Among the wonders of 21st-century communication is the ability to find new ways to raise awareness about issues that usually exist outside the public eye. The Global Alliance for Rabies Control, or GARC, is one organization that has learned this well. Through its World Rabies Day campaigns, the group has launched an array of worldwide initiatives aimed at warning the world about the risks of rabies. Many of these drives build toward a single date: September 28, observed as World Rabies Day. The campaigns combine elements of public relations, advertising, and social media in their promotion of special events at the group’s website.
No one actually likes rabies. But it’s instructive to see the number of ways that GARC tries to reach a worldwide audience with a message about a problem that people don’t often think about. Among the methods:
* GARC has created a social media hashtag, #TogetherAgainstRabies, to “celebrate the interdependence of human and animal health.”
* The alliance encourages people to organize or participate in World Rabies Day events, defined as “any event held on or near September 28 and promotes awareness about rabies prevention or reduces rabies transmission.”
* GARC uses its Twitter account, @RabiesAlliance, to publish users’ photos of rabies events around the world and spread information about prevention strategies.
* The website describes past World Rabies Day special events – in effect, public relations projects like those described in PUR3801. That includes a 2012 parade in Nigeria and a 2013 Fun Run in Canada.
* The 2014 observance includes the theme of dog vaccination, which helps to reduce the incidence of rabies in both dogs and humans.
* People creating a World Rabies Day event will see it pinned on the site’s map, adding a social dimension to the program.
These are just some of the ways that nonprofit organizations can use new media to spread their messages to a worldwide audience, using special events to spark new attention. That’s one of the lessons for converged communicators as the journey through the program continues.