The practice of public relations can be a powerful force, but it is not used for the general good as often as it should. Certainly, we have the practice of Corporate Social Responsibility and a myriad of non-profits that use public relations to advance their worthy causes, but how often do we make a real difference with our daily work.
Blogs like those of Beth Kanter and the Cone agency's Do You Stand for Something? are on the forefront of cause marketing and public relations for the good. But generally this kind of PR is less “sexy” and entertaining, and posts and thinking around this issue are too often met with yawns.
Let's change that today.
I have a real issue that needs to be addressed today, and we can collectively make a difference and learn a little at the same time about how to use our skills in pursuit of a worthy cause.
Let's start by saving lives.
Darfur: The Oure Cassoni Refugee Camp
Last year I had the good fortune to meet and interview Mia Farrow at the PRSA International Conference. She challenged the 3,200 PR practitioners there to DO SOMETHING about the atrocities in Darfur. She showed us horrific pictures and told us compelling personal stories about how people were being affected. I wrote about it back then on the ComPRrehension blog.
Farrow offered 10 Things You Can Do Right Now to make a difference. One of things she mentioned that long year ago was to write a letter to the president asking him to make it a top issue.
President-elect Barack Obama is already on record saying that Darfur is a “stain on our souls” but with the current climate it will be very tempting to pull in and be self absorbed as a nation due to our own crisis. However, as bad as the economic crisis is, none of us have to worry that our children might see us raped or murdered before their very eyes. And none of us have to live in refugee camps, our home and villages being wiped off the map in retribution for an uprising we didn't personally cause.
Now a confession.
I have to admit that as much as I was moved by this issue that long year ago, I didn't send a letter to anyone or do anything.
Taking Overdue Action
That was why today, when I got an e-mail from Qui Diaz, who works for Livingston Communications, asking me to participate in the Save Darfur initiative, I took the opportunity to finally take action.
Save Darfur seeks one million signatures on a plea to Barack Obama through its website, Add Your Voice. The site allows people to send a post card to the new administration urging them to act. And if you are a blogger, have a Facebook page, post on Twitter or participate in another social network (which these days many of us do), you can get more information on how to help with the blogger toolkit.
Four Easy Ways to Help
- Write a postcard to Barack Obama
- Ask your friends, family and network to write a postcard too
- Write a blog post
- Put out the info in your social networks
Here is what I wrote in my postcard:
With the monumental problems facing the United States at home and abroad, it would be tempting to put the conflict in Darfur on the back burner and just maintain the status quo of “managing” the crisis. However, innocent civilians are suffering in conditions that most of us would not wish on our worst enemies. We are at risk of losing an entire generation to despair and violence. We also risk that some of these will turn to extreme measures out of this despair and that the conflict will spread to impact our own interests. Please consider making this a centerpiece of your new administration and using it to show the world that America still stands for what is decent and good. The site is also a great place to get ideas about how to advance other worthy causes that you might be passionate about, and it certainly is a good example of how to stimulate a grassroots movement, a skill that communication professionals should have in today's world.
I do hope that you will take action today to learn about and then do something about this today. If you live in a country other than the US, consider writing a quick letter to your own government officials today. It will take the will of the whole world to end this atrocity.
This issue blurs all ideological and party lines. By personally participating, then using your communication skills to spread this out to your own networks, you can do something today in just a few minutes that really matters.