"Dear compatriots, today I invite you to place in our hearts and our prayers the poor victims of this winter. Today we are focused, as it should be, to save and protect lives"
These were the words of the President of the Republic of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who managed to unite the solidarity of a whole country against the worst floods caused by the most terrible winter of the past 30 years. American experts have said this tragedy is worse than Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, USA.
This tragedy has caused irreversible consequences such as: over 30.000 houses destroyed, 300,000 in bad shape, 320 people dead, over 100 missing persons, hundreds of thousands of animal’s dead and 2 million people affected. Of the 32 states in Colombia, 28 are under emergency. The cost to rebuild the country has been estimated to be 6 billion pesos. The weather forecast not only stated that in November it rained 1,000 times more than the past November´s, but they also predicted that it won’t stop until mid-March.
Citizens were very conscious of the magnitude of the tragedy but didn’t know exactly how or where to contribute. For this reason, a group of volunteers of the Civil Defense and neighbors of the area came together and set up a place for the recollection of money, food and clothes. It would be there until the winter ended.
Challenge / Objectives
Colombia is a country that has being affected by constant problems of violence, displaced people among other things. Every day, people wake up reading these kinds of headlines and accepted this as part of the society. Keeping this in mind, the message that was going to be sent out had to be focused on creating a sense of solidarity such that it integrated the community in an important role for the reconstruction of the country.
Since this initiative came from a group of volunteers, they didn’t have enough tools to replicate the message in a massive and effective way. The message had to reach strategically each target audience as fast as possible. The challenge was not only to raise awareness but also to encourage constant donations from everyone.
Since Christmas was close by, the volunteers also wanted to persuade people to donate toys for the children that have been victims of the winter.
• Citizens of all the different areas in Bogota, the capital of Colombia.
• Private companies
• Restaurants of the area
• Artists and celebrities
• Identify and contact opinion leaders who could replicate this message
• Artists, owners of nightclubs, singers
• Social media (Facebook and Twitter)
• Press release in traditional media: radio, internet, TV and news papers
• Encourage donations from private companies for an auction that was being organized to raise funds.
• Strong use of visual material
Execution / Tactics
In order to start creating noise in the media, we sent out a press release to all the media in Bogota. After a consistent follow up we arranged interviews with the biggest and most influential media. The spokesperson´s message was to inform the community about their initiative and encouraging them do make donations. Almost instantly, the donations increased with the volunteers. Restaurants from around the area started donating food to the victims and to the volunteers that were there from 9am to 6pm every single day.
We also contacted a nightclub owner that was willing to do a party with several celebrities as guests in order to raise funds for this cause. The party was a success raising several thousands of dollars to buy Christmas presents for the children.
Through Twitter, we got in touch with another club owner that wanted to do an auction to raise funds for the cause. For this event, we convinced Hard Rock Café to donate a guitar with celebrity signatures so that it could be auctioned and the earnings donated for this great purpose.
We created an event in Facebook with all the information necessary for people to be able to donate. We constantly uploaded pictures and all the news clippings that were being created by our press release and interviews. At the same time we did a video using pictures, news clippings and strong text emphasizing the gravity of the winter. This video was posted on the wall of influential celebrities and leaders of opinion. As a consequence, the video became viral.
Evaluation of Success
• Media coverage: 12 publications in the most important media of the country
• People benefited: more than 4,000 people
• Children that received toys on Christmas day: more than 150 children
• Amount of donations: more than 4 tons were donated
• Location: The donations were distributed in Bogota and the coast of Colombia
• A signed guitar from Hard Rock Café was donated for the auction