Best Corporate and Community, Non-Profit or NGO Partnership
Havas PR North America
Bob Woodruff Foundation: Joining Forces for Those Who Serve
“An army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, fights as a team.” —General George Patton
With that same spirit, the Bob Woodruff Foundation works in partnership with thousands of organizations big and small across the country, giving them grants (to the tune of $20 million to date) so that they can serve wounded vets and their families in their communities.
For the past five years, Havas PR has paired the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) with individual and corporate donors, other charitable organizations, social mediaexperts, potential grantees, politicians, board members, important media figures, influential bloggers and media outlets (local, national and international), even fashion stylists—whomever they knew through their research and networks would be key to helping the mission of the foundation: to ensure that injured veterans and their families are thriving long after they return home. Their work has yielded more than a billion media impressions and countless dollars, hearts and minds, and in 2013 their grassroots networking efforts even led to a $1 million gift to the foundation from PepsiCo.
For the past seven years, BWF has executed its biggest maneuver, Stand Up for Heroes, during the week of Veterans Day and the New York Comedy Festival.
Bruce Springsteen has performed each year, and in 2013 his famous comrades onstage included Roger Waters, John Mayer, Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart. It’s all to honor wounded service members and their families and give them a night out—for hope, healing and fun.
In their media strategy for that event, Havas PR has always stayed focused on Springsteen’s words from one of the first shows: “It’s not about the war; it’s about the warriors.” For the 2013 event in particular, the agency’s goals were straightforward: Raise visibility for the foundation by prioritizing the evening’s stories (first: the foundation’s goals to stand together to help injured service members, veterans and their families; second: the event and its guests, both famous and not) to secure national media and build awareness.
For all their work throughout the year for the foundation—and the other organizations to which they offer PR support through their Wounded Warriors platform, such as the Home Base Program of the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital—Havas PR is ever vigilant of their well-used but more valuable-than-ever partnership strategy.
The media targets for Stand Up for Heroes 2013 included entertainment, general news, military and philanthropy outlets. As in previous years, they also targeted pitches to media in the hometowns of a dozen or so veterans who would be attending the event (local is still the new global). To get it all off the ground, Havas PR first drafted a release detailing the event and the foundation’s work, then directed letters to the local-market media and military outlets. They also coordinated interview schedules for the dozen veterans and for foundation co-founders Bob and Lee Woodruff, distributed an invitation for the pre-party (which they organized) to military and local media, and media-managed the event and the red carpet at the event’s new, bigger space at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. In addition, they drafted and distributed a media alert and red-carpet speaking points for celebrities and military, conducted extensive outreach ahead of that moment, and distributed red-carpet photos to entertainment press after it was done. (Notable attendees included news anchors Brian Williams, Christiane Amanpour and Chris Cuomo; Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey; actress America Ferrera; and business leaders Ron Meyer and Ron Perelman.) Finally, Havas PR wrote and pitched a wrap-up release detailing the event’s activities and successes.
In 2010, they partnered the foundation with fashion and beauty companies and celebrity stylist Mary Alice Stephenson to give makeovers to 50 female caregivers and wounded military service members who would be attending the event. That idea was so popular among the women, their dates and the media that it has continued; they pitched that aspect of the event to media, too.
Throughout, Havas PR used the foundation’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts and website as supporting material for the press. They also took over those pages before the event to give an up-close look at the inspirational stories of the veterans who motivate the work of the Woodruff family. Plus, they developed posts for @Stand4Heroes (BWF’s handle). In 2012 they helped the foundation develop a live stream of the event; in 2013 their independent social media consultancy, SocialProvidence, brought the concert to life through a live Google+ Hangout—an interactive discussion among musicians on location, celebrities and veterans on the impact of the foundation, and a free pass to part of the sold-out concert. One key tactic was integrating it with BWF’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram platforms to deliver a unified message and increase donations by driving a social conversation around Stand Up for Heroes. All part of a pro bono package, SocialProvidence also developed and implemented a content calendar for the two weeks before the event and built buzz on social media, leveraging celebrity partnerships to drive a global conversation.
Havas PR volunteered 600 hours of time to help make this stand-alone charitable event a success.
In 2012, Havas PR CEO Marian Salzman, who sits on the foundation’s board, threw a backyard barbecue at her home in Connecticut to raise visibility and money (many agency staff served on the Junior Committee or otherwise assisted).
That evening was instrumental in beginning BWF’s courtship with PepsiCo and its partnership with #GivingTuesday, which launched later that year and allowed the foundation (and thousands of other organizations worldwide) to raise funds through microdonations and activate a new social media audience.
Coverage of Stand Up for Heroes in 2013 and all its related events that evening (makeovers, red carpet, live auction, Google+ Hangout, etc.) totaled more than 335 million impressions and included stories in the following outlets, with most containing all key messages: ABC, Associated Press, Billboard, Bloomberg, CBS News“Sunday Morning,” Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly, Gothamist, The Hollywood Reporter, the Huffington Post, Look to the Stars, Los Angeles Times, Military.com, The New Yorker, New York Post, The New York Times, Orlando Sentinel, Rolling Stone, Showbiz411.com, Time, Variety, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Time Out New York, Yahoo Sports, numerous local papers, local TV and radio stations, military blogs and websites, and more.
More than 61 million pairs of eyes followed the event on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the interactive live stream (about 100,000 people from around the world logged in live). Havas PR garnered 79 million impressions across the four social networks and 3.6 million impressions for the “text-to-donate” initiative alone. The online-offline connection made Stand Up for Heroes a global conversation with participants that nearly equaled the population of Germany, mobilizing grassroots donations to make it one of the most successful fundraisers of 2013: Their event expertise and traditional and social media savvy helped the Bob Woodruff Foundation raise a record $5 million (the total has increased by at least $1 million each year for the past three).
Through securing impressive results from this concert and the foundation’s work throughout the year—plus intentional development of courtships and partnerships—Havas PR has yielded numerous donations from corporate sponsors, the largest of which came from PepsiCo during Super Bowl weekend 2014. The company’s $1 million gift through its PepsiCo Foundation will launch a nationwide Veterans Helping Veterans initiative to help servicemen and servicewomen transition to civilian life and reconnect with their communities.
Havas PR couldn’t agree more with the words of PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi at the announcement: “The Bob Woodruff Foundation does incredible work to help our nation’s veterans and we are honored to support