By Trey Murphree, Account Manager, Local 24 Memphis
Before December 2020, it would’ve been difficult for me to immediately answer a question like this: “What single cause are you passionate about, and what would you do to make a difference for that cause if you have a magic wand?”
I’ve always donated money to good causes such as St. Jude Children’s Hospital and JDRF, but I can’t say the donations were anything more than a donation. I was satisfied knowing that a donation would help others have a chance to wave a wand. For me, the contributions are quick and easy. I did my part, and I moved on.
In December 2020 though, the question became easier to answer. A family member with three years of drug and alcohol sobriety asked me for advice about a challenge facing the organization he works for, the Memphis Area Prevention Coalition (MAPC). It’s a non-profit outreach organization funded with local and state grants and some donations. Their primary mission is to reduce substance use in Shelby County.
However, as good as their efforts are, the number of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis cases, and opioid overdoses continued to grow – especially as COVID led to the decrease in visits to both of MAPC’s needle exchange locations.
The organization needed to increase its outreach to drug users, their partners, friends, and family members. MAPC also recognized that few people were aware that MAPC has the authority to distribute Narcan (a drug that can quickly reverse an overdose) at no charge to anyone who requests it.
Knowing that an increase in awareness about the needle exchange program could also help slow the rise in contagious diseases among intravenous drug users, my challenge was to create a campaign with the right media and the right message.
The process of research and development of the right message began in January 2021. I listened to the MAPC’s stories about friends and family who overdosed. I was inspired by their stories of recovery and their desire to help others.
I then researched the proper language to address drug users. Yes, there are words, images, and delivery of speech that are more effective than others. The shame and stigma that often surround substance use disorders can lead users to feel isolated, hopeless, and unable to share their experiences. Research also indicated audiences would be unresponsive to patronizing terms and mannerisms. These feelings can create roadblocks to seeking treatment, support, and recovery. The message had to be just right and had to go through a myriad of approvals.
The State of Tennessee was funding the campaign scripts had to be approved by the Department of Mental Health – and our first seven scripts were kicked back. We could not use the phrase, “free Narcan,” but our team found a way to communicate effectively putting Narcan as the primary focus of the spot.
There were two KPIs for the campaign, including the number of calls to a dedicated phone line and visits to the exchange sites. The campaign ran from April to June 2021 with a significant streaming investment on TEGNA’s Premion CTV/OTT advertising platform in addition to a targeted linear television media schedule.
Near the end of May, MAPC’s director asked our team to develop another campaign together for July and August, saying “We know it works because my phone rings all times of the day and night”.
The results of this campaign won’t be measured by Nielsen or ComScore. Campaigns like this are measured by the response of the intended audiences. We may never know if the campaign saved a life or not, but being part of a partnership with life-saving potential is one of the many gratifications I get from being at TEGNA, where we put our partners and our communities in good company.
Thinking of how you might amplify your brand’s community efforts or looking to join our affiliates in their efforts to serve the greater good of our communities? Get in touch.