Best Public Service Announcement

Simon Fraser University goes retro with safety video

A creative approach to sharing earthquake safety guidelines kept students’ attention as the school’s annual drill approached.

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In Vancouver, British Columbia, earthquakes are nothing to be taken lightly. Still, a dry, boring safety video may not get the point across in the most entertaining or memorable way. That’s why organizers of Simon Fraser University’s Shakeout BC Day event went with something creative and informative.

Using their limited budget, organizers Katey Scott, Miranda Myles, Darrell Akerstrom, and Eric Sanderson put together a video using a mascot named McFogg the Dog that served as a parody of an old-fashioned safety filmstrip. The message of “drop, cover and hold on” seems to have gotten through: The number of people who viewed the university’s Shakeout page increased by more than 50 percent, and the amount of time people spent on the page rocketed up from about six minutes to more than 30.

That growth, along with the creativity behind the video itself, make Simon Fraser University’s “Drop, Cover and Hold On” video the winner of PR Daily’s 2013 Video Award for Best Public Service Announcement.

The video and the planning around it—which included a month of promotion involving presentations and “emergency chocolate bars”—proved so successful that the university’s main communications and marketing body has started holding up “Drop, Cover and Hold On” as a best practice for all other departments. Seems like a good call.

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