Posted by Tom Gable
Texting is the No. 1 mode of communication for teens, who text on average 60 times a day. Studies show that writing one text while driving takes your eyes off the road for an average of five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s driving the length of a football field completely blind. How to bring the dangers to life in compelling fashion?
AT&T developed a traveling road show with a simulator for students and media to try during stops in major markets on the West Coast. The simulator is part of AT&T’s aggressive Txtng & Driving…It Can Wait program to educate drivers about the dangers of texting while driving and to make roads and highways safer. With students or others behind the wheel, the results (crashing, driving into opposing lanes, veering into parked cars, etc.) are shown on large-screen television sets so the audience can see the potential horrors (“Whoa!” “Oh no!” “The worst!”).
The timing is strategic: with the season of proms and graduations at hand, records show that we are entering the “100 deadliest days” for teen drivers on the road – the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The Gable PR team worked with the AT&T team to drive coverage of the event in San Diego County at Hilltop High School, Chula Vista. It was covered by more than a dozen print and broadcast media, including the local ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. The success was based on all the work done to develop the traveling road show, plus thinking about seven key elements involved in creating a media event, which some liken to staging an award-winning Broadway play:
One – A compelling story (the proven risk of texting and driving, with abundant research provided by AT&T)
Two – Great content (facts from different independent research institutions, custom surveys)
Three – The cast (students, teachers, spokesmen and women from law enforcement)
Four – Staging (strategic placement of the car, the computer screens, the board for students to sign a pledge not to text and drive, easy access and good sight lines for news media)
Five – Action (high school students testing the simulator to see what happens when they text and drive; reporters using the simulators)
Six – Payoff (students on camera telling about crashing and burning)
Seven – Final scene (the conclusion: the huge risk of texting while driving; experts urging anyone to think twice because “It can wait!”)
RESULTS: The event was covered by the major print media and all eight local TV stations, which ran 19 separate TV news stories in the San Diego Market.