Autism Awareness Month

April 1, 2014 | Michelle

In PR you create angles, events, and platforms to promote ideas, products, and services. Orca is made up of a unique combination of former journalists and long-time PR professionals. Many publicists on our team are cut from the same piece of newsprint I was cut from. With this news background, we draw on our reporter and producer instincts to craft story angles.

In my time as a TV reporter, one of my former news directors used to say “news is about people not events.” These words still guide me. I am a storyteller and never want to lose sight of the “who.”

Always on the pulse of news, we follow every story and every trend, and today begins Autism Awareness month. This month comes on the heels of new statistics released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention- the rate of autism is rising. Just two years ago, 1 in 88 U.S. kids were diagnosed with Autism. Now 1 in 68 – a 30% increase in only 24 months.

Behind those statistics are boys and girls with families who are deeply affected by a baffling disorder. These are families who are seeking information and content beyond the fear. They are families like mine. My son is 6 and was diagnosed with Autism when he was 3 years old. In many ways he’s just a regular little boy with loving parents and over-indulgent grandparents. Each year on his birthday the grandmothers, aunts, uncles and friends call asking what to get for Will. Often I am out of ideas. Autism is a language disorder and although Will speaks, he can’t always get his words out.

Knowing first-hand how hard it can be to find good products and gifts for kids with Autism, for the second year in a row, Orca Communications has launched an international PR campaign to showcase the best toys and products on the market for these inspiring children. These are items all kids would love, but speak specifically to some of the challenges unique to Autism.

We started this campaign last year when we realized how many of our clients had fitting products for kids with Autism. From the first pitch we were blown away by the positive response. Reporters had lots of data, numbers and depressing statistics. What they didn’t have was content with a connection to these kids who are still just kids.

We expect this year’s campaign to be even more successful with the recent release of the new statistics. We can’t change those stats, but we can give those numbers some meaningful solutions and get to the fun and heart of being a child. Although the rise in Autism is worrisome, we are excited about our publicity push to introduce awesome gear that will bring happiness to a group of kids who struggle in ways no kids should have to struggle. It’s a campaign we look forward to repeating each year.

My news director was right. News is about people, not events. Autism Awareness Month is just one example of how we put our clients in the spotlight with a newsworthy and meaningful hook. Look to next month’s blog for a closer look at this topic.