Polio is an infectious disease caused by the poliovirus, which can result in paralysis and even death. The disease typically affects children under the age of 5. There is no cure for polio, but there is a vaccine. Rotary began the fight to end polio in 1985 when the disease was endemic in 125 countries. Since then, Rotary and its partners have made tremendous progress by reducing polio by 99.9 percent. Rotary is determined to ensure that no child will suffer from this vaccine-preventable disease ever again. Through social media, Rotary seeks to increase support for polio eradication efforts. Rotary aims at keeping polio eradication squarely in the public eye, resulting in increased funding and an enhanced public image of Rotary as a global humanitarian service organization.
By conducting research through surveys, interviews and field studies, the End Polio Now international public relations campaign determined that increased public awareness results in increased financial support from Rotary members and other donors including governments, non-profits and foundations, and individuals. Through a ten-country survey of more than 10,000 interviews conducted by Rotary International, emerged these key results:
1. Overall, there is an increased awareness that polio is on track to be eliminated within the next decade.
2. Over half globally agreed that elimination of polio within 10 years would be one of humanity's greatest accomplishments of our generation. Many people were surprised that polio still exists.
Research done by partner organizations in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (the World Health Organization, UNICEF, CDC, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) further honed messaging and informed Rotary's geographical target audiences.
Rotary International sought to increase awareness and interest in polio eradication through a strategic social and digital media campaign by:
1. Educating global media on the role and responsibilities of Rotary International in polio eradication.
2. Building awareness on the importance and need for polio eradication.
3. Creating educational and interactive online content to engage diverse audiences.
Social media engagement was incorporated into media outreach for events and throughout the year to enhance the "drumbeat" of polio eradication. Rotary's End Polio Now, Rotary International and Rotary International language Twitter and Facebook accounts coordinated activities to deliver integrated messages to a global audience. During the week of World Polio Day, Rotary-owned social media channels reached 10.7 million users and received 623,000 Facebook and Twitter engagements, a 94% increase from our World Polio Day social media engagements in 2014.
Rotary used World Polio Day as a key milestone to engage audiences and partner organizations with a live event, which was nearly entirely promoted via social media channels. The event featuring Time Magazine's science editor Jeffrey Kluger, UNICEF Executive Director Tony Lake, Polio CDC Eradication Branch Chief John Vertefeille, The Doctors co-host Dr. Jen Berman, Grammy Award-winner Angelique Kidjo, Emmy Award-winner Archie Panjabi and video messages from Kristen Bell, John Cena, Bill Gates, Heidi Klum and Mia Farrow was promoted to targeted audiences based on celebrity and content visibility. Rotary negotiated the inclusion of the livestream event on UNICEF's and Devex's homepages, which was also promoted on their social media channels. These partnerships helped Rotary garner an additional 54,000 views within the first week. Rotary created specialized content specifically for World Polio Day including: a toolkit for the public to use to spread the word about World Polio Day, compelling photo galleries, and three promotional videos. Graphics in seven languages, containing event information were created to allow us to publish shareable content to increase interest. Rotary celebrity ambassadors Kristen Bell and John Cena created personal videos urging viewers to support polio eradication. Paid advertising was used across the End Polio Now Facebook and Twitter channels. The three promotional videos received a total of 54,000 views on Facebook and Twitter.
By every measure, the End Polio Now campaign has been a success – Rotary's social media efforts reach helped to increase support for polio eradication. The campaign has kept polio eradication squarely in the public eye, resulting in increased funding and an enhanced public image of Rotary as a global humanitarian service organization.
Media response to Rotary International outreach is at an all-time high with leading global publications frequently covering the organization's role in polio eradication. Stories in which Rotary was highlighted appeared in eight out of the 10 most influential news organizations as ranked by Forbes, such as Associated Press, Agence France Presse, BBC, CNN and The New York Times.
In 2015, Rotary raised $109,000,000 toward polio eradication efforts, which includes the 2-to-1 match donation by GPEI partner, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Fundraising outreach resulted in $96,000 in donations the week of World Polio Day which is a 102% increase from the same period in 2014.
The Rotary and End Polio Now Twitter channels attracted 125,000 new fans in 2015. Rotary and End Polio Now's Twitter and Facebook channels reached 83.8 million users in 2015, compared to 57.3 million in 2014.
The EndPolioNow.org website garnered 400,000 visits and more than 800,000 page views in 2015.
The social media reach of Rotary's celebrity ambassadors for polio eradication (Bill Gates, John Cena, Alexandre Pato, Isabeli Fontana, Ivete Sangalo, etc.) also boosted Rotary's visibility among their fanbases to reach a potential audience of 134 million users across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.