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Doing altogether better for kids by shaping the Buddy Day message

On 13 November, thousands of people all around New Zealand will be carrying 1 metre-high cardboard 'buddies' around with them all day long: to school, meetings, lunch, on the bus, out for a bike ride, down the pub. Everywhere.

And yes, that's me with my buddy, Melody, in the photo.

Why? Because it is Buddy Day.

What's Buddy Day?

Buddy Day is a compelling campaign that is all about doing altogether better for kids. Essentially, it is an awareness campaign for Child Matters, the leading child advocacy and anti-child abuse charity.

At Clarity we love - and are proud to support – Buddy Day because we believe that everyone can do at least one thing better for the children in our lives. So, what's your action going to be this year?

What's the story?

One year ago, we came across buddies everywhere we looked, but we didn't know what it was about.

Upon meeting Buddy Day Manager Janine Evans, we discovered that it seeks to drive real, systemic behavioural change across New Zealand, aiming to help Kiwis to create a safer, happier and better place for kids to flourish and grow. At its most negative, it is about preventing child abuse: at its most positive, it is about providing environments for Kiwi kids to truly excel.

Janine set us a challenge – to help her tune the Buddy Day message to broaden its appeal and draw a much stronger link between the buddies we see and the actions we need to take to realise the future they want to see.

What was the challenge?

Our message challenge was four-fold. Essentially, we needed to:

  1. Understand the initiative fully
  2. Make the message as wide and as accessible to as many people as possible
  3. Build a concrete link between the buddies you see about the place and the action you need to take
  4. Create a simple, achievable call to action for everyone in the country
As Janine puts it: "Buddy Day began in 2011 as a tool to raise awareness of child abuse, and has moved forward to facilitate conversations and actions around ensuring safe and positive environments for children…How we 'move' people through, has always been another challenge.

"The challenge has always been how to link two very different messages. The messages with kids in schools is all about being a Buddy to others and having empathy while talking about what kids need to grow up to be happy and healthy and reach their potential. The messages for adults is around adults' responsibility in ensuring safe environments to enable kids to reach their potential."

What did we do?

4 main things:

  1. We held a workshop with the Buddy Day team – to really understand their objectives, audiences, and to understand the vocabulary so we could tune the message accordingly
  2. Turned the face of the campaign to make it accessible to a much wider cross-section of people – and towards the positive, moving towards: doing better for kids, rather than preventing child abuse, which is a) a hard conversation for people to have with strangers and b) not applicable to everyone. In our view, everyone can do a minimum of one thing better for kids, across the entire spectrum of human experience.
  3. Tuned the central message – to doing altogether better (playing on 'all together' and 'altogether', i.e. 'much' better) for kids, and placing emphasis on doing something
  4. Refreshed the collateral – website, proposals, brochures and other materials - to ensure that the message and required actions are much clearer and consistently prominent: this is about doing altogether better for kids, so what one thing are you going to do this week, month or year?
What's the result?

We leave it to Janine to give her views:

"Clarity has made a significant impact on the success of the Buddy Day awareness campaign by working with us to focus and simplify the Buddy Day messages and develop a call to action.

"This has enabled us to engage with a much wider audience and spread the messages to the next level of audience. Also, by having a clear call to action, audiences can feel they are participating in a solution.

"All in all, the process we have worked through and the results we have achieved have made us understand the importance of working with a professional communications specialist. We had a very difficult brief, a subject so hot at the moment, but one no one wants to talk about.

"Our research tells us that the Buddy Day messages are successfully changing the way people value children in NZ."

Contact us if you would like to tune your message:

Buddy Day is just one example of the many organisations that we help to tune their message and engage the audiences that matter to their success.

If you want to improve the power of your message and your public relations, talk to the message specialists at Clarity.