National Nonprofit

Building Awareness for a Reinvented National Icon In a New Media Age

In the 1980s, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Founder Candace Lightner was a household name after leading advocacy efforts to change an entire culture’s perception of drinking and driving. 729 — that’s the number of state laws written or revised  under her leadership. Throughout the nation, and even overseas, drunken-driving fatalities fell dramatically.

A quarter-century later, mobile phone use became synonymous with driving. Recreational marijuana and pills became a societal norm. It’s not just one “D” – drinking – that robs families of loved ones . Now, it’s three – drunk, drugged and distracted driving.

Making these 3Ds culturally unacceptable is Ms. Lightner’s calling, formed through her new nonprofit organization, We Save Lives (WSL). But today, getting attention for advocacy work isn’t what it used to be. She needed a viral video.

Huss Group helped Ms. Lightner to generate buzz for the nonprofit’s #ReflectionsFromInside campaign, meant to draw awareness to a steady increase in drinking and driving fatalities. In the video, Kris Caudila, convicted of DUI manslaughter for killing a father of four, is superimposed in a bar mirror telling party-goers about his bad decision and urging them to “think twice” about getting behind the wheel after drinking.

With the video, Huss Group got to work pitching national media networks. Around the same time, we worked with WSL and Y&R to encourage strategic media boosting of the video. Soon, it went viral. A producer from NBC, our friend Gadi Schwartz, saw the video on his Facebook feed. He emailed us right away with interest, but we were negotiating with CBS News about covering the story.

Understanding how the media operates was critical. We were able to negotiate the best possible segment time with NBC and granted them the exclusive. After, we worked with their digital team to ensure the story appeared on their news app, social media feeds, and was shared across NBC UNI distribution channels that are picked up by several dozen affiliate stations.

The result was tremendous:

Media impressions proliferated because of strategic social media boosting following the NBC story. From Canada to Japan, the story reached several dozen countries and dozens of major media outlets.

We continue to work with Ms. Lightner, who recently opened an office in Washington, D.C. and is currently lobbying Apple and Samsung to input a drive mode similar to the fly mode.

Huss Takeaway:

When stories reach heightened awareness on social media, they are more likely to be covered by digital and traditional media outlets. This approach – generating buzz on social channels in order to attract nontraditional and traditional media – is what we call Social PR. It’s the new public relations norm. We were fascinated when LittleThings.com contacted us after the NBC story and we discovered that their pickup of the story had a greater social media impression reach than NBC.” – Joanna Huss, CEO and Founder