Ask for Angela

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Published on November 28, 2016, at 4:17 p.m.
By Ashley Stults

“Law & Order SVU” is my favorite show, and it simply wouldn’t be complete without Olivia Benson. Portrayed by Mariska Hargitay, Benson is a passionate detective. Both on screen and off, Hargitay is a big advocate for raising awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault. In an effort to combat sexual assault, Hargitay and several other celebrities partnered with the NO MORE campaign.

Photo by Joella Marano
Photo by Joella Marano

This campaign is aimed at raising public awareness about sexual assault and domestic violence in an effort to end it. In 2013 NO MORE launched its first-ever celebrity PSA campaign, directed by Hargitay. The campaign included a series of videos, ads and posters displayed nationwide that featured celebrities, public figures and athletes. Since its release, this campaign has had more than 4 billion impressions. Its success doesn’t stop there.

Introduced in Lincolnshire, England, the campaign has been responsible for placing posters in restrooms in an effort to prevent sexual assault. The posters inform women who are on a date or in an uncomfortable situation, that they can go to the bar and ask for “Angela.” The bar staff will know that they need help getting out of the situation. The staff will then help them leave by either calling a taxi or discreetly helping them leave the building. This campaign has received national attention and praise.

The NO MORE campaign uses some of the best PR practices to be successful.

*Partnership*
By partnering with celebrities, NO MORE reaches a wider audience and has more impact. Courteney Cox, Mary J. Blige and Amy Poehler are some of the celebrities featured in a 60-second ad titled Anthem. The ad features men and women, young and old, making it a relatable ad for everyone. Various organizations and companies have also pledged their support to end the violence by partnering with NO MORE. Avon Foundation for Women, Verizon, Mary Kay and Viacom all stand with NO MORE. Partnering with such a wide variety of people and organizations allows the campaign to be impactful and shows that even celebrities are taking a stand against domestic and sexual violence.

Photo by nomore.org
Photo by nomore.org

*Approach*
For such a heavy topic, NO MORE has done a great job of starting the conversation with a gentle approach. The campaign doesn’t blame, point fingers or embarrass. Instead, it simply makes the argument that enough is enough, and we are all responsible for ending sexual and domestic violence. It doesn’t just point out a problem, but also offers solutions. The posters in restrooms are a great, safe way to help people escape a potentially bad situation, all while being discreet. The website also has an entire tab dedicated to getting help. The telephone numbers of several domestic and sexual assault hotlines are posted, along with links to their websites. The campaign points out a problem and offers solutions.

*Social media*
In today’s culture, some of the biggest movements begin online. Taking this reality into account, NO MORE puts a heavy focus on social media engagement.

In 2015, NO MORE week launched on March 8. This week was dedicated to engaging people in the conversation as well as holding educational and fundraising events. During that week, more than 6,000 people changed their profile pictures to the NO MORE symbol, over 3,000 people pledged their support, and over 600 people added their personal stories of violence to the website. The hashtag #NOMORE was also used extensively throughout the week and is still used. The social media aspect of this campaign makes it easy for people to see the information. It also encourages people everywhere to actually talk about this problem and understand that a national conversation must take place in order for change to be brought about.

Three years later, this campaign is still receiving national attention. Most campaigns fizzle out after a while, but this one seems to only gain momentum. I am eager to see how it continues its success and what next steps will be taken. As a student, it’s awesome to see all the ways PR can be used to help others and this campaign perfectly reflects that.

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