Lifesaving Society (Quebec)
– Award for Best Media Contribution to Boating Safety –
Lifejackets: You’ve Got ‘em, So Wear ‘em
In 2013, the Quebec Lifesaving Society launched an extremely effective water safety campaign to mark the 20th National Drowning Prevention Week that gained significant media coverage. Energized by the statistics that eight out of ten people who drown while boating were not wearing their lifejacket, the Quebec Lifesaving Society focused its efforts this year on lifejacket wear with a central theme of ‘porte la donc’ (‘Take it Wear It’)
There were three main elements of the campaign, the first being a kick-off event held in Parc Lafontaine. To reinforce the very real impact of the “eight out of ten” statistic, a memorial of eight tombstones was constructed and set afloat in a large pond, each representing an actual drowning victim. The creation of this memorial was filmed, along with the reactions of passers-by and can be found Youtube athttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_ZLhZVL0RA. This video became a central focus of the campaign.
The second main element of the campaign was a media outreach program that included distribution of lifejackets along with public service messages in print, sound and video:
- 350 were sent to the to more than 80 aquatic centres in Quebec
- More than 220 were sent to media outlets in Montreal
- 110 were sent to media outlets in the various regions of Quebec
The objective was to use the lifejackets to attract attention to the information shared with media to generate articles, editorials and radio interviews and to stimulate discussion among the public at pools. Many lifejackets were used as promotional “give aways” to the media audiences. A bi-product of this outreach was that most of the lifejackets were eventually pressed into service on the water at the completion of the campaign. (A partnership between Lifesaving Society and Oasis Juices helped support the purchase and distribution of the lifejackets, a first of its kind collaboration).
The outreach goal was certainly met; on September 16 alone, the Quebec media made 190 references to drowning prevention, reaching over 5.9 million listeners, viewers and readers (22% of the Society’s total coverage.) The Lifesaving Society also distributed public service messages in print, sound and video, for a total of 837 free repeats of the message; this represents a value of more than $80,000. The campaign also stimulated a significant amount of social media activity.
Finally, the Quebec Lifesaving Society created two web outreach products to support their lifejacket focus for National Safe Boating Week. Information about the lifejackets was carried on the Society’s drowning prevention website www.snpn.ca as well as links to both a lifejacket microsite and the YouTube video. Some 2,363 visits were recorded by September 29.
The lifejacket microsite www.porteladonc.ca (“take it wear it”) was officially launched at the Society’s press conference on July 18. Some 20 stories based on actual drownings could be accessed on the site. Visitors could listen to the stories, hear the specific details and then share them on Facebook. By August 7, the site had generated more than 1,138 visits. The vast majority of these visits (164) took place on the July 18 launch day, followed by July 21 (109) and July 25 (184 visits). The average duration of the site visit was one minute 38 seconds. Most visits were a result of media articles and interviews stimulated by lifejacket distribution. The remainder came directly from Facebook.
This year, the Quebec Lifesaving Society took a unique and contemporary approach to age old problem to try to enhance awareness and wearing of lifejackets through their ‘take it, wear it’ campaign and made it a great success.
On behalf of the Quebec Lifesaving Society (Société Sauvetage), Marie-Ève Gravel (Communications Coordinator) and Luc Bernuy (Boating Manager) accept the award for Best Media Contribution to Boating Safety from the CSBC’s Ted Rankine.