Promoting Peace in Times of Violence: 100 Black Men of Atlanta Anti-Gun Violence Campaign

THE APPROACH

Due to the large target audience – the general population encompassing all backgrounds, income levels, etc., HBE implemented a media relations campaign seeking news coverage among Georgia’s highest watched/read media outlets. This included the four network affiliate TV stations in Atlanta, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution daily newspaper, and the Atlanta Voice, which serves African-American community. We also sought outlets targeting the business community. In addition to building a comprehensive target list of media, we also worked with our client to outline program highlights, specifically the teaching of inner-city youth de-escalation techniques and skills to settle disputes peacefully. HBE worked with Keith Millner, then the 100 Black Men of Atlanta chairman, and Joshua Byrd, who co-chairs the anti-gun violence committee and teaches the de-escalation courses, to build a compelling pitch and secure interview opportunities.

 

While gun violence is a trending topic in today’s press coverage, HBE maximized the opportunity to communicate the 100 Black Men of Atlanta’s piece of the conversation and convey their focus on peace by orchestrating a campaign kickoff event – a candlelight vigil commemorating victims of gun violence held at the (Martin Luther King Jr.) King Center. The event was open to the public and featured speaker and U.S. Representative Lucy McBath whose own son was a victim of gun violence. Following the vigil, HBE launched a full-on press outreach initiative to first secure local coverage, then regional, and finally national, aiming for organic growth and a trickle-down effect that would catch on as more and more press outlets picked up coverage from the initial placements. And that is exactly what happened. 

 

THE SITUATION

 

100 Black Men of America, a men’s civic organization that aims to educate, empower and enhance the lives of African-American children and teens, has more than 100 chapters and 10,000 members worldwide. One of its most prolific chapters is HBE client 100 Black Men of Atlanta Inc.

Thirty years ago, 100 Black Men of Atlanta established its Anti-Gun Violence Campaign to teach de-escalation techniques and strategies for managing conflict among youth in Title 1 schools and other areas where gun violence is more prevalent. But as shooting incidents in America have tragically surged in recent years, 100 Black Men of Atlanta decided to revive the dormant program, turning to HBE for its help in spreading the word.

 

THE RESULTS

To date, 20+ organic placements have been secured across all mediums – print, broadcast (radio and TV) and online, totaling millions in impressions. All four Atlanta television networks covered the candlelight vigil, and the Atlanta Voice ran a print article on the event. 

Subsequently, FOX 5 Atlanta ran a series on the program’s de-escalation techniques, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution ran a Sunday feature article on the program, its strategies and its achievements in the community, and the Atlanta NPR affiliate WABE featured an interview with Joshua Byrd on its popular “A Closer Look with Rose Scott” program. After saturating the local market, a major national placement was secured on the CBS Evening News “Eye on America” segment. Other national coverage followed, including MSN, the Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, Sports Business Journal, Yahoo! News, and Newsy. 

HBE also secured a story with the popular website How Stuff Works that highlighted the de-escalation program. As the news continues to spread, additional opportunities arise weekly. For example, HBE is currently coordinating interviews with a TIME journalist who is authoring a book on gun violence.

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