At Autism Speaks, we’re dedicated to providing solutions, information, tools and resources, so that people with autism across the spectrum and of all ages can live their fullest lives. While we live this commitment every day, April’s World Autism Month marked an opportunity to amplify our efforts across the board – from advocacy to communication to social media and beyond.
This April, we set out to not only engage our passionate community of supporters, but also to reach new audiences with an important public awareness campaign in partnership with the Ad Council. Here are a few things we learned when it comes to getting your cause-related message out there:
Identify Key Moments in Time
Our new public service campaign – aimed to close the autism diagnosis gap and empower parents to have their children screened – was many months in the making. We chose to kick off the partnership at a time when the press and the public would already be focused on the topic of autism during April, World Autism Month. By announcing our work on April 1, we were able to capitalize on news stories that were already set to run on April 2 for World Autism Awareness Day, an optimal moment for broad awareness and reach.
Broaden Opportunities to Participate
Autism – which impacts at least 1 in 59 children in the United States and 70 million people worldwide – can be reliably diagnosed in most children by age 2, but despite great progress in awareness, the average age of diagnosis is between 4 and 5 years old. Studies indicate that the average age of diagnosis is even higher for low-income, minority children.
Our PSA campaign was created to address this diagnosis gap, but it was equally important to engage the broader base of people who make up the vast autism community. In addition to driving messaging about screening and early intervention, we invited supporters around the world to participate by taking the pledge to #LightItUpBlue – a simple call-to-action that would allow anyone to show their support by sharing their commitment to inclusivity. We also continued the tradition of inviting landmarks, businesses and households worldwide to Light It Up Blue, in a show of understanding and acceptance of people with autism and their families.
Drive Participation on Social Media and IRL
In this digital age, we’ve continued to evolve and expand our #LightItUpBlue campaign to go beyond physical lightings. This year, we invited thousands of people to participate by posting their pledge on social media, as well as donating, fundraising and exploring stories shared by the diverse autism community. We saw thousands of people engaging across social media platforms – deepening connections in an online community that’s stronger than ever.
Through these PR and social media techniques highlighting autism awareness and advocacy during World Autism Month, we were able to rally as many people as possible to create a more inclusive world for all.