Marketing Life: Using Media to Reach Abortion-Minded Women. Heroic Media Director on Getting Expectant Moms to Resources They Need
Houston, Texas, (Zenit.org) Kathleen Naab
As the nation's attention has again been drawn to abortion through the trial and subsequent murder convictions of abortionist Kermit Gosnell, those in the pro-life movement have continued on with their daily work.
For the organization Heroic Media, that work means reaching women in crisis pregnancies and connecting them to life-affirming resources. The organization reaches out to women through a variety of media. One of those channels is brief TV ads, which strikingly relay a simple message: "You're not alone," for example, or "I get what you're going through," or "there are resources even if the baby's father is giving you an ultimatum."
ZENIT spoke to Marissa Cope, the director of Marketing, Communications and Research at Heroic Media, for more information on this organization and its strategy for saving lives.
ZENIT: Tell us about Heroic Media: Who founded it, who runs it, how does it work?
Cope: Heroic Media was founded in 2004 by Brian Follett, a retired businessman.
Follett founded Majella Society as a non-profit, pro-life organization that places life-affirming advertising in large media markets. Since its founding, the Texas-based organization changed its name to Majella Cares within the Heroic Media Organization. Heroic Media's advertising campaigns reach women and families across the United States, connecting women experiencing crisis pregnancies to life-affirming resource centers.
Prior to founding Heroic Media/Majella Cares, Brian focused his time on a family owned business, Anchor Foods. After the business was sold [in 2000], Follett desired to give back, and decided to focus on works of mercy, serving the poor, and life-affirming causes. Follett knew the pro-life community needed to bring their message to women in crisis pregnancies through relevant and relatable means. Follett met with several state and national pro-life leaders; after hearing his ideas they encouraged his endeavors.
We currently operate with a team of 10 and focus on using media to connect women with hopeful alternatives to abortion. We focus on major media markets where abortion ratios are high, pregnancy center support is strong, and we use a unique, proven multimedia approach to connect women with local pregnancy centers.
ZENIT: What is Heroic Media's strategic vision in the battle for a Culture of Life?
Cope: Studies have shown that most women do not want an abortion but choose to abort because they feel as though they have no other option. Our goal is to reach a woman before she makes an abortion decision and connect her to organizations that can discuss all of the options available to her and specifically address the concerns and situation that she is facing.
A 2006 article in Contraception Journal highlights the need to reach these women either before or as close as possible to the time that she suspects she may be pregnant. The article reports that, on average, it will take a woman four days to confirm a suspected pregnancy. Once she knows she is pregnant, it takes zero days to make the decision to abort.
Women are making the decision to abort based on fear and without knowing that there are other options and support available. Heroic Media is committed to changing this by ensuring that women are informed of and have access to life-affirming resources. To do this, we must capitalize on new and emerging technology as well as efficiently and effectively use traditional media channels to reach her.
The key is our multimedia approach. And the goal is always to connect women with local pregnancy centers, where the staff can support them throughout their pregnancy and beyond. Heroic Media has been using Internet as well as traditional media in various local markets as well as on a national scale since 2007, and we've developed a multimedia approach that mixes the right types of messages and the most effective media platforms to reach women in a meaningful way. We test messages and mediums, and we measure the response to every campaign we air, so that we know how many women responded to a particular ad, and how they were helped.
For example, Internet is a great place to start advertising. Internet advertising is quick, measurable and cost-efficient. When we add in television on top of Internet, we see a marked increase in responses. Separately, both Internet and television can be effective, but mixing the two produces the best results far and away.
Some of this has to do with the audience -- a woman who is planning to have an abortion is in a different state of mind than a woman who is still considering her options. Both of these women need help, information, and support, and we are dedicated to reaching both of them with hopeful, informative messages. We work with pregnancy centers on custom advertising campaigns, and we regularly see their number of calls from abortion-minded women skyrocket. One center recently reported a 700% quarterly increase in the number of abortion-minded women they counseled. That translates to hundreds of women who in all likelihood would not have otherwise known about alternatives to abortion, who are now receiving loving, honest support at a pregnancy center -- and it's happening in dozens of cities where we're working with pregnancy centers across the country.
ZENIT: Abortion is recently again front page news because of the Gosnell trial but even in the absence of a headline, the abortion debate has been part of the culture for 40 years now. Will it ever be resolved?
Cope: We're hopeful. Working in the pro-life movement means facing the realities of abortion on a daily basis, but it's also an opportunity to see God at work on a daily basis. I hear stories every day from women who are hurting, afraid, and hiding, but the only reason I hear their stories is because they're telling them to our pregnancy center partners, where they can access honest and hopeful resources, and that gives me hope. Last year, Heroic Media's advertising messages connected more than 113,000 women with life-affirming resources, and we work hard every day to reach even more women.
Every day, we see the gospel playing out, as broken, hurting people come into contact with beautiful, stunning Truth that changes them. That's powerful and it's a privilege to be a part of that work. Every day, women who feel hopeless see messages that connect them with hope and rescue them from the pain of abortion.
There's a lot more to be done, but even the Gosnell trial shows that God is at work – Gosnell has been stopped, and more people are waking up to the what abortion really looks like. I don't believe that's coincidence or even just the fruits of the labor of pro-lifers; it's evidence that God is on the move.
We're committed to prayer in all of our efforts, because we know the odds appear to be against us, but I see God working and giving us the tools to reach women.
ZENIT: What are some upcoming projects?
Cope: Next month, in June, we'll air our third national adoption campaign in partnership with Bethany Christian Services to coincide with Season 2 of the hit show “I'm Having Their Baby”. The previous two National “Adoption Option” commercial campaigns on the Oxygen network in November 2012 and January 2013 generated 730 direct contacts to Bethany Christian Services, the nation's largest adoption agency.
After the very first day of launching the first National Adoption Campaign we heard "Claire's" story:
Bethany Christian Services received a call from a pregnant 35-year-old mother of four, living in a difficult home environment, due to deliver any day. She was planning to leave the baby at the hospital as allowed by the Safe Haven Law in Florida, but one of her sons saw our commercial and told her to call and ask about adoption. She learned she could choose the adoptive family and have the option to keep in contact with her child.
A nearby pastor and his wife had told the Bethany staff that they felt called by God to adopt a baby girl but were open to either gender. Claire was told she was having a boy, yet just days before Thanksgiving she gave birth to a baby girl. The baby girl was placed with the adoptive couple on Thanksgiving Day and the adoption was finalized earlier this month (May).
In a country with an estimated 1.2 million abortions each year, less than 1% of single women with unplanned pregnancies choose adoption. [The ad campaign was the] first-ever national TV ad campaign focused on adoption as a positive alternative to abortion. Women across the country responded to learn more about adoption, with many considering preparing an adoption plan for their child. The commercial's goals were threefold:
1. Identify the key target audience – women ages 18-34 who are facing or may soon be facing a decision about an unplanned pregnancy.
2. Communicate clearly that adoption is a viable option and address their feelings, needs and questions about adoption.
3. Extend a clear call to action to invite women to contact an adoption resource such as a particular adoption agency or helpline.
The final product, a commercial titled, “The Adoption Option,” features a simple message: Adoption is a positive solution and alternative for a birthmother, a life-changing blessing for adoptive parents and a gift of love and hope to adopted children. In the commercial, the actress makes it clear that women can choose the family who will adopt their baby and that they will receive help throughout the rest of their pregnancy.