Mothers Against Drunk Driving: Happy About MADD

Develop and implement a statewide campaign to generate attention

Project

Mothers Against Drunk Driving – Georgia (MADD-Ga.) engaged Rountree Group to develop and implement a statewide campaign to generate attention for the organization and its goals.

Major challenges:

  • MADD-Ga.’s leadership in the state on alcohol-related issues was non-existent at this point, and the chapter had no political power/voice in the state.
  • The new state executive director, who came from another state, was not familiar with Georgia politics and was in his second month of employment.
  • The agency was engaged 10 days before the start of the legislative session.

Objective

Generate awareness and brand MADD-Ga. as “the voice” on alcohol-related issues in Georgia and heighten awareness of MADD among the state’s powerbrokers.

Research

Research efforts included:

  • Statewide media was unfamiliar with MADD-Ga.  Research showed the chapter was rarely mentioned in the local media during the previous year.
  • Media were identified in Georgia legislative districts that would have the most impact during the upcoming legislative session.
  • Staff at one of the most prominent TV news stations in Atlanta had previously been unable to reach MADD-Ga. because of the organization’s low profile.
  • Opportunities for media coverage were identified, including the upcoming legislative session, the Candlelight Vigil and a media tour by MADD’s national president.

Implementation

Implementation included the launch of a statewide media campaign to promote the legislative agenda with a heavy emphasis on phone interviews for a cost-effective way of reaching media and their audiences. We developed customized stories to be pitched so that they appealed to local audiences throughout the state. In addition, Rountree Group implemented events such as the annual Candlelight Vigil and MADD’s national president’s tour in Georgia to generate interest in the local chapter.

Results

  • Media coverage was generated about MADD-Ga.’s legislative efforts and the media tour, including multiple interviews with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the four major television news stations in Atlanta and numerous statewide radio and print publications.
  • A total of 79 placements were generated in the first five months of our work. More than two hours of television coverage was generated in metro Atlanta alone.
  • 92 percent of all media interviews were in our targeted legislative districts to evoke a call to action to key legislators.
  • A television station in Atlanta, a top station in the country, asked to form a partnership with MADD-Ga. to promote tougher drunk driving laws and discourage underage drinking. This led to an offer of more than $50,000 worth of free advertising.
  • Statewide attendance at the Candlelight Vigil was up nearly 400 percent and generated about 13 news stories/mentions in media, including more than 16 minutes of television footage from all four of Atlanta’s television news stations, as well as articles in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and eight statewide newspapers. According to the chapter’s state executive director, the event was the most successful vigil in MADD’s history.
  • The media tour for MADD’s national president secured 26 stories, varying from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which ran multiple stories including front-page coverage, all metro area television interviews, smaller weeklies, the Associated Press and Georgia Public Radio.
  • The campaign positioned MADD-Ga. as the local expert on drunk driving issues in the state. Local media generated national news interest from CBS and FOX.
  • The heightened profile of MADD-Ga. paved the way for increased opportunities for monetary donations from Atlanta corporations.
  • A bill strongly endorsed by MADD-Ga. passed overwhelmingly in the Georgia House by 171 – 2 and in the Senate 55 – 0. The new law was expected to save 40-45 lives in Georgia, according to information provided by MADD-Ga. The bill was supported by nearly all of the targeted legislators and even several of the previously outspoken opponents of the bill. In previous years, similar bills had been blocked by the legislature’s leadership.
  • The state legislature gave MADD-Ga. a virtual veto over legislation involving drinking issues during the legislative session.
  • The executive director of MADD-Ga. stated it would have been impossible without the media relations program to pass the new drunk driving laws because the campaign opened doors and brought MADD the “instant credibility” necessary to deal with the political process in Georgia.
  • The governor asked MADD-Ga.’s state executive director to be included in the bill signing, which involved a state “fly around.”
  • State legislators joked with MADD-Ga.’s executive director about his constant presence in the media, saying the best way to keep up with MADD was to turn on the television
  • Georgia’s governor asked for MADD-Ga.’s support at the following year’s legislative session.