Sexual harassment is a specific type of discrimination, which is illegal under federal and state law. It is defined as unwelcome and offensive sexual behavior or language, or use of visual material that is repeated or significant enough to have a harmful effect on a person. Sexual harassment has many forms that include the pressure for a dating, romantic, or intimate relationship, unwelcome touching, patting, or hugging; unacceptable sexual humor, offensive sexual picture, e-mail and Internet use that violate this policy. According to The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (2012c), there are about 17.7 million American women experience sexual harassments at any type every year.
As far as sexual harassment becomes the concern, this paper elaborates the strategic public relation of The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to communicate the anti-sexual violence service that RAINN provides to educate the public regarding several aspects that are related to the prevention of sexual violence and improved services to victims. RAINN is the so far the largest anti-sexual violence organization in the U.S. and operates two well-known hotlines: the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline at rainn.org (The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 2012a).
Furthermore, in writing the public relations campaign proposal, we will previously determine the campaign goals, target public, objectives, and the detail tactics. The main message in the public relation campaign is to develop the awareness and education campaign targeting young people about the warning signs they are being "groomed" for sexual abuse and what to do should abuse occur.
Planning, Strategy, and Tactics
Macro-level Campaign Goal
In addition to propaganda in politics, there is also one type of propaganda, which aims at broadcasting information to the public; it is the public information campaign. As the name implies, this type of propaganda is dedicated to broadcast information that empowers the public to take a certain action. Since the nature of messages persuading the public, mostly this propaganda is placed by government or non-profit organizations that want to see any improvement in the public.
In addition, the public information propaganda also takes several models in order to reach a large number of audiences. Usually the information is distributed in the form of flyers, posters, leaflets, electronic campaigns over the commercial radio and television. Concerning The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), the one overarching goal for the plan would be:
“The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) raises the awareness and education campaign to the public regarding several aspects that relates to the prevention of sexual violence and improvement of services to victims.”
In order to reach optimum results in marketing a company’s products, the corporation should take into consideration a fundamental procedure of successful public relation campaign plan that is developing and implementing a communication plan. This is imperative, since customers (external entities) and employees (internal entities) need to be informed about what the organization communicates to the public.
The main objective of The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) is further executed by publicizing the hotlines' free of National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656HOPE and expanding the service into the World Wide Web at the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, which is the nation’s first secured hotline service over the internet. In addition, the organization also aims at helping the victims and ensuring that the rapists are brought to justice (The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 2012a)
Public relations (PR) are any activities that aim at managing communications between a company and its key public in order to generate appropriate image about the company. However, in integrated marketing communication concept, public relations also move towards marketing. The idea of relationship marketing is a new form of public relation activity that has marketing nuances.
In order to campaign effectively, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) should define which segment of the public becomes the target. In general, there are three broad groups of stakeholders; they are internal and external audiences on this awareness campaign as follows:
Stakeholder #1: Media organizations that are likely to distribute RAINN campaign to the public regarding the availability of non-profit organizations on the rape, abuse and incest issues.
The selection of media organizations as the first stakeholder is intended to help RAINN gain public awareness quickly as they can distribute information about RAINN and develop amplified visibility throughout the community.
Mc Combs and Shaw reveal in their book The Emergence of American Political Issue that in the information age just like today, the media holds the powerful influence to determine how the world sees and perceives us. The media might not be able to control audiences’ minds, but they are undoubtedly capable to direct someone`s thoughts or perception regarding a particular issue. Similarly, Shanto Iyengar and Donald Kinder in their book News That Matters state the way the media influence us through guiding audience to pay attention to one`s issue and neglecting others. In turns out, television would induce the audience to decide what Americans believe to be the most important issue to think about.
Stakeholder #2: Business sponsors who are likely to donate their part of corporate social responsibility (CSR) fund for Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) program development
Business sponsors are targeted as a means to fund RAINN’s mission of defending the safety of the general public from predators. The idea of selecting business entities as sponsors for the program development and execution of RAINN is based on the potential condition that business entities could spend some parts of their CSR fund to support RAINN program. In addition, it is found that each provides different view about what companies should do in order to display several considerations as following:
- Enterprises are responsible of going beyond merely the manufacturing of products and services for getting profits
- Enterprises or corporations are responsible of solving social problems in local countries, especially those which are directly related to the companies` operations
- Enterprises have wider constituency than stockholders
- Enterprises or corporations may present serious impact beyond merely marketplace transactions
- Enterprises or corporations have and provide various value to customers and society more than just economic factors (Bucholtz, 1991)
Some recent ideas of corporate social responsibility (CSR) practices have in line with the five principles as mentioned above. However, the level of adoption is varied among companies since they have different focus and concerns. There are three theories of corporate social responsibilities that explain this diversity as following:
This theory considers managers as parts of the stockholders in a company. Since stockholders’ objective is to obtain gains or profits from a company’s operation, therefore, the major responsibility of the manager is to generate more profits or earnings without scarifying business ethics like fraud and corruption.
- The Social Contract Theory
This theory explains that companies have ethical responsibilities to the society that may prevent them from conducting unfavorable business practices
This theory believes that managements of a company are responsible of conducting ethical business practices in managing corporate operation in order to provide benefits for stakeholders (Longwood University, 2004)
In addition to the two stakeholders that could leverage the public awareness towards RAINN, still there is only one target public that RAINN should focus on; they are victims of sexual abuse.
Target #1: Victims of sexual abuse
This is the only public target of RAINN as the statistics shows that at least 17.7 million of American women have been the victims of rape with every 2 minutes, there is a sexually assault in the U.S. This growing number of rape also increases the unfavorable impacts to victims as they are more likely to suffer from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, alcohol and drug abuse, and to contemplate suicide.
Target #2: Female teens and preteens
The second target is female teens and preteens. They are elementary or high school students who are prone to have improper sexual abuse due to lack of knowledge on these issues. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (2012c), 15% of victims are under age 12, 29% are age 12-17, and 44% are under age 18. Therefore, regular information on these target public is essential. In addition, the statistic shows that girls at age 16-19 are 4 times more likely to be raped or sexually assault.
Target #3: Male teens and preteens
The third target market is male teens and preteens. Although boys are unlikely to be raped, still data suggests that 3% of boys in the grade 5-8 and 5% of boys in grades 9-12 reveal that they had experienced sexually abuse. This is similar to target public female teens and preteens that must be handled carefully to provide the awareness when they are being groomed and hw to tackle it.
Considering the statistics information on the number and impact of rape to victims in the U.S, below is the target of RAINN in relation to their program in reducing the number of rape and to increase the recovery of rape victims.
Objective #1: Reduce the number of victims of attempted or completed rape by at least 20% per year
According to the statistics 1 out of 6 American women become the victim of an attempted or completed rape, which has the following details: 14.8% completed rape and 2.8% attempted rape (The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 2012c). By conducting the massive campaign to the victims and potential victim of completed and attempted rape through several kinds of media under the auspices of business sponsors, RAINN hopes that the rate of rape could be reduced by 20% per year. This reduction can be achieved when the potential victims are aware of the situation that they are being groomed by the offenders or attackers and thus they can conduct appropriate action to prevent any rape happens.
This awareness is essential as according to statistics, the attackers or sexual abused are those who know the victims well, such as family members (34.2% of attackers), acquaintances or friends (58.7%), and only 7% of the attackers are the strangers to the victims (The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, 2012c).
Objective #2: Increase the healing of victims that experience the traumatic condition after the rape happens by 15%
In addition to the prevention, another important objective is to increase the healing rate of victims who just experience unfavorable offense and sexual abuse. This is because the findings show that the victims experience a large number of depressions, abuse to drug and alcohol, and even to contemplate suicide.
For this reason, the second objective is to increase the healing rate of victims in order to reduce the possibility of victims to commit one of the post-traumatic disorders, depression, and abuse. The target healing rate is increase by 15%, which means it reduces the number of victims that experience post-traumatic by 15% as well.
Objective #3: Increase the awareness of The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) as the reliable anti-sexual violence organization with target brand awareness is 80%.
Amidst the situation of increasing rape that makes suffer American women, the RAINN program to increase the awareness is conducted though the prevention and education efforts that embraces the stakeholders, such as local communities, colleges, media, and entertainment industry (The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 2012b).
Strategies and tactics
For the only targeted publics the victims of attempted or completed rape, RAINN will carry out the education, awareness and engagement strategies. Therefore, the campaign will provide the information and educate potential victims about signs of being “groomed” and how to prevent from being the victims. In order to distribute this useful information, RAINN will take benefits of the popular media such as social network and internet to have the speedier influence through the nation and make the life safer. The tactics for each strategy are outlined below.
- Plan the college visit to carry out presentations at school halls and place flyers and posters regarding the warning of being “groomed” and to prepare students and staffs for tackling the situation. This will reach the young women audience and also warn the young adult regarding the violation of sexual abuse that may end in the court. In addition, college-aged women are found to be four times more likely to be sexually abused than any other age group.
- Post a regular news and information regarding the sexual abuse and prevention in the social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace. This use of information technology is also to encourage victims to continue their normal life. This will reach the specific target audiences that already used to using online media and those who concern about prevention.
- Utilize the online media to distribute information and to gain awareness of RAINN program for target audience. The use of this digital media is due to the fact that there is a shifting trend in customers from reading print newspapers/magazines to online versions. This happens as current gadgets, such as smart phone and tablet PC enable consumers to read digital version of newspaper and magazine as convenient as reading form print version. In addition, the other considerations of utilizing the digital media are as following:
- Broadband technology keep with the trend of reading newspaper online by delivering gadgets that enable readers to see news in their mobile gadgets
- Broadband or high-speed internet connection is now available in many residential areas that encourage Americans to spend much time to read newspaper online due to the updated features that online news provide
- 25% growth of consumption in daily newspaper is because of the increased number of broadband connection
- Tradition print newspapers like New York Time, USA Today, Wall Street Journal also deliver their online version that increase the number of readers/customers
- Offer free merchandises that provide effective information and awareness regarding the existence of The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN). The merchandises are those that can be placed in strategic place that immediately inform the audience and also potential victims. These include bump stickers, magnets, desk calendars, and notebook. In addition, RAINN also prepares the digital form of “merchandises,” such as the picture that audiences can sue for their display image in their BlackBerry Messenger and the short line that can be used for their Twitter status.
- Create public service announcements for radio touting the importance of being protected from any kind of sexual abuses that they may experience in school, public places, and office. The messages would vary to reach each of the four target audiences.
- Place posters in public transportation terminals and stations as the sexual abuses often happen in this public transportation as well. The posters could be placed in the bus stops. The messages would vary to reach the target audiences.
- Partner with business entities that relate to community products to demonstrate the potential threats that may endanger victims, such as consumer goods companies and also mobile service provider that can make SMS broadcast to their subscribers. This would reach those most concerned about convenience.
- Encourage local governments to declare the awareness of sexual abuse in public places and through several mode of communication that the local and nation government provide.
- Introduce a brand ambassador that becomes the key person to inform the program of RAINN. The selected ambassadors should be one that have good image in the public and popular enough so that they have great influence towards community and public.
- Make a contest of video that would be placed on YouTube. This would result in hundreds to thousands of home-made video that relate to the prevention of sexual abuse and distribution of information. The messages would vary to reach the target audiences.