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Award: Wood Pencil

Wood Pencil / PR / Use of Digital & Social Media / 2017

Brief (PR):
Cyberbullying creates millions of victims globally. ~463,000 young people are bullied online in Australia each year, and 78% are 10-15 years old. Victims of online abuse are up to nine times more likely to engage in self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

To try to stop bullying, the focus has always been on reporting it after it’s happened. But there’s been nothing to protect children from it happening in the first place, and leading social media platforms have failed to introduce effective measures.

We set out to find an innovative way to effect real behaviour change in the online environment.

Our objectives were to generate strong public, media and brand awareness of Reword; to maximise downloads and content sharing; to engage with relevant stakeholders to generate support of the tool (including from schools and government officials); and to maximise editorial coverage in key mainstream and speciality media.

We identified two distinct target audiences:

1. “Protectors:” Made up of parents and educators, Protectors were targeted as having a stake in children’s safety and mental health. With bullying behaviour pervasive in schools and increasing pressure from parents on schools to contain the issue, we knew educators would be eager for solutions they could immediately implement in the school environment, directly on school computers. Meanwhile, parents would be grateful for a solution they could implement at home – where kids spend much of their social media time. And parents would be the ones to have access to install Reword on their home computers. The call to action to Protectors, therefore, was to download the tool.

2. Youth: Recognizing that young people don’t like to be told what to do by adults but that the success of Reword would ultimately ride on their uptake of the tool, we targeted them separately. We designed the tool so they can add to and grow it, giving them a sense of ownership of Reword and empowering them to take a stand against online bullying.

Cultural Context
At number 5 globally, Australia outpaces most countries in prevalence of cyberbullying, jumping to number 1 for abuse on social networks.

Educators are increasingly pressured by parents to contain the issue. We found that educators were eager for a solution they could immediately implement in the school environment, directly on school computers.

Reword is a red line alerting users of bullying behaviour in real time. Acting as an educational tool helping develop young people’s moral compass when they become active on social media.

A simple JavaScript tool that integrates with social and messaging platforms, Reword detects insults using regex matching as a child types. When a match is found, the child is alerted with a red strikethrough, instantly interrupting behaviour and prompting them to reconsider their words.

Pre-launch and Launch
Getting schools on board was a priority, so we ran a pilot program in two schools to trial and optimise the tool. The success of the pilot program affirmed our plans for a public rollout. We used case studies from our trial schools to obtain wider media and influencer support, as well as interest from more schools.

We launched our in-school program on Australia’s National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence. We made Reword available online to anyone as a free Google Chrome extension. The launch was supported with an integrated media strategy across outdoor, print, TV, display, social media and extensive PR. Emotionally-driven TV commercials along with digital and out of home placements featuring real kids highlighted the problem of online abuse and presented Reword as a solution. Long-form videos shared on social media gave viewers the opportunity to delve into various points of view: Kids and parents told their personal stories, while teachers and mental health experts helped demonstrate Reword’s functionality and its power.

Aimed at Protectors, the campaign’s single-minded message asked them to install the tool at home and in schools.

We targeted youth via the in-school program and on social media. We invited them to directly interact with the tool and to add new bullying terms. Being co-authors impelled them to promote Reword among their friends, extending the tool’s reach. On our website, they could use our custom-built profile picture filter, giving them a way to publically declare their stance against online bullying.

Outcome/Results (PR):
Within six weeks, we saw a distinct impact on behaviour. 84% of insults detected were reworded. And we saw an incredible 67% reduction in bullying behaviour per user.

Our call to action resonated, generating over 20,000 insult submissions from young people, creating millions of new combinations.

We received publically voiced support from education ministers.

Reword showed clear universal relevance, garnering global coverage on CNN, Good Morning America, Mashable and Wired – contributing to 150 million media impressions – and personal messages from around the world.

In the same period, Reword was introduced to over 260 schools nationwide and installed on over 150,000 computers.

First six weeks:
• 150 million media impressions
• $500,000 in generated media value
• 150,000+ installs
• 20,0000+ contributed insults
• 84% of insults reworded
• 67% reduction in bullying behaviour per user

Reword is changing online bullying behaviour, creating a new generation that respects each other – online and in real life.

Two insights drove our strategy:

1. Current anti-bullying efforts focus on reporting abuse after the fact. By then, the damage is already done.

Takeout: Stop bullying behaviour before it happens.

2. Young people’s moral compass doesn’t fully develop until adulthood. Their impulsive behaviour can lead to unintended harm.

Takeout: Create an educational tool to help develop children’s moral compass.

Location/Platform (PR):
Visit our URL to see the campaign case study and explore an overview of campaign assets and PR commentary. Visit www.reword.it to see the original online execution and try the tool.

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