‘Violence Against Women: Let’s stop it at the start’ – highlighting the use of PR and IMC in public awareness campaigns.


Here are the statistics. One woman is killed every week at the hands of a current or former partner in Australia. One in three women has been a victim of physical or sexual violence. Domestic violence in Australia is an epidemic, and one that national and state governments are keen to address.

On 24th April, a new awareness campaign hit Australia’s television screens, print media and radio. The campaign video has been screened in cinemas, online and throughout social media, while images and slogans have graced billboards and even our public transport.

Watch the 60 second video below – but please note this may include triggers for anyone who has experienced domestic violence.

Using IMC within public awareness campaigns

The ‘Stop It at the Start’ campaign highlights the use of integrated marketing communications within public awareness campaigns. Integrated marketing communications (IMC) provide a consistent image, position, message and theme across all communication tools, with the specific aim to gain a behavioural response. IMC is strategic, based on audience focused, channel centred and results driven communications. IMC aims to provide ‘one message, one voice’, with the use of varied media that plays to each mediums strengths.

While not aiming to sell a product, public awareness campaigns similarly aim to shift behaviours. Like IMC used to by for profit companies, public awareness campaigns must have a number of key elements to ensure success, including; people relating to the message, a clear articulation of the problem, recognition of barriers to change and providing resources and services to support those who aim to get help.

The broader plan – reducing violence against women and children

The ‘Stop It at the Start’ campaign comes as a part of a wider approach to reducing domestic violence, outlined in the National Plan to reduce violence against women and children. The National Plan outlines strong link between violence against women and their children and how people view the roles of women and men, and attempts to reduce violence by undertaking a primary intervention approach – targeting behaviour before it becomes an issue of domestic violence.

The National Plan has already seen the establishment of foundations to enable long term cultural change through initiatives such as Our Watch, a body set up to take a primary intervention approach through working with young people, and The Line, another campaign which targets the 12 – 20 age bracket to encourage healthy and respectful relationships between men and women (see their latest video below noting again a trigger warning). The ‘Stop It at the Start’ campaign continues to build the national awareness by targeting parents and other role models to look at their own attitudes, and start a conversation about respect with the young people in their lives. As a result, these campaigns highlight the integration of a consistent message, through multiple mediums, tailored to an appropriate audience.

The benefit of public relations

More important than just multiple avenues and campaigns to spread a message, and key to fulfilling truly integrated communications, the National Plan to reduce violence against woman and children has had the benefit of consistent public relations support. Extensive coverage by the media, which has firstly increased focus on domestic violence as an issue due to the 2015 Australian of the Year Winner Rosie Batty expanding the conversation, has continued as targeted initiatives on domestic violence became policy under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The launch has been supported by widespread sharing within the media, often resulting in continual analysis (and therefore further media space and time) of the discussion that commonly occurs as a result.

Integration of Public Relations with IMC activities is often seen as needing further integration within for profit organisation or raises questions about the marketing function taking over PR activities. In this instance however, the extensive use of PR opportunities open to the government allows for an interpersonal, multi-directional approach to delivering the core message of the National Plan with further media attention enabling the ability of the community to further consider and align meaning to the message.

Blog by Kristy McLean | 500155585 | kmcle

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