The Stork Pays Fewer Visits to California Teens
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The Stork Pays Fewer Visits to California Teens

The Partnership for Responsible Parenting was “born” in 1996 to address California’s high teen birth rates, one of the highest in the nation.

Paul Holmes

Children having children – 70,000 of them in California each year. The Partnership for Responsible Parenting was “born” in 1996 to address California’s high teen birth rates, one of the highest in the nation. The California Department of Health Services created this “baby” as a statewide initiative to reduce teen pregnancy. Hill and Knowlton “nurtured” the Partnership for Responsible Parenting into an integrated comprehensive public awareness, education and community outreach campaign to raise awareness of the problem and educate Californians about the legal, social, health and economic consequences of teen pregnancy. The campaign promotes sexual abstinence among teens, encourages males to take responsibility for their actions – both in preventing pregnancy and as young fathers – and motivates Californians to mentor young people. This award-winning social marketing campaign has used a comprehensive strategic approach and creative thinking to help change behavior in California with significant results –  fewer teens in California giving birth each year.

OPPORTUNITIES/CHALLENGES

The biggest challenge and opportunity of this campaign was how to best address the complex issue of teen pregnancy prevention in such a large and diverse state. The four pronged campaign addresses teen responsibility, male responsibility, mentoring and public awareness/action – virtually covering all Californian’s.

RESEARCH

At the onset of the campaign, Hill and Knowlton conducted a baseline survey to gauge public opinion on teenage pregnancy and related issues, develop strategies and create campaign messages.  The research also served as a benchmark to measure future success. In 1998, Hill and Knowlton conducted a follow-up survey of California adults and teens to evaluate the success of the program and examine the PRP’s contribution to the decline in the teen birth rate.  An additional survey determined awareness among youth-serving organizations. Hill and Knowlton used information from these surveys to plan, develop and implement its July 1, 1999 – June 30, 2000 activities.

PLANNING

Objectives

1.  Reduce births to California teens and make California a leader in addressing the teen pregnancy problem 

2.  Connect California teens and adults with organizations and resources on teen pregnancy prevention

3.  Be a resource for community-based organizations to extend the reach of their programs

4.  Increase awareness of the teen pregnancy problem in California

5.  Increase teen involvement, with a special emphasis on  males, in teen pregnancy prevention programs and encourage youth development in creation of pregnancy prevention messages

STRATEGIC APPROACH

Hill and Knowlton blended research, public relations and community outreach to create a powerful social marketing campaign designed to shift public attitudes and evoke action. A key campaign strategy was to foster ongoing public and grassroots exposure to the program and its messages among the target audience using partnerships with community-based organizations, professional sports teams, arts venues, media organizations and schools.

EXECUTION

Hill and Knowlton implemented a variety of community events and media outreach activities. Many of these events were planned in conjunction with community-based organizations to encourage teens to make responsible choices with regard to sex, educate the public about the teen pregnancy problem in California, and encourage adults to play a role in a child’s life. 

Community Outreach and Education

Educated teens on pregnancy prevention issues through nine “Teens Rally for a Healthy Future” community events. More than 125 community-based organizations planned and participated in the rallies and more than 5,000 teens and adults were exposed to key messages about respect, responsibility and abstinence through interactive educational exhibits and entertainment for and by local teens. Corporate and community donations valued in the tens of thousands of dollars

Provided 5,781 referrals to PRP partner agencies and information on abstinence, peer pressure, parent-teen communication and other topics through a toll-free information line

Educated teens and adults on abstinence, male responsibility and mentoring through the distribution of nearly 250,000 incentive items including brochures, calling cards, posters, pens, pencils, key chains, balloons and water bottles. Items were distributed to more than 650 community-based organizations.  

Instructed 65 representatives from community-based organizations on how to promote their programs, interact with the media, and solicit support from local businesses, corporations and adult service groups through a series of media advocacy training sessions.  One hundred percent of participants rated the training excellent or above average.

Produced and distributed a teen pregnancy prevention advocacy/highlights piece to 560 community-based organizations and Partnership for Responsible Parenting partner agencies. Highlighted Partnership for Responsible Parenting partner agencies’ news and accomplishments through a quarterly bulletin. 

Updated and maintained Partnership for Responsible Parenting Web site that provides adults information about teen pregnancy prevention.  

Partnerships/Promotions

Partnered with 18 professional and college sports teams and seven cultural organizations to host “mentor game nights” to recognize mentors and youth and provide opportunities to experience activities they might not otherwise have a chance to attend. Nearly 4,000 youth from 100 organizations attended the games.

Raised awareness of the teen pregnancy issue through a partnership with KUVS-19 Univision in Sacramento that included a 30-minute townhall meeting on teen pregnancy prevention five news features on abstinence, adult-teen communication, male involvement and mentoring; guaranteed airing of pre-recorded PSAs and production of a male responsibility PSA; nine Sabor Latino segments featuring teens from local community-based organizations and 10 educational tips on adult-teen communication. This partnership generated more than 4.3 million media impressions. 

Educated the Spanish-speaking Hispanic population about the teen pregnancy problem in their community through a partnership with Radio Bilingue that included four news reports, four features, four talk shows, four educational messages, two mini dramas, two testimonials; statewide report from the Youth Summit and guaranteed airing of PSAs on local efforts to reduce teen pregnancy through abstinence, male responsibility, adult-teen communication and positive youth development. This partnership has generated more than 5 million impressions. 

Partnered with the High School Sports Show. Cheer cards with teen pregnancy prevention messages were distributed at football/basketball games at local Los Angeles and Sacramento high schools and seen by thousands of spectators. Public service announcements aired on KCAL-TV in Los Angeles and KOVR-TV in Sacramento. 

Engaged youth in the development of teen pregnancy prevention messages with a statewide “What is the Truth About SEX?” poster contest co-sponsored by California State PTA and Hitachi. Developed the winning artwork into a mall kiosk poster, postcards and bookcovers to extend the reach of the teen pregnancy prevention messages. 

Promoted male responsibility, adult-teen communication and educated the public about local teen pregnancy prevention and youth development services through a radio promotion around Father’s Day. Twenty-five (16 English and 9 Spanish) radio stations ran call-in contests and interviews with local community representatives The promotion generated more than 10.4 million impressions.

RESULTS

The public outreach and education campaign of the Partnership for Responsible Parenting is making an impact on the teen pregnancy problem in California. 

In less than a decade, California has experienced a 27 percent reduction in the rate of births to teens 15-19.  Most recent studies report births to teens 15-19 years of age declined 6.2 percent to a rate of 53.2 per thousand, a rate decrease nearly three times larger than the decrease reported for the entire nation. As a result, 1,710 fewer teens 15-19 became mothers in California from the previous yearRates declined in 43 of California’s 58 counties.

Referred 5,781 California teens and adults to community-based organizations and distributed 3,370 informational brochures through toll-free information referral line; distributed nearly 250,000 collateral items.

Provided more than 650 community-based organizations with tools, training and technical assistance to extend the reach of their programs.

87 percent of statewide youth-serving organizations reported an increased level of awareness of the issue of teen pregnancy in their communities. 

69 percent of youth-serving organizations have seen an increase in teen involvement in adult supervised programs in the last year, 48 percent noticed increased male involvement in programs. 
Note: The Partnership for Responsible Parenting has exceeded the California Department of Health Services expectations.  They recently awarded Hill and Knowlton with another three-year contract.

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