Guest Post by Jaclyn Blackford, Director of Communications & Marketing, Freedom 4/24
I work for Freedom 4/24, an anti-human trafficking non-profit. My job as the Director of Communications & Marketing is to make the world aware of this injustice. Human trafficking is dark, it’s sad, it’s enraging, and it’s not a light topic. I never had a problem communicating the reality of this injustice… until 2020…
When COVID-19 hit, our country seemed to divide like never before, and everyone seemed to be fearful, angry, or a mix of both.
As a marketer, was I supposed to enter into the digital hopelessness of 2020 and send out emails and social media posts about human trafficking—only adding to the hopelessness?
The Challenge of Talking About Tough Topics in 2020
Not only was our country facing the health pandemic of COVID-19, human trafficking and online exploitation skyrocketed simultaneously. Reports from the National Center of Missing and Exploited children of online child sexual exploitation doubled from 6.2 million in 2019 to 12 million through June of 2020.
People needed to know exploitation was rising. COVID-19 was all we could think about (and rightfully so), but that didn’t mean human trafficking stopped, so we could not stop raising awareness either. Why? Because parents needed to know that traffickers were strategically reaching youth online. More children were at home, away from school, isolated in their bedrooms—a trafficker’s breeding ground for building relationships with lonely vulnerable children.
In the midst of one of the darkest years in our world, we had to remind people that although trafficking and exploitation continue to exist and increase, hope can still increase too. In our campaigns and digital media, we decided to remind the world of the hope that still exists—a hope they could be a part of.
Hope Still Exists
In the anti-human trafficking world, you will probably hear the slogan “slavery still exists.” There are an estimated 40 million slaves in our world today and that’s more than at any point in history.
But what’s even more true as nonprofits grow and people become aware of human trafficking is this: Hope still exists.
Hope Still Exists was the name of our end-of-year campaign and it was all centered around stories of hope. We highlight the good we saw in 2020 despite the sadness and hardship that surrounded us.
As marketers, we must be willing to switch our strategy in an instant based on the world around us. We need to be relevant with society and care for the well being of others in our communication efforts. This requires adapting strategy when our world is face to face with a pandemic.
As our world walks through division, sickness, pandemics, and hopelessness, here are two takeaways to remember:
- Stay up to date with the issues surrounding your cause.
I’m not a fan of watching the news, but I can’t be oblivious to the world of human trafficking if I am to direct the communication of it for Freedom 4/24. So, I set up alerts. Anytime an article, news headline, etc. is posted that includes keywords about human trafficking and exploitation, I get an email. I use google alerts, but regardless of what platform you use, make sure you are staying up to date so you can pivot your communication as needed.
- Always remember the hope.
I want people to know about the tactics traffickers use, the devastating statistics that need to change, but more than that I want them to remember the stories of hope. Share the good that’s happening in your organization and share it well. There has to be a balance between harsh reality and hopeful reporting. Hopeful stories and good reports won’t take away from the reality of the injustice as long as you are balancing both. So, always remember the hope.
Here’s to hoping we will never have another year like 2020, but when a crisis arises, we must be ready to pivot, be creative, and do our best to communicate our message in a thoughtful and powerful way. Always stay up to date, and never shy away from hope.