Lessons from Ragan Nonprofit Communications Awards winners

A closer look at innovative and impactful campaigns.

Lessons from Ragan Non-Profit Communications Awards

Nonprofit communicators have some of the most compelling stories to share. Their messages support efforts that transcend a simple bottom line.

We’ve highlighted some of the first-place winners from last year’s Ragan PR Daily Nonprofit Communications Awards to take a closer look at their tactics and successes. Be sure to apply to this year’s awards before submissions close on April 5.

Best Media Relations Campaign: Brodeur Partners — Returning to the Boston Marathon Course

The situation: The Boston Marathon’s Jimmy Fund Walk is a heralded event in New England each year. Benefiting the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the walk usually takes place along the famed route of the Boston Marathon. But when the COVID pandemic broke out, the walk ended up being canceled in favor of a virtual event in both 2020 and 2021. When the walk returned to the course, Brodeur Partners needed to ensure that the word got out in a big way.

The solution: To celebrate the walk’s return, Brodeur looked for the faces that made the walk a special event. The team looked through hundreds of submissions to find the right walker stories, eventually identifying 257 walkers and listening to 70 unique walker accounts to gain a better perspective on the cancer battles and courage that led people to the walk.

The campaign also leveraged influencers to help spread the story of the walk’s return throughout the Boston area. One notable influencer on the campaign was Spencer the Dog, at the time the official dog mascot of the Boston Marathon.

Brodeur’s work paid off, earning nearly a thousand media placements, including two in the Boston Globe and a feature in the Boston Herald, in addition to millions of impressions.

The takeaway: Highlighting the people who make a difference in a nonprofit campaign is just as important as communicating about the campaign itself.

Best Public Affairs Campaign: FleishmanHillard and AARP — The Fight for Fair Rx Prices

The situation: Americans spend more on their prescriptions than any other country in the developed world. This issue is particularly pronounced for Americans over 65, with 3.5 million older people in the U.S. struggling to afford their medications.

The solution: In collaboration with FleishmanHillard, AARP created a target media campaign following President Biden’s highlighting of drug pricing reform in his 2022 State of the Union Address. Titled “Fair Rx Prices Now,” the campaign called upon Congress to take action on pricing reform, highlighting women over 50 as an important voting bloc. Fair Rx Prices Now earned 340,000 earned media placements and over 620 million impressions.

The joint campaign helped influence the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which included provisions for drug price negotiation, expanded vaccine coverage, and capped insulin costs. AARP CEO Jo Ann was also invited to the law’s signing ceremony in honor of the organization’s contributions.

The takeaway: Strategic collaborations can expand the scope of what’s possible to make a meaningful difference.

Nonprofit Communications Campaign of the Year: Stop AAPI Hate — No Place for Hate

The situation: The COVID pandemic saw an unfortunate rise in hate crimes against people of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) descent.

The solution: Stop AAPI Hate, which documents incidents of hatred against AAPI people, launched No Place for Hate. This campaign aimed to shift the burden of these hateful incidents away from individuals and towards public agencies that can help.

The campaign had two main goals. The first was the passage of two bills in California co-written by Stop AAPI Hate to further the conversation about stopping street harassment. The other was to increase awareness around harassment in the public forum.

The campaign featured virtual and in-person events with people discussing the issues of street harassment across different communities. Additionally, there was a social media aspect to the campaign, in which people held whiteboards that had a blank space after “I want a #SaferPlace to _____”. These images were displayed both in public spaces and across social platforms.

The legislative push succeeded when in late 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed both bills into law. The campaign also secured more than 120 media hits across local, state, and national outlets such as the San Francisco Chronicle and NBC News.

The takeaway: Supporting a just cause that’s focused on one specific community can create impact that resonates across multiple communities.

Read more here.

Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.



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