Students pitching their Health Care in Danger campaign idea to the jury
25 international Master students from Ilmenau University of Technology (TU Ilmenau), Germany, grouped in five junior communication agencies, competed last February for the best creative concept for a Health Care in Danger (HCID) awareness raising campaign. "IlmConnect," which presented a cross-channel social media campaign under the slogan 'Connect to protect', specifically targeting North-American audience, and "Global PRformance", whose proposal focused on triggering the engagement of young adults (18-24 years old) from Scandinavian countries in the protection of health workers in conflict zones with the hashtag '#BecomeaHero', were the winning agencies.
All the agencies pitched their creative ideas on 9 February 2018 at TU Ilmenau, Germany, to a jury composed of four-members, including Dr. Andreas Schwarz as the organizer of the event, Irene Raciti, HCID campaign coordinator representing the ICRC, Michael Weber-Kopal, Digital Content manager representing the German Red Cross, and Karoline Oelsner, lecturer at TU Ilmenau.
"The ICRC has always worked with students and young generations. Idealism and inclination for equality and social justice are natural in them as well as a sense of global citizenship. This allows them to identify easily with other fellow human beings and feel empathy for their struggles. However, I was impressed by the enthusiasm of these students for the topic: you could really feel their strong rejection for acts that deprive wounded and sick civilians caught in war from access to health care. It was truly refreshing". Irene Raciti, Health Care in Danger Campaign Coordinator.
The idea for the competition was formed between ICRC and TU Ilmenau, as part of a course curriculum on 'PR and Communication in the Context of Globalisation', taught by Dr. Andreas Schwarz. His class of 25 ambitious Master students was assigned to develop and pitch campaign ideas for raising more public awareness on violence against health care workers in conflict zones. Under the guidance of Dr. Andreas Schwarz and the practical insight from the ICRC's campaign coordinator the students worked from October 2017 to February 2018 developing their creative proposals for a campaign strategy, messages and communication materials.
"We are very grateful for this practical opportunity, which turned out to be an incredibly rewarding experience. Through this assignment we discovered the crucial role that humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC play during conflicts. But we also understood the responsibility that we have as human beings, to act when we see or hear of despicable acts such as the bombing of a hospital in a war zone or the arrest of a doctor because she treated a certain patient. Social media platforms give everyone's voice an incredible opportunity to be heard. And Health Care in Danger is a cause worth raising our voice for. Students from 'Infinutum" junior communication agency
While developing their campaign concepts, the students took into consideration the importance of the roles that societal, cultural, governmental, economic, and media aspects played in each respective country. Ultimately, some innovative ideas included graphic campaign booklets; social media strategies to engage public leaders; a modern approach of video campaigns conveying human interest stories from the field; increased partnerships with influencers within or outside the humanitarian world; 360° pictures; further cooperation with media and corporations as major partners for awareness raising among others.
"I was incredibly proud of what the students were able to accomplish and that everyone took the challenge seriously, in a professional manner. In doing so, they discovered how a collaboration with partners can offer both professional growth and personal fulfillment". Dr. Andreas Schwarz, Chair of the Research Group of Public Relations and Communication of TU Ilmenau.
Some elements of the winning concepts are currently being considered to be incorporated in the Health Care in Danger campaign, such as the partnership with influencers and the cooperation with media. "The experience was so positive that I do not exclude similar exercises in the future" commented Irene Raciti.
Health Care in Danger is an initiative of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to make access to, and delivery of, health care safer in armed conflict or other emergencies. This initiative calls for the respect and protection of health care workers, facilities and vehicles and the implementation of a series of recommendations and practical measures to safeguard health care services and their humanitarian mission. This initiative is supported by a number of partners, individuals and organisations, members of the Health Care in Danger Community of Concern.
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