As the 10th anniversary of Katrina celebrated the “comeback” of New Orleans, research by the Institute of Women and Ethic Studies (IWES) showed that communities of color did not bounce back. After ten years of work, interventions and community-based research with African American women, youth and their families in New Orleans, IWES found that the devastating effects of chronic stress, PSTD, lack of mental health and other key resources prohibited the kind of recovery in African American communities realized by many white communities in New Orleans. MARC Global Communications worked with IWES to create awareness of the issues of chronic stresses and factors affecting the emotional and physical well-being of these marginalized communities, and to highlight the successful services offered by IWES to increase the ability of these communities to heal and bounce back.
Building on heightened awareness of Hurricane Katrina’s anniversary, MARC Global developed a communications plan to offer reporters an opportunity to hear the other side of the story. Reporters were invited to attend Community Uprising: Katrina, Resilience, Resistance and Culture After Ten Years,” a first-ever conference hosted by IWES to address community resiliency. Founder and President, Dr. Denese Shervington invited national and international thought leaders to New Orleans to discuss health and economic disparities and to reframe the traditional definitions of “recovery” for communities facing traumatic events like Katrina and other chronic stress factors. Local and national interviews helped drive interest and spirited discussions on the important topic.
Additional brand assessment work was conducted to reposition IWES’ mission and message of resiliency with a goal of increasing awareness, creating opportunities for partnerships and fundraising, and developing a sustained conversation with the non-profit’s target audiences. MARC global also provided media training for key staff to reinforce messaging and create strong brand ambassadors.
The results included a new brand style guide for IWES and development of messaging to support the non-profit’s work and expertise in building community resilience. A publicity tour created national awareness with interviews conducted by MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry, American Urban Radio Network, USA Radio Network, North Carolina News Network, as well as numerous local, and regional television, radio, print and digital programs.