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A Strategic Approach to Accessible and Inclusive Outreach
The North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) is an inclusive, statewide alliance working to end sexual violence through education, advocacy, and legislation. NCCASA was first organized in 1986 by local rape crisis center advocates and was officially incorporated in 1988 with a clear mission to focus on supporting the work of rape crisis centers across the state that provide direct services. According to Monika Johnson-Hostler, NCCASA Executive Director, “We are an extension to the voices of survivors throughout the state of North Carolina and that informs the work that we do.”
While NCCASA does not provide direct services, it does raise awareness of the services available in North Carolina to connect sexual assault survivors with help. During COVID, it has become even more imperative for NCCASA to help service providers disseminate the message that services are still available. “We wanted to make sure that without a doubt survivors knew that they could still depend on our rape crisis centers throughout the state to meet their needs,” noted Johnson-Hostler. The organization decided to launch a media campaign to share this critical message. After identifying key activities including engaging local agencies with the campaign, producing campaign materials in Spanish, and tracking campaign performance, NCCASA partnered with The INS Group to execute the media campaigns.
With traditional outreach strategies such as events restricted, there was an opportunity to explore different outreach activities tailored to local programs and their audiences. The INS Group collaborated with the NCCASA team to survey local programs to engage them with the campaigns. This also helped to shape the campaign strategy and tailor outreach activities to each participating program. The outreach activities available included radio ads, Google advertising, social media ads, print ads in local publications, website banner ads, and television commercials. A unique campaign plan was developed for each agency that included a custom selection of outreach activities designed to best reach their service community.
Another important element was customizing advertising materials with agency branding for each local campaign and producing ads in Spanish. “North Carolina is a diverse state, so it was important to use strategic communication outreach to target people in their specific areas with custom messaging about local services. We also understand that North Carolina is home to a huge Spanish-speaking population. Sharing information in their native language helps to spread awareness, build trust, and help this population be comfortable connecting with services,” said Alexandra Smith, Communications and Training Specialist. Creating outreach materials that made people feel safe contacting the programs was imperative to conquer the fears and concerns about seeking help. The campaigns also provided an opportunity to remind people that sexual violence is a pervasive issue in our communities that needs to be addressed and that survivorship takes many forms as anyone can be impacted by this issue.
To determine the effectiveness of the campaigns, activities were tracked to measure performance and impact. Capturing the metrics and data needed to measure performance before the campaigns were launched was an essential step so that all outreach was executed with tracking capabilities. Besides campaign metrics, feedback from participating organizations was solicited via a survey process after the campaigns to provide more information. This evaluation component was important to gather feedback to understand what worked well and what could be improved with future campaigns. The INS Group also offered the opportunity for all programs across the state to participate in an online survey and focus groups to share their own experience with public awareness outreach campaigns. The data collected helped determine best practices to share with the NCCASA network to optimize the outreach strategies they use to build awareness in their local communities.
One of the biggest pieces of advice the NCCASA team has for fellow nonprofits to connect with their communities is to take the time to listen. “One of the most rewarding parts of our work with The INS Group was being able to participate in the focus groups with local programs. Being able to hear our local service providers share about their work and how we can help is so beneficial to our work serving as the advocates for the advocates that are directly providing services,” shared Smith. The groups also provided a forum to brainstorm, share ideas, discuss new projects, and connect with other service providers. Besides a commitment to listening, NCCASA is also committed to action. To continue effectively connecting with North Carolina’s Spanish-speaking population, the organization is working with The INS Group to translate its documentation to Spanish and share the opportunity for document language translation with local agencies to increase their document accessibility. “Working with The INS Group has been a wonderful experience. Their passion, commitment, and experience are illustrated in the high quality of the work done for our organization. We are excited to continue to partner with The INS Group for ongoing projects to support accessible and effective communication activities,” said Smith.