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Susan Davis International, Washington, D.C. USA

Gold Stevie Award Winner 2012, Click to Enter The 2013 Steve Awards for Women in Business

Company: Susan Davis International, Washington, D.C., USA
Company Description: Susan Davis International (SDI) is a full-service, woman owned/operated boutique public affairs/strategic communications firm with a 25-year history of producing award-winning campaigns and events. SDI, with more than 68 agency partners worldwide, services clients including multinationals, the U.S. and foreign governments, federal agencies, non-profit organizations, NGOs, and trade associations.
Nomination Category: Communications & Marketing Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications or PR Campaign of the Year - Community Relations

Nomination Title: Through the Eye of the Storm: Celebrating the Life, the Legacy, the Dream of Dr. Martin Luther King

In up to 500 words, tell the judges about the nominated campaign: its genesis, development, planning, commission, and performance to date:

The excitement began at sunrise, as the crowd lined up at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, and culminated at noon as thousands held hands in celebration. Nearly half a century after he led a march for racial equality, Dr. King returned to the National Mall as the first memorial honoring an African-American.

Susan Davis International (SDI), working with the Washington, DC Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, developed and executed a community relations campaign to remind communities, local and global, of Dr. King’s contributions to equality and the significance of dedicating this memorial in our nation’s capital.

Reminiscent of Dr. King’s journey, we balanced trials and triumphs. An earthquake and hurricane ravaged the D.C. region, postponing the ceremony. Yet, with a commitment to effective strategic communication, SDI persevered to highlight a pivotal moment in our nation’s history.

SDI reached out to global audiences while also targeting specific national audiences, building awareness and attention in U.S. cities impacted by Dr. King, with youth, the African-American community and many others.

SDI designed a comprehensive dedication plan, with key objectives:

•Gain national and international media attention for the Memorial; raise awareness of Dr. King’s legacy
•Build momentum; ensure event is well-attended
•Evolve communication plans as unexpected conditions arose; rebuild interest after challenges

SDI invited media to attend hard-hat tours, and to interview Foundation President Harry Johnson and Executive Architect Ed Jackson. We provided content for the website mlkmemorial.org and executed social media strategies, creating the #DedicateMLK hashtag.

The week of dedication, an earthquake jolted the D.C. area damaging venues. Days later, the National Weather Service announced the impending arrival of Hurricane Irene. The dedication was postponed, and SDI redirected the communications plan to crisis communication mode. Through a press conference and messaging through the Foundation’s Facebook and Twitter pages, SDI informed thousands of the new October 16 dedication date. SDI focused on new preparations, announcements and participants for the rescheduled date, retaining the targeted level of media interest.

On the blue-skied October day of the dedication, thousands were welcomed into the Dedication Media Center, where SDI coordinated interviews and positioned media on a five-tier riser, a “pencil press” seated section and “radio row.”

Through SDI’s communication strategy, an estimated 500 million people were able to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy and experience an extraordinary moment in history through print, radio, online, and television coverage. Highlights include:

•Twenty one stations and networks carried the dedication live including CNN, C-SPAN, Al Jazeera, ABC Network, NBC Network, FOX Network, CBS Network, and network affiliates in major metropolitan cities.

•Our team secured top-level media placements such as CBS Sunday Morning, NBC Evening News, BBC, NPR, Boston Globe Travel, Parade, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal Constitution, and USA Today, including scores of front page coverage.

•Youth-focused media features including Scholastic Weekly Reader, The Mini Page and Washington Post children’s section.

•African-America media placements including BET, TV One, American Urban Radio, Radio One, NNPA newspapers, and more.

Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the team that created and carried out the nominated communications campaign (up to 100 words):

Susan Ann Davis, founded Susan Davis International (SDI), the global strategic communications agency headquartered in Washington, D.C. An industry icon, Davis opened SDI 35 years ago when relatively few women were successful in the business world; fewer still owned their business. SDI has grown into a strategic communications powerhouse with a diverse client base that has included nonprofits, associations, the White House, government agencies and 12 foreign governments. Two decades ago, she was among the founding partners of IPREX, and now has 63 agency partners worldwide. She also chairs Vital Voices Global Partnership, training emerging women leaders across 144 countries.