African American males suffer disproportionately from life threatening diseases, such as prostate cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Eating fruits and vegetables may help prevent these diseases, but African American men have the lowest consumption of fruits and vegetables of any demographic group in theUS. The National Cancer Institute’s 5 A Day Program launched a campaign to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables by African American men. NCI sponsored a breakfast workshop at the National Association of Black Journalists convention to educate a key audience about the values of eating fruits and vegetables.
Michael K. Frisby, a senior vice president at Porter Novelli and director of the Public Strategies and Outreach Practice, was retained by NCI a month before the August 1, 2002 event. Using our extensive contacts with the NABJ, we put together the event. Once those logistics were completed, we set out to use the event to send the crucial 5 A Day message to a larger audience. The Public Strategies & Outreach Group produced a video news release (VNR) that vividly pointed out the health consequences of not eating enough fruits and vegetables, and gave the audience ideas on how to obtain and prepare them. The VNR, which showed tape of the NABJ workshop, was sent via satellite to local television stations across the country. We also arranged for a series of radio interviews by 5 A Day spokespeople, and secured placement of stories in a number of newspapers across the country. We also prepared invitations, posters and press materials geared towards creating a large turnout at the event.
Clearly, the NABJ event showed that the target audience, as well as the news media, has a keen interest in this project. There was a large turnout at the breakfast event, with more than 200 people attending. The media outreach effort garnered more than 9 million media impressions, and the VNR aired on 132 television stations across the country. We secured articles at major newspapers, including the Washington Post, the Kansas City Star and the Milwaukee Journal. The story was also placed on the website of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a news service for more than 200 African American newspapers across the country. Many of those newspapers have also written articles about the event. In addition, the VNR was picked up by Black Entertainment Television, as well as stations inNew York,Los Angeles,Milwaukee, andDallas.
By hosting the breakfast and treating it as a news event, NCI was successful in spreading the message about the important role that eating fruits and vegetable play in staying healthy.