

Do:

  • Invite a local journalist to shadow a volunteer for the day so they can write about the experiences.
  • Plan ahead and co-ordinate stories – if the awareness event is spanning several days, plan content with a different focus for each day.
  • Give the awareness day/week a theme to keep ideas fresh. For example, the theme for Dyslexia Awareness Week 2015 was “Making Sense of Dyslexia” while for 2014 it was “Dyslexia Matters…”.

Don’t:

  • Confuse your audience – decide your key messages and stick to them.
  • Overstretch resources – less good content and coverage is better than lots of poor quality content.
  • Send a representative in to a situation that they are not confident in – live TV/radio can be daunting for some!
  • Waste resources – consider what you are likely to achieve and the benefits it will bring and plan accordingly.

This article is an extract from Effective media relations for charities: what journalists want and how to deliver it by Becky Slack. Find out more about the book here

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Becky Slack, founder and managing director, Slack Communications

Becky is the founder and managing director of Slack Communications. She is the former deputy editor of Charity Times, editor of Professional Fundraising and publishing editor of Charity Insight magazines. Becky is also a member of the Understanding Charities Group.