Thursday, May 6

Saving Wildlife: Dawn Responds To Oil Spill Crisis

Although Procter & Gamble (P&G) has a Web site dedicated to the cause, it doesn't employ much push public relations to draw attention to its role in saving wildlife. Other people do it for them.

Brenda Swindle, a stylist at Hair Impressions salon in Alabama, is one of them. Bobbie Lowe, a patron at Harvey's Supermarkets in Georgia, is another. It was top of mind for rescuers from Delaware too.

Dawn Dish Soap Saves Wildlife.

The sudden surge of attention didn't start with a press release. It started with casual mentions by people who know. For 30 years, wildlife rescuers have used Dawn dishwashing liquid to gently remove oil and help save wildlife affected by oil spills.

It wasn't until the media began to draw upon Dawn dish soap as an example of how people can help that P&G responded. Since, it has communicated its increasing role as part of the solution in an oil spill that could eclipse the Exxon Valdez disaster. Since, the company has released news that it is stepping up production, clarified its efforts to raise money for conservation projects targeted at cleaning wildlife hurt by oil spills since last July, and how the company donates Dawn dish soap to the Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC), Marine Mammal Center, and other rehabilitation organizations.

In addition to its own fundraising efforts, P&G is asking fans of its program to make direct donations to the IBRRC and Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research center. They also direct would-be volunteers to contact the Unified Command Volunteer Request line at 1-866-448-5816 via its dedicated Dawn Save Wildlife Facebook page.

The description introducing the page says it all. "An Everyday Wildlife Champion views saving wildlife as an everyday thing."

You can find additional information about the company's efforts on its Dawn Save Wildlife Web site. Currently, the company has raised $385,091 of its $500,000 goal. The site also supports an interactive map, which identifies which states have contributed the most.

The $500,000 goal is in addition to all other fundraising efforts and direct support. The company has said it is just as happy (if not more than happy) for people to make direct donations.

What Public Relations Professionals Can Learn.

It is a good lesson for public relations practitioners. Sometimes the best public relations efforts are not what you can draw attention to or capitalize on, but rather a long-term investment of doing good and then being caught doing it.

In this case, Procter & Gamble demonstrates a perfect balance between being responsive to the attention without attention seeking as many companies did during the Haitian earthquake. The results speak for themselves. The effort is closely aligned to a product benefit and the company demonstrates what it means to be a good corporate citizen for others to emulate.

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