How can charities ensure that their voice is heard this World Mental Health Day?

This weekend we celebrate World Mental Health Day – a day for educating people about mental health and advocating against social stigma.

Over the last few years, World Mental Health Day has become a big moment within the UK calendar, garnering support from royalty, celebrities, and the general public, whilst bringing attention to mental illness and its effect on peoples’ lives globally. 2020 in particular, has seen a surge in media-led discussions and initiatives (remember the #BeKind movement and #BritainGetTalking campaign?) looking to better the nation’s attitude towards mental health – which has intensified in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. So, for many mental health charities and non-profits, leveraging this time of year is really key!

But while World Mental Health Day does offer a great ‘hook’ for third sector organisations to promote their values and services, there are many other charities, businesses and brands who are looking to leverage the day as well – making it very loud and overcrowded. Because of this, it is vital for mental health charities to consider ways that they can really ‘cut through the noise’ and get in front of their key target audiences.

At The PHA Group, leveraging awareness days for charities and third sector organisations has been our ‘bread and butter’ for many years. To help mental health charities to share their voice effectively this World Mental Health Day (and for World Mental Health Days to come) below we have shared a couple of tips and tricks that we have picked up along the way:

Tip 1 – What do you want to say, and who to?
First up, you need to decide what you want your World Mental Health Day campaign to say.

Is there a problem you are looking to fix? An issue you want to raise awareness of? A service you want to promote? Whatever the topic you want to discuss, make sure your message is clear and concise from the offset – you do not want to end up confusing people with too much or too little information.

If possible, your message should also include data, information and examples which will capture people’s attention and make them stop and think. There are a lot of people talking about mental health – what about your campaign is different, and why is it important?

Identifying your target audience early on will help you to craft your campaign message. Do you want to speak directly to the general public? Or is your aim to speak to more beneficiaries? Perhaps you want to engage with businesses in order to develop more corporate partnerships?

When you’ve made this decision, deciding on the message of your campaign – and how you want to communicate it – should be a piece of cake.

Tip 2 – Decide on a ‘CTA’
Next, you will need to confirm your campaign’s call to action (CTA).

What do you want to achieve from this campaign? What’s your end goal? Are you aiming to drive visitors to your website, or to encourage beneficiaries to use your resources? Maybe you want to encourage volunteers to carry out some fundraising? Or perhaps you simply want to increase donations?

Pick your ideal end goal and ensure that you are providing your target audience with a way that they can support this – such as a donate button, a petition to sign, or some support/advice they can access.

Tip 3 – Do something different.
Remember that you are the story, not the day.

You need to take into account that the awareness day itself is not the main story, but your activity and the advice you want to share to mark it should be. Charities that launch a ‘vanilla’ response to World Mental Health Day are unlikely to see any interest from the media, you need to be creative and think about how you can make it thought-provoking and eye-catching – whilst also relevant to your charity and its values.

Begin by looking at it from the public’s perspective, why should they listen to your advice and case studies? Perhaps you can commission some new research into a topic that relates to your charity and unveil the findings to the media? Or launch a celebrity-led campaign with an individual who is willing to open up about their experience with mental health, and how your services can help similar people who are struggling? It might be that your target audience is frequently online, so you want to launch a campaign which involves everyone coming together through the use of a hashtag?

Whatever you decide, make sure it’s different and hasn’t been done before.

Tip 4 – Consider media space.
Once you’ve figured out your newsworthy campaign angle, identifying key media publications that you want to feature in should be your next step – but remember most charities will be fighting to make it onto the page on World Mental Health Day too!

You need to approach media titles that your target audience is reading, watching, or listening to, and make sure that these are your primary focus. If you’re looking to engage with women in their 60s, it’s unlikely that will see a campaign that you launch on Instagram – or if youngsters in their 20s are your target, they might not be reading the broadsheets every day. So, considering the media you engage with is key!

Timing is also important. Many charities and non-profits are going to want their campaigns to land on World Mental Health Day. Instead of fighting for space, why not launch your campaign a little bit earlier or later than the usual herd – as journalists are more likely to have time to consider what you are saying, and find a space for you.

Tip 5 – Support with social.
Social media is a simple and cost-effective way to amplify engagement for your charity and maximise the reach of your PR activity – so consider how you can support your media activity through the use of your social media channels.

Think about creating a dedicated hashtag to use alongside your campaign posts, so that your content can be easily found. Or look into executing a User Generated Content (UGC) activity, by asking your followers and communities to post something in support.

Partnering with celebrities, influencers and micro-influencers can also help to amplify a campaign on social media and allow you to tap into larger audiences. You can ask them to share a specific message, photo or CTA with their followers –increasing the likelihood of your charity being seen on or after the awareness day.

And don’t forget to respond to any comments and mentions that people leave on your social media pages about the campaign. This can help to keep the momentum going and ensure that the campaign is spread even further.

Get in touch with the team