media update’s Nakedi Phala looks at how PR can help the reduction of domestic violence statistics.

Let’s take a moment to rewind to the beginning of lockdown, where news agencies such eNCA reported that women felt trapped, having to spend long periods of time under the same roof as their abusers. Many people were left wondering what they could do to help, including public relations agencies and organisations. After all, as a PR pro, it’s important to raise awareness on the issues that matter.

Anything that can help bring change for the better and encourage a violence-free society is really what the world needs. So if you’re looking for solutions, PR has them! 

Here they are: 

1. PR agencies can indulge in performing arts 

When running a campaign that needs to send out a powerful message, it definitely needs to include the arts … the performing arts, that is. Why? 

Performing arts, such as drama or stage acting, has a way of connecting the message with the audience. This is especially true considering that these performances are designed to tell relatable and authentic stories, which becomes even more impactful when adopted from people’s realities. 

Here is a scenario: Let’s suppose your PR agency and client are set to create messages that build awareness about GBV, and they’re going to do this by enlisting performers.

You can find upcoming or experienced actors (depending on your budget) through auditions at drama schools or theatre centres. You can then head a campaign using short stories that showcase forms of abuse that are common, as well as those that go unnoticed at institutions such as schools, universities, workplaces, places of worship— anywhere where people never thought abuse and violence could take place.

This type of storytelling will showcase how these social ills can come from anywhere, and that it’s not limited to a particular demographic or type of person — and people need to learn and understand this.

You can then take it a step further by taking the stories to the public as part of your PR events. This is ideal because people aren’t always glued to their televisions or exposed to news discussing this matter. It invites the GBV conversation into new spaces, expanding its reach, and it gives the initiative that you are behind more chances of being heard and acknowledged.

2. PR pros can make use of social media 

Social media is a great space to look into, especially when running PR campaigns that aim to raise awareness about GBV. There are a number of features a PR pro can utilise to reach these audiences. 

For example, hashtags have shown to yield great power when it comes to building momentum and engagement towards anything that is of a significant cause. And, it is through the use of these hashtag campaigns that people are able to speak out against GBV. 

Let’s take one of South Africa’s civil rights movement groups, #NotInMyName. The hashtag initiative originated from the murder of a Johannesburg woman named Karabo Moekoena around the year 2017. That’s when the founders of the movement, Siyabulela Jentile and Themba Masango, decided to add their voice in an attempt to end violence against women by creating #NotInMyName.

Thus far, the campaign has reportedly helped with 19 cases that were originally abandoned. Additionally, the movement has gone on to secure “bursaries for girls in Hammanskraal, Tshwane.”

This is the power of social media. To get involved and help raise awareness, why not create a PR campaign hashtag that allows users to rise up and have their voices heard regarding GBV? There’s value to it!

3. PR teams can endorse organisations in motion

There’s a number of organisations that have been formed to educate and eliminate violence against women and children, such as Skhokho Supporting Success, The Stepping Stones and Sonke Gender Justice. 

Hiring the services of a PR agency, in this regard, can play a vital role in drafting pitch letters to potential sponsors, drafting press release statements about these organisations upcoming events and activities and putting together events such as press briefings. 

Additionally, communications teams from brands can adopt the fight against GBV as part of their CSI. How? 

Let’s take telecommunications brand Vodacom as an example. The brand launched a free mobile app built with features that play a significant role in the fight against GBV.

The app asks short questions to aid the user experiencing any form of abuse and encourages them to get the help they need, based on their answers. 

This shows that even big companies are concerned about issues that don’t have a direct impact on their brands. But, by showing an act of goodwill, one that goes beyond the scope of earned media and PR, these brands are able to show ubuntu (humanity). 

Are PR agencies doing enough to reduce gender-based violence? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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