It has a very long yet rewarding process but with successful interviews and research I have completed my area of expertise! My research objective was:
How do public relations professionals promote an organization and a cause, specifically how is this done through breast cancer fashion shows?
I interviewed six professionals in the U.S. who discussed the keys to a successful cause-related program; learned even more while in London. Here are the professionals I interviewed:
- Gemma Webb, Marketing and Evaluation Manager/Public Information and Outreach Service for Parliament
- Philipp Engel, Founder of the Red Light Campaign
- Claire Pulford, Head of Events for Breast Cancer Care
After interviewing the London professionals I was amazed at what I discovered. When an organization knows its audience and creates an event that encompasses the values of the company, then they are promoting the cause while promoting the organization. The promotion of the organization comes effortlessly when it is represented successfully through the cause.
Behind the Scenes
Claire shared that the Breast Cancer Care fashion show is a prestigious event. Highlights to make the show sparkle include:
- English men and women who have had breast cancer apply to be models for the fashion show.
- The show is planned by a committee of models, trustees, and influential English professionals who contact people they know to help with the show
- Following the fashion show the committee evaluates the success of the show and creates a project plan for the next fashion show.
- Breast Cancer Care has three media partners for their fashion show: QVC, You Magazine, and Women and Home.
The Big Picture
I asked my U.K. contacts what the keys are to a successful cause-related program. Philipp Engel says your passion for the cause must be conveyed within the final product; the audience must feel that passion as well. When speaking to Gemma Webb about strategies to successfully inform your audience she said that the event must be related to your organization and you must engage your audience to find out what they are interested in. Gemma added:
“You need to think like your audience, you need to know your audience.”-Gemma Webb
What I take away from my research is that passion, knowing your audience, and have a well-planned event strategy and project plan will make a successful cause-related program. By including all these aspects within a show the cause and organization are being promoted as one unit.
U.S. and U.K. Comparison
Breast Cancer Care is very similar to the organization Brides against Breast Cancer that I interviewed back in the U.S. because Breast Cancer Care is also about empowering women. My past interviewees say that there is a balance of promoting and building awareness for the company brand. The U.K. conveyed a different approach. Claire said:
“There isn’t a case of having a balance, it lives and breathes itself these days. You can’t talk about the show without talking about the models and you can’t talk about the models without talking about breast cancer, therefore you talk about Breast Cancer Care.” -Claire Pulford
Because the majority of the breast cancer organizations in the U.S. are research based, there are going to be differences between fashion shows in the two countries. In the U.S. the show is a separate addition to the organization and the cause, in the U.K. the fashion show is a key element of the organization and the cause. As stated by Claire:
“We started the show as a way to make women feel good about themselves. Now it is a core part of Breast Cancer Care.” -Claire Pulford
For my Future
In my future endeavors I plan to use this research as a gateway towards many opportunities. Even if that means I must develop fashion shows for non-profit organizations at my university I am determined to use my research in a beneficial way. It’s a beautiful day to make a difference, so let’s be the change we want to see in the world.