Grand Prize: Digital PR Campaign of the Year

What do you say to a friend who has a Down syndrome baby? Anything but ‘sorry’

Campaign of the Year winner reset perceptions of what the genetic disorder really means.

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The goal of the Canadian Down Syndrome Society (CDSS) campaign was stopping “well-meaning friends and family from giving condolences to new parents of a baby with Down syndrome.” Saying “I’m sorry,” according to the CDSS, suggests “their baby should be pitied instead of celebrated.” The campaign has won a well-earned first place for “Digital PR Campaign of the Year” in PR Daily’s 2018 Digital PR & Social Media Awards.

The communicators behind the campaign dispensed with the usual inspirational messages on which so many nonprofits rely, opting instead to employ humor to “disrupt our audience.” 

The two-week long campaign featured a video, “The S-Word,” featuring people with Down syndrome sharing better ways to welcome a baby with Down syndrome. Those who saw the video on Facebook were retargeted with three other pieces of content that shared real-life experiences of parents who had heard “sorry” after their babies were born and how it affected them. 

Paid search also drove traffic to the videos, which in turn led people to Instagram, where the account was loaded up with social e-cards, nearly 10,000 of which were shared. The team also created a six-second bumper featuring Justin Bieber’s hit, “Sorry,” with a warning that the clip contained “inappropriate language.” 

Traditional PR also contributed to the campaign’s success. In two weeks, the campaign produced 1.3 billion impressions, 78 pieces of international coverage, 350,000 video views and 48,000 social shares driven by the team’s PR efforts. The organization also experienced a 350 percent increase in requests for educational materials and a 350 percent increase in donations. 

Congratulations to the team at the Canadian Down Syndrome Society.

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