Lions' World Sight Day 2000
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Holmes Report
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Lions' World Sight Day 2000

In 1997, Lions Clubs International (LCI) retained Ketchum as its global public relations agency, responsible for initiating and implementing a global integrated communications program, designed to enhance the Lions’ image worldwide.

Paul Holmes

 

In 1997, Lions Clubs International (LCI) retained Ketchum as its global public relations agency, responsible for initiating and implementing a global integrated communications program, designed to enhance the Lions’ image worldwide.  Using Ketchum’s extensive worldwide network, ongoing PR activities were launched in 18 key countries representing the association in the Americas, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa.  As part of the Global Image Program, Ketchum first established Lions World Sight Day (LWSD) in 1998 as the organization’s major international initiative and most visible event dedicated to the prevention of blindness.

In 2000, Ketchum was asked to conduct the event again, but with a smaller budget and even higher expectations for national/local media in the different countries where Ketchum was conducting ongoing media relations for the Lions, in particular with Chinese bureaus of western media.  Decreased budget meant maximizing resources of the global team and finding creative ways to generate media interest in multiple countries for an event that took place in one location.  Past LWSDs showed that this would be a challenge, especially in developed countries where blindness is not seen as a critical health issue.  Yet, Ketchum was able to construct the event to make it truly international, worthy of coverage in multiple countries around the globe and the most successful LWSD yet.

RESEARCH

Ketchum utilized its global team to conduct internal and utilize secondary research to determine the best way to make an event relevant to a multitude of countries.  Research included:

  • Review of past LWSD programs to identify key learnings and areas of success
  • Review LCI programs to determine places which current blindness prevention and sight restoration programs had the strongest success
  • Discussions with Ketchum offices in various countries regarding individual country perspectives
  • International media audits to determine reaction to/perception of Lions and sight work
  • Review of international media coverage on a variety of issues to determine locations of high media interest
  • Review of other major international observances supporting a health issue, such as World AIDS Day

Objectives for the 3rd annual Lions World Sight Day were to:

  • Position LWSD as the preeminent event dedicated to raising awareness of blindness as a critical health concern
  • Secure international media coverage of LCI and strengthen its position as a global leader in blindness prevention, eye health care and other important humanitarian endeavors
  • Demonstrate LCI’s commitment to eye health care and blindness prevention by showcasing global programs and partnerships, and providing local Lions clubs with an opportunity to support the program
  • Strengthen LCI’s ties to leaders in international health organizations

STRATEGIC APPROACH

Based on the objectives and research, Ketchum determined the following strategies:

  • Ensure international and media appeal by utilizing participants from multiple countries, strong visuals for photography and video, and emerging technology of interest to many countries, including developed nations
  • Capitalize on international media interest in regional “hot spots”
  • Mobilize and motivate local Lions clubs to support LWSD
  • Partner with major health organizations to add credibility 

Utilizing these strategies and a budget of $150,000 fee/$100,000 OOP, Ketchum developed a strong LWSD plan.  The team selected China as the event location given its relevance to international media and the success of the SightFirst China Action (SFCA) program supported by LCIF, a five-year initiative to improve sight restoration and blindness prevention in China, largely by providing free cataract care.

During the Lions account’s annual global team meeting, the Chicago office held a brainstorm with team members representing the 18 countries on the Lions’ account to determine individual country media needs and exchange ideas for generating coverage, especially among developed countries.

To increase the international appeal of the event, Ketchum recommended incorporating a team of eye doctors, including Dr. Resnikoff, representing several different nations to participate in events where they would directly serve the Chinese people.  In addition to offering eye screenings to the general public, these international doctors also lead a team of volunteers in photoscreening kindergarten-level children in Beijing.  The photoscreening technology was developed in U.S. at the Tennessee Lions Eye Center, and this event provided an opportunity to introduce it to ophthalmologists and eye care specialists from many countries, and added to the international appeal of LWSD.

EXECUTION

The Ketchum Global Team worked closely with the Lions to create a series of events leading up to LWSD on Thursday, October 12th.  These events highlighted the issue of blindness as an important health concern and showcased the good work LCI was doing in China in partnership with the Chinese government.  These events included:

  • Visit to a Beijing suburban hospital to meet post-operative cataract patients.  As a result of LCI’s support of SFCA, China has been able to greatly increase the number of cataract surgeries performed each year
  • Photoscreenings of 2000 kindergarten-age children in Beijing
  • Public eye screenings and photoscreenings for children held in Xi Dan Plaza, a public place in Beijing

Ketchum generated media coverage of these events with local and international media by focusing on the participating international doctors and leveraging international media interest in China and its people.  Media outreach included:

  • On-site interviews with Lions’ spokespeople, international doctors, and cataract patients and surgeons
  • B-roll of following the case of one cataract patient and the photoscreenings, distributed by AP Television News
  • Advance pitching to media in news bureau countries to determine areas of interest and to obtain pre-event interviews with doctors traveling to China
  • Advance pitching to Western media bureaus in Beijing to tailor stories for major outlets

EVALUATION

The overall results of the program demonstrated that LWSD 2000 achieved its objectives.  Specific details follow:

Position LWSD as the preeminent event dedicated to raising awareness of blindness as a critical health concern

The World Health Organization chose LWSD as its primary blindness event to support

LCI spokesperson and International President was interviewed by major media, including CNN World Report, BBC Radio and BBC Online, New York Times and Associated Press

Secure international media coverage of LCI and strengthen its position as a global leader in blindness prevention, eye health care and other important humanitarian endeavors

Coverage on major media around the world, including CNN Headline News, Chicago Tribune, Reuters, The Mirror (London), ABC Radio (Australia), South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), CCTV 4 (China)  and The Indian Express (India)

Key placements in the LCI International President’s home country, France, including Le Figaro (print), La Croix (print) and Euronews (television)

320 stories from 12 countries with more than 400 million media impressions

Demonstrate LCI’s commitment to eye health care and blindness prevention by showcasing global programs and partnerships, and providing local Lions clubs with an opportunity to support the program

Recognition of Lions Clubs International Foundation’s work with SFCA was included in most placements

More than 1,700 children were photoscreened during the LSWD events, 70 of which were referred for further evaluation and treatment, potentially sparing them from future blindness

Hundreds of Lions clubs worldwide supported LWSD with local events

More than 10,000 pairs of eyeglasses were collected through local LWSD events

Strengthen LCI’s ties to leaders in international health organizations
More than 50 other blindness prevention organizations worldwide commemorated the day with events, including the Helen Keller Worldwide Foundation, SightSavers, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness, Christoffel-Blindenmission, ORBIS International, Inc., The Carter Center and others

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